Are You A Hypocrite?

I have been working my way through the book of Romans slowly and came across something that I thought I would share with my readers (all 3 of you!). As I read through Romans 2 this morning along with a helpful commentary on this chapter, I came across this quote that I believe will be helpful for us as believers seeking to be salt and light in this dark world.

“Throughout the Gentile world the Jews’ hypocritical conduct had led others to blaspheme the name of God. Intended to represent God to the nations, they had caused others to hold him in contempt. By their conduct they had disgraced the God they professed to worship. In recent years a number of religious leaders have been publicly exposed for sexual sins. The impact upon those who trusted them as spiritual guides is great. Thousands have been disillusioned by the conduct of the thoughtless few. To bear the name of God is a sacred trust. To violate that trust has severe repercussions for those leaders themselves and for those whose spiritual growth is harmed by their actions. Jesus’ severe denunciation of those who cause others to sin (Luke 17:1-2) is appropriate at this point.”

We must never forget that, as believers, we bear the name of Christ. Every conversation we have, every gesture we make, every task we accomplish, and every relationship either glorifies the name of Christ or brings reproach on His name. Non-believers watch us. They want to see if what we claim to believe has any impact on the way we live our life. Paul reprimanded many of the Jews during his day because their life did not match what they claimed to believe. May that never be true of us who claim the name of Christ!

Book Review: “The Presidents Club” (Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy)

One of my guilty pleasures, outside of reading John Grisham and Robert Whitlow, is reading books on presidential history. Ever since I discovered at the ripe old age of 8 that I had the same last name as one of our former presidents, I have been fascinated with the office and the men who served our nation in this capacity.

I have had the joy of reading dozens of books about our former presidents and even the privilege, thanks to a dear friend, to meet one of them in person several years back. Of all the books I have read, The Presidents Club is by far the most fascinating. Gibbs and Duffy capture the essence of the office in a way that few writers are able to accomplish. Interestingly enough, they also provide an in depth look at the relationships between current and former presidents in such a way that you feel as though you are in the room as the events transpire.

Here are some things I learned and processed through as I read:

1. Easy decisions do not make it to the president’s desk. It is easy for us in the public to play Monday morning quarterback concerning every decision our president makes. The problem with this is that we often have such a limited perspective of what is going on that our opinions would prove simplistic and ill informed if we had the same information before us that he possesses. I use to think that I would love to be the president… not so much now.

2. The president is a lonely person. Even though it appears that the president is always surrounded by a group of people, Gibbs and Duffy explain that every president in recent history has opined that he is the loneliest person in the world. This is sad but understandable. The presidency is an island unto itself – none who find themselves on this island return the same.

3. Every president is worried about his legacy. Regardless of temperament or political party, every president is concerned with how they will be remembered in the history books. Carter has spent his life, post-presidency, trying to overshadow his “failed” presidency. Bush (43) is convinced that his presidency will be remembered much differently that his final approval numbers seemed to indicate. It appears that there is a deep thread of insecurity imbedded in the office.

4. Lines of morality are often crossed in the presidency. I was absolutely blown away by the scandals surrounding the office – everything from Kennedy’s skinny dipping with female interns in the White House pool to Watergate to Clinton’s impeachment for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Power can often breed corruption and we have witnessed moral compromise by many of our presidents. It is clear that the president needs our prayers.

If you are interested in presidential history like me, I would encourage you to get The Presidents Club and read it for yourself. I’m sure you will be amazed, disgusted, and fascinated at different points throughout!

Longing For The Day

Over the past couple of days I have been reading John Flavel’s book The Mystery of Providence during part of my morning devotion. It does my soul well to read books written by men in church history who are now with the Lord.

My reading this morning centered on God’s providence in things such as our birth and upbringing. I am forever grateful to God that he allowed me to grow up in a Christian home.

As I read this morning, my mind wondered back to the spring of 2010. I was in Lithonia, GA taking a D.Min. class when I received a phone call from my wife. We had been trying for our second child and Janie started experiencing some complications. I will spare you all details but, to sum it up, we found out at the end of that week that she had a miscarriage.

We experienced a range of emotions during that week and the weeks following. We were blessed with our second daughter, Leah, in October of that year and I must confess that I have not thought that deeply about the child that we lost.

Flavel’s words struck me hard this morning:

“And if we consider the nature of that obscure life we lived in the womb, how small an accident, had it been permitted by Providence, could have extinguished our life, like a bird in the shell? We cannot therefore but admire the tender care of Providence over us, and say with the Psalmist: ‘Though has covered me in my mother’s womb’ (139.13): and not only so, ‘But thou art he that took me out of the womb’ (22.9). He preserved you there to the fullness of time and, when that time was come, brought you safely through manifold hazards into that place in the world which He from eternity prepared for you.”

As I considered God’s providence, I was reminded once again of the child we lost. This was no accident. Had God desired, He could have spared his or her life. He could have removed the complications Janie experienced and allowed our child to go full term.

Some may want to ask the question, “Why?” “Why would God allow this to happen?” The truth is I never thought about asking this question. I never doubted God’s plan or His purposes.

This morning John Flavel reminded me not only of the preciousness of life but also of death. In God’s providence He “extinguished” our child’s life in the womb but we must never forget that in that same moment Heaven grew. Our child lives and I long for the day I will get to meet him or her!