“Zeal without knowledge is not good.” Proverbs 19:2
Joe Scarborough is a bright guy who has been holding forth on his “Morning Joe” program on MSNBC for a few years. He and his co-host Mika offer up endless cups of anti-Trump rhetoric, with free refills, every day. His show is sort of political antimatter to those found on conservative cable programs. In fairness, Scarborough occasionally introduces some beneficent towards the president as when he recently said that he has never heard Trump speak a racist word. In any case, I am not a consistent viewer as the hosts often revel in boorish stereotyping of conservatives and evangelicals in particular. Yet….Scarborough is, at times, inciteful and engaging. But, as I read his recent comments about the Bible and Trump supporters, I am reminded by Solomon that “Getting all fired up but not knowing what you are talking about is silly.” (That’s a loose translation of Proverbs 19.2 above.)
So…this is neither an attack on Mr. Scarborough or a defense of Mr. Trump. It is an attempt to re-assure my evangelical friends who have supported this president (despite his often tiresome behaviors) that you are not displeasing the Lord. Evangelicals supporting Trump are embracing a great compromise but in the real world that is not unusual. Thus, as a pastor with forty years’ experience, allow me to offer my view of what is really going on here. In short, Mr. Scarborough is engaging in shame talk hoping to dissuade evangelicals from continued support for this president. It’s as if he is saying “What is wrong with you evangelicals? You say you are committed to Biblical truth but you can vote for this guy?” I’d suggest that this strategy is really quite puzzling and inconsistent.
He seems to be insisting that Christians should live and advocate and vote in accordance with the Word of God. OK. But when we do that, does he offer commendation? For example, I have not heard Mr. Scarborough affirm the Biblical views of Vice-President Pence and his wife. In particular, she has been mocked for teaching at a Christian school that affirms a Biblical view of marriage. Yet, she is labeled a bigot. Since the Bible has nothing good to say about homosexual activity, she should be commended for her position. She is not hateful. She has harmed no one. But she has been attacked … for her Biblical views. Thus, we have Mr. Scarborough selectively pointing towards Matthew 25 and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 thru 7 but ignoring much of Scripture that is contrary to his progressive assertions. If he is really worried about following Biblical guidelines, he should immediately commend Mr. Trump’s stand on abortion. The only president in history who has ever spoken without apology in a state of the union message …. spoken OPENLY AND WITHOUT APOLOGY in defense of the unborn … is Mr. Trump. Zeal without knowledge condemns evangelicals for not condemning the separation of families at the border. Zeal without knowledge ignores 2000 children daily ripped from their mother’s wombs!
Yet, zeal is often good. Agreed but here is the tricky part: some say Matthew 25 demands such mercies be extended. And it does. To the homeless and helpless. But this and all of other Biblical injunctions as to Godly ethical behavior are given to individual believers. I may be required to care for my needy neighbor but the words of the Lord Jesus Christ were not directed to governments and intended to offer paradigms for the formulation of public policies, but to individuals. But clearly the Bible has influenced societies. This is…complicated.
It should be said that both English common law and American Constitutional law were deeply rooted in Biblical teaching. The Bible has influenced moral behavior for centuries. If we say no one can legislate morality, we fail to see that nation states do that all the time. They cannot legislate the moral proclivities of the heart but they can tell me I must not drive a hundred miles an hour through the village. Why not? Because I might kill innocent people and that would be immoral. So, we cannot legislate morality but we can legislate moral behavior. Or not. My point is that clearly the Bible has had a major role in western civilization in the development of public policies. But still, with the exception of ancient Israel, it is primarily a body of expectations from the Almighty to His people. In reality, the Christian who hopes to see biblical virtue in government often has to make a compromised choice between proposed leaders. That’s what happened in 2016.
Where are we now relative to the Bible and how we live and legislate and vote? Clearly, the imprint of biblical morality is becoming less relevant in our post-modern culture. For example, that is why, until recently, divorce was not possible unless adultery could be proven. That was true in most states. Today, that requirement cannot be found. Would Mr. Scarborough seek to bring back that way of doing things? Or, if Mr. Scarborough really wants voters to follow biblical truth and teaching, would he affirm the stoning of homosexuals and adulterers as found in the Old Testament? Of course not. So, using the Word of God to condemn those who don’t like your political policies is a dangerous business. Often zealous but ignorant. In the end, using Scripture to develop civil law and/or condemn your neighbor’s voting choices is dangerous undertaking at best.
I am rambling a little. So, anyway … my sense is that Joe Scarborough is a decent and thoughtful man. But evangelicals will continue to support a president who defends the unborn with terrific judicial appointments. And I hope someone tells the talk show host that he’d do well to go and see the movie “Unplanned.” Nothing has changed. As an evangelical being lectured in matters of morality by people who avert their eyes from the holocaust in the womb, I am offended. Fifteen hundred to two thousand innocent babies are killed in the womb daily. Everyday. Their arms are torn off or their skulls crushed. Their skin is burned away and Mr. Scarborough wants me to re-read Matthew 25 and consider it?
A last thought … again, the ethical teachings of the Bible are given to individual believers. As a Christian, I can turn the other cheek. Nations cannot. I don’t have to build a wall but nations do. And nations have armies and gates. The Bible is filled with them.
More importantly to my heart … in the time it has taken to read this simple blog article, at least fifteen unborn babies have been put to death. Perhaps Mr. Scarborough and all of us would do well to open our Bibles and re-read the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not murder!”
Blessings! Pastor Alberta
Matthew 24:10-12 (NIV) 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold!
An amazing thing happened in the United States Senate on February 25, 2019. Republican Senator Ben Sasse sponsored a bill called the “Born Alive Survivors Protection Act” which would require medical personnel to extend life-saving and life-preserving efforts to any child born alive, out of the womb after an attempted abortion. Exactly the situation that was well-documented in the movie Gosnell, the story of a fiendish “doctor” in Philadelphia responsible for hundreds of murders of children born alive after abortions. One would think Mr. Sasse’s bill would pass unanimously because even the most ardent pro-choicers insist they care about not only distressed mothers but children too. Sure they do. The bill was defeated 53-44 and every single announced Democratic presidential candidate voted AGAINST it. Please look it up. Six prominent hopefuls for the White House. It’s all there in the news.
Allow me to shock you with this statement: these senators and those who joined them in defeating the bill are perhaps the most honest politicians in America. Why? Because they voted as they really believe. Abortion is so important to them that they won’t even vote to protect babies living and gasping for breath outside of the womb. They really do not care about unborn children and now it is clear that they are willing to approve of infanticide. Actually, all abortion is infanticide, but pro-abortion people have always been able to hide behind “the health of the mother.” Never mind that experts say not one birth in 100,000 actually threatens the mother’s life. In any case, no one can argue that the mother is in any danger that would be mitigated by putting her child to death after it is born.
There have always been three positions in America held by those regarding abortion. Many people support it. Many people support it sometimes. Many people are against it. But within that first category, we have all been naïve. Among the many who support it passionately, we are deluded if we think that once they have the facts, their position will change. Once they have seen an ultra sound, even a glimpse of one in a magazine article, they will quickly change their minds. But that is not so for the most extreme supporters of this ghoulish reality. Many of them do not care what the facts are. Tell them the baby has brain waves by the 4oth. day. They don’t care. Tell them the baby’s heart is beating at 45 days; they do not care. They are fanatically obsessed with retaining a woman’s right to have her baby put to death. Thus, they voted AGAINST this obviously sensible bill. They do not care.
This is their state: their consciences have been seared as the Word of God says in 1 Timothy 4:2. The word used is cau-ter-odd-zo from which we get “cauterize” meaning to stop the flow of blood. In other words, their consciences do not work! I knew that all along. Let me share a story with you. A true story from 1980.
I was a third year seminarian when Senator Edward Kennedy announced that he was running for the presidency. It was in downtown Boston and many people gathered to witness the big event. I was among them with a group of pro-life protestors carrying signs that read “Abortion is Murder!” We were there because Mr. Kennedy was a committed supporter of abortion rights. There we were … standing to one side sticking out but ignored by the press and everyone else, except the Holy Spirit of God.
Across from us were a group of women from Harvard carrying opposing signs that said things like “My Body! My Choice!” After a while, one of those women approached me and said something that opened my eyes. It was honest although depraved. I will paraphrase but with accuracy. She said something like “You pro-life people think that if you convince us that abortion is murder, we will change our minds. But what you don’t understand is that we don’t care. Even if it is murder, it is a necessary right and that’s just how it is.”
So, Senator Sasse has pushed the abortion obsessives to the point where they have to be honest. They do not care. Some may be sorry and consider abortion, even infanticide, to be a “necessary evil.” But they are quite willing to defend it. They do not care about the child. They say they are for protecting women from harm and back-alley abortions. But tearing the arms off of the unborn or crushing their skulls or burning off their skin? That is ok. They don’t care.
The great irony here is that by taking such a position, they are helping the most pro-life president we have ever had to be re-elected. They despise him but they are showing his position on the unborn to be righteous. It has always been my view that with all his unsettling manners and his obnoxious past, this president is the president by God’s will. Why? Because God is trying to be merciful to our nation.
There is no question in my mind that America is doomed unless there is repentance for the holocaust in the womb. Our greatest danger is not inadequate Social Security reserves or climate change or the deficit or anything else. Those are real issues but it is the ongoing slaughter of the innocent unborn that is inviting the Day of Judgment. We are, as Catholic writer Joseph Sobran has said “Courting severe judgment.”
In my little prayer book, I list people and situations about which I petition our Heavenly Father. At the top is this prayer: “Oh God please save Justice Ginsberg and, in any case, remove her from the court.” Sound cruel? Sorry. I’m sure there is some good in her but I’m also sure that she once said that the Roe v. Wade ruling was understandable. She said at that time, there was great concern about over population especially “among those we don’t want too many of.” She stands firmly in the tradition of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, the great eugenicist, who said, “We need to rid the world of morons, misfits and the maladjusted.” I could go on.
Jesus said: “Luke 8:17 (NIV) “There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
Now, this week … he has allowed us to see the real hearts of so many in leadership. Count on it; they will reap what they have sown. If you’d like to see your children and grandchildren live in peace and harmony with Heaven, pray for our nation as never before. Almost no one in the media or leadership or among the “elite” thinkers and cable talk show commentators see it coming. But it is. As Jesus said: “That Day” is coming.
Peace. Pastor Alberta
Matthew 7:6 (NIV) 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
I am an evangelist at heart. Ever since the Lord saved me in February of 1977, I have been willing and eager to speak to anyone with a pulse about Jesus. And God has raised up so many opportunities to do so that I can only celebrate His mercies. As the Psalmist said: “As for me I will always have hope. I will praise you more and more!!” (Psalm 71:1)
My zeal for the Gospel has not diminished but I think I’m getting smarter. Perhaps just in time. We are living in a period of increased distain, even contempt for the Good News about Jesus. We should not be surprised or too bothered by the mocking of late show talkers and commentators in the media saying Christians are everything from racist to just plain stupid. That has always been there. But I sense an increase in the intensity of their rhetoric and so often their need for salvation is entirely obvious. So, we hope to politely and respectfully tell them about life in the Kingdom of God thru the Lord Jesus Christ.
But what if they don’t want to hear it? What if they are downright vulgar in their response and they make it clear that our Gospel is repulsive to them. After all, the Word of God says this will happen at times. Why? Consider:
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV) 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
So, if we meet someone who turns up their nose at our Christian witness, we should “get it” that they don’t want to hear more. We can pray for them, but we are wise to wait. Paul and Barnabas experienced exactly this when they were witnessing to some Jews in Antioch. Look closely with me at what Paul said when they rejected the message:
Acts 13:46 (NIV) Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
This is a tricky verse to translate. Paul seems to be saying they don’t consider themselves worth saving and/or they don’t consider the message to be worthwhile.
In any case, Paul and Barnabas dropped the effort and took the message to other people … the Gentiles. One can perhaps hear frustration in their words. As if they were saying “Look, we’re not going to beg you to hear this precious news about the Son of God!”
The Gospel is indeed precious. One other verse. In Matthew Seven Jesus has just warned his disciples to be careful in judging but then he gives them an example of using sound judgment. We read:
Matthew 7:6 (NIV) 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
What does our Lord mean? If you lean down to feed the pigs and open your hand, they will expect food. When they see that you’ve given them something that is inedible, like pearls they cannot eat, they will be enraged and even attack you. The Gospel is like the finest pearl and entirely sacred, and totally unappetizing to the hardened heart. Jesus is saying we must discern the spiritual status of those with whom we share. It will become obvious pretty quickly.
Bottom line: we must ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to those who will hear our witness. The message is not a cheap give-away and unless He opens the heart, it will be rejected. Sharing our faith calls for wisdom and humble leading by the Lord.
Blessings! Pastor Alberta
February 12, 2019
1 John 4:8 (NIV) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Recently, I was surprised by a new acquaintance with whom I was sharing the gospel. She is a very agreeable career woman with a solid marriage and three kids. Winsome and engaging and quite open to the Good News of Jesus Christ. After a couple of promising discussions, she asked me if I supported gay marriage. When I said “No” she was visibly disturbed. “That’s where we part ways” she observed. “I cannot understand why Christians hate gays and why they insist that God hates gays!” My reply was “I don’t hate gays and God does not hate gays. Actually God loves gays.” Her response after a moment: “Well…how come everyone thinks Christians and maybe even God hates gays?”
The answer is probably rooted in the careless and even wicked words of some who claim to be Christians … whose personalities are far from Christlike. And some so-called Christians whose gift is cruelty and who carry signs that say things like “God Hates Fags!” So, those yet to know Christ can be understandably confused over the whole matter. Hence, we should clear it up.
God does not hate gays. God does not hate criminals. God does not even hate terrorists. God hates sin! Or, as Luther said “God is not angry at sinners. He is angry at sin!” It’s incredibly important to think this through carefully. Why does God hate sin? Is it because it offends Him in that we are not following His rules? Is it because we are morally petulant, and God deeply resents our failure to honor Him? Is it, in short, because God has an ego problem like a dad whose son has disobeyed, and that dad feels disrespected … so that the disobedience is more about dad than the miscreant son? No. God hates sin BECAUSE IT HARMS US AND HE WANTS GOOD FOR HIS IMAGE-BEARERS!
An example. Before I was saved, I used to drink a gin and tonic now and then. I rarely got drunk but once or twice I had a “few too many.” Afterwards I experienced the mild hangover that is the recompense for such foolishness. Then I decided to be more disciplined. But I have a hunch that when I drank too much gin, God never got a head ache and God never had a hangover! It did not hurt God when I sinned. It hurt me. But it did hurt God in his heart. In that same way the heart of a parent is hurt when the son or daughter acts foolishly and suffers. God hates sin because sin hurts us. The sixteen-year-old might shout “I hate you dad” because he can’t have the car. But it might be because dad is not confident yet of his driving skills. The kid is certain dad is an insufferable crank and very cruel. But that is not it at all.
Now…about the “gay” life. When my new friend said she was troubled by Christians who oppose gay marriage and the gay lifestyle, I asked her why. “Well, it is just unkind and mean-spirited. And what business is it of yours anyway?” Fair question. It is God’s business and I love and fear God. BUT, here is the key: God’s prohibition against homosexual activity is, once again, out of His love. I suggested to the woman that she do some research. It may be hard to find but it can be located. Namely, the morbidity rates for active homosexual adults. Although many pro-gay websites will dispute it, all kinds of diseases attend to the lives of active gays especially men. Cancers and HIV related disease. Higher suicide rates. Consider:
“LGB youth are at greater risk for depression, suicide, substance use, and sexual behaviors that can place them at increased risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).3 Nearly one-third (29%) of LGB youth had attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6% of heterosexual youth.3 In 2014, young gay and bisexual men accounted for 8 out of 10 HIV diagnoses among youth.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, 2014; vol. 26. Published November 2015. Accessed October 2016.)
Now, gay activists are known to say those pathologies are precisely because active gays are ostracized and criticized and treated hatefully. No doubt it is hard to be an active gay but they are unwilling to admit that it is their behaviors that account for depression and disease. If everyone were to affirm the gay lifestyle, the Word of God indicates it would still be unacceptable.
Romans 1:26-27 (NIV) 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
The point is that the active gay is estranged from God apart from repentance. “God gave them over” means God allowed them to choose to disobey him. It does not mean He hates them and is glad about their suffering. The horror is that the active gay is estranged from God Himself. After all, the Word of God says that the Maker of Heaven and Earth considers homosexual activity “abominable.” We read:
Leviticus 18:22 (NIV) “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
“Detestable” is a Hebrew word … “toy-ah-bah” meaning disgusting and degrading. I’ve spoken with enough homosexual men to shudder at their self-loathing after nights of multiple same-sex partners. God is calling them out of that lifestyle behavior not because He is petty but because they are self-destructing.
So…as Christians, we must look for opportunities to declare that God loves the sinner and wants what is best for him or her. Those who claim to belong to Christ and yet appear at funerals carrying signs that God is filled with hate neither know God nor anything about His ways. The truth is that God hates what sin does to us, including homosexual sin. It damages our bodies and defiles our spirits and trashes our sense of God-given dignity. The active gay person needs to be set free. And one thing is certain. Jesus said:
John 8:32 (NIV) “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
God be praised! Pastor Alberta
January 27, 2019
1 Timothy 4:1-2 (NIV) The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
Psalm 139:21-22 (NIV) 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Do these verses have anything to do with each other? I think so. We’ll come back to the connection shortly. I once had a non-Christian say to me “I thought you Christians don’t have any enemies. Right? Why would you … if you follow Christ?” Well … actually … we certainly can and do have enemies. In fact, being hated because of our faith and even harmed does give us enemies. And we see enemies of righteousness all around us. So, the issue is not having enemies but how to respond to our enemies. Especially how to keep from developing hearts full of hatred every time we read of things totally ungodly.
Many readers of this blog interacted and admitted to real frustration, even contempt and low-level hatred when Governor Cuomo celebrated his state’s new law. Now, in New York, it is easier than ever to kill the unborn. Even up to birth. And Mr. Cuomo was proud! If he is not a personal enemy, surely he is an enemy of all that is Holy despite his claim to fidelity to the Catholic Church. So, what to do with these feelings of anger and distain for such a man and his actions? Especially since the Lord Jesus Christ said to love him? A few more thoughts on this.
FIRST: As Christians, we do not want to be haters and people filled with fury. That is one of the reasons the non-stop news world we are living in can be emotionally unhealthy. Hourly reminders of evil in the world can darken our spirits and make us unlovely and unloving. So, we must make sure our hatred is hatred of the unholy and remember that we too can be unholy.
SECOND: We should be savvy about what the psychology people call “Habituation.” We all experience this. You become accustomed to your neighbor’s barking dog or a difficult colleague at work. You become “habituated.” It’s often a good thing and one of life’s common-sense realities. But ask any combat veteran who killed others and they will usually say, in some manner, it became easier. Those who have engaged in torture often say they simply did it without conscience. Some years back, a project at Yale University measured how people responded when asked to perform acts of cruelty. The majority started out with great uneasiness. By the end of the project, many if not most were doing so without hesitation. (The recipients of the pain were not actually experiencing it but the people causing the pain did not know that.) Those inflicting the pain simply became habituated to what they were doing and no longer found it morally reprehensible.
That’s what happens in the radical pro-choice movement. Those who support killing the unborn have become habituated. They all know what it is. They’ve all seen the pictures of mangled babies. The senators and congressmen and governors. They know. Everyone has seen a sonogram by now. THEY KNOW! Yet, they continue to support and even celebrate the killing of these innocents. Why? Because they have become habituated to evil and wickedness. Like the Nazi guards who simply carried out their orders.
Here is the big question: how can this happen? For that, we return to Paul explaining the demonic activities that were SUPPORTED in the early church. He said these were people: “Whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:2) HERE IS THE AMAZING EXPLANATION: “Seared” is the Greek word “cauterod-zo” from which we get “cauterize.” A surgeon might cauterize an artery and the blood stops flowing! A cauterized conscience does not work! It is stuck. The normal healthy flow of God-given moral values is cut off. In short, when I watch an otherwise decent family man like the governor, I am watching someone who has been habituated to an evil position and whose conscience, on this issue, does not work.
In thinking about this, we are reminded of how brutally and indecently our Lord was treated. Yet, from the Cross he prayed:
Luke 23:34 (NIV) Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
They were ignorant of who Jesus was. The governor does know what he is doing but, with a seared conscience cut off from the flow of Holiness, he is rendered ignorant of sin. He is, in a sense, helpless like the she-camel in heat. So, yes, his actions are repulsive but how are we to react? Ok…
THIRD: Some Suggestions for all of us starting with me … when struggling with the sins of people:
Remember, we have boards in our own eyes. Our Lord pointed out that it is always easier to see the speck in the other person’s eye; we do need to look in our moral mirrors frequently.
Matthew 7:5 (NIV) 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We must ask God to show us what He wants us to work on. Interesting that the Psalmist who said, “Do I not hate those who hate you Oh God?” also said:
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Remember that there is good in most people, even those we are tempted to hate. Jehoshaphat was the King in Judah around 850 BC. His moral record was quite uneven, and God sent a messenger named Jehu to speak to him. I like what he said:
2 Chronicles 19:1-3 (NIV) 1 When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is upon you. 3 THERE IS, HOWEVER, SOME GOOD IN YOU, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.”
There is good in even the “worst” people.
Remember that our best response to pain when viewing evil is to pray for the evil-doer. In this case, I often pray by name for those leaders who promote abortion. Perhaps God will raise up their consciences. Even if he does not, it’s hard to be filled with hate when you are praying for someone.