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.

Who Wants to Read About Humility?

I had Andrew Murray’s book, ‘Humility’, on my shelf for sometime. I probably looked through it once but never prayerfully, seeking what the Lord may have for me through this godly brother. There are less than 100 pages to this book but beware, every sentence holds godly truth. Murray begins his weighty discourse describing humility as most essential yet most neglected to our salvation:

…(our) whole relation to God and man marked by an all-pervading humility. Without this, there can be no true abiding in God’s presence or experience of His favor and the power of His Spirit…Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others: it is the root of all…”

He asserts that he himself, along with many Christians, “had long known the Lord without realizing that meekness and lowliness of heart are to be the distinguishing feature of the disciple, as they were of the Master.”

Such “distinguishing feature” is hardly evident in the church today…is it at all evident in me?

While written in 1896, Murray aptly describes the Body of Christ today, striving for and rejoicing in “manly virtues, such as boldness, joy, contempt of the world, zeal, self-sacrifice” while the “deeper graces” taught by Jesus, “most distinctly connected with His cross and the death of self – poverty of spirit, meekness, humility, lowliness – are scarecly thought of or valued”.

God may give boldness to the weak and timid while they live out His call but boldness alone is not esteemed by God. He does not “exalt” the bold but the humble. In fact, God declared, “This is the one esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

If it is at all possible to make humility exciting, Andrew Murray does it. Humility – the way of victory, of entering God’s presence, the way God exalts us – the way of the cross!

Like all aspects of the Christian life, humility is not merely something to agree with but is essential in our walk and surrender to our Savior. “The highest lesson a believer has to learn is humility” and I think I’m just in Humility 101.

“Take every opportunity of humbling yourself before God and man…Accept with gratitude everything that God allows from within or without, from friend or enemy, in nature or in grace to remind you of your need of humbling and to help you to it.”

Yesterday, the morning after I finished this book, my husband Bob did something thoughtless, (ok, unintentional) that irks me very much, as though it could totally discombobulate my day. The fact that he’s done it several times before raises the temp. Murray’s exhortations of humility, verbatim, rose up in my heart but I resisted them, lecturing and blaming Bob, following his steps out as he left for work. I left for the laundry room.

As I stuffed the clothes in the machines, my heart was gripped and convicted. I repented before the Lord and called Bob right away and apologized, truly from my heart. He was very sorry too – just a mutual binding together of sorry hearts that ended up uplifting the morning!

“Accept every humiliation; look upon fellow man who tries or vexes you as a means of grace to humble you.”

Just today, as I was writing this, a situation arose through a phone call with someone who “tries and vexes me”. I actually prayed, “Lord, convict her heart in this situation.” But within an hour, the Lord showed me, clearly, that I was wrong in the scenario. I had to point that out to her and apologize. And, I had to thank God for these opportunities, exposing my uprisen flesh and the lack of this godly virtue.

Murray points to Paul who earnestly asked the Lord to remove the ‘thorn’ that humbled him. Like the Apostle Paul, virtually all Christians want to pursue humility but in truth want to avoid all that humbles. But, Murray concludes, “Our humiliations lead us, in the experience of the presence and power of Jesus, to choose humility as our highest blessing.”

My husband and I are earnestly praying to know God’s call and to serve Him in these, our senior years. In response to that prayer, the Lord is revealing what is really lacking – and what is truly needed. Of course, writing all this is somewhat humiliating – don’t expect follow-up posts!

“God exalts the humble”. In the meantime, I hope to stay teachable, even if it is Humility 101. I know that the Teacher has a great interest in my passing and, as I keep returning to class, He will never fail me.

Who wants to read about humility? Who wants, really wants, to be humble? I hope it’s me!

Humility

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.

Heartbreak in the Heights

We happen to live in Washington Heights, venue for the popular movie, “In The Heights”. I moved here 40 years ago as a student in the 80’s. It was, at the time, the cocaine capital of the east coast and the Marielitos prevailed in vicious crime sprees. Two blocks over from my building is Armory which, at that time, sheltered 800 homeless men who often spilled out onto building doorsteps. None of this bothered me in fact, it was a renters delight at the time and perfect venue for a social work student.

While I have never seen Dominicans singing and dancing in the street, I have a love for my neighbors and community and appreciate enduring with them over the years. My husband and I remained active in our downtown church for over 20 years, but also hoped to find a church in the neighborhood. While the Lord graciously opened a small Bible study in our home for a year, my heart yearns for more, to worship and share the Gospel within the community. Is it just me or the Lord charging my heart?

We learned of a church gathering in the park just 3 blocks from us. Their website had some solid foundational tenets although with some contemporary ‘buzz words’, but we were open to whatever the Lord would show us, outside in a park on a summer morning. I love the idea of praising God, in English and Spanish, out in the park – may others hear and hearts stir!

20210627_114348

Everyone was kind and welcoming. After a time of praise, the pastor spoke with a simple message from John chapter 3, ok. It was good to be with neighborhood folks, most I have never met. However, after the service we met with the pastor to flesh out the beliefs, mission, and teachings of the church. He was excited about youth outreaches, invites to athletics and games and gauging the needs of the community. From there he spoke with vigor of his Genesis Bible study, expounding on things that most people, including myself, don’t know and never heard of…”the first tabernacle was really in the Garden of Eden…..” He quoted a central author in this discovery whose name he mentioned several times but I can’t remember.

He explained at length how violations of “Social Justice” is the central issue behind of Israelites’ exile, founding the church mission of social justice. We could barely wedgeway into his mount of scriptural justifications – my head couldn’t digest his perspectives. Back to Genesis I honed in to ask point blank, “Do you believe in the Biblical account of creation, that God made all in six days?”

A two second hesitation here is all I need but he fueled up more fervor to explain how he was ‘freed’ from the conventional Biblical account through elaborate studies in sophisticated theology, history, and Egyptian culture. I will not even elude to at or hint at what he shared; unraveling the supernatural demonstrations of God’s power and His magnificence is just devilish.

At the end I restated, “I believe in the Bible’s account, it is the foremost introduction to God’s greatness and awesomeness. To diminish that, questions all of His supernatural power and the miracles throughout the Bible…”

As though speaking down to the ‘unenlightened’ he replied, “Yeah, my father still believes that” (I immediately thought, does he have a church? Where is it?) he added, “…and about 30-40% of our attendees at the church still believe that” (Until, I thought, they take your Genesis course and the truth is scrubbed out of their hearts!)

We left with my head swirling with ‘deep’ religious explanations I had never imagined but, moreover, I was heartbroken for the lack of holiness, brokeness for the lost and a fear of God.

God can surely call us to a place that is imperfect, incomplete – even chaotic. But never where truth is disdained and error is taught with fervor. Not sure how long we’ll still be in the Heights but my heart is still searching for God’s presence here and perhaps some sheep to join in worship, who love God and His precious unchanging word, and have a heart for the lost.

I will “keep on asking, seeking, and knocking”, praying for the Lord to order the steps of my feet and my heart. May He lead us to where He is working that we may co-labor with Him in the fields for the harvest.

Exposing the Darkness

There is a video now circulating online, on secular and Christian sites. It is a gripping video made by Altiyan Childs, an award winning Australian singer/songwriter. With his success came the downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse until, he testified, the Lord saved his life and soul. Childs was a Freemason. When Jesus Christ set him free from sin, He also opened his eyes to the demonic darkness entrenched in Freemasonry.

Hence Altiyan’s compelling video.

I rarely post videos of any kind and this one is a long one. But I found it both compelling and spiritually shaking – a shaking that most all believers need today.

Childs presents bold evidence of Freemasons gaining strategic and high positions in government, entertainment, sports, and the media. Less known are the leaders now in religious groups, including some mega-churches. This has sweeping ramifications. The power to manipulate culture and politics and covertly collaborate is precisely the underpinnings of one world power, domination, and control.

Importantly, Childs exposes the dual existence of the outer and inner memberships. There is a large sphere of Freemasons that maintain a positive and productive vein in society. Hospitals, charities, and community services are aspects are founded by Freemasons. While all members take life risking oaths, most never see what goes on in the higher levels – the inner courts where dark spiritual powers are beckoned, worshipped, and availed.

Freemason literature and high ranking doctrine define the ‘masses’ as ignorant, vile and stupid, easily manipulated. Christians are singularly pointed out as those who defy the entrenched Freemason Satanic religion.

This video injects gravity and depth into God’s continual call in scripture to separate from the world. It punctuates and explains the warning from James,

“…don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

We don’t ‘miss God’s best’ or ‘miss the mark’. Entanglement with the world is hatred and we become God’s enemy because “the rulers” “the authorities” “the powers of this dark world” wage war against God and do so through willing men and women.

I avoid conspiracy theories and ‘deep state’ perspectives and views. But I hope that Altiyan Childs video will open eyes of believers and stir us with the urgency to delve into scripture, fervently pray, and prepare to endure near future events.

Don’t Get Onboard!

lusitania sinking

Few people today remember or care to recall the sinking of luxury liner RMS Lusitania, destroyed by German submarine torpedoes in May 1915. It was a catalyst to USA entry into WWI. The 1,198 victims included millionaires and commoners and carried works of art by Monet, Rembrandt, and Rubens. But what may be lesser known is that all who boarded had been warned of enemy attacks on that specific ship. The warnings came from the Germans themselves, posted in major newspapers….

Lusitania_warning

Reporters investigating those who perished and the survivors found that all aboard had scoffed at these wartime warnings. They fully believed that the Lusitania was “too big and too strong” to destroy.

Why should we care about this demolished sinking ship today? It seems that many American Christians are investing emotional and spiritual time and resources into saving the luxurious traditions and lifestyle of the USA. Even though this country is sinking, many root their loyalties onboard a ship that God Himself declares destined to sink into darkness.

Increasingly worldliness – not gross sinfulness – stealthily contaminates our faith and deafens our ears to God’s call.

God warns and exhorts His people throughout scripture to separate themselves from unbelievers, living apart from mainstream world culture and values. We are not to get onboard with the world….

“…friendship with the world is hatred toward God…Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God” James 4:4

In his book, Love Not The World, Watchman Nee expounds upon God’s ongoing cry for His people to separate from this world. I highly recommend this easy to read book as every line holds liberating truth for the believer…

“Separation to God, separation from the world, is the first principle of Christian living.”

“Do not let us think for a moment that Satan opposes God only be means of sin and carnality in men’s hearts; he opposes God by means of every worldly thing.”

“…everything belonging to the world is under the sentence of death. We still go on living in the world and using the things of the world, but we can build no future with them…”

“…there is a mind behind the system…an ordered system, ‘the world’ which is governed from behind the scenes by a ruler, Satan.”

“Indeed, unless we look at the unseen powers behind the material things we may be readily deceived.”

“How watchful we need to be lest at any time we be found helping Satan in the construction of (his) ill-fated kingdom.”

“The essential character of the world is Satanic; it is at enmity with God. To see this is to find deliverance.”

As Americans, we are at critical junctures in our country, much like watching a slow train crash with precious cargo. The greatest temptation for many of us is to join in the foray, fight for ‘upright morals’ and make a stand for…for what?

We are called to ‘stand’, steadfast in our faith, trusting in Jesus and His word, even upon loss of all and life itself. “He who stands firm to the end will be saved”.

Those souls boarding the Lusitania foolishly denied posted warnings of destruction. With God’s unchangeable and trustworthy ‘warnings of destruction’, we have no excuse to get onboard the world’s course. We cannot and are not called to change it nor can we delay the promised culmination of all nations under the rule of the antichrist.

I press these truths into my own heart, that I may not get onboard the wrong ship and later mourn a missed call, a neglected task or intended purpose for my life from our Heavenly Father.

As the Body of Christ in the world, our choices have eternal value and consequences.

Press on brothers and sisters!

The Purpose of Pharaoh – I Mean Biden

exodus II

Much of America continues to lament, if not protest, the election of Joe Biden. Was it fair? Was it rigged? Was there fraud? (What? Fraud in politics? Shocking!) But in how much up stir should the believer in Christ partake, might not sovereign God have a purpose in raising and establishing leaders and kings? He says He does in Daniel 2:21,

“He changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings”.

An elementary view of the Hebrews in Genesis into Exodus finds that, following a severe famine, God brought the sons of Jacob into Egypt where they enjoyed prosperity and the best of that land. God providentially brought Joseph into Egypt ahead them and raised up this godly young man to be a powerful leader. God established Joseph and blessed His people through his reign.

Generations later, an oppressive and cruel Pharaoh arose over Egypt and the Lord declares that He Himself raised him to power. Why? Through this despot sovereign God would display His powerful attributes over demon gods and in doing so, set His people free.

But the bigger picture may be missed here. God raised up Joseph through divine providence to be a reigning power in Egypt and through him the people of God were gathered there. They enjoyed the best of the land, prosperity and safety. Life was good for many generations. Why leave Goshen? Who wants a nebulous ‘promised land’ or ‘deliverance’ from a good life?

Raising up a despot that would oppress and enslave was a formidable catalyst for a heart cry to God. And became the fire needed to ignite their hearts to separate and flee.

With all the American clamor and protests about elections, fraud, economic and legislative fears, have we become so attached to Goshen that we have lost sight of the Promised Land, eternity in God’s coming Kingdom? Have we any cry for our Deliverer to “save us from our sins” and “rescue us from the dominion of darkness”? Or do we just want deliverance from leftist socialist intrusion into our prosperous and enjoyable life?

Many Christians are praying for God to remove people from office, install others, and abolish immorality. Was it at all possible for the Hebrews to pray away Pharaoh? Could we imagine praying away the Antichrist? A pastor’s wife, who had asked me to pray for a election overturn, replied to my objections, “It’s only prayer, what harm will it do?”

Are we rubbing a genie bottle or approaching the King? Aren’t we compelled to pray in His will, to align with His heart? There is a harm in trivializing prayer and the holiness of Whom we beseech. Moreover, if we are occupied with the thoughts, desires, and will of our own heart and the things of this world, what true burdens are we neglecting of the Lord’s heart?

The Lord says nowhere, “make yourselves at home in this world”. He says live like strangers, foreigners, and aliens. For the most part, those folks can’t even vote. Without an oppressive Pharaoh, perhaps the Hebrews would still be in Egypt. What will charge us toward our Deliverer and turn our hearts away from the things of this world to our promised land?

Campaigning for righteousness, morality, and prosperity seems very good and unifying but it is not the Gospel. Morality marches seem virtuous, even invigorating but are always ecumenical. The true Gospel is unpopular, and our true strength does not come from improving the world but separating from it.

Whomever is inaugurated in January, let us draw nearer to our King. As the world spins faster to its demise, let us not miss one call, not one divine assignment or appointment. I pray we not settle for improving or upgrading this already condemned world but set our heart on things above, that the Lord might lead and fulfill His purposes through our imperfect yet willing vessels.

Missing God’s call because of ‘good causes’ would be the worst fraud of all.

However difficult to receive, if it be God’s will, let ‘Pharaoh’ step up and lead. God reveals His great power with the backdrop of darkness.

The Purpose of Pharaoh – I Mean Biden

exodus II

Much of America continues to lament, if not protest, the election of Joe Biden. Was it fair? Was it rigged? Was there fraud? (What? Fraud in politics? Shocking!) But in how much up stir should the believer in Christ partake, might not sovereign God have a purpose in raising and establishing leaders and kings? He says He does in Daniel 2:21,

“He changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings”.

An elementary view of the Hebrews in Genesis into Exodus finds that, following a severe famine, God brought the sons of Jacob into Egypt where they enjoyed prosperity and the best of that land. God providentially brought Joseph into Egypt ahead them and raised up this godly young man to be a powerful leader. God established Joseph and blessed His people through his reign.

Generations later, an oppressive and cruel Pharaoh arose over Egypt and the Lord declares that He Himself raised him to power. Why? Through this despot sovereign God would display His powerful attributes over demon gods and in doing so, set His people free.

But the bigger picture may be missed here. God raised up Joseph through divine providence to be a reigning power in Egypt and through him the people of God were gathered there. They enjoyed the best of the land, prosperity and safety. Life was good for many generations. Why leave Goshen? Who wants a nebulous ‘promised land’ or ‘deliverance’ from a good life?

Raising up a despot that would oppress and enslave was a formidable catalyst for a heart cry to God. And became the fire needed to ignite their hearts to separate and flee.

With all the American clamor and protests about elections, fraud, economic and legislative fears, have we become so attached to Goshen that we have lost sight of the Promised Land, eternity in God’s coming Kingdom? Have we any cry for our Deliverer to “save us from our sins” and “rescue us from the dominion of darkness”? Or do we just want deliverance from leftist socialist intrusion into our prosperous and enjoyable life?

Many Christians are praying for God to remove people from office, install others, and abolish immorality. Was it at all possible for the Hebrews to pray away Pharaoh? Could we imagine praying away the Antichrist? A pastor’s wife, who had asked me to pray for a election overturn, replied to my objections, “It’s only prayer, what harm will it do?”

Are we rubbing a genie bottle or approaching the King? Aren’t we compelled to pray in His will, to align with His heart? There is a harm in trivializing prayer and the holiness of Whom we beseech. Moreover, if we are occupied with the thoughts, desires, and will of our own heart and the things of this world, what true burdens are we neglecting of the Lord’s heart?

The Lord says nowhere, “make yourselves at home in this world”. He says live like strangers, foreigners, and aliens. For the most part, those folks can’t even vote. Without an oppressive Pharaoh, perhaps the Hebrews would still be in Egypt. What will charge us toward our Deliverer and turn our hearts away from the things of this world to our promised land?

Campaigning for righteousness, morality, and prosperity seems very good and unifying but it is not the Gospel. Morality marches seem virtuous, even invigorating but are always ecumenical. The true Gospel is unpopular, and our true strength does not come from improving the world but separating from it.

Whomever is inaugurated in January, let us draw nearer to our King. As the world spins faster to its demise, let us not miss one call, not one divine assignment or appointment. I pray we not settle for improving or upgrading this already condemned world but set our heart on things above, that the Lord might lead and fulfill His purposes through our imperfect yet willing vessels.

Missing God’s call because of ‘good causes’ would be the worst fraud of all.

However difficult to receive, if it be God’s will, let ‘Pharaoh’ step up and lead. God reveals His great power with the backdrop of darkness.

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. 

Love Thy New York Neighbor

The Lord’s famous ‘Good Samaritan’ story often stirs my heart.  Sometimes I wonder, why did He use the term ‘neighbor’ when the needy person in the story did not “live next door or near the person in question”?  Two ‘neighbor’ stories always come to mind, one near and one far….

A few years ago a Mormon couple moved into the apt next door.  They were a bit overly friendly and even baked cookies to leave at everyone’s door.  (But no one I know would eat food left at their door)  Soon after, invites to Mormon services were given and, not surprisingly, the flyers looked very ‘mainstream Christian’.   I wondered, was this ‘loving your neighbor’?

The second story is far away and long ago when my father lived in Aleppo.  As a youth he worked for an Arab in a small shop around a cluster of stores.  One day there was an Islamic uprising against the Jewish community, Jews were beaten and shops were vandalized.  When club wielding, menacing men came to the Jewish shop next to my father, the Arab dashed out and stood in front of the Jewish shop.  He spread his arms wide across the doorway and boomed, “You must kill me first to get to them.  They are my neighbors!”

Born in the rough and tumultuous Middle East, Jesus’ concept of ‘neighbor’ defies most superficial ones of today.

I try to uphold ‘neighborly love’, sometimes incidentally, carrying groceries for elderly, visiting someone sick, getting mail.  Sometimes, it is a commitment of friendship such as with ‘Hilda’ in Juanita’s Joy and Making The Last Seconds Count.  But the truth is, I was hungry for more – more love to flow in and through me.

If God “determined the times set (for men) and the exact places where they should live” it would seem that one’s ‘neighbors’ are assigned as well – whether they are near or not.   While my heart was burdened for the Kurds oppressed and under fire in Syria and I was drawn to the ministries of Kurdistan, the Lord made His will clear…

I was disappointed that my heart was so kindled but not by God.  Shortly after the Kurdistan kibosh though, God opened the door of my neighbor’s life and ushered me in.  Joanna*, a single working parent with a chronic illness, always seemed okay and self-sufficient.  But when her life unraveled through illness and loss and without family or support she was greatly needing an outpour of “oil and wine”.

When the Lord kindles the love, the ‘oil and wine’ begin to flow.   Coming alongside her with childcare, practical resources and emotional support seems supernatural in that it is not ‘taking away’ but ‘adding to’ my life…friendship, pleasures of giving and mentoring, and the joy caring for a cheerful toddler…

Moreover, Joanna spoke of a church life some time ago.  The Holy Spirit is stirring a living faith and I believe she will grasp the Gospel and find the new life promised through our Savior Jesus.

May we always have the faith to thank God when the crossing bar lowers on our path, pausing us, redirecting us or just stopping us from pursuing our own desires.  And may He order our steps and infill our hearts with the “oil and wine” ready to flow toward that “neighbor” along our path!