Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We The People

It has been brought to my attention that many of our Christian young people are confused about their involvement in politics. 

Most believers recognize that abortion, homosexuality, or stealing from one to give to another is wrong.  However, the question tossed around in our colleges and among our Christian young people is this:  Is it right for me to push my beliefs onto other people?  The words of a graduated college student were, "I believe it is not the Church's job to dictate these issues to a free nation."  The individual was in a quandary, therefore, over whether or not to vote. 

The following is my response to the above question.  Much of this content I have taken from a letter my husband wrote in reply to the student's questions. 

Voting and dictating are two very different things.  The Church is called to proclaim Christ and to influence others for His glory, "to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything Christ commands."  (Matt. 28:19-20)   If we stand aloof while our nation promotes homosexual  activity, abortion, or stealing, then our nation will spiral downward with evil running rampant as in the days of Noah.  One purpose for the Holy Spirit indwelling His church on the earth is to hold back evil, to be a light spread into a dark place. (Matt. 5:13-16; John 16:7-11)

The United States is a constitutional republic which recognizes that the power of the government is in the consent of the governed:  "Of the people, by the people, and for the people", as President Lincoln put it.  "We the people", must reward and encourage righteousness.  (Rom. 13:1-7)  We must also recognize that we are a free nation under God.  The improper exercise of any freedom will result in destruction, thus one reason our "free" nation has so many laws. 

Until now, we have had Christian candidates to choose from.  This year is different.  On the one hand we have a theist who claims Christ, but sympathizes with Muslims and acts counter to the morality Christ teaches.  On the other hand we have a Mormon, who, while morally similar to Christianity, may believe he himself is destined for deity and that Christ is a created being rather than the Creator. 

This brings up the question of what to do with the lesser of two evils.  But Phil. 4:8 suggests we search for the good, not the evil.  And when choosing men, we always must deal with evil, for "all have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."  (Rom. 3:12)

However, we recognize that even fallen men can do good.  We see this in the life of David, a God fearing man, as 1Kings 15:5 states, "David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD's commands all the days of his life--except in the case of Uriah the Hittite."

We also see this demonstrated in the life of Nebuchadnezzar, an ungodly king, who was instrumental in carrying out God's purpose for the people of God.  The nation of Judah was told to submit to him and acknowledge him as their leader.  Though not a believer, for the most part, he ruled righteously.

Therefore, we must choose the candidate who recognizes good as defined by God.  According to James 4:17,  "If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them."  To sit back and remain passive in an election because we do not agree on all points with a candidate, or because he is not a believer may not be the best.  Seek after righteousness first.  (Matt. 6:33)

That said, keep in mind that our own actions have considerably more influence on the lives of those near to us than anyone in public office.  We must be certain we ourselves are practicing righteousness through the power of Christ and that we keep our fellow believers accountable to His laws as well.  If a brother or sister is found to be at fault we are to gently correct with the purpose of bringing them back into right relationship with God, which is the meaning of righteousness.  God's laws are absolute truth, good not only for believers, but for the unbeliever as well.

We must also recognize that true change in behavior comes only from a changed heart brought about through repentance and forgiveness of sin in the blood of Jesus.  Therefore, our campaigning for Christ will have a far greater outcome than our support for any mere man in any earthly office.

In conclusion, the short version is this:  Look for the good in each candidate (Phil. 4:8), engage the political process, (Rom. 13:1-7), and support righteousness. (Matt. 6:33)  At all times remember that God is in control, (Rev. 15:3), while we proclaim Christ to the nations. (Matt. 28:19-20)  It does matter that we vote intelligently, that we actively engage, and that we promote what is right.  Before God, we all have these responsibilities. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The fact that I struggle proves I'm alive, proves God's Spirit is active within me. A teacher must first live out the lesson, integrate it into their lives, before they can passionately teach it. 
I read that yesterday morning from Ezekiel. 

Ironic, since I'm about to teach on what our response should be when plans are suddenly changed.

Esther, she had not planned on becoming a king's play thing or on becoming a queen, but without notice, her life was altered.  I think of how exasperated I get when only one day of mine is changed from the plan and wonder, how would I react if my entire life was disrupted?

I had planned on four hours to write, four hours of complete quiet and stillness, keyboard in hand. 
Instead, I was told classes for my child were canceled, requiring several commutes I had not planned on.  At first I was angry.   I'm supposed to be teaching this material this weekend.  This was my time slot to get it done.  When would I get another chance to write it all out?  This interruption was not welcome.

I tried to write by hand in the car without my computer.  But my brain was way ahead of my hands.  Furthermore, every place I parked my car there were distractions.  This was craziness and the writing was not happening.  Finally, I gave up. 

It was a beautiful day and so I went for a nostalgic walk on a frontage road towards the desert, close to where I used to live.  Hiking in the wilderness alone was never my plan for the day.  I explored a little, took a different route, and came across the ridge where the cottonwoods were displaying their glorious splendor of fall colors.  And the pieces began to fall together. 

I'd been studying how following Christ requires taking up the cross of suffering.  So much is included in bearing the cross . . . accepting our circumstances when they don't turn out as planned, staying in the place of difficulty rather than running from it, faith to move forward in spite of hardship even when I cannot see the end result, being vulnerable. 

As I climbed hills in the desert, without water, and in the heat, I was reminded of Jesus who spent 40 days in a desert. Then I was reminded of Golgotha, that place of suffering where He carried a cross and my sorrows up a hill.  If He bore a cross and I am His follower, should I not also bear my cross?  The hill I hiked down was called Easter Hill

I've had a headache for three days now.  I have hunters arriving in town soon, relatives visiting.  I have a costume to make before next week, a cardboard car to locate for my child, parent teacher conferences, and a house to clean.  Wood to gather and haul before the snow flies, laundry to complete, a son suddenly home from college, and I receive this change of plans to my day?  Have you ever felt overwhelmed with all the urgent things that need doing?  Nothing can wait.  It must all be now. 

Around 2:30 this morning God reminded me of what I'd read in Ezekiel the morning before, that a teacher must first integrate the lesson into their own lives before being effective in their delivery of the lesson.  God was asking me to be flexible with my plans, to bear suffering, to move forward in faith without knowing how the work would be accomplished on time. 

I got up and poured out my frustrations to God.  Then I sat down and wrote through the wee hours of the morning.  Fingers flew over the keyboard, thoughts flowed freely, and by six when the rest of the family was getting up, it was finished and we were off to cut firewood.  God's ways are not our ways.  His way is that His Word become mine, that it be applied to my real life. . . not simply another lesson to be taught.  What is the good in that if it is not my own? 

When our plans get altered I hope we are paying attention, because more than likely it is God's specific direction for our lives and that gets me excited.  The fact that I struggle proves I'm alive and that God is working in my life.  Yes, I like that! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Every time I walk my daughter to and from school lately, this song runs through my mind,
Glorious, my eyes have seen the glory of the Lord . . .    (by Paul Baloche)
These leaves shout, "Glory!"
And my heart is turned upward.

Yet, this picture is zoomed in to block out the yuck.  When I take the picture as it really is, there are ugly wires, and old buildings.  In fact, this picture is taken from my alley right next to smelly trash cans, weeds, and weathered tottering fences.
Sometimes life is like that.  All I can see is the mismatched fences and unattractive wires crisscrossed through my view.  And when my heart is spiraling downward, my senses pick up only what is right in front of me, the putrid smells or barking dogs.  If I would just lift my head, my eyes could gaze beyond all of that to see the glory.

But there are days when I cannot lift my head.  That is when I'm reminded that God is a shield about me, and that He is the one who lifts my head. (Psa.3:3) Unexpected turns leave me dazed, yet even in the midst of confusion and hurt I'm encouraged, because I know God is moving.  He is stirring the nest.  The winds are blowing and when that happens who knows what great things He has in store?  When my soul is downcast I cling to the promise that God is always my refuge, that He always has a plan, and is always in control.  Nothing surprises Him.

And my heart cries, "Glory!" 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Father's Business

The age old question still persists, "What exactly is my Father's business?"   We are continually bombarded with overwhelming need and voices calling us to that need.  With my people pleasing bent, I want to throw out a hearty yes to every last one of them.  Yet if I comply I do not quiet the voices, but instead find they shout even louder, making demands until I am bound by chains of slavery.

Jesus did not heal every sick person, nor take every opportunity to perform a miracle. He did not fix every social injustice or make right every horrendous evil prevalent of his times.   Even at 12 years old He had figured out that He must be about His Father's business.  Yet it was not what we might expect.  His Father's business was to be teachable, to learn, to grow, to obey, to wait in the background until the time was right.  And then, when the fullness of time did at last come, he spent only three years in the public eye.  It was not for the purpose of meeting every physical need or to right every wrong, but to die for the sins of the world, conquering the power of death . . . our real need.

As His ambassadors, His representatives, I wonder if we have lost sight of His business.  Instead of attending to people's spiritual need we have decided the physical need is the gospel and stopped at that.  How is the church any different than our world if we only feed the hungry or fight for issues but do not offer spiritual nourishment?  God has not commissioned us to fight issues or to relieve all poverty.  In fact He tells us we will always have them. (Matt. 26:11) But we are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. (Matt. 28:19,20)

Only as people receive the life giving Spirit of God will there be true change in their morality.
And a nation is only as strong as its morals.

Band aids are good, but not to the neglect of curing the infection.  They will, in fact, ultimately fail if the infection inside is still festering.  If we spent the same amount of energy on sharing our faith as we do on fighting issues or doing good deeds, I wonder how that might change the climate of our culture?  I wonder what affect it would have on the crime that invades our country?  I wonder how that would prevent the silent erosion which filters into our churches?

True, we are to be bearers of good deeds, but in the bearing lets not forget that the primary mission is inward, changed hearts.  So many of our good works are done to fix the outward behavior or to make ourselves look good.   If we are only seeking a feel good sensation and not truly loving those we serve, then what is the good in that? 

Scripture tells us that we will know a person by their works. (James 2:14-16)  But to say that the overflow of my relationship with God in ministry (my works), must look the same as yours is ludicrous.  Part of God's creative character is variety.  He doesn't make us all the same nor expect us to minister in all the same areas.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, was never expected to be queen of Persia.  Deborah was never expected to birth many sons, each becoming a pillar of Israel.  Rachel was never expected to be a seller of purple, lead the multitudes in song, or house a prophet.  Each had their own calling, their own niche.

There is no need to place guilt on someone for not carrying out the other guy's particular passion. If we all ministered to the teenagers, who would care for the elderly?  If we all spent our time in foster parenting, who would teach Sunday School week after week?  Who would teach Good News Clubs in the schools and who would lead in our churches?  Who would write songs and who would be schooled enough to run our sound systems?  Who would build the chairs we sit on?  Come on people!  Let's not flaunt our works before others to be seen by them, to show that we are more righteous than the next guy, to show that our passion is more noble than someone else's. We ALL must be about our Father's business, of sharing our faith.  But our good deeds are expressed in a variety of ways. 

Furthermore, we can produce good works and never have the life of God within.  And ironically, even with the life within, we can still push God aside in order to do our good deeds.  I'm wondering if our focus on the beatitudes gospel is not a distraction from developing the inner, secret, quiet relationship with God, the true gospel of John 3:16, receiving His abundant life through the forgiveness of sins.  If our works are not flowing from a vibrant growing relationship with God, then our works are nothing.  God desires our devotion above our works.
Just sayin'. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Flying Light Bulbs

Yesterday I wrote a post, even published it, but then later that night deleted most all of it except for the pictures and a one line phrase.  I search for the right thing to say and sometimes it just doesn't come out right.  Well, now I've got a few words which I think will be worth your read.  

The neighbor boys like to play in our alley.  They've made a fort that gives them access to the top of their garage and looks to be a lot of fun.  It makes me want to return to my childhood where my primary job was to engage in creative play.  But the other day they found some discarded long flourescent light bulbs and when I looked out the back window, one boy was standing on top of his garage, light bulb in hand held like a javelin and ready to launch.  His brother was standing behind our garage, the audience to anticipated entertainment.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing! 

The light bulb went flying through the air in a glorious arch and then kaboom!  It exploded into a million pieces!  I was rather upset at first because now we had shattered glass in the alley behind our garage and I felt responsible to have it cleaned up.  It is an unspoken rule around here that each neighbor cares for their section of the alley. 

I mustered up a plan.  I would go to their front door if need be and ask the boys to sweep it up.  I grabbed my broom and dustpan and was about to exit the back door when I saw one boy come back with his own broom in hand.  I found out later that another neighbor had also witnessed the grand event and asked them to clean it up. 

When my husband got home late that night, I told him all about it, thinking maybe those boys needed something to do and that he should invite them to youth group.  He laughed!  Here I was being all stern wanting to show them what's what and he laughs?  Almost wishing he could have been those boys himself, he told me, "Yes, those long flourescent light bulbs lying in the alley were far too great a temptation for any adolescent boy.  When they break they make an awesome explosion!" 

Yesterday, the boys were out in their fort again so my husband went to talk to them.  He asked to see their dad when he got home regarding an unrelated item.  So the dad comes over and they have this amazing conversation.  Soon the mom comes to the gate, afraid to come into the yard because she was smoking, but my husband tells her its quite all right, to come on in. 

My yard is a horrific mess right now.  I have not had a chance to clean out all the dead debris from the old flowers and frozen veggie plants as well as everything thrown out there from our recent paint job of the garage.  But you know what?  I think it encouraged the neighbors to see that mess.  I'm normally paranoid of anyone seeing our messes, but this time I think God used it to help them feel comfortable, to help them see we were real people whom they could relate to. 

When we bought this house, I firmly believed God had placed us in this neighborhood on purpose.  I've been discouraged because it is so hard to get to know neighbors in today's world.  Everyone is suspicious of everyone else and with the tall fences we place around our yards the message is loud and clear, don't intrude. 

I tell you this story mostly because I am so proud of my husband, who can strike up a pleasant conversation with anyone and genuinely cares about people.  He turned potential strife into opportunity.  Sometimes I wonder how I ever ended up with a guy like this, seeings how I am not really gifted in these areas.  At any rate, I'm so grateful this man is mine.  What a treasure!

We are going through some trying times in our lives right now and it is so easy to get wrapped up in the problems.  They just seem to loom bigger and get more complicated as the days march forward.  Yet, this incident reminds me of why we are here, to share our faith with others, and to gently lead them into the kingdom of God.  It doesn't have to be all serious.  Though holy and majestic, God is also playful with a sense of humor.  He can use anything to open doors of opportunity, even flying light bulbs.  Just hoping I don't miss it. 

p.s.  My daughter is sitting in my lap, reading this story with eyes of interest, "They built a fort that gives them access to the top of their garage?  Maybe we should do that!"  Hmmmm. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Accusing Voices

I will praise Him in this storm. . .

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rock Solid

If heaven is God's throne and earth is the footstool for His feet, how am I treating His Word?  That is the question that lays heavy on my heart these days.  How much authority does it have on my life?
I've been reading through Jeremiah and at times come away afraid because the Word is a mirror, reflecting who I really am, and I don't always like what I see.  I say I live it, but how many times have I asked God to speak to me, only to vote on whether I will accept what He says?

It is so easy to live by my own agenda, push forward with what I desire, instead of on what the Word commands.  When I hear his still small voice I am awed . . .delighted, but then sometimes continue through the day oblivious to what He said.  God calls, but no one answers.  He speaks, but no one listens.  God esteems the one who trembles at His Word.  What place does it hold in my life?

I've been struggling with a few obstacles lately, but been reminded that when it is time for them to be removed, they will, because God is in control.  When He moves, none can stop Him and when He says, "wait", all my striving will be for nothing.  And I'm wondering if all this conflict, this struggle, is not a predecessor to a wave of repentance, a great moving of God.

Many false prophets in Jeremiah's day promised the people that their exile in captivity would be short.  But God told them, no, it would last a full 70 years.  In the fullness of time, He would then initiate their move back to their own land.  It would be a work of God and no foreign king would stop Him, no enemy would thwart His purpose.  (Jer. 29:10-14)

I pray for a humble heart, a heart ready, one which trembles at His Word, so that when God moves, I do not miss it.  (Isa. 66:1-2)  And in the meantime, I know that God has not abandoned me, He has not left me alone, for He not only created the world, but sustains it . . . holds it together.  If he can do all that, will He not sustain us through trying days?  Is anything too hard for Him?  Surely, there is no one like our God!  

p.s.  Friday posting is not working well for me, so will try for Wednesdays.