Is It OK to Be “Pro-choice”?

See the source image

Is It OK to Be “Pro-choice”?

James R. Aist

“Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” – Romans 14:22b

On February 25, 2019, forty-four Senate Democrats blocked a vote in the U.S. Senate that would protect the life and health of babies who survive botched abortions in the United States. Apparently, they prefer to either let such living, breathing, babies die slowly and painfully for lack of care, or murder them with a lethal injection. In effect, these Democrat Senators voted to legalize infanticide! This despicable, cold-hearted act of pure evil was a tragic fulfillment of Jesus prophecy in Matthew 24:12, “Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” In view of this development, I am compelled to address here the Christians who support and approve abortion and/or infanticide, despite the clear teaching in the Bible condemning such acts as the sin of murder (click HERE). Moreover, the biology of human reproduction informs us that human life begins at conception (click HERE), thus confirming that abortion and infanticide are, in fact, murder. God clearly condemns murder (Exodus 20:13) and declares that “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in His own image” (Genesis 9:6). This is how thoroughly evil God considers murder, including abortion, to be; it is a grave offense against the very image of God Himself! And to murder an innocent, helpless baby either before or after delivery is diametrically opposed to the sovereign will of almighty God who declares that “…children are a gift of the Lord…” (Psalm 127:3). God did not create us to murder babies, who are precious human beings that are made in His image and are His gifts to their parents!

People who are “pro-choice” believe that they are just defending a presumed “right” of the mother to decide whether her unborn or newborn child lives or dies; thus, they identify as “pro-choice.” At the same time, they deny that they have any responsibility for the death of the unborn or newborn child if the mother decides to terminate. This is nonsense. By supporting a mother’s so-called  “right to choose”, you are, in effect, implying that you believe either choice, life or death, is equally good and moral, and to the extent that you influence them to agree with you, you share in the moral responsibility for whatever decision they make. Let’s be honest and realistic for a moment: Every time you say, “It’s a woman’s right to choose”, you’re also saying, “It’s OK to murder unborn or newborn babies, either male or female.” Do you really believe that a woman has a right to murder another woman? How does it promote “women’s rights” to deny unborn or newborn women the most basic human right of all, the right to live? And, what if the choice were up to you? Would you choose to murder your own unborn or newborn baby? If not, then why would you support someone else’s choosing to do it? The only way you can avoid a shared responsibility in a decision to terminate is to take a stand against abortion and infanticide, i.e., to be “pro-life”, for “Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Romans 14:22b; see also Romans 1:28-32)!

Does the Bible have anything else to say about this issue? Indeed it does. The Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin (Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 1:28-32; and Romans 14:22b). Thus, anyone – including born-again Christians – who even approves of or otherwise encourages in any way, the sin of abortion or infanticide will, someday, have to answer to God for it. It’s high time born-again Christians stand up for the protection of the unborn and the newborn whose parents do not want them!

So, here is the conclusion of the matter: No, it is not OK to be “pro-choice”, because if you are “pro-choice”, then you are condemning yourself in what you are approving; namely, the sin of murder. Think about that for a while: God will hold you accountable for approving someone else’s choice to abort the unborn or the newborn! We have His word on it (Romans 1:28-32; and Romans 14:22b).

Key Bible Passage: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not proper. They were filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, proud, boastful, inventors of evil things, and disobedient toward parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, calloused, and unmerciful, who know the righteous requirement of God, that those who commit such things are worthy of death. They not only do them, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” – Romans 1:28-32. (bolding mine)

(To read more of my articles on abortion, click HERE, and on other biblical topics, click HERE).

False Teachers, False Prophets and Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

See the source image

False Teachers, False Prophets and Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

James R. Aist

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” – Jesus (Matthew 7:15)

Preface

I compiled this document in response to the book, “Translating God”, by Shawn Bolz. While the book includes several points that appear to be biblically sound, there are a great many false teachings in it that are unbiblical, very misleading and too significant to dismiss lightly. Such a mixture of biblical truth and heresy is typical of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that Jesus warned us about. (Note: where page numbers are given, they refer to specific pages in the book.)

A Pentecostal Definition of “Prophecy”

Dr. Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. has defined prophecy as “A spontaneous manifestation of God’s grace, received by revelation, (sometimes as a vision, at other times as impressions or thoughts) and spoken by the Spirit through a Christian who has been given a gift of prophecy in the language of those who hear the prophetic word spoken.” Such definitions apply specifically to prophecy in a meeting of a church body.

From this definition, we can see that there are three things that must happen in order for the process to be complete: First, the Holy Spirit must give the gift of prophecy to a Christian of His choosing; second, the Holy Spirit must give to that person a revelation from God; and third, the revelation must then be spoken to those whom God wants to hear it. Thus, true prophecy is initiated by the Holy Spirit and manifests first as a revelation given by the Holy Spirit. The one prophesying then turns the revelation into a prophecy by speaking it to those who hear. In other words, the Holy Spirit operates the prophecy, while the human being merely co-operates with the Holy Spirit in the process.

Regarding the aspect of spontaneity in prophecy, let me first point out that spontaneity is commonly present as an element of true prophecy in the definitions of most Pentecostal and charismatic writers. Shawn, however, conspicuously leaves “spontaneous” out of his definition (see page 100 in the book). Could this be because his three-step procedure to hear from God is not spontaneous at all, but an intentional human act to get the prophecy ball rolling, so to speak? As you will see in the Bible passages below, with true prophecy, the spontaneity is in the giving of the revelation to the human being, which is according to the will of the Holy Spirit, not the will of the human being. However, there is flexibility in when the revelation is to be shared with those who are to hear it: if the revelation comes during the meeting, then it is to be given as soon as possible during the meeting. But if the revelation comes before the meeting, then one is to wait until the meeting has begun and then give it. This is a very important distinction that will come into play if/when we consider how Shawn Bolz routinely uses his tablet or smart phone to assist him in prophesying to multiple individuals in succession at a meeting. (See the Addendum, below)

Bible Passages on “Prophecy” in the Christian Church:

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.

Paul is about to teach the Corinthians all they (and we) need to know about prophecy in the Christian church body. [If he were to leave out any essential information, then the Corinthians (and we) would still be ignorant after learning all that Paul teaches here.]

1 Corinthians 12:6 There are various operations, but it is the same God who operates all of them in all people.

It is the Holy Spirit, not the human being, who operates the gift of prophecy. We just co-operate with the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:10 …to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.

Note that “discerning of spirits” follows immediately after “prophecy” in this list. Perhaps this order of mention was meant to imply that to effectively “test the spirits to see if they are from God,” one needs to exercise the gift of “discerning of spirits.” The test of the written word of God should always be applied also. The gift of prophecy is not given to all Christians as a result of their conversion; rather, it is distributed only to some, according to the will of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:10 But that one and very same Spirit works all these, dividing to each one individually as He will.

It is the Holy Spirit, not a human being, who distributes the gift of prophecy (cf. Hebrews 2:4) as He wills, and then He works them Himself. Prophecy doesn’t “just happen”; the Holy Spirit, not a human being, initiates the process by giving someone with the gift of prophecy a revelation from God. (See the Addendum, below)

1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

Of all of the spiritual gifts, prophecy is the one most to be desired. (One may wonder, then, if maybe some of the time and energy we have been focusing on the gift of tongues might have been better spent on the gift of prophecy. I’m just sayin’.)

1 Corinthians 14:3 But he who prophesies speaks to men for their edification and exhortation and comfort.

Apparently, these are the three main purposes that God has in mind for giving us prophecy revelation in and for the church body.

1 Corinthians 14:5 I desire that you all speak in tongues, but even more that you prophesy. For greater is he who prophesies than he who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edification.

Not only is prophecy greater than tongues, but the prophet is greater than the tongues speaker, unless there is an interpretation. A message in tongues with interpretation in a church meeting is a revelation from God to edify those present; it is man-ward directed, whereas tongues spoken privately is God-ward directed to give praise and glory to God.

1 Corinthians 14:12 So, seeing that you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church. (cf. Young’s Literal Translation: so also ye, since ye are earnestly desirous of spiritual gifts, for the building up of the assembly seek that ye may abound.)

I see in this verse something that goes beyond just “…earnestly desire to prophesy.” What I see here is a call to action, an instruction for us to make every effort to get better at discerning the voice of God, so that our prophecies are true. Thus, teaching about prophecy that is aimed at improving our ability to discern the voice of God may be both biblical and encouraged. This is a key verse relative to the part of the book that promotes contemporary prophecy classes and practice sessions. (Caution: prophecy practice sessions should be summarily rejected and avoided, because they are based on the false teaching that it is a human being, not the Holy Spirit, who initiates the process of prophecy. See 2 Peter 1:20-21, below.)

1 Corinthians 14:24-25 But if all prophesy and there comes in one who does not believe or one unlearned, he is convinced by all and judged by all. Thus the secrets of his heart are revealed. And so falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

Pentecostal theology holds that “…the secrets of his heart…” refers to hidden sins. According to this view, prophecies in the church body can convict a hearer of sin.

1 Corinthians 14:26 When you come together, every one of you has a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, and an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

Apparently, prophecy revelation is routinely received before the meeting and then brought to the meeting, to be delivered during the meeting. Tongues, with interpretation, is for the edification of the whole church, just like prophecy is.

1 Corinthians 14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.

All present at the meeting are to listen to the prophecy, and judge what is said (to decide if it is from God). There is no mention of judgment of, or punishment for, the prophet if the prophecy is found to be false. Instead, according to Pentecostal Theology, there is grace to cover these human failures. But, that does not mean that we should celebrate false prophecies and take even more risks in prophesying, as Shawn teaches, any more than we should “…continue in sin that grace may increase” (Romans 6:1-2). The two main tools that we have to judge prophecies are the written word of God and the gift of discerning of spirits.

1 Corinthians 14:30 If anything is revealed to another that sits by, let the first keep silent.

Some prophecy revelations are received during the meeting, and these are to be given priority in the order of presentation at the meeting.

1 Corinthians 14:31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.

Prophecies are to be given one after another, not while others are being given, so that all of the prophecies may be heard and judged by all, and all may be edified.

1 Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that what I am writing you is a command of the Lord.

Paul has received these instructions directly from Jesus, so his teaching here about prophecy in the church body is, itself, a true prophecy.

Acts 2:17-18In the last days it shall be,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

All true believers are eligible to prophesy, because God has poured out His Spirit on all flesh. But, 1 Corinthians 12:10 says that they can only do so if/when the Holy Spirit chooses to use them in this way. Shawn, on the other hand, declares, falsely and without equivocation, that “You get to prophesy if you want to.” (Top of page 161 in the book.)

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies.  Examine all things. Firmly hold onto what is good. Abstain from all appearances of evil.

Test all prophecies to see if they are from God. Accept those that pass the tests, and reject those that do not. The tests are the written word of God and the gift of discerning of spirits. Note again that there is no explicit judgment of the prophet and no punishment specified for delivering a false prophecy…only grace, instead, according to Pentecostal Theology. But remember, that does not mean that we should celebrate false prophecies and take even more risks in prophesying, as Shawn teaches, any more than we should “…continue in sin that grace may increase” (Romans 6:1-2).

2 Peter 1:20-21 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of the Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy at any time was produced by the will of man, but holy men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

True prophecy does not proceed from the will or the imagination of human beings. Instead, people are moved by the Holy Spirit to relay a message from God. The Holy Spirit, not a human being, initiates and operates the process. By contrast, Shawn Bolz teaches, erroneously, that “You get to prophecy if you want to”, i.e., if it is your will to do so (see top of page 161 in the book and the Addendum, below).

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Do not just believe that everything a prophet says is from God, really is from God; there are many false prophecies being floated around. Rather, test every prophecy and decide for yourself if it is from God. This rule applies to even the most famous and esteemed of “prophets.” The tests are the written word of God and the gift of discerning of spirits.

General Commentary: Notice that all of these verses pertain specifically to the use of the gift of prophecy in the assembly of the saints for the edification of all assembled. Nothing is said here of either revelations about individuals, or whether or not we are to share such personal revelations with anybody. I am presently of the opinion that revelations from God about individuals are just words of knowledge to be kept to oneself, unless God instructs you to share the revelation with the individual or a group, in which case it then becomes a prophecy, by definition. I have yet to find in the Bible any instruction or permission to share God-given personal information about an individual to any group of people (e.g., a small group or class within a church body, a church body, a conference or convention of “prophets”, the internet, etc.). This will become an issue if/when we consider the way Shawn Bolz commonly uses prophecy (See the Addendum, below). Pentecostal theology commonly refers to revelations from God about and for individuals as “Rhema”, and much of what Shawn Bolz calls “prophecy” fits much better within the definition of “Rhema” than of “prophecy.” In any case, what Shawn routinely teaches and practices is not biblical prophecy as taught by Paul and others. For a sound, biblical teaching by Watchman Nee on the Rhema word, see text pages 51-59 at this link: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/bfa-media/ebooks/TGC-eng.pdf

Addendum

To more fully understand what Shawn Bolz is teaching and practicing, it will be instructional and revealing to have a look at some videos that are readily available on the internet. Here are a couple of articles, with accompanying videos, which I strongly urge you to read, watch and ponder:

The first article/video reveals, in Shawn’s own words, how he teaches children (and adults, for that matter) how to listen and hear what God wants to say to them: 1) close your eyes; 2) listen for God’s voice; 3) if you hear something, write it down. Shawn is teaching that we can initiate prophecy in this manner, whereas the Bible teaches that it is the Holy Spirit who initiates prophecy.

From the Bible we learn that God and His angels are not the only spirits inhabiting the spirit world around us. There are also Satan and his minions, including evil spirits, evil angels, demons, etc. (Ephesians 6:12). We also learn that both God and Satan are able to put thoughts into our minds (e.g., Satan lying to Eve in the garden of Eden, the account of Ananias lying to Peter about his sale price, and Peter speaking the words of men given to him by Satan, when Jesus said that He would be killed in Jerusalem). I can hardly imagine a more dangerous way to invite Satan to put thoughts into our minds than to follow Shawn’s three-step method to hear God’s voice. Here’s the link: https://bereanresearch.org/shawn-bolz-teaches-children-channel-gods-voice/

The second article/video features a video of Shawn being called to the stage at a prophecy conference to perform his prophecy show. The commentary is extremely fair-minded and careful to not draw conclusions beyond the information that was actually confirmed by searching the internet. At the end of the commentary is a response by Shawn Bolz to his critics, in which he admits that he uses a Notepad or a Smart Phone to aid in giving his prophecies. He also states that “I pray into meetings and ask God for an encounter for people”, the details of which are to be found in the first article/video, above. After viewing the video, I suggest that you ask yourself 1) Does this use of prophecy seem like what the Holy Spirit had in mind for the use of the gift of prophecy in the church?, and 2) Since, through prophecy, the secrets of a man’s heart are revealed by the Holy Spirit, why, then, in the series of prophecies in this video, has the Holy Spirit revealed to Shawn only published information about these people? Are we to believe that the Holy Spirit was unable to reveal any secrets that were hidden in their hearts? Or, is this just 5-6 compounded “coincidences” in a row? You can draw your own conclusions. Here’s the link: https://jonnyleaders.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/shawn-bolz-evidence-his-words-of-knowledge-are-mostly-online-public-knowledge/

****************************************************************

Here is some further information that, I believe, we should have in mind as we proceed through “Translating God”:

Bolz Wrongly Dividing the Word of God: Some Selected Examples

Example 1

(The false claims of Bolz regarding Agabus and his prophecies are on pgs. 66-67)

(See: Acts 11:27-30; 21:3-4; 7-15; and 21:27-36)

(Note that 1) Agabus was not among those who tried to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem, as Bolz claims. He just delivered the prophecy and let it go at that; 2) the Jews did seize Paul and turn him over to the Gentiles (Roman soldiers). So, this is another prophecy of Agabus fulfilled, not failed as Bolz claims!)

Conclusions: 1) both of the prophecies of Agabus were actually fulfilled; 2) this is not an example of a false prophecy in the NT, as Bolz claimed; and, 3) Bolz says that the second prophecy of Agabus was concerning Paul’s visit to Rome, whereas it was really about Paul’s visit to Jerusalem! He couldn’t even get that right; 5) “the devil is in the details!”

Example 2

Bolz “paraphrases” John 3:16-17

“Before you even prophesy out of your mouth there has to be a change in your heart. It starts with really understanding.” (pg. 47) What he says here may have some truth in it re. prophecy, but this passage has nothing to do with prophecy. This is classic “scripture twisting” of the worst kind, to serve his purpose.

Example 3

Bolz misrepresents why Jesus spoke in parables.

(See pgs. 89 & 90). In Matthew 13:10-17, Jesus explains to His disciples why He spoke in parables, and it was nothing at all like what Bolz said! What Bolz says serves his purpose, but it is false exegesis.

Example 4

In Exodus 33:20, God said to Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live.” But, on page 27 of the book, Shawn writes, “What is that like, to know we can see God the way he truly is? Throws that old superstitious theology of not being able to “see the face of Jesus and live” right out the window, doesn’t it?” Did you see the slight of word there? Shawn substituted the word “Jesus” for “God”, and that makes all the difference. The Old Testament makes several references to appearances of Jesus, called Christophanies, in which men see Jesus face-to-face without falling dead (e.g., Exodus 33:11). But Shawn cannot make Exodus 33:20 out to be “old superstitious theology” without that little word switch. Moreover, Shawn reveals in this quote his utter disrespect and contempt for the word of God, referring to it as “old superstitious theology.”

How can one understand how Shawn can feel free to so grossly and shamelessly misrepresent what the Bible says? I believe that a clue can be found on page 63 of his book, where he states, “…God’s love and Spirit as they interpret the Bible together for the days and time they live in.” Notice he didn’t say something like “…as they explain the relevance of what the Bible says to the days and time they live in.” Rather, he says, in effect, that the Bible should be re-interpreted so as to conform to the days and time we live in. If we are free to let the days and time we live in interpret what the Bible really means, then the Bible can be construed to say anything we want it to say. And so, we have the Bolz Sub-standard Version, or BS for short.

Some False teachings of Shawn Bolz:

  1. We can all prophecy if we want to. (page 161);
  2. A human being can initiate the process of prophecy by following his three-step procedure to prompt the Holy Spirit to speak a revelation from God (See addendum, below);
  3. Shawn implies that God is not offended by false prophecies (several pages in the book), and Pentecostal theology asserts that there is grace to allow for false prophecies. Now, if God is not offended by false prophecies, then why would there be any need for grace to cover them? Moreover, grace is not given automatically, but is conditional. So, what must we do to have grace released for our offenses against God? The Bible says that we must confess our sins and repent, but Shawn says we should celebrate our failed prophecies to encourage ourselves to take even more risks of giving false prophecies in the future! Where have we heard that kind of “logic” before? Take a look at Romans 6:1-2!
  4. Jesus did not come to “convict” the world of sin (pg. 47, re. John 3:17, where Jesus actually said “condemn the world”, not “convict the world”). In point of fact, Jesus spoke many times against a variety of sins, thus convicting those of His hearers who had ears to hear;
  5. People don’t have to change (repent) to inherit a relationship with God (p. 74);
  6. Prophecy is only about love and relationship; the content and words don’t matter to God (pgs. 67, 68, 69, 70, 77 etc.);
  7. Apparently, Bolz assumes that a Word of Knowledge can come only from God (pgs. 102, 104), but we know that Satan also can speak words into the minds of men (e.g., Eve, Peter, and Ananias). Thus, a false prophecy can, in fact, come from either the prophet or from Satan, and Shawn’s assumption amounts to a very dangerous false teaching;
  8. Shawn teaches “another gospel.” His gospel intentionally avoids the mention of obedience, sin, repentance, punishment or the wrath of God (the bad news) and skips directly to God’s love and blessings and approval (the good news). But the Bible says that God demonstrated His love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. John 3:16 says the same thing, but with fewer words. Any teaching of the “good news” without the need for repentance is a false gospel, because it’s only half of the full Gospel.

How to Recognize False Teachers and Prophets:

  1. There will be many others like them (Matthew 24:11 and 1 John 4:1)
  2. By their own will they will produce prophecies (2 Peter 1:21)
  3. They will appear to be Christians (i.e., they are “wolves in sheep’s clothing”) (Matthew 7:15)
  4. They will bear evil fruit (e.g., false prophecies) (Matthew 7:16-20)
  5. They will not endure (i.e., abide in) sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3)
  6. They will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires (e.g., Prophecy Conventions) (2 Timothy 4:3)
  7. They will teach what men, having “itching ears”, are eager to hear (2 Timothy 4:3)
  8. They will turn from the truth to myths (2 Timothy 4:4)
  9. They will be out of control (2 Timothy 4:5)
  10. They will manifest signs and wonders to deceive even the elect (Matthew 24:24)
  11. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1; Jeremiah 23:14)
  12. Many will follow their ways (2 Peter 2:2)
  13. They will blaspheme the way of truth (2 Peter 2:2)
  14. They will be presumptuous and arrogant (2 Peter 2:10)
  15. They will revel in their own deception (2 Peter 2:13)
  16. They will forsake the right way (2 Peter 2:15)
  17. They will speak arrogant words of vanity (2 Peter 2:18)
  18. They will promise freedom (2 Peter 2:19)
  19. They will speak lies in hypocrisy (1 Timothy 4:2)
  20. They will put their own words into God’s mouth (Jeremiah 23:16)

Can you find Shawn Bolz in this list?

After Words

No one will find it enjoyable to label a prominent personality in Christendom a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, but the many warnings in the New Testament about false teachers, false prophets and false doctrines in the end times are there for a reason and demand our careful attention and appropriate action. We are instructed in the New Testament to test all of these to see if they are from God…or not. God’s written word, or logos, is a test that should be always be applied. The spiritual gift of discerning of spirits is also available to us and can be used to determine what is and is not from God. If you are not prepared, or willing, to make such determinations, as the Bible instructs us to do, then I challenge you to prepare yourself and muster the courage of your convictions to speak out so that others will not be fooled by the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that you encounter. There is no better way than this for us to “defend the faith.”

(To read more of my biblically-based articles, click HERE)

Letting God Be God

See the source image

Letting God Be God

James R. Aist

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

I don’t know about you, but I have had a difficult time surrendering everything – I mean everything – to the sovereignty of God. Now, I’m not talking about mental assent only; even that’s hard enough at times. No, I’m talking about mental assent plus the “no strings attached” submission and obedience to God’s sovereign will that makes mental assent genuine. This “letting God be God” is what I want us to think about for the next few minutes, and it’s one of the most important matters that we need to settle with God, once and for all, as discussed elsewhere (click HERE).

God has made it abundantly clear who is in charge, “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does in heaven and on earth (Psalm 135:6).” He also commanded us to relax and let Him be God, “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).” And how do we let Him do this? By trusting God to know best how to accomplish His will on earth and getting out of His way so that He can do it without our interference!

The Apostle Paul addressed this issue head on, saying “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18, italics mine).” In other words, whatever happens to you, accept it as God’s sovereign will for you; He has allowed it, so maintain an attitude of thanksgiving toward God regardless of what comes your way. Now, I know this is a hard saying, but we have several good examples in the Bible where this high regard for the sovereignty of God in the face of severe testing is illustrated for us: 1) Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:20-22);” 2) Abraham agreed to sacrifice his son Isaac at God’s instruction, and would have gone through with it (Genesis 22:1-3); and 3) Jesus said, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done (Luke 22:41-43).” Submitting ourselves to God’s sovereign will does not mean excusing ourselves when the going gets rough! After all, “For he who is called in the Lord while a servant is the Lord’s freeman. Likewise, he who is called while free is Christ’s servant. You were bought at a price. Do not be the servants of men. Brothers, let every man, in whatever condition he is called, remain there with God (1 Corinthians 7:22-24, italics mine).”

So then, what’s in it for us? Well, how about peace with God? I submit that peace with God comes when we accept, with joy, all that He allows to happen to us. Moreover, can we agree that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him (John Piper)?” And, that is why we were created in the first place, to glorify God (click HERE).

Finally, to balance out this discussion, let me point out that I am not suggesting that God wants us to just accept every evil thing that comes our way without asking Him to come to our rescue, if that is His will. No, we are instructed to Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).” That’s exactly what Paul did regarding his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7), and it’s what Jesus did concerning the kind of death He was about to suffer (Mathew 26:39). And, sometimes, like both Jesus and Paul, God may say “No.” But, I believe, God is always pleased that we asked and glorified by our asking, regardless of the answer. Furthermore, by asking in sincerity and humility, we are demonstrating that we are willing to accept whatever God’s sovereign will is in the matter. So, let us not be among those who “…have not because you ask not (James 4:2).”

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE.)

Shields Up, Fire at Will!

Shields Up, Fire at Will!

James R. Aist

If you are old enough to have been a fan of the Three Stooges slap-stick comedy series, the title of this article may have reminded you of the episode where the Stooges are armed for battle and someone gives the command, “Fire at will”, to which one of the stooges responds, “Which one is Will?” Well, this article is not about the famous Three Stooges, but it is about four not-so-famous child “stooges”, including myself, who lived so far “out in the sticks” of rural, central Arkansas that we had to invent games to entertain ourselves during the long, hot summers when school was out. And, to do so, we had to use whatever was readily available, which wasn’t much. [For example, you may enjoy reading also my account of “Wasper Warriors” (click HERE)].

This particular game we dubbed “Corn Cob Fights”, and it was practiced briefly when we were about 8-10 years old. Since we lived on a farm, raised a few pigs and had a dairy herd, there was no shortage of corn cobs and burlap feed bags. It wasn’t long before I realized that these were all we needed to create a new fighting game when we grew tired of playing “Cowboys and Indians.” The burlap bags made suitable shields when supported by a straight stick passed through one end, while corn cobs were readily obtained from the filthy, disgusting, germ-infested ground inside the pig pen. The fact that these corn cobs, because of their nasty origin, made terrifying projectiles when thrown, just made the game more exciting to us. (Remember, we were boys, we were bored, we were only 8-10 years old, and Mamma didn’t always know what we were up to!)

So, we collected our corn cobs, constructed our shields, decided on the ground rules and selected the venue: one team would defend the barn’s hay loft by “firing” corn cobs through the open door in one end – an opening that was used to pass hay bales into and out of the hayloft — and the other team would stand on the ground and try to “pick them off” by “firing” corn cobs when they appeared in the opening to “fire” corn cobs at us. The burlap shields were used by the ground team. This seemed innocent enough at the time. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

To start the fight, we chose sides, with two friends on each side. Tommy Joe was on the loft side, I was on the ground side, and we took our respective positions about 25 feet in front of the barn. The loft team fired first, suddenly appearing in the opening, launching their filthy missiles, and quickly dodging back behind the barn wall to safety. We easily dodged their reckless, return rounds with shields up, and then fired back. But, alas and alack, they could much more easily protect themselves than we could, because they could retreat quickly behind the wooden wall of the loft when we fired at them. After a few, futile exchanges, it occurred to me that I would have to come up with a new strategy, if we were ever going to emerge victorious over these lofty fiends. So, I took note of the time it took for them fire again after firing at us: it took about two seconds for them to reappear to fire back.

With that time in mind, I fired into the opening, waited two seconds, and then aimed and fired again where I expected Tommy Joe to appear just as my ordinance arrived. And, wouldn’t you know it, my new strategy (can you say “trickery”) worked perfectly: Tommy Joe popped his head out just in time to be smashed in the face by my filthy, airborne corn cob! I was astonished at this development, because the odds of actually hitting my target must have been at least a million to one! Then I heard Tommy Joe begin to cry, and I saw blood on his lip. “This wasn’t supposed to happen, not really”, I thought to myself. Then Tommy Joe complained loudly, through his tears, that I had cheated, to which I shot back that there were no rules in this game against trickery. For some reason, Tommy Joe didn’t seem to be comforted by my retort. Go figure. Then it hit me: “What if he tells on me, and what if he gets infected from the filthy corn cob? This could very possibly not end well for me.” “Oh, why did I ever invent such a game in the first place?” I asked myself, with sincere regret in my heart.

Well, Tommy Joe and I had been friends for a few years already, and when he had calmed down, he realized that his injury was never intended to be an outcome of this game. So, we agreed to never play the game again and moved on. Nevertheless, I must admit that I still admire the clever creativity that went into my trickery and the skill with which I pulled it off. Still, I am glad that I had the presence of mind to not suggest that we go for “two out of three” as a way to, somehow, console him. You see, sometimes it’s best to just keep your mouth shut and walk away!

(To read more of my short stories, click HERE.)