One Lone Voice

OneLoneVoice

One of my daughters decided to comment on someone’s outspoken support of Friday’s Supreme Court decision on one of her social media accounts. She was polite and kind and truthful, using God’s Word as her guide.

What she got was–

HATE.

Malicious, hostile, cruel hate.

I find it so extremely interesting that the cry is to love, love, love. But somehow that love does not extend to those who disagree. No matter how lovingly and gently you state your disagreement.

I want to unequivocally state here that I am not against people who support gay marriage. I know and care deeply about several people who live gay lifestyles. I do not have to agree with you to love you.

Somehow we have grown just a bit confused about what love really is.

Love and tolerance are the words of the day, but those two words that are thrown about by this group are not extended to Christians who simply want to practice their faith. In my mind, the vicious attacks made upon Jesus Christ and His followers are a great confirmation that we are on the right path. Few others are maligned the way we are these days.

The coming trials and persecution are going to give us many opportunities. We are going to be able to share Christ’s love and the Gospel with those who are confused and hurting. And we will be used by God in a mighty way if the Gospel is lived out in our lives like never before.

But are we brave enough for this daunting task before us?

Since the Bible Challenge began in January, I have been writing about what we are reading on Thursdays. But on Saturday I read something in my Bible reading that is so fitting— so pertinent— so applicable— to what we are going to face soon in this nation as true believers that I just had to write about it today.

In I Kings 22, we read of a man named Micaiah. As a little background, we read first of Ahab and Jehoshaphat discussing whether or not to join forces against the King of Syria. To confirm their decision, they decide to ask the prophets of the land. All 400 men– four hundred men who claim to be men of God– tell Ahab that he will experience victory. There is not even one voice of dissension.

But there is one man by the name of Micaiah, who has not been asked. Ahab even states that he hates to ask this man of God anything because he always gives him an answer he doesn’t like! (I Kings 22:8) But with Jehoshaphat’s encouragement, Micaiah is brought before the two kings.

Micaiah chooses to speak truth, rather than tickle the Kings’ ears, even though he is going against the message of the 400 men who call themselves men of God. The truth of the matter is that Ahab will not return home from that battle alive. Micaiah bravely shares this bad news with the King. He is the one lone voice of truth.

In reaction to this unpleasant news, the King throws Micaiah into prison.

A few days later, Ahab is killed in battle.

There is so much to learn from this biblical account, in light of what we are facing in America today. Here are a few of the lessons that came to mind–

1. We need to speak truth, no matter how many people disagree with us. Our truth does not come from visions and supernatural messages anymore but from the Word of God–the inspired and inerrant Book that God has protected throughout the ages. It doesn’t matter if the whole world disagrees with us– we still speak the truth as it is presented in the Bible.

2. We speak truth, knowing full well to do so could be at our own peril. Micaiah landed in prison because he chose to spoke the truth. Are we prepared to lose our freedoms, our reputations, our jobs, our comforts, our wealth, our friends, and our families? We are moving into a strange new land. It is not the land of our grandparents. And to follow Christ is going to mean sacrifice. Are we ready for this? Even as I write this, I realize that to do this will require the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in my life, giving me the courage and grace I need. Because when I think about this in my own strength, I tremble. Will I be strong enough to bear what’s coming?

3. We cannot alter our message to please the hearers. Micaiah could have tried to soften the blow and just hedged around, but he did not. While he wasn’t mean or unkind, he was forthright. If you recall, our ultimate example, Jesus, was very much the same way.

4. The majority does not represent God. The 400 men who told Ahab to expect victory were very obviously wrong. The majority can be– and often is– wrong! I am not sure what it is about peer pressure, but humans have this strange “herd” mentality where they just believe they need to follow the crowd. But the crowd is rarely right. Micaiah stood against the crowd. And so should we.

5. So-called revelations are not trust-worthy. These 400 prophets claimed to have special revelation from God. But they were lying. Just because someone says that God gave them a message doesn’t mean He did! These men were either lying to please the King or had been given a false message from demonic sources. Whatever it was, they were not trustworthy and we should take a lesson from this. With so many running around saying they have heard a special message from God–and particularly if it goes against God’s Word–we can know that they have not had a message from God. It may have come from their own selfish thoughts or from a demonic spirit but it certainly did not come from God.

6. The consequences of sin are real and Jesus is the only way, no matter what we choose to believe.  Ahab chose to believe that the majority was telling the truth but he was still dead by end of the day. Have you ever heard someone say that “whatever you believe is true for you?” I do not understand how a logical, thinking person could be brainwashed into believing such garbage, but most of our young people today do believe this. (This fact gives great proof to the brainwashings of our public education system and higher institutes of learning, in my opinion.) Truth is truth. It cannot be swayed or changed or twisted. And it certainly isn’t going to bow the knee to my whims and desires. Ahab was set to die and his choice to not believe Micaiah’s message would not change the outcome. And so we, too, are going to pay a very real price for our sin unless we come to the Savior. We can choose to believe this or choose not to believe this but, in the end, it doesn’t change the truth.

Fellow believers, we live in a frightening time. While many of our brothers and sisters in other lands have faced persecution and hard times for following Christ, we have lived in our comfortable homes, freely worshipping and sharing our faith. But the storm that was off in the distance for such a long time has now settled in upon us. Oh, it may not affect you directly…today. And you will be able to fool yourself for a few more months, or if we are fortunate, a few more years. But I encourage you to get in the Word of God and to grow your knowledge of His great strength and help in the time of trials. I encourage you to deepen your relationship with God and to grow a strong prayer life. Prepare to be the one lone voice in your churches, your families, your work places.

Because it’s coming.

It’s just a matter of time now.

 

Brief Thoughts on the Supreme Court Ruling (It’s Not All Bad)

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As most of you know by now, the Supreme Court just ruled this morning that marriage can be between any two people, regardless of sex.

This is disheartening, to say the least, but certainly not surprising. With the steep downward decline of this culture, this should have been expected.

So what does this mean?

If means that, as believers who stand firmly on God’s Word, we are going to be called a lot more names, be targeted by government and liberal organizations, and start losing our rights to operate our businesses and churches as we choose (which has already been happening, anyway).

Our churches will eventually be forced underground and our kids forced into public education systems that will brainwash them. Study the histories of Rome and Germany if you’d like some idea of how this is going to end. While we are not a carbon copy of either culture, there are eery similarities that do not bode well for this great nation.

But what else is going to happen?

There are a couple of things about this decision that are positive. Yes, I said positive.

You can be sure that there is going to be a vigorous sifting of believers and those who call themselves believers. The true church will be purified through all of this, because anyone who has taken the Christian label but has never experienced genuine salvation is not going to stick around to take heat for something the world is telling them is normal.

While I am not making a judgment about those who call themselves Christians and believe homosexuality is okay (if they are a true believer, they will eventually be convicted about this and it is certainly not my place to judge each individual), scripture is extremely clear on this issue and this ruling will cause “fake” believers to start falling away.

The other good thing I can see coming out of this ruling is that we Christians will (hopefully) stop arguing about unimportant things. I am sometimes amazed at the debates and fights that take place within the church walls that are so unnecessary. Things that just do not really matter. But can’t you see this unifying our churches? Somehow the little stuff will fall away in the light of losing our right to free speech and the other rights we have so long enjoyed in this country as a church body.

I do believe that this ruling is the beginning of unifying and purifying the true church.

It reminds me of something I once heard Mark Lowry say in a concert. He compared the church to a river of water. When the river is above ground it is wide and shallow and often very muddy. But when it moves underground, it becomes narrow, pure, and crystal clear.

It also reminds me of something I recently heard Jan Markell say:

Things are not falling apart, they are falling into place.

God is sovereign and this did not take Him by surprise. And so, while this wasn’t the greatest news to hear this Friday in June, we need not be devastated because we are not hopeless. We know the Truth and we are on the winning side! But we’d better hang on, because I have a feeling the ride we are on is going to get pretty unpleasant.

 

Leaving Jerusalem

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If you are still with me in the Bible Challenge, we are in the midst of the gripping tale of David’s life. From a shepherd boy to a King on the run, we have read all of his well-known tales. We have read of him killing a giant, committing adultery and then murdering the woman’s husband, and we have read of the heart-breaking treachery of his son, Absalom.

It was hard to pick what to write about today. But there was one obscure passage in 2 Samuel that really stood out to me. Especially in our current situation as believers.

So I am writing today about Ittai the Gittite.

Have you ever even heard of him? This is not really that memorable of a story, as “larger than life” stories go. Let me set up the background–

Absalom, over the course of a few years, undermined his father’s authority and got enough men on his side to attempt to overthrow the King. Instead of fighting his own son, David makes the decision to just abdicate in order to protect the people of Jerusalem. He pulls all of his house together, with the exception of 10 concubines left to care for the palace. Along with him, showing their loyalty and serving as his body guards and corps d’elite were the Cherethites, Pelethites, and Gittites.*

As they walked out of the city, David stopped Ittai, the leader of the Gittites, telling him to go back into the city. Here is the conversation between the two (from 2 Samuel 15)–

Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. 20 You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” 21 But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” 

Whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.

What an incredible testimony of loyalty. Ittai chose to follow David out of the safe zone, knowing full well that it would most likely mean hardship, wandering, and even death.

This struck me, because in a lot of ways, I feel like we are soon going to be forced to follow Jesus out of American culture very soon. Oh, we may not be forced to physically leave, but the storm clouds we saw on the horizon only a few short years ago are now starting to bring fierce wind and dark, dark skies. Life is changing here. And the message is Get on Board or Be Persecuted.

Gone forever are the days of the beautiful religious freedom we enjoyed from the inception of this country. They are over. You do realize that, don’t you? They aren’t returning, no matter who is voted into office. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but this ship has left the dock and it’s not coming back. Not without a supernatural miracle from God (My God is that big, so I don’t rule it out, but I don’t expect it either– not when I read the plan of the future as recorded in the Word of God).

I think it is time to follow our King out of Jerusalem. It’s such a heart-breaking time for those of us, the remnant, that remains faithful to the Word of God, isn’t it? We have become such a minority that sometimes we find ourselves wondering if we are even right, after all? But then we turn back to the Word and we read of church history, and we can see that this is exactly what we should expect. We Christians have really, here in America, been living a rare, cushy, comfortable existence. This has not been the norm for most of our Christian brothers and sisters throughout history, in foreign lands currently, or as recorded for the church’s future.

So are you ready to follow your King, whether it bring life or death? Are you ready for hardship, persecution, and wandering? Are you ready for slander, scathing remarks, intolerance for your views, and false accusations? Because if you have plans to remain faithful to the Jesus of the Bible, it will come. Some of you have experienced a bit of this already.

Are you going to be like Ittai– a loyal soldier for the King or are you going to tuck tale and run back into the comfort zone of the city? You will soon have to make a choice. Are you prepared?

Read and study the Bible, read biographies of great Christians who have gone before us, read classic authors of yesteryear. If you need ideas, check out my favorite books-where I have added a couple of new suggestions for you just this morning.

By reading and studying you will grow deeper, fixed roots of faith. These will hold you steady in the wind that is starting to blow. There is no time to waste. The perilous storm is almost here.

 

*As explained from the following websites: Jewish Encyclopedia and Bible Hub.

The Win (and what to do until then)

the win

Isn’t it interesting how schools cycle through their glory years? One year the guys’ basketball team or girls’ soccer team is undefeated and there is enthusiastic school spirit supporting them. And then a season or two later all the glory has ended. Key players or a coach moves on and the dynamics change and suddenly they aren’t the team on top anymore.

The same dynamic plagues most professional sports teams, as well. I am a Philadelphia Phillies fan–no matter if they win or lose. But right now it is bad. Let’s just say that we aren’t watching a lot of baseball this year. It’s just not near as much fun as when they were really doing well and headed to the World Series.

And we are left with one conclusion–

Winning is glorious and losing is not.

A lot of the stories of King David are tales of victory over enemies. Just yesterday, we read of how the Ammonites asked the Syrians to fight with them and after being soundly defeated, we read that the Syrians were afraid “to save the Ammonites anymore” (2 Samuel 10:19). I guess I would have been, too. David had a reputation of being victorious. But King David doesn’t win every battle. We will soon read of his battle with lust that he loses in a big way (2 Samuel 11).  And let’s not forget that just a few years earlier he was fighting for his life as he was chased down by Saul. He eventually became King, but it certainly wasn’t without grief and struggle.

This is what makes life so hard. We win some and we lose some. But some battles are so much more important than others. And what are we to do when we feel like we are losing such critical battles? The battles for–

Our country

Our churches

Our freedom

The hearts of our kids

Our marriages

 

We are losing some of these battles pretty soundly right now. Have you read the news lately?

But we know that we win the war. That is worth repeating: We are going to win this war between good and evil.

We can’t lose sight of this. No, God does not promise us that our kids will be saved or that our spouse will stick around. He doesn’t promise that our churches will preach sound doctrine or that our country will return to its Christian roots. But what we do know– without a shadow of a doubt– is that God will reign victorious in the end. Every knee will bow to the King and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Isaiah 45:23; Philippians 2:10-11).

When we consider this very important truth, we naturally come to the conclusion that the only thing that really matters is whether or not those around us are going to confess Jesus Christ as Lord before it’s too late.

So often, we worry so much about the outward stuff that indicates serious problems– the bad grades, the drug and alcohol abuse, the debt and materialism, the false doctrines, the laws, the liberalism. And we try to fix things. We try to fix our kids and spouses. We try to fix our churches and our government.

But is anything truly fixed without a changed heart? A child can change behavior without ever changing his heart. A government can make laws that are more compatible with our beliefs, but will that really solve our country’s problem?

I don’t think so. Because the reason we are having such deep, heart-breaking issues– both in our families and beyond– is that people believe in a lie. They have chosen to reject the Word of God and they believe the lies of the world. They believe these lies of the devil–

–That their purpose and fulfillment is what matters (which leads to self-centered, self-absorbed individuals only out for themselves)

–That their kids’ happiness reigns supreme (which leads to spoiled brats who think the world revolves around them and want the world but are not willing to work for it)

–They believe unity is more important than biblical integrity and that loves trumps holiness (which leads to a shallow, fake religion pretending to be Christianity)

–They believe that the Bible is just partly true. That it has errors. They believe that God just got the ball rolling and then put the creation of the world into the hands of some kind of evolutionary process (placing doubt on The Bible removes the foundation for true Christianity)

–They believe that you get to heaven for doing good things. That they simply need the good to outweigh the bad (this is a insidious and very old lie — that your righteous works will win your salvation)

–They believe that God would never want them to be unhappy (this leads our faith to become me-centered rather than centered on the almighty God of the universe)

–They believe that man is basically good and that sins are simply diseases and disorders (the sinfulness of man is a key component of true Christianity and cannot be overlooked without forfeiting biblical salvation completely)

–They believe that their happiness will be found here on this earth (but Jesus said “blessed are you when you are persecuted, for your reward will be in heaven”. See Matthew 5:11-12)

 

I challenge you to talk to someone that calls him or herself a “Christian” but doesn’t live like it. Somewhere in their thinking is a lie (or two or three) that they are believing.

It is impossible to fight the battle for someone’s soul if they are believing lies. We have to start at the beginning. And that beginning is the Word of God. For that is where we find the truth. This means that we need to know it and study it and understand it ourselves.

And so while we wait for The Win, let’s fight the battle for the truth–God’s Truth. Let’s fight for the hearts of our kids, for our marriages and families. Let’s fight for it in our churches and in our country. Do it sweetly and kindly and gently. But let’s never, ever forget that we are in a war.

And never forget– we win!

 

Be Careful Who You Follow (a.k.a. The Lure of Charisma)

whitehouse

I will always remember the day that I saw a young African-American senator on the Oprah Winfrey show. I remember thinking just how likable and charming he seemed. I had my doubts that we agreed on much of anything, given his political leanings, but I did imagine that he would get far in his political career as he sat there conversing easily with Oprah.

And he did get far– all the way to the Whitehouse.

I am not going to go into his policies and presidential career but I do want to point out that I firmly believe that one of the reasons this president got so far in the world of politics is because of his charisma. You see, when people have this gift of attracting others, people flock to them like sheep following a shepherd. He could lead them over a cliff and they would follow.

The general public has become “non-thinking” and so we attach ourselves to anyone who looks nice, speaks well, and says what we want to hear. I can think of many preachers that have had much success in their careers because of this dynamic.

As I was thinking about this, I have to wonder: when did we stop looking at the character of a man before soaking up all he has to say? When did what he says and how he says it become our litmus test for validity? When did personality trump character?

I think charisma has always had a place in helping a man succeed.  But somewhere along the way we forgot that a man’s (or woman’s) character needs to match their words, or we are just being fed lies.

Why do we follow a man who makes promises he doesn’t keep? Why do we follow a preacher who says the Lord will bless those who give but hoards so much for himself (or herself) that they have multi-million dollar properties?

Why in the world have we totally neglected the invaluable virtue of integrity?

I do have a little theory on this. I think somewhere in the last 50 years, we have been sold the lie that our individual happiness, success, and advancement is the most important thing. Oh, we care about the community, our church family, and our country, but not if it is at the expense of our own selfish gain. And while we were being subtly trained to focus on ourselves, Christian doctrine was changed ever so slowly and surely to be more palatable. The focus on a character of integrity for figures in the public eye became a non-essential — after all, we all sin.

And so as we grew more and more self-focused, we cared less and less about anything below the surface of a person. If they speak well and say what I want to hear then that is all that matters. What they do in their own private life is their business. But I beg to differ because a lack of integrity in their personal life surely leads to a lack of integrity in their public life. 

If I told you that we regularly cheat on our taxes (We don’t! This is just an example!) would you read my blog anymore? I hope not.

So where am I going with this? I seem to be rambling a bit this morning, don’t I?

I guess I can summarize this into four points–

1. Know the character of those you admire. Ask yourself if he (or she) demonstrates the all-important fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in his life? Is he humble? Forgiving? Generous? Is his family an honor to the Lord? Does his words agree with God’s Word?

2. Never idolize any man. All men are human and susceptible of falling. Read and listen to godly men, but never base your faith on a man. Only God is deserving of such great faith. Let’s be careful where we place our trust.

3. Now is the time to train ourselves and our families to think, so that we don’t fall prey to the ever-increasing amount of traps for non-thinkers in this world. Let’s become men and women who aren’t swayed by public opinion or peer pressure, but instead lean on God and His Word for our opinions and direction. This is so critical and so lacking in many Christian families today.

4. Let’s take our focus off of ourselves. We have become a culture OBSESSED with self-glory and personal happiness. And Christians are no different. This hurts us in two ways — A) we don’t consider the ramifications of anything outside what affects us personally and immediately. B) And we tend to only want to hear words that we like and have conversations with those with which we agree.

Stay strong, my friends. This isn’t going to get easier. Keep your guard up and be ever-watchful.

 

 

How Then Shall We Respond?

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I normally shy away from writing about current events, but recently I saw an interview by a popular sports announcer regarding the sexual sin in this country. He was straight forward in expressing what God’s Word says and yet very loving in how he presented it. I admire him very much. It took great courage for him to say what he said.

Why?

Because, as Christians, our views are not only unpopular, but considered downright unloving and repressive in the eyes of the world. It has become an anything goes world and if anyone dares to say that something is actually wrong, they are labeled a bigot and many other choice words.

But this sports announcer hit on a very important topic in his little speech. It is this: I still love you, no matter what you do, but don’t call yourself a Christian while living in perpetual sin. That’s where it gets tough, doesn’t it?

These people want to call themselves believers, even though they go against everything in God’s Word.

So how do we respond?

For me, it is so much easier to extend grace to those who do not claim to be believers. How could they know what is right and wrong if they have not heard? Many in this country today have only a vague notion of who Jesus Christ is. Many have assumed that evolution and abortion and homosexuality are all quite normal views, because Christians have become so marginalized. It is a sad state of affairs, but a good majority of people do not realize that a Christian world view was normal just a short time ago in this country. And so they are doing what they have been taught to do by our public schools, our talk shows, and our magazines–look out for number one: themselves.  And honestly, can you blame them?  They don’t know any better.

The problem comes for me when people who call themselves Christians do the same thing. Scripture assures us that a true believer will not live a lifestyle of perpetual sin (I Corinthians 6:9; Matthew 7:16-20; I John 2:3-6). YES, Christians make mistakes and may get caught up in something for awhile, but the Holy Spirit convicts us and changes us, so that we cannot stay in that state for a lifetime. If we are doing something wrong, the Spirit’s presence creates in us such an unrest that we can’t find peace until we confess our sin. This is the marvelous, amazing work of the Spirit in the life of a true believer.

So how do we respond to these people who claim Christianity, while going against everything God stands for?

Many of us grow disgusted and angry. How dare they sully the name of my Lord with their profane and ungodly lives? Many of us say absolutely nothing. Hey, if they want to do such and such, it’s their lives. Many of us grow confused. Maybe what I was taught all of these years wasn’t really the right thing, after all, if the whole world says it’s wrong?

Thankfully, scripture shows us in many places what our proper response should be–

COLOSSIANS 4:5-6  Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

II CORINTHIANS 6:14  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

2 THESSALONIANS 3:14-15 if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

I CORINTHIANS 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

 I CORINTHIANS 16:13-14 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.

Could it be that God knew our human response is to grow angry in the face of opposition? Is that why the words “let all you do be done with love” is added after Paul’s exhortation to stand fast in the faith?

Note that in all of these verses, there is nothing about anger or malice. There is also a strong recommendation to avoid the company of those who claim to be a believer but aren’t living like one. This doesn’t mean we can’t be friends with them–we still need to pray for them and love them and talk with them but I do believe it means that we do not seek their company. They are not our closest confidantes and we should not turn to them for advice or to share our deepest struggles and joys.

This is a crazy, crazy world. I knew it was going the wrong direction even as a teenager, but not even I could have guessed the deplorable condition we would find ourselves in this many years later. As I watch brothers and sisters in Christ suffer persecution across the world, it is with the awareness that an immense thundercloud is just above our heads in this country.  We are kidding ourselves if we think the toleration that is extended to everyone else will be extended to us. God’s Word is clear that we will be hated in this world.

And so it comes down to this: do we stand or do we cave? Do we speak truth or do we back ourselves into a corner and try to remain inconspicuous?

And if we stand and speak, we are commanded to do so with love. Love for a lost world, love for blinded people who think they are going to heaven, love for those we meet each and every day who have no idea that Jesus can truly change their lives.

And we need to remember that the biblical definition of love is quite different than what the world is telling us. True love tells the truth. Worldly love says any opinion is valid.  True love extends grace and mercy. Worldly love is conditional. True love speaks with kindness and gentleness. Worldly love turns hostile and malicious in the face of disagreement.

May we stand strong but may we do so with true and biblical love!

 

 

Fill ‘Er Up

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I heard a little ding. My eyes went to the dash. Great. I was on empty. Really empty. I had just left the house to pick up my daughter from basketball practice and remembered that this low fuel light had been on for quite awhile. I was probably not going to even make it to the school.

Does God care about that stuff? I am pretty sure He does, as I have had so many “inconsequential” prayers answered that it defies coincidence. But, at any rate, I pictured that precious gas station just a few blocks away from the school and put in my petition, “Lord, if there is any way I can just make it to that gas station…but, of course, if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world…”

This was the closest I had come to running out of gas in a long time. I don’t like to cut things that close.  I grabbed on to the steering wheel and coaxed the car along, “you can make it!” Yes, I think…if I remember correctly…I was talking to my car. Good thing I was alone.

Imagine my delight when I pulled up by that gas pump. I sighed with relief. I had made it. I reached for my purse…

You have got to be kidding me.

It wasn’t there. In my hurry to leave, I had forgotten my purse and all forms of payment. All forms. “Okay, stop, breathe. You can figure this out. Check your emergency money fund.”

Normally, I keep at least a few dollars in emergency money. But, alas, (and of course!) it was empty. The time I need it most, the only thing available to me was a handful of change.

So now what?

I called my son, “can you bring me my purse?”

“Aw, mom. Go to the school and see if you can borrow ten bucks from someone. If you can’t, I’ll come rescue you.”

I had doubts I would even make it to the school, much less back to the gas station. But, what choice did I have? And, at least by this point, I had a back-up plan in place, thanks to my son. That made me feel a whole lot better.

And so I tentatively set off for the school. There I found a Good Samaritan in the form of one of my daughter’s friend’s Dad. He graciously lent me a twenty with a smile. I gathered my daughter and headed off for my third uncertain journey of the day.

As I pulled up beside that pump for the second time that day and filled the car with the precious liquid it needs to get me anywhere, I slumped in the driver’s seat, thanking the Lord.

This wasn’t do or die. I had a rescuer if I needed it. It was just one of those annoying things in life. And the worst thing about it: it was totally my fault. I had let it get too close to empty. I had left the house without my purse. My emergency fund was dry.

I was reminded of this incident a few weeks ago, when I heard one of my dear friends talk about remaining godly during illness. She has suffered greatly this past year with a strange illness that came by surprise and continues to hold a grip on her life.  She gave a wonderful presentation, but one thing she said especially stuck with me.

Be prepared.

Before anything rocks your world to its core, make sure you are prepared.

How do we do that?

Know God (Philippians 3:10); Fill our minds with the right things (Philippians 4:8); Study His Word (2 Timothy 3:16); Memorize passages of Scripture (Psalm 119:11); Walk with Him daily (John 15:4).  Grow as a believer (I Corinthians 3:2); Care for those in need and hate the world (James 1:27).

Sometimes I think we get so caught up in this busy and very warped world, that we forget what is really important…until it is too late.

But I see very threatening clouds on the horizon of this country. I don’t mean to sound like I am predicting doom, but I guess you would have to have your head buried in the sand to not realize that it is probably going to get a lot tougher for us Christians. Are you going to be ready? Will you be able to stand boldly for Christ? Will I?

What about just the normal stuff? Will we be ready for the inevitable trials and tragedies that come at one time or later to all of us?

Only time will tell. But I want to be ready! I don’t want to be stuck with an empty tank of gas beside a gas pump without any form of payment. Now that would be stupid.

 

Wednesday Wisdom: Believers are the true realists

During these uncertain days, I can’t help but turn to A.W. Tozer and read a few thoughts that he has to say on the arrogance of man and the plans of God, as written down in Revelation. I hope you enjoy these words from his book entitled “Jesus is Victor!” Let’s not forget that we know the ending of the story!

Living in this generation, we are fully aware that the competitive world and our selfish society have brought many new fears to the human race. I can empathize with those troubled beings who lie awake at night worrying about the possible destruction of the race through some evil, misguided use of the world’s store of nuclear weapons. The tragedy is that they have lost all sense of the sovereignty of God! I, too, would not sleep well if I could not trust moment by moment in God’s sovereignty and omnipotence and in His grace, mercy and faithfulness.

The prevailing attitudes of fear, distrust and unrest permeating our world are known to all of us. But in God’s plan some of us also know a beautiful opposite: the faith and assurance found in the church of Jesus Christ. God still has a restful “family” in His church. As believers we gladly place our confidence in God’s revelation of Himself. Although the material world has never understood our faith, it is well placed in the Scriptures. The Bible tells us many things we could learn in no other way.

This amazing Revelation—the final section of the holy Scriptures—tells us plainly that no human being and no world government or power will have any control or any say in that fiery day of judgment yet to come upon the earth. John’s vision of things to come tells us clearly and openly that at the appropriate time the direction and administration of this world will be taken away from men and women and placed in the hands of the only Man who has the wisdom and power to rightly govern. That Man is the eternal Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation describes the age-ending heavenly and earthly events when our Lord and Savior is universally acknowledged to be King of kings and Lord of lords. All will acclaim Him victor. God’s Revelation leaves us with no doubt about that.

In our present period of time, however, there is little recognition of God’s sovereignty or of His plan for His redeemed people. Go into the marketplace, into our educational institutions and—yes—even into our popular religious circles, and you will find a growing tendency to make mankind large and to make God small. Human society is now taking it for granted that if God indeed exists, He has become our servant, meekly waiting upon us for our will.

In the face of this kind of human thinking, I want to make a case for the committed Christians in this world. We are the true realists. We confess that we do not hold the powers of life and death in our own hands. We have sensed the importance of John’s vision in the Revelation. We are assured that God is alive and well and that He has never abdicated His throne. While others may wonder and speculate concerning God’s place in the universe, we are assured that He has never yielded to any of His creatures His divine rights as Lord of man and nature.

It is for this reason that the Christian believer, related to God by faith, is assured of final victory. Even in the midst of earthly trials, he or she is joyful.

—Jesus Is Victor!

 

Find this book on Amazon here.

 

Wednesday Wisdom: Are we digging our own grave?

We all remember Kirk Cameron as the immature teenager on Growing Pains. I love the fact that, not only has he become a born-again believer, but his profession of faith is so much more than words. The guy actually lives what he preaches! Imagine that?? I get his newsletter in my inbox and yesterday I received this article. I am including just a bit of it. You can click on the link at the bottom to read the whole thing. It seems to me that he has hit the nail on the head when it comes to the state of this nation. A very timely post, given that next week at this time, the election will be over:

I look around my neighborhood. I see bumper stickers on cars, political signs planted on street corners,  and I hear conversations at the coffee shop and soccer field that leave me feeling so… sad. I have the eerie feeling that  I’m watching my community and country dig their own grave. And they’re really killing themselves to do it. They’re putting a ton of effort into their work. They’re exhausting themselves to keep abortion legal. They think raising taxes and spending other people’s money is a good idea. They tirelessly work to be “loving and tolerant” of things that will hurt their own families and dishonor God. And the crazy thing is, I think most of them really do love America. But they don’t realize that in all their misguided efforts, they’re actually digging her grave.

On November 6th, those who vote will choose life or death for our many of our freedoms in this land. This presidential election outcome will have huge consequences. We have two men with very different ideas about what America should be. The right man could provide the fuel to get our country back on track, and the wrong man could prove to be the final nail in her coffin.

I can now speak from experience… digging graves is hard work. Especially when the name on the tombstone belongs to someone you love. Please don’t dig America’s grave. Learn the principals that have resulted in freedom, blessing, and the protection of God for 400 years. If we love America, we can avoid her early death through personal repentance, family prayer, and community action.

A wise president once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction… If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

Read more: http://kirkcameron.com/2012/10/are-we-digging-our-own-grave/#ixzz2As891W00

Wednesday Wisdom: Every Christian’s Role

The other day I was flipping around on Sirius radio. There isn’t a whole lot on there worth listening to, so I was fairly limited in choices. I came upon Family Talk Radio and started listening to an unfamiliar voice say some very interesting things. I found out later that the pastor was Dr. Robert Jeffress from First Baptist Church in Dallas. I do not know anything about him. What I do know is that this excerpt is certainly worth sharing with you. While Dr. Jeffress was specifically addressing pastors and leaders, his words are great wisdom for all of us.  I copied down a short section to share with you:

But preaching biblically based messages on controversial topics, encouraging your members to vote, challenging laws that violate God’s laws, are just some the ways that you can fulfill your role as a prophet.

Now at the risk of offending some, let me be blunt.  Pastor, you will never be criticized by the world for building a homeless shelter, you will never be criticized by this culture for asking your members to give sacrificially to build water wells in Africa. In fact, the culture will applaud you as a pastor for doing those things because that’s what a pastor is supposed to do: encourage nice people to do nice things. That is their idea of a pastor.

No one is going to criticize you for that. But if you dare stand up and point your finger at the culture and say “This is wrong, thus saith the Lord,” you’d better be ready to suffer. You may be suffering, not the loss of your life as the Old Testament prophets did, but be prepared to suffer the loss of  your reputation, your career, your livelihood.

That’s why Paul said in Second Timothy 4, verses 2 and 5, be prepared to endure hardship. Timothy was told that if he fulfilled his role as a prophet it was going to get hard at times. But that’s the pastor’s role, not only as a preacher but as a prophet. *

He’s right, we’d better be ready to suffer, because if we are willing to live and vocalize this kind of Christianity, we are not going to be very popular.  But, then again, we should be much more worried about what God thinks than what others think, anyway.

We need to pray for our pastors and leaders, for our families and our friends, that we would all stay strong in this tide of tolerance and relativity, no matter the cost.

 

*From the sermon entitled “For Pastors Only, Part 2” by Dr. Robert Jeffress