I think that I am reading my bible correctly when I say that God is interested in a person’s character over his action and talk.

In the “end days” Jesus warns us that there will be a game afoot to deceive the church of Jesus. And the game is extended over all denominations alike. People in leadership are saying and doing things that run counter to what God Himself instructs. For example: “You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. (Deut 18:21-22 NIV)

I keep reading and hearing from evangelical Christians that God is using President Donald Trump without his really knowing it. I find it startling, by all appearances, none of his spiritual advisors are telling him to repent of his habitual lying and mocking behavior. It is incredible to me that this President acts and talks in such an undisciplined manner. The media seems full of outspoken folks identifying themselves as evangelicals, bending over backwards supporting the man and his behavior; doing so without demanding what is central to Christian behavior, repentance and a change in his habitual actions.

I think that I am reading my bible correctly when I say that God is interested in a person’s character over his action and talk. King David sinned flagrantly, and he experienced the consequences. However, he repented immediately when confronted with his multi-level sins. He asked God to “create in me a clean heart.”  Saul, another King, was the people’s choice and had no inclination of repentance. God knows the hearts of all of us just like He knew the hearts of David and Saul You can fool the people some of the time, but you can never fool God.

Evangelicals miss the heart of God and the final instruction of Jesus to us when we equate our security to men in power. China, Russia or the caliphate is not the true enemy to our security. President Trump’s agenda is not out security. If we claim to be Christ-followers, then we need to pay attention to what is on God’s heart, the integrity of His church.

Not only are we tearing ourselves apart as a nation, but we are sabotaging ourselves in the Church from within. When will we wake up and realize that we are in a freefall into Apostasy. Jesus calls us to a different way of life. Listen to His final words to us on earth: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [Matthew 28:17-20 NIV]

Where are the voices of the watchmen on the wall? There are a small minority of Christians out there who are warning of being wary of the increased selling of God’s security in the areas of political influence, personal gain in health and wealth; or even supernatural power. Are we listening? Are we engaging with the Spirit of truth through the Bible? We need a change of our collective and individual heart. We need to be looking at God’s way that produces holy living. Jesus clearly does not promise a life of ease. Instead, He tells us if we are serious about following Him, then we need to be prepared for a life of losing ourselves and our agendas to authentically be in the game of bringing the lost into His fold.

Who is a saint?

ImageWhat does a saint look like? What characteristics would you ascribe to him? David asks that question rhetorically. “LORD, who shall sojourn in Your tent?” [Psalm 15:1 ESV] David is asking what character qualities does God expect for those who are members of his household? By extension, what characteristics do we want in someone we call a friend?

Life is a journey and ‘walking blamelessly’ is not about being free from sin but about living and acting the same before God and man. We all have expectations regarding our friends. We expect them to act in a certain way. The closer they are to us the higher our expectations. God wants to be friends with us but that means He too has expectations. He expects us to be just in our dealings with others in business, loving in our relationships with those around us and to walk humbly before Him. We, like God, are not satisfied with just outward talk and actions from our friends that can be hypocritical pretenses. Before God and men, our real character is revealed by what is seated in our hearts. A saint speaks to God and men with the same transparency.

I do not expect my friend to be a backbiter. I do expect my friend to stick up for me when someone tries to bring reproach on me. I want my friend to not expect the worse in me and not grab for gossip greedily. Our tongues are prone to kicking about like an old tin can on the street, the character of an absent person. A saint will bite their tongue rather than backbite.

One of the first things that I learned about Jesus Christ is that He does not change. His character can be counted on to be the same as it was in the past as it is now and will be in the future. He does not change. That is what makes Him so trustworthy. I can count on Him being the same no matter how I act toward Him. I wish that I could say that about myself consistently. God wants me to learn to be like Him; not a respecter of a person’s learning, rank or social standing. That is a gleaming hallmark of a saint.

Want to measure whether a person is a saint? Watch their money trail. Watch how a saint treats his brother, the one who is in the family of God with him. Does he take advantage of his brother. Are they willing to share the resources that God has given them with their brothers who are in need? Or do they act in a harsh, grasping, gripping manner with their money? Are they willing to protect or enhance their wealth by lying or taking a bribe? A saint is one who can never be moved because he has decided, determined and built his character on the Rock. Jesus Christ is always sufficient for him. A saint is one who exhibits the character of Jesus Christ in all they do or say before God and men.

If You Love Them, Speak Clearly with Them

“…each part… helps the other parts grow..”. Ephesians 4:16

We have all heard the term “beating around the bush” to describe someone who is not straight forward in what they say. Part of the impetus for change is the wish to clearly help men to become the men that God intended. And that means being honest and transparent with ourselves and others. It is not about confrontation. It is about being honest and direct. I suspect that one of the reasons that Jesus, with little fanfare, was able to recruit four fishermen at the very start of His ministry [two were brothers nicknamed “Sons of Thunder” which today would sound like a motorcycle club] was His clear and unmistakable way of laying it squarely on the line. These were hard living men who worked hard to make a daily living. Words such as tenderness, diplomatic and tactful would not be very accurate in describing their personal communication style. In their world men screamed and chewed each other out; communication was verbally abusive. I have first hand knowledge, I worked in that world as a young man. Look for avenues open that provides us men the unique opportunity to communicate directly and honestly with the One who wants to speak to our hearts with love and transparency. That was one reason that those fishermen over 2,000 years ago dropped everything to follow Jesus. They recognized love and transparency without an attitude of judgmental condemnation. Jesus is committed to having us ‘be all that we can be.’ Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.