OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[Mar 17]--Lex Rex

Deut. 17:14-20

I remember sitting in one of my Church History classes as my professor talked about the double “pillars” of Western Civilization. The point he was making is that what we know as "Western Civilization" is a blending of two pivotal civilizations, namely Greece and Israel. From ancient Greek civilization we get at least the rudimentary beginnings of such ideas as democracy (“rule by the people”) and some notion of separation of church and state. From ancient Hebrew law we get ideas like the sanctity of human life. This doesn’t mean that either society always lived up to their ideas and ideals, but they at least introduced them into the bloodstream of human thought. I submit that the most underrated innovation that the Torah introduced--which modern people tend to take entirely for granted--is the idea of Lex Rex.

This phrase literally means “The law is king.” Being raised in a westernized nation, this is something that is so momentous and affects almost every aspect of our relationship with government, and we rarely (if ever) think about it. The most common form of government in history has been some form of monarchy, usually absolute monarchy. This meant that the law was whatever the king says it was. If he woke up one morning and decided that all red-headed people should be executed, then that was the law of the land (until he or a later king changed his mind). A fair trial was whatever he said it was. He didn’t need anyone’s permission to go to war, levy taxes, or or otherwise change the laws on a whim.

And of course the king and noble people were held to a different standard than common folk.  If he wanted someone’s property or woman, he'd simply take them. There might be laws against something on the books, but no one would be crazy enough to arrest the king for a crime that would end the freedom and life of a commoner.

This was not to be the case for Israel under God’s law. As today’s passage makes clear, the king was under God’s law just as much as the lowliest slave in the land. In fact, the standards were higher for him in at least one way: He alone was commanded to write out the entire Torah by hand for himself, and read it every single day. The whole purpose of this was so that he would “not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left."

As I mentioned, this concept of Lex Rex affects us in almost every dealing we have with our government. The police can’t simply enter your home without a warrant, nor stop you on the street without probable cause, and if they did, the outcry and bad publicity would be a nightmare for the offending officers. The Constitution has a “Bill of Rights” which is really a list of restrictions on the federal government, telling it what it can't do. We’ve had two presidents impeached in our history, and a third was forcibly resigned from his office by the threat of impeachment. All of this would've been unthinkable throughout most of human history. I mean that word literally: It would've never entered the imagination of most people how government could be so restricted.

Now, do we still see abuses, even in our society which is so (relatively) free and open? Do people with little power still get oppressed by governmental abuse? Of course. We still live in a fallen world, and even the best, most god-fearing and honest government official is still a sinner. But the whole idea of Lex Rex and all that entails is something for which we need to be more grateful than we usually are. Without it, we wouldn't even be having conversations and debates about the occasional abuses, since they'd be the exception, not the rule.

This concept flows over (or should flow over) into our church governments. Often the world's "Golden Rule" is "He who has the gold makes the rules." People with money, good looks, or power are frequently held to a different standard. But as our Savior so forcefully put it, "Not so with you." Church leaders aren't above God’s standards; in fact, they're held to a stricter standard than the rest of the congregation. In God’s system, we're all sinners who desperately need his grace, and no one is higher than his sibling in Christ.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for thinking I’m higher or more important than anyone else, especially my brothers. I’m their servant, and I need to remember that.

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