Truth: a debatable idea; a negotiable commodity; a historical relic? Is the idea of truth as a sure and certain reality lost and gone forever? This incredible question with profound implications for the 21st century church is what we gathered to consider at Passion4Christ 2016.
Our attendance was a bit lower, but joy and love in Christ were in no way diminished as we gathered on October 26 to relax, pray, interact, learn, and worship. We enjoyed good food, inspiring decor, unusual theme dinners, reflection, fellowship, and instruction from God’s Word. We were served by a volunteer staff who “set the table” so to speak. They did this with joy so the attendees could focus on the Word.
We came to meet with God; to hear from Him; to be challenged to engage and confront a culture of darkness and death with the light and life of the Gospel.
What shall we use to confront a skeptical world. The Scriptures are the only adequate tool we have. We also addressed the question of the existence of God and the absolute necessity of moral absolutes woven into human conscience and the truth of Scripture. These questions were addressed by Charles Cavanaugh and Matt Shackelford. And Daniel Cavanaugh challenged us to be ready to confront the culture by following Paul’s example on Mars Hill.
In the midst of these sessions, we stopped to have our first ever Q&A at P4C. The response was positive with good questions indicating thoughtful listening. Then Dewey Novotny urged us to consider why we are here, to live our lives to the glory of God. This was followed quite naturally by the challenge that we are created in the image of God which gives meaning to the answers to all these questions.
If we are to face an unbelieving world with confidence, we must invest our lives, our futures, and our eternal hope in that which is of ultimate value. This was our closing exhortation. Our lives are not valued by temporal and earthly investments or achievements but in the eternal truth of the Gospel, for which we must be willing to give our lives. We were challenged to “Buy the truth”. All of the things we enjoyed at P4C2016 were for this; to believe in, embrace, and give our lives for the truth in Jesus Christ. Our brothers and sisters left with this ringing in their ears. May we all live it in the days ahead.
There is such a shortage of it. It is not impossible to find, but it gets crowded out by the bad news. The big three, “sin, sorrow, and death”, seem to be having their way. They own the news. Meanwhile, righteousness is diminished, and wickedness abounds. It is somewhat frightening.
The anti-God forces are having their way. It is seen in radical Islam killing many and terrifying many others. It is seen in the advance of secularism in the United States; a militant secularism that will not be satisfied until it silences every voice and every remnant of Theo-centric, Christo-centric, and Biblio-centric truth. We see it in a church that still pins its hopes on a national leader who will turn the tide in another direction: a church far happier with its comforts and conveniences than with Christ and Christ alone. It seems as though we spend our days waiting for the next big tragedy and wondering if anything can stop the forces of darkness. As Christians, we can hardly help wondering if our day is one that will witness an onslaught of persecutions that western Christianity has not yet seen. If we are not careful, we could be caught up in the uncertainty and dread that grips the world. We could succumb, at least subconsciously, to such fear.
But what is actually happening around us? Are things as they appear? The answer is yes and no. Yes, the world is rife with evil. In the United States, the days of cultural Christianity are gone with hardly noticeable remnants here and there. Judeo-Christian values and a Puritan ethic that once dominated the cultural landscape have all but disappeared and are fodder for jokes and cynicism even in some Christian circles. The leaders of our nation pay lip service to Christianity, while denying and undermining every vestige of Christian and Biblical orthodoxy.Sin and perversion are applauded while righteousness is hated. The nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing. But Psalm 2 does not make that as a statement. It poses it as a question. “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?” The question is as appropriate today as it was in the day of the Psalmist. Why indeed do the rulers of the world set themselves? Why indeed do they take counsel together against the LORD and against His Christ? For what appears to be the triumph of evil men, is but a prelude to their ultimate fall. “He Who sits in the heavens laughs. He scoffs at them.” The world may be falling apart around us, but our Lord is having His way. “He does whatever He pleases.” Fret not because of evil doers,… They shall soon be cut off and wither as the grass. Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; … Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” Shall we fret and not trust our mighty God? Shall we fear that His Gospel will not prevail? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” For those who know Christ, the good news of the Gospel overshadows all the bad news, and it is that good news that we gladly bear as a light to the nations.
The Christian ministry is more than preaching and teaching. To many, this is the most attractive aspect of being a pastor of Christ’s church. But it is far from all there is to ministry.
When asked to teach a two-semester class on pastoral ministry, I was provided an opportunity to think through and communicate the serious nature of presuming to call one’s self a minister of the Gospel. It is a daunting task.
Over a period of about eight weeks, seven pastoral aspirants and I spent our Lord’s Day mornings considering such topics as The Man of God and His Calling; The man of God and His Companion; The Man of God and His Character; The Man of God and His Congregation; The Man of God and His Challenges; The Man of God and His Children; The man of God and His Crown. This semester was about pastoral ministry and leadership, those aspects of ministry that undergird the preaching ministry of the Pastor. Every effort was made to challenge the students to take a serious look at their call to the ministry. The call to the ministry is often viewed from a subjective perspective, while paying inadequate or no heed to the more important objective aspects found in I Timothy chapter 3. In fact, we learned that all of ministry is guided by the objective truth of God’s Word, especially the I Timothy passage. We approached the class under the premise that what every Christian should be, the man of God “must” be. He cannot be perfect, but he must be exemplary in his personal life, his marital life, his parental life, his social life, his financial life. Our goal was to lead every man to enter and execute the ministry with the utmost care and commitment. Pray that our Lord will cause these things to bear fruit in the lives of those who attended.
But while preaching the Word is not the only aspect of Christian ministry, it is certainly primary. One cannot preach the Word effectively without the foundational matters mentioned above, but he must set his sights on preaching the Word of God effectively. This will be the focus of the second semester of pastoral ministry and leadership. The preaching of the Word is not the vocation of one who has a “gift for gab”. It is the weighty responsibility of one whose calling and consuming passion is to communicate God’s truth by the help of the Holy Spirit. This requires preparation, proficiency, and plodding, persistent labor. It requires a man to be unwaveringly committed to understanding and communicating the text of Scripture and avoiding man-made ideas of relevance and attractiveness. It requires exposition; the proclamation or teaching of a text of Scripture in its Biblical and historical context based on sound inductive study with a view to sound Biblical application.
But how. This will be our focus in the coming weeks. Pray that God’s Spirit will make it happen. “Who is sufficient for these things?” In the words of Sinclair Ferguson; “Thank God our sufficiency is in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
When something becomes a phenomenon, it tends to define or reinvent cultural standards of measurement. The relatively recent advent of social media is a case in point. With it has come new terminology or old terminology with new meaning. A cloud is no longer just a white, fluffy marshmallow of moisture or a dark ominous omen of a storm. It is a place where information is stored for later use and prevents one from filling his or her hard drive unnecessarily. The concept of “user friendly” originated because computers were so intimidating, and efforts had to be made to eradicate that barrier if they were going to be viable in the market place. Then there is cyberspace; that frontier that includes clouds and volumes of information which tempts humans to “boldly go where no one has gone before”. But perhaps no term or concept has gotten more traction than “What’s Trending”. Just the sound of this phrase reminds us that if it is happening on Facebook, it must be important. Which brings up another old term that has new meaning: viral. Viral used to carry the connotation of something unpleasant, debilitating, even infectious. But now if it has “gone viral”, it is uber popular. Originally it was trending. Then it went viral. Never mind that it was a video of a woman donning a mask of an imaginary galactic creature, a dog doing something unusual or even gross, or a human being stupid. Social media makes it important. This is not meant to be a rant against social media. I use it to keep up with friends and events. This is more of comment, a concern, and even a call to evaluation. Like many other things, social media is a tool which can be used or abused. It is not inherently evil. But let’s go back to my comment, concern, and call. My comment is this. We are far too easily amused. And because we are easily amused we often do not stop to think about what is amusing us. It is not the galactic mask or the silly dog that is the problem. Rather it is the irreverent comment or the snide humor that should alert us to an unbiblical and Godless philosophy. This leads to my concern. We are far too easily distracted. Someone close to me recently said that he had turned off his Facebook notifications; not because they are necessarily evil but because they are a distraction. Granted, we cannot turn off every distraction, and I am not suggesting that we all must turn off Facebook. But I am saying that all of us who wish to follow Christ can be easily distracted from a Christ-centered life by inane and mindless drivel. This should be a concern for all of us who love the Lord. This leads to a call. We who know God are not called to a life enamored with “what’s trending”. In the words of A.W. Tozer; “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.” This is the call and the challenge of the Christian life. It is not just a daily challenge. It is a moment by moment one. The trendy and the trending are but temporal reminders of the One eternal constant who never changes and Whose “steadfast love endures forever”. So; “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And may this not be a trend but our life-long commitment.
In the love of Christ,
Loyalty is an important and powerful virtue. It can move one to stand strong in the face of adversity and persevere in the face of insurmountable problems. As a boy, I watched my Dad remain loyal when most others wavered. I saw him stand firm when others of influence stood against his Pastor. Even as a young Christian, he took the heat and played the man. He was loyal to the end.
As I grew older and was faced with relationships and responsibilities, the quality of loyalty became personally important. I learned to be loyal and faithful to friends, family, and leaders and to stand with them even when it was costly. I attempted to exemplify and communicate the importance of this character trait to my sons and watched them embrace it as an essential element of their lives. I can say that the Lord has taught my sons to be loyal and faithful men.
But loyalty is not primarily to a person or persons. Personality and leadership can move us to give our loyalties but should not cause us to be unreserved in their application. Loyalty is not a benign or blind matter, or at least it should not be. Of course it will be if attached to mere personality. The power of personality or human attachment can cause us to lose sight of that which alone is worthy of our loyalty.
The Founding Fathers of the United States understood this all too well and were forced to test the metal of their loyalties. They were not quick to loosen the bonds of loyalty to England and her King. Their sense of loyalty was not easily swayed. But the test of their loyalties caused them to look beyond humans personalities, philosophies, and institutions. Deeply held beliefs felt the pressure of adverse and even compromising circumstances, leaving noble men and women to ask themselves about both the source and the ultimate focus of their loyalties. So significant was this time of self-examination and challenge that it moved them to say: “…with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
As we have followed our Lord, our family has had its loyalties tested as well. We have found that this strong sense of commitment to a person or institution can go a long way but only so far. We have watched those we trust abuse our loyalty. I dare say that most of us have. Torn between long and tenaciously held loyalties and competing issues, we struggle to decide where our loyalties lie. Who or what holds the right to our loyalties? Christianity and the church have struggled with this for some time. Church history is strewn with the casualties of wars over misguided loyalties. And the developments of the past generation teach us that we tend to lose the lessons of the past. The truth is that we still hold out hope that loyalty to earthly alliances will provide us with the power and influence we need to win the war for values, to change the cultural landscape for the better.
It is at this point that our loyalty lies to us. It is at this point that we tend to forget that no loyalty or commitment can be allowed to challenge or obscure our loyalty to the Truth of God and the God of Truth. I am not advocating Christian isolationism. Our involvement is more than noble. It is necessary. But our involvement is not based on human possibilities or humans themselves, however noble they may appear. Our involvement is based on our sure knowledge that our Lord’s Truth will prevail and His will shall be accomplished. Our disappointment at electoral losses may reveal more than a commitment to the right. It may reveal a misplaced trust and a misguided loyalty. After all, a transformed society is not ultimately the result of temporal political victories, but of a Gospel that is the “power of God for salvation”. Let us not forget that “God is the ruler. He puts down one and sets up another”(Ps.75:7). That is a power to which no political party may rightfully lay claim.
In the love of Christ,
To any honest and thinking person, life holds any number of frightening realities. Disease and disaster are constantly lurking in the many bushes that populate life’s landscape. We cannot see them, but we are constantly reminded of their presence by the passing of a friend or loved one about our age or a news report of an earthquake, ten car pile up, or terrorist attack. Such things can make us feel extremely vulnerable and uncertain about our future.
What makes these realities even more frightening is that they bring to mind our earthly mortality. Even the oldest of us has a very short existence here, and the older we get the shorter it seems. Some spend their lives attempting to get as much as possible accomplished in the short time they have while others try not to think about it at all. Some smother thoughts of their inevitable demise with money, things, alcohol, or drugs. The problem is those reminders. They keep popping up. If those were not enough, we have our own bodies. We can hardly ignore them as they lead us on this relentless pursuit of the end of our mortal existence.
But there is something even more frightening than our mortality. Some find it relatively easy to live with the prospect of a future of non-existence. They see it preferable to the pain and suffering of this life or the painful circumstances that often accompany death. How often have we heard the comment at someone’s death or funeral; “She’s so much better off”? They either believe that bliss of some sort awaits everyone or that eternal non-existence is a preferable future.
But while mortality is a sobering earthly prospect, the immortality that awaits us in eternity is even more so. The question of mortality and then immortality can only be ignored for so long. Death is not the drunkards joke or the cynic’s song. It is an exit, an exodus from the temporal to the eternal. It is not left to humans who arrogantly believe they know best when life should end and eternity begins for the individual. Death is an appointment for every human. As is the meeting of Almighty God on the other side of it. The atheist has a vested interest in his unbelief, because the prospect of meeting God is indeed a frightening one. Why not devise a reality that leaves God out and dares anyone to prove otherwise rather than give an account for wasting a brief and temporary life? Why not be your own God and create your own truth? Why not die “happy” and hopeless? Why not live with a sorrowfully skewed idea of justice and fairness which lays blame at the feet of others, sings the victim’s lyrics, and looks forward to a godless death that finally “solves” life’s unanswerable questions?
The other side of mortality is a frightening reality had not the infinite and eternal God revealed Himself to us and made a free offer of eternal life in the person of His Son. “And this is life eternal, that they might know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.” To know God; now their is a prospect for mere mortals. This is the prospect that pulls the teeth from death’s jaws, ties it’s mighty paws, and leaves it powerless. This is the prospect that turns incapacitating fear into holy awe and eternal joy. For those who embrace Christ, the frightening reality of our mortality is no more, for we await the prospect of knowing and getting to know our Father forever.
The moral high ground: what is it, and where is it? How does one establish himself or herself upon it? How is it maintained?
In the cultural and political debate, it has been customary to attempt to argue from the moral high ground. The moral authority that goes with it provides an advantage that can be used to promote one’s agenda or to defeat one’s opponents. In the battle for power, the moral high ground can provide strategic advantage from which to conduct the battle for ideas which will capture the thinking of the culture.
In a political context of deceit and overt power grabs, Jimmy Carter exuded honesty. His Southern charm and promise never to lie to the American people was the moral high ground that established him as a viable candidate and ultimately helped him gain the presidency. Thirty years later another candidate was able to take the moral high ground by asserting, “I know what the meaning of ‘is’ is“.
But how stable or constant is the moral high ground especially in our now highly relativistic culture? A society governed at least by a modicum of moral absolutes used to know that certain stands or postures were morally and ethically sound. But a steady dose of entertainment that brings amoral thinking and behavior into our living rooms and invites us to laugh at once reprehensible behavior has helped shift the argument and undermine the validity of absolute moral truth. How gradually yet surely have we edged our way to the place where the moral high ground has radically changed. Words like rights and tolerance mixed with appeals to the feelings of the masses have been used to create a new moral order, a new sense of social urgency, and with these a new self-righteousness. Those who hold to the old order are social dinosaurs who are about to become extinct. They are actually worse. They are worthless annoying relics to be discarded and forgotten.
And where do these worthless annoying relics fit in the post-modern discussion of the new morality? They certainly do not hold the moral high ground, because the moral high ground has shifted. The new moral high ground applauds the “courage” to announce your new gender identity. The new moral high ground promotes the right of a woman over her own body and to kill the human growing “safely” in her womb. The new moral high ground looks down on those who hold to a traditional Judeo-Christian view of marriage between a man and a woman. The battle for position on the new moral high ground is essentially over.
What do those who grieve over this profound cultural and intellectual shift do. Should they hide away on Tatooine like some vanquished Jedi uncertain of the future? Must they relegate themselves to a silent existence; a benign Christianity that refuses to stir the waters? Should they fade away into the cultural sunset and face the extinction that the cultural elites hope for? Maybe they should hold out hope for political victories that will stem the tide of relativism. What is to be done when the moral order, and with it the moral high ground, has been redefined into meaninglessness?
The Apostle Paul lived in a culture diametrically opposed to the Christian world view. He challenges us with these words.
Therefore knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men… For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all were dead: And that He died for all, that those who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him Who died for their sake and rose again. … Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.
[2 Cor. 5:11,14,15,20]
It is time for the relics of a lost time to erect a new moral high ground of Gospel truth and Gospel living. Let us not moan that we are losing the battle, but let us rejoice that we have won the war. Let us stand on the truth while displaying the evident love of Christ, loving the unlovely as our Father has us. Let us preach Christ who does not merely “hate the sin and loves the sinner” but Who delivers the sinner from his sin and transforms him or her with His own life.
Let it be said of us
We were marked by forgiveness
We were known by our love
And delighted in meekness
We were ruled by His peace
Heeding unity’s call
Joined as one body
That Christ would be seen by all
In the love of Christ,
Tough questions: they come when we least expect them. They are questions that may or may not bother us, but they certainly bother the skeptic. What do we do? How do we answer those unexpected challenges to our strongly held faith in Christ and God’s Word. We could avoid them. We could ignore them. Sometimes we give what we think is a lame answer which leaves us feeling like an inadequate, unprepared failure.
The truth is we cannot expect to avoid them forever; unless you spend your life in a cave, which I don’t recommend. And it seems that skeptics can find us anywhere. Ignoring them will not work either. Skeptics will not be ignored. And it is possible that they genuinely want answers.
Besides all this, we are challenged, called, and even commanded to “be ready always”. What do we do then? How do we share the Truth in an environment which has become more and more hostile to Biblical truth. Is it possible to be ready for such a responsibility? These are questions begging for answers.
That is why Passion4Christ2016 will focus on “TRUTH: defending your faith in a secular age”. This is your opportunity to set aside time to prayerfully engage the questions we face in an increasingly secular and godless culture. You can look forward to clear Biblical exposition, a Q&A panel, and those times around the table to discuss the issues you and I face. It is also your opportunity to meet and hear Matt Schackleford, a fine expositor and the Senior Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Canal Winchester, OH who will be our guest speaker for the week. We are all learners together, and our greatest resource is God’s Word. The fellowship of other Christians blessed by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit will be the best possible environment for sharpening our hearts and minds for the task.
None of us can ever hope to have all the answers, but each of us can be Biblically prepared to present Christ and His Gospel to an unbelieving world desperately in need of His salvation. After all, our purpose is not to win arguments but to win souls for Christ. Join us at P4C2016 as we prepare ourselves for this eternal business.
Several years ago a series of books was published with a story line involving the circumstances surrounding the Second Coming of Christ. Written from a premillenial, dispensational perspective, this eschatological tome went into great detail describing what will happen when the “rapture” occurs and the aftermath for those “left behind”.
A woman who was a co-worker of mine asked what I thought of the books. My reply?; “They are interesting fiction.” Whether you agree with my assessment or with the theology behind the series, there are serious issues involved with developing one’s view of a particular Biblical subject or theology from fictional writing.
This brings us to a more recent development in the production of quasi-biblical fiction: a cinematic effort to tell the story of the child Jesus. The movie “The Young Messiah” is based on a book written by Anne Rice. The movie purports to give an historically reliable account of the child Jesus at the age of seven when his parents were returning to Palestine with him from Egypt. The narrative weaves the pursuit of the child by a Roman soldier and instances of miracles performed by the surprised and uncertain young Messiah. It has opened to some good reviews, even getting a positive nod from Focus on the Family.
Bible-believing Evangelicals should be savvy enough to see through the ruse and discern what is really happening. We can learn a lesson from the early church which rejected spurious “gospels” and letters that claimed authenticity and inspiration while making obvious uninspired statements and offering fictitious accounts of the child Jesus which were fantastic if not absurd. If the early church rejected these extra canonical sources while holding on to the Apostolic tradition, why should we give credence to a modern day resurrection of such things? The truth is that these apocryphal accounts appealed to the emotion and imagination then just as they do now, not to the converted and Biblically trained mind. The inspired Scriptures say very little about the childhood of Jesus of Nazareth, but as with all they address, what they say is sufficient. Stories of the Christchild’s supposed forays into early expressions of deity have nothing to do with the veracity of the Jesus of the gospel accounts, His glorious person, or His saving work. What is worse in this instance is the sense of reality given to such a story when it is displayed on the large screen of the theater. We are easily moved by life-sized dramatization and skillful story telling, when we ought to be firmly convinced by inspired truth. Claims of authenticity and historically verifiable accounts must not be taken at face value, and the emotions inspired by the actions of a little boy on the screen should not be trusted as Biblical Christian experience. So do not expect genuine conversions to Christ to be the result of such an event. Hot flashes and flushed faces may occur, but these are not indications of a saving knowledge of the Christ of Scripture.
Whether you spend your money to watch such a movie is certainly a choice made between you and the Lord. But let us get our theology, and in particular our Christology, from the Word of God, judge all things by it, and be ready to give an answer to those who may well be confused by the theology of cinema.
We are naturally attracted by outward beauty, whether it is a person, natural creation, a nice house, even ministries. We are captivated by things that are attractive. Supermarkets do not allow the packaging of their products to deteriorate. Their lights are bright and the food is colorful. Cigarettes, alcohol, the lottery all fail to show us their dark side. Cancer, drunkenness, unpaid bills are hidden by images of successful, happy, and wealthy people.
Because we are naturally drawn to outwardly attractive things, while overlooking their undesirable elements, it is easy for us to be deceived. And because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different kinds of things attract and even deceive different kinds of people. Perhaps you have walked through a flea market or gift shop and wondered, “Who buys this stuff?!” Or maybe you have seen someone set up on the side of the road selling their wares and thought, “Surely nobody buys that. What would you do with it?” Hey, “one man’s trash is another…” You know.
We have grown accustomed to this in politics as well. Clothes, photo opps, speeches, and surroundings are used to frame a candidate to make him or her attractive to as many people as possible. Yes policies, beliefs, philosophies, and ideologies all play a part. But the frame can be as or more important as the subject. It seems that the public would grow immune to hype, rhetoric, pugnacity, and empty promises. Instead it appears that in some ways the electorate is more gullible than ever.
Shrewd public figures know how to tap in to fear, anger, and other emotions and tendencies, grabbing a contrived high ground and playing a political version of “king of the mountain”; successfully staving off attempts to be knocked from the perch while drawing more fans to the side of bombastic behavior.
Why is it so difficult for the electorate to see through the fog and remember the old and oft-quoted cliche “all that glitters is not gold”? Many a gold rusher mined loads of pyrite only to find that the attractive substitute was worthless and that their hours of exhaustive labor had produced nothing but fatigue.
Recently my son was talking with a man near a polling location who told him for whom he was voting. My son’s advice was; “You had better look long and hard before you make that decision”. Isn’t that good advice for all of us? Shouldn’t we place the thinking cap back on our heads; the one we throw off at the first sight of an attractive and glittering candidate who says the right things but fails the test of closer examination?
When coins were the primary means of currency, it was not unusual for counterfeiters to make coins out of cheap metals then cover them with a coat of gold or gold colored metal. The naive would often take such “currency” without testing it. But the savvy person tested the coins given to them by biting them to see if the coating would come off. That became a customary means of determining if what you were paid was authentic.
In more ancient history, pottery was made and sold in the open market. Well-made and intricately designed pieces could fetch a nice price. Some hucksters would take flawed pieces of pottery and fill the flaws with wax. The wax could easily be painted or polished to cover the repair, giving it the appearance of a more valuable work of art. Testers would take a piece of poetry and hold it up to the light of the sun and with their trained eye see if a piece was authentic. Those without wax patches were labeled “sincere”, without wax. You may recognize the Latin phrase as the one from which the English word sincere is derived.
I want to challenge my readers to give long hard Biblical thought to the issue of choosing a leader. Do not be naive. Hold the potential leader up to the light of God’s Word and look closely, critically, and prayerfully. It is not enough to be attracted by catch phrases, winsomeness, and attractiveness.
In the end it is God who puts down one and raises up another. But He uses means to accomplish His end, and in this case, we are the means. We will be held accountable for how we exercise our privilege. May the Lord help us to choose wisely.