Remember When?

I believe God gave us a memory for many reasons.

Me and Aaron20003

Everyone’s life is a story that could, and maybe should be told. However, not everyone takes the time to review and learn from their life. Many believe life is like an uncontrolled roller coaster; you just take it as it comes with no concern as to where it has been. In reality, God has a purpose, planned out for us from before time. When we find that purpose, and pursue it, is when we will be most satisfied.

God has a purpose, planned out for us from before time.

“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we, who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us, may be greatly encouraged.” [Hebrews 6:17-18 NIV]

I believe God gave us a memory for many reasons. Perhaps the most important, to a follower of the Master, is to recall each and every time He intervened in our lives in an ‘other than every day’ happening. We see this in the way He taught the ancient Jews to remember those special events. He did so in two ways.

One way was to have them build an altar at a geographical location where He had intervened to rescue them, or show them something new in their lives. A second way was that God set aside ‘Holy Days,’ annual celebrations designed to remember Him and something specific He did for them, e.g. Passover, Firstfruits, etc.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” [Proverbs 16:9 NIV]

My wife and I can look back through the years and remember where God acted through certain extraordinary times or events, to take us into a deeper relationship with Him. We like to say we have built an altar there, at each of those points. One reason for that, we believe, is so that when we encounter something new that bodes of danger, uncertainty or fear, we can look to those altars, recall those previous times and events, and remember how God intervened in our life. Thus we will be reassured of His Trustworthiness to ‘”never leave us or forsake us.”

We know, we have complete assurance, that He will either

  1. walk with us through the new challenge,
  2. lift us out of the challenge, or
  3. take us home to be with Him.

Now that’s a win/win/win.

Navigating True North, in a ‘Post-Truth’ World

sailing-ship

Post National . . . Post Modern . . . Post Christian . . . Post Toasties® (?!?)

And now, to make 2017 a truly delightful year – we embrace ‘post-truth’!!

“Oxford Dictionaries has declared “post-truth” as its 2016 international word of the year, reflecting what it called a “highly-charged” political 12 months.

“ . . . It is defined as an adjective relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.”  [BBC News; 16 November 2016; UK section]

“ . . . editors said that use of the term “post-truth” had increased by around 2,000% in 2016 compared to last year.

“ . . . (post-truth) had taken on the meaning of “belonging to a time in which the specified concept has become unimportant or irrelevant”.  [Guardian News and Media Limited; 15 November 2016]

A time where truth has become unimportant or irrelevant? Where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals? The fact that we now acknowledge this, could, in fact, be a moral high-point; a splash of cold water in the face; a wake-up call. However, I fear that we, regardless of cultural, religious, ideological, geographical or national viewpoints, will blow right through this, quickly seeing it in the ‘rear-view mirror’ of our cultures, and simply accepting it as the way things are!

STOP!

Truth is important. Truth is relevant. Truth is absolute!

And, Truth is Infinite!!

That Intelligent Being who created everything – who has introduced Himself in the Holy Bible as the Almighty God – set forth Truth. It is seen in the foundation of everything in our modern world. And, by His very nature, God is Immutable – never changing.

As surely as 2 + 2 = 4 and ∏=3.141592653589793 . . . etc., God exists and His Truth is the foundation that enables a culture or civilization to survive and thrive’.

Truth is NOT relative. It does not change as a civilization or culture decides to redefine it. A post-truth world would be a morass of human failure. Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Jean-Paul Sartre, Margaret Sanger, Fidel Castro, and Mao Zedong – just a very few of the leaders who were convinced they could redefine truth, and left a wide path of social and/or human destruction in their wake.

In the USA, particularly over the past 18 months, truth has taken a beating! ‘Fake News,’ which is a term that soft-pedals the fact it is a lie, e.g. not truth, is being bandied about; and it seems to be taken lightly.

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

As a leader in the rapid downward spiral of culture and morals, the USA continues to grovel after personalities and hedonistic lifestyles. In order to do so with an anesthetized conscience, it is necessary to deny that foundational truth exists.

We are clearly seeing how poorly we have chosen. No one in their right mind could posit an argument that we are morally or culturally better off today than even 50 years ago. Look at the news headlines. Our cities are war zones. Our out-going President and his former Attorney General actively sought to encourage lawlessness in order to advance a socialist agenda! All they accomplished is to create an environment where the law enforcement agencies are viewed as the bad guys. An admitted felon campaigns for President of the USA, and she nearly wins. Racial violence and prejudice is increasing. Persons flooding across our borders illegally are given more rights than citizens.  I could go on and on; but, does anyone care?!?

As a nation we spew this poison around the world. Where once stood a ‘shining city on a hill ‘ now lurks a specter of ‘post-truth’ relationships, abject immorality, back-stabbing of allies, elevation of evil regimes and two-faced diplomacy! We are like a ship whose anchor chain has broken, and it is moving to and fro, responding to whatever direction the wind blows.

Truth pre-existed what we know as the Creation, because God is Truth. He made it clear that Truth emanates from Him when He introduced Himself to Moses.

“And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,” [Exodus 34:6 KJV]

As the people through which God would redeem the fallen world, the Jews were enlightened with this body of Truth through God’s revelation to the Prophets. And the Israelites were forewarned about the fatal consequences of rejecting His Truth, while scrambling after the lusts of the flesh and the pitiful efforts of mankind to redefine truth. They chose the wrong path, and God brought judgment on them!

” . . . LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?” The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart, whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others;” [Psalm 15:1-3 NIV]

Mankind has always sought ways to justify their self-centered pursuits, their pride, and the familiar lust for money, power and unbridled sexual licentiousness. Our courts are making a mockery of justice. Journalism is lost in editorializing every subject to advance an agenda.  Money and ideological power are prostituting the system, corrupting our Constitution. God’s Word is clear; as it was 3000 years ago, so it is now!

“Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning.” Jeremiah 9:5

“There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth.” Amos 5:10

“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts.” Zechariah 8:16

Historians have proven that societies and cultures based on a solid Judeo-Christian foundation have always prospered. Only as those cultures began to reject that foundation, for the express purpose of seeking to pursue an amoral lifestyle, have they begun to falter. God, who is infinitely Merciful, is also infinitely Righteous and Just. We are seeing His Judgment played out in our country today.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6 NIV]

The organized church has caved to the ravenous desires of the backslidden and the non-believer for entertainment and anti-biblical approval of their sinful lifestyles. The apostate church vehemently argues against God’s Truth, just as in the days of Noah!

There would be no turning back from an actual ‘post-truth’ culture. I don’t I believe we are there yet; nor do I even know what that would look like! But we are definitely on the downward side of that slippery slope.

Let us commit ourselves to telling the truth in love, in every circumstance. On an individual basis we will find our lives easier to navigate standing on a hard-rock foundation of Truth. Let us stand our ground for Truth, no matter the cost. God will honor such steadfast, unwavering pursuit of the truth.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:32 NIV]

 

A Father’s Heart

simbaDuring this time of year – the Christmas Season – Christians and some non-Christians focus on the birth of the baby Jesus and all that surrounds that special event. While even some Christians only pay lip service to the real ‘reason for the season,’ no one can deny it has been commercialized and over developed to the point of distraction.

The passage in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:26-2:52) is the most detail we have describing the actual events surrounding the coming of Immanuel (God With Us). Nearly everything else has been developed by story-tellers, with some of it based on stories handed down and much of it based on historical assumptions. But Luke got it straight from Mary, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit!

It is a most incredulous story – that an Eternal, Omnipresent God would, or even could, squeeze Himself into the body of a tiny Baby. But, that’s what happened.

What I have been considering this season, though, has been God the Father’s role in this. Spiritual extrapolation tells us that God developed this perfect plan before time began. Let me put some flesh on this. Here is God the Father and His only Son – a beloved Son, part of the Holy Trinity – whom He loves with an eternal, everlasting love.

The Omniscient God knows that created man will allow sin into his life.  But because of His infinite love He sets down a plan that will allow redemption. Only, the thing is, there is no finite, created being or thing that is a worthy sacrifice for sinful man to find infinite forgiveness. There must be a finite sacrifice that will enter the finite world and provide infinite cleansing for all who believe.

So God must send His only Son, out of a Glorious Undefiled Heaven into this sin darkened cesspool. And the ultimate plan is for His Son to offer Himself up as the blood sacrifice necessary to satisfy the Just and Righteous God.

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” [Romans 5:17 NIV]

As a finite man, a father, I cannot but believe that it broke the heart of God to send His Son on such a mission. And, how much more did it burden the heart of God that the very people His Son was sent to ransom, rejected Him and His message and violently murdered Him.

God loved the people of this world – you, me, Herod, Adolph Hitler – every human born since the Creation of Adam and Eve –  to such an extent that He was willing to sacrifice His Beloved Son for the singular purpose of redeeming mankind – to bring man back to his originally created status with God. If man would accept this gift from God.

He stood mute, the Righteous Judge, while His Son was nailed to a tree. He held back His Omnipotence, turned His back and placed all the sins of mankind on Him. We know and love that history. But let’s get back to The Nativity.

Once God had set this plan in place – before time – He was bound by His Eternal Perfection to complete it. The redemption of mankind, the salvation of all Creation, lay in the tiny hands of a vulnerable, peasant child in the care of a teenage peasant girl and a blue-collar builder from a nondescript rural village.

God the Father foretold this plan more than 700 years before the actual event -. His Father’s Heart, desiring to give peace and assurance to a troubled people!

How do you celebrate this most extraordinary event? Have you lost the significance of a new born baby’s cry in the village of Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago? Is it lost in the screams of the vendors seeking to capitalize on a festival that has lost its meaning, or the cries of the wretched, deceived rabble who hearken to Satan’s lies that it is all a farce?

Get back to the Father! Re-read His Love Story to you in the Books of Isaiah, Micah, Matthew, Luke and John, and others. Mute out the noise and listen to that sweet baby’s cry in the night, the overwhelming joy of that new mother and father, and the exuberant wonder of those shepherds who were granted the first birth notice for Immanuel!

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” [Isaiah 7:14 NIV]

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6 NIV]

“Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” [Luke 1:38 NKJV]

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” [John 1:14 NIV]

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” [Luke 2:8-11 NIV]

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” [John 1:5 NIV]

What Have We Done With the Jew?

For Reference See My Post “What Would You Do with the Jew?

I have long wondered why so many Americans have a bad attitude, or actually hate people of Jewish ancestry. I grew up in a conservative Christian home. My parents never exhibited open hatred or resentment toward other races, and certainly not of the Jews. For that reason I remained unaware of the ChristiansHolocaust-StarOfDavid who despised and rejected people of Jewish ancestry. As an adult I began to see some of this, but still I did not hear that theology taught or preached in the various local church groups where my family and I worshipped.

Perhaps it is because of the current tensions in the region of the Middle East, and specifically in the nation of Israel, that Christian views are being forced into the light of day. I know what God says through His Word. God’s Covenant with the Jewish people is irrevocably joined to His plan for all eternity.

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” [Deuteronomy 7:6-9]

The Apostle Paul, an orthodox Jew, a Pharisee, and a Christian called by God to be the evangelist to the Gentiles, was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write, “ From the standpoint of the gospel, the Jews [at present] are enemies [of God] for your sake [which is for your benefit], but from the standpoint of God’s choice [of the Jews as His people], they are still loved by Him for the sake of the fathers.  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call].” [Romans 11:28-29 AMP]

It is far beyond the scope here to speak directly to the inept policies the current US Government and the United Nations are implementing and seeking to implement with regard to the nation of Israel. The United States has, from 1948 to 2009, been a close friend and ally of Israel; our only ally in the Middle East. We are, to our shame, forsaking them now. President Obama made his position clear in his very first international trip, when he snubbed Israel and lauded Egypt’s radical Islamic revolutionaries. Since then, to our shame, virtually no one in the senior positions of the administration has stood for Israel.

I have often said that, at least since the 1950’s, people live in a tightly defined “time bubble.” Everything outside that bubble is considered irrelevant. So, we only look forward a year or two; and our concern and knowledge of the past, may be five years. That is not to say we don’t know things; but very definitely we don’t learn from the past nor do we seriously plan for the future, except where money is concerned. Shaking our fist in the face of God obfuscates planning for the future.

Consider the following:

“In the ancient Near East, people sealed relationships between individuals or nations by covenant. When larger, powerful nations and smaller, weaker ones made a covenant. The entities operated like father and son or master and servant. Each had a distinct role to perform.

“The more powerful kingdom (called the suzerain) would adopt the smaller one (the vassal). In exchange for the vassal’s allegiance, the suzerain would provide military protection and financial provision in times of need. The suzerain had authority over the vassal. It might allow the vassal to maintain its own government and traditions, but it maintained legal ownership of the vassal’s land and agricultural harvest.

“The vassal was expected to operate in submission to its suzerain. In addition to giving a percentage of its annual production, the vassal was expected to be completely loyal. A vassal could only have one suzerain. Making a covenant with another suzerain was high treason and would incur horrendous consequences. The vassal’s loyalty was pledged to the suzerain and could not be shared with another

“The Bible translates this kind of loyalty using the Hebrew word hesed. It means love, faithfulness, or covenantal faithfulness. A vassal’s faithfulness was described as love expressed to his suzerain. Rebellion was to hate the suzerain.” Taken from ‘The Deliverance Principle’, as found in “Gideon: Your Weakness, God’s Strength”; by Priscilla Shirer.

My concern is the Biblical position many in Christianity have taken regarding the Jew and the nation of Israel. The verses quoted above are difficult to misread. Yet, there are many who believe the Covenant that God initiated and backed by His Name has changed, and He has turned His back on the Jewish people. If a Christian believes God could ever break any Covenant, then what assurance do we hold that He would not break the New Covenant – that of His Son Jesus.

A Transcendent, Eternal God, who lives outside of time and knows the beginning from the end, cannot make a Covenant and then break it. It is against His very nature as an Almighty, Righteous and Just God.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” [Romans 1:16 NIV] Thus wrote Paul in his letter to the church in Rome.

So, where does this lead us?

At the risk of being repetitious, let’s hear what God said, at the very beginning, to Abram:

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” [Genesis 12:2-3]

  • May 14, 1948: late morning eastern standard time (late afternoon in Palestine): David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, reads a “Declaration of Independence,” which proclaims the existence of a Jewish state called Israel beginning on May 15, 1948, at 12:00 midnight Palestine time (6:00 p.m., May 14, 1948,eastern standard time).
  • May 14, 6 p.m. eastern standard time (12:00 midnight in Palestine): The British mandate for Palestine expires, and the state of Israel comes into being.
  • May 14, 6:11 p.m. eastern standard time: The United States recognizes Israel on a de facto basis. The White House issues the following statement: “This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel.”.
  • May 14, shortly after 6:11 p.m. eastern standard time: United States representative to the United Nations Warren Austin leaves his office at the United Nations and goes home. Secretary of State Marshall sends a State Department official to the United Nations to prevent the entire United States delegation from resigning.
  • May 15: On May 15, 1948, the Arab states issued their response statement and Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq attack Israel.

[From the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum; Recognition of the State of Israel.]

The USA became the very first nation to recognize the new nation of Israel. Israel is the only nation in the history of mankind, to have been dispersed by invading armies (70 AD) yet maintained a national identity and ultimately reborn.

Over the next two decades the US was blessed with spiritual, economic and military growth beyond compare. Our infrastructure advanced as the standard of living spiraled upward.

Some may call it a coincidence. But, the obvious fact is that it resulted from God’s Covenant Promise to His Chosen People. The US was blessed because of the Genesis 12 promise.

Today, notwithstanding the Church’s malaise and retreat from Biblical Christianity, our schizophrenic relationship with Israel, now bursting into an all-out rejection of the plainly stated Biblical position of the Jew, has brought the US into a place where our two greatest adversaries are literally ‘thumbing their noses in our face.’ Russia and China have both, in the last 12 months, begun making aggressive moves, militarily, geographically, politically and financially, that place our nation at extreme risk.

Israel will stand – alone, if necessary – of that you can rest assured. Holocaust Memorial-StockholmAlmighty God has spoken. Biblical prophesies cannot be lectured away by the religious intelligentsia; nor can land-for-peace treaties be expected to be honored by Palestinians; nor will the UN be able to accomplish any of their anti-Semitic resolutions. Jerusalem will never be divided again and the Temple Mount will not be controlled by Palestinians. And Peace will come to Jerusalem, but not in the form the world thinks.

Peace will come to Jerusalem when the Prince of Peace sets foot on the Mount of Olives in His triumphal return to reign upon the earth!

So, while the European and North American politicians play their silly games, Iran blubbers that they will cause Israel’s demise, and the Arab nations feign blustery anger at Israel’s fair treatment of the Palestinians – TAKE NOTE!

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;

the Lord scoffs at them.

He rebukes them in his anger

and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

“I have installed my king

on Zion, my holy mountain.”   (Psalm 2:4-6)

Where Would We Be?

Post WWII generations have developed a strange double-mindedness. In the first place, the past is viewed as easier times, less stress, simpler lifestyles and peace in our land. A time we wish we could recreate. Radio, television and movie producers drill deep to find stories that link back to that period of time, while biasing them by what we think should, or could, have happened rather than the reality of what actually happened.

We forget the racial confrontations of the 50’s and 60’s, the era of horrific assassinations, and airline high-jacking’s that seemed to scream at us from the daily newspapers and nightly news programs.

Then, on the other hand, we are consumed with the products of technology that inundate our world of today. Each new advancement tries to draw us into its web. We must have the latest ‘this or that.’ Baby boomers have one view of all this; millennials have quite another. Boomers watched these developments come to pass. Millennials grew up with it as a way of life.

“My heart was restless until it found its rest in Thee” – Augustine of Hippo

So, what’s my point?

Before He returned to His rightful place with His Father God, Jesus laid out a simple plan. Go, make disciples, and baptize them. What tools, education, provision, etc, did He base this directive?

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” [Mat 28:18 NIV]

ALL Authority! Over the earth! Over the entire universe! Every thing. Every person. Nothing more is needed.

After the “baptize them” is done, what happens? Why would such an important task as spreading God’s Good News to the whole world be handed off to mere mortals? The world these followers of The Way were reborn into was not pretty – and certainly not friendly to them.

With that same authority given Jesus, the Christian is imbued with power, by the Holy Spirit of Christ living within. Since the first century, through their living example of Jesus and their actions inspired by the Love of Jesus, followers of The Way have changed societies around the world.

No man made religion has had the profound effect that Christianity has had. Think about it. Jesus reestablished the position of the woman as He had originally created them – equal to man in every aspect of worth, yet different in purpose. Children, who were considered mere chattels, property, by the “highly intelligent” Greeks and Romans, as well as the previous civilizations (excepting the Jews), since the Great Flood, elevated to full personhood (from conception). First generation Christians began rescuing infants left to die of exposure by birth parents who decided they were not convenient, as well as the many sold into sex slavery in the pagan temples.

Slavery, a common and accepted fact of life, is an affront to God for the reasons stated above. Every human is equal in God’s eyes, and created higher than the animal kingdom. Christians, based on the Word of God found in the Jewish Scriptures and the words of Jesus began setting the slaves free by various mean (against the laws of the lands when necessary).

Because of their true hope in the resurrection, Christians served the sick during outbreaks of plagues

The bases of a free and democratic society did not even exist until Christianity and Christian writings permeated cultures.

Following the Protestant Reformation, and with the formation of city/state citadels grounded in Christian principals, knowledge exploded: science, industry, law, governance, the arts. All these areas advanced by extraordinary measure.

But what was the vision upon which the early English settlers and our country’s founders were challenged to begin this nation?

The basis of our culture, or any civilization, is built on some founding concepts that, over time are assumed to be fixed, unmovable, and unshakeable – set in stone. To be blunt, ours was founded on a rock solid Christian worldview.

And, as an experiment, it worked. The greatest nation in the history of civilization was created. With all the bumps and warts you would expect from fallen, sinful man, still God blessed the USA in extraordinary ways. I believe their belief in an Omnipotent, Omniscient God, His Living Word drawn from Scripture, coupled with their purpose to honor Him in the founding of this nation brought about the system of governing and of justice that set our trajectory for God’s blessings. The sacred position of the nuclear family – a father, a mother and their children – gave stability to the society.

Today the Biblical foundation through which we draw God’s wisdom, is being completely dismantled, stone by stone. And, the wheels are coming off. From the local city council chambers straight up to the White House, elected officials are either directly disparaging the Word of God, or, the Christians are caving to the peer pressure, fearful of the consequences of standing firm on their purported beliefs.

We look at the past 240 years and what our founders and those who followed accomplished, and we are told it is not good enough. We are told we must pattern our country after those Western European and Scandinavian nations which have totally rejected the Christian faith, adopted sexual licentiousness and are spiraling into debt and anarchy. These officials call themselves Progressives, giving the impression they lead us to progress into a ‘brave new world’ order. By rejecting the very foundation that gave us this great nation we seal our doom.

As I am writing this the Irish are celebrating the fact they are the first nation to legalize sodomite marriage. Somehow, were we able to peek into the Throne Room of Almighty God, I don’t believe we would see celebration.

Only a fool (in the Biblical sense) would swallow such swill!

“The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good.” [Psalm 14:1 HCSB]

God is already bringing judgment on our world. We see it daily in the news-weather devastation, nations on the verge of war, Russia rearming and grabbing land under a dictator, ISIS, Christian martyrs, gridlock in our legislature, activist judges dismantling our republic, greed unbridled, bribery and corruption at the highest levels, redefining marriage (an institution created by God). How can it be ignored!

Yet the delusion of those who reject the absolute truth of God’s Word runs rampant.

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders, and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, so that all will be condemned — those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.” [2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 HCSB]

Let’s get back to the “All Authority” point again. As I continue to say – God is patient, not blind. As a Christian, I have a responsibility to live as a slave of my Master, regardless the status or situation of the nation of which I am a citizen. Jesus walked the dusty roads of Judea in complete submission to the will of God, in a nation occupied by a pagan Roman army and government.

“My soul follows hard after You: Your right hand upholds me.” [Psalm 63:8]

Where would we be – in the USA – in the world – devoid of the influence of Jesus, His Word and His followers?

Do we think it is where we want to be? That’s just delusional!

The Ratchet

The ratchet has revolutionized the world of hand tools. If you don’t know what a ratchet is – I’ll tell you. It is a rotating and locking mechanism which allows you to move forward but not back. In the case of a socket wrench – place the socket on the bolt head, set the wrench to loosen the bolt, and the ratchet locks and turns the bolt in one direction, then moves freely in the other, allowing you to reset in order to turn the bolt head again.

Why are we talking ratchets? Because the concept can be seen in everyday life in the creep of controversial social issues. And the majority of people – of all political and social stripes – don’t understand this and can’t see it. Therefore, radical changes take place, generally moving slowly, and, like a ratchet, always forward, never backwards.

People say they can’t understand how “such and such” happened until it is pointed out by a path of seemingly insignificant steps that very few people noticed. The ones who do notice, and cry out to beware, are many times ignored as fanatics, because the mainstreams of people grow weary of such discussions (‘crying wolf’, etc.)

And then, some see a change that they may not agree with; but they assume it is an isolated issue, fixed, no further concern needed. The proponents of that change, however, see these small steps as “beachheads” that they will never give up (the ratchet effect) and from which they will make further incursions (moving constantly forward).

One such issue that most in the USA have grown weary of is the “abortion debate” (in the realm of our Creator God, Who values all life = an oxymoron). The vast – VAST – majority of Americans disagreed with the Roe vs Wade decision of 1973. This was a classic case of Supreme Court legislation, circumventing the legislative process established by our Founding Fathers, of government by the people and for the people.

Arguments have been put forward that such heinous disregard for human life would have a backlash in our culture. We see that today in the “throw-away children” and the blatant disrespect for life and property. Proponents of abortion rebut the pro-life argument by leveling a smokescreen regarding ‘when does life really begin’. That argument would have no credence with a people who believed in Almighty God and honored His Scriptures. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.” (Psalm 139:13-15a)  But the ‘beginning of life’ arguments went largely unchallenged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. World wars, incredible technological innovations, leaps in scientific discoveries, affluence and severe financial crises overshadowed these weighty cultural and theological debates. The Church universal lost its way; became enmeshed in social changes and politics that actually ran counter to everything in Scripture – especially the teachings of Jesus – and began to respond with man’s devices. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:5-8)  It abdicated its position as propagator of the gospel and defender of the orphan, widow, prisoner, slave, and outcast. No longer is God feared – and thus His Wisdom is not present in the “debate.” King Solomon warned, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10).

The ratchet of social change and anti-God teachings moved slowly, one small step at a time – always forward, never backward. The Church, having gone to sleep, was caught off guard when abortion was legalized. Today, ideas of euthanasia and infanticide are achieving stronger platforms. Winds of change, economic instability, debt crises all push people to cast aside these issues, saying we must focus on the “greater” problems facing us. Peter Singer, an Australian ethicist, just to name one, smiles and continues to “ratchet” forward, propagating arguments for “post-birth” abortion (infanticide), against animal cruelty (save the lab rats, abort the babies), and for euthanasia. The elite intelligentsia is groveling to get on-board with these ideas, while young idealists consider these thoughts to be the new wave of an evolving generation.

Another ratchet movement is the groundswell of support for homosexuality. For years the argument that homosexuals are born that way, a position soundly rejected up until the second half of the twentieth century, was pounded into our culture by intellectuals and liberal sociologists. The ratchet moved one notch forward; the argument gained momentum and the media took up the mantra; the ratchet clicked into another notch; same-sex marriage became the focus of the movement; the ratchet is moving forward again. Christians have been ‘cowed’ into remaining quiet.

However, transcendent above all this human wisdom, our immutable God seeks to refine a Church that will be salt and light in this world. Whether we want to admit it, a Sovereign God is in control and will not continue to bestow blessings on a people who reject Him, regardless of how many times we invoke “God Bless America”. We may cry and wring our hands, and get emotionally distraught over someone proposing infanticide to reduce medical costs and long-term care issues, but we will do nothing about it. We may “preach to the choir” our belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman – as God created it. The Church will preach fiery sermons and hold toothless “prayer” meetings inside our little cloisters, then go out in the world and blend in, ashamed of the gospel. Paul fought this same issue in a world increasingly hostile to followers of The Way, and said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16) Note that political debate, man’s laws and government intervention aren’t mentioned by Paul as relevant options.

The ratchet keeps moving forward – never reversing. We will not stop its progress through man’s power. We have a “ratchet buster” that can reverse any of these. And it would be well for us all if we remembered this in the current morass of political debate and culture wars.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging . . . “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:1-3, 10)

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:5-8).

This nation will not change by political debate or legislative intervention. We cannot focus on the symptoms. The root cause is a rebellion against our Creator God. We must be about our ministry of reconciliation. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus Christ), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:19-22)

One final note. Many thousands of folks around this country have committed to pray for the US, the election process, our military personnel, the financial crisis, our governmental leaders (yes, that includes our President), and, of course, for REVIVAL, on a daily basis. It is a call to pray one minute in concert every day – at 9:00pm Eastern Standard Time (8:00pm central, etc, etc.). Of course, these prayers are ‘toothless’ without faith and trust in the One to whom we are praying, in full belief that He can change hearts. Please join this chorus of prayer, make the commitment to pray, and spread the word. God hears the prayers of a humble, contrite heart.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

The 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 a desire for the “genie in the lamp.” Most people believe there is a God or some 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.” (Eccl. 3:11). 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.” (Eph 4:19). They want that external ‘force’ to fulfill their wishes at their command.

In this type situation 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 people prosper materially and experience safety within their borders, they will, over time, move to excess. The people will be numbed to corporate discipline, become mentally and physically soft and believe themselves justified to satisfy every physical desire in any way possible. If there is any recognition of a superior being, we want it to operate like the “genie in the lamp.”

At the heart of our desire for stuff we’re all just trying to fill a void in our lives. Humans are social at the core of our being. All too many are seeking to fulfill the desire for relationship through sexual satisfaction. Unfortunately, it is an insatiable hole when filled with anything other than our Creator. 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. At our core, if we were honest with ourselves, we would give up the tiring pursuit for this elusive genie to find a genuine Companion, who we know will never turn His back on us no matter our physical, emotional, mental or financial condition. The promise of the “genie in the lamp,” to give us whatever we desire with no strings attached, proves painfully inadequate at that point.

When Jesus walked the dusty roads of Israel, and He was moved by compassion to restore broken humanity, the people thronged to Him to witness miracles, or to have their physical or mental lives repaired. However, when Jesus’ 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, the throngs departed. “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him,” the Apostle John noted (John 6:66). Only a hearty few remained with Him beyond that.

Fortunately for us, 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.” (Jer. 24:7). He will not force it, though. His love and His sovereign justice demand that we be given full freedom of choice. We get to choose. Isn’t that great! I can choose to 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.” I am free to do anything I want to do within the confines of societal rules, at least, that is, until I die. That part is consistent with our search for the “genie in the lamp.”

However, just as 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; so, a loving God tells us to deny our selfish desires. Whereas the “genie in the lamp” compels us to believe we can have it all, our wise God shows us, by the example of His Son that self-discipline leads to a fulfilled life. 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 glory and splendor of Jesus, the One who chose to die for us, has risen, and offers us a personal relationship with God the Father. He promises Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Isn’t that really what we all want?