Stay Away.

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“My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. If they say–”Come with us! Let’s set an ambush and kill someone. Let’s attack some innocent person just for fun!”…they set an ambush to kill themselves; they attack their own lives.” Proverbs 1:10-11,18.

The Book of Proverbs is one of the most unique books in all the Bible. It is the centerpiece of what is known as the “Books of Wisdom” within the Bible, as it contains many maxims and pieces of advice for godly living. The most interesting aspect about Proverbs is the way in which it is written; the book’s narrator is a father who is passing on wisdom and knowledge to his son. Most scholars attribute Proverbs to King Solomon, which makes sense; Solomon was the wisest man to have ever lived. He certainly would have had much knowledge to pass on to his sons.

In this particular passage, Solomon implores his son to avoid the ways of the wicked, violent, and godless.  All life is sacred; those who shed another’s blood for no reason violate this fundamental principle. Yet, many suffer daily from the violent actions of others; families are torn apart, lives are lost, and it seems like the cycle of violence goes on and on.

Whether it be drugs and crime in an inner-city, or terrorism abroad, those that seek a life to get rich quick through killing the innocent will get their just desserts. Solomon tells his son that “they [the murderers] set an ambush to kill themselves; they attack their own lives.” Those that shed blood will have their own blood demanded of them.

God desires all lives to be treated as sacred, and for all lives to be protected. God has been opposed to murder since the very first murder was committed. God told Cain that his murdered brother Abel’s blood “cries out to Me from ground!” How much blood cries out to God today from every corner of the world? Any teaching that endorses the taking of an innocent life is not of God. God expressly prohibits the murder of innocent life, and Solomon reinforces this teaching to his son. Stay away from those who teach the blasphemy that murder is ever acceptable.

Pray for those who have been affected by violence. Pray for those whose families are grieving.

Be Light

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“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:14.

The events of the last twenty-four hours have highlighted the fact that the world is a dark and savage place. Murder, terror, sin, and grief lurk around the corner, and there are many who seek to spread these horrible things to those around them. During times such as these, Christ’s words ring out more loudly, and His call needs to be heeded.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ calls His followers to stand apart from the world; to be the light in a world of darkness. The follower of Christ is to spread love, compassion, and to reflect God’s mercy and grace to the world. Each follower of Christ is like a single candle, illuminating their corner of the world; together these candles can bring light to all the world.

Choose to be the light in this world of darkness.

The Peacemakers.

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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9.

Today, all around the world, people commemorate the armistice that ended the Great War–the war which was supposed to end all wars–and honor the men and women who have served in the defense of their nations. War is a terrible thing, and those who have had to participate in it should be remembered.

But what of those who have fought for the cause of peace? When do we honor those who have dedicated their lives to bettering the world around them? In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ singles out the peacemakers and says that they will “be called the children of God.” The cause of peace is on that all who seek after God are to advance. The follower of Christ is to be an advocate for peace; the pursuit of peace is one of the many traits that allow the world to identify those who follow Christ. Later in the New Testament, Christ says that there will always be wars and rumors of wars. Sin and man’s fallen nature push humanity toward conflict and destruction. It is only though Christ that one can truly push for the cause of peace. By advocating for peace, we can help to advance the Kingdom of God.

Honor those who live and fight for peace, those who work to help the poor and forgotten and down-trodden, those who fight for the dignity of all people, those who speak out against greed and corruption. Pursuing peace is not a sign of weakness; pursuing peace is a sign of a changed heart. Pursuing peace is the pursuit of God.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.

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“So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, and they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” Genesis 29:20.

This beautiful passage describes one of the Bible’s greatest love stories: the story of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob had just recently left his home because he had tricked his brother, Esau, out of his birthright. Jacob was now out in the world, all alone, and looking for a place to live and work.

As fate would have it, Jacob came across a man named Laban, who had many herds and needed workers to tend to his animals. Jacob got the job, and while he was working for Laban, Jacob met Rachel–Laban’s daughter.  Jacob fell deeply in love with Rachel and asks Laban for her hand in marriage. Laban agreed to the marriage, only if Jacob agreed to work for him for seven years. Jacob did, and the years “seemed like only a few days.”

When Jacob fulfills the seven years, the marriage takes place, only for Jacob to realize he’s married Rachel’s older sister, Leah.  Jacob confronts Laban, Laban tells Jacob to work seven more years for Rachel, and Jacob does. In all, Jacob works fourteen years to marry Rachel. He did it all because he loved her so deeply.

What does this Old Testament love story have to do with anything? The first thing we have to remember is that we are on God’s schedule, not our own. So often we go through life making plans and becoming frustrated with they don’t fall into place quickly enough. We demand that God grant us patience, but we do  not enjoy it when He makes us build and grow that patience. We, more or less, want our cake and to eat it too.

Waiting is one of life’s most unbearable tasks. We live in an age in which the world is at our fingertips and we can have nearly anything we want in a matter of seconds. As result, the human attention span is growing shorter and shorter. Every day we must remind ourselves that we do not operate on the world’s schedule, or even our own schedule, but on God’s. He will bring everything into place in His due time. If we trust in Him and keep our minds on whatever task we have at hand, the time we spend waiting will also seem like only a few days.

Military-Industrial Complex.

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“However, he [the king] is not to acquire many horses for himself or send people back to Egypt to acquire horses for him…He must not acquire large amounts of gold and silver for himself..then his heart will not be exalted above his countrymen, he will not turn his ruling to the right or the left, and he and his sons will continue ruling many years over Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:16-17, 20.

Deuteronomy is the fifth and final book of the Torah, God’s law that He gave to the Israelites. In this book, Moses gives the Israelites the final pieces of the Law, and he also gives the Israelites his final thoughts and advice for them going forward. Moses knows that his time is drawing to a close and that he will not be accompanying them into the Promised Land.

God knows that the Israelites would need a ruler to guide them and to act as his emissary among the people. This ruler–part prophet, part monarch– would be the example by which the Israelites model their own behavior after. He was to lead a Godly and spirit-led life, and the people were to mimic this. So, God gives the Israelites very specific instructions to remember when the time to appoint a ruler came.

One of the more unique rules that God gave was the prohibition against horses, or acquiring large numbers of horses. This seems like a bizarre command; horses are gentle animals, and also very useful as beasts of burden. Why, then, would God not want the Israelite king to acquire any?

The answer is quite simple: horses were weapons of mass destruction. In the ancient world, horses were critical to warfare. They made armies mobile, allowed for chariots and other technological breakthroughs. Armies could now travel further, travel faster, and out maneuver their opponents. An army with more horses and chariots had a distinct advantage in war.

God did not want His people, or his king, to be concerned with territorial expansion. He did not want the leader of His people to become wrapped up in an ancient form of the military-industrial complex, in which the nation’s purpose and economy becomes wrapped up in growing the military and maintaining a state of war. This is why there is the added prohibition against acquiring large amounts of gold and silver for the king. God knows that when kings get greedy they go war, and when kings go to war, the poor are the ones who suffer. God wants His king to remember that he is no better than the rest of the nation; the king’s focus is to protect his people, serve God, and follow after His  commandments.

Today, we live in an era in which war is a constant fixture in politics and on the nightly news. Every day, people around the world deal with the violence and horrors that come from war. Families are destroyed, towns are lost, cultures decimated, and innumerable deaths occur because of man’s proclivity for warfare. That is not to say that the military itself is bad; there have been times in which men and women served their country and warfare was justified. The fact that brave men and women died to protect personal freedoms is what allows me to write this post today. But war for war’s sake is not what God desires.  We should remember what one of America’s greatest generals and leaders, Dwight Eisenhower, cautioned– to avoid the military-industrial complex. When we compare what President Eisenhower said with what God commanded the Israelites, we see that he wasn’t too far from the truth.