Friday, November 18, 2016

No Erasing

In youth group I've been teaching lately on how the youth define success for their life, how they would want their lives summed up, etc. Last night we looked at things like the parable of the houses built on sand or rock and the idea of Jesus as a cornerstone and foundation. Then I taught on the idea of our lives being like a house we build—how we have decisions like what foundation we will build on, what "materials" we will use to build it, and what our "house" will look like (our image, or His image), etc.

To start that off I gave each of the youth a stubby pencil and a blank piece of paper. I had them envision their dream house, to include location, what it is built out of, and what it looks like. Then I gave them about 10 minutes to sketch it. The requirements were that their sketch had to capture the location, the type of material used, and the general look of it.

There was also one rule, and it turned out to be the most powerful part. The pencils had no erasers and I told them that even if they brought an eraser they couldn't use it. If they made a mistake they had to incorporate it into the drawing—make it something beautiful.

I think this spoke to a lot of us. We can't erase our mistakes, or often the consequences of them. But, given over to God, they can become a part of something beautiful. They become our testimony, a testimony to His power and goodness, a place of learning and growing.

This was powerful to a lot of us, and I felt like God gave me that idea as I was planning, and I wanted to share it with you in case it might bless you, too. Thanks for sharing in my life. God bless you.

Monday, November 7, 2016

No Matter What Happens . . .

No matter what happens in the elections tomorrow, our basis of hope doesn't change. If the candidate you want to win in fact wins, you have no more hope than you did before. If the candidate you want to win loses, you have no less hope then you did before. Not if your hope is in God.

I was blessed to attend a meeting last Saturday with others who are looking at how abortion might be abolished. One video that was shown was from a lawyer in Texas and some of the things he shared were stunning, eye opening, and took me to a place of remembering the Israelites wanting a king like other nations. (Please know that in what I am about to share I am not attacking a political party, but giving Christians some much needed clarity on where our hope really lies.)

In the video (and according to web pages I researched since seeing it) this man showed how in the last 48 years the Supreme Court has, for over half of those years, been filled with a majority of Republican appointed justices. In both major decisions that have "legalized" (then upheld) the abortion holocaust in our nation (Roe v. Wade in 1973, then Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992) there were a majority Republican appointed justices—in Roe v. Wade there were seven Republican appointed and two Democrat appointed. Only two justices voted against it, and one of those two was a Democrat! Then, in PP v. Casey, a chance to undermine Roe v. Wade, eight of the nine justices were Republican appointed! And, of the five who voted basically in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade, all were Republican appointees. In fact, in many (if not most, I would guess) of the chances to "legally" undercut abortion that have reached the Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade, the majority of the court in each time that didn't grab that moment were Republican appointees. And, I would guess (without researching) that in many of the other "values" issues decisions that Christians abhor, the majority on the court has been Republican appointed as well . . . and we've seen that even during a Republican controlled Congress our nation has only shifted farther and farther from the values we believe are God-honoring.

Please believe me when I say that I share this not to bash the Republican Party. For the most part I believe the Democratic Party is far worse on the values issues Christians should value, though in my heart I don't think either truly honors God. The Democrats as a party (not talking about individuals in either party) might be stronger advocates for the needy, etc., but that depends, I guess, on how you feel the needy are best helped. More on that in a moment.

My point in this is that our hope doesn't lie in any man, woman, or party. It is in God alone. As Christians we have prostituted ourselves out to anyone who'd "pay" us with some lines and promises we want to hear, then used and discarded us once our vote is secure. Many of those justices were appointed by the "heroes" of the Republican Presidents list. Many from people who promised us to overthrow Roe v. Wade. We, the army of the living God, are pandered to, paid, used, and cast aside . . . and we are so desperate for some earthly hope we keep running back for more, letting ourselves be used and soiled and sold into false hope over and over.

We keep looking for our earthly "king" who will lead us, be it a man or a party. Israel did the same thing, they wanted an earthly king that they could put their hope in—and God gave them what they wanted and said, in so doing, they had rejected Him as their king.

We can chant all the right verses, and sing all the songs, and be so theologically correct as we say this earth is not our home, etc., etc., but then we put our hope in this earth. I am not saying we shouldn't vote, but I am saying that our hope is not in man, or in a court, or in a party. It is in God alone, and God alone can save our nation. And it won't happen through any election, but when the people of this land repent, confess their sin, and cry out to God.

And we, the church, are lying in the soiled bed we have made, and we have ourselves to blame.
  1. Don't like abortion? Great. Are we willing to take in the pregnant young woman we are telling abortion is wrong to and let her, and then her and her baby, live in our home for a year or two? 
  2. Don't like the welfare system? Great. Are we feeding the poor, reaching out to the homeless? 
  3. Don't like New Age movement? Great. Are we showing people the power of God that our spiritual DNA knows is real so people don't have to look elsewhere for it? Are we healing the sick, confronting demons and seeing them flee? Are the gates of Hell collapsing against the onslaught of the church as Jesus promised they would? 
  4. Don't like the direction our youth are going? Great. Are we mentoring into the lives of the fatherless, the teens on the street, taking them in, giving them rides, hanging out with them and all their ways that are so "offensive" to us?
  5. Don't like the condition of marriage, etc., in our nation? Great. What example are we showing them when our divorce rates match theirs?
  6. Don't like their disrespect for God's written word? Great. What do we expect when we have compromised on it, said it isn't true, selectively picked the verses we believe in, etc.?
  7. Don't like how people are constantly on their cell phones, etc.? Great. What have we shown them in our homes about family meals, keeping the TV off and just being a family, etc.?

Who is it God says is the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the ones who are to serve others, take care of the least, feed the poor, clothe the naked, reach out to the rejected, protect the defenseless, etc.? The church! And if we aren't then we have nobody to blame but ourselves when the government steps into that void we were created to fill. Is that kind of ministry messy, costly, sacrificial, inconvenient? Yes. But if we simply read one of the Gospels we will rapidly see God hasn't called us to walk in any path He didn't walk in Himself . . . and if we are truly following Him, then our life will look the same.

It is time for the church to decide, are we the army of the Living God, or the prostitute of politicians? If the first, we need to start living and hoping like it. If the second, then it is no wonder the nation uses us like a prostitute. But it doesn't start with Washington, it starts with us. And praise God that His mercies are new every morning because no matter what we've been (or not been) before, God draws close to the broken and humble and promises His cooperating presence and power to those that are following Him.


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