JO cropWords. Who can deny their power? James said that the tongue has the power of life and death. The author of Proverbs says that kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

There is no doubt that scores of people have become enslaved by words that were said to them or even words they keep repeating to themselves. Among my social media contacts, I have those who are perpetually wallowing in negativity. If they are planning a day in the park with the kids and it starts raining, they don’t think of ways to make the best of it, they go to FB and whine about it.

Sure, words have power, but not magical powers. And this is my biggest objection to the teachings of people like Joel Osteen. He’s hung up on this whole idea that speaking words out loud has the power to prophesy our future. I call that “word theology.”

I find a different story in Scriptures. The concept of speaking words to create reality is foreign to Scriptures. Of course, God did it, when He spoke the world into existence. Jesus did it, when He commanded Spirits to leave and calmed storms, but where in the Bible are we taught to repeat certain things in order to bring them about in our lives?

Jesus said “ask, seek, knock,” and it will be given to you. He didn’t say, “Repeat these words every day until they become reality in your life.” Joel says that what comes after the “I am” is the trigger point. So, if you say, “I am prosperous,” even if you are dirt poor, eventually wealth will come calling your name. My reading of Scriptures tells me that it’s not about what comes after the “I am,” it’s about the “I AM.” Jesus is the ultimate source of blessings, and a vibrant relationship with Him is far more important than anything else in the world.

There is no magic in words. After you get saved, you still have work to do. Having a positive attitude will help for sure, but having a link to the Person of prosperity instead of a prosperity person will reap the most benefit in the long run.

Finally, let me just say that after reading several of Joel’s books, I am convinced that his greatest flaw is his incomplete use of Scriptures. He will take an isolated word, sometimes half of a sentence, coin a catchy phrase that summarizes a popular concept, and present it as Biblical truth.

I am not saying he does it on purpose, I am not suggesting deception. I actually believe Joel is genuinely engaged in the people-helping business. His heart is motivated to do the right thing, but he is falling way short of offering sustainable help. I will give plenty of examples this Sunday of how he misuses specific biblical texts. His books are littered with that.

My opinion is that in his enthusiasm for helping broken people, Joel has become overzealous to develop a theology of wealth and prosperity but he has failed miserably to develop a theology of suffering. As one who seeks to communicate God’s truth week after week, we must do better than that.

And that’s my word for today. God bless Joel.

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

 

local-input-ashley-madison-is-an-online-dating-service-andThe good, the bad, the ugly. Every society has its share of each. Having them is only the start of our troubles. Being able to identify which is which, now that’s trouble with capital “T.”

We have human traffickers, abortion profiteers, child rapists, serial killers. Can we agree to put all of these under the category of “the ugly”? We also have drug traffickers, corrupt judges, wife beaters, performance enhancement drug users, racists, slumlords, welfare frauds, etc. Are these among “the bad”?

But now we enter the arena which in the minds of many represent the proverbial “gray area.” Finding loopholes in the tax system to pay as little as possible? “Padding” your résumé? Ripping music from the Internet? The list is endless and the cries for not imposing your morality on someone else are loud.

One example of this zone where morality seems to be prohibited is the proliferation of sites that make it easy and “secure” for people to engage in extra-marital affairs. Ashley Madison is the most successful iteration of this business model. Their motto says it all, “Life is short. Have an affair.”

In this post, I intend to show, without appealing to Scriptures, that this business model is wrong. Please, don’t get me wrong. In choosing this approach, I am not saying that the Bible has nothing relevant to say on the topic. We know that the biblical teaching on marital fidelity is unmistakable. Hebrews 13:4, among other texts, leaves no room for speculation: “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.”

But I am trying to do something different here, partially because I believe that the so-called “infidelity business” has left enough skeletons in the closet of their business that I don’t even need to use the Bible to prove how wrong it is. They have left enough tracks on their trail to show us how dirty their enterprise is.

First, there is the woman with the index finger in front of her lips asking everyone to keep it quiet. She is the face of the business, the first thing everyone will see if they choose to visit that website, which I have never done, by the way. Now, why the secrecy? If it’s really good  to revitalize your marriage, like many say, why keep it a secret?

Of course we know the reason for the secrecy. It’s more “sexy.” The allure of doing things no one will ever find out makes the try nearly irresistible. The thief never warns the owner of the day he’s coming to sack the house. It’s the surprise that makes the heist a success. You remove the secrecy and the appeal is gone and that’s why one should be wary of a business model that depends on hiding your actions to achieve the desired result.

Here is another clue regarding the questionable practices of this business. Men buy credit through their website. They use their credit to buy and send gifts to the women. The women, on the other hand, use the site for free. Right there you can see who’s being exploited the most, who’s the bait, who is the hunter and the hunted. This sounds a lot like exploitation of women to me. They are essentially being offered as merchandise to men who can afford them.

Just to be sure, I am not accusing anyone of forcibly getting women to open a profile on a website and receive gifts from men they don’t even know. Obviously, the women who do this do so with their eyes open. But in a world where women and children are the ones most victimized by sexual exploitation, you have to question the ethics of a business that facilitates the offer of women for sexual gratification, whether consented or not.

Finally, for a business that prides itself in keeping the identity of its clients a secret, even charging extra to those who desire such protection, it must have been a complete shock when hackers announced they had obtained the information of 30,000 plus users and would start releasing their  names to the public if their demands were not met.

So let me get this straight: a business that charges a premium to guarantee your secrecy fails colossally in that task and as a result of names being outed, careers are ruined, families are disrupted, and at least one person ends up taking his own life. What redemption line can there be in this trail of tears? None. Because illicit acts beget illicit acts and when life is reduced to getting as much pleasure as quickly as possible, no one cares about what the consequences of one’s actions might be to the life of another human being. Make no mistake about it: every affair is always unfair to someone, whether you spouse, the spouse of the other person, the children, or anyone else you feel compelled to hide your behavior less they change their opinion of you. In the end, there no winners, only losers.

And these are the reasons I think that engaging Ashley Madison’s services is one of the most selfish acts one could commit. And that’s why I think they are wrong.

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

marginsconference

My wife and I, along with Pastors Andy & Lori Sparks, Willard & Phyllis Willard, Scott & Rebekah Becker (and family), Galen & Elsie Wiley; Wes & Allison Crenshaw, David & Del-Rae Rice, and Joan McCracken, were able to attend the national conference of our fellowship of churches last week in Toronto, Canada.

The theme of the conference was “Margins.” Its purpose was to explore the idea that as followers of Jesus Christ who are intent on sharing the good news, we must go to the margins of society in order to have a chance to be where most people in our world live.

Multiple angles related to this idea of “living in the margins” were explored.

Geographically, we must go out of the places that are familiar and comfortable to us in order to share the good news about Christ. In other words, if you don’t know anyone in your network who still needs Christ, you must branch out. Just saying “I don’t know any non Christians” is not enough. This is on you.

Ideologically, we have to live with the realization that the Church is no longer “the voice” that everyone listens to and respects. We must be content with being “a voice” in the marketplace of ideas and while there we have to be careful not to come across as having a “better than thou” attitude. So if your ears are to pure to hear heresies, if you tend to attack the messenger when hearing blasphemy, you may need an attitude adjust… or a surgically designed ear plug!

Practically, we need to remember that in a world of broken people, it is often the marginalized of our societies that are still willing to give us a listen. If we are afraid, embarrassed, or prejudiced in any way to go to them, we may be missing one of the few remaining groups whose receptivity to the gospel is still somewhat neutral because of their desperate personal needs. A church that goes out of its way to humbly serve the poor and marginalized will see growth from the harvest. But when we do go to them, we also need to make sure that our church spaces and our hearts are big enough to embrace them when they come with all the complexities of their biographies, which they freely bring and are not afraid to share. In other words: Remove the rugs, stuff will no longer be allowed to be go under them.

Theologically, we will need to find new ways to stay true to the Word of God while at the same time not being easily offended by those who hold disparate views. We will need to ask better questions, listen more, and engage in conversations that will allow people to come to the conclusion, on their own, that we have something they don’t. As one speaker put it, quoting a Christian author who has done a lot of thinking and writing on this subject, and I am paraphrasing here: “Live in such a way that people will ask you questions to which Jesus is the answer.”

When I go to these types of conferences, sometimes it takes me weeks, even months, to think through everything I heard and elaborate some conclusions. This time around, though, it was a little different. Speakers were talking about stuff I have been thinking about for a long long time and have already been incorporating in my life. I was humbled to hear some affirmations of things I “hear” the Spirit gently whispering in my ears.

And it all starts with the unmovable conviction that God is always dialoguing with people and our main task is to do everything we can to join the work of God, already in progress, so that Christ’s other friends will get a little closer to the God who created them and wants to have a personal relationship with them. And that’s the fundamental principle I bring to every thought and every activity in my life — I try to live so I can say that at the end of every day I brought someone closer to God.

Better yet, I have it as a most ardent goal to end every 24 hour period of my life having no doubt whatsoever that everyone I interacted with for that period of time was brought closer to God in some way. And I will say more: that’s NOT radical Christian living. Sure, it is supernatural living but not something strange to the Gospel. Rather, it is God’s plan for every follower of Christ, without exception. And some day we will have to respond to God when He asks us why we didn’t make a better effort to live this way.

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

 

WWJS2 PP Slide PEGTheresa Caputo is a mega star. Everything about her is big — the hair, the audience, the high heels, the energy and the excitement. She does not lack confidence and is not deterred by critics. Her success, it appears, has turned her into a sort of female Elliot Ness of reality T.V. She is untouchable. But is she a real medium or a charlatan? Helping people or preying on their emotions at a time when they are most vulnerable?

The answer depends on who you talk to. Her detractors are convinced she is a fraud. From a journalist from her hometown, who wrote a highly critical story after she saw Theresa live, to a mom who was willing to say she got everything wrong, to a fellow medium who wrote about her stage rudeness, the list is endless. Even Andy Cohen from Bravo TV and Anderson Cooper from CNN have joined the ranks of the skeptics, not to say anything about Inside Edition and Wired Magazine.

But before you throw her under the proverbial bus, beware. Her fans number in the tens of thousands. They buy advanced front row tickets to her live shows, receive special surprise gifts, and personal thank you cards — all for $19.99 per month.

Instead of giving a definitive answer about whether Ms. Caputo is a fraud or not, let’s look at some of the claims made by the so-called “Long Island Medium.”

She claims she can speak with the dead. Well, no one can prove that claim. But there are hints. Theresa states that everyone also has the same kind of ability she has. One of the first things she says in her live performances is that she is not trying to make a believer out of anyone. She actually lets everybody know they don’t need to consult a medium, which makes me wonder why the people were not informed of that before they bought their tickets, but that’s just an aside. The reason you don’t need a medium is because you may already be a medium, she says. You just need to cultivate that gift. That’s like speaking with both sides of your mouth.

She claims that our loved ones are always with us, as in the following quote: “… the souls of our loved ones are still with us, loving, guiding, and protecting us from the other side, and that’s what I can give people.” Theresa calls this a “soul bond.” That’s an example of mixing truth with falsehood. “Soul bond,” in the sense of a deeply felt connection we may feel with a departed loved one is perfectly understandable. But that does not mean that there needs to be some kind of physical, sensorial connection with the dead. That’s what we would like to believe because it makes us all feel good, but what we know from Scriptures is that when a person departs this physical world, that person goes to another place to wait the final resurrection and the day of judgment. No one is hanging around dispensing opinions on your cooking or telling you if you should buy a Fiat 500 or a Kia Soul. There is no body-guarding being done by the disembodied.

She claims that this presence can be perceived by odd and weird things. They don’t have to be specific (of course, that would be easier to detect when you are off mark), just oddly familiar and easily detectable. Some of the examples she gives are things like suddenly smelling your mom’s perfume or receiving change in a supermarket that features a coin with the year your loved one died or was born. She calls these “little hellos from heaven,” and urges us to embrace them. But could they be the fruit of an over active brain besought with grief? I have a vivid sensory memory but that doesn’t mean the smells are coming from the beyond. Plus, there are some people whose smells I would rather not embrace… If the dead are sending us messages in every little thing, then the uniqueness of contacting the departed, if there ever was one, would all be lost. Odd and weird things could also only be that — odd and weird things.

She claims to be doing the work of God. In all the barrage of negative comments from acid critics, Ms. Caputo finds comfort in her belief that she has been given by God this incredible gift of helping people in their greatest hour of grief. That she is helping people, at least temporarily, is undeniable — her fans are legion. That the help is from God, I highly doubt, because God made clear to His people in Scriptures that consulting the dead was a wanton act of rebellion, punishable by death in the Mosaic law.

That God would go to great lengths in the Bible to warn us multiple times about this sin, even calling it an “abomination,” seems to indicate to us that there is something that could potentially bring great harm to the believer if s/he were to engage in this practice. My personal conviction is that God knew that behind every so-called “spirit” of a departed one, there is a demon. People may well be talking to someone but I don’t think it’s their dead relatives. It’s the enemy masquerading as an angel of light, giving people false hope based on a lie, and thus derailing them from the path where real peace and real hope come from — a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Theresa Caputo indeed has many gifts, but in my humble opinion, speaking with the dead is not one of them. The rest of her motives, I will leave it up to God to judge. And I will pray for her, as we all should.

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

The last couple of days have brought a flood of emotions to the surface in our already fragile repertoire of feelings. The events in Minnesota, Louisiana and now Texas have made us fearful again. We have been led to ask ourselves, some of us perhaps for the first time: “What is wrong with America?”

As one was not born in this country, I don’t have the luxury of reminiscing about the “glorious old days.” Neither can I join the chorus of those who decry the excesses of the old days. While many were experimenting with drugs and the sexual liberation of the 60’s, my parents were just trying to survive raising 9 children in the northern part of Brazil. I missed the 60’s altogether, except for the ballads a group from Liverpool brought to our Philco radios.

I missed the Civil Rights days but fell in love with MLK from a distance. I missed JFK but loved the food supplements his administration provided to my school through a program called “Alliance for Progress.” I missed the Vietnam War but years later would, with my wife, watch endless reruns and of M.A.S.H., thinking initially it was about Vietnam. M.A.S.H. and Ms. Ruth were my wife’s only English teachers when we first came to the U.S. In the early 80’s.

I grew up under a brutal military regime for 20 years. Congress was closed in 1964. Artists, students and teachers with left leaning views were haunted down, thrown in jail, tortured and killed. Many simply “vanished” with no trace, no closure, no accountability to this day. The lucky ones escaped to England, France, Portugal, even Russia. I was too young to fully appreciate the nefarious effects of those years.

The 70’s saw the so-called “Brazilian miracle,” an economic boom that later we would realize was only a boom to a few military officers and some clever politicians. I attended university during those years of political turmoil, my campus becoming a recruiting center for the communist party. I learned to despise communism and never fell for the propaganda that turned Fidel Castro into some kind of a hero. To me, he and Che Guevara were just another type of despots. I still believe that to this day.

The 80’s saw complete economic chaos: 3000% inflation per year. Shortages, looting, mass unemployment. But we also saw some political opening for the first time in my lifetime. I got to vote in a general election for the first time in 1986. We finally had a full and universal suffrage and the military were not in control.

The 90’s came roaring in with troubles. I secured a job teaching at my alma mater and was trying to support a family of 4. On my way to school, it was not unusual to see from the window of my bus a little corpse of a baby abandoned by a mother or a full size body of someone who had been killed execution style, the body still fuming from the burning that accompanied the killing. After seeing these things, I couldn’t sleep for days. I just didn’t understand how people could place so little value upon a life made by the Creator and imbued with all the innate qualities of personhood. And worse yet, I could never quite get why the people saw these tragedies as a type of entertainment. The bus driver would stop, people would get out, cross the street and parade in front of the dead, then they would take their seats on the bus, couples would kiss, others would talk about the final exam they were about to take and someone would make a cruel joke about an over cooked barbecue. The whole scene was surreal, insane.

And now, after many years of sojourning in this land, life has come full circle. I believe what we are doing to each other in the U.S. now is a prelude to the total disintegration of our entire way of life and unless we put a stop to it, we will fall like the other nations before us who put ideology before personhood, feelings before morality, man before God.

Our problem is not primarily racial. Our fight is not class warfare. The root of our problem is a lack of regard for human life. When life is reduced to chemicals dancing together in a primordial soup, it shouldn’t surprise us that there are elements in our society who believe they have the right to eliminate certain elements of our fabric they deem “undesirable.” In fact, we are already doing that when we have enshrined in our law books a provision that allows people to eliminate the most vulnerable among us — babies in their mothers’ wombs — at will, up to a certain time. This is one of the consequences of an ideology that says that man comes from apes.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that every evolutionist is a potential criminal, but I am saying that a society that is over exposed to a philosophy that attributes no transcendental value to life, no inherent dignity for being image bearers of the Divine, this society will eventually regress to acting according to the principal tenets of that philosophy, whether that’s a conscious act or not. Releasing a huge metal ball from atop a high mountain will always result in a movement downward, first slowly, then in a colossal crash no one can avoid.

Obviously, some elements of conservatism in our society contribute to this decadence as well. Many Christians, instead of acting compassionately as their Lord would, when they see the evils in our society, add fuel to the fire. They spew hateful words, plastered all over social media or uttered under their breath in dinners and gatherings with their friends. They consider themselves so much more superior to those immoral people of the left that I doubt they would have the courage of a G. K. Chesterton, who in response to an editorial in a British newspaper asking “what’s wrong with the world?” said, “Yours truly. I am what’s wrong with the world.” Churches and Christians need to wake up to the fact that many of them are not much different from the world. They need to lead by example, living an orderly life above reproach, loving one another and caring for the poor and those without voice in our world. God is calling us to repentance and righteous living that will result in truly living as salt and light in a society that needs Christ more than ever. But it is not through hatred and mere condemnation that this work will be accomplished. We need to look inside ourselves first and clean house before we can help heal the world outside.

Grace Church is a “house of prayer for all nations.” We have black, white, yellow, olive and all the colors in between. We have Americans, Brazilians, Haitians, South Koreans, Colombians, etc. We welcome everyone.

No one in our congregation will be untouched by the events of this week. Few, if any, will have no opinions on these tragic deaths. We are entitled to our own opinions but we owe each other love and respect, even when we disagree.

But remember that we are a unique group. We are the “called out ones” — out of the world, into His marvelous light. We belong to the family of God. Jesus calls us brothers. We are co-heirs with Him of the riches God has in store for us. We have the same Spirit. We are headed together to the New Jerusalem. Our citizenship is in heaven, where there will be no class distinction, no need for passports, no border control. We are all passing through and if we really get it, we will be the first to say that we are here on urgent business for our King.

When we see each other in church this Sunday, let me encourage you to seek three people you normally don’t speak to and do the following:

Smile.

Offer words of encouragement (“I am glad to see you here this morning.” “I’m so happy to be a part of the family of God.” “You are a blessing to God’s family here.”). If you don’t know the person and are not sure if they are saved, please introduce yourself and welcome them warmly.

Offer a hug, a warm handshake, a tap on the shoulder, when appropriate.

Kneel down to greet children and tell them how glad you are that they are in God’s house. Ask them when their Birthday is. Tell them Jesus loves them.

If they are believers, take a moment to pray together for our nation and especially for the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

Ask them if there is anything you can do to serve them.

Commit to praying for each other during this difficult time in the life of our nation.

I look forward to seeing you in God’s house on Sunday as we take time to honor the One who gives us life and life abundant.

We have a living hope!

“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:13-16).

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

And here is my favorite Fourth of July story: When I first came to the U.S. in 1982 some people who had never met anyone from Brazil couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask some very probing questions: “Do you have television in Brazil?” “Did you ever see a piranha on the river?” “Can anacondas really go through walls like in the movies?” But the question that topped them all was always: “Do you have the Fourth of July in Brazil?”, which I, in my unenlightened years, I would respond with, “Yes, it’s between the third and the fifth.”

In truth, though, Brazil’s July 4th is September 7th. On that day Brazilians celebrate the end of Portuguese rule in the country, a violent struggle that lasted three years and though it did not shed as much blood as the struggle for independence in the U.S. did, it is still equally significant to Brazilians who this year will celebrate 194 years since it declared its independence from Portugal.

240 years ago brave U.S. citizens also threw off the shackles of British control and carved a destiny for a young nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all who fought to secure our freedom from tyranny.

I number myself among those who are eternally grateful and here are some of my reasons:

  1. Your struggle for freedom inspired some even younger nations to fight against their oppressors. Whether Brazilians recognize it or not, we stand in that long line of true freedom fighters, of which the U.S. has produced some of finest. 
  1. I grew up under a brutal military regime that ruled Brazil for 20 years. I didn’t even get to vote for the first time until I was well into my thirties. As a young university student, the exploits of people like Martin Luther King were always a source of great inspiration for me. A country of justice and laws, a people who dreamed to be whatever they wanted, and a body politic that was guided by a sense of a high moral calling — these things made the U.S. the lighthouse of the world, giving hope to all who yearned for freedom. And I for one followed that light. 
  1. Contrary to most people I know in this country, who through no choice of their own were given birth rights as U.S. citizens, I chose to live in this country. My story is not much different from an adoption story, except in this case the child, as it were, chooses his own mother. I chose the U. S. and I am proud of it. My sojourn in this country has enriched my life and blessed me beyond what I can express in words. 
  1. Being from Brazil has also given me a fresh perspective on the difference between loyalty to country and loyalty to Christ. I am a patriot alright. I rise and place my right hand on my chest whenever I hear the sound of the national anthem. I am humbled by the ultimate sacrifice that so many made so I can enjoy the freedoms I have. I am at awe of the moral leadership of this country that has allowed it to come to the aid of those who suffer.

But the experience of growing up under a regime that elevated love for country to the same level as love for God has also taught me to be cautious. Governments are predictably fallible and the best of intentions can sometimes result in disastrous policies. We are journeying through a time in the history of our nation when there is a paucity of moral courage and an amplitude of small stomachs to stand for things that are right. If we are not careful, we will soon be drowning in a sea of relativism so the Church of Jesus Christ must refuse to be identified with any ideology or world view that is contrary to the Gospel. We should love country without ever forgetting that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21).

Happy Independence Day, everyone, and remember to thank God for the greatest freedom we have — forgiveness of our sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. He has defeated the greatest tyrant of our life, that old serpent, the slick usurper and father of all lies, whose only mission is to keep us under bondage forever. Thank God we are free from him, once and for all! (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

In 1 Timothy 4:2 Paul makes a disturbing statement in connection with a set of instructions to Timothy, his disciple: “… by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.” The previous verse warns that in the “later times” (code words for the times we are living in now, the Church age), some would fall away from the faith in order to follow “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”

Wow, you may say, “how’s this possible?” These are not pagans following pagan ways, which would not be a surprise. He is referring to people who were at some point and in some fashion identified with the faith. Shocking.

Well, the answer is that someone did a number with their conscience. I call these “conscience surgeons.” Most translations, like the NASB here, use the word “sear” to express Paul’s thought. Paul is using a medical term. “Cauterize” would be a more literal translation, as the DBT has it. 

Merriam Webster defines cauterize as “to burn (something, such as a wound) with heat or a chemical substance in order to destroy infected tissue.” The procedure renders the area insensible, thus the words “deaden” or “numb” would also be appropriate. In other words, the reason these folks have abandoned the faith, Paul says, is that they have allowed some “doctors” to operate on their consciences, rendering them incapable of triggering the mechanism that differentiated right from wrong. Deaden and deadly.

So who are these conscience “surgeons”? Here are my top three candidates (there are many more):

Highly educated Psychologists. These are people with letters after their name who insist that we ought to do away with artificial moral constructs. One of them, a Dr. Doris Jeanette, for example, claims, “There is no right or wrong, only experiences to learn from. So get out there and enjoy learning and living and growing. Toss guilt out. Trust yourself and love yourself.”

Makes me want to ask, “But if there is no right and wrong, why should I listen to what you have to say about it? Or maybe you mean to say ‘there is no right or wrong, but I beg you to make an exception by believing that what I am saying about right and wrong is right.'” Total non-sense, and yet, like a surgeon’s sharp knife, it has been used countless times to cauterize the conscience of our people and especially our youth.

Highly psychologized educators. Though there are many great people in our public schools, some try to use subtle psychology to serve the universalist soup to the mind of our unsuspecting little ones. 

When one of my daughters was 5, she heard her teacher say in school that “every religion leads to the same God.” This was a time when several Muslim families were part of our lives and my daughter had befriended a girl her age who was from Egypt. So my daughter told me what the teacher had said and asked me this question, “Dad, Aisha believes Muhammad is the way to God and we believe Jesus is the way to God. How can we both be right?” 

Without knowing it, at age 5, my daughter was articulating the law of non-contradiction, which in essence says that if A is true, the opposite of A cannot be true at the same time. She proved to have a greater understanding about religion than her teacher did, but not everyone has the courage to contradict what is said by someone who is an authority figure and is supposed to know better. The best conscience surgeons are the ones who don’t even consider themselves to be one.

The last group of “surgeons” I want to mention is highly sensitive preachers. I could dedicate many blog entries just to this topic, but let me just say that sometimes the would be purveyors of truth are the most skilled surgeons when the subject is conscience cauterization. Preachers who love money and position more than truth. Bible expositors who fear the ire and isolation of the majority. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, the pulpits are filled with them. Don’t get on their operating tables. Run from their presence. Flee their anemic pronouncements that carry no authority. Don’t be afraid to challenge the authority of pseudo-truth tellers.

Finally, I find it amazing that when it comes to surgeries on our bodies, we go to great lengths to find the best physician. We find out where he/she graduated from; we read reviews online, we talk to his/her peers and try to find others who may have had the same procedure under the care of that doctor. But then in matters of conscience, the very thing that gives us a moral compass to live by, we are willing to go under by the hands of just about anyone who pretends to know more than we do. Time to reverse course. We will find out how when we study Psalm 32 this Sunday and understand what God has to say about guilt. 

Hope you can join us!
Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade 
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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