Hush Yo’ Mouth

hush-your-mouth

“Hush Yo Mouth.”

To hear by 3 year-old niece say this with a deadpan stare and a mild speech impediment is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. And not just because of her perfect delivery: I also laugh because I know she picked up this phrase from her dad, my brother.

I know I’m not supposed to laugh. For many of us, the expression “shut up” in all its forms is regarded as impolite and unacceptable. But the Bible records an instance when God tells us to shut up, and He has the right to do it!

Romans 3:19 says that Paul’s message applies to those under the law. Does this mean only Jews? Not at all. In Romans 3:9, Paul says “we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” He acknowledges that the Gentile cannot be “under sin” unless he is also “under the law” because “sin is not taken into account when there is no law” (Romans 5:13). However, because the Gentile has the law written on his heart (Romans 2:15), he is also under the law.

Thus, all men are brought before God’s tribunal, and all are found wanting. The law, which governs all men, now stops the mouths of all men. The scene is a courtroom, with God as Judge. The indictment is being read to fallen man. And just as the sinner starts to speak up and defend himself, God rebukes him, and tells him to “hush his mouth.”

At Judgment Day there will be a profound silence. When we stand before the judgment of God, the indictment against us will be so clear and the evidence so overwhelming that it will be futile to attempt to protest our innocence. We will have nothing to say. We will only “hush our mouths.”

And on that day our only hope is in the Gospel. The believer has the assurance that Jesus has dealt with our guilt, and our innocence is in the fact that His righteousness has been imputed to us.

God does not want to hear our excuses, now or on Judgment Day. However, He does want to hear our confessions and praises. As you pray today, ask God to show you where you have been making excuses regarding your relationship to Him.

Why We Lie about …

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Lying can be quite convenient when we want to get something we love more than the trust we break to get it. Parenting is by far and away the grandest arena for seeing this in action. We’ve busted our kids on it many times over the past year, and discipline has varied (as has the effect of the discipline on the behavior).

I recall the time my boys were asked to eat 6 baby carrots (along with the rest of their lunch) if they wanted any dessert (generally speaking, dessert is for non-whiners who either clean their plates or bravely risk regurgitation by trying everything we put on their plate). One of them ate them all, while the other ate two and threw four into the trash while parents were upstairs.

As I came down the stairs and saw them reaching for dessert at the kitchen counter, I asked, “Did you guys eat your carrots?”

Facial expressions alone gave them away, but only one of them told the truth as they both chimed, “Yes sir!”

“So you ate yours?” I said the known perpetrator.

“Yes sir.”

“So if I open this trash can and look down, I won’t see carrots in it?”

“Yes sir.”

(Open garbage can).

Now, ironically, because it was a tall, thin can … and because it was essentially empty … and because I didn’t have on my glasses … and because baby carrots are small … I technically didn’t see any carrots in the can, and I almost … ALMOST … said, “Great!”

But before I could close the lid on the can, my son broke down.

“Ooohhhhh … I’m sorry, Daddy … I’m sorry!”

Genuine despair. Genuine heartbreak. He was a broken child.

I led him to a different room. Discipline was issued, and the following conversation ensued.

“Daddy, I don’t know why I do it! Why do I do it?!”

“Because of Adam and Eve and their sin in the garden, buddy.”

“But I don’t know what to do about it.”

“You have to trust that Jesus was good enough for you, buddy.” (The key to not lying is to believe that Jesus never lied, not trying harder to prove to God that you’re not a liar)

(My son, incredulously): “I know THAT, dad.”

(Me, in my head:) Really? Cause just a second ago you said you didn’t know why or what to do about it!

That’s what I was thinking … but instead, I rubbed my hands through his hair (he loves that), and said, “I hope that you do, buddy … I hope that you do.”

And tonight, as I write this post, I yet again pray that he does know the gospel. In a way, he already does … but in a way, he doesn’t.

Two Evils the Love of Money Brings

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First Timothy 6:10 is perhaps one of the most well-known and misunderstood Bible verses.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”

I’m often tempted to blame money for my troubles with it, and at first glance, the Bible seems to affirm me. But a closer reading shows that I am the problem: the love of money … not money itself … is a root of all kinds of evil. And it’s not the one and only root of all kinds of evil; rather, it’s one of many. And it’s not the root of all evil, but the root of a variety of evils.

So, my love of money is one root of potentially all kinds of evil in my life.

I can think of many evils that a love of money might lead to. Things like cheating, fraud, perjury, theft, envy, and even murder come to mind. I don’t think Paul would disagree with any of those things, but he doesn’t mention them here. He mentions two others that we might otherwise cast aside.

  1. First, a love for money can lead me to wander from my faith. It is simply not possible to pursue truth and money simultaneously. I must either renounce greed in my commitment to the faith, or I can make money my god and depart from the faith. I can’t be both greedy and content. I can’t worship both God and money. So if I choose money, I’m eventually guaranteed a departure from the faith.
  2. Second, a love for money causes lots of pain points in my life. Interestingly, Paul does not elaborate on what these pain points might be, I can point to a few in my life. How about: worry, remorse, discontentment, debt, and anxiety … the list goes on and on. The passionate pursuit of money promises liberty but only brings captivity.

Driving up Interstate 65 every day, I see the billboard promoting the power ball lottery. Not too long ago, the amount was $1.2 billion. I called my dad and said, “I think I’m going to cave and finally buy a lottery ticket. $1.2 billion is too much to ignore.”

“Don’t bother,” he said. “You’ll never win, and besides, I’ve already bought enough for the family. You’ll get more than enough in your share!”

Knowing that, should my father win, I’d inherit more than I could responsibly live off of and give away, my love for instant wealth vanished. Ironically, that is actually the case for me as a believer. I will soon inherit all the riches of Christ and enjoy them eternally. Keeping that in mind is perhaps the best way to avoid loving money and the evils that love brings.

How to Get Yoked Up

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Last year, our fourth child was born via C-section. So while my wife recovered and connected with our newborn son, I stayed home and cared for our other three children with the help of my mother-in-law. This was the fourth time she’d come in this capacity, for which we have always been grateful. Nevertheless, her presence was out of the norm, and there were awkward moments as a result.

Perhaps the most memorable was the early morning of her third day. As was my custom, I got up around 5 AM to exercise in the living room. I deeply treasure this time, as it’s the only time I have to myself on just about any given day. I work out in shorts and tennis shoes, and never wear a shirt. Midway into my 45-60 minute workout, my mother-in-law came downstairs, poured a cup of coffee, and curled up on the couch, apparently to watch me lift weights.

Pause for a moment to fully absorb this scene. I am shirtless, sweaty, and straining while my mother-in-law is sleepy, sipping and staring.

Yet it was her desire to have a conversation that nearly put me over the edge.

  • “That’s a really impressive move, Rob.”
  • “Couldn’t you do this at night, Rob?”
  • “Looks like you’ve been working pretty consistently with this, Rob.”

And then the one that I’ll never forget: “Why are you doing this, Rob?”

Why, indeed.

Now, I exercise and eat relatively well, and I’ve seen some results. I have neither the body for radio nor that of an underwear model. But still, the results are real. I’ve an increased mental capacity; I’ve more energy; I’m more disciplined; I’m forced to rest. Clearly Paul was right: there is some value in physical training (1 Timothy 4:8).

But my commitment to physical training goes beyond its physical benefits. Ultimately, I’m given to physical training because it reminds me of training that is eternally more important: training in godliness.

The question, then, is how. I generally know how to train physically, but how do I train toward godliness?

Well, Paul is not explicit in First Timothy 4, but we have the totality of his letter and of Scripture to answer this question. By and large, we are to exercise ourselves in the same way that we feed ourselves, namely in the Word of God.

I know—it’s neither sexy nor fashionable to come to such a boring conclusion. But in the same way we can only put our bodies through the rigorous, often boring, routine of diet and exercise to achieve and maintain physical results, we must put ourselves through the spiritual discipline of Bible reading all the more. Nothing shapes the body like diet and exercise, and nothing evokes the worship of God like the Word of God.

I wonder if my mother-in-law would watch me read the Bible?

Don’t Forget to Remember

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My wife has been homeschooling our two oldest children for several years, and lately they’ve started their mornings reading three different history books. The two oldest boys stay in bed and listen, while the toddler and baby play on the floor.

Our oldest son loves history, but my second-born prefers fiction. So it came as no surprise to us when he asked, “What’s the point of studying history?”

One witty statement I’d heard long ago immediately came to mind: “Those who learn nothing from history are destined to repeat its mistakes.” This wasn’t incentive enough for a 9 year-old lover of fantasy fiction to happily sit through a biography of Jonathan Edwards, but his dismissal of the aphorism didn’t make it any less true.

Sadly, many dismiss history and fail to learn from it. We neglect it and forget it. Consider the following biblical examples.

  • After all that Joseph and his family had done for the Egyptians, a new king came to power who forgot it all (Exodus 1:8).
  • God’s destroyed the whole earth by means of a flood save one family, but that expression of wrath and mercy was soon forgotten (Genesis 6).
  • God delivered the Israelites from Egypt with miraculous signs and wonders, yet the Israelites soon gave a golden calf the credit (Exodus 32).

Apparently the people of God have a memory problem. To our shame, we forget the things God has done. Yet our track record of forgetfulness doesn’t excuse the mandate for remembrance.

Consider Luke 22:19, “And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’” How fascinating that Jesus, in full knowledge of His people’s inability to to learn from history and not repeat its mistakes, would yet again implore them to actively and regularly remember His death. My takeaway is this: Don’t forget to remember.

There are a myriad of ways one might go about remembering, but I’m grateful for one my church has long practiced: the first Sunday of every month, we take communion. This occurs often enough so as to be truly meaningful, but not habitually so as to avoid legalism.

You may have also heard that the only thing history teaches is that nothing is learned from history. In like manner, our fallen nature compels us to forget, but the Spirit empowers us to remember. By God’s grace, don’t forget to remember.

Rich and Unashamed of It

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For a few hours, I was pretty rich one day this week.

It was that period of time in which I sold one house and bought another.

For a moment there, I had more money in my checking account than I’ve ever had. And as a result, I kept a very close eye on my checking account. I checked hourly to see when the wire would go through, and to be honest … when the cash showed up … I rejoiced. I just stared at my phone’s screen and smiled at the longest number of digits I’d ever seen in that account.

I showed my wife.

I giggled.

I had chocolate.

I was rich and unashamed.

And when you’re rich and unashamed, you revel in the numbers that irrefutably demonstrate just how rich you are.

Which leads me to Ephesians 1:3 — “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

Paul begins this magnificent letter with a declaration of just how rich Christians are in Christ. We are RICH because of grace. And because we are so rich, Paul also wants us to be unashamed of that wealth and pay close attention to it.

Consider Ephesians 1:17-19a — “(I pray) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.”

Christian, you are rich, but are you unashamed? Do you worship God for the abundant wealth of grace you’ve experienced? Do you grow and revel in that grace in a culture that revels in achievement and performance? The riches in your bank account are short-lived, but the wealth of grace in Christ lasts eternally.

That’s the kind of wealth worth rejoicing in and sharing. As C. S. Lewis puts in The Weight of Glory:

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949, 1965, 1–2).

The One Thing You’re Probably Missing about Trump and Clinton

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I rarely watch television news. Few people I interact with at work or home discuss politics: too much work to accomplish, too many mouths to feed and evenings to be enjoyed. I even quit listening to NPR on my morning commute (a 10-year habit).

So I know what’s going on with Trump and Clinton, but I’m not immersed in it. The only exception to this has been while I’ve been on a vacation in the western mountains of North Carolina where Clinton is running absurd ads on the most obscure cable channels and at an alarming pace. This state must be close and important.

What I am relatively immersed in is my social media news feeds, and many of my friends could not be more divided … or frustrated … or indignant … or flabbergasted … you get the point. Judging solely on my Facebook experience, Trump supporters—who weathered his flaws to this point—are on the ropes with his “locker room talk,” while those OK with Clinton—having survived (among other things) her public displays of weakness due to illness—have Wiki-leaks all but proving what Tea Party types have been saying all along about political corruption in our nation.

So the choice, apparently, is between a narcissistic, sexist jock and a decrepit, heartless wench.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I moved to SC in 2008, and back to TN 2012, and near the election both times, so I had an excuse not to vote. Not so this year.

But all of the October surprises … the recordings of Trump, the emails around Clinton and the DNC … eventually led me down a path toward the depths of my own heart; a place I did not at first care to go, but a place I’m glad I went. It showed me the one thing I was missing about the whole Trump and Clinton debacle, and it might be the one thing you need to know too.

I came to realize that before the Lord, I am no better a person than either Trump or Clinton. The three of us are far more alike than I’d care to acknowledge.

Romans 3:10-18.

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”[b]
13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”[c]
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[d]
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”[f]
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]

Based solely on my knowledge of what the media tells me about our presidential candidates, I read this passage and think, “Paul must have been thinking about Trump and Clinton.” But he wasn’t. He was thinking about every human being that’s ever lived.

Including me.

Including you.

The degree of severity will vary from to time to time and person to person, but ultimately this passage is true of all of us.

Yeah … the real struggle I’m having this election season is that the high level of sin exposure in the lives of our potential leaders is hitting a little too close to home, and to vote for either one of them makes me feel like I’m OK with their sin AND mine.

I don’t know that Jesus would vote for me to lead anything, much less a country, but fortunately He was not called to vote for me based on my credentials: He was called to die for me based on my lack of credentials.

Romans 3:23-24.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

So while I struggle with seeing my sin in Clinton and Trump’s lives, I also rejoice because I can see God’s triumph over sin on my behalf.

So maybe it’s better to say this: the one thing you’re probably missing about Trump and Clinton is the gospel.

That’s something I can rejoice in no matter who wins.