Why Don’t We Quote Jesus More?

There’s not a day when my social media Newsfeed is not filled with quotations from well-known Christian authors and speakers. This becomes even more pronounced when a conference is ongoing, and for a few days after. Almost everyone, it seems, is wowing at the revelation of these one-liners. There seems to be so much wisdom and depth in these sayings that these must be shared with the rest of the world.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with sharing these ‘ah-ha’ moments. That’s what social media is all about, isn’t it? You come upon something good and you want everyone to know. Post. Share. Like. Repost. Comment: “Word! Truth!”

Sounds edifying enough. But of late, my concern is if we Christians may just be revering the words of these men and women of the hour so much that we altogether miss the words of Jesus, our Master and King. I began to notice that more and more preferred to quote anyone and everyone, except Jesus. Where congregations are concerned, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase, “My pastor says…” Again, it is not wrong to listen to pastors, the under-shepherds. But what about Jesus, the Good Shepherd?

Applying this to myself, I made a conscious effort to read through the gospels again, to see what Jesus said in those accounts, and to hear what He would say to me, and to us as His church. Each day, I would post a saying of Jesus (or two).

The exercise has been an interesting one. Perhaps, I do not possess a big enough ‘friend’ or ‘follower’ base, but unlike the clever and witty sayings of the big names, the sayings of Jesus, the Name above all names, usually do not attract too many ‘likes’ or ‘comments’. Once in a while, you get a few ‘amens’, but that’s about it. (Maybe, if I take the trouble to use a fancy font and insert a breath-taking background image, that might help.)

Personally, it’s been enriching to read and re-read the gospels, to hear my Master and King speak directly and precisely. Naturally, I prefer the verses that remind me of His love, grace and blessings. That said, I cannot skip the parts that appeal less to me, and Jesus, at times, says some rather hard stuff pointedly and without compromise! Whilst I like to hear (over and over again) of how special I am to Him, how highly favoured and richly blessed I am in Him, the truth is that it is really not about me at all! And if I am to be totally honest, the sayings of Jesus promptly reveal how I have missed Him and His kingdom in the way I understand Christianity and do church today! Have you heard what Jesus says about following Him, obedience, faithfulness and readiness?

Ouch! No wonder the writer of Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him, to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

I do not mean to dishonour, discount or discredit any teacher and preacher. As one myself, I am greatly encouraged when someone shares how he or she has been helped by the uncovering of a little nugget of truth through my teachings or messages. Yet, no matter how good, inspirational or motivational a communicator is, his or her words are never to supersede or replace that of Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, read the Word of God for yourself. Listen to His voice for yourself. Hear what Jesus says to you, and then obey Him. It is not just what apostle so-and-so says, or what prophet so-and-so says. It is what Jesus says that truly matter. If you need to quote anyone, quote Him who has both the first word, and also the final say.

Keep Preaching: You Never Know How Or When God Uses The Message To Encourage Others

I am sure preachers and teachers can identify with what I am about to share.

Before each speaking engagement, you pray and prepare. Most will never understand the effort that goes into this process. Even fewer will appreciate the experiences one is allowed to go through that a message is delivered with greater depth and significance.

The day arrives. After being introduced, you take the stand. And with all your heart, you deliver the message to the best of your ability, to the glory of God. After the service, some step forward to shake your hand, and others, to offer a word of thanks. All too soon, it is over.

But, is it?

Let me share this little testimony to encourage you.

At the end of a recently concluded church camp, a brother told me what he did with a message I preached at his church last year in December (six months earlier). Impacted by the message, he took it upon himself to translate it into Bengali so that he could forward it to others in the migrant workers community he had been ministering to. When these Bengali brothers received it in their own language, they were strengthened by the Word of God!

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As a speaker, I thought my engagement ended when the benediction was pronounced. Who would have imagined that someone would take the trouble to translate it that others may be edified? This is a reminder for us, preachers and teachers, to keep keeping on, even when it may seem dry or unfruitful. We never know how God can use what we have prepared, or when. In His time, in His own special ways, He can use it to bless and encourage someone. We may never get to hear of it but I believe it is all recorded for when we meet our Lord and Master.

So, preach on and teach on! The Word of God is alive, unfailing and endures forever. Our part is to declare it, believing that the Spirit of God will do with it as He pleases. For sure, His Word will never return to Him void!

To God be the glory!

 

If The Apostles Had Posted Their Writings On Facebook

St Paul Writing Epistles

Over breakfast, I quipped, “If you want more visits to your website, just blog about hyper grace or simply point out an erroneous interpretation of the Word of God.” Really. Just try it. What have you got to lose? Just a few friends, perhaps (if these were even real friends in the first place).

That got me wondering a little: If the apostles had posted some of their writings on social media, what might be some of the responses they would receive from today’s postmodern, tolerant Christian?

Hmmm … (wavy daydream screen with harp arpeggio) …

Paul: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
@blessed2bits: How dare you touch the Lord’s anointed! No wonder you are cursed and have so many sufferings, trials and tribulations.

Peter: But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
@sbjacktif: How can these be bad or wrong? I have learnt and grown so much from their teaching and ministry. I am not questioning your hermeneutical accuracy. So you shouldn’t question my experience.

Paul: For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
@lurveawww: All I know is that you are not very inclusive nor tolerant. Bigot!

James: Cleanse your hands, you sinners!
@saintifide: Who are you calling a sinner? My sins have all been forgiven – past, present and future!

John: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
@knowway: Way to go, John! Tell it to the gnostics! Small typo error you may like to correct … you wrote “we” but you actually meant “them”, right? And while you are at it, can you make it clearer which part of the letter is for “them” and which is for “us”?

Paul: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
@peaceman: Aw, c’mon, Paul! Stop pitting one man’s opinion against another. You are dividing the body of Christ. Don’t be so hung up about the truth. It’s more important to have peace and unity.

… (wavy daydream screen with harp arpeggio) …

I am, of course, just having some fun. But on a more serious note, as much as I would like this to be purely imaginative and make-believe, these are not entirely original for such comments have been posted in response to well meaning articles that seek to present and point out the truth. I will also not be surprised that some will find this tongue-in-cheek article offensive and ungracious. I can only appeal to Paul, the one who declared the gospel of grace, who, when needed, also employed sanctified sarcasm that his point might be pointedly made with full effect (cf 1 Cor 4:6-13).

Like it or not, this is the postmodern environment we operate in these days. Still, we are to preach the Word and to declare the Truth, with boldness and without compromise. The apostles did that in times past and were ready for all opposition and any eventuality. For the sake of Jesus, many lost much, including their lives. It’s ok to lose a few friends on Facebook.

Note: If the above statements by Paul, Peter, James and John look or sound familiar, it’s because they are direct quotations from the Bible: 2 Cor 11:13; 2 Peter 2:1-2; Eph 5:5; James 4:8; 1 John 1:8-9; 2 Tim 2:15. #justsaying #cantpresumeanythingthesedays

Biblical Interpretation: Dividing or Separating?

Teacher of the Word

It was unexpected, totally. Last week, I wrote “The Dangers of Biblical Illiteracy: Inspiration or Interpretation?” and to my surprise, it attracted quite a bit of attention. It started making its rounds in Singapore, and over the next days, made its way into USA. To date, the post has been viewed (presumably read) more than 39,000 times.

Comments of all sorts came through too. I must admit that it took a little while getting used to certain types of remarks. I thought I was doing rather well until I received one last night that read, “Stop writing such articles. You’re dividing the church!” You won’t find it in the thread because I didn’t approve it. Today, I thought I’d be fair to the comment (since the person took effort to share his opinion) and write something about it.

By posting about biblical illiteracy and poor hermeneutics, am I dividing the Church? And even if I do, is it necessarily wrong?

I will be the first to admit that I was definitely doing some dividing – the Word, that is. As a servant of God, I am duty bound to rightly divide the word of truth. And according to 2 Tim 2:15, I do not have to be ashamed of it at all. This is expected of me and I will keep on doing it.

I am also very clear that the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and the thoughts and intents of the heart. Without doubt, the Word of God brings division.

Jesus, the living Word, declared that He came not to bring peace but a sword (Matt 10:34) and division (Luke 12:51). In other words, following and obeying Jesus will test relationships. Simply, if we choose to please Jesus, there will be times it will upset people, Christians included. As a result, there will be division.

So am I bringing division by exposing poor hermeneutics and for sounding a warning against biblical illiteracy? Yes! But is that necessarily wrong? Might I thus be guilty of breaking the unity of the Body of Christ? Humbly, no.

For sure, we are to strive for the unity of the Church. However, I do not believe that we are to do it at the expense of the Word of God! Not at all! I am sorry but we do not get to twist Scripture or ignore sound doctrine for the sake of unity. As a seasoned minister cautioning a younger one, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Tim 4:16)

If doctrine were not important, why would the apostles warn the Church of false apostles, false teachers, deceptions, and doctrines of demons? Is not unity more precious than quibbling over a few words? Does not the size of one’s congregation validate his doctrine? Should we not be allowed a certain latitude to discover truth as we experience or perceive it? After all, in the end, all God requires is a sincere heart, isn’t it? Can’t we just love by tolerating and giving each other space? Dear brothers and sisters, can you hear the postmodern Christian talking? Don’t fall for it!

More than getting upset about the right dividing of the Word of God that might divide the Church, let us be reminded that Scriptures warn of a separation that will take place at the end of the age – wheat and chaff (Matt 3:12), wheat and tares (Matt 13:30), good vessels and bad vessels (Matt 13:48), wise virgins and foolish virgins (Matt 25:1-13), faithful servants and unprofitable servants (Matt 25:14-30), sheep and goats (Matt 25:31-46). Clearly, the Word of God will not only divide, but also separate!

To this end, I will keep dividing the Word of God as best as I know how, learning from others, guided and directed by the Holy Spirit. As a teacher of the Word, I carry an extremely heavy responsibility for which I have to give account (James 3:1). I will preach and stand for unity, but I will not do it by compromising the Word. To this end, if there is division as a result of what I teach, so be it. I will not be ashamed of any division if it helps someone understand the separation that is to come, that he or she, by the Lord’s grace, might be found on the right side. Sola Scriptura.

The Dangers of Biblical Illiteracy: Inspiration or Interpretation?

I had just posted January 2016 Newsletter about the critical need to get back to basics. Almost immediately, a post appeared on Facebook to demonstrate and affirm this. Hence, I am writing this article to make an even clearer point about examining our foundations; and in particular, our knowledge and understanding of Scripture, or lack of.

Here is the Facebook post from Lakewood Church, with Pastor Joel Osteen’s ‘exhortation’ based on James 4:3…

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In case you are unable to make out the text, it reads, “The scripture says in James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss…” When we ask to merely survive, to get by, to just endure, that’s a weak prayer. That’s asking amiss. God is saying, “I created the whole universe, I own it all. don’t come to me with a weak prayer asking me to help you live in mediocrity, endure the trouble, survive another month. No when you come to, ask big, knowing that I’m a more than enough God. Ask me for your dreams, ask me to do what looks impossible, ask me to heal you from that disease, ask me to accelerate your goals, ask me to show out in your life.” From Pastor Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church today.”

Let’s process this together.

At first glance, it sounds right, doesn’t it? Do we have a big God? YES! Can He do the impossible? AMEN! Does He want me to believe Him for more than just enough? INDEED! No wonder, this post attracted 10,829 likes and prompted 2,387 shares (as at the time of the screen shot)!

According to Pastor Joel, to ask amiss is to pray a wrong prayer or to pray beneath what God is able to do. And what Pastor Joel teaches must be right, right? After all, he is the leader of a mega church with an accompanying mega smile, not to mention the author of best-selling books. Even if he is a little off, let’s not split hairs because this is just so encouraging and uplifting, and it helps me trust God for all He has for me!

But wait! Is this what James 4:3 really means? To answer this question, the entire verse needs to be quoted and read in its context. We cannot infer anything from a verse in isolation, much less a truncated one! So, what does James 4:3 say? Here it is…

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3

Hmmmm, I don’t know about you but it sure sounds different, doesn’t it? – and you don’t even need to have attended a course on Hermeneutics to determine this. With due respect to Pastor Joel, what is amiss here is not our prayers but his interpretation of this verse! Clearly, to ask amiss is not to pray wrongly, weakly or conservatively but to pray with the wrong attitude or motive, as stated in the missing portion of the verse, “that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

As appealing and as inspirational as it sounds, Osteen’s misinterpretation is exactly what this verse warns against! Check out the next verse, James 4:4, where James rebukes (yes, rebukes!) believers, labelling them as adulterers and adulteresses because of their worldliness! That’s the difference between a true pastor-preacher and a motivational speaker.

I hope I have made a clear enough point through this exercise and illustration. There is a dire and critical need to get back to basics, and especially back to the Word of God. Biblical illiteracy does not only refer to Christians who do not know the Word. It also includes Christians who think they know the Word but actually don’t. In fact, these are most prone to deception because of a false sense of security! And if you are one who only underlines or highlights the nice stuff in the Bible, do yourself a big favour. By all means, love the blessings, but make sure you also heed the warnings!

Be careful, dear brother or sister. Be very aware of the dangers of not being able to rightly divide the word (2 Tim 2:15). Biblical illiteracy is easily satisfied with what sounds biblical and inspirational, but often at the expense of sound biblical interpretation. Get back to basics. Return to the Word.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15

Ezekiel the Entertainer?

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Imagine this..

You are the Preacher or the Pastor of the hour. Your name has become the latest buzzword in Christian circles. Mention it and people go, “Yes, I’ve heard of him.” You are invited to speak at seminars and conferences, highly sought after, booked two to three years in advance. Your Facebook and YouTube statistics are impressive, not to mention the number of clicks and visits to your website. Your podcasts are well subscribed to and freely shared over social media platforms. Your meetings are well attended because people simply love to hear your anointed messages, and they leave wondering how you got those awesome downloads. Many queue up to be prayed for because you are prophetically sharp.

Sounds good, yes? Which minister wouldn’t desire a ministry and reputation of such impact and influence?

Interestingly, the Bible describes the seeming success of Ezekiel in pretty much the same way: “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.'” Ezekiel 33:30

As a preacher and teacher of the Word, I must confess that it is all too easy to assess the effectiveness of my ministry by numbers and positive comments. After all, who wants to preach to an empty room? We may declare that it’s not about numbers but truth be told, it is encouraging when the numbers are there. Also, although we are open to feedback and comments, no one likes to be told that his messages are boring, repetitive or ‘not anointed’. Without doubt, I believe Ezekiel did his best and he did exceptionally well. Similarly, we who have the privilege to declare God’s Word must do our very best and not hide behind spiritual or religious excuses.

And yet, more than just popularity and numbers, the Lord is looking for something else, something far more important than sell-out conferences and packed-out churches. In the next verse, He reveals the condition of the hearts of those who flocked to listen to Ezekiel: “So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.” Ezekiel 33:31

I think this verse is self-explanatory. I may not have spoken to thousands but I have been to meetings which involved thousands. The speakers are world famous and the atmosphere is highly charged. The amens are resoundingly loud and the altar call is almost always full. But I wonder what happens when the people leave these meetings? Only God knows. All I know is that what is usually reported is the number who attended and how great the meetings or messages were. Could it also be that those who attended “hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain”?

“Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.” Ezekiel 33:32

Ladies & Gentlemen, put your hands together, give it up, for Ezekiel … the ENTERTAINER! Lights, camera, action!

I know I’ve felt like that at times – the hours spent preparing a message, labouring over the Word, consulting commentaries, revising, and then revising again – somehow, the message is never done, never good enough. And then, I get up to the pulpit, deliver it with all my might, preach my heart out and it’s done. The crowd disperses, a few say ‘thank you for the message’ and it’s over. And you start all over again. Sure, it may have been a good message. But how many, I wonder, will actually act on the word? Have Christian meetings become entertainment centres where the audience enjoys what is presented, stirred and moved even, but leave without any desire for action other than to secure a booking or seat for the next show?

Sadly, with the choices and options available these days, preachers and pastors are pressured (directly or indirectly) to perform. If not, there is always the other church, the other ministry, the many other sermons online, the other offering bag. I will do my best, but God forbid that I should be just an entertainer tickling the fancies of the listeners. I will do my part to stay true to the Word and to deliver it without compromise. Even so, I cannot determine how the people will respond. We are so deeply entrenched in Church and Christian culture that many do not realise that they have become hearers and not doers of the Word, deceiving themselves (James 1:22).

Where am I going with this? I suppose I am just reminding myself to keep keeping on, to remain faithful in my assignment, to never to compromise, no matter how challenging it may be. The indicators of success are not numbers or accolades but faithfulness and fruitfulness; and that only happens when people move from merely being hearers to being doers of the Word. In the context of Archippus Awakening, it is when people are not just awakened, but move on to be aligned and then to be on assignment for kingdom. I cannot force or coerce anyone beyond how the Lord will convict or how they each will personally respond. I can only declare what I have been given to declare and these will have to decide their own course of action.

And in the end, no one can say that they didn’t know or that they were not told. Each will be responsible and accountable.

“And when it comes to pass – surely it will come – then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Ezekiel 33:33

 

SCOTUS & Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: When God is Reduced to a Penalty Shoot Out

5-4. By now, the entire world should know what this scoreline means.

Yes, the impression of a penalty shoot out was what I had when news of SCOTUS’ decision on the legalising of same-sex marriage flooded the social media. It sure looked like nine players having their chances at goal from the penalty spot. One by one, they took their shots and it was tied at 4-all. Finally, the last shot was taken and the deadlock was broken. 5-4! And same-sex marriage is now a legal right across all fifty states of the United States of America. By the system, it is described as a landmark decision by majority vote. In my opinion, one vote can hardly be regarded as majority; not when it concerns an issue as critical as marriage. Honestly, it is as if God was outvoted by these judges and His original design and intent for marriage was reduced to a penalty shoot out.

As I scrolled the news on my smartphone that night (26 June, Singapore time), I felt my stomach churn. It wasn’t exactly the kind of news you’d want to be reading after a long tiring day before going to sleep. The next morning, even more articles appeared, both for and against. I posted a few comments on my personal and ministry page, as well as shared a couple of these articles. This morning, I thought it’d be good to put down some observations and thoughts. These are done in a personal capacity as I wrestle and process what is happening around us in these times. I hope this helps you in your own processing too.

1. Christians are not united on this topic. This may be shocking to some but that’s the reality. And I am not just referring to the flurry of formal counter responses on the internet. To my surprise, some of my Facebook friends have used the online app to “celebrate pride” through their profile pictures. In other words, these Christians are supportive of same-sex marriages and are not shy to declare their position openly. You would think that believers of Jesus Christ would be standing together on this critical matter. Well, no. There is a need to have both wisdom and discernment that we may know how to respond, not just to the world out there, but also within the so-called Christian community.

2. Truth has been absolutely relativised. In the midst of post-modern culture and mindsets, the battle for Truth rages on. I cannot understand how Christians who claim to hold to God’s Word on the one hand can celebrate pride on the other hand! But let’s not be naive at all. The battle for Truth is really a battle of worldviews. Today, Scripture is being read, interpreted and processed with secular and humanistic worldviews. No wonder major denominations have changed their position about marriage and LGBTs. Make no mistake – God’s Word has not changed. However, Scripture has been adjusted to cater to culture when all along, it should be culture that is to be shaped by Scripture. Interestingly, the Church is to be the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15) but sadly, I fear we are not doing too well in this aspect.

3. Some things cannot be prayed away. This is not a statement of little faith. On the contrary, this is a declaration of faith in the Word of God. We are told that lawlessness will increase in the last days and that is what we see happening all around us. This is prophetic fulfilment as in the days of Israel and Judah. The Old Testament prophets declared impending invasions from the enemies. At the same time, they prayed and pleaded with God, not desiring to see their own prophecies come to pass. They appealed to the mercy and grace of God, as well as His covenant love for His people. Yet, in God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge, He allowed Israel and Judah to be devastated and deported regardless of how hard or long the righteous prayed. In the same way, there are some things that just cannot be prayed away. These must take place for these have been prophesied and we are seeing the Word of God come to pass.

4. We must keep praying. I know this sounds as if I am contradicting the previous point but I assure you that I am not being fickle. Without doubt, we are called to pray, and pray we must. This is a battle that is spiritual and it is entirely beyond what we can do in the natural. We pray because we acknowledge our great need for the Great Judge to act in His way and in His time. We pray because we still believe that He is in control over the situation, however dire or hopeless it looks to us. We pray not only for ourselves but also for our children and our children’s children. Whatever the outcome, may we be found faithful as ones who stood in the gap, who offered the incense of prayer that rises to His throne.

5. Don’t miss the backdrop. In case you haven’t noticed, it is no longer business as usual. The most powerful nation on earth has set the tone and it’s not a pretty one at all. If you think this is largely a Western problem, I urge you to consider again. In this day and age, the threat is much closer than you think. It has been rightly pointed out that the LGBT Agenda is only a front to something that is more sinister. John Piper, in the article “So-Called Same-Sex Marriage“, reveals the “new calamity” of “normalisation and institutionalisation”. And this just might become a global phenomenon, and much sooner than you think.

6. This is not the time to be found in slumber. The alarm is sounding and it is getting louder. The signs are all around us if our eyes would be open to see and perceive. For sure, it cannot be church as usual. The question is, “Is the Church awake?” Or are many in the Body of Christ still found to be in slumber? And I am not talking about attendance in a building on any given weekend. The fact that Christians are generally unaware and apathetic is cause for concern. The Church in America is crying out for a Third Awakening and I am standing in agreement with them. But why only in USA? Let’s believe for an awakening in Singapore and throughout Asia too!

7.  There’s still work to be done. Whilst a major disappointment, the SCOTUS ruling is only one little setback in God’s greater scheme of things. The Church must not be distracted by this decoy and miss her mission. Even more so, the believer must not be derailed from his or her kingdom assignment (Archippus Awakening). There is work to be done and God is calling all hands to be on deck. In the face of great challenge and ridicule, Noah knew his assignment and kept on building the ark. Similarly, we must stay focussed to know and fulfil our assignments regardless of how difficult it may be.

For now, the scoreline remains 5-4. LGBT advocates and their supporters the world over are celebrating this victory. Needless to say, I am not in the least thrilled. In Singapore football jargon, I am almost tempted to shout “Referee kayu!!!” (useless referee). After all, how can such a predicament be allowed to happen? How can God’s institution of marriage be redefined through a penalty shoot out?

Even so, I am promptly reminded – the judges of SCOTUS may have ruled in favour of same-sex marriage but it is our God who has the final say as the Ultimate Judge. Indeed, God is still in control and the game is still in play. The Divine Referee waves ‘play on’ and that is what we must do, for it ain’t over until He says it is over … and Scripture reveals a very different scoreline.