For the Diggers: Lessons from Jabesh-Gilead

The town of Jabesh-Gilead was in the half tribe of Manasseh that settled on the east of Jordan. Jabesh was the name of the town and Gilead was the region, that region being partially in Manasseh and partially in Gad. Jabesh-Gilead was in the land belonging to Manasseh. (You will remember Manasseh was one of the sons of Joseph, along with Ephraim.) We remember that one of the stipulations for their being allowed to settle on the east side of the river, before the conquering, was that they would go across the Jordan and help their brethren fight for the promised land, driving out the inhabitants of Canaan. We read about this agreement in Joshua 1: 14,15:

Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD’S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

It seems that the two-and-a-half tribes kept that commitment to go in and fight for the whole of Israel as they conquered Canaan. But it was during a later civil war that erupted between Israel and a remarkably immoral tribe of  Benjamin, over an abused concubine, that the men of Jabesh-Gilead went AWOL and failed to defend the honor of the nation against Benjamin. Because they failed to show up in this important and God-sanctioned war, the men and married women of the city of Jabesh were killed in the very last chapter of the book of Judges. A curse had been pronounced on Benjamin, because of their immorality and violence, that no man of Israel would give his daughter in marriage to the Benjamites. So, because of this failure to come to war against the Benjamites, the remaining unmarried women of Jabesh-Gilead were given as wives to the Benjamites who had survived the war.  (After all, this was not technically a violation of the curse, since these virgins had no fathers to give them in marriage. Their fathers had been killed in the punishment on Jabesh-Gilead.) These marriages were performed in order to preserve the tribe of Benjamin, threatened by extinction because the few men who remained had no wives.  Thus began the rebuilding of the tribe of Benjamin (of which Saul, coincidentally, was a son).

Fast forward to I Samuel 11. Though some years had passed, it appears to me that there were some of the men of Judges 21, who may have  been living still by the time of the events of I Samuel 11. (Some commentators put these events in close proximity time-wise. Others believe they may have been some 300 years apart.) The young boys who were left in Jabesh-Gilead had perhaps had time to reach adulthood or even be grandfathers, but the city would have likely been yet vulnerable to attack since its utter destruction had occurred in the not-too-distant past (although the exact date of the civil war is not certain). 

At this point (I Samuel 11), Saul was on the brink of becoming the brand new king of Israel and his first major challenge was when the Ammonites, under King Nahash, attacked the city of Jabesh-Gilead. The vulnerable city attempted to make a league of service to the Ammonites, but the men of Nahash the Ammonite required that the men of Jabesh-Gilead have their right eyes plucked out before coming into their service. The men of Jabesh-Gilead asked for one week, during which they appealed to Israel for help, in order to preserve their eyes and perhaps maintain their liberty. It was Saul, who organized an army and rescued Jabesh from the Ammonites. Lots of questions can emerge from this scenario. 

  1. Was Saul’s mother or grandmother one of those women who came from Jabesh-Gilead in forced marriage to a remaining Benjamite? Was this one reason he was quick to go to the rescue of that city? Did he have relatives who were young boys at the time of the initial destruction? 
  2. Was Saul lacking in character as the first king of Israel because of the fact that the male leaders of his tribe were almost all killed as a result of their immorality? Was this, perhaps, part of God’s purposeful lesson in giving the nation a human king rather than allowing the intended divine system to remain in place? 
  3. Lastly, we see that the bodies of Saul and his sons following their deaths in battle against the Philistines were left on the wall of Bethshan (I Samuel 31:11-13). Who was it that went to get the body of the former king of Israel and bury him? It was the “valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead.” They brought Saul and his sons to Jabesh and buried them under a tree. David later thanked the people of Jabesh for this act of piety (2 Samuel 2:4-6). Why, out of all of Israel, who had served under this the first king of Israel, was it that the men of Jabesh went to get the body?  Was it possibly because the king’s matriarchal ancestor was from Jabesh-Gilead? This is impossible to ascertain, since we cannot be sure of the exact chronology of the events in Judges 21 or the exact identity of Saul’s mother, but it is interesting to ponder. 

What we can know is that, for whatever reason, Saul was quick to defend the people of Jabesh-Gilead even before he became king of Israel. He was not of the judgment that, because of their prior failures to stand with Israel, that Israel should fail to stand for them. 

Finally, it is interesting to note that the attacking people in 2 Samuel 11 was the people of Ammon. The Ammonites, of course, were the Semitic people born of Benammi, who was one of the sons born to Lot after his incestuous relationship with his daughters shortly following his delivery from Sodom. The Ammonites, though related to Israel through Lot, were a constant thorn in the side of God’s people. 

In all of these interwoven accounts, one thing is very clear. Sin has a very progressively negative effect as time goes by. A “vacation” from the battle for Jabesh turned into the massive destruction of the adults of the entire city. (How much destruction do we encounter/cause when we take a break from fighting the spiritual battles of our own environments?) 

A single act of immorality turned into the humbling of an entire tribe of Benjamites. (How often do we fail to see huge consequences of “a little action” that violates the moral code of God? Is this not the 2017 Fox News story we see being replayed over and over this very week?)

An entire nation of wicked people grew from a single incestuous decision/act on the parts of some desperate women. (Do parents today make decisions that may turn into national tragedies? You do not have to look very far into monarchies and other governments of the modern world to see what happens when parents become separated from Biblical moorings.) 

The rejection of God as king never had a chance of being what was best for Israel. (Spiritually, we rob ourselves of our very best happiness in this life and eternal fulfillment when we reject Him as King in our lives.)

The regrowth of Benjamin without the fathers/leaders of that tribe resulted in moral poverty. (Once again, this is the plight of our nation today. It is the catalyst for moral bankruptcy or, at least, one recurring arc of a cycle of moral depravity.)

Saul and his sons were poor and desperate at the time of their deaths. There was no national mourning for the king, no proper burial and no pomp and circumstance. (When we die without His favor, our desperation is inevitable and limitless in both its depth and its eternality.)

Sister to Sister: Have You Been Anesthetized?

It’s really a daily challenge to be in this world and yet remain insulated from its spiritually destructive components. I cannot imagine going through a day without having to constantly remind myself of what conversations, media and relationships are appropriate for somebody who’s following Jesus and what Philippians 4:8 would filter out for me. I want His word to always be the filter in the nitty-gritty decisions of everyday living. I think sometimes it’s easy for me to say the big things like “I would give my life for Christ,” or “My favorite book is the Bible” or “Growing in Christ is my number one goal,” but it’s the all-day-long difficult and specific choices that make or break my big easily stated commitments.I don’t call into question the sincerity of somebody whose little choices don’t reflect the big professions of life. Sometimes I think we really do mean the big commitment statements found on our profiles on facebook. It’s just that the inconsistencies in the little decisions don’t sting because we’ve become environmentally and culturally anesthetized. What should really hurt us as His people doesn’t hurt at all because we’re breathing the fumes of the society in which we live. Once I accidentally made a pretty huge gash in my left hand; lots of blood and nausea, an eventual scar and a pain that was wretched. On another occasion a doctor made a similar gash in my foot to remove a piece of glass; lots of blood, a similar scar, but absolutely no pain. The difference was, of course, the presence of the anesthetic.

So how is it that we can sing “I am mine no more, I’ve been bought with blood,’ or “Purer in heart O God, help me to be,” or ” I surrender all” or “Lord take control,” and yet fail to even feel the sting of the destructive media influences that are in direct opposition to the themes we’ve stated for our lives? I think we just don’t feel the pain that should accompany spiritual wounds because we are anesthetized by the culture in which we live. As the world becomes more and more ungodly, we are lulled into a kind of comfortable moral drowsiness that makes us unaware of the effects of the tools in the hands of the devil. We find ourselves laughing at all kinds of wickedness as it is digitally welcomed into our living rooms, bedrooms and dorm rooms. We can listen to vulgarity and profanity and hardly be aware we’ve heard them even as they work to erode the values that we’ve professed all along. Pretty soon we start thinking through our days about the drama or the hilarity of some episode that really was pretty far removed from the “I want to grow in Christ” thesis through which we intended to filter our choices. We start talking about things that are in the Galatians 5:19-21 list with the same nonchalant tone with which we would talk about the weather. Without even really thinking about it, we spend more time concentrating on the works of the flesh as portrayed by Hollywood than we do in Bible study or prayer. Pretty soon, the gap between what we profess and our practical focus is a chasm.Perhaps we find that in our entertainment choices, we sometimes “rejoice in iniquity.” Perhaps we even encourage others to violate their consciences by encouraging them to love what God would identify as abomination. In short, we’ve just become numb to the sorrow we should feel as his children at the presence of sin in our media choices. The devil wants to devour us and he is much more successful when we start failing to feel the pain of the lion’s tenons and teeth.

It’s been helpful for me to constantly remember and repeat the phrase “Entertainment is optional.” Being “optional” means it’s not a requirement for life. It means it’s not absolutely necessary. In fact, retaining entertainment in my life is probably less necessary than retaining my limbs or my eyesight. But Jesus said if your eye or your hand offends you, just get rid of it rather than allowing it to cause the loss of your soul. I can go to heaven without ever turning on the television, but I can’t go to heaven if I’m not “abstaining from the very appearance of evil” (I Thess.5:22).

Matthew 6:33 is not too difficult to understand when it comes to this abstinence from the appearance of evil. It’s not hard to understand when I try to conform my thoughts to Philippians 4:8. Where it gets hard is not in my ability to comprehend its meaning. It means when I have choices in optional matters I am going to make sure my allegiance is first to His kingdom and righteousness. Where it gets hard is in my willingness to apply it all day long. It’s difficult while I am watching the episode to stop and ask, “Am I seeking righteousness when I put this stuff into my head?” It’s difficult to just pick up the remote and say “I choose to seek first His righteousness.”

So many times, I can look back and know full well that a particular decision was completely out of alignment with the BIG profession I have made for my life. Those times are my biggest regrets. I want to adjust the practical part of my Christianity, because Christ can’t remain in my heart if He’s not affecting my agenda, dominating my calendar, making my choices, and shaping my plans. The remote should be controlled by Him.

“Awake. O sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph. 5:14)…”We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” (I Thess.5:5,6) . Let’s get out from under the power of the anesthesia and into a well-lit recovery room!

One Single Vote

 

4d2660c72722dbea504db6b0882dd079-mediumThere’s more at stake for America today than probably any other day in my lifetime. It’s very rare that a president gets to make a Supreme Court nomination. Yet the president elected today will likely make three or four of those nominations, if time marches on. How much does that matter? More than you or I can imagine. Surely more than I want to contemplate if the Democratic party claims the White House. 

Because of one vote in the Court, Americans are allowed to exercise their religious freedom in the work place. You remember that case—the Hobby Lobby case. It’s been huge in the protection of the consciences of Bible-believing business owners. That case was won for Hobby Lobby by a margin of one vote. It was five to four. 

So was the voting in the Heller case. You know, that’s the one that struck down the prohibition of citizens in the District of Columbia owning handguns. It’s the one that protects your right to own a gun. Five to four. We were within one vote of losing the second amendment right to bear arms.  

It was five to four in the case that prevented the removal of crosses from public lands. Justice Kennedy stated the essence of that Supreme Court decision: “…the Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.” But barely does it “not oblige”. Once again, one vote saved the day.

It was five to four in the case of Dale vs. Boy Scouts of America in which the Boy Scouts were protected from forced acceptance of homosexual leaders. One vote made the difference that day in the year 2000. (In 2015 the Boy Scouts of America ended their ban on gay leaders. But the ramifications for all associations/clubs would have been great, were it not for that one vote that effectively reversed the decision of the lower court.)

The tide will be turned in the Supreme Court today. In one direction or another, the course of our country will be set by the electorate will of the people. The Democratic party platform reads:

“We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion…”

It’s important to know that this statement is in the first line under the heading of “Appointing Justices”. It’s not even under “Reproductive Rights” or  “Abortion”. This platform would like to make it crystal clear that, of all of the various subjects of appeal heard by the Supreme Court, this is the one subject specifically chosen and lauded to be the litmus test for Court nominees should Hillary Clinton win the White House. Prospective justices will never be pro-life. The fate of millions of babies will effectively be decided today. 

On the other hand, here is a quote from the 2016 Republican platform. This is not found in any section about justices. It’s in a section called “The Fifth Amendment”—a portion of a larger section called “A Rebirth of the Constitution.” There are strong words therein—words that ignite hope in people like me who grieve over the 1.3 million still killed yearly in America. Here are a few of them:

The Constitution’s guarantee that no one can “be deprived of life, liberty or property” deliberately echoes the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that “all” are “endowed by their Creator” with the inalienable right to life. Accordingly, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. 

One platform will prevail. That’s right. It will not merely be a candidate which wins. It will be a platform. An ideology. A basis for court appointments and, ultimately, decisions that will bear on our ability as Christians to freely practice Christianity. I believe the goodness—even the vitality–of the republic hangs in the balance today. Oh, I know we will go on practicing Christianity whether it is legal to do so or not. I know we will be Christians even if persecution against Christians becomes a reality in America. I know our true citizenship is not registered in the republic of our birth, but in the monarchy of our second birth. Still, I love the gospel and I hope it can have free course in our United States throughout the lives of my grandchildren. I hope they can freely conduct business without spiritual compromise. I hope they can demand rights as parents over the decisions made by their minor children. I hope they can teach all of the counsel of God in America during their lifetimes—even the parts about homosexuality and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. (There’s some strong language in the platforms about that, too.)

Today is consequential to that end. Remember when you mark that ballot:  It’s a platform for which you vote…a platform that will permeate the decisions made in the most influential governing body in the United States of America. Let freedom ring for all of our children and grandchildren.14976545_954318208009_7911591685176512923_o

Nickelodeon: “Let’s Make History!”

 

 

UnknownWhat television station is available to 94.7 % of households in America with at least one television set?  What station airs programming specifically for preschool children from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm daily? It’s Nickelodeon, of course, and now, Nickelodeon has something else to “boast” about. They’ve introduced for America’s children, their first animated “gay married” couple. 

According to LifeSite news (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/nickelodeon-makes-history-with-first-cartoon-same-sex-married-couple), Lincoln Loud, an 11-year old from “The Loud House” even says, before opening the door for a friend who’s been invited for a sleepover, “Time to make history!” He then opens the door to a little boy and his two daddies, who then go about their business of fussing over the little boy’s health and safety. (Never mind about his or your children’s emotional and moral safety, of course. We’re way past that in cartoon land.)  

The_loud_house

Following the lead of Disney  and Cartoon Network, who have already introduced gay married couples in children’s programming, Viacom owned Nickelodeon had already introduced a lesbian couple in online programming in the finale of “The Legend of Korra,” in 2014.

I can remember when moms used to be concerned about whether or not it was healthy for their children to watch Roadrunner blowing up Wiley Coyote all the time. I remember thinking “Those mothers need a nap.”

Well, I guess maybe so. But if we moms took a nap, then for sure, we needed to wake up a little bit sooner. Moms really do have something to worry about now. As Jeff Johnston, an analyst from Focus on the Family,  put it “…television shows, books, and movies with sexually-confusing messages … introduce children to falsehoods and immorality, and they create confusion and insecurity….Children are not equipped to handle these adult themes” (LifeSite News).

That’s an understatement. The damage is substantial and often permanent. Moms really can’t be too vigilant around children, especially preschoolers, and television. The toddler years are when they are forming their media habits and America’s eight-year-olds are now consuming eight hours per day of what’s mostly pop culture via the tv screen. It’s  no wonder we are suffering in huge ways from missing morals in America today.

I know. I know….”Television just reflects our ethics and morality…it doesn’t create them.”  Well,  that’s partly true, of course. Television both reflects and promotes the moral plunge of the populace. But two-year-olds are not morally depraved.  They are sponges soaking up the examples…through media and culture and, thankfully and primarily, through parents. So step up to the plate, moms. Take charge of the amount of time you let the world’s mentality influence your kids. And, just as importantly, take charge of the content of material your children are viewing through the magic window that’s above your fireplace or in your entertainment center. Time is short. Don’t let television be your babysitter. If you can’t control it, remove it (Matthew 5: 29,30). Let’s love our kids and grandkids enough to protect them, nurture them and point them to heaven.

(You can watch a preview of The Loud House sleepover episode here, but the preview ends just before the “history-making” door opens….http://www.nick.com/videos/clip/the-loud-house-109a-clip.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sister to Sister: Black Lives Matter…There’s No Band-Aid

498484120_1280x720The irony of the Black Lives Matter movement lies in its consistent insistence to assign motives to policemen prior to any process of investigation. While it’s clearly wrong for a policeman to assume, without evidence, that a person of color is a criminal and to act on that assumption, it’s surely the same leap for people of color to assume that a policeman who is making a traffic stop is pulling a person over because he is black and not because he is violating a traffic ordinance.

A young black girl got into the car of a friend of mine recently. This friend has gone out of her way on multiple occasions to transport this young girl, whose family is unwilling or unable to provide transportation for her. The conversation, on this particular day, turned to law enforcement  officers. The young girl commented “I don’t like cops. They don’t like us. They just want to hurt my people, just because we’re black.”

Now the girl is just a young teen. She was, very likely, just spewing forth what she’d heard others say. Surely she didn’t realize, though, that she was saying it to the mother of a young man who puts on that uniform every morning and works diligently all day to protect the people of her city—to protect her. She didn’t know she was profiling. And there’s lot of profiling going on in the BLM movement.

The reason all human lives matter is because all souls matter for all of eternity. God is the soul-giver and He doesn’t make souls in colors or with bank accounts. When we come to understand that in each hoodie and in each uniform is a soul that will live in eternity in heaven or hell, we’re gaining ground toward peace; not because some aura of compassion comes over us when we attach a spiritual connotation to the people around us, but, rather, because when God is recognized as the Creator and Soul-giver, recognition of and respect for His inherent authority necessarily follows. His Word is the prescription for peace in our land. It both ordains and controls law enforcement agencies (Romans 13) and it instructs the citizenry in living with respect and deference to fellowmen. When we remove that Word from our society and make a mockery, on so many levels, of its precepts and authority, surely we should not be surprised when chaos ensues.

Are there thinking people who truly believe life’s better in America now that we’ve divorced ourselves from a national respect for the Word of God? Give me respect for the Word in our land any day and take me back to an era where children could safely ride their bikes all over their communities, where babies were safe in the wombs of their mothers, where fathers worked hard to provide for their families and mothers nurtured children in loving homes. Bring repentance to the hearts of those who have prejudice and malice, and a strong desire in the hearts of God’s people to bring souls to the Cross. The ground is level at the foot of the Cross. But the cross is not an invitation to a free-for-all. It’s for all, but it’s not free. The Cross is not a compromise with sin. It’s an ultimatum.

The men in blue are clearly a part of the Biblical  system of authority found in God’s Word. Christians in the first century church were called on to respect and obey civil authority even though their Roman government was oppressive and persecuted Christians. But when we estrange our government and our citizenry from the One who is at the top of the chain of command, all the links are weakened and governmental systems fail. The reason we can’t find the band-aid to put on the violence that’s erupting around our nation is because it’s really hard to find a band-aid when internal bleeding is quickly draining life away. Our nation, without any respect for truth and righteousness, is under cardiac arrest.

Sister to Sister Archives: You Just Can’t Appreciate Jesus Like I Do

Digital Rendering of a Woman with Headset

Things just aren’t like they used to be in reference to morality in our country today. Homosexual advocates have a champion of their cause sitting in the Oval Office. The icons of our teen girls are a sad lot of extremely immodest, fornicating, pro-choice, feminist and/or vulgar-mouthed screen stars. Television sit-coms would have us believe that there’s a homosexual man or woman living in every third household in America and that conversation is incomplete and flavorless without cursing and taking God’s name in vain. We kill 1.2 million of our innocents every year and we often pay for the murders with tax dollars. Our schools are battlefields in this culture war and, as a result, our kids are often safe from neither physical harm nor molestation of their values systems. There are many schools today which have outlawed student-led prayer through Christ and/or prayer around the flagpole, but which grant excuses from classes at certain times of the day so that Muslim children can pray toward Mecca. More and more, children need the solidity and emotional safety of parents who can always be depended on for real answers to social issues, for values that are unchanging, and for the provision of a real home; a haven where they can count on being protected physically and emotionally, but most of all spiritually.

And our own “Christian” teens are living in this moral vacuum. More and more of our children raised in “Christian” homes are coming of age and leaving home without the moral underpinnings that they need to make wise choices. Many have already made serious mistakes before high school or even middle school graduation. Our kids are experimenting with pornography, alcohol, and sex of various kinds during high school. They have often been indiscriminate in their television and movie viewing. They have allowed their minds to become subtly controlled by the materialism of television and the movies while becoming anesthetized to blatant sin. They’ve slowly come to laugh at what should make them, as Christians cry. They’ve incrementally given their real allegiance to the world while giving only a token Sunday/Wednesday nod to the things of God.

And then, with a little hope, thankfully, many find their way to the Christian university. At Freed Hardeman University, where my son and daughter have both attended, there are some amazing faculty members whose lives are wholly given to the Lord. There is a Bible faculty, on that campus which, in my opinion, is second to none in the world. And, many times, thank God, those students, who arrived as freshmen in a very weak spiritual condition, find themselves growing closer to God, wanting to know the freedom from guilt, and finding joy in heartfelt service to God. Sometimes these kids have the will to truly change during these college years and many of them will be faithful for the rest of their lives. Praise God.

But there is a sad phenomenon that sometimes occurs in this college scenario. Sometimes, those students who walked away from God during high school and became dangerously involved in alcohol abuse, sexual sin or pornography, etc., somehow feel that they have the spiritual edge over those kids who made the better choices in high school. You may be wondering, “Now where could she be going with this?” Let me explain.

More and more I am hearing college devo leaders say things like “If your life has never been totally messed up with sexual sin, then you can’t fully appreciate Christianity like I can.” Or, “I am not going to stand here and tell you that I have led a sexually pure life. You wouldn’t believe me if I did, since there probably aren’t two out of every ten people in this room who could say that. I’m going to tell you I’ve done about everything you’ve done, maybe as much as several of you put together and He still reached down for me.” Or, “I wouldn’t trade places with any of you out there who always walked the straight and narrow because I love the Jesus who came to the wide path and rescued me.” Or, “There may be those of you who think you made all the right choices through high school. You may have. But, if you did, I doubt you really know a lot about reaching the sinner with His forgiveness.”

What’s wrong with this sort of message in a devotional talk? Well, I can think of some definite dangers. First, let’s take this sort of teaching to its natural conclusion. If I can eventually put the greatest appreciation of the Savior in my kids by encouraging them to participate in sin, then shouldn’t I just provide the alcohol for their high school parties? Shouldn’t I encourage fornication and experimentation with homosexuality, porn, vulgarity and lewdness? Shouldn’t I get the raunchiest forms of satellite TV and download the most explicit computer images for them to view? Second, there are many lifelong consequences that come with various forms of sin (even forgiven sin). You can think of lots of these off the top of your head. With fornication comes the fear of STDs and/or the effect that this behavior has on your later marriage.

With abortion comes the hauntings of guilt and the cry of the dead baby that you may hear for the rest of your life. With alcohol comes the possibility of alcoholism. With porn use comes the addiction you may have to fight till you die. The high school student who had the foresight, fortitude and faith to leave these sins alone should never be tauntingly stereotyped as the pharisaical, righteous one as I often hear in college circles. Third, It took a lot of courage and conviction to avoid the typical high school sins. It was not an accident that this purity of life was maintained. In fact, it was the same Christ who offered you His forgiveness that reigned in the heart of your friend there, as she worked so hard to never let King Jesus down. Did he ever need his forgiveness? Oh absolutely. Can she appreciate that forgiveness? Definitely. But he or she doesn’t have to walk away from the light to know the power of darkness. Fourth, we have to be really careful not to make a lifestyle of sin appealing to young people. Many—no, most young people who become enamored with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life during the very young teen years, do not emerge on the side of the Savior as adults. We are losing huge percentages of our kids as they experiment with the sins of the devil in high school. Parents and mentors who are really focused on eternity will do all that’s within their power to enable their kids to get in the safety of His will and to stay there every single day as they face the huge challenges of life in high school. Just one time, be on the receiving end of that phone call from a grief stricken parent informing you that a teen has been prematurely snatched from this life while under the influence of alcohol and you will desperately want your child to be among the number of pharisaical righteous ones on that college campus one day.

I understand that the one forgiven of much will love much (Luke 7:47). I know, from the life of Paul that the chief of sinners can be the most devoted to the cause (I Tim. 1:15). But there is a real sense in which each of is chief of sinners. There is a sense in which we all have obtained the ultimate forgiveness. We cannot afford to make the depth of depravity to which one has slipped the barometer of perceived spirituality. Let’s stop viewing those who remained faithful to God through what was arguably the most difficult years of life as some sort of self-righteous, sub-Christians. Let’s look to their examples and perhaps even to wisdom they gained for encouragement. I know many of these heroes. Among them are Joseph, Daniel, Samuel, Esther, Mary, the mother of the Lord and Timothy. And I know many of them who are now in college, as well. I can look at the short inexhaustive list above and know that God has a special place in his heart for those who stood relatively alone for truth and right in the high school years.