Hope in the storm

Hurricane Irma is scheduled to start her run Sunday up the spine of Florida–a State I have many ties to.  It’s a unique display of the destructive chaos of a fallen universe.  I don’t put much stock in leaders who often jump to declare individual disasters as specific judgments from God for specific failures of a group of people.  The Bible certainly confirms He has done so in the past.  And we live in an age literally hell-bent on thumbing our nose at God.  But I believe in this age of Grace we now live since the sacrifice of Christ, these “acts of God” are less often conscious action on His part than they are inaction to stop the built-in consequences of a creation frustrated under the weight of sin.

There are two things to consider here from God’s view.  First, the world increasingly rejects anything to do with Him.  Second, times of catastrophe focus us on what’s truly important and necessary far more than do times of calm and comfort.  So rather than seeing God as a cosmic killjoy looking for excuses to hurl lightning bolts at wrongdoers, I believe the better analogy is one of a rejected Lover who has sadly granted our world’s desire to leave His presence and prescriptions, and as a consequence lose His protection as well.

But that’s the “big picture,” so to speak.  The wondrous part of all this is that God doesn’t just deal with humanity.  Or a specific nation.  Or a specific city.  He treats with each of us individually, desiring a personal relationship based on reciprocal love.  This is unlike any “religious” conception on earth: the Creator desiring individual communion with His created.  Despite humanity’s sinful nature He cares for us and hears us — our needs, wants, fears, and confessions.  Just this week a family I know was stranded far from home with a broken car well after business hours.  Yet God answered their pleas for help with an amazing turn of events that brought the right people (including an off-duty mechanic) and provided the resources to get them safely on their way again.

So in the midst of the storm; in the midst of the effects of the rule of this present darkness, we all have the privilege to seek shelter through prayer in the love of the Father, made possible by His Son, Jesus Christ.  It’s not simply a “get out of jail free” card, or some kind of magic spell to ward off tragedy.  No, this presence He offers provides comfort, perspective, and strength regardless of what happens physically:

(King) Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.  But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

That is the comfort and strength I’m talking about: the confidence to trust God, obey Him, and let Him work all things for the good of those who love HimIt may not be the “good” we think we want.  “Unfair” things will happen.  We may lose our jobs.  Our earthly possessions.  Even our life.  But for those who love God and trust Him, any and all of that pales in comparison to the eternal joy that awaits us when we see Him face to face.

Everyone reading this is facing storms.  It may not be a Category 4 hurricane, but we each have pressures that threaten to crush us.  Know there is a God who cares for you, who is far more powerful than any storm you could face, and who desires what He knows is the best for you.  Ask Him for peace.  For calm in the midst of the storm.  And    *Even If*    it seems the storm has taken everything away from you, know that if your trust is in God you already have everything you need.  There is nothing that can take that away from you.

Nothing.

May the Lord bless and keep us all, according to His good will.

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Leading the little ones astray

And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.  (Luke 17:1-2)

The post is also known as Reason #34,892 to stop entrusting your children’s indoctrination education to others:

An elite charter school in California has been rocked by scandal since the end of the last school year, when a kindergarten teacher read her class a pair of books advocating transgender ideology, and a male kindergartener was reintroduced to the class as a girl.

Now first-graders at Rocklin Academy Gateway risk a trip to the principal’s office if they refer to their transgender classmate by the wrong name or gender pronoun, said Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute, a pro-family group based in Sacramento.

“There was a little girl who had been in class with the little boy all last year,” Ms. England said. “They’re in different classes now, but she saw him on the playground yesterday and called him by his name. The little girl was told ‘you can’t do that, his name is this name,’ and ‘you need to call him a “her.”’ Then she was called to the principal’s office.”

We had this quaint notion about thirty years ago that there was a “culture war” going on in this country.  That is no longer the case.  There is a spiritual — and all to often, physical — war for the soul of this nation under way.  Six year olds have enough to be confused about as they observe the world around them without adults trying to teach them there are upteen numbers of “genders,” and that one can flow from one to another.

In a more civilized era we’d have called this what it is: child abuse.  Anyone with this agenda should not be allowed within 100 miles of society’s most vulnerable minds and hearts.

What are we doing to protect those hearts?  What are we doing to push back against the present — and growing — darkness of this world?

Where have all the Christians gone?

This is a lengthy excerpt.  I recommend you read the entire piece here.

A generation ago pop star Bonnie Tyler famously asked: “Where have all the good men gone?”

Since then, the situation has only gotten worse, Bonnie.  As C.S. Lewis noted, men in the English-speaking world have largely been emasculated, and men in the Church are seldom an exception to this decades-long trend.

To stand strong for one’s faith in Jesus Christ and push back against a culture that, in the words of Isaiah 5:20, “call[s] evil good and good evil” is to be “divisive,” “unloving,” “bigoted,” and “intolerant.”

This is because evangelicals have confused Christ’s command to love others with being likable, as if that were an attribute of God. (It isn’t.)  As such, they endeavor to be, above all else, inoffensive and polite.  This doctrinal malpractice has given us a generation of men who are what Lewis called “men without chests.”  …

I urge you instead to be offended by the way our God’s name is blasphemed in our country every day; by the 54 million children murdered in the holocaust of abortion since 1973; by the sordid sexual agenda that is eroding the very fabric of Western civilization; by the fact that Christians are dying for their faith, largely at the hands of Muslims, at a rate of 100,000 per year; and, most of all, by the reality that these things are being ignored, trivialized, or celebrated.  These are things that offend me deeply, and I hope they offend you, too.  Righteous anger has a place within the Christian life.  Tap into it.  In the words of Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.”   …

Evangelical Christians comprise a hefty 26 percent of the U.S. population. I fully believe that if they were to find their voices, their courage, and were to dispense with candy-assed Christianity, that we would see a Great Awakening in America.

Agreed.  Christ himself on several occasions was contemptuous with the authorities of the day, and felt no need to be “nice” to the those who wore the trappings but denied the Truth.  The Church should worry less about getting along with the world, and more about challenging that world, whatever the cost.  We need Paul’s persistence, not Osteen’s opulence.

What have we become?

After a very busy day, I made the mistake of checking the news before turning in.  Dallas is the latest reminder that our nation is coming unglued, beset by enemies without and within.

Earlier this week I was leading my family in prayer, and found myself breaking down in tears as I confessed to God I don’t recognize my country anymore.  I’m a student of history, so I know full well we don’t live in the roughest of times.  Yet.  As one commenter put it this evening, “1968 wasn’t fun the first time around.”  All the symptoms of another great storm are here, however.  The clouds have been gathering for some time, and only the grace of God can avert what seems to lie ahead for our land.  We don’t need new regulations… we need renewed repentance.  Policy tinkering won’t address the real issues… but prostrating ourselves before the Lord can.

Christians, are you in prayer?  Is your heart breaking?  Not just because of a sense of losing your country, but because it seems the Evil One is poised for another of his days, and his goal is the same as it ever was: to “steal, kill and destroy” — to keep away from God and destroy as many precious lives as he can.  If there is any good that can come out of the lawlessness and terror that is on the increase, it is that people may be jolted from the vanity fair long enough to ask in earnest: what have we become?

The Golden Rule and context

Once again the Left demonstrates their hypocritical position that religion doesn’t belong in public policymaking… unless it can be twisted or contorted to support their position:

President Barack Obama said that his understanding of the Bible and his Christian beliefs led him to issue the directive at public schools calling on students to be allowed to use the bathroom of their choosing regardless of their biological sex.

“My reading of scripture tells me that that [the] Golden Rule is pretty high up there in terms of my Christian belief,” he said during a town hall in Elkhart, Indiana, according to Breitbart News on Thursday.

One-world globalists would have you believe the Golden Rule is the common thread in all faiths and cultures, and thus the highest arbiter of law – a universalism of “be nice to each other.”  It is not.  Let’s go to scripture directly, shall we?

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Yes, God expects us to put others ahead of self.  That is clearly taught throughout scripture.  The basis for doing so, however, is devotion to God (the “great and first commandment”).  Such devotion includes respect for ALL of God’s nature and His word — including the part of scripture that clearly states: “male and female He created them” (and not 58 shades of in between as some today would have us believe).

I don’t profess to understand the psychology behind various gender confusion disorders.  I do know they all have this in common: they are but one group of symptoms of this fallen, sin-drenched world that is a distortion of God’s intended creation.  That world would have us all believe the so-called “Golden Rule” means we should never say or do anything to cause another to be troubled (unless that person holds to an orthodox, historic Christian worldview, of course).  That is merely Satan’s way of trying to prevent believers from acting as agents of conviction on behalf of the Holy Spirit.  NOBODY likes to hear they ‘fall short of the glory of God,’ whether their particular shortcoming has to do with something sexual (including inappropriate heterosexual expressions such as adultery) or is simply a lack of self control over anger, materialism, or other manifestations of selfishness.

Granted, many believers are less than loving when addressing such issues, and they become the gongs Paul warned of.  But how is it “loving your neighbor as yourself” when you fail to note there is something between them and the God who loves them–that could separate them from His eternal presence?  How is it ‘loving’ to play along with what used to be more honestly described as mental issues?  Remaining silent and playing along simply allows the emperor to continue making a fool of himself, not realizing he has no clothes.

Treating each other “nicely” is not the measure of salvation or devotion to God (though it is fruit that results from that right relationship).  As the prophets of old were often opposed (and suffered) for speaking uncomfortable truth to society, so it is for believers today.  And with our leaders twisting Scripture to justify their own assaults on reality, it’s only going to get more difficult.  There was a time our people were grounded well enough in Scripture to recognize when it was being used inappropriately.  Now the masses are ignorant, open to the age-old ploy of “did God actually say…?”

Though we hardly deserve it, may God grant yet another revival in this land.

Answering the question

Many people, including me, are asking frequently this year how our electoral choices came to be so ridiculously horrid.  Where is the honorable candidate?  The one who has been consistently honest and not self-serving?  Why are there no leaders we can trust?

We have to admit we ourselves are at least partially to blame.  Humanity is a lousy judge of character, because the “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.  Who can understand it?”

Let’s face it, at least today of all days: when the Perfect Leader showed up, many centuries ago, this is what we did to Him:

Crucifixion-3-Crosses

We were offered the Bread of Life, and the crowd called for Barabbas instead.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to realize our choices have been ever-more problematic since then.  Just remember that Christ still wears the crown He won that day, and no matter who wins the Presidency, they will one day bow the knee to the One who is Faithful and True.