“We want this country that we fought for to be the place it’s meant to be.” This is how David Smith, a thirteen-year veteran of the Navy, explains his decision to mobilize fellow veterans to clean up the Capitol and downtown DC after the January 6 riot.
Now if they could just clean up the rest of the riot’s aftermath.
A “small fire” under a nearby bridge prompted the temporary shutdown of the US Capitol complex yesterday as a rehearsal was underway for tomorrow’s inaugural ceremony. The evacuation was prompted by what turned out to be a fire at a homeless encampment.
US defense officials say they are concerned about an insider attack or other threat from service members engaged in securing tomorrow’s inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet each of the twenty-five thousand National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event. The FBI is also warning about the threat of armed protests in state capitals this week.
Megachurch pastor sentenced to federal prison
One reason there is so much angst and animosity regarding the 2020 presidential election is that so-called prophets were so certain President Trump would be reelected.
Pastor and televangelist Paula White-Cain, a spiritual adviser to the president, prophesied in November that God had dispatched angels from Africa and South America to help him achieve victory. She also stated that “demonic confederacies . . . are attempting to steal the election from Trump.”
Charlie Shamp, a ministry founder who describes himself as a “prophet,” declared last October that Pennsylvania’s vote in the presidential election would be “the key that opens the flood gate for the nation to be delivered from destruction.” Others made similar predictions, some maintaining their claim even after the January 6 Capitol siege and Electoral College tally.
In related news, a megachurch pastor in Kentucky drew widespread rebuke when he condemned those who “stole” the 2020 election and cursed them “in the name of the Lord.” A megachurch pastor and former spiritual adviser to presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama was sentenced recently to six years in federal prison for his role in a scheme that defrauded people out of millions of dollars through the sale of worthless Chinese bonds.
And the late Ravi Zacharias, who built a global apologetics ministry as one of the foremost evangelical thinkers of our generation, has been the subject of an escalating scandal regarding sexual misconduct.
Three transformational truths
How should Christians respond when Christian leaders speak and act in ways that dishonor our Lord? Three biblical answers are familiar but no less urgent today.
One: Measure human words by the word of God.
Paul testified, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). We can either measure the words of people by the words of God or the reverse. Let me encourage you to make Scripture the lens through which you see and interpret everything else in your world.
When human words, even those uttered by ministers and “prophets,” do not align with God’s word, choose God’s word. For example, when humans make predictions that do not come to pass, know that this is “a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously” (Deuteronomy 18:22). If a “prophet” speaks words that lead you away from the Lord, “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet” (Deuteronomy 13:3).
God will never contradict himself. As I told my seminary students, the only word God is obligated to bless is his word.
Are you measuring all truth by the truth of Scripture?
Two: Hold leaders accountable for biblical morality.
Biblical leaders are to be “as one who serves” (Luke 22:26). They must be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2), “a model of good works” with “integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7–8).
This does not mean that human leaders can be perfect, of course, but that they should seek to live by God’s word and will and that we should pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1–2), encourage them (Hebrews 10:25), and, when necessary, hold them accountable to God’s standards (cf. Galatians 6:1; James 5:16).
Are you seeking to live biblically? Are you helping the leaders you know do the same?
Three: Seek a growing, intimate relationship with Jesus.
Paul grieved that he had to feed the Corinthians “with milk, not solid food” (1 Corinthians 3:2). Milk is digested food. The same is true spiritually—many are content with spiritual truth “digested” by their pastor, teacher, or other spiritual resources.
By contrast, Jesus said of himself, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Would Jesus say you are abiding in him today?
A replica or the real thing?
The cave paintings at Lascaux, France, are among the earliest known works of art in the world. Nearly fifteen hundred paintings of animals are dated as between fifteen thousand and seventeen thousand years old.
After they were identified and examined, they were opened to the public in 1948. Within seven years, however, it became clear that exposure to as many as twelve hundred visitors a day was damaging the works inside. Protective measures were taken, but the site was closed in 1963. A life-sized replica of the cave, two hundred meters from the original, was completed twenty years later.
You can experience the risen Lord Jesus today, or you can settle for human replicas.
NOTE: I’ve led more than thirty study tours to Israel. Each time feels like the first. There is something miraculous and transforming about that ancient land—and I hope some of that experience is conveyed in my latest book, To Follow in His Footsteps: A Daily Walk with Jesus through the Holy Land. Please request your copy of To Follow in His Footsteps today.