If I asked you who Vernon Wayne Howell was, you probably wouldn’t know. But if I gave you the name Vernon Wayne Howell chose for himself and started using as an adult, you’d probably recognize it. At the age of 31, the man born Vernon Wayne Howell decided to become David Koresh.
You may remember how David Koresh and his Branch Davidian cult took refuge on a ranch outside of Waco Texas. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco, along with the FBI, laid siege to the compound, which ended with the burning of the ranch house. David Koresh, along with 54 other adults and 28 children were found dead in the smoking rubble.
One could have expected that Koresh and his cult would come to a violent end. In addition to bizarre teachings, he and various cult members were accused of child abuse, mental illness, and murder.
The odd thing is that, at one point, David Koresh claimed to be a Christian who believed the Bible was God’s standard for truth. He even held Bible studies in his home that he invited his friends at attend. We now know those Bible studies were merely a recruiting tool, a way to win the confidence of people who were looking for something (and someone) to believe in. After gaining the people’s trust, he began leading them where he wanted them to go.
Even good things like the Bible can be used for evil purposes, which is why discernment is so important. Discernment is the ability to see through to the heart of a matter, the ability to recognize when something isn’t quite right. Simply put, it’s good judgment.
Is it important?
Good judgment, perhaps more than anything else, will determine the quality of your life. It’ll keep you from flunking out of school, from marrying an idiot, from throwing away your money, from wrecking your health, from overreacting in anger, and, yes, from getting tangled up with the David Koreshes of this world.
Most of the sad, troubled people I have counseled have been the victims of their own poor judgment. Think of your own dark moments in life. I’m guessing that most of your trouble has come, not from evil intentions, but from poor choices.
Here’s the good news.
Good judgment is available to everyone. Proverbs 23:23 says, “Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment.” And James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. ”
We have a tendency to believe some people are just sharper than others, and from an IQ standpoint, that may be true. But good judgment isn’t so much about IQ as it is about “want to.” Do you want to live a calm, steady, low-stress, mostly happy life? Good judgment is the key, and God stands ready with an abundant supply.
For further reflection read Proverbs 4:5, 7 and 9:1-6.