In The Fowler’s Snare For Real!

After refreshing fellowship at church and a tasty lunch at home, FedEx rang the bell with Starry’s Chewy package, yay! I headed down the stairway to the lobby and, as is my habit, I glanced out the stairway windows as I went. I did a double-take at the 4th floor window, my heart quickly deflated. The roof of the next building had a large net surrounding a generator and a big pigeon was fighting wildly to get free.

Caught in the fowler’s snare and no way out!!

pidgeon stuck in net

When owner Columbia University evicted our beloved Bodega to install their own deli, nothing seemed right. I marched into the deli, photo in hand, and approached the cashier.

“I need to see the manager. Look here,” I flashed the pic, “there’s a bird caught in your net on the roof. We need to get up there…”

“Oh, the manager’s not around, probably back tomorrow…there’s no way to get to the roof”

“This can’t wait til tomorrow, this bird will die overnight! Someone must be able to get to the roof.” I went to the back and met with the sandwich guy who shook his head and referred me to the stock man. “Sorry, there is no access available to the roof. It has a special lock and no one can open it”.

“No one” can open a roof door? That’s a building violation.

Already late on a Sunday afternoon, I had to act fast, first contacting the main NYC complaint line, 311 to report Animal Abuse in progress. They referred me to NYPD who did actually show up within an hour. I was so hopeful, so sure they would be on that roof. But subsequent follow-up yielded the same response,

“Sorry, we couldn’t get access to the roof, no one is able to open that door.”

“Can’t you break it down? That bird is struggling so hard, he will surely die a slow death!”

“No, sorry, that’s how we get into so much trouble! We referred this case to ASPCA”

The sun was setting and now Mr. Pigeon is well enmeshed into the net, hanging upside down. I tried every possible intervention, even calling PETA. Bob and I prayed for God’s help. Lastly I turned to the neighborhood social media and posted the situation. Now it’s dark. I need not check on the bird again, my mind played its own tormenting video of the net swinging in the wind, pigeon upside down, and then it started raining hard...

With the wind blowing and rain pelting, the night was restless. With all the suffering in the world, why, I asked the Lord, can I not escape this pigeon? The Snare of the Fowler, by Charles Spurgeon, arose in my mind and gripped my heart. It is an excellent message from this great preacher, in which he quotes a song,

“Satan, the fowler, who betrays unguarded souls a thousand ways….”

The devil’s crafted snares are not for unbelievers – they are already subject to him. His cunning allurements, his deceit and secrecy is reserved for the unsuspecting believer…how could a light weight, nearly invisible net be of any harm anyway? Nothing will happen! Just go near and touch it, fly into it if you’d like!

I tossed and turned, wondering, as I viewed this tortured pigeon on the roof below, what must God’s view be like, seeing His people, called by His name, carelessly toying with sin and compromise – an invisible net that will surely disable and destroy. With love and urgency our Father warns us of danger, and yet so often we near the net, touch the net, believe that it is benign before we’re trapped.

It was still dark when I got up. I prayed but partly hoped the bird died quickly overnight to end his suffering. The media posting was growing with responses and suggestions. The care of unmet neighbors was very encouraging. Bob was leaving for work and I called another friend whom I know to be a ‘fighter of good causes.’ But he was sick and could not help so I offered to help him! But he urged me to check on the bird, “use binoculars” see if he’s still alive and call FDNY.

I really did not want to call the Fire Dept. I knelt and earnestly prayed, “Oh Father, send someone to help me! I can’t save this bird without You!”

With binoculars and a heavy heart I headed to the 4th floor window. Agh, looks dead….but as I watched…he’s ALIVE!!!

JUST THEN the building super came up the stairs to continue work on the 4th floor. “Radames!”, I immediately called out to him, especially since I appear to be spying through the window with binoculars! “Radames, come quick and see what I’m seeing!!”

He peered out, “Ohhh…..”

“Radames, that poor bird’s been fighting all night! My only last resort is FDNY! Do you know the store manager? How can we save that bird??”

“Wait here, just wait here…”

Five minutes later he called out, “I’m up here! I’m up on the roof!!!”

W H A T!?!

radames on roof

My ‘super’ super rescued the bird and held him up to me, wonderful!!! I shouted out the window, “Try and bring him down, I’m taking him for a check up, he’s injured!” I had the Wild Bird Fund ready to take him. Alas, as he loosened his grip the bird flew/tumbled down…Radames came back up the stairs.

“Radames! How did you get them to open the roof door!!”

“Those people don’t know anything! I climbed up the roof myself!”

W H A T!?!

I went outside with him to look for the bird, which had landed upon a high window sill. Impossible to get him, might he mend on his own?

But then I saw how he got up the roof….

back alley

He used two 10′ ladders! Up a narrow passage way, totally death defying to me!!!

Now dozens of people are chiming in on the media page, waiting to see the bird’s fate – the shared joyous relief was so uplifting!

The Fowler’s Snare, let us be alert and discerning! It is crafted to look harmless, even inviting, don’t even touch it! Against this powerful foe, in our own strength, we will end up enmeshed and upside down! But our Father sees all things….

Thank You Lord, our Deliverer and Rescuer! “… Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare….”

Signs of The Times and The Suburbs

The implosion of major US cities is no secret.  Even as steadfast New Yorkers, we prayed about leaving, considering a condo in the country for a real change.  However, while visiting my parents, my elderly dad offered, “Why not move in with us?”  As my 90 year old mother slowly passed by with her walker, the country real estate postings in my mind went ‘poof’.  Grateful to enjoy and honor my parents in their senior days, we are for the most part, in suburbia.

For me, ‘suburbia’ tries hard through landscape to look ‘country’ and tries hard through programs to be ‘cultural’ but it misses the urban and rural essence somewhat.  Nonetheless, aside from occasional days back in NYC, I am here to serve the Lord however He assigns.

Part of my personal routine here is an early morning worship walk around the neighborhood where I free myself to sing to the Lord, add some dance steps to my walk, and pray.  Seeing occasional rabbits hop by or chipmunks scurry adds to my joy.

What takes away my joy is the boisterous signs that seem to declare a self-righteousness that, at times, pointedly disavows God.

20200804_065602One popular sign asserts the gamut of humanistic values on evolution, gender equality, immigration, and, in rainbow colors, sexual affirmations.

WE BELIEVE…..and believe so strongly that we want to post all this on our front lawns!

There are ‘minority’ families in the neighborhood, black and Indian.  Notably, none of them have any such signs, an ongoing reminder of what our black friends in Harlem reported months ago, “Yeah, Black Lives Matter marched through Harlem…but they were ALL WHITE PEOPLE!”

20200804_071213    20200804_070050

According to The Acton Institute, BLM champions: Reparations through racial socialism, Defunding the Police, Dismantling the family, Global overthrow of Capitalism, Reparations for drug dealers and the legalization of drugs and prostitution….

Hello neighbors, is that what you really believe?  If any ONE of these things happened on your pristine street you would dial 911 and fast….

In a culture nearly scrubbed of God, people are hungry for ‘righteousness’ and some kind of zeal to stir their hearts.  So needy for meaningful passion they will follow and ride a Trojan horse even to their own detriment…

What can a believer do during daily walk-worship?  Pray for my neighbors and believe that Jesus Christ, our Head, moves His Body around with eternal purpose.  If I had my own home, I would put my own sign….

20200804_170220

I’m no graphic artist but it’s a start…

May the Lord inspire and encourage you as you press on for His glory!

  

The Bad Thing About a Good Life

American believers have, for the most part, enjoyed a ‘good life’ where the fruits of freedom to worship, work, plan and save grounded us in ‘One Nation Under God’.  The ‘good life’, often entangled in this world, gave birth to ungodly prosperity ministries and carnal churches.  However, the bad thing about a good life in an ungodly world is the inevitable upheaval of misplanted roots.  Since, “…Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin...” and “…the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”  this is not the place to invest our heart and trust.

Americans and believers alike are alarmed by the powerful forays that are, through destruction, forcing change.  A country that was built and cultivated over hundreds of years is seemingly toppling before our eyes.  But it was toppling all along….

removing 10 commandments

The Ten Commandments,  ordered removed by Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2015, under cover of night to avoid controversy

We lost all fear of ‘controversy with God.’  What was sanctioned in secret has come to utter fruition in the daylight – toppled statues, ruined icons, wanton cultural destruction.

‘Successful’ Christians are now scrambling to secure their lives here, especially with the growing threat of socialism… “Should I cash in my 401K?…Put my money in a safe?…But will there be a ‘cashless society’?…Should we buy property?”

Self-preservation is the most natural instinct within us – who doesn’t want to live and preserve a good life?  The only problem facing the believer though is the prevailing word of God that exhorts us to “pick up our cross” and follow Christ, “to live is Christ and to die is gain”, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” This call of separation unto God is an ongoing call from Genesis to Revelation, as is the rebuke against ‘friendship with the world’ and its entanglements.

I challenge myself in this:  maybe God is calling us to set our hearts upon and actually live according to His word,

“…godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that….take hold of the life that is truly life.  (I Timothy 6 excerpts)

These social, political, and moral upheavals pose great challenges for believers but also great opportunities to live out our faith as God intends – to believe and stand on His word, to express the glory and faithfulness of God, to be content…strengthening our hearts with the reality of Christ’s promised and soon return.

Believers are called out in every time and place of world history and with that call comes the power of God to live out our faith and fulfill His purposes for our short time here.

Lord, help us walk in and live through Your word in greater measure, proclaiming Your truth and faithfulness as this dark world readies for Judgment Day. 

God’s Call Within the Chaos

The current plight of NYC is no secret.  Living here for 40 years, as a student, social worker, and State Parole Officer, ‘chaos’ has fueled my career, my social life and increasingly later – my spiritual life in the Lord.  In my 20’s, my neighborhood was laden with drug dealers, so bold in fact that they set up chaise lounges on the sidewalks to sell comfortably!  The huge armory two blocks away from me provided beds for 800 homeless men – broken, addicted, and many dangerous – often spilling out into doorsteps and stoops.

This city snapshot of the 1980’s slowly faded as Federal, State and local law enforcement intervened, politics changed, and social initiatives began.  Uplifted and revived, NYC began to prosper and excel in every way.  There was, of course, still chaos but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Crime, black outs, recessions, terrorist attacks…all brought chaos, but all brought us closer together.  Neighborly bonds strengthened and believers clung together with each other and the Lord.  Ministries grew as the Lord seemingly casted nets out to drug addicts, convicts, and others – many were drawn to the Lord and repented at our church, Times Square Church with Pastor David Wilkerson.  God reaped a harvest in NYC chaos!

prayer in the square

For 3 years TSC had Prayer in the Square. Tens of thousands gathered in Times Square, crying out to God for the city.

No one is sadder than me to say, “those days are gone”.  Why is our current ‘chaos’ so different?

The celebration of sin…

celebrating abortion

Bridges lit up, celebrating NY law that legalizes abortion until birth

abortion announcement

New curriculums for children….

“New York Teaching Pre-K Kids About LGBTQ, Transgender ‘Rights’”

Children gather to new story tellers….

drag queen story hour

Drag Queen Story Hour – a celebrated venue for teaching children new family values and sexual identities within public schools and libraries

There are, of course, too many events and developments to numerate.  But defining truths became evident – repenting of sin shifted into celebration of sin with a zeal to proliferate into school classrooms.

As debauchery fermented, the season of strong church leadership seemed to dissipate.  The ‘torch was passed’ to new leadership that focused on social programs and benign outreaches, often acquiescing to and even accommodating for prevailing moral landslide.

The current urban whirlwind of chaos and destruction is not from a terrorist onslaught or natural disaster, but the dark fruit of leadership given over to depraved, reprobate minds.

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity…”  (Romans 1 excerpt)

God unravels man’s biggest delusion:  that you can sin and get away with it, you can disavow and offend God and prosper.  

Foundations of socialism and Marxism taking root in the rubble of shuttered businesses…desecrated social icons….law enforcement utterly scorned, systematically dismantled…a not-so-slow train wreck that will end up worse than we imagine.  If this is the evidence of God’s abandonment, believers need to boldly step back, strongly resisting any fleshly ambition to rescue a fallen city or land. 

There is nothing more important for the believer, the follower of Christ and lover of His word, than to discern the signs of the times.  While there’s always a call in times of chaos, Christ’s Body should not blindly jump into this condemned world’s foray.

As ‘mega-churches’ obscure and unravel and traditional denominations scramble for relevancy,  God is igniting pockets of believers.  God’s call in the chaos may not be loud but quietly powerful.  Within homes or through electronics, the Lord is shepherding sheep together, even just two or three, to exhort, teach, encourage and sharpen one another, “as iron sharpens iron”.

I pray the Lord dim my view of this temporal and imploding world.  As celebrity Christianity rightly deflates, I pray to value and esteem the precious one or two that the Lord may bring forth to disciple and counsel into His Kingdom.

May we press in to hear God’s call and follow His lead, with a heart of growing anticipation of Christ’s return.  Press on brethren, Maranatha!

Good Things From Closed Churches

church-closed

The ongoing hoopla about closed churches during a national pandemic is, ironically, nearly ungodly.  Protesting government officials, threatening lawsuits, and wasting money and energy point to a self serving faith, not selfless faith.  Is it really God’s call to rebel when our resources should go to serve?  Many churches, run on a business model, have their own bottom line motivation.   Closed churches though, can serve to refine and grow our faith more than ever.

Firstly, separating ourselves from the social gathering of others, the planned format of worship and social chatter can clarify our foundation of faith.  Do we find our spiritual fulfillment in our social gathering, singing, and sermons or does church serve to embellish the intimacy we have already with the Lord?  Do we have intimacy with our Savior, as a Bride to her Bridegroom?

Intimacy is measured in private, not corporate settingsClosed churches should lead to open prayer closets – that’s where our true spiritual life and growth take place.

Secondly, our gatherings are not squelched due to oppression or persecution but for a global health crisis.  When life drastically changes, shouldn’t we then beseech God for His change in agenda?  If sovereign God shuts down normalcy, shouldn’t our hearts be shaken toward Him and His word?  God is speaking into hearts during this pandemic with a call to press into His word.   We need to hear Him speak to us without a choir, pulpit, coffee hour or book table because thirdly….

all those things may be gone.  One day we may have to stand alone and know what we stand for.  Pandemics, crisis, wars, calamities…birth pains…do we know the scriptures well enough and understand eschatology – the study of the end times – to gauge our life in this crucial ticking clock?

The Apostles’ message of salvation did not go forth without proclaiming the truth of Christ’s return.  That anticipation is the framework from which Christian life was grounded.  Today, however,  everyone wants to ‘be saved’ by ‘praying a prayer’ but few understand the deep reality from what they are saved!  We are saved from the coming wrath of God, an unpopular and nearly forgotten truth.

The Body of Christ has a joy not found in happy-clappy songs, motivational sermons, or social group activities.  Perhaps there’s a place for them but our joy must transcend anything and any relationship in this temporal world.  If the Bible is true and it is, worse days are coming.  Covid-19 is merely a test run for what the word of God proclaims prior to Christ’s return.

With the pandemic of apostasy, closed churches may be God’s hand in drawing us alone to Him for His counsel, His healing, His leadership and His revelation of where we stand as His Bride.  After the Lord’s sacrifice for our sin, His call for His people is to be ready, be alert, and be watchful,  with lamps filled with oil, anticipating the Bridegroom…

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory unto Him!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready…”  (Rev 19:7)

The world may shut down but heaven will not.  I pray that we as a people press in, find our sanctuary at home with the Holy Spirit, and hear what the scriptures proclaim about our day, our calamity, and His return and His call upon us.

“He who endures to the end will be saved.”  (Matthew 24:13)

Maranatha! 

 

 

I Could Not Help Him Die

My brother’s birth was a most wonderful event in my life.  Being much older, I had the fun and fulfillment of sharing in Paul’s life events, learning to walk, going to school, homework helps, football cheers, wedding happiness and most joyful – the arrival of his precious children.

Even greater than all that was mentoring Paul into a living and saving faith through Jesus Christ our Savior.

When cancer struck him I was shaken but soon found that it deepened our fellowship with each other and importantly, with the Lord.  Daily phone counsel and prayer built us in faith and courage; although out of state, my frequent visits were precious.   I witnessed God’s work in Paul’s heart and faith and was certain of God’s call upon his life, positive that the Lord would heal.   When four year old Ella scampered by me one day, turned and surprisingly said, “Jesus is going to heal my dad!”  my heart was gripped…no way would God disappoint and dash her precious faith!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A year later they would be fatherless

Within three years, Paul was hospitalized.  One day, shaking their heads, doctors called the family together, “there’s nothing more we can do…” My heart immediately erupted, ‘of course there’s nothing you can do, now God will show you what He can do!’ 

With courage and strength,  Paul knew he was dying, something I could not see nor receive.  I refused.  After so gladly sharing in all his life experiences, I dropped the ball at this crucial juncture of life and faith…I could not help him die

During his last night, I stood vigil by Paul’s side, praying through the night.  Even when he died the next day I reached out my hand to him, my heart cried, “now, even now Lord I believe You can raise him up!”

In the months that followed, the Lord brought healing into my anger and crisis of faith.  While I deeply regret not counseling Paul into eternity, in subsequent years God led me to help others, several parolees, who were suffering and dying.

This post has swirled in my heart for a while, perhaps the corona crisis stirred it up more.  However, I am convinced that our high call as Christ’s Body, especially toward our brethren, not only lies in mentoring each other as we walk with the Lord but mentoring each other as we die in the Lord.

In Charles Spurgeon’s Sermons on the Last Days, he preaches on Biblical truths regarding Christ’s return.  However, in the sermon, ‘A Last Lookout’ Spurgeon speaks of our own ‘end’, with a focus on the faith of apostles Paul and Peter…

“He (Paul) does not even say, ‘The hour of my death is at hand,’ but he adopts a beautiful expression, “the time of my departure” – words which are used sometimes to signify the departure of a vessel from the port; the pulling up of the anchor so that it looses its moorings when about to put out to sea…”

“Beloved believer in Christ Jesus…To die is to depart out of this world unto the Father.  What say you about your departure?”

The time of our departure, though unknown to us, is fixed by God, unalterably fixed; so rightly, wisely, lovingly settled, and prepared for, that no chance or haphazard can break the spell of destiny.”  (italics his)

“If you take counsel with death, your flesh will find no comfort; but if you trust in God, your faith will cease to parley with these feverish anxieties, and your spirit will enjoy a sweet calm…To live in constant communion with God is a sure relief from all these bitter frettings”

“There is a time to depart; and God’s time to call me is my time to go.”

May the Lord walk us through this life as His light for the truth, refreshing and encouraging those He appoints along the way.  May the reality of our eternal life in God’s Kingdom overshadow everything in this temporal world and become a living truth to share with others, to help them live and help them depart.

Favorite Quotes From Favorite Folks

The gifts of godly men and women leave us timeless truths that speak life into our journey with the Lord.   Here are just a few quotes from wonderful brethren….

“If I really want to please my Lord – then I cannot fight my circumstances.  I will hold on and never quit.  Nothing on this earth can give me what I get from God’s Spirit every day in my trial.”  Pastor Dave Wilkerson, God is Faithful

“Ambition is a gilded misery, a secret poison, a hidden plague, the engineer of deceit, the mother of hypocrisy, the parent of envy, the original of vices, the moth of holiness, the blinder of hearts, turning medicines into maladies and remedies into diseases.”   Puritan Thomas Brooks

“Where the battle rages there the loyalty of he soldier is proved.”  Martin Luther

“…what have you and I to do with maintaining our influence and position at the expense of truth?  It is never right to do a little wrong to obtain the greatest possible good…Your duty is to do the right; consequences are with God”.  Charles H. Spurgeon, 1868, Sermon at Metropolitan Tabernacle

“Zeal is a mixed affection, a compound of love and anger…True zeal will encounter the greatest difficulties.  When the world holds out danger to discourage us, zeal casts out fear.  It is quickened by opposition, and will march in the face of death.”  Thomas Watson, A Godly Man is a Zealous Man

“The church being called a lampstand indicates that, in God’s eyes, its primary function is to give light…The light that every church should hold forth is God’s Word, which alone is a light for our path in this dark world…No lampstand ever complains that the surroundings are too dark for it to shine in.  The brightness of a lampstand has nothing to do with its surroundings.  Is light depends solely on the amount of oil it contains.”  Zac Poonen, The Final Triumph, A verse by verse study of the book of Revelation

“Much of our problem in continuing fellowship with a holy God is that many Christians repent only for what they do, rather than for what they are…What should happen in genuine conversion?  What should a man or woman feel in the transaction of the new birth?  There ought to be that real and genuine cry of pain…”   A.W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship? 

“Genuine worship is a response to divine truth.  It is passionate because it arises out of our love for God.  But to be true worship it must also arise out of a correct understand of His law, His righteousness, His mercy, and His Being.  Real worship acknowledges God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.”  John MacArthur, WORSHIP, The Ultimate Priority

“Politics, education, literature, science, art, law, commerce, music…we have to acknowledge marked progress in each of these departments.  The question, however, is:  What is the ultimate goal of all this development?  At the end, John tells us, antichrist will arise and will set up his own kingdom in the world (I John 2:18…) That is the direction of the world’s advance.  Watchman Nee, Love Not The World

“But when we surrender ourselves to the Lord, learning day by day to treat all that comes to us with peace of soul and firm conviction that His will governs all, He will see to our growth in grace.  He will so govern the events in our lives, down to the smallest detail….”  Elisabeth Elliot, A Path Through Suffering

May the Lord continue to inspire and encourage us through His living word and the exhortations of His servants.