Friday, May 31, 2019

So, Keep walking!
      
  To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory” Isaiah 61:3







This verse is telling us of the Lord who takes our burdens and replaces them with “beauty, praise and joy” while planting us in firm ground like a strong oak tree with grace for the glory of God. What an image and promise.  I am also reminded of
Psalm 1 that speaks of him whose walk in righteous and delights in the law of the Lord. “He will be like trees planted by rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in season, whose leaf shall never wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:3).  I can take delight in this promise in and through my trials. In fact I can take courage and do what the Lord has called me to do; encourage other people in their trials.  An encouraging passage in Isaiah 61 starts says,
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—“

This is the same passage that Jesus as a youth read in the synagogue with great power and authority causing the leaders to be astonished and filled with wrath. Sometimes we are called to a ministry where others will rebuke or reject us. If fact, now in the end-times, persecution is increasing and distain for Christians and our teaching is ramping up as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24. Satan would want to sift us or make us ineffective, so we must continue to proclaim the word of truth in and out of season. How do we continue with assurance and confidence?

“The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you,
    saying, ‘Destroy them!’” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

This verse was the theme verse of Elizabeth Elliot on her radio shows “Gateway to Joy.” She returned to Ecuador as missionary to the Quichua Indians after her husband Jim had been murdered by them. She persevered and won them over to Christ. How? By knowing and trusting that a powerful and loving God would deliver her through the trial into His presence no matter what may come.

My ministry is not to native peoples, but to those in crisis and hurting in hospitals. As a chaplain, I am “called” to care for the lost and broken in spirit. I am charged to share light in the darkness of life. Sometimes patients and their families do not want to see me, but most will. So I take courage in the Lord’s help.
“if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us; 
the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us, 
the raging waters
    would have swept us away. 
Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let us be torn by their teeth. 
We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped. 
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124).

This wonderful psalm reminds me of God’s faithfulness to always be on our side in trials. This psalm and those 121-134 are called the Psalms of Ascent. These were song by the Jewish pilgrims on their annual journey up to Jerusalem for religious festivals. Eugene Peterson, author of The Message and A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, writes of our need to persevere on our pilgrimage to the Promised Land. They are psalms for the in-between time, the period between the dashes on our gravestones. He reminds us to rope together like mountain climbers, to each other and God’s word during the tough times in order to get to the summit.


So, keep on walking! Isaiah the Prophet would say, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”’  (Isaiah 30:21). This is the title of one of my books written in two volumes to articulate God’s guidance on how to make our walk sure in obedience to His word. This verse is my “calling” verse, spoken by God audibly to me while in a Christian counselor’s office. It resonated with both of us with an unmistakable power and clarity that has led me in hospital chaplaincy the last 15 years. So, keep walking!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Wings


This Memorial Day I think of when I was in Army boot camp being trained under the watchful eye of the 82ndAirborne Division Screaming Eagles. They had just returned from Viet Nam and many men did not come back. So they were vigilant in trying to teach us how ruthless the enemy was, hoping that none of us would perish. Any mistake was met with an admonition that it could cost our friends and us our lives. When I received orders for Viet Nam my brother was already there, so then Senator Proxmire interceded and the orders were rescinded. My brother did return safely but not unscathed, and neither did my father from WWII.  I have since come to always realize as Peter said to, “Cast all your anxiety upon on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:7-9).

The Bible is full of allusions to eagles for safety under and above their wings. The tragedy of “911” reminds us of Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge”  (Psalm 91:1,4).  In Psalm 17 David cries out to God for protection, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.”  We live in an era like many when wars and rumors of wars are everywhere. So are the uncivil protests of brother and sister against each other even in our own country. Many have said this civil unrest in like the Civil War era tearing our very fabric.

In the time of the exodus God carried His people, ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4). God wants His people to seek and follow Him for safety. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft” (Deuteronomy 32:11). But they didn’t and were exiled. I wonder about our country today?

Isaiah the Prophet wrote about Israel being assaulted and taken into exile due to disobedience. God’s judgment and salvation are themes. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength! They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29,31). You see this is a conditional promise that requires us to hope and trust in the Lord for safety. Sometimes like Psalm 55 I wish I had wings like a dove to fly away. Yet, I will be like David in Psalm 57 saying, Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” As a man after God’s own heart David kept seeking God.  “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings” (Psalm 61:4). David came to a place where he could say,  “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:7). 

The Psalmists even used wings in personification of God in Psalms 107 and 139 wanting to rise and ride upon them like “the wings of wind and the dawn.” Throughout Scripture wings are used to cover the faces of seraphim from the blinding glory of God, yet having the sound of rushing and roaring waters. And too Isaiah 8:8 refers to wings of the enemy so wide as to cover all of Israel. And these same wings would be an oracle against Babylon and her paganism. Ezekiel speaks of a“great eagle with powerful wings”planting a vine of help for Israel, but they did not seek it. Daniel 7 pictures his dreams with wings as eagles as conquering nations with characteristics of the antichrist. Prophetic agents of God like angels with wings with carry the disobedient to Babylon in exile. 

 In the New Testament Gospels Jesus Himself spoke lovingly of His people who would not be obedient or receive His love. ‘“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing’” (Matthew 23:37). 

Not until The Book of Revelation do we see and hear the wings of cherubs and seraphim surrounding the throne of God and the Lamb in heaven. It speaks of the great battle coming and the disobedience and even the antichrist coming to earth. It is a time of unparalled war and even false peace in Jerusalem. Then “The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach” (Revelation 12:14). Here is the picture of the end of times until Christ would return to vanquish and rule in a new heaven and new earth, Hallelujah!






Friday, May 24, 2019

Conflict and Confrontation

I recently was talking with a brother (chaplain) in Christ about the naming of a medical facility. I was apparently pretty vehement about what it would be named. Anyway, he said to me, “Why is it always conflict with you?” This statement was convicting. But later in the day it became much worse when he again mentioned the conflict concept and told me that, “you are always confrontational.”  I was convicted to the core. In fact I was broken and spiritually shaken inside and out. I did not react, like I would have for most of my previous life.  As this man, a chaplain, was someone I deeply respected, I told him that I was considering that I was unfit to continue as a chaplain and should contemplate resignation. As we talked I was fighting back tears. I told him that with his proclamation all my foundations had been cracked asunder.

My “friend” stared at me with piercing and unrelenting eyes that frightened me palpably. I was ready to take my leave. I could not argue, there was no sense in it. In fact, we were standing in the most public part of the hospital where families anxiously awaited news of their loved ones coming from surgery. I felt as if I had just received the surgeon’s life changing word that my loved one had perished. The confrontation between us had been worsened by the fact that a third chaplain had been present in our tiny office for part of this battle that would leave no prisoners.

I told my friend that I had grown up in an alcoholic family; with a bipolar mother whose early Alzheimer’s made her for me an uncertain time bomb causing me great anxiety. I had barely survived my childhood, resulting in my own anorexia and turning early to alcohol to cope. Suicidal thoughts were not foreign to me.

It seems that my “friend” was beginning to recognize that he had assaulted me. I don’t know if he recognized any doubt in his hard, and perhaps over reaction. I had obviously pushed buttons in him.  Tears began to show in his eyes. He explained that he had a weakness of intimidating and verbally assaulting people. In fact, he told me that he had once been asked to apologize to a college Dean after tearing them a new wound in public. I listened, trembling slightly as he explained and related his own story. He apologized for his behavior and asked for prayer, beginning by praying for Satan to be gone from our conversation and relationship. We prayed for reconciliation.  Jesus teaches, Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). God takes this pretty seriously, don’t leave hurts unhealed, it is a grave sin. Paul also said, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

I will say as we both prayed that a new atmosphere began to take away the fear and anxiety that I was feeling. I was still shaken and continued to relive the trauma during the day and night, including nightmares that caused a very restless night. I awoke in the morning heading for my secret prayer chair in the basement where I poured out my pain and need for healing and forgiveness. God is bathing me in His love as I write. Proverbs 27:6 says, “The wounds of a friend are faithful.”  This is a spiritual truth that seems paradoxical like many in Scripture. Additionally, the two of us quoted Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.”  This is the Scripture verse of the once great men’s ministry of “Promise Keepers,” designed to bring men closer to God in conviction and faith.  I know the truth of this strong admonition.  God is good and even if He allows wounding, He is also the great Healer.  Our valleys are meant for lessons that will hurt, but He will anoint and bind up what He has torn. Praise be to God.


Monday, May 20, 2019

Contentment

Douglas Frank Photo


Contentment

Are you content? Really are you content or are you striving for better things, position, money, love or fame? Aren’t you supposed to be struggling up the ladder of success? When you find it and climb, what if the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall? What do I mean?

“If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Philippians 3:4-6). This quote is by The Apostle Paul, once Saul of Tarsus and a Christian hater. He was threatened by Christians because he thought they were guilty of heresy. Actually, the religious leaders feared the Christians because they were gaining in popularity that might diminish their own power and position. They were obedient to the Law, which they could not keep because there were over 600 laws to follow. They were never good enough and never content, just prideful and hateful. 
So what are you striving to attain? Who are you trying to beat? What race are you in? I suppose you are getting a little miffed with my many questions? I learned this approach through Jesus Christ’s approach to life. He asked questions more than 100 times. “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  (Luke 9:18).  The Apostles answered, “Elijah, a prophet or John the Baptist.” ButPeter was able to respond, “The Christ of God.” Jesus told them not to tell anyone and about what He would have to do for the world on the cross. Many would be ashamed or confused by Jesus. 

Are you confused, on a quest or have a dream you are pursuing? I think many of us do. I recently read of the man who had seeing the RMS Titanic lying on the cold ocean bottom as his lifelong quest. What a sad thing. He only looked for two minutes. I wonder why? Was his quest to find something very dead and meaningless? Was Solomon right when he said in Ecclesiastes that, “Everything is meaningless, vanities of vanities.”  I am a bystander watching the excitement of Milwaukee as their Bucks attempt to win the NBA Championship. Is that wrong, I don’t think so. But would you park your lawn chair on the street in front of Fiserv Forum for days to get a glimpse? It depends what is valuable to you. Is there anything like the parable told by Jesus saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field or merchants looking for pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it”  (Matthew 13:44,45). 

Many of you have already read my books describing my own search for meaning, as I grew up afraid in a dysfunctional household. I turned to controlling life which lead to an eating disorder and excessive everything in my life. It almost literally killed me. Not until I was 40, after chasing success as a hospital CEO and achiever did I finally find contentment. But this contentment came at the price of almost physically destroying my body, while my soul was gravely damaged through moral failures. My resume just reflected fancy titles and achievements, not the destructive parts. How about your resume? Does it look pretty neat following the latest method of summarizing your greatness? Or does it speak of your pain and fears, failures and losses? Actually, now I can boast of my failures for they have led me to the bottom of myself and to the true answer to contentment. I will tell you about how I found it in a minute, but first let me enjoy the fun of giving Goodwill a dozen boxes of self-help books. Where is my cheese anyway? 

My office is decorated with many evidences of achievement, including three diplomas and many medals of civic and athletic prowess. There are photos of the mountains and our children too. There are still perhaps 25 feet of books. But the books are not any longer self-help and the photos that mean the most are different. The books are commentaries and testimonies about new lives from darkness to light. The two large folio prints of a rock and four trees were taken by my cousin Douglas, pretty cool. Actually these images have become alive for me and are now on the covers of my first two published books. Why you ask?

I was lost, blind, but now I’m found and see. I was in darkness, but now I’m in the light. It took four plus decades and I’m still growing, changing and it’s costing me. Yes it is costing me everything, so be careful before you buy into it. You can clothe yourself in it and put it on, but it’s not for show. As one martyred disciple wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, his new life cost him everything.  He and many others lost control of life. But you know, we have never been in control anyway. The secret lies in who does. 

It was at midnight in a blizzard that I knelt down on the snow-packed road and gave up control of my life to the only One who is in control and wants us to have a life of contentment. The Apostle Paul too had to be stopped almost dead on his Damascus Road. It was many years still before he was able to write in his epistle to the Philippians, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”  (Philippians 4:13). Most of you have figured out that I am talking about the Messiah, the One who came to change the world by giving it all to save us by forgiving our sins through His death on the cross of Calvary. His death conquered death and brought life eternal to those who would give up their quests and control and follow Him, Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. 

Don’t worry that you will have nothing, in fact He promises a few verse later, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Paul was able to say, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  He had learned the truth of what he wrote about life now and forever, God will take care of you. He was moreover able to say to his mentee Timothy an exchanged life, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”  (1 Timothy 6:6). How about you? Are you tired of the battle without help? Then turn over your life to the “Helper, Counselor, Deliverer, Protector, Guardian, Guide and Lord,” and find contentment. 






Douglas Frank Photo
Safe

Are you safe? In a world of increasing volatility there seem to be fewer places of safety. I find that this world where truth is relative and all thoughts and ways must be accepted as equal has lost its way. Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”  I am thinking of the Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland and waking up in some crazy place where there are not truths. You know that our country once had truths, many spoken in the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. However, now we find more and more Pontius Pilot type folks without truth who clearly have not read Lessons of History by Will Durant. The fear of capitalism has compelled socialism to widen freedom, and the fear of socialism has compelled capitalism to increase equality. East is West and West is East, and soon the twain will meet.” We are progressively moving to a place that is eerily similar to all failed civilizations where God plays no part. George Santana said, “If you ignore the lessons of history, you are bound (doomed) to repeat them.”  We are fast approaching the end zone of our nation’s life. You see the rise and fall of civilizations averages 330 years, which is now approaching for the United States expiration date. 

C.S. Lewis moved from atheist to Christian writing many scholarly books reflecting reality. In Witch in the Wardrobe Mrs. Beaver said of God, “He’s not safe, but He is good.” He is slow to anger and abounding in love, but His wrath does not sit forever. Some folks don’t read the Old Testament because God seems angry and stern, full of rules. He is also the same good, merciful God that chose to save one family from the flood to begin again. Yes, Noah built an ark so God could have a do over He knew was coming. He is actively involved in our lives today too, and His patience lasts until it doesn’t. We can disobey at our own peril or trust in the Lord, our choice. We can live or perish, our choice. I am speaking eternally here as wars and rumors of wars have been killing innocent people for millennia. It seems that we once again have reached a place of intolerance that is volcanic and ready to spew hate on everyone. Why, because we have lost our moral compass. As a student of ethics I have come to understand beneficence and maleficence along with do no harm. But in today’s western society autonomy is the rational that is winning the day. It is the primal desire of our hearts that is winning and that is greed, avarice and pride. 

I have studied conflict resolution and negotiations, but we no longer have a getting to “Yes,” accept one based on anarchy. Down through the ages the church was established to find, know and live the truth as our Creator has established. But now we have thrown out this truth at the highest levels is favor of cultural depravity. I am not a strict Calvinist, but he established several pillars about man worth looking at. 
Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved).

If you go on the streets and ask if “man is good,” you will find a most common response of “yes, but they fail sometimes.” You see that is not how it works. Man is born sinful, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”  (Psalm 51:5). Yes, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Take your pick; ALL of mankind from the beginning is broken. God made us this way so that we would chose Him and His way not our own. Free will choses selfishly and without God. Jeremiah the Prophet said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind”  (Jeremiah 17:9). The Prophet Ezekiel was used to speak of heart transplants, the only solution for humankind. 
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees” (Ezekiel 36:25-27). 

There it is, our heart problem. Our hearts are not good in themselves. Our blood is stained by sin not sanctified or made pure. This need for more than surgery comes at a price. We need to ask for a new heart, willing to give up control. This requires sacrifice. God did that for us on the cross of His Son. He knew from the beginning that we are not good and would not choose good but evil, deceitful desires over godly ones. The answer to this is a spiritual revival. This is not a progressive step, but a complete reversal of our direction of “Practical Atheism.” As Pogo said, “I have found the enemy and he is us.”  It is happening amongst “so called Christians” as well. Paul admonished the Galatians about this behavior saying: 

If you bite and devoureach other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are inconflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:15-17). 

This is a frightening but true description of our culture today. We can change it, but only through supernatural intervention from the Most Holy God Almighty. I listened to our Speaker of the House say recently that our president needs an intervention. Even though I can’t stand her policies, I tend to agree with the thought. Speech and words do hurt and escalated ones hurt our society. Most in Washington D.C. are speaking in destructive tones and ways. It has overflowed into our culture and is influencing more than a breakdown of civility in congress, but in all institutions and hearts. I hear it and feel it’s dangerousness. I believe it is leaving us open to destruction by our enemies, especially Satan. Revival is the answer. Search your hearts and pray for American. 

I look to biblical history to find a similar time and it arises out of Judah and Israel in the days of King Jehoshaphat. When faced with seemingly overwhelming odds he prayed to God for help saying, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are one you” (2 Chronicles 20:12, 15). And the Lord in return said, ‘”Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”  The people worshiped and praised God, singing for His intervention in advance. Well, they marched into battle and found that God had caused their enemies to destroy one another.  What do we make of that? Stand, believe, fear not, for the Lord delivers to safety. 




Friday, May 17, 2019

"Where there is no vision"

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).

Many of you have heard this admonition to us. God is the only “vision-caster.” I know that Scripture says, “Plans fail for lack of counselors” (Proverbs 15:22). I know that this is important advice or guidance. God also says that we need to be discerning and follow counsel from wise biblically guided counselors. There is an ever-increasing cacophony of voices shrieking for rights and tolerance for everything and anything.

What is vision? Derek Kidner tells us in his IVP commentary on Proverbs says, “Vision is to be taken in its exact sense of the revelation a prophet receives.” Prophets were “God-speakers.” They were telling God’s people to obey the law and they would be happy. Failing obedience implies not just unhappiness but disaster. In fact the entire Old Testament delineates the story of God’s people being disobedient often, with very trying consequences. In context, the revelation of God is His word of truth for us. He started with the 10 Commandments and proceeded to reveal the entire prophetic word through men inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is as Jesus said in John 14:6, “the way, the truth and the life.”  In fact throughout Scripture God tells us that when we follow His guidance, “Against these things there is no law” (Galatians 5:23).

What is to “perish?” Let me remind you that God said in 2 Peter 3:9 that “He is patient with you, wanting no one to perish.”  God is compassionate and wants all to come to knowledge of God.  He has made His presence and sovereignty known through His creation and His word illuminated through His Holy spirit. But most would not have it. Perishing is an option. It is not just physical death, but also spiritual death. The result is known as the second death or eternity in hell outside of the presence of God, in darkness. It is Running Wild like Bear Grylls show on TV. It is unrestrained, “casting off restraint” (Proverbs 29:18 ESV). Recall how the Israelites sinfully partied when Moses was on Mount Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments?  Even Mose's brother Aaron led the people to make a golden idol to worship. It only took 40 days for this disaster. Moses said to all, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me” (Exodus 32:25). Only the Levites followed. This was a very sad time and it is only getting egregiously worse today. One way to say this is perhaps vision on the mountain and shame in the valley. We can read in 1 Samuel 3:1, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.”  This was the time of the prophet, warrior Samuel who brought God’s words which were not heeded by the people, perhaps most infamously by King Saul, who lost his crown. There are serious consequences to not fallowing God’s guidance or commandments.

Jesus said in the New Testament, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’  (Matthew 11:30).  Jesus was saying that we would find rest in Him. Or as Psalm 62 says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken…He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people” (Psalm 62:5-8). God spoke to the prophets, but today He primarily speaks through His word, the Bible. The Holy Spirit, “The Counselor” illuminates or makes known the meaning for each of us as God desires for our good and His glory.

I know that the President of the United States has a cabinet of advisors as established by the Constitution. This council is balanced by Senate confirmation. However, today we have a president, not for the first time, who is stretching executive privilege to make law, which is not his authority.

So from where comes our advice and consent? It should come from the Lord. Henry Blackaby in his book Experiencing God said that the Holy Spirit expresses His will for us: in prayer; through His word; through other godly people and circumstances. I have a prayer partner, who is a godly man with a broken character just like mine. I also attend Men’s Bible studies to gain wisdom and discernment. I am reminded that there are a group of Bible books called the Wisdom Books, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. These are an inspired place to go when seeking guidance. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7-8).

So where do you go for wisdom? Do you listen to the talking heads, presidential candidates, college professors, psychiatrists, wee gee board, Tarot cards, Amy, Gloria Vanderbilt, the stars, common sense from the Farmer’s Almanac, or God through Scripture.  I hear about all of these options and many more. I also look at the motivations of a source or person. I know that we cannot know the true motivations of a person’s heart for, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  Yes, you heard it; mankind cannot be trusted unless we know them and their dispositions, motivations.

In my seminary training I came to learn about biblical reference sources. I was astounded to learn that even Bible Commentaries are written with very different perspectives from liberal to conservative and in between. Now that does not necessarily make one wrong, but it must inform us of their slant or predisposition. God tells us, “Those who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). I take that admonition very seriously. It gets me in trouble with other people continuously, because I teach from a conservative biblical worldview. My standard is the Bible and the original intent of God through His inspired writers. There are fewer people today who come from this perspective, even though mine is like that of the “Founding Fathers” of our country.

So, I look to what Joshua who led the Israelites after Moses said in his final speech to his people. “I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’ “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!  And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).