Monthly Archives: June 2018

June 30: By Your Example

Esther 8:1–10:3; 3 John 5–15; Psalm 118:17–29

By nature, we are creatures of imitation. Children mimic the traits of their parents, and even in later life we are influenced by the habits of our friends. People naturally imitate, even if they don’t realize it or intend to. This is one reason why “lead by example” is such a powerful principle. It’s also why leaders can change the direction of a whole community—for better or worse (Jas 3:1).

Diotrephes, an ambitious member of the early church who misused his power, was unwilling to heed the advice of John and others who reprimanded him. In his letter to Gaius, a church leader known for his faithfulness and love, John gives this advice regarding Diotrephes: “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).

Throughout his letters, John emphasizes that people’s actions reflect their heart. Diotrephes’ actions told a dismal story. Whether he was a church leader or someone who battled for leadership, he was characterized by his selfish ambition: He wanted to be “first,” and he did “not acknowledge” those in leadership roles (3 John 9). He was also known for speaking evil words that undermined other leaders (3 John 10), and he spread contention by refusing to receive missionaries and intimidating those who wanted to (3 John 10). These actions didn’t reflect the work of the Spirit in his life.

We’re not sure what happened to Diotrephes. Perhaps he left the Christian community. Perhaps he repented when John “call[ed] attention to the deeds he [was] doing” (3 John 10). His story, though, shows us that we shouldn’t imitate blindly. Instead, we should “test the spirits to determine if they are from God” and respond wisely (1 John 4:1).

Where in your life do you need to be more careful whom you imitate? Where do you need to set a positive example?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

June 30 Sacrificial Faith on Display

“In the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:25–26).


True faith willingly makes whatever sacrifices God requires.

It’s understandable that James would use Abraham as an illustration of living faith—especially to his predominately Jewish readers. Rahab, however, is a different story. She was a Gentile, a prostitute, a liar, and lived in the pagan city of Jericho. How could such a person illustrate true faith?

Rahab knew very little about the true God, but what she knew, she believed, and what she believed, she acted on. She believed that God had led His people out of Egypt and defeated the Amorite kings (Josh. 2:9–10). She openly confessed that the Lord “is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (v. 11). Her faith was vindicated when she aided the Hebrew spies who entered Jericho just prior to Joshua’s invasion.

Both Abraham and Rahab valued their faith in God above all else. Both were willing to sacrifice what mattered most to them. For Abraham it was Isaac; for Rahab it was her own life. Their obedience in the face of such great sacrifice proved the genuineness of their faith.

James calls each of us to examine ourselves to be sure we have a living faith. The acid test is whether your faith produces obedience. No matter what you claim, if righteousness doesn’t characterize your life, your faith is dead, not living. James likened that kind of faith to hypocrites who offer pious words to the needy but refuse to meet their needs, to demons who believe the truth about God but are eternally lost, and to a lifeless, useless corpse. Those are strong analogies, but God does not want you to be deceived about the quality of your own faith.

I pray that you are rejoicing in the confidence that your faith is genuine. God bless you as you live each day in His wonderful grace.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God for the grace and courage to make any sacrifice necessary as you live out your faith.

For Further Study: Read Joshua 2:1–24, 6:1–27, and Matthew 1:1–5. ✧ How did Rahab protect the spies? ✧ How did God bless Rahab?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 194). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Condemning Historical Figures For Racism Is A Slippery Slope ⋅ FaithfulNews

Public Domain Photo

Laura Ingalls Wilder is the latest historical figure to be posthumously exiled from polite society by people who think “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is an instruction manual. The legendary author of the “Little House on the Prairie” series has had her name dropped from a prestigious children’s literature award given by the American Library Association. Wilder is guilty of being culturally insensitive, it seems. She is no longer safe for children.

The president of the Association explained it this way:

Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America’s 1800s. Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities.

The New York Times catalogs some of Wilder’s most egregious offenses:

Despite their popularity, Ms. Wilder’s books contain jarringly prejudicial portrayals of Native Americans and African Americans.

In the 1935 book “Little House on the Prairie,” for example, multiple characters espoused versions of the view that “the only good Indian was a dead Indian.” In one scene, a character describes Native Americans as “wild animals” undeserving of the land they lived on.

“Little Town on the Prairie,” published in 1941, included a description of a minstrel show with “five black-faced men in raggedy-taggedy uniforms” alongside a jolting illustration of the scene.

In other words, the characters in the book (and presumably Wilder herself) had attitudes and beliefs common to their time and place. This, we have determined, is unforgivable. Only books from the past that do not read like books from the past may be read today. Only people from the past who live up to our modern standards of racial enlightenment can be remembered and honored today. Of course, the only problem is that almost nobody in the past can live up to that standard.

Racial bias was a simple fact of life across the world, across every race, across history, up until the last few decades or so. Even today, racial bigotry is quite common and mainstream in many places — non-western countries, especially. It is safe to say that you will find considerably less racial tolerance in, say, Saudi Arabia or Egypt or India, than in the United States. The idea of complete racial equality is uniquely modern and uniquely western.

Historically, even ethnic tolerance was not ethnically tolerant. Lincoln wanted to free the slaves. He also wanted to ship them all back to Africa because he certainly didn’t want to live among them as equals. Grant’s wife owned slaves and Grant himself was an alleged anti-Semite who famously attempted to expel all the Jews from the areas he controlled in western Tennessee. These men were more progressive on racial matters than most people of their time, but they’d be depraved, backwards, slobbering bigots if we plucked them from their home in the mid-19th century and plopped them into the American society of 2018. Is that how we should judge them? Should we judge them as if they lived in our time? And if so, who, in all of history, could possibly pass through that filtration system and emerge on the other side as a safe and enlightened figure worthy of our admiration?

Here’s another question: why do we only apply this impossible standard to white, western historical people? Why aren’t we shaming Native Americans for cherishing an ancestral heritage that almost always included wars of conquest and slavery, and sometimes included cannibalism and human sacrifice? Why don’t we scold those of north African descent for the historical sin of the Barbary slave trade? Why don’t we look with disgust on Mongolians who build monuments to Genghis Khan? It seems that even Genghis Khan’s never-ending campaign of rape and pillage, and the Aztec (or Mayan or Incan, etc.) habit of slaughtering children to appease their deities, can be seen in the context of the time — but a few harsh words in “Little House on the Prairie” is enough reason to send Laura Ingalls Wilder to history’s proverbial ash heap. This seems a bit unbalanced.

But I could perhaps tolerate the blatant double standard if the standard applied to white people made any sense at all. It doesn’t. A rational person ought to be able to see that the racism of a 19th century pioneer or a 17th century pilgrim is not nearly as indictable as the racism of a 21st century white supremacist. Racism itself is an objective evil and has always been an objective evil. But the moral guilt of the racist person obviously begins to lessen considerably as you go further back in time.

People in the past did not possess the information we possess. They did not have the same biological understanding of the human species as we have. They did not look at things from the global perspective that we do. When they encountered people from another race or culture, it was akin to modern man making contact with space aliens. Indeed, if we ever did have a close encounter of the third kind, and we noticed that these alien creatures are similar to us yet profoundly different, and they have habits and customs that, to us, are strange and gross and sometimes horrifying, there would certainly be a debate about the exact moral standing of this new and unknown species. We would probably be wrong in all of our conclusions.

This doesn’t justify any of the racism in the past, but it does put it into some perspective. I am not suggesting that we see racism from a morally relativistic vantage point. I am just suggesting merely that we see it within its historical context. (And this should be no trouble for the actual moral relativists in our culture, yet they are precisely the ones who become stringent moral absolutists when it comes to pre-modern white people.)

If we must now line up and spit on the graves of all of history’s “racists,” we will be doing quite a lot of spitting. We will have to spit on every grave, basically. We will have to spit on history itself. And that might make us feel very good and very superior, but, in the end, the real fools and bigots will be ourselves.

— Source:

“Truly An Embarrassment”: Ex-CNN Producer Calls Out Jim Acosta For Heckling Trump During Annapolis Eulogy

A former CNN producer has called out Jim Acosta for giving “all good journalists a bad name” after he heckled President Trump during remarks about the five journalists who lost their lives in Thursday’s deadly newsroom attack in Annapolis, Maryland.

“This attack shocked the conscience of our nation and filled our hearts with grief. Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job,” President Trump said.

This prompted CNN’s Jim Acosta to start heckling Trump – asking the President “Will you stop calling the press the enemy of the people?

A man in front of Acosta is visibly annoyed, turning around several times to shush the CNN employee.

For that, former CNN digital producer Steve Krakauer took Acosta to task for drawing links between Trump’s criticism of the media and the shooting – even after it was known that the shooter had a long-standing grudge against the paper, had been reported to police at least twice, and that a restraining order against the suspect had been taken out against him by a journalist.

“Truly an embarrassment, on multiple levels. Jim Acosta’s self-serving antics give all good journalists a bad name,” tweeted Krakauer.

As John Nolte of Breitbart points out – Acosta was literally manufacturing fake news, as there’s no way Trump could have heard him.

Acosta is clearly too far away to be seen or heard by the president.

Nevertheless, although there is no way he will be heard, Acosta drops all pretense of professionalism to still holler a question to the president

In other words, Acosta knows Trump cannot hear him, but like a heckler out to spoil the moment for everyone else, he still screams his question at him.

Watch as Acosta turns around to look at his cameraman and appears to ask if they got the shot. Then the camera lights are shut off, which again reveals just how staged and artificial all of this is. –Breitbart

“This is not journalism,” concludes Nolte.

Nearly three weeks prior, Acosta decided to insert himself again – heckling Trump and Kim Jong Un during their historic Singapore summit.

On one hand, it would be easy for the White House to yank Acosta’s press pass. Then again, watching CNN perpetually embarrass itself has become an American pastime.

Source: “Truly An Embarrassment”: Ex-CNN Producer Calls Out Jim Acosta For Heckling Trump During Annapolis Eulogy