Today’s Guest Post Writer – Greg Monaco: Greg has been in ministry with Youth for Christ since 1973 and is currently the Associate Field Director for YFC/USA in the Great Lakes Region. I first met Greg in 1987 when I was with Youth for Christ. Since that time he has been my ministry director, friend, counselor and performed the wedding ceremony for my lovely wife and I. Greg lives with his wife Gayle in the USA.
Today’s Reading: NUMBERS 22:1-24:25
If you’ve never heard of Marjoe Gortner, take a moment and look him up on the internet. Born into a preacher’s family in the 1940’s with natural talent as a public speaker, his parents pushed him into a career as a child evangelist. At age four he was a full-fledged sawdust and tent Pentecostal revivalist.
As it turns out, his folks had to apply some pretty distasteful pressures to get him to stick to the act, but he proved to be quite a “cash cow” for the family. Ironically, he later became a Hollywood actor, even making a movie about a deceptive tent evangelist.
I became a Christian about the time Marjoe hit the Hollywood scene and was intrigued with his story. I watched some of his old preaching footage and he seemed so genuine! How could someone experience this same God I had met and turn his back on Him?
Reading about Balaam made me feel that way again. On one level, he was close to God – he used the right words and seemed to give God his due, but if you look closely, you see evidence of the truth. Behind every outward profession of Balaam, there is an inner scheme brewing to profit from his special relationship with God.
There were clues to be found at every turn:
· 22:8 – Balaam is a guy who looks to the Lord for guidance, but…
· 22:7 – Balaam charges a fee for divination (a practice forbidden in Leviticus 19:26)
· 22:18 – Balaam says “I can’t curse those guys because God says NO…”
· 22:19 – “But let’s sleep on it and see what else God says” (maybe we can make this happen)
· 22:20-21 – “God says to go, so get my donkey, boys”
· 22::22 – But “God was angry…” (because God knew Balaam really wanted to profit)
Read the chapters with these glasses on and you get the picture that our buddy Balaam’s first love is money: three attempts to bypass the donkey’s warning, three altars built to curse the Jews… Balaam was one slow learner.
Every one of us fights a Balaam battle in our lives. We have one (at least!) weakness that keeps pulling us away from our focus on Jesus and our obedience to do what he has called us to. Balaam’s story reminds me that I need to live in awareness of my weaknesses in order to avoid putting myself in circumstances that are reckless, foolish and a danger to my walk.
How about you? Is it power, or wealth, or pleasure, or respect, or intelligence, or status? Or something less controllable: anger, or melancholy, or isolation, or addiction?
Don’t fool yourself – we all have a little Balaam in us whispering that we would never eat that whole chocolate cake – just one little bite! And if you believe that, you are a Balaam’s a**
(By the way, if you doubt Balaam’s motivations, Peter wrote about him that he “loved the wages of wickedness.” II Peter 2:15)