The Good Slap Matthew 5:39

 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

There is nothing like a good slapping to get your attention. You see it all the time in the movies; the distressed damsel is emotionally out of control and her closest friend steps into the scene and slaps her across the face three or four times and she immediately comes to her senses. Back in the day mom’s were good at giving the kids a slap or two when we were behaving poorly. Today kids are given a “time out” which is a euphemism for a half hour in their room playing video games. More likely it is the mom who is needing the time out. 

There is a different slap, the stinging slap of evil that often strikes unexpectedly. It comes suddenly like a snake striking your foot while walking in the woods. We have done nothing to deserve it, but it happens anyway. When we are caught off guard like that we want to strike back, give it all we have got, making sure we are at least getting even. It is biblical, isn’t it? Doesn’t the bible say, “eye for and eye?” Yes it does, but the context there is that the punishment should not exceed the crime. So if we are not to get even what are we to do?

Christ says Do not resist the one who is evil. The word “resist” in Greek means to defend yourself. What Jesus is saying is don’t take aggressive action against someone when they have wronged you; i.e. when a person does you evil. We are to accept the injustice without retaliation. Think of it like this, you are driving through an intersection and some jerk runs a red light and T-bones your car. Would it then be right for you to T-bone him the next time you saw him driving down the street? Of course not. Instead we let the law give him a ticket and his insurance company repair our car. We don’t take it upon ourselves to get revenge. 

If we shouldn’t give the “pay back,” how is justice served? Do not say I will pay back evil, let the Lord vindicate you. Prov 20:22. Not knowing the eternal consequences, we are not qualified to avenge ourselves; only God can appropriately avenge us. Deut. 32:35 I will get revenge and pay them back at the time their foot slips;for the day of their disaster is near,and the impending judgment is rushing upon them!” Implicit in this verse is that God will take care of the righteous. Therefore, when we take revenge upon ourselves we are essentially saying we don’t trust God to be faithful to His promises. 

Nothing is more important than letting God do what He is supposed to do. When we take vengeance  are we not taking on God’s role? Where does the audacity to act like God come from? From the evil within ourselves. So, taking vengeance not only exacerbates the situation, but it puts us on the same level as those who are evil.  The bottomline is this, which would we rather be, a person wanting to do evil by taking revenge; or a person who witnesses the love and goodness of God by turning the other check

The Introspective Question for Today: Is our life slap for slap, or good for evil? 


Seeking Mercy Matthew 5:3 Without Christ

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Some would say being poor is a relative condition; compared to Elon Musk, a millionaire is poor. On the opposite end of the economic scale are those who live in abstract poverty; they have nothing and without help they will most likely die in their need. In the western industrialized countries the poorest are rich compared to the rest of the world. So, in a sense one could say your economic status is relative. When I was a kid my father died and left us with nothing but debts. It wasn’t his intent, it just worked out that way. If this happened today my mom and I would be considered part of the poverty class in need of welfare; but amazingly we never thought of ourselves as poor, we just got by the best we could. But there is another kind of poverty all men have to deal with, the poor in spirit.

Christ Jesus speaks well of those who are poor in spirit, they have been blessed. Here the word poor means to be helpless, someone who needs to be lifted up. These are the people who once thought they were well off spiritually, but now they have a full understanding of how poor they really are. Their soul is empty and their spirit is tired. They are like the poor who are hungry and tired, but have nothing but an empty grocery bag and no place to sleep. 

But why are they blessed? How can someone so poor in spirit be in a state of blessedness?  Because these are the people who have come to the realization they have nothing to offer to God. They have come to the wedding party without a gift for the groom. They realize they are in great need; a need so great they consider themselves to be in spiritual poverty. The key to understanding is not that others see their poverty, it is that they see it for themselves; no one has to tell them they are poor in spirit; they know. 

These poor are not the poor with holes in their shoes and ribs sticking out, they are poor because they lack a relationship with God. Without knowing God we are all poor. We may be rich in worldly goods but that is worthless and does nothing for our spiritual condition. We should not falsely assume Jesus was addressing people who are materially poor; they may or may not have been so, we don’t know. But as concerned as Jesus was for the materially needy, He had a greater concern for the spiritually poor. 

When we are hungry we know we need food and nourishment. We know if we don’t get something to eat eventually we will starve to death. The poor in spirit know they are lost and without a relationship to God. They know that if they don’t resolve their spiritual condition they will die and spend eternity in hell. They know they need someone who can bring them into the presence of God. They know they need the food that satisfies the hunger and emptiness of a lost soul condemned to hell, this is why Christ speaks well of them; they know. 

Christ also speaks well of them because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Only those who realize their spiritual poverty can enter into God’s presence. They are the people who realize they can’t get to heaven by their own efforts. They have a greater understanding of God’s grace than those who falsely assume a righteousness of their own doing. They fully realize they are sinners in need of a savior; they know.

The Introspective Question for Today is: do we fully understand what our spiritual condition would be without Christ Jesus? 

Something New Is Happening

For the last 6 months I have been writing a daily devotional blog called “Seeking Mercy.” I have not posted them on WordPress. I have decided, after being encouraged by others, to post them here. Hope you will find them inspirational as well as insightful.

Thank you for your time and may God bless you as you study His word.

Seeking Mercy Matthew 4:17 A Simple Message

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Some things are so simple it is hard to believe they are worthwhile and have a great value. For example, how can a simple flavor like vanilla ice cream be the best seller with 29% market share. Chocolate was 2nd with 9% share and then “the also ran” complicated flavors like bunny tracks, rocky road, and strawberry cream cheese came in a distant last. Or, on the flipside, consider Converse High Top basketball shoes first made in 1917 and today sell for about $50. Converse shoes, the simpler, were replaced, for the most part in 1984, with Nike Jordan Airs which sell for about $200; the inexpensive simple is being replaced by the high priced complex. 

Some 2000 years ago the most complex being in the universe walked into history bringing with Him a simple solution to man’s most complicated problem, i.e. sin. Christ could have made redemption from sin extremely tortuous with long and difficult rituals, long phrases to remember, overseers with long ornamental robes to test us, and all kinds of books with charts to learn. There could have been long periods of learning with verses to recite. There could have been people you must see, places to go and things to do. Christ could have made anyone of these, or all of these, mandatory for entry into the kingdom of God. But He didn’t. 

What is Christ’s simple plan for redemption of His people? It is just one simple little idea summed up in nine simple words; “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It is the simplicity of the plan that makes it so incredibly hard for so many people, 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:14. The difficulty for the lost is, how can the simple act of admitting our sinfulness, repenting, and asking for forgiveness offset the depravity of man’s soul? This just doesn’t seem to be enough, there must be more to do. 

The most perplexing part of Christ’s simple answer to man’s sin is, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” This means it is being offered personally and that there isn’t an unlimited amount of time for man to respond to God’s call of redemption. There is coming a time when the souls of all men will stand in judgment before Christ and have to give an account of their lives. What makes this so difficult to believe is that there is only one way that is effectual, faith in Christ; and either you have accepted Him as Lord or you have not. There is no middle ground, and if you haven’t made a decision for Christ it is too late, there are no second chances. 

The Introspective Question for Today is: have you repented and received Christ as Lord and Savior? 

Seeking Mercy Matthew 5:29 The Evil That Lies Within

 29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 

My mom and dad like fresh game to eat and to make them proud I would try to trap rabbits. The trap was a cardboard box propped up with a stick. The stick was tied to a carrot and when the rabbit would come to eat the carrot the stick would trip the box capturing the rabbit. The truth was that wasting carrots was all I accomplished. The Greek word for stumble in verse 29 is skandalon which is the trigger/stick for a trap.  The word always means to trap or trip up by intent. The skandalon always has an enticement to cause the trap to work; in my case the carrot was used to entice the rabbit. 

Christ warns us about the skandalons of life. It is interesting that in this particular case the trap is not set by someone else, we do it to ourselves by intent. It is similar to when we are speeding 20 MPH over the limit and the policeman’s radar gun catches us; we can’t blame the accelerator pedal, it was our foot pushing it that caused us to speed; we were speeding by intent. In verse 29 it is not what we are looking at that traps us, the trap is our intentions and the trigger is your right eye. But it is the heart that entices us to lust after something that doesn’t belong to us. In this instance Christ was addressing the issue of adultery. But in general the skandalon is any trigger found within the heart that causes us to come to ruin or more simply put, causes us to sin. 

Christ is telling us that our worst enemy is ourselves,  11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Matt 15:11. It is not really the eye or the mouth that causes us to sin, it is the evil nature that lies in our inner being; it is our love and desire for sin. The issue is so critical that Christ tells us to tear it out and throw it from you.  Are we to take this literally? I don’t think so; but we are to do whatever it takes to keep from trapping ourselves in sinful acts. 

 Christ goes on saying, for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Did you know that when a coyote’s leg is caught in a trap he will eventually chew his leg off to get away, because he knows if he doesn’t he will die. This is the point, sin is a trap and when we are caught in that trap we are to do anything and everything we can to free ourselves, lest we die and go to hell. That sounds painful and extreme, and it is, but there is nothing worse than eternity in hell where Christ says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. There is no relief once someone is thrown into hell; it lasts for all of eternity. But we can get relief from sin through faith in Christ as our Savior and Lord of our life. So, don’t give up, there is hope for all us through Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All we are required to do is accept and receive.

The Introspective Question for Today: Our hearts and minds have multiple skandalons, are we willing to do whatever it takes to avoid trapping ourselves? 

Matthew 2:11-12

Seeking Mercy

11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

This is the story of the magi coming from the east to recognize the newborn King. They were drawn there by the Lord and followed a star to get there. On their return they saw king Herod for what he was and went home without telling him they had found the child. 

It is interesting to note what they did when they found the child. They did not immediately offer up their gifts and brag about what they were doing, nor did they offer some sort of sacrifice. They did what God wants most from His people, humility and worship. These actions come from an obedient heart. 

The failure to be obedient can have dire consequences. When King Saul failed to be obedient Samuel asked him,“19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” Saul responds with a lie, and then Samuel says something that should give all of us pause.

But Samuel replied:

22 “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”

The giving of tithes and offerings, doing committee work, serving your brothers in need etc. is a good thing; but before you do that get your priorities right, do the first things first, humble yourself and worship as the magi did. This portrays to God where your heart is and what you consider important. It is the sign of an obedient heart. If you are standing tall and prideful of your gifts to The Lord you will never be obedient to His will. 

Luke 2:13-14

Seeking Mercy

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:13-14

There is an interesting qualifier at the end of this passage, “on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” It is obviously addressing the issue of salvation. We know it since peace and favor with God only comes to believers and if you are a believer with faith you have eternal life. It is as simple as that. But the question is who are “those on whom?” 

This brings up the question of election and how it seemingly conflicts with free will. Books have been written on this topic with no definitive answer. But are they really in conflict with each other? God is not going to reject anyone who desires a personal relationship with Christ. Nor is God going to elect anyone who rejects Christ as Lord and Savior. 

So, should we worry over these issues? I don’t know for sure; but I do know that the most important issue of your life is, do you know Christ Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If you don’t, your transition into the afterlife is going to be filled with regret, weeping, and utter misery for all of eternity. PERIOD! 

Lust, Adultery, Divorce, and Adultery

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being christian

Lust, Adultery, Divorce, and Adultery

Matthew 5:27-32 (NKJV) 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

The “free sex” movement of the 60’s was anything but freedom; we are now enslaved to sexual lust, bodily passions, and sexual perversions beyond the imagination of most. The idea of having a monogamous relationship is no longer in vogue. Our nation has come to the point where it is thought that monogamy only happens in fairy tales or that there must be something missing in the lives of monogamous people.

One of the most obvious benchmarks of our sexual problem is the rate of divorce. In the United States a divorce happens every 13 seconds; that amounts to 6,646 per day. First time marriages divorce at a rate of 41%; second time at 61%, and third time at the astounding rate of 73%. The top five reasons people give for getting is a divorce is: 1. Poor communication, 2. Finances, 3. Abuse, 4. No longer attracted to one another, 5. Infidelity. Unfortunately the rate of divorce among Christians is about the same as in the society as a whole.


How does divorce start? It starts with lust for the opposite sex. In the Matthew passage above Jesus talks about men lusting after women; but in today’s culture the same applies to women. We must understand it is OK to admire someone’s personal beauty; but when admiration turns to lust a change of heart has taken place. This change of heart can and often does lead to adultery which ultimately may lead to divorce.

The only valid reason Jesus gives for divorce is sexual immorality. Notice it is not mandatory; but it is permissible to divorce for infidelity. Also notice in the stats above infidelity was the fifth reason given for divorce; considering the negative consequences surrounding divorce the first four reasons seem trivial.

It is also important to notice, except for abuse, the 3 top reasons given are obviously unconscionable spin coving the most likely; i.e. the result of being involved in adulterous relationship. The idea of no longer being attracted to one another as a cause for divorce reeks with hedonism and is total disregard for the sanctity of marriage and the mental well being of one’s spouse.

It is also important that Jesus said when you divorce your spouse you cause that spouse to commit adultery. This is based on the premise that when either party remarries, or has a sexual relationship of any kind, they are committing adultery. The point is a divorce person may be legally separated from their spouse, but in the eye of God when two have been joined together they are together for the duration and any future sex outside of that marriage is adultery.

One last thought, the secular society we live in says Christianity has failed to give valid reasons as to why adultery, fornication, lusting, and sexual perversions are wrong; especially in this era of safe sex. But this is a canard and the lack of reasonable thought demonstrates that adultery is nothing more than a sociopathology deficient of moral responsibility and/or social conscience. No one can wipe away the wrongness of sex outside the bonds of a marital relationship by saying we are now in the era of safe sex. Disease prevention and birth control are not moral standards and cannot justify promiscuous sex.

“Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.”

Gregg public pic

I would like to thank Dr. Dan Doriani and Covenant Theological Seminary for making the course, “Christian Ethics,” freely available at:

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Christian Ethics, Maximise Pleasure Minimize Pain? Lect 5



Transcendent, Personal, Powerful, and Good

The Ten Commandants are the place to start if one is going to build a Christian ethic. But we must be careful that we don’t understand the commandments as only a list of do’s and don’ts. Jesus clearly explains in the gospels that God’s commands are to be heartfelt and we are to have a nature of wanting to obey because it is the right thing to do. It is not enough to merely do the right thing, we have to be motivated by a cause; and that cause is our love of God and to bring Him glory.

The first commandment outlines what our relationship to God should be. He states He is the only God and won’t tolerant other gods. If we do have other gods, God considers this an “in your face” affront. In contrast a secularist would respond there is no value to be found in worshipping God in the external world. He might be kind and say, “It is ok for you but is not relevant to what is happening in the real world.” Each time we will be looking at a different commandment and other issues.


Cartoon can be found at:

 Now let’s briefly consider other religions in the world and how they stand in contrast to Christianity. They all develop their ethos from one principle; live life to minimize pain and to maximize pleasure. They may do this in diverse ways but the differences are subtle if they are studied at any depth.

In the cartoon above we see Calvin exhibiting a hedonist worldview. He intends to maximize pleasure and get all he can out of life; it is the ethos of “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die.” Notice the uncontrolled lust for pleasure in that Calvin does not fear the obvious impending crash of his wagon. He is determined to enjoy the ride disregarding the consequences. It is an enjoy life while you can ethos.

Epicureanism is similar, only it says enjoy the ride but protect the consequences. The motto would be “eat drink and be merry, but don’t do anything to cause pain.” It is an enjoy life but do it in moderation ethos.

Buddhism, Confucianism, Stoicism, Deism, and others all have the ethos of minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure. The pleasure aspect could be purely hedonistic or it might be striving to be a better person. But the bottom line is making one feel better about self.

The teleology of pagan religions and secular atheist is ultimately focused on self and the only purpose to life is to make your own life better in this world. In contrast Christianity’s teleology is focused on God and the life He offers in the hereafter. The ultimate purpose is to love God and others as yourself. This purpose cannot be thought of as a “to do list.” Love is a heartfelt nature coming from the inner person. It must guide everything you think, say, or do.

If you are unfortunate to believe self pleasure is your purpose then you have no purpose or pleasure. Your entire life will be structured around attempts to control personal circumstances. It is analogous to driving a race car on one of those South American cliff roads. Each corner is a crisis the driver is trying avoid, he lives with the fear if he drives fast enough and long enough the inevitable will happen; a crises that can’t be afforded.

Christianity differs in that it understands there is suffering as well as pleasure in life; but there is the over arching knowledge we are not alone and it is God who is in control and has given all believers a purpose which brings blessings to self and good works to the glory of God.

Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.”



I would like to thank Dr. Dan Doriani and Covenant Theological Seminary for making the course, “Christian Ethics,” freely available at:



Christain Ethics in the Sexual Relationship Part 14



Marriage is more than Sex
Just as there is much more to love than sex there is also much more to marriage than not being adulterous. Couples get married for a plethora of reasons, some of them good and some of them bad if they are the only reason. Reasons would include love, companionship, sex, meaning to life, children, romance, security, and sometimes a lot of selfish reasons we don’t have time to discuss.

Statistics tells us if true love is removed from the marriage relationship it fails after about 2 years. The initial passion and romance cannot sustain a marriage forever. If love is not the reason marriage moves to an arranged relationship where the couple remains together for marital benefits. It is not that marital benefits are wrong; but they shouldn’t be the reason for marriage. If the benefits are the primary goal, then something needs to be change.
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Scripture commands us to love one another in the marriage relationship as Christ loves the church. But just what does that mean? In scripture there are three Greek word we translate into the English word love; eros, phileo, and agape. All three words are applicable to a marriage relationship but they have distinctively different meanings.

Eros is where we get the English word for erotic. In real terms it means to be passionate, romantic, and erotically in love. In the modern vernacular we misunderstand the meaning and typically associate erotic love with something perverted. But this is not the scriptural understanding. The fact is scripture commends and approves of erotic love in the marriage relationship. Just a cursory reading the Songs of Solomon and you will know what I am referring to (SoS 2:5, 4:1-7; Prov. 5:15-19). The one caveat is, eros is the love of one person and one person only. This is the kind of love that belongs only in a marriage and is captivated by love.

Proverbs 5:15-19 (NKJV) 15 Drink water from your own cistern, And running water from your own well. 16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be only your own, And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love. This passage is filled with the ideal erotic love. The commands here are to be drunk with love for your spouse. It tells us to relinquish all self-control and fall under the influence of erotic love. It shouts out, “I NEED YOU!”

Phileo refers to brotherly love and typically involves friendship and love for a relative or close friend. It means to love someone because we admire them for who they are, but not for what they have or do in life. This is not “sucking up” to someone to gain favors. But we should “phileo” our spouse; they should be our best friend and we should admire their personhood and their physical body. The best times of our life, the most fun times should be when we are with our spouse. Although phileo is to be applied to everyone, it is best when it endeared to our spouses. It shouts out, “I WANT TO BE WITH YOU.”

Agape love is unconditional, selfless, giving, and never demands. It covers all the flaws, warts, and hard times found in all relationships. It is the kind of love that dwells on the good times and uses them as unction to get through the difficult times. There are times in all marriages when our spouses seems unlovable (this is a two way street and applies to both); but agape says love them anyway and always. This is the love which gives endurance to the relationship when the passion and romance starts to cool. This is the love which enriches eros with realism. This is the love that says, “I married you because…….;” and shouts out, “I GIVE TO YOU”.

So, how does scripture tell us to interact in the marital relationship? The principle is found in Ephesians 5:1, the specifics are enumerated in 5:15-27. Since God is not married the principle is we are to imitate God by loving our wives as Christ loves the Church; and wives are to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ.

This is one of the most conflict-ridden passages in all of scripture because women don’t like the word “submit” and men misunderstand submit to mean heavy-handed and demanding. But both men and women who think such are miss-informed and lack understanding as to what submit means scripturally.

First of all the word, “submit,” does not mean the male is to dominate the female. Nor does it imply the male is superior and the female is inferior. Scripture is filled with passages proclaiming there is neither male nor female in the kingdom of God. Male and female are to be equals just as the races are to be equal. Gender is not to be a quality which differentiates.

The word and the passage do imply a mutual submission to one another because of our relationship to Christ. However, this does not mean we are always to be submissive despite the consequences of the circumstance. It would be contrary to scripture for the wife to submit to her husband if his intent was to physically or verbally abuse her.

The correct view of mutual submission is to submit as appropriate which may or may not be fully reciprocal. This is to be governed by the circumstance. This is submission based on other biblical principles, on mutual obedience, honoring, and yielding to one another. This kind of submission is defined as being and being able to be our real-self, willing to make ourselves vulnerable to our spouse. It is being true and honest in our relationship never hiding anything or never afraid to expose our short comings. The goal of submission is not a giddy happiness where everything is cake and ice cream. The goal is to promote a holy union so as to control the relationship as Christ administers the church.

If the husband will love his wife and be the spiritual leader in the relationship as commanded by scripture; then the wife should have no problem with submitting to his spiritual authority. I have been married 50 years and once I got on track with God my wife has never failed to submit to spiritual authority.

Fifty years sounds like a long time; but it seems like only yesterday when I first kissed that cute little gal, and you can trust this, the kisses are just as sweet today as they were then. We are still best friends and do everything together; sometimes she does things with me when she would rather be somewhere else and vice versa. But our love has always been sacrificial, fully willing to give into one another to make the other happy. Our worst arguments come from trying to outdo each other in mutual submission.

“Knowledge, like air, is vital to life. Like air, no one should be denied it.”


I would like to thank Dr. Dan Doriani and Covenant Theological Seminary for making the course, “Christian Ethics,” freely available at:

All comics can be found at: