Authentic Truth vs Popularity

Today is Thursday, February 28, 2013. Last day of our shortest month. Blessings to you!

Today is National Public Sleeping Day. So if you use public transportation to get to work, go ahead! Take that nap on the way to work! However, if you are like me, and you are, sometimes, (shoutout to John Rody) and drive yourself to work, please don’t take part in this “holiday,” at least not until you get to work. Probably not a good idea to do it during the morning staff meeting, though.

Yesterday went even better for me at work, but it was a pretty light inbound day for us. Nevertheless, I’m getting better at managing my time with the new responsibilities. Stephanie and I made it to the gym (we almost didn’t, but that’s not something I will share about today), for Stephanie’s 16th workout in the month of February. I’m frustrated, as I have hit a bit of a plateau this week. I’ve been very good diet-wise, and worked out three days so far this week, and haven’t lost a bit for the week. I am, however, two pounds down from my last contest weigh in, and I plan to get by there this morning to contribute this week’s entry.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1854, “a small group of abolitionists, Free Soilers and former Democrats and Whigs met in a church in Ripon, Wisconsin, to join forces in fighting the extension of slavery into American territories. Under the leadership of Alvan Bovay, the participants adopted an anti-slavery resolution and agreed to meet again the following month. From this slight beginning was born the Republican Party of the United States.” The name “Republican” would not be formalized until March 6, at a meeting in Jackson, Michigan. They “positioned themselves as descendants of Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party, with its emphasis on equality for all, blithely ignoring the fact that their hero Jefferson had owned 250 slaves.” 😀 In two years, they nominated John C. Fremont for president, shouting this rally cry: “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont.” Really? Ugh. Four years later, Abraham Lincoln would be the first Republican president. At some point in time, they began referring to themselves as the “grand old party,” which eventually became what we see today as “GOP.” Of course, the Democratic Party was formed 22 years before the Republicans…

Today’s birthday is Joe South, born on this date in 1940. South was a singer/songwriter, probably most famous for his song, “Rose Garden.” That was far from my favorite of his, though. He also wrote a song called “Games People Play,” which was included (along with “Rose Garden”) on his Introspect album in 1969. Lynn Anderson had a monster hit with “Rose Garden,” though it was never released as a Joe South single. “Games People Play” reached number 12 on the US charts. He apparently also had a song in 1958 called “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor.” Also making it to number 12 on the charts was his single, “Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” released in 1970. Here’s a clip of “Games People Play.”

I couldn’t find a decent live clip. I did, however, find a recording of “Purple People Eater.”


As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! Psalm 40:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Psalm 57:7
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 54:22

My soul thirst for you, O living God, and all that is within me cries out to you! Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth.

Today, I’m reading Isaiah 29:17-21.

17 Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.

The judgment of God brings about severe reversals, such as forests becoming fields, and vice-versa. When Jesus comes, he brings hearing to the “deaf” and sight to the “blind.” Those who humbly seek will find “fresh joy” in him. There is great news in verses 20-21, as the oppressed are given hope that their oppressors will, one day, be brought to justice.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “False Prophets.” The scripture reading is 2 Peter 2:1-3; 3:17-18.

2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Our environment, as well as those with whom we choose to associate, will inevitably shape us, either for good or for bad. Peter shows concern, in this passage, that “the skewed biblical interpretation and lifestyle of the false teachers” will have an adverse effect on his readers’ ability to discern truth from error, and even cause the views of the false teachers to be seen as acceptable. “Repeat a bad idea or praise a sinful behavior often enough, and the entire cultural and moral landscape will eventually shift.” He therefore exhorts his readers to retain their stability “in the midst of spiritual and moral chaos.”

We have seen this happen in our culture, and we have seen false teachers rise up and become extremely popular. There are well-meaning pastors who have amassed thousands in their “churches,” by watering down the gospel to the point that it has no power. However, it is a “popularity gospel,” so it draws crowds because it makes them feel good about themselves. Peter warns us about this kind of thing in this passage, albeit not specifically. Who knows what kind of falsehood he was dealing with in his day? In our day, we must be no less alert to false teachers than Peter. We must compare the teachings of anyone who would have authority over us to the teachings of scripture. But we fall prey to pretty sounds and impressive orators. Just the other day, I heard a song on a popular Christian radio station. The song stated repeatedly, presuming to be the voice of God, “I won’t give you more than you can take. I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break.” Of course, that first sentence is one of my pet peeve points of bad theology that is still making the rounds in today’s church. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Whenever I hear that, I truly want to slap whoever said it up side the head. This idea is found nowhere in scripture! If God would not allow me to experience more than I can handle, I would not need God, would I? This is a perverted interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. But this is only referring to the area of temptation, and I believe the truth of this verse, which tells me that there is never a temptation that I don’t have the ability (still provided by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit) to resist. In regard to the second sentence in the above song quote, we must be broken before God before we can be of any use.

*Steps off soapbox*

As we think about who our teachers have been over the course of our lives, it is always good to continually ask God for wisdom and guidance, especially as we think about who our teachers and influences will be in the future. In the words of Thomas a Kempis, “Grant me, Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights you most, to value what is precious in your sight, and to hate what is offensive to you. Amen.”

Father, I ask for your wisdom as I consider who I will allow to influence me in my life, both in the spiritual realm and the natural realm. May your Spirit dwell within me daily, constantly giving me guidance in everything I read and hear, that I might discern truth from falsehood, always checking your Word against what I hear and read. Let me never accept something just because someone popular said, wrote, or sang it. May I be diligent and zealous for the truth of your word. I pray for all who would call themselves a “pastor” or “preacher” of your Word, that they might have the wisdom of your Spirit and not lean on their own understanding. May they not fall prey to the trap of being popular. Popularity feels so good…but truth feels better. There is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it needs no addition or subtraction from men to help it.

I pray for this day, Father, asking again that Christi’s pain be relieved. I pray for healing for her, that she might walk without pain. She is strong, Lord, and endures the pain, without much complaining. But how long, O Lord? Dare I ask that of you? How long? Give us patience while we wait. Help us understand the purpose behind this. Above all, never let us forget that you work all things for the good of those who love you, and are called according to your purpose. She is expecting stress at work today. I pray that you gird her with extra strength to face this day. I also pray for my work day today, that it will go smoothly, without incident. I pray that you continue to help me adjust to the new hours and responsibilities of each day, managing my time wisely. Help me know what is important and what is not important. That goes for my whole life, not just work. I pray for Stephanie today, that she have a good day, and that you would draw her close to you, in your loving embrace. She is so excited about tonight, when she will get her reward for meeting her workout challenge for February.

I lift up a friend, Steve, whose wife had sudden loss of vision last week. I pray that her vision continue to improve, as thoughts seem to be that she experienced a severe migraine. May your healing hand be on her.
I pray for a friend, Lindsey, as her and her husband have important decisions to make. Give them guidance.
For Melody and her husband, I pray for guidance in work situations.
And I lift up another friend Jennifer, whose father passed away Tuesday night. May you comfort her and her brother in their loss.

As we consider who we allow to influence us, it is best to compare their teachings with the ultimate truth of God’s Word.

Grace and peace, friends.