25 March 2010


I Peter 3:8-9

8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

We had a wonderfully exciting evening of open discussion at our mid-week bible study last night. With the seriousness of the socio-political events of this week, we took a moment to discuss these events that we, Christian or otherwise, must deal with as we move forward. We discussed the inevitability of prophecy. How we know we are moving towards end times events like a one world government, cashless monetary system, a one world religion and the likes. But while world-wide events are clearly outlined, the role of the US is not defined. Not having a definitive answer in scripture with how the United States will fair in eschatology, we choose to have one of two practical reactions:
  1. Since there is no way of knowing for sure what will happen in/to the US, we sit on our laurels and so nothing awaiting our doom.
  2. We can be encouraged! Using this time we have set before us to minister to the lost people of this country, knowing that there is yet still time to do His work.
I think for the most part we left encouraged. God still has much work to do in and through us, His true followers, while we are still able. Now is a time, like other special moments in history, where the table is set for a harvest unlike one we have never seen before. We need to have our foundation solidly planted on the truth of Jesus Christ and His gospel and prepare ourselves to earnestly contend for the faith. As much as these things are important for us to talk about and to deal with as we consider how it intersects with us practically living out our Christianity, this is not what I remember most about last night.

The night went long, and our guests stayed longer than normal. After all had gone home for the evening, the we were relaxing on the couch enjoying a bit of a movie with the kids as 10:00 o'clock rolled up and it was time for bed. Slowly the children started to stir and head off to give us hugs and kisses before bed. It was then that Wyatt, our 13 (soon to be 14) year old son leaned back against my chest from my right side and said, "Maybe I'll just sleep here." Yes, I have been told I'm a big scary guy. I recently had a friend tell me I look like a caveman. Personally I feel like I look like a returning GI who has been living in the mountains of Afghanistan for the last 2 years now sporting a new beard and a bad attitude; but alas, I'm a softy.

I was personally touched by my son's comments and the serenity he seemed to be feeling as he lay on my chest. Peace had overcome him as he pulled the bill of his hat down over his face and offered a heavy sigh. Contentment sunk into him, and I was deeply experiencing the tenderness of a son resting in the protection of his father. I was immediately reminded of the scene of the Last Supper, where John leaned against the chest of Jesus (John 21:20). Up to this point in my life I have often wondered what it might be like to be John, so lovingly and contently leaning on Jesus, knowing how much Jesus loved him and cared for them (a fact that would be lived out in ways within the next 24 hours that, at that moment, John probably thought were never possible).

As my son leaned on me, I suddenly began to wonder what Jesus felt at that moment as well. I'm certain emotion boiled through his heart at that moment. John, a beloved disciple who loved Him dearly was spending his last meal with Him. Jesus was keenly aware, as his teachings that night would rightly declare that things were going to get very tough very fast for these men who had invested the last three years of their lives with Him. He knew that things were now in their hands. That now the test would come to see of the disciples would 'walk the talk' so to speak. He knew that much sorrow and broken heartedness was inevitable, and that again, the circumstances of the events that would in reality being about the opportunity for salvation for all of mankind, as important as that is, would initially being sorrow and real severe emotional pain for those He loved the most. And Jesus Himself was struggling to balance the reality of His being a man, with the duty of Him being God.

And then there's the Father. For the first time in all of eternity destined to be separated from the Son. He will be required to watch over His son have these last moments with the disciples, and yes, with John leaning on the chest of Jesus – enthralled, captivated by the love and respect he had for this man that, unknown to him, was about to die for him. The Father, knowing that the salvation of all His children rests on the finished work of the cross, cannot, will not, interfere - and therefore must watch with a broken heart Himself.

About 30 seconds later, and all this had run through my mind, my son gets up, and heads off to bed after a quick hug and a, "I love you too Dad". A split-second earlier I was elated to be considered a loving pillow for my son's head. With him gone, a coldness sets in on my chest as the heat of his affections have passed. A cool waterfall-like breeze of cool air drifts down over me as the window behind me had been slightly cracked open to 'air out' the house on what was an unexpectedly warm spring day. I'm left feeling like something is missing.

In our fellowship earlier we talked about a lot. We debated the merits of this and that, balanced it all against what we knew to be biblical truth and yet to be fulfilled prophecy. We looked at a lot of different subjects and angles of those subjects. As exciting as it can be to watch world events take place, the biggest thrill to that all is to be gathered together with God's people. To know you are in the company of people who think and feel and love like you do. Through all the conversations, and all the discussions and considerations, love was the central theme. Love, it was rightfully decided, is the centerpiece to all things Christian.

As Paul said at the beginning of I Corinthians 13, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." That moment of unknown tenderness shown by my son will have me fueled for weeks to come. That moment, were it not for the fact that he reads these devotionals as well, would have slipped his memory into the obscurity of life details lost to history as insignificant, is a moment I shall never forget.
By the way son, thanks for leaving that Airheads candy in my car. No you can't have it back, but yes, it was really good!

22 March 2010

Vanity, All is Vanity

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
      Fear God and keep His commandments,
      For this is man's all.
       14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
      Including every secret thing,
      Whether good or evil.

 I awoke this morning to see that our beloved congress passed their omnibus health care bill. This is a bill that includes laws that require me as a citizen to make purchases at my own expenses. The government is now not only taxing us more than ever before, it will now be putting its hands directly into our pockets and making us spend our money on the things that THEY choose and deem best for us. This is patently unconstitutional. As of today, 22 March, 2010, we no longer live in a representative Republic; we now live under tyrannical rule, forced to do the will of those who rule over us, rather than us ruling over ourselves as is Constitutionally mandated and gifted to us by God.

Last night I suffered severe back pain. Now I know why. It is the weight of the burden I now carry as a citizen forced upon me by a government that is supposed to represent me, not subjugate me. In my opinion (that admittedly carries little to no weight), our Constitution has been trashed and rendered useless to us as a nation of freemen when our congress votes to pass legislation that between 65%-75% of Americans do not want. Our representatives have failed us, and our President knowing that this bill would not pass on its merit alone, BRIBED and colluded this bill to passage by offering exemptions, pork-barrel kick-backs, and yes, he even went so far as to offer replacement jobs with major corporations that are Democrat owned, or government appointments should those representative that voted for the bill (and against their constituents) not get reelected into office this fall. It is scandalous and worthy of impeachment and imprisonment.
Our Congress and President are guilty of Treason and worthy of treason's just punishment. I cannot express in words my heartfelt loss for this nation that I love so much, and my utter disgust with those treasonous turncoats who thumbed their nose at the Americans who put them in office and turned their backs on those they have been elected to represent ~ and voted this bill into law. I am angry beyond description.

 The most wise man to ever live once said these words:
"Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!"
 As much as my patriotic heart is breaking, I know that God is in charge. As much as I feel that we as citizens have been utterly betrayed and sold out to the most corrupt government this nation has ever seen, I wait on God. As much as the soldier in me, remembering that I once took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic yearns and pounds within my chest to now uphold that oath, I know that God is sovereign, and that as Romans 13 tells us, our government exists because He allows it. I fully realize that if my hope rested on a President, or a Congress, or a Representative - that I'd be sold down the river for a few pork-dollars that might help a personal cause, or get someone reelected. Instead, in times of trouble and times of need, we must rest in Him and Him alone.
As I sat writing this message and stewing inside over the betrayal of our citizenry this morning, I checked my email. In there I discovered that the wife of a fellow pastor committed suicide last night. My anger at our government immediately evaporated, and the words of Solomon rung in my ears, "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity" rang over and over in my ears. What is real and important suddenly came back into focus.

I strongly believe, now more than ever, that we are very close to the end. Jesus has promised His return, and the Rapture of the church is imminent. As my dear friend Lowell Burrier once reminded me, "As Christians, "we all know the end of the story, but none of us enjoy watching it happen!" meaning that as the end draws near, things will get harder and harder, persecution will increase, evil will increase, deception will increase, and the hearts of many men (even believers) will be hardened towards God. That makes none of us happy. We are seeing denominations leave Christian dogma behind in favor of relativism and seeker friendliness; and our brothers and sisters leaving solid bible teaching churches to go to those churches that are leaving solid theology, 'seeker friendly', or just make them 'feel better". We are seeing local churches closed because pastors fall or congregations can't agree on a carpet color. We are seeing friends and loves ones walk away from church and their faith because the combination of power of the world's vices and a lack of reliability on the Holy Spirit in their lives. These are hard time, and they will get harder, just as promised. Being a Christian in the US will become more difficult than you might have ever imagined, but God is still God, and we know that at the end of the race, He waits for us.

Be angry, but do not sin. Work hard to protect what God has given you under this government that we live in, but do not ever let that become a stumbling block in your faith. All that the world grasps for and seeks to achieve is vanity, and if we grasp, and pull and seek to retain worldly things instead of the things of God and righteousness, even when that thing is freedom itself, we are a worthless affront to God…and the most wise man in history knew it when Solomon said:
 1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
      Before the difficult days come,
      And the years draw near when you say,

      " I have no pleasure in them":
       2 While the sun and the light,
      The moon and the stars,
      Are not darkened,
      And the clouds do not return after the rain;
       3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
      And the strong men bow down;
      When the grinders cease because they are few,
      And those that look through the windows grow dim;
       4 When the doors are shut in the streets,
      And the sound of grinding is low;
      When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
      And all the daughters of music are brought low.
       5 Also they are afraid of height,
      And of terrors in the way;
      When the almond tree blossoms,
      The grasshopper is a burden,
      And desire fails.
      For man goes to his eternal home,
      And the mourners go about the streets.
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
      Or the golden bowl is broken,
      Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
      Or the wheel broken at the well.
       7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
      And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
       8 " Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher,

      " All is vanity."

But Solomon ended with this advice:
      Fear God and keep His commandments,
      For this is man's all.

In times like this we must be on our knees before God imploring Him for guidance and protection, supporting one another like never before. When we see our nation collapsing around us and we become angry, remember that there are people in such despair that they are taking their own lives, our own problems compare against the eternal love of God seem miniscule. We are humbled and embarrassed. When we forget that God comes first, and that as Christians the only thing we should have any fear of is the judgment of God himself, than we have quite running the race, and forgotten that God has already won it for us.