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.

[Dec 20]--Let's Be Honest

Eph. 4:25-28

I’ve been reading a great book recently called In Defense of Faith by David Brog. He’s a practicing Jew who outlines just how much the ethic of love has impacted Western Civilization. In it he presents three examples of who he considers great teachers whose ethical teachings are the foundation of modern Judaism and traditional Christianity. Two are famous rabbis, Hillel (circa 10 A.D.) and Akiva (circa 100 A.D.). They both presented what they considered the essence of their faith thus: Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself. Brog presents these rabbis right next to Jesus, who gave us what’s commonly called “The Golden Rule”: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” In Brog’s mind, these are basically the same command.

I love the book, but do you see the difference between these three? The rabbis he cites give a negative morality: Don’t do X to others if you wouldn’t want X done to you. In contrast, our Lord gives a positive command. Not that the rabbis are totally wrong, but it seems to me a lot easier to avoid doing something bad to someone else as opposed to doing positive good for them. If I see someone in need and don’t do anything for them, I could be following the rabbis’ command to the letter. But Jesus tells me I have to go out of my way to do what I can for them.

Why do I bring this up, and what does it have to do with honesty? Because we tend to think of honesty in terms of negative morality instead of positive responsibilities. If I don’t lie to someone, is that all God requires? Um, no.

Look at today’s passage. We're to “put off falsehood,” in other words stop lying. But we're also supposed to take the next step and “speak truthfully” to our neighbor. That means I don’t leave out something that he needs to know. That means I don’t leave him with a misunderstanding in my favor. That means I don’t “forget” to mention the parts which make me look bad or which undermine the case I’m trying to make.

Before we go further, let me clarify some things. This doesn’t mean that we can’t use tact. We don’t necessarily have to tell everyone everything with no consideration of their feelings. Or if someone tells me something in confidence, then I have to respect that. There also might be hypothetical or extreme cases in which the person asking me something is not deserving of the entire truth, like a Nazi soldier asking me if there are Jews hiding in my house. But in 99.999999999% of the cases, that's not what’s happening. Most of the time I’m leaving something out because it makes me look better to do so.

This virtue of honesty shouldn’t just be in what we say but in how we act. Once again we’re expected to move beyond negative morality to positive action. No, we’re not supposed to steal anymore. Hopefully, it’s just a given that Christians don’t shoplift, or pick pockets, or break into homes and steal peoples’ stuff.

But my Savior wants more from me. It’s not enough that I don’t steal from anyone. I’m supposed to make an honest living in order to help other people.

Quite frankly, I wish sometimes that God’s expectations were lower. It’s hard to go out of my way to help someone else. I don’t usually lie outright, but can I say that I make sure to “speak truthfully”? Hmmmmmm. Something I need to pray about.

Lord Jesus, you are the Truth Incarnate. What do you say? Does my speech and life reflect you? I belong to you. Can everyone see that?

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