Awaiting the City of God

A Devotional; by R C Sproulnew_jerusalem

Evangelical Christians love America. Some see in her the last hope of creating a Christian nation. But it is not a Christian nation. It is pagan to the core. It is in danger of becoming, if it is not already, the new “Evil Empire.” The Mayflower Compact is a museum piece, a relic of a forgotten era. “In God We Trust” is now a lie.

Yes, we must always work for social reform. Yes, we must be “profane’ in Martin Luther’s sense of going out of the temple and into the world. We do not despise the country of our birth. But in what do we invest our hope? The state is not God. The nation is not the Promised Land. The president is not our King. The Congress is not our Savior. Our welfare can never be found in the city of man. The federal government is not sovereign. We live—in every age and in every generation—by the rivers of Babylon. We need to understand that clearly. We must learn how to sing the Lord’s song in a strange and foreign land.

America will fall. The United States will inevitably disintegrate. The Stars and Stripes will bleed. The White House will turn to rubble. That is certain. We stand like Augustine before the sea. We pray that God will spare our nation. If He chooses not to, we ask for the grace to accept its demise. In either case, we look to Him who is our King and to heaven, which is our home. We await the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Are you looking to your King and to your eternal destiny, despite the circumstances around you?

Keep your focus on the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.

“Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption”. [1 Cor. 15:50 HCSB]

“Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”” [John 3:5 HCSB

“Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:11 NLT]

Satan Roars in Charleston

On Saturday, June 13, 2015, a large number of South Carolinians, from various racial, ethnic and language backgrounds, gathered in Charleston for ‘The Response’. This was a time for prayer, worship, and praise directed to Jesus, the Redeemer of our soul, and Almighty God, our heavenly Father, seeking healing for our land and among people.

On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, four days later, Satan roared with his response to The Response.The-Response-grief

I will not call this a ‘senseless tragedy,’ even though it is. For it is much more than that. It is not just the snuffing out of lives precious to God, though it is that. This was a targeted attack!

Satan generally works in the background. But when his arrogance gets the best of him, when he gets really riled by the unified prayers of the saints, history has proven he will show himself. The young man who perpetrated this attack doubtless had little understanding of the depth of evil consuming him, driving him to carry out this attack.

One thing we can be sure of – it did not just happen. Were we able to replay the perpetrator’s life we would find his worldview steeped in secular humanism – denying there is a God or any absolutes of morality. A perfect nursery for the Enemy to plant evil ideas. It is unlikely he was nurtured in Christian love by his two parents as a small child. With all that as a foundation he was wide open to adopting a racist mindset, ready for the enemy’s nudge over the line.

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand Fredesick Douglaswith their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” [1 John 2:11 NIV]

But what of the ones whose lives were taken? What of the potential therein, lost to this world? What of the example of reconciliation, the community healing and the lives turned around had they lived out their lives? The blood of martyrs screams to a dying culture –“In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”[Revelation 5:12 NIV] – just the opposite of the message Satan wants to send.

In this June 3, 2014 photo, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney speaks at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. Pinckney was killed, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in a shooting at an historic black church in Charleston, S.C. The shooter is still at large. (Grace Beahm/The Post and Courier via AP)

The only silver lining to a sin-darkened landscape – the one thing we can know with full assurance – these, our brothers and sisters, are rejoicing in the arms of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

You Get to Choose

[Part III of the ReSheepvised and Expanded “Genie in the Lamp”]

When Jesus walked the dusty roads of Israel, moved by an eternal compassion to restore broken humanity, the people thronged to Him to witness miracles, or to have their physical or mental lives repaired – the ‘genie’ of something for nothing. However, when His teaching moved to that of the ‘cost’ of a relationship with Him, the idea that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and that death to self in this life was central to finding eternal Peace with God, the throngs departed. “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him,” the Apostle John noted [John 6:66 NIV]. Only a humble few remained with Him after that.

It is fortunate for us that the true, living God of Scripture actually desires a relationship with us. “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” [Jeremiah 24:7 NIV]. He will not force it, though. His love, His holiness and His Sovereign Justice assure that He will give all people full freedom of choice.

We get to choose. Isn’t that great! I can choose to accept Him or reject Him. No strings attached. I get to keep my personal freedom, to be self-absorbed, selfish and self-directed, and pursue my “genie in the lamp,” if that’s really what I want. I am free to do anything I want to do within or without the confines of societal rules; and that part is consistent with our search for the “genie in the lamp.” Unfortunately, at the point of physical death, the gate to the ‘sheep pen’ of Jesus snaps shut. Those who have chosen to remain apart from God by rejecting Jesus and His free gift of eternal life will finally get their way. And the big problem with their ‘genie friend’ – you can’t take him with you! He disappears like a puff of smoke.

Those who stand by that choice will spend an eternity separated from God. Unfair, you say? Deep down you know you only say that because you do not want to give up your self-directed life. After all, surely you know there really is no lamp . . . and no genie. And, deep down you would admit your outright fear that this is the absolute Truth!

The wealthy and wise King Solomon wrote a Proverb that speaks to your choice: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” [Proverbs 3:5-8 NLT]

A loving father or mother will deny certain things their child desires because, in their maturity and wisdom the parent knows it is not what is best for them at the time. Likewise, a loving God tells us to deny our selfish desires and come to Him. Whereas the “genie in the lamp” compels us to believe we can have whatever we want, our wise God shows us, by the example of His Son that ‘nailing self-will to the cross and following Jesus leads to a wholly blessed and fulfilled life. “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” [John 17:3 NLT]

Recognize this, the Eternal, Triune God, who created us in His image, will not ‘play second fiddle.’ He shares His Throne with no one and no thing, because there is none equal. Everyone who has entered into a genuine relationship with Almighty God by way of His Son Jesus has found the requirements placed on that relationship to be well worth it. The “genie in the lamp” pales in comparison to the Peace, the contentment and the refreshing absolute truth found in placing our trust in Jesus, the One who chose to die for us, rose from the dead by the power of Eternal God, and offers us a personal relationship with the God of the Bible. He promises Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  [Hebrews 13:5 NIV]

Isn’t that really what we all are seeking?

Things & Stuff

Black-webbed tree frogs

[Part II of the Revised and Expanded “Genie in the Lamp”]

Right now a large percentage of the world population struggles for clean water and enough food to stave their hunger; or they live minute-by-minute in fear for their lives because of radical extremists. The number of these people turning their lives over to Jesus is at a greater rate than ever. Their real world existence with the Living Jesus leaves no room for a “genie in the lamp” fairy tale.

“The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs — heirs of God and coheirs with Christ — seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” [Romans 8:16-17HCSB]

However, in the US, and actually all of the materially affluent cultures, the primary focus is on obtaining things and stuff, and perpetual entertainment. We want people to just shut up and let us all do whatever we want. The entertainment gods demand our money and our time/focus, while they sell their souls for money and fame, and display their corrupted lives for everyone to see, trying to convince the world theirs is true happiness. On the other hand, men, women, boys and girls who have athletic prowess are feted like Roman gods. There are more than 100 twenty-four hour cable sports channels in the US market.

Millennials have jettisoned the traditional marriage, family, and church they have seen modeled in the failed pursuits of the previous generations. Like untethered boats, adrift, looking for something to bring purpose to life, but with little motive force to find it. Once again, the myth of the genie invades their souls.

Meanwhile, the institutional church has been running hard to prove it is as good as the world around us. They create programs to entice people into the massive “temples of entertainment,” then pulling out their lamps, rubbing them and hoping the genie will keep people satisfied enough to come back and give more money. Often their ‘genie’ is the ‘jesus’ they have created in their own minds and fashioned around their leader and his opinions, rather than the solid foundation of God’s Word. Just as personality worship has swelled outside the church, it has exploded within the church. Multi-site churches are needed because everyone wants to hear the one personality; perpetuated even more by book sales, radio/television programs and contemporary music. The sheep are being led to slaughter by false shepherds who suppress the ‘whole counsel of the Bible’ in order to keep from offending some participants (READ Psalm 19). They abide in the social realm of their Christian club, content with listening to sermonettes on achieving a meaningful life without true commitment; many just drift away, enticed by some other promise of fulfillment.

“Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything that belongs to the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle — is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.” [1 John 2:15-18 HCSB]

So, at the core of it all we’re just trying to fill deep voids in our lives. Humans are social at the core of our being, created by a God who is three Persons in One living eternally in perfect harmony. All too many people are seeking to fulfill the desire for relationship through sexual encounters, professional success, sports prowess, or personal beauty, running from one ‘guru’ or fad to another. Unfortunately, it is an insatiable hole when filled with anything other than our Creator, Jesus. We have forgotten that in our distant past, in the beginning, God created us in His image. Relationship with Him is the only way to satisfy that void. If we were honest with ourselves, we would give up this blind and tireless pursuit for our elusive genie, and turn to the genuine Companion, Jesus, who will never turn His back on us no matter our physical, emotional, mental or financial condition. The hollow promise of the “genie in the lamp,” to give us whatever we desire with no strings attached, proves painfully inadequate at that point.

Next: Part III – You Get to Choose

Instant Gratification

Aladdins Lamp[Part I of the Revised and Expanded “Genie in the Lamp”]

The story of Aladdin and the magic lamp is fascinating to adults and children alike. Aladdin, an impoverished young man, obtains a lamp and inadvertently (with his mother’s help) discovers that, living inside, is a genie. This genie appears when Aladdin calls (by rubbing the lamp) and has the power to grant wishes. This idea is appealing, not just to children, because it fulfills a basic human desire for something or someone outside ourselves with the capacity to meet needs or supply wants, without requiring anything of the one making the request. In the fable the genie remains in the lamp until summoned by Aladdin, at which time he is so pleased to be out of the lamp, he grants wishes.

I believe many people in the affluent cultures, primarily in the West, have misplaced their search for God with the instant gratification of the “genie in the lamp.” Most people believe there is a God or some special force out there somewhere, and they suspect it has supernatural powers. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” [Ecclesiastes. 3:11 NIV]. They will pursue that source of power to seek relief when in trouble, to help them by meeting their needs and/or their wants “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” [Ephesians 4:19 NIV]. They want that external ‘force’ to fulfill their wishes at their command.

Preferring anonymity the seeker really would rather not have to develop a relationship with whomever or whatever the power is. They certainly believe it unfair to impose conditions. Therein lays the dilemma. For example, in the case of God, we can understand that He might want us to live a good life – but we want to define what that means. If I want to indulge certain of my physical desires, I don’t want there to be negative consequences. And I certainly do not want anyone (especially God) judging me for that indulgence. Voila! The “genie” satisfies that dilemma.

This idea has burst forth at various times in human history. Invariably, when a nation or a culture prospers materially and experiences safety within their borders, they will, over time, move to excess. The people will be numbed to corporate discipline, become spiritually, mentally and physically soft and believe themselves justified to satisfy every physical desire in any way possible. Christians become less focused on God’s Word, thereby allowing themselves to be compromised with divorce, secret sexual sins, or even greed driving them to sinful practices in the marketplace, to name a few. Of course, lest we forget, abortion, a sin God hates, touches nearly every person in the US in some way. If there is any recognition of a superior being, even the Christians’ God, still we want Him, or It, to operate like the “genie in the lamp.”

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools . . . .” [Romans 1:18 – 22] NIV

Next: Part II – Things & Stuff

Good Without God[1]. Really?!? (Part I)

The history of the formal Humanist movement is less than 100 years old. But its effects on all aspects of American society, as well as other lands and nations touched by the US, has been catastrophic.

The original Humanist Manifesto was published in 1933. Now titled A Humanist Manifesto I, recognizing the fact it may evolve and change, the first article reads as follows.

Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”

Religious Humanism was thus ‘formalized’ by a group of 33 self-proclaimed intellectuals. One prominent educator and avid disciple involved in writing and proliferating this was John Dewey, considered by many the Father of Modern Education. Observing the dysfunctional US public education system in the 21st century, they may be right. (More on Dewey and his legacy in a later post)

And God said, . . .

“The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.”” [Psalm 14:1 HCSB]

“Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.” [Proverbs 14:7 NIV]

The instant anyone thinks they know better than their Creator, they have bowed their knee to a false god.

Following the violent human rampages of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II, a revision identified as Humanist Manifesto II was developed in 1973. Somewhat longer and less ambiguous, it still oozed with optimism in the human evolution.

The idea of ‘religious humanism’ seems to have been jettisoned, and the ideals were merged with those of the Secular Humanist movement. The authors must have seen a need for creating a differentiation, and to formalize the idea of ‘freedom FROM religion’, which stands in direct conflict with the freedom OF religion granted in the US Constitution

Religion: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.[2]

“Among the oft-quoted lines from this 1973 Manifesto are, “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves,” and “We are responsible for what we are and for what we will be,” both of which may present difficulties for members of certain Christian, Jewish, and Muslim sects, or other believers in doctrines of submission to the will of an all-powerful God.”[3]

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” [John 3:16-18 NIV]

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” [Isaiah 40:8 NIV]

Secular Humanism is a religion. It should be recognized as such, just as the original founders of the movement formulated it. Changing the name to secular humanism did not change its core belief system.

Humanist Manifesto III, entitled ‘Humanism and Its Aspirations’, was published in 2003 by the American Humanist Association. Two foundational points worthy of mention in this version are as follows:

  1. Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of evolutionary change, an unguided process.
  2. Respect for differing yet humane views in an open, secular, democratic, environmentally sustainable society.[4]

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” [Genesis 1:26-27 NIV]

It is worth noting that the “respect for differing views” idea, though not stated as such, excludes the Christian Worldview entirely. Empirically speaking, of course.

Socialism and Communism

Modern Humanism actually found most of its roots in the writings of Karl Marx, the German philosopher, writer, etc. Marx was perhaps the strongest voice in formulating the concepts of socialism and communism. As with many such philosophers all he developed was unproven theories. However, the rapid changes swirling around the world, from the geo-political landscape, social crises, and industrialization enabled these ideas to take root. The USA offered one of the most fertile fields in history to plant such ideas.

Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) clearly had an understanding of ‘religion.’ Just as clear, though, is that he did not know the Almighty, All-Wise God of the Bible. Oddly he must have held a belief in some god or he could not suggest he would dethrone that god.

  • My object in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism.
  • Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.
  • Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.” Proverbs 10:14

“Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.” Proverbs 14:7

Socialism and communism get greater traction in societies that are already in crisis. Whether from the abuses of a monarchy or totalitarian regime, or because of ineffective governance creating social and economic problems, these ideas can be molded into what seems to be a solution for the problems. Unfortunately, as we have seen, socialism always leads to an inordinately strong central government. As socialist ideas emerge in the USA we are seeing more abuses by the Federal government.

I believe it could be proven that the ideas of Marx (probably Nietzsche and Darwin, as well) added fuel to the flame of theological ‘higher criticism’ that spread through Europe in the 19th century, fostering division among Christian theologians and pastors.

Humanism Humanism is not new. Nimrod, great-grandson of Noah through Ham, was a mighty hunter, renowned leader. His arrogance before Almighty God and his defiance of God’s command to “fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1,7) led to the building of a kingdom on the plains of Shinar, with several cities. One of those cities was Babel, where Nimrod sought to build a great, tall edifice to survey his kingdom. God’s judgment of that humanist plan caused Him to confuse the language and scatter the tribes to the ends of the earth.

But that great city, known to us as Babylon, was, has been, and is to this day a center of operations for Satan’s plan to overthrow the Kingdom of God.

While Marx may have solely been focused on throwing off what he considered to be the yoke of religious Christianity, the reality is that his future disciples simply created another form of man-made religion. Humanism!

People with financial power and/or civil power have found that humanism provides the ‘opiate’ they need to actually control the masses without the problems of absolute truth (such as the foundations of Christianity). Humanism is the perfect blob of nothingness that allows those with influence to define a set of rules in whatever way necessary to motivate people to do their bidding.

Humanism could not exist, in fact, cannot thrive except in a world made sane by the Light of Jesus Christ. Humanism can only find a foothold where Christianity has laid a foundation.

Humanism is based on the principal lie of Satan, himself a created being who believed he could experience greater freedom by rejecting His Creator God. A baffling paradox – the creature rejecting his Creator because the Creator gifted him with a mind and a will. In itself this displays the Omnipotence and the Omniscience of our Ageless, Creator God, that He would create man in His image. That fact elevates man above the animal world. Therefore, only fallen man has the innate capacity whereby God can reignite that eternal life, which died in the Garden of Eden. This He did through the Life-giving and life sustaining power of His Son, the Man-God Jesus, who freely offered Himself up as a perfect sacrifice to redeem this corrupted creation; who died and arose bodily, victorious over death, and now seated at the Right Hand of God!

God has chosen, in His infinite Wisdom, to keep man’s free will intact. In other words, we get to choose. Pure and righteous justice. Unfortunately, the entrance into humanity of the Light of the world, to redeem man back to a right relationship with God, is being met with an up-turned nose; a self-absorbed ‘thanks but no thanks’ dismissal.

“The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.” [John 1:9-10 NLT]

Part II: Humanism in the Church (coming soon).

[1] Tagline of The American Humanist Association

[2] Dictionary.com

[3] Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; Article. Humanist Manifesto

[4] Ibid.