Walk by the Spirit, Not by Sight

As I approached the mailboxes yesterday afternoon, there was Margarita*, one of my neighbors, opening up her ConEdison bill as I reached for my mail. Although Spanish speaking, she needed no words to express her angst as she tipped the paper toward me so I could read, FINAL DISCONNECT NOTICE. It seemed clear that she hadn’t paid her bill for at least a year. In our heat-included small apartments, gas and electric bills are fairly small. Margarita works, how could she let this happen?

I immediately sensed something was wrong, other than this big debt. Her countenance and affect seemed disoriented and she stumbled over simple questions I asked. So I urged her, “Call them, Margarita, you have to pay something soon, even $50, to prevent this turn off!”. Is she depressed? Having mental health issues? Admittedly we don’t know her that well.

Something was churning within me. Although Bob and I are quick to help neighbors in need, I felt a strong restraint here. My emotional response, moreover Christian response, is to help. But I know our emotions are fleshly and it is the Spirit that applies the scriptural call in every situation. Although we have on occasion helped Margarita, here, I was disturbed and restrained.

We walked up the stairway in silence. She probably expected some financial help and part of me questioned, “what kind of neighbor am I? She’ll be in the dark within a month!” Some people describe a ‘check in their spirit’, but I had a grip in my spirit and had to submit. I prayed and explained the whole situation to Bob, knowing that leadership comes from the husband. He did not sense the Lord’s leading to give. “There’s something wrong here Bob, I can’t pinpoint it but it’s bigger than the ConEdison bill.” I prayed about it and tabled the subject to the next morning.

I was still unsettled in the morning but after praying, I headed down to her apartment. At least I could call ConEd, perhaps make a minimal payment, or clarify her options. I knocked on her door. Then knocked again. Finally I heard a shuffling and she opened the door just a crack, then a bit wider where I could see in full view an altar of witchcraft. The depths of Santeria, beckoning demons with incantations and ritual, contaminate the soul and almost always bring about a mimicry of mental illness.

Margarita now acted paranoid. She gave me the bill, keeping the door cracked, and I said I’d call and try to help. After calling and clarifying I returned with the conclusion: Margarita herself, or her grown son, must call to discuss even a minimal payment, she has until January to do this.

The churning in my heart was relieved, realizing that the Lord was restraining me. Jesus did not always heal everyone, did not always feed everyone, neither did He meet every need but did only His Father’s will. It is not always God’s will to intervene in every way, especially if recipients give the thanks and praise upon a table of witchcraft. I have seen enough Santeria and Espiritismo to know how powerfully it corrupts a person inwardly and outwardly, always bearing ugly fruits.

Perhaps the Lord will lead us to speak the truth to Margarita, but only He can draw our hearts and prepare hers to hear the word. We will continue to pray for her. Will her lights go out? Will she lose her mind? Only God knows but for sure, if she calls upon Him with a repentant and contrite heart, He will come in with true light and deliver her from evil.

When the Devil Speaks…

do we listen? Of course not – or do we?

Believe it or not, I’ve always loved the NYC subway system, grateful to ride on the world’s largest system, traveling great distance for a small fare. However, flagrant lawlessness and random violence compels me now to only ride city buses. Of course, any trip is twice as long but it’s safer, right?

Half way home on a recent bus ride a woman boarded and immediately broke the peace of all therein. Although she was well dressed, there was a rage in her countenance and with it she verbally dominated the bus. An African American, she spewed out racial and personal slurs with bellowing volume, never pausing. She paced through the bus and targeted nearly everyone. I pretended to read as I gauged the scene – everyone was cowering, grown men were gripped to their seats. If this woman physically lashed out to any vulnerable person, would anyone assist? Could I bum rush her?

Her cutting and humiliating taunts were personal as she pointed to total strangers jeering and ridiculing their unseen weakness and vulnerability. When she got to me, she announced, “I SEE YOU!!” and spewed out a very personal thing that would embarrass and humiliate me.

No doubt she was demonic and a bum rush would be utterly futile against such spiritual power! Her devilish assignment completed, she finally exited – the whole bus exhaled in relief.

While I let those biting words deflate my heart, assuredly that is not the devil’s worst maneuver or assault. While the “whole world is a prisoner of sin”, Satan’s sole target are those freed from this prison through the blood of Christ. His powers are deployed personally, secretly and cunningly, fashioned and honed with capacities beyond our human purview.

One appalling evidence of apostasy found in entire churches, pulpits, ministries and thereby hearts of believers themselves is the blindness and disregard of the powers of darkness. Derailed from godly commission, retired from the fight, most churches no longer contend for the honor of God nor for the true salvation of man, they are so entrenched in worldliness, the devil need not attack them at all!

To dismiss and diminish the ‘powers that rule this world’ brings success to the devil’s wiles. They are world powers and they are personal powers. As the people of God, as the Body of Christ, we often fail to acknowledge the kingdom in which we now live. We are the outsiders and, to walk close to our Lord, we must maintain that separation.

To a great extent, most believers are comfortable in this Kingdom and work to maintain that comfort and fit. While they become ‘spiritual’ during crisis or illness, most ‘Christians’ are content with worldly wisdom, motivational sermons, and overused spiritual clichés, powerless mantras. The ‘powers of darkness’ are nearly obsolete to many professed believers.

We can’t expect Satan to announce himself on a bus – if only he would be so obvious and exposed! We must walk in the Spirit to discern the diverse ways he speaks into our lives to bring chaos, discord, discouragement, and depression – to rob us of our peace. If possible, he will frame every circumstance that comes upon us with an understanding that is separate and apart from God and His unchanging word. (I wholeheartedly recommend Martyn Lloyd Jones’, The Christian Warfare where expounds upon these life giving truths of God)

Contending in Satan’s kingdom, to make this world a ‘better place’, is an alluring substitute for God’s unchanging purpose and fight: to deploy us into the spiritual battle to free men from the clutches of this world, reconciling them unto God for His coming Kingdom.

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Patient and stealth, Satan intervenes in a plethora of schemes and allurements to derail us from God’s plan for our lives. Once off track, we are left with artificial fruit. Whatever short time remains for us, I pray to be diligent and discerning. May we recognize the craftiness and deceit of the enemy who speaks through many venues. May we stay in the battle and fulfill every call and purpose of God for His glory!

Lord, Raise Up Nathans!

The greatest cultural tragedy of our time is not political corruption, immigration crisis, abortion fervor or economic downfalls. From heaven’s view, church apostasy, carnality and compromise are what grieves God’s heart.

Does a church, a group of believers, start out apostate? Do they first gather together as a kernel of faith with compromise in their hearts? Nearly every overgrown church and ministry once began with a group of sincere believers, perhaps in someone’s home, even gathering to worship in a garage. Leadership emerges, spiritual momentum grows, and bigger venues are sought – all with prayer and longing for God’s Kingdom.

So what happens? How do sincere believers morph into a mega-church and become apostate and worldly? How do esteemed pastors, whom I have learned from in the past, swerve into compromise, questioning or diluting the Biblical tenets such as creation, truths of the end times, and the established protocols for God’s people? How do they pivot away from holiness and aspire to worldly success and acclaim?

Nearly always, the light of Christ exponentially dims as the church grows with wealth, popularity and cultural/political influence. Knowingly or not, the worldly design of success, wealth, celebrity status and world status slowly takes root – opposite to God’s design of growing deeper in humility, sacrifice, and separation from the world.

One central fault of design predicating compromise is the utter esteem of one leader, rather than a plural leadership of elders as described by Paul. It is often a predictable pattern now, always bringing disillusionment and, at its fruition, painful heartbreak with ministries implode.

The pattern seems thus: a gifted leader becomes the central focus of church success and so to maintain the ‘church success’ of popularity, wealth, public image and proliferation, the inner circle spins or covers up indiscretions and sin. They surround themselves with ‘yes men’ just as the world would.

Q: Where would David have ended up without Nathan? Without the conviction of Nathan, who bravely rebuked this king, David would have fallen into the worst judgment known to man – God would have turned him over to his sin. Without conviction, without godly sorrow, comes hardness of heart and justification of sin. A ‘Nathan’ is a great gift from God – unafraid to convict of sin and compromise (personal notes from my Bible, source unknown)

It is deeply painful to love and serve in a profound ministry and watch it implode however, hindsight reveals that God leaks and uncovers sin and opens the eyes of those who will see. “Leakage” is a concept in law enforcement investigations – referring to leads and clues from criminal behavior that can reveal the truth. There is leakage pulpits as well.

When ‘Nathans’ rise up too late, their voice is diminished and they are often expelled from the circle of influence as there is so much to lose. And the church will then spin a story about why they left.

Although several ministries come to mind, and I rarely mention names, I will say that the ‘cover-up’ in John MacArthur’s church regarding his COVID illness and others in the church is very telling. It is leakage for any who care to see. Other leakage would be his assertion that ‘those who take the mark of the beast can still be saved’ – utterly contrary to scripture. While he rightly points out apostate doctrines and erroneous leaders, he wrongly often ridicules them, leading his congregation to laugh when they should really be crying.

Where are the Nathans to rise up, when leaders’ hearts are still tender and fearfully bent toward God?

As part of Christ’s body, we are all called to more than being fed God’s word. He installs gifts in each of us, that we may rise up and live out scripture – the “living and active, sharper than any two edged sword” word of God. Do we believe it is, ‘God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking and correcting’?

‘Nathans’ may fail to rise up, squelching the conviction in their heart. Or, they may be expelled from the church when they do. But without scriptural and godly rebuke, roots of compromise and carnality will seep into every aspect of the church or ministry and the end result, even if the ministry stands, will be Ichabod.

“You are the man!” Words of conviction yet of great love, as God chastises those He loves, those He calls His own.

Oh Lord, stir our hearts with Your purposes, and raise up the hearts of Nathans in your congregations, rebuke us, humble us. Let us aspire to holiness, not success, that others may see the Lord.

Lunching in Bollywood – Again!

Admittedly, I really enjoy my Bollywood lunch breaks in fact, I actually find myself in conversations doing the head ‘bobble’. While it may take a week to finish a film, I have two that I must share, both produced by Aamir Kahn, both starring an endearing teen actress, Zaira Wasim.

In 2017, ‘The Secret Superstar’ casts Zaira as a talented young school girl, Insia, who sings her own songs and plays the guitar. Aamir Kahn often presents pressing social issues into story plots and here we find domestic violence and female oppression. Under her father’s rule, Insia secretly creates and performs online. I won’t tell you the rest, it is an uplifting family movie which you may want to see. “Nachdi Phira” is a beautiful love song that Insia sings. It’s hardly possible not to like this song!

The year before “Secret Superstar”, 2016, Kahn starred Zaira Wasim in his blockbuster film, ‘Dangal’. The movie dramatically portrays the real life of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an aspiring wrestler whose life lost all joy after abandoning athletics, never reaching his highest goal – the Olympics. Resigned to live a hard working life supporting his wife and two daughters, one day everything changes – determination grips his heart to train his daughters for greatness. Kahn captures the cultural beauty of family commitments, village life, and the challenges of confronting social barriers. ‘Dangal’ ranks in the top 20 of India’s highest grossing films – it is surprisingly engaging, amusing, and suspenseful. Not one boring moment! I will not tell you what happens!

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What really impressed me….

I was intrigued by this award winning teen Zaira Wasim and looked at her real life situation. What I found really surprised me. At the pinnacle of success in 2019, at only 18 years old, she announced a total resignation from acting and entertainment. She pleaded with fans to remove all photos and videos of her, dismantled social media accounts, and scrubbed what was not copyrighted from the internet. Zaira shared her heart and elaborated to those who loved and followed her, in part:

“5 years ago I made a decision that changed my life forever. As I stepped into Bollywood, it opened doors of massive popularity for me…though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here.…This field indeed brought a lot of love, support, and applaud my way, but…” Zaira describes how fame and accolades derailed her faith and devotion to Allah and added, “I silently and unconsciously transitioned out of imaan” (her inner peace).

“I continued to put myself in a vulnerable position where it was always so easy to succumb to the environment that damaged my peace, imaan and my relationship with Allah…”

“My sincere advice to everyone is that no amount of success, fame, authority or wealth is worth trading or losing your peace or the light of your ‘imaan’…Success is the accomplishment of the purpose of our creation. We have forgotten the purpose we were created for as we ignorantly continue to pass through our lives; deceiving our consciences…”

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“Though I may fit here perfectly, I don’t belong here…”

I immediately wondered, how many Christians would give up wealth, popularity, and notoriety for their faith? How many Christian leaders secretly covet the spotlight and accolades of their venue and beyond? Do we boast about having a ‘Grammy Award winning’ choir? Doesn’t every mega church now thrive on celebritieson talented, famed, ‘worship performances’?

I had to search my own heart, do I turn away from everything that would interfere or diminish my relationship with my Savior? Am I willing to follow Him, away from everything in this world, to obey His call and declare to unbelievers that Jesus is worth forsaking all? How much do we care about others’ opinions and approval?

We too may “fit here perfectly” but we don’t belong here. I pray that we, as God’s people, can uproot and guard our hearts from this world. Only separated can we hope to be a beacon that lights the way for others to enter into God’s Kingdom.

I am moved by this young now former actress. Her conscience was pressed and her heart ached to be right before ‘Allah’. She guarded her faith and ‘relationship’ with ‘God’. I pray her diligence takes her further, compels her toward deep and living truths, and leads her to her only Savior, Jesus Christ, who alone is worthy to forsake all.

God Doesn’t Need a Yard Sale

This past weekend we took off for the country, Amish country actually, to enjoy some activities and relaxation. I reviewed churches in the area, hoping to find brethren to join in worship and grounded scriptural preaching. One church seemed very conservative and doctrinally sound. I called them and learned that their worship is not flashy or entertaining but prepared to exalt God. They are a large congregation, with two services to accommodate hundreds of attendees.

I also learned from their website that one of their families had incurred a great loss. Their barn, with all their animals, had burned down. The church website posted a ‘Yard Sale’ to address the great need to build a new barn. People could donate things to sell. I myself do not have a yard but know enough about yard sales – they are a source of extra income, not a windfall. Perhaps this is just a ministry’s kind gesture. Surely the Body will rise up to the need of the members!

My heart recalled the days of Times Square Church, where the Holy Spirit pressed forth through the pulpit. The greatest joy was seeing His redemptive work as drug addicts, prostitutes, the broken and despairing were called to repentance and new life. Broadway actors found their way to the Truth, tourists dropped in and found something of Life to bring back home. I often invited ex-convicts whom I supervised.

Serving the Lord was a great honor, as was providing for His servants. There was never a time of ‘convincing’, ‘cajoling’, or pressuring the Body. The Holy Spirit would move hearts without hesitation. Once, for example, a beloved pastor known to our church, was in need. He was a pastor in Siberia, serving God amongst many drug addicts, alcoholics, and impoverished. Pastor Dave Wilkerson came to the pulpit and said, “We learned that the church in Siberia needs a new roof, if anyone feels led to contribute.” Bob and I were not prepared at that moment to give but would surely bring an offering later. Too late! Before the service was over, the need was met. Bob and I were actually disappointed, we missed the honor of providing for a beloved servant.

Before our trip I went to the bank to get some checks. This time, we would be prepared for the Lord to call upon us!

We arrived as the worship service started. It was a large, modern sanctuary for a congregation of about one thousand. The songs did indeed exalt the Lord, one I had never heard bowed my heart and teared my eyes…

However, when I opened my eyes and looked around, everyone else was singing like statues. Ok.

Sermon outlines were available and, when a pastor rose to preach a message, it was clear he would be preaching on persecution. He followed the outline and the scriptures therein however, the sword seemed dull and the waters stagnant, my mind wandered and Bob fell asleep in his chair. Ok.

I was still thinking of the ‘Smith’ family, living next to the ashes of their barn. Was there room at the pulpit for the Holy Spirit’s plea?

Although there were happy events and fellowships happening, there was no plea – perhaps this family were not really members? After the service we left the sanctuary and went to a big counter called INFORMATION. A woman greeted us and, learning that we were visitors, began reaching for ‘welcome’ brochures and information. I asked about the ‘Smith’ family barn…

“I saw that the ‘Smith’ family’s barn burned down recently. Are they members of your church?”

“Oh yes!”

“It sounds like a tremendous loss, esp with their farm animals and equipment…”

“Yes, they’re farmers, it’s their livelihood, a terrible loss…”

“Oh. I noticed that the church is having a Yard Sale next week. But I also read online that they need $150,000 to build a new barn. It doesn’t seem that a Yard Sale could possibly meet that need….is it just a stereo type or is it true that the Amish do ‘barn raising’ in one day for each other?”

“No, it’s true, they do. But we’re not Amish”, with that she slowly shuffled the ‘Welcome’ brochures away from us and mumbled, “If you want any more information, you’ll have to call the church office.”

“Oh, ok. thank you.”, I smiled on a cheery note, “By the way, I’m Lisa, this is my husband Bob”

She stared back in silence. No name given, welcome appeared rescinded!

Bob and I were baffled, “She didn’t want to give us her name.” “I know, and she pushed aside the brochures, out of our reach!” We didn’t plan to ‘raise the whole barn’ but wanted to partake in the Lord’s work for brethren in need. But was the Lord working?

What happened to the Holy Spirit? To the kinship of brethren? Do we believe the words we sing, that God “holds the oceans in His hands”, that He is “full of wondrous deeds”? If the Amish, working in the flesh, can gather and build a barn for their community in one day, what might the Holy Spirit do if the Body of Christ cries out to Him and believes?

“…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13

Surely the Lord calls upon His brethren, irresistibly moving their hearts to give with joy. The Holy Spirit can call various strangers to a church with open hearts to give. Great need is God’s opportunity to display His faithfulness and His life in our midst!

There’s no scriptural call to bring your unwanted possessions before the Lord. God needs no Yard Sale. All He needs is a faithful believing heart, even with a few fish and loaves, to demonstrate that He is our Father, He will provide, and He will never fail us. That’s where His testimony shines in the world!

‘Ingenuity’, ‘digital marketing’, ‘fundraising ideas’ and ‘fun small groups’ are good for social affairs, not supernatural affairs. Are our plans God-led plans? If so, they will not fail – He’s in charge and His purposes will prevail.

May we as a people hunger for and call upon God, depending upon Him, that we may be a God-led people that fulfill His will and glorify Him as we pass through this world.

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!”

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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….

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

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

  

Days of Noah? Days of Sodom?

There are less than 100 days left until the US presidential election.  This is of great concern to nearly everyone, regardless of party affiliation.  But should those days preoccupy the hearts and minds of Christ’s Body?  Every heart, including mine, longs for safety and normalcy, but is safety really ‘normal’ in a fallen dark world?

Under the guise of ‘free love’ and ‘peace’, the sexual revolution of the 1960’s swung open the gates of fornication, homosexuality, and promiscuity, leading to a harvest of broken families, infidelities, abortions, and single parent homes.  More than ‘normalized’, we have pridefully displayed our sexual deviances with boisterous parades and youth indoctrinations.  Yet, as in the ‘days of Lot’ in Sodom, we are “eating and drinking, selling and planting…” living our lives normally but oblivious to the ominous judgment looming overhead.

Now, under the guise of ‘peaceful protest’ and ‘racial equality’ we have, increasingly, a “world filled with violence”.  Might God determine of us as with Noah’s violent generation,  “…that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.”?  Ongoing wanton and pointless rioting with ‘leaders’ nodding with tacit approval, swings open the gates of man’s lust for violence – gates not easily or even possible to close.

And yet Jesus said that in the ‘Days of Noah’ as with Sodom, “People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage…” – all good things, even things ordained by God but with one caveat:  They were so intertwined with the world, they were oblivious to the warnings of sure and horrific judgment.   

Perhaps most American believers, like myself, are not tempted to be promiscuous or violent but the temptation to enter into political forays is almost irresistible.  Like ‘eating and drinking and marrying’, it seems normal, if not good and necessary, to champion the cause of what is right, lawful, and moral.

But, I believe, the challenge for the godly in these days is this:  Will we view our world through the platform of Republican/Democrat or through the lens of God’s unchanging word?  Are our hearts gripped with urgency to restore a prosperous and ‘normal’ society or are we gripped with an urgency, as Noah had, to preach the Gospel and warn of sure and horrific judgment?

We have saturated our culture with a shallow and benign “God is love”, “Jesus loves you” message that served only to squelch the fear of God that we so desperately need.

Less than 100 days left for election?  That’s 100 days to commit to God’s word, to dive into end times scriptures that Jesus, who does love you, proclaimed to warn and prepare whomever will heed, that He is returning as Judge as the world ripens for God’s wrath.

Don’t resist but dive into scriptural study of end time prophecies and, I urge myself, commit again to studying Revelation.  Read and re-read, call upon the Holy Spirit – our Teacher and Counselor.  Refer to reliable commentaries.  As beloved Pastor Ben Crandall always exhorted, “Get into this Book and get this Book into you!”

We don’t know who will win elections but omnipotent and sovereign God proclaims the truth of what is happening and what will surely happen.  For the prayful and hungry heart, He will reveal these truths and root them deep enough for us to bear fruit as His ambassadors.  With convicted hearts, not campaign flags, we’ll proclaim the next big event – Christ’s return as Judge and the outpour of God’s wrath upon a rebellious, unbelieving world.

Help us Lord, to resist the pull to ‘normalize’ our tumultuous world.  Give our hearts a hunger and understanding of Your word – let it sink in and overflow to those around us that we may fulfill Your call upon us in this world.

 

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….

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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. 

Our Enduring City

As a pandemic peters out, our nation implodes with rampant rioting, looting, and destruction.  Spilled blood, ashes and rubble can in no way reveal actual ruined lives, grieving hearts, and fearful, anxious souls.

While I do believe in peaceful protests, rage and depravity are deepening brokenness and painful divisions.  What say You Lord, to those who mourn for a country, their city, their community that they love? 

For American Christians, the hard truth that should order our lives and structure our perspective is this:

“Love not the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  (I John 2:15)

The Apostle Peter and others note our standing in this world…

“To God’s elect, strangers in the world…live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear….Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world...”

Because of America’s freedom, opportunities, and the prosperous fruits gained from moral living and hard work, American Christians have so intertwined and blended in with unbelievers that the Gospel message has no distinction and worse, our contented lives leave no true longing for God’s Kingdom…

…until perhaps, our world begins to crumble.

When our world is crumbling, we must remember who we are, the ‘ekklesia’ – “the called out ones”, God’s people called to live as strangers and foreigners.

There is a foray of racial, political, and criminal fervor beckoning us all to jump in at some juncture.  But believers are called to navigate the narrow road – God’s word, God’s call, God’s way.   Jesus said,  “…narrow is road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  I want to be one of that few!

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Would you put your money here?  Neither should we invest our heart in this world.  

As a social worker and retired law enforcement officer, I care deeply for my community.  I avail myself to serve and pray to be a light.  But I know that this world cannot be fixed, it will not improve, but will, in fact, downward spiral into further darkness and chaos toward that day of judgment.  Whether we push a broom or sit as CEO, now is the time to hear from the Lord, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” and we need the reward of His presence and infilling more than ever.

 

From Genesis to Revelation, an overriding truth is evident:  for God’s people, strength comes from separation – separation from this world, separation unto God.  God is not partial to Americans, but to His “treasured possession”,  the Body of Christ, and we are from “every tribe, every nation, every tongue”.

Injustice, loss, grief and utter destruction are real and painful.  But may the Lord detach our hearts from the things and fervor of this world.  I pray that the Holy Spirit lift our heads and focus our hearts as our spiritual forefathers’, “…they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken so, “Love not this world….”

“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”    (Hebrews 13:14)

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!