Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ittai: Leadership In Integrity

Though relatively unknown, some Old Testament characters have quite a story to tell. You may have never heard of Ittai, but take a few moments to learn from the life of this man who lived during the days of David, King of Israel.
People of character, who are totally trustworthy, and have our best interests at heart, are few and far between. Contrariwise, some whom we may have deemed to be trustworthy have “stabbed us in the back.” It was no different with King David. His own son, Absalom, rebelled against his father, while an unknown man, Ittai, showed unusual loyalty to David. Ittai the Gittite was a native of Gath who appeared before David during this revolt about 1023 B.C. It is possible that Ittai was a Philistine and that the Philistines may have made life difficult due to the attachment he felt toward David, and that this is what occasioned his defection to David (2 Sam. 15:20).
Were Absalom, David’s son, still with us today, he would have made a powerful politician. He was a handsome fellow with “personality and charm” (2 Sam. 14:25), had a glib tongue, and was adept at making promises (2 Sam. 15:4). Evidently he would stop at nothing to get what he wanted, including treachery, deceit, and a total lack of integrity.
David’s trusted friend and advisor, Ahithophel, turned traitor and joined Absalom in his effort to wrest the throne from his father, David. One wonders if Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather, still was upset at David for his actions with his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. Ahithophel thought it was time for a new king, and that Absalom could well fit that role.
These were dark days for David. With his own son leading the rebellion, and desiring to wrest the kingship from his father, David warned his men to flee, for “we shall not escape from Absalom” (2 Sam. 15:14); and that he (Absalom) would use the sword against the inhabitants of Jerusalem. David’s aides pledged loyalty to him, and said they would do whatever David thought was best.
As David prepared to flee, he watched as his army and other loyal followers filed past him, including the 600 men in his band who had been with him during his wanderings in Judah as he fled from Saul, the first King of Israel. Ittai, though not an Israelite (2 Sam. 15:19), was now the leader of these brave 600 men. Later we learn that he is listed as one of three of David’s generals (2 Sam. 18:2).
During this procession before David, Ittai makes his appearance, accompanied by his family. David urged Ittai to forget about joining up with him for a couple of reasons: (1) Ittai had only recently come to David, and (2) David, a fugitive from his own son, had no desire to make this “foreigner and exile” suffer from his (David’s) problems. David was asking why would you even think about participating in my cause which has such a doubtful outcome at the present time? But the answer given to David tells us volumes about the character of this man: “…as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be.” (cf. Ruth 1:16). Regardless of the hardships involved, Ittai was going to cast his lot with David, and he would not be persuaded by David’s urgings to escape while he could.
Ittai was not deceived by Absalom’s persuasive speech (2 Sam. 15:13), a refreshing thought indeed. There are always those in every generation who are easily influenced, going in whatever direction the wind blows. This is the very reason why the term “spin” has taken on a bad connotation; politicians know that the world has many shallow people, and they will try to get their votes by putting their “spin” on the real facts in order to make themselves more attractive to voters.
After Absalom’s death, Ittai vanishes from the historical record, and we are made to forever wonder what happened in the life of this loyal servant of David. Ittai should ever be remembered for his devotion and fidelity to King David for whom he had the utmost respect.

Wayne Price

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Islam’s Depravity

An eight year old died of sexual injuries on her wedding night with her 40 year old husband in Yemen. [Photo for illustrative purposes courtesy of delhi4cats]

An eight year-old child bride died in Yemen on her wedding night after suffering internal injuries due to sexual trauma. Human rights organizations are calling for the arrest of her husband, who was five times her age.

Al Nahar, Lebanon, reported that the death occurred in the tribal area of Hardh in northwestern Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia. This brings even more attention to the already existing issue of forced child marriages in the Middle East.

"According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15."

It is reported that over a quarter of Yemen's young girls are married before the age of 15. Not only do they lose access to health and education, these child brides are commonly subjected to physical, emotional and sexual violence in their forced marriages.

One of the main issues is that there is currently no consistent established definition of a "child" that has been agreed upon worldwide.  This leaves various interpretations within countries and little protection for those who are affected.

Establishing this age limit is among the top priorities of groups like HRC which was responsible for publishing the 54-page report “How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married?”, documenting the lifelong damage to girls who are forced to marry at young ages.  Most pro age-limit organizations agree that 18 should be the legal age for marriage.

In February 2009, a law was created in Yemen that set the minimum age for marriage at 17. Unfortunately, it was repealed after more conservative lawmakers called it un-Islamic.


Published September 9th, 2013 - 09:01 GMT via

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Worship is fundamental to New Testament Christianity. Since worship in any religion directs attention toward the deity (or other object) revered and since those actions demonstrate the depth of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual devotion, then worship itself demonstrates our understanding of the character of deity. Worship is a statement about who God is. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24 NKJV).

Worship is the boldest expression of our faith. It is through worship that we acknowledge the basis for our reverence and adoration. It is through worship that we openly declare how seriously we take divine authority. What happens in worship and as worship reveals what motivates and unifies people. Therefore, worship also tells others much about who we are as a people. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn. 4:23).

Most Christians take it for granted that there are five acts of worship that should be fulfilled on a specific day. They assemble on the first day of the week: they partake of the Lord’s Supper, they give, they pray, they sing, and they listen to a sermon. We can readily concede that the New Testament gives an example of Christians assembling to partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). In this same text Luke mentions that Paul preached. But was Paul’s preaching required by God on that day or just expedient? The apostle also told the Corinthians to give on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-2). While not specific to a particular day, the New Testament mentions prayer and singing as acceptable and required spiritual actions (Phil. 4:6; Col. 3:16). But what makes all of this worship? This is not an incidental matter, nor is it a question of semantics. If these actions are worship, are they worship only when we gather together in an assembly or is it worship at any time? What makes something worship?

Worshipping our God should mean much to us considering all that He has done on our behalf. It should never become meaningless or boring. Indeed, it should become a major part of our lives, a reflection of our greatest aspirations. Our worship either acknowledges the existence of a unique, perfect God or reflects a casual, imperfect god that is a sad imitation.We should contemplate God’s majesty regularly and be eager to acknowledge His grandeur in our worship to Him. Sadly, some use worship as an attempt to make up for the rest of their lives; however, this hypocrisy is not what God intended nor something He accepts. Worship should express sincerity and submission, devotion and direction. “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 29:2).

Kevin Rhodes

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The Presence of Problems and the Source of Solutions

he church is made up of two sides: the Divine side and the human side.  While the Divine side is perfect, the human side is far from it.  Accordingly, the church that originated in the mind of God (cf. Eph. 3:10-11) and was brought into being just as He purposed and planned (cf. Mat. 16:18; Acts 2), is not absent of obstacles.  After all, it’s made up of imperfect people—many desiring to be better individuals, but some seeking their own selfish interests.  A mere cursory glance at the New Testament proves that the church has had to deal with difficulties since almost its very beginning (such a glance also shows that dealing with such problems does not necessarily make individuals or congregations “issue oriented;” practically every New Testament book was written to confront doctrinal and/or moral issues).  To prove this proposition, consider some of the contents of several New Testament books.

  • Acts 5:1-11 records the sin and punishment of two early members of the church, Ananias and Sapphira.
  • Romans 16:17-18 speaks of promoters of error who cause divisions contrary to the doctrine.
  • 1 Corinthians 15 deals with a denial of the resurrection.
  • 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 implies that forgiveness was being withheld from a penitent brother.
  • Galatians defends the truth against Judaizing teachers.
  • Ephesians 4:17-32 indicates that some Christians had not completely put off their pre-conversion, sinful activities.
  • Philippians 4:2 reveals that strife might have existed between two sisters in Christ.
  • Colossians condemns what is often referred to as “the Colossian heresy.”
  • 1 and 2 Thessalonians correct misunderstandings about the Second Coming.
  • 1 Timothy 4 predicts the development of certain errors that would plague the church.
  • 2 Timothy 2:17-18 calls the names of Hymeneus and Philetus who overthrew the faith of some with their doctrinal error.
  • Titus 1:11 mentions stopping the mouths of false teachers.
  • Hebrews shows the error of going back under the Old Law.
  • James 3:1ff warns teachers to watch what they say.
  • 2 Peter predicts the entrance of teachers who would bring in “damnable heresies.”
  • 1 John deals with those who were denying the humanity of Christ.
  • 2 John speaks of “deceivers” and warns against bidding such “God speed.”
  • Jude exhorts his readers to “earnestly contend for the faith” because of the creeping in of false teachers.
  • Revelation is written to congregations that had to deal with false apostles and also those who held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.

In making known and preserving the record of these and other problems, God has not demonstrated approval of sin and strife in the body of Christ.  To the contrary, He has displayed His displeasure with such and revealed that solutions are available and must be applied.  Though the temptation is strong, we must not give in to the all-too-common practice of ignoring the issues that creep into the church.  Paul chastised the Corinthian brethren for attempting this maneuver (1 Cor. 5:1-2).  Instead, we must face the obstacles that confront us, and meet them with the divinely inscribed source of solutions—the Word of God that is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).  The presence of problems is quite inevitable, but the source of solutions is readily available—let’s use it!

- Preston Silcox