Friday, August 5, 2016

I Was

"I was." No, that isn't a misquote of the famous God "I Am" words. I'm talking about me. I'll explain the train of thought that took me to this post . . .

In my reading through the Bible I just finished Jeremiah and began Lamentations. I see so strongly the effect on a nation of turning from God, and the effect when God turns from a nation. I found myself in an internal back and forth that is too familiar to me, "God, have mercy on our nation. But if He does, then everyone will continue in their arrogant and successful life just as they are and will never come to Him. They need to be woken up. But, even 9/11 didn't do that. It only lasted for a bit." On and on that dialogue goes in me, back and forth. If God blesses this nation then everyone continues on just as they are, arrogantly assuming they or a nation are the source of their blessing. But even a true disaster only seems to send people running to God for a short time, until their lives are "blessed" again. I know, in my heart, that what our nation needs is for individuals in it to encounter the Holy Spirit and turn to Jesus. We will only truly change as a nation when the individuals in us change.

As I was thinking about our nation and its current condition I felt the familiar anger rise up. And then, suddenly, it hit me in a very powerful way. I was everything I am angered about in our nation today! I was intellectually proud, and I felt I was the one who could plot my life and make it a success. I was pro people being able to do what they wanted and not having other people tell them what to do—I remember arguing round and round with Mary Ann that prostitution should be legal because it was "their choice." I was pro abortion—not seeing a baby in the womb, but seeing only a women's body and others trying to tell her what to do with it (my perception). I thought I was a moral relativist, believing what was right for some was right for them, but it didn't mean it was right for others—that there was no absolute right and wrong across cultures. (In fact, a professor at West Point confronted me on my stand and it was a wake up moment for me. I write a lot about moral relativism in this blog, but I specifically mention that incident with my professor here, here, and here.) I mocked the Bible, God, and Christians (I flung profanity at a God I claimed I didn't believe in), and I believed in evolution and an old earth. On and on I could go, but I think the point is made. Everything that angers me today . . . I was.

And, as I look back, I realize that no law in the world could have changed me. In fact it would have angered me even more to have someone "shove" their beliefs onto my life in law (I am not arguing that laws shouldn't exist that reflect God's heart, just saying how it wouldn't have changed my heart, even if it forced my compliance). While laws have value—they regulate a society, they protect unborn and other defenseless, they model a moral code to youth—ultimately I don't believe they change a heart, and that is the only thing that changed me. God having mercy on me, an arrogant and blasphemous atheist, put Mary Ann and others into my life and the Holy Spirit drew me to Him and He changed me, from the inside. And that is, I believe, the only hope for our nation in the end—a personal encounter with Jesus by the ones who make up this nation. And then allowing Him to change our hearts into alignment with His. (Even God's Law wasn't an end in itself, it was a tutor or schoolmaster to reveal sin and point us to Jesus.)

I recognize that even among Christians not all agree on everything, but without that at least as a starting point I don't think a change is possible for us. He makes us new creations. He writes His law on our hearts. He teaches us truth. And that brings up then the question, what is my role in drawing people in this nation to Jesus, the ultimate changer of hearts? Because until He came into my heart and changed me, everything that bothers and grieves me today in others in this nation . . . I was.


  1. That is right! I was too. For me this fact informs how I relate with the world and it is why I feel I cannot soften Gods word. I feel like most of Christendom wants to soften the Word to make it easier to accept and essentially conforming Gods Word to the person. No No No! That is the worst thing that can be done as Gods Word is intended to show us the truth about who we are and, as you said, point us to God. With out Christ we would all still be the 'I was' We need Christ in us who is our hope. When we are at rest with the sharpest points of Gods Word we can know He is in us, because no man can live at peace otherwise. Conversely, when the sharp points of Fathers words make us uneasy we can see our need to be healed.

    Trying to reach people for Christ is much like trying to save a drowning person. Though I am not a rescue person myself I have heard the first thing you need to do is be sure you don't put yourself in a dangerous spot that will require your rescue and the second it to prepare to defend yourself from the person you are trying to save as they are in panic mode and likely to harm you as you come close enough to help. We can't join them in there panic but must hold fast to the truth and guide them, with force on occasion, to the truth. (I am not saying we need to physically force people to Christ, but our method of bringing the Truth to them may be forcefully presented.)

    Anyways there is my $.o2

    1. Danny, thank you so much for that. I was blessed by it. Your comment, "...I feel like most of Christendom wants to soften the Word to make it easier to accept and essentially conforming Gods Word to the person" really spoke to me. Often I want to do that myself, for myself. To avoid hard things and to self justify. It is a battle to not do that. I was so struck by how much I mirrored those who so frustrate me today. It was like this explosion, "I was that person!" I've known it generally (in terms of sin, etc.) but today it really struck me that everything that grieves and concerns me in our nation today I once was. And God alone changed me. Thanks, again, for your thoughts. May we grow together and encourage one another in the years ahead. You are a blessing to me. Thanks for your friendship.

  2. This is such a wonderful reminder of a few things. One that stands out to me is that God CAN do miracles! Look at where you were, and where you are now. Pastor, great husband, wonderful dad. And you are in that place where you can now influence others who are where you were. What a wonderful opportunity. Even better is that God places all of us in those places to change lives. And like you said, one life at a time, the changing individuals will change our nation.

    1. Thanks, Bethany! And you, too, are influencing people as you allow God to use you. We can never forget who we would be without God, nor who we are with God! Keep looking for those God moments, and expecting the unexpected!

    2. Yes, you never know when you will have a "God-moment." Even walking down the street in LA! *wink, wink*


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