Thursday, July 16, 2020

Spiritual Courage

It takes courage to take spiritual inventory. Looking in the mirror that reflects an accurate picture of how you are living in light of God's truth can be tough. God wants you to know how you are doing. Remember that He will never reject you or cast you aside. His truth is meant to help and encourage us.

After we have been brave enough to admit and confront the spiritual hindrances that keep us from displaying transformational love, we must look to the source of that love. As the issues that impede us are spiritual they must be dealt with in the spiritual realm. Confession and repentance are not welcome nor are they common practices in the life of many churches today. But, they are serious matters that must be dealt with in the manner God sets forth. The writer of Chronicles states it pretty plainly, "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." So then, it is plain that God wants to heal His people and His land, transforming society.

In this time of Covid many people are afraid. They are afraid for their life and the lives of their loved ones. Their fear can certainly lead to insecurity. We fear the unknown and what might be lurking behind the proverbial corner. The questions arise. Does God really care? Does God know what is going on? Our souls must be able to resound with, yes He knows, yes He cares.

Added to this time of illness and questioning is the madness and violence overtaking the country. Violence has led to the killing of innocent people and those who took an oath to protect us. Lies have turned to truth and foundational truth has been spit upon.

One might ask if we are reaping what we have sown. We have certainly allowed the moral fabric that held us together to be weakened and shredded. Allowing 60 million infants to be sacrificed on the altar of liberal politics and thought has certainly had an impact upon the Almighty and how favorable He looks upon us.

Repenting and seeking forgiveness is the soul cleansing priority of each follower of Christ. As we draw close to Him, He will always draw close to us. When Moses came down from the mountain after meeting with God he was transformed and glowing. People know when a follower of Christ is spending time with his God, it is evident, it shows in their actions, words, and essence. Communion with God magnetizes the one communing, drawing people, as the Holy Spirit has been leading the one in need.

Open yourself to the transforming movement of God, draw close to Him in prayer, confession, praise and begging Him to use you as a source of transforming love. Do not fret about how God will do it, or what might happen, He will empower you to shine and He will bring people across your path that are hungry and thirsty for the real experience with God through Jesus Christ. An old chorus comes to mind, the author escapes me. "Swing wide the door of your heart to the King of Kings, bid Him enter for wonderful peace He brings. He will shelter you under His outstretched wings. Swing wide the door of your heart to the King of Kings."

Jesus told us that we would be the light of the world, a city set on a hill. It will not be our dogma, doctrine, creeds, hymns, nor our knowledge of God that will transform people. It always has been and will continue to be, followers of Christ who have a personal experience with Transforming Love.

Friday, May 29, 2020

God Loves Freedom

What ever possesses a man to leave everything behind and head into the darkness of the unknown? It might be the spirit of adventure. It might be the spirit of  escape. And, it might be the spirit of freedom. That is alright if you are single. But, what if you are part of a family, that changes the consequences. The cost rises with every person you include in the venture.

The stories of people escaping from East Berlin, remember that time, always gripped my heart. Some fantastic escapes took place by men and women and entire families. Ideas from hot air balloons, zip lines, to extensive tunnels, were used by very brave men and women. The images of those who died trying to escape must have been ever before them. Yet, they kept trying to escape.

Oppression is an evil power that has given millions of people the inner desire and drive to be free. There is some God-given inner voice that whispers to the soul of mankind, "I want to be free, I need to be free, I must be the one who decides my destiny." That voice, the desire to be free, has indeed brought that very freedom to millions across the earth.

I believe it was that voice that filled the hearts of the earliest settlers in this land. Many left their homeland yearning for religious freedom. Their conscious could never give in to the dictates of a government trying to regulate the voice of God within their heart. In their desire to worship God according to their own spirit they were willing to pay a very high price. Weeks and months on the high seas is taxing to the very hardiest of men. The families that took such voyages were brave to the extreme. Yet, they would never confess to bravery.

The dream of a land of freedom brought thousands upon thousand to our shores. Almost every person in this great land would find their roots in the family tree of those brave souls. I am aware of the countless who were brought here, not of their own accord. Indentured servants and slaves by the thousands were brought here, to the land of freedom. With free men and women all around them their hearts must have yearned all the more to taste the sweetness of broken chains and writs of servitude torn in half.

Our forefathers used a couple of phrases that I want to mention. The first being this land was the, Second Israel. A land of men and women who were seeking the heart of God and desiring to build a land that would honor him. The second phrase being, A Great Experiment in Self Government. They knew that it was indeed an experiment and that many things could go wrong and some things would go wrong.

The long journey across the treacherous and deadly Atlantic did not allow for the spirit of ease, nor complacency. Our journey today, I'm afraid, is filled with both evils.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Painful Lessons

The old man is lying on a dirty old metal bed, the sheets unchanged for weeks.
He lies on his side with his knees drawn up, like he did 80 years ago.
The gray on his head is matched by the gray of his life.
He has been alone now for years, abandoned by all, left to his bed and bitterness.
Life is hard and that is exactly what he taught everybody around him.
His wife, stoop shouldered by the burdens and his words, crumbled under his care.
For years she tried to please him, her efforts only gained more scorn and weight on her shoulders.
Children now gone, haven't seen the old man in years.

His son, his namesake, pledged to never see or speak to him, never to enter the house until it was funeral time.
A daughter, broken by suspicion and cursing, still lives broken, trying to make her daddy happy, five or six times since she saw him last.
He knew they needed to know that the world is cruel and the best a man could do was to work all of his waking hours.
Home, he expected all to understand his life and be content that he put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
His words, never from a warm spirit, only the ones that needed to be said, the food is cold, the chores are undone, the wood needs carrin-in.
He expects respect and obedience, cares not to know what troubles live in his home.
All homes have trouble, life is hard and you just put up with it.

On his bed his hands are shriveling and gnarled, evidence of years of toil, toil he thought so unappreciated, work ignored, sweat unnoticed.
Unaware of the words of a mother to her children, words of work by their father, toil to provide food and shelter, long hard days spent on the end of a shovel.
He looks down at his hands and realizes his heart and soul is just as bent and gnarled as they are.
He mumbles in a voice no one can understand, words that seem garbled, "God what did I do wrong? Life is hard and they had to learn, the world is cruel and unloving. I did what was best."
A message begins to move deep in his soul, he feels uncomfortable, struggles on the hard rusted metal frame bed.

His stomach churns and his legs move to curb the pain.
A voice very clearly and quietly speaks it's message of unwelcome truth.
Today you are alone, alone on your bed, waiting to die, where are your children?
You are choking on the weeds you planted most of your life.
It is now time for you to realize what you have done, and live and die with it.
Even though you lie here abandoned and scared, yes I will be with you.
I will try and help them understand your life and keep them from your pain.
If only you would have tried to reach me, tried a small amount of kindness.
Soon all your pain and ugliness will end.