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Facing the Fear

As our congregation bowed in prayer, I found myself distracted by a sudden thought: where is the closest exit? I sighed with relief as I saw a door nearby through half-closed eyes and then went on to think about what I would do if a gunman entered the church. All while we were supposed to be focused on the Lord. I am not excusing myself, but after Friday, I doubt I am the only one finding myself thinking unfamiliar thoughts about murderers and escape routes. What a world we live in.

I never dreamed last week at this time that my heart could feel so heavy for people I have never even met.  That I would be writing about death and murder and fear during the holiday season.  It just feels…wrong. Jesus came into the world to save us and give us eternal life and, while murder is absolutely horrific any time of the year, it seems especially tragic at Christmastime.

We grieve for families we have never met. We hear the cries for gun control from the media. We see Facebook statuses that promote returning God to our schools. Everyone has an opinion.

But there is one thing I haven’t really heard much about: FEAR.

There have been multiple stories of shootings and assaults– Friday’s was the worst, by far, but there have been others. And, if I am not careful, I can start to become controlled by fear.

When something happens like what happened last Friday, we suddenly become aware that we are not in control of our lives. We could be violently shot down at any time. Life could end for us or our loved ones instantly. We start to fear for ourselves, even more for our children. And then the fear grows as we think about what the world will be like for our children and the worry and anxiety can start overtaking us if we aren’t very careful. Or maybe I should say “I”. I may be alone here. Not really sure.

So what do we do in the face of fear?

This has happened to me in the past and there are a couple of really helpful things I do that I thought I would pass along, just in case I am not alone.

1. I thank the Lord for what I currently enjoy.  There is nothing like a tragedy to remind you of the fragility of life and the wonderful gifts we have been given in our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, and our friends. We need to thank the Lord everyday for these blessings. Somehow — I can’t explain it — fear lessens in a thankful heart.

2.  I memorize God’s Word. When I went through a very fearful time many years ago, I turned to God’s Word and found many scriptures that speak to fear. I memorized a couple of them and when I would be filled with fear, I would start saying them to myself. It was very comforting and I still go to these verses today when I am struggling with fear.

3.  I am very careful about what I watch and listen to.  I am one who becomes very disturbed in my spirit if I hear all of the negative stuff going on. It will give me such a heavy heart. It is very difficult for me to see that someone’s life has been destroyed and then go about my business of the day. Because of this, I rarely watch any news at all. If something especially tragic happens, I usually will hear about it from someone or see it on Facebook. But I try to be very careful about how much news I feed myself, because that feeds the fear.

4.  I discipline my mind. This is so much easier said than done, although, after many years of practice, I have become much better at it.  I find in my life a tiny thought will become a gigantic worry if I am not very careful.  And so I try to turn my mind away from dwelling on any thoughts of fear and worry.  Although, I have to be honest, I am definitely being tested in this — as is obvious by my thought life in church yesterday!

5.  Dwell on the Truth. God knows all. Nothing happens without His knowledge. Yes, the world’s going to get worse but His grace is sufficient. If we are truly saved, then we truly have nothing to fear. He will take care of us and our children. He will see us through. I have read missionary biographies attesting to this fact. I have talked to people going through the worst of circumstances and yet they see God’s faithfulness clearly. We are not alone and bereft. God has not left your heart or this country.

Fear won’t disappear in an instant. It will take time. And we will think we have it beat and then it will crop up again in the face of the next tragedy or accident or disease-stricken relative. It is a battle I fight on a regular basis. But we can’t give in to it. We are called to live in love, not in fear.

 

PSALMS 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

 

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.

 

Where are we placing our trust?

This week is going to be very indicative of the direction the majority of Americans want to take this country.  They will show this by voting for one of two very different men. Will we move towards Socialism or will we continue in the tradition of Capitalism? It is of huge concern to many and there is a tremendous divide between the two camps.  The question hangs in the air today: which direction will it be?

As I wait with nervous anticipation the outcome of Tuesday’s results – the 2012 United States presidential election – I  have to ask myself the question: Where am I placing my trust?

Is it in the man who runs this great land? Is it in the system of Democracy? Is it in the judicial system or in Congress?

Or is it in Someone who is so much greater than any of these?

When I stop and turn my eyes to the Word of God, I find there that God is the maker of the earth and heavens (Genesis 1:1).  He is the One who controls the comings and goings of Kings and Presidents (Daniel 2:21).  God watches over even the lilies of the fields and the tiniest sparrows (Matthew 6:25-30).

This would lead me to believe that God knows exactly what is going on in this country. He is not unaware of our concerns and fears. Isn’t that a comfort? I know it is for me. You see, if we aren’t careful we can find ourselves all upset about something over which we have very little control.  But what does that reaction show the world?

I would submit that it shows them that really, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of living, we don’t quite trust God to know best.

Of course, we don’t always understand. Of course, it doesn’t always look best to us. But there is a huge tapestry that encompasses all of history. We are but a small part. We can’t see the whole thing.

As I write this, I feel like I am just writing clichès — the stuff we have all heard a million times. But does that make it any less true?

Perhaps we need to be reminded that God holds Tuesday’s outcome in His hand, no matter what it is.  Yes, we need to vote. Yes, we need to pray. But, after we have done all we can do, then we need to trust.  Let’s show the world that our trust in God is greater than our fear of man.  We know personally the One who controls the universe and nothing should make us waver!

Will you join me in showing the world that our hope is in the Lord?

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

Have We Been Deceived?

There are a lot of lies floating around in politics today. But there are even more floating around in the world of “Christianity”. Do any of these sound familiar?

1. You are beautiful and important and wonderful.

God says:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:8)

2.  We do not need to study God’s Word, but can read other “spiritual” material instead.

God says:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:10-11)

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. (Hebrews 4:12)

3.  My interpretation of God’s Word can be different than yours, even if it disagrees with basic doctrines that have been held for 2000 years. 

God says:

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.(I Timothy 4:16)

4.  I need to be like the world to win the world.

God says:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (2 Timothy 4:3)

 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13)

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. (I Corinthians 3:18)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (I John 2:15)

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matthew 5:13)

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19)

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

5.  I can do what I want because God is about love and would never send anyone to hell.

God says:

He who says he abides in Him {Jesus} ought himself also to walk just as He walked.(I John 2:6)

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:18-20)

The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God. (Psalm 9:17)

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him (Luke 12:5)

As I searched for all of these scriptures, I realized that it really comes down to this: Do I believe the Bible to be the holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God?

If I don’t, then I can twist and turn it however I want to. I can change doctrines of old to mean whatever I want and I can ignore certain passages that I do not like.

But if I do believe that the Bible is the Holy Word of God, then I have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to know it and to live by its words. I have a responsibility to share the truths found within its pages– all of its pages, not just the passages on loving my brother (which seems to be the only passages that matter to many Christians these days).

Many have denied basic Truths found in the Bible and still call themselves Christians. That is a dangerous, dangerous place to be. Because in Matthew 7, God makes it clear what will happen to many who thought they believed: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Look, it is certainly not for me to judge any individuals. But the deceit I see taking place in what used to be God-fearing, Bible-believing, fundamental churches and denominations is downright frightening. We cannot close our eyes and shut our ears to it!  We can’t pretend like it’s not happening!

God be with you as you follow Him in these dark and dangerous days.

Wednesday Wisdom #8: Thoughts on Church

 The Grace to You ministry has been so helpful to me through the years.  John MacArthur preaches the truth of the Bible without compromise and yet with so much love and humility.  I remember someone once told me that they think he is so “harsh”.  I find myself wondering if anyone who says that could have possibly ever listened to him?  Sure, he says things I don’t like, too, but he bases all he says on the Word of God.  His humility as he teaches the Word of God is unseen in many pastors.  The other day we were listening to a question and answer time with Phil Johnson and John MacArthur.  In this particular Q&A time, the discussion centered on the modern day church and all that’s going on there right now.  After we heard what I have written below, my husband remarked that every Christian should hear this.  Hence, my decision to share it with you all today.  We can never let down our guard when it comes to this matter of church.  

The whole interview would be so worth a few minutes of your precious time.  You can find it here, along with all of his other MP3s, which he provides on the Grace To You website for free.  Here is a brief excerpt of that interview:

First of all, you’ve been worshiping with us, right? For four days. What you experience in the way we worship here would have been exactly what you would have experienced if you had been here twenty years ago…or thirty years ago. You heard me preach. What you heard me say today and the last three days, you could have heard me do the very same thing thirty-five years ago. We pay absolutely no attention to the pop culture, we couldn’t care less. We don’t care what they’re doing.  It’s irrelevant. We have a fixed point of reference: the Word of God. And I don’t want to link arms with the culture. I want to link arms with the history of the church. I want to quote the great theologians. I want to sing the great hymns that generations of believers have sung and the reason we’re still singing them is because they were so good. I want to link arms with the past. I want people to know that we’re some…we’re a part of something that is multi…multi-national, multi-generational and multi-millennial. It goes back several thousand years. I don’t want people to think we just invented this.

I can tell you everything I need to know about a guy who says he’s a pastor by how much he gives honor to the work of Christ through faithful men through the history of the church and how much he wants to be among them and not an invention of his own. It’s just a problem.

I mean, look around at Grace Church, we’ve been taking in people, we often say this, I don’t know, what 75-80 new members a month for years and years and years and we think about 85 percent of them are thirties and under and have been for at least ten years. You know what? The Lord is reaching those people in a church that pays no attention to pop culture. We don’t drink beer openly, publicly. We’re not trying to play with the culture. We don’t want people to walk in here and say, “Wow, this is cool. This feels comfortable to me. It’s like a nightclub.”

We want people to walk in here and say, “What in the world is this? I’ve never experienced anything like this anywhere in my life.” We don’t want the world to come in, we want heaven to come down.

Living in a Castle the Size of a Country

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If you have done any kind of missions work outside of the Unites States or if you love to read about the world, you know that living in America is a little like living in a sheltered castle.  Sure, we venture out once in awhile to give gifts and minister to the peasants, but most of our lives are spent living comfortably and luxuriously in the castle.  Castle dwellers face their own sets of problems, of course…facing things like enemy attacks, betrayals, and illnesses.  But they are not worried about the very basest of needs, things such as food, shelter, and clothing.

How do we live an effective Christian life in the castle?  And can we truly experience dependence on God while we reside in luxury and comfort?  Even the poorest American is incredibly wealthy, when compared to many countries, simply because they have their basic needs met.  They do not have wild animals stealing their children in the night nor do they fear that enemies will burn down their home, torturing, raping, and murdering their loved ones, as they do so.  Most American children are never kidnapped and enslaved.

I struggle almost daily with the question: Why am I here?  Why was I born in America?  What does God want me to do with what I have?

You see, the easiest, most natural thing to do when our lives are safely tucked within the country-sized castle is to be focused on our own families, jobs, churches, and problems.  Unless we take time to read, watch, or go many of us don’t even give the impoverished people outside the castle walls a thought.

As all of this rolls around in my brain, many thoughts come to mind.  Here are a few:

1.  As believers, we are required to serve others.  It is not an option.  So many of us serve only when we feel like it.  Or when it makes us feel better about ourselves without costing too much.  Or when it fits our schedule.  I am including myself here.  I am ashamed of how often my first thoughts when asked to serve are often centered on how will it inconvenience or cost me?

2. We are to take care of widows and orphans (James 1:27); We are to minister to the Saints (fellow believers) (Hebrews 6:10);  But, most importantly, most of the Bible verses about serving have to do with self-denial.  We are to deny ourselves and serve Jesus, oftentimes by serving others.  This is no easy task and we should start right within our own families.  It is no good to be traveling abroad if we aren’t even serving with love at home.

3. There is no need to travel to third world countries in order to minister.  Many are the needs here.  But I will venture to say that ministering here is a bit like the princess helping the scullery maid of the castle.  There are certainly needs but the castle staff is still somewhat protected and sheltered because they live in the castle.  It isn’t until you leave the protection of the castle that you see true poverty, in my opinion.

4. Serving often means stepping outside of our comfort zone.  This is a big one and takes a giant leap of faith.  I say this, because I have experienced it.  Fear can’t rule you if you are going to serve whole-heartedly.  I continue to work through this even now, as I prepare for my next trip out of the country.

5. Ministering to physical needs is worthless, unless we are addressing their eternal destiny, as well, through sharing the good news of the Gospel.  I have long made it a rule to not even give to agencies that aren’t sharing the gospel, even if what they are doing is in the name of Christ.  What good is it to feed a body for a lifetime if their soul will be in hell for eternity?

6.   We need to be so careful with our priorities.  If we aren’t careful, we start living our lives centered around a home mortgage or a car payment.  We base important life decisions on selfish things like reputation and comfort.  I heard someone say yesterday that if it isn’t eternal, it isn’t important.  That certainly does put it in perspective, doesn’t it?

7.  And, maybe most importantly, we should be expressing our gratitude every day to our Heavenly Father for not only meeting our physical needs, but for giving us far more than we could ever dream.  And yet, many times, we not only take this for granted, but behave as if we deserve it.  We demand comfort and conveniences and tend to complain when things aren’t just right.  This happens easily in this culture, doesn’t it?  Where everyday we are inundated with commercials and billboards telling us we deserve the best.  Actually, we don’t deserve the best.  We are just so blessed.

As we ponder what the Lord wants from us, one thing is certain.  Each and every one of us has a multitude of ways we can serve others each day.  But we can only do that when we step outside of a world based on “me” and reach out.

Are We Addicted to the Latest and Greatest?

 

The raging competition of who can build the biggest and best roller coasters is focusing its attention on Hersheypark this year. This past winter they built SkyRush, their tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster with one-of-a-kind winged outer seats (per their website description).   A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give SkyRush a try.  I do like a good roller coaster and SkyRush was a thrill, although, personally, The Great Bear is still my favorite coaster in the park.

Right near the SkyRush sits the Super Dooper Looper.  This was the latest and greatest coaster when I was a kid.  It was introduced in 1977 with the promise to actually take you upside down!  35 years later, the Super Dooper Looper feels like almost a kiddie ride.  It is truly amazing how far along America has come in building roller coasters.

There is something in our human nature that demands something newer.  Something better.  Something greater.  We get bored with the same old thing.  This human tendency seems to have especially dug its roots deep into American soil, where we insatiably search for bigger and better.  Whether we are referring to roller coasters, the latest technology, or cars, contentment is hard to find these days.  Even if we are happy with what we have, we believe there must be something better if we can only find it…or afford it.

And I would venture to say that this same mindset has subtly crept its way into many of our churches, as well.  Pushing the edge isn’t just something for amusement parks, anymore.  Many modern churches have joined the Bigger and Better movement and are trying things like adding heavy metal or rock music, dances, and sermons based on secular (ungodly) movies to their worship services.  And why?  To be the church that is doing something new, something great, something awesome, so that they can attract a world that is looking for something newer, greater, and awesomer (yeah, I know it’s not a word).

But should this be where our attention is focused as believers?  Does God need us to be like the world in order to win the world?  If we take a step back in history we will see that the answer to that is NO.  Whether we go the whole way back to Rome or we step back just a few hundred years into American History, we will see that great revivals and growth of the true church took place because Christians chose to be different than the world…not like them.  Preachers preached a message that wasn’t comfortable, appealing, or fun and yet God worked!  He drew thousands to himself using men and women who were willing to stand up, turn their backs on the world, and be different.

It seems we may have forgotten that it is the Holy Spirit Who does the work of saving…not secular rock songs, gimmicky pastors, or worldly methods.  It is God who draws people to himself (John 6:44).   The trend of adding pop culture  to worship is certainly leading to church buildings filled with people.  But are they people who truly understand what being a Christian really means?   Are they people who will turn away from the world and their own selfish desires to follow Jesus?   I can’t answer for individuals, of course.  But I know what I see in the church as a whole and I can’t help but wonder if  the addiction to the latest and greatest isn’t hindering the Kingdom of God instead of helping it?

Are You Sure About That?

The headlines read “26 Years Later, Haven’t Lost Anyone”. The article went on to give the lawn company’s philosophy and why they never – yes, it said NEVER – have lost a customer. Having owned a lawn company for 25 years, my husband first recognized the impossibility of this statement. And then he started laughing as he realized that he was actually bidding some work for one of their unhappy customers. The credibility of that company and of the newspaper that ran the article was thrown into question after reading what we knew, firsthand, to be an outright lie.

Around this same time, our daughter was in a car accident with another driver, a young girl. There were not any witnesses of the incident and the young girl proceeded to lie about what had occurred. Our auto insurance is headed to battle over it, as the dents in the cars tell the true story and they believe they will be able to prove it was not our daughter’s fault.

We also had two incidents with buying mowers recently. In one, a verbal agreement was made and we were on our way to pick it up (a drive of several hours) when we were called and told that he had sold the mower to someone who had offered to pay him more. In the other case, we traveled to Philadelphia to pick one up, being told it was in mint condition, only to hear a tap in the motor.

So, what do all of these stories have in common? Integrity.

No longer do people feel it necessary to be truthful in advertising…to keep their word…to be honest in their interactions with others.  Instead they do whatever is to their own advantage, with no concern for the truth.

The lack of concern about the truth in this culture is truly frightening. But the lie that there are no moral absolutes has seeped its way into the culture so thoroughly, that now we are reaping the consequences. And they will be heavy consequences. You could see it happening twenty years ago. I remember a song in the 80s talking about this change in teaching absolute truth to our public school students. You could see it happening when TV sitcoms would (and still do) glorify and make light of someone telling a lie to get something they wanted. You could also see it coming, when parents started to set examples of lying on their taxes and being dishonest about sick days and why they couldn’t come to the phone. Another big red flag was when a person’s “happiness” became the ultimate goal for life.  You see, these things set the stage for a generation that has no respect for the truth, unless it is to their advantage.

So, as a Christian (and, hopefully, as one who practices telling the truth), what are we to do? Well, first and foremost, of course, is that we stand out in this culture by being honorable and trustworthy. We should tell the truth, no matter what the outcome (Proverbs 14:5). We also need to be unwavering and to set a godly example as we teach our children the importance of honesty and integrity.

Another important thing we need to do in this day and age is to listen to everything with the proverbial grain of salt .  Whether it is in the newspaper, on the TV news or on a reality show, or even hearing a story about someone else’s tragic circumstances from a friend, we shouldn’t be so quick to believe what we hear.  So many are the agendas and slants given to stories, that we need to be really careful in what we believe.

As I write on this topic, I find myself filled with sadness at the state of this culture. I could see it coming and now I realize that we are here.  I also know the inevitable outcome of a country that holds no respect for the truth. But, alas, here we are. And so it is our duty and responsibility to live the Christian life with integrity in a culture that holds no esteem for the truth.

 

 

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