Facing a World Full of Rage and Hatred

Featured

rageYou see it pretty much every day on the news, hear it on the radio, on social media. It seems our world has been filled in these day with a level of hatred and vitriol that seems unprecedented. Our last presidential election seemed to spike this division, and continues to divide us, almost like the “Sirens” of Greek mythology, it lures us into a fray that only brings out the worst in everyone who is a part of it. With the rise of the so-called “Fake News” comes a distrust of anything that we read, hear, or see. And the glut of such things on one hand makes me not want to contribute to the cacophony of voices screaming to be heard. Yet I feel compelled to bring some Biblical truth to these matters. For those who are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, This is a testament that there is another way. To those who claim to follow Christ, This is a reminder of who we are to be. This is primarily written to believers in Christ.

The Scriptures have no lack of truth that we could, and likely need to consider on this issue, but allow me to just point out three for our meditation and application where needed.

It starts with my heart. This is a truth that was taught us by the Lord Jesus Himself. And it is here we need to tread carefully. In the heat of the issues before us, we must remember that none of us truly knows what lies at the depths of our own hearts. The prophet Jeremiah said, in Jeremiah 17: 9; The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? We are told in Hebrew 4: 12 -13; For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

In other words we need to bring the thoughts and intentions of our hearts before the mirror of the Word of God, enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God before we rush into judgment, or before we allow rash words to exit our mouths. Jesus taught much about the importance of the heart in regards to our speech and our actions (Matthew 15:18-19 for example). What is in my heart will produce what comes from my mouth. It is the overflow from our hearts (Matthew 12:34).

What are the attitudes we must cultivate in our hearts? Paul tells us in I Corinthians 12:31, But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. That way, he says in chapter 13 is the way of love. He actually begins chapter 13 addressing our speech. If we speak without love we are like a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  In Philippians chapter 4, Paul addresses our attitudes in this way: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9). In Galatians 5:14-15 Paul again says For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!   And in Colossians 3, Paul admonishes us with these words: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17). So how are you doing with those things?

Examining my speech.  The principle is simple, what comes out reveals what’s inside. I have always liked the illustration of the toothpaste tube, and have written a blog page about that. But when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, what’s inside comes out. What comes out of you when you are squeezed? The apostle James speaks very bluntly to believers about this issue of the tongue ( our speech). James says that we all make “many mistakes” and that the control of the tongue ( and in our case what we spew out on social media) is a sign of maturity. But, he also says that the tongue can be like a flame of fire, a world of wickedness, corrupting  our entire body, setting our whole life on fire. Out of our mouths come both blessings and cursings… cursing those made in the image of God! (James 3: 5-12).

Paul tells us in Ephesians not to allow “corrupt” speech proceed our of our mouths, but only that which is good for edifying, that it might give grace to them that hear (Ephesians 4:29). He tells the Colossians, Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one (Colossians 4:6).

To his disciple Titus, Paul writes; This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men (Titus 3:8). These passages and so many more give us the “litmus test” for our conversations, our writings, and our responses to those we may disagree with. Let us all (yes, I include myself in this) allow the Word of God to expose our innermost thoughts and desires (Hebrews 4:12). Then, after we have passed this test we may write, or speak those things that would pass this test.

 

Understand the conflict. Finally, at least for this blog entry, let us remember the nature of what is going on around us. This is not simply a battle of political viewpoints. Whether we, and they are aware of it, we are engaged in a spiritual battle. This is important for us as believers to understand because it should be this knowledge that drives how we pray, and how we conduct ourselves in these days. Words and viewpoints are thrown around in what sometimes seems as a firestorm of differing viewpoints. But we must understand that underlying all of this is a spiritual dimension. And this is so important for us to understand,, and allow us to form how we view this raging battle. What is happening in the unseen world is a raging spiritual battle for the hearts and lives of human beings for whom Jesus died, and whom He loves. Many years ago when I taught in a Bible School in Switzerland, I would mention the name of Adolf Hitler. Of course in Europe that name brings to the front many different issues than we in America would understand. But my point would be that as evil as this man was, he was still a man for whom Jesus died. That does not take away the wickedness of his atrocities, but it should be a lens through which we view everyone we encounter. There are no exceptions. And as long is there is breath in them, there is a hope for salvation.

Paul reminded the Ephesian church of this in Ephesians 6:12; For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.But Pauls’ reminder here is not an isolated statement, for he goes on to tell them and us that we must never forget to cloth ourselves for this battle with the armor that God has given to us. The belt of Truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shoes of the Gospel of Peace, taking the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and carrying the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy. This is what God has given to workplace, family, or us to be able to stand; and stand for Him in the midst of the battles that rage around us, whether they are political, social, workplace or family. The armor and these truths make no distinction. Again, back at the Bible School in Switzerland, when I came to this passage in Ephesians, I would ask the students, how many of them would be ok with heading out the door in the morning naked. I would get the usual laughs and giggles, but no  one ever told me they would. It’s the same with us. We need to put on the armor of God every morning before we head out the door, maybe even before we have breakfast.

There is so much more that could be said on each of these issues and others as well, but suffice it to say, we need to take a step back, look at our hearts, let the Word of God be the judge of our speech, and remember that this is a spiritual battle that we are in all the while we are on this earth. Can I ask you to take some time in the next couple days and allow the Lord to speak to you about these areas of your life. Confess what He shows you is displeasing to Him, and give yourself to be an honorable ambassador for Him where ever you may be.

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

 

Share this

The Elections and the Toothpaste Tube

Featured

The Election and the Toothpaste Tube

election-and-toothpaste-tubeOur nation is in a state of turmoil and confusion. We are facing elections soon in which it seems we have two candidates that many are describing each one as the “lesser of two evils.” Accusations, name calling, and stories abound that no one seems to know what is truth and what is not.

The Church is in a state of turmoil and confusion. We are facing elections soon in which it seems we have two candidates that many are describing each one as the “lesser of two evils.” Accusations, name calling, and stories abound that no one seems to know what is truth and what is not.

What is going on here? Why do we find ourselves in such a quagmire? Some would say that we have indeed entered into a time of judgment upon our country as a result of the decisions that have been made over the past decades regarding abortion, the removal of prayer from our schools, the removal of Judeo-Christian values from our society. Some would disagree that this is judgment, but that God has lifted His hand of protection from this nation because of those and so many more issues, as well as the lethargic and lukewarm condition of the Church.

A few are standing up and trying to give direction in this situation we find ourselves in, but would you allow me to give another perspective to what is happening here? And I want to use the illustration of the toothpaste tube. Most of us have heard and many have used the illustration of the toothpaste tube, how once you take the cap off the tube, and squeeze, whatever is in that tube comes out. You squeeze the tube, you will find out what was really inside there. No matter what the label may say, or what pictures are on the outside, when you squeeze it, you know soon enough what is on the inside.

In Deuteronomy chapter 8, Moses is recounting to Israel, how the Lord dealt with the while they were in the desert. In verse two he says:

And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Moses reminds Israel that the testing in the wilderness for forty years was to show what was in their hearts, whether they would obey the Lord or not. God in other words, was squeezing the tube to see what was on the inside. Perhaps, just perhaps the Lord is allowing these circumstances in our nation in order to squeeze the tube and to reveal to us what is on the inside.

And I have to say, a lot of what I have seen come out of the tube has not been nice.

And I’m just talking about those who call themselves “Christians,” or “believers.” If social media is any indicator, the tube has been full of bitterness, and hatred and conflict, and discord, and venum on every side of these issues. And it seems that we feel quite justified in hurling insults and spewing venum back and forth, sometimes even in the Name of Christ.

STOP!

Let us please take some time to truly examine the condition of  our hearts before our perfectly just and holy God. Let’s stop with our self-justification, and humble ourselves before Him with the realization that there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10).

Can we stop long enough to examine from God’s perspective what has been squeezed out of the tube or our lives, and our interactions?

Absolutely we need to stand for and support those who reflect the values we hold dear. But for God’s sake (REALLY!) let us take some time to allow the Spirit of God to do His work of examination of our attitudes and the condition of our hearts. We want God to come and turn things around, but He will not do that despite our sinful unrepentant attitudes. He desires acknowledgement of our sin, and genuine repentance. II Chronicles 7:14 is addressed regarding a people who had turned their backs on God, and had built their own idols, and refused His counsel.

That is us.

I bless all of the movements of prayer that are trying to call us to prayer and repentance, but we have been doing that for years! I have been a part of those. And we are still in this mess. Perhaps it’s time we take responsibility before God for what has been squeezed out of the toothpaste tube of our lives, and fall on our faces before God and confess our, my, your contribution to this current situation. If you say you have no responsibility, it is only a reminder of how far from God’s standard we have strayed. It is missing the understanding that what is laying out for us all to see now, squeezed out of the tube so to speak only indicates that there is a sickness at the very root that must be acknowledged.

Richard Owen Roberts in his amazing book, “Repentance, The First Word of the Gospel.” Asks, “It is clear in your mind that there are sins which are fruits and sins which are roots? If one repents merely of the fruits of sin, the roots will continue to produce more fruits.”

Take some time alone before God, and give Him in His Holiness, to search your heart and reveal to you the roots of the issues, the actions, the attitudes that have been squeezed out of your life, your mouth, your thoughts in this season. You might find yourself on the floor before Him in tears for what He has shown you. Then truly repent, and ask Him to help you to reflect the heart of Christ through your thoughts and words and actions. Let us start being the light of the world again, and not a reflection of our own darkness.

God bless us, and God bless America

Share this

Walk INTO the Darkness !!

Featured

Light of the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Early Church” lived in a culture that was not receptive to the message of the Gospel. The culture was hostile to the message of the Gospel. The mindset of the people and the reaction of the government was one of hostility and confrontation. That is what we are seeing rising up today. The early disciples were emboldened to proclaim the Truth of the Gospel in the midst of this culture and government, not because they had hours of seminars and instruction, but because they were firm in their relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Because they had a firm and solid faith and understanding of the power of God in the Gospel, they did not need to be intimidated or have fear. They knew it was better to obey God than be intimidated by mere man. This new move of the Spirit will be a move of intimacy. Ingrained in these warriors because they have learned how to take time in intimacy with their Lord, and hear clearly His voice, and be confident of His reality in and through them. Because of this rock solid assurance, they will give no thought to their own lives, but be radically concerned for the lives of others. Through these wounded warriors God will raise the dead, heal the sick, stop plagues, and demonstrate the true power and mercy of the Son of God.

This army will march INTO the darkness

Because YOU ARE the Light of the World – Matthew 5:14

Share this

Thinking Like God Thinks – When Terrorists Strike at Home

Featured

bible-sunset-2

My last post I began to talk about how I have been challenged with the idea of learning to think the way God thinks. God had challenged me during a day of prayer when I was in Brazil that I needed to learn to think like He thinks. This is an all-encompassing subject, but it has been working on me for some time. And given the recent uproar surrounding the murder of fourteen Americans in San Bernardino, California, and other terrorist attacks, I began to ask, “how would I respond with God’s way of thinking in this situation?”

This is a topic that is far broader than is possible to address in one post here, but I would ask you to prayerfully consider how the following might apply in our current situation in our land. And how the Church needs to rise up and be the Church in these days, not simply in political activism, but as ambassadors of the King of Kings and Ruler of the Universe. Thinking and acting and speaking as God would.

My first reaction would be to realize that at the very outset I must love. The very and maybe sometimes too familiar verse, John 3:16, says, “for God so loved the world…” As perverted, as deranged, and as “radicalized” as these people may be who carry out these acts of terror and murder (yes, let’s call it terror. That is part of the whole purpose of their actions is to put us in a state of terror of the next time) may be, they are still people for whom Jesus hung and died on the cross. They are people for whom Jesus rose from the dead an ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven. Does my heart break for them in the same way that God’s heart breaks for their “lostness?” If not, then I must start by repenting of the hardness and the waywardness of my own heart. That is not to excuse their actions – never. It is to put God’s perspective on my perception of them as people whom Jesus loves.

Secondly, if I am thinking the way God thinks, I would be outspoken in denouncing sin at every level. Not only the sin of murdering innocent people, but the sin of turning people away from the true and living God to follow the deceptions of demons. Let’s be honest, the desire, the teaching that it is pleasing to any god to behead your enemies, kill and subjugate those who do not believe like you is sin. Yes, that includes anyone who teaches in such a way. I know there is a whole discussion to be had about the Old Testament actions of God’s directions to Israel, but that is for another time. Here, the point is, the people of God must denounce sin. And the sin of those who use these kinds of situations for their own aggrandizement, or gain socially, politically, or financially. This must be done from hearts that have been examined for our own sins first.

Thirdly, if I am thinking the way God thinks, I would be fearless in pointing out the hypocrisy at every level. Hypocrisy in the Church when we are quicker to point out the sins of others than confessing with tears our own sins. We must denounce the hypocrisy of those like our president and other political leaders who use “selective language” for his own purposes. Like John the Baptist calling out Herod, or Jesus speaking plainly to the Pharisees of His own time. Let us ask God for His wisdom to see through the deceptions and call out hypocrisy when it is found.

Fourthly, if I am thinking the way God thinks, I will understand how I need to understand the words of Jesus when He said, “render therefore to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and to God the things that are God’s”  (Matthew 22:21). Jesus said that He was about His Father’s business. Jesus chose His battles, whether it was when He was tempted by Satan, or whether he was being tested regarding political issues. I’m not saying that we are not to be involved in politics. We are to be light and salt in every sphere of society. But we must know how to choose our battles with wisdom from Him. We ought also to take a lesson from Jesus here and learn how to answer those trying to trip us up with wise words from eternal truth. We need to speak not from our own political leanings, or even religious prejudices, but from the eternal truth of the Word of God.

As I said, this is a subject that is way beyond one blog on one website, but I think it is time that we as believers in Jesus Christ learn to look at our world through the eyes and with the mind of Christ, with humility, and with God’s truth, but not with concession to cultural or political “trade winds.” What a challenge for us to learn to think like God thinks. Especially in these days.

Share this

Thinking Like God Thinks

Featured

thinking1

Thinking like God thinks… a few years ago, I had a “day of prayer” on the beach in Joao Pessoa, Brazil. And to answer your question, yes, that is a very easy place to be still and listen to the voice of the Lord. The warm ocean waves lapping over your toes, the warm breeze, and the vast expanse of beach all made it very easy to just quiet my heart and listen. There were many things on my mind… past, present, future. I needed direction and help with decisions I needed to make. At one point as I walked the beach, the Lord spoke very clearly to me and simply said, “you need to learn to think like I think.”

At first the words of Paul came to my memory, “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5. I am currently doing more of a study of what does that really mean? What does it really mean to think the way God thinks? How do I wrap my puny mind around the thinking process of the creator of the universe? Well, I’m still working on that, and will post more about that here as things progress.

However, there was one thought that came to me recently in the midst of some very difficult and painful circumstances. A situation I never thought would be a part of my life, yet  here it is. Unwanted, unwelcomed, un-enjoyed, but smack dab in my face. How do I react? How do I conduct myself in this situation? How do I think the thoughts that God would have?

When we are in such circumstances, our first and best option is to turn to the Word of God for direction and counsel. I found myself reminding myself of all of who God is to me. He is my savior, my strength, my redeemer, my wisdom, my protector, my shield. So many more I could recount, and then… this thought: “He does not have to remind Himself of Who He Is.”

WOW! He does not have to remind Himself of Who He Is! The depth of that began to seep down into my spirit like golden honey. I, in my struggle to try to understand my circumstances, needed to remind myself who He is. But He never has to do that. He is always totally aware of all of who He is. In every moment, in every circumstance, in every disruption, every trial that comes our way, He is constantly and totally and fully aware of all that he is. He does not have to go and search the concordance to find a character to meet today’s need. He is “I AM” totally and eternally everything I need Him to be.

As I pondered this thought, and brought it before this idea that I need to think like God thinks, WOW!  What a revolution that would be in my life, in our lives, if we could come to that place in our walk and our relationship with Him so that in any situation, every circumstance, we would know who He is for that particular moment.This is profound for my daily walk. This requires not simply a study of theology (the study of God), it requires an intimacy with Him, so that in any circumstance I don’t need to search around, I will know who He is for me at that moment. It takes a knowledge and intimacy born out of time spent together. It brings a familiarity with Him and who He is for every situation. He who goes with me and lives within me desires that I come to such a place in my knowledge of Him that in any given moment I walk in the assurance of His sufficiency for that moment, that challenge, that crisis, that obstacle because the sufficiency is in who He is, and I know Him to that point I no longer have to stop and search… at that moment I know.

May the Lord grant that we come to know Him with that kind of intimacy and purity, that like Him, we will not have to remind myself of who He is, I will simply “know” and walk and rest in the character of who He is.

 

Share this