Archives for category: A Nation Pierced

outoforderYou see this sign and what do you immediately know: something isn’t working correctly or is broken and needs to be repaired.

I was reading an article by Mike Adams on Townhall.com when I began to think of other ways we are hurt by getting things out of order. You’ve heard the old expression, ‘getting the cart before the horse’, but putting things in that order really is a funky way of moving a cart around, especially if it’s loaded.

Putting feelings before our will/our faith.  Feelings or emotions are the last things that should guide any decisions we make or conclusions we draw.  When we forsake our will and its adherence to the Truth of God’s Word to how we feel about people and things, we will always fall short of the truth. How? By focusing our aim on something that falls short to begin with. Not one of us is perfect or completely right so why would I allow my will to settle for falling short because I might feel better about it.  In the end, feelings don’t account for much. If I feel great about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I feel good about where I am. If I feel terrible about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I’ll be depressed when I die. Have faith in God and let your feelings follow.

Putting the praise of people ahead of the praise of God. This is a close cousin of  putting feelings ahead of our faith. Who is going to validate your life? Who tells you you’re good? If it’s people, know that you will be aiming at a moving target for what is an approved response.  If it’s God, know that the standard you seek to attain will be the same: yesterday, today, and forever, though not popular at given times, seasons, or places.

Putting convenience before our commitments. How many good things could we have accomplished if we didn’t give in to procrastination or momentary laziness?  How many times have we excused ourselves from following commitments by saying we will catch up to them later?

Making decisions and commenting on subjects before seeking the Lord in prayer.  How many complaints and conflicts can be diffused before they begin by simply asking the complainer or the conspirator, “How have you been praying about this?”  “What part of the Scripture led you to this conclusion or course of action?”

If you would like to add to this list, please do. How do things get out of order in your life or in the lives of ones you love?  Help me know where the turn-around battle needs to be fought.

Remember, being out of order is meant to be a temporary situation. There is nothing, by grace through faith, that can’t be restored or turned around.

signsofthetimes(A Brief Meditation on Psalm 46 and Matthew 24)

The way of grace teaches us that our hope for life begins in repentance. We prioritize out of necessity and for the sake of aligning ourselves with the truth.

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because man-made opinions and bubbles burst and the world tries to bustle us into becoming entangled with its causes, wars, and disputes. We believe so our ways might be exchanged for the ways of God, worldly reactions and responses exchanged for the will of God’s Kingdom.

We build up our faith because the systems upon which we lean and depend will be kicked out from under us. There will be divisions along ethnic lines and realms of thought.

We bless others in the power of the Spirit because a spirit of bitterness is taking hold of our society. There is a famine of taking in God’s Word.  We are called to move as free people, willing to let go of our own lives for the sake of those who are locked into their limiting fortresses of unbelief. We know soon all the vain things which leech and consume our attention will be consumed by God’s fiery judgment so while the light of grace still shines we are working.

We bring life in Jesus’ name to those pestered and plagued by sin, seemingly bound to turmoil, chaos, and unrest. We influence this wicked and perverse generation by the rest and stillness we have found in the presence of God. As we allow God to ascend in the midst of what we do, even the ‘fools who say there is no God’ may discover otherwise.

We breakthrough as the One whose name is above all names is exalted in our lives. Everything we know will be shaken including the ground upon which we stand. The confidence we carry is “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46: 7, 11)

(This post is used by permission and is written by my dear friend, Dr. Craig Green, Pastor of Livingston First Church, Livingston, TN.)


Misunderstood Love

PalmSundayWhen Yeshua had come closer and could see the city (Jerusalem), he wept over it, saying, “If you only knew today what is needed for shalom! But for now it is hidden from your sight… all because you did not recognize your opportunity when God offered it!” (Luke 19:41-44 CJB)

Misunderstanding love is the hallmark of the fallen human race—regardless of how God presents love; regardless of how explicit He is in foretelling it. Not only are we guilty of misunderstanding His love, we are guilty of redefining His love—even though He has clearly defined what real love is—and is not—in His Word…

Jesus wept over a city that should have known better. Zechariah 9:9 clearly states that your King comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey. The crowd outside the city got it…sort of. They covered the ground with palm branches and clothing and shouted praises as King Jesus rode toward Jerusalem. But they misunderstood the Messiah coming in humility, regardless of what the prophet had said.

That misunderstanding caused Jesus to weep over a city that would be utterly destroyed—with enormous loss of life—less than forty years later. Many in Israel never did come to see their Messiah…

I wonder if Jesus’ second coming—this time as the King of Kings riding on a white horse—will be equally or even more misunderstood…

While the religious leaders and most of the public two thousand years ago could not fathom a Suffering Servant as the Messiah (despite the prophet Isaiah’s clear words), most of our current world can’t seem to fathom a mighty victorious King coming in perfect authority and righteousness in His Second Coming.

In perfect humility—or in perfect glory, honor, and strength—Jesus is still… Perfect Love! His love is equally evident in suffering for our sin (as He did on the cross), in calling us to righteous holiness that finds victory over sin (as He does now), to returning in all glory and power to restore perfection (as He will soon).

The Love of God is still misunderstood and it is still being redefined as people long to manufacture a god who serves our needs and scratches our itches rather than submit to the one true God who—in humility and in all power—calls us to surrender to Him, as if… He is God and we are not!

Both, I believe, make Jesus weep as multitudes miss the peace Jesus brought, brings, and will bring.

· He came as a humble servant, but they wanted a militant king…

· He is now the King of righteousness who demands transformation by the Word and Spirit, but many bristle at the suggestion that HIS definition of righteousness and love, not ours, is the standard.

· He will come in all glory as God the King, but many will balk in full-blown rebellion.

This Palm Sunday, perhaps the thing to do is to lay down our lives before Him (rather than palm branches), and to receive HIM until our misunderstandings and redefinitions are overpowered by His enormous and perfect love…!

gorsuchGod gave grace to Moses to lead the people of Israel in the wilderness. How? By giving Israel a process of choosing judges who would help him bear the problems and the burdens of the people.  It was too much for one person to do and maintain the system of law God wanted the people to follow.

Moses gave the directive, “Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.” (Deuteronomy 1: 13) The people answered, “What you propose to do is good.” (v. 14) So, Moses appointed “the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men…to have authority over the people—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials.” (v. 15)

The main instruction to these judges? “Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God.”  (v. 17)

Look at the process they followed. Our system of representation in the United States is supposed to work like this. Representatives are chosen or elected locally. The minute they are elected they are accountable to and appointed by Moses. They are not accountable to the people who elected them.  If something becomes too difficult for them, (would cause them to show partiality or favoritism) they are to recuse themselves and let Moses adjudicate it.

They are not to judge a situation by deciding who elicits their sympathy. They are not to judge a situation by the resources held by the different parties or by which tribe they belong to, or whether they belong to any tribe. Every decision rests upon the law not their own personal preference or the mandates of the tribe.

Once they assume the position of the judge, the character and the temperament that got them elected by those who knew them, can only be maintained if they are not partial to those who elected them. In my lifetime, we have reversed that process.

Now, it seems, we elect people to ‘bring things back to the district’ or to show partiality to their constituents. This is not grace; this is graft.

We have forgotten that once a person is elected they represent the law (the Constitution) for all the people not just their constituents. That’s why the law is meant to be written so it is the same everywhere, with everyone, regardless of the individual circumstance. Anything less is a form of discrimination regulating favor to one party over another. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” (Romans 12: 17) And just as the Scripture teaches us not to return evil for evil, we don’t correct past discrimination by coming up with present and future ways of discriminating.

God says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 21) What is good? Being impartial and remaining a judge when we are tempted to become an advocate or a lawmaker.

Hearing this admonition, I believe Neil Gorsuch should become the next justice of our Supreme Court.  Knowing this admonition, I believe we should pray more often for our appointed representatives, including the judges that they might follow the law and maintain their integrity and their impartiality.

dangerWhen I was a teenager, my brother and I used to race in the pasture on the motorcycle. With but one bike between us, we raced each other and the clock. We had a fine route laid out, almost a mile long, that gave us ample opportunity to test our skill.

We had one rule to start. Since I was older and had been riding longer, and was more prone to take risks, it was determined that I had to go twice as fast in order to win. That actually worked out fine in the beginning. But, the more we raced the more Dennis’ riding improved.

I remember the last race before the rule had to change. I was flying along on the dirt bike with a few seconds to spare and still gain victory. But, I was nearing the halfway point on our course: a V-turnaround spot after which I would head for home. I realized if I slowed down much I would lose the race so I thought I would try to slide the bike into the curve and then propel my way to victory.

I knew as soon as I decided on the slide, the bike would lock up and I would go flying over the handlebars.

I lost the race.

Even though I knew it was coming, I had to try for victory anyway. Worse case scenario? I wreck and my brother wins the race.

I had this memory reading about God’s judgment in the last of days. God says through Ezekiel, “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 38: 23) The prophet was speaking against those who were doing things God was against. We certainly know that activity is still going on and God is still against it.

Our way of driving along may be wrecked here soon as God shows his greatness and his holiness.  Let’s just make sure Jesus will be leading us to victory despite what happens in the world.  Even if we see it coming, let’s be ready to confess and know these three things.

Our triumph abides because of 1) the blood of the Lamb, 2) the word of our testimony, and 3) we don’t love our lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12: 11)

pridequoteThe seed of sin holds its own destruction. When it first flowers you may not see it. In the beginning of sin, there is only the betrayal, the small failure, the falling short of victory. We feel the dis-appointment. We hopefully are conscious and aware that we have missed the mark. But, we’ve been told, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” So, one sin begets two; begets a thousand.

We got locked into a self-serving, sin-perpetuating biased way of doing things. At first, the dis-appointment nudged us towards introspection and evaluation. Now, it moves us to look for someone to blame.

True self-improvement will always pull us back towards humility and truly starting over. Sin with all its bitterness will simply demand repetition or recruitment of a crowd that agrees with us.

Pretty soon, a battle is being fought, sides have to be chosen.  Alignment to a path with those committed to breakthrough becomes impossible for us. Why? Because, we are no longer committed to breakthrough and newness of life. We are now committed to putting off and forestalling our breakdown and downfall.  This translates into a commitment to destroy anything or anyone who will once again expose our dis-appointment.

To what are we appointed? The Bible says, we  are all appointed to death and after that the judgement. (Hebrews 9: 27) But, what if that judgement had already been borne by someone else? Indeed, it has been. “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9: 28)

For those, who await a different outcome, it is not too late for you. Today, if you will hear God’s voice, the offer of grace stands.  Yes, you are appointed to death but come before the Lord in humility and repentance and let that death be a death to self, a confession of your sin, and a turning to the Lord that uproots you from the life you’ve lived up til now and roots you and grafts you into God’s kingdom.

Yes, you will still be fighting a battle but this one will begin in humility.

handstretchMark’s gospel, chapter three tells us, “Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’ Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” (Mark 3: 1 – 5)

I’m so glad Jesus is able and willing to heal and restore. But, I’m equally angered and distressed that we still live in a world where people do not want Jesus to act.

We have told ourselves lies to justify our opposition to Jesus. We have said that a shriveled life is just as good as a full one. We’ve raved about the multiple religious expressions available  for our choosing as long as we don’t exclaim or emphasize there’s One choice that’s able to make us whole. We have said multiple cultures are equally  beneficial to its citizens. But, truth be told, that’s not the truth.

We live in a world where we are intimidated away from acknowledging the truth or exposing the consequences of sin’s evil. Will we be brave and honest enough to stretch out our hand and through our restoration speak to the parched, broken, and shriveled among us, and tell them of One whose deepest passion is to restore them to fullness of life?

P.S. Please  pray for me and this ministry of writing. I’m trying to stretch out my hand today to move my blog to a self-hosted site where we can do more for those who read our stuff. Me and technology – what could go wrong?