Politics or Poison? Choose your death!

For freedoms sake we are called to defend our positions, to stand firm, not submitting ourselves again to a yoke of slavery. Over the course of the last several days I have considered many things about our current political crisis, and to be sure it is a crisis. I watched as many others did when President Trump took his oath of office, I watched as some in the opposing party cringed at the philosophy laid out in his inaugural address. I watched and listened intently to the prayers and recitations that took place by the various members of clergy. At the end of the day I must admit…I have concerns.

No, I am not concerned about the policies that the president will enact. I am not concerned about the possibility that in some way my rights may be infringed upon. I am not concerned about the rhetoric or offensiveness of his words. I am not concerned about the division that appears to have taken place within the halls of congress.

None of these things concern me, what does concern me however is our own willingness to buckle when the pressure increases. The desire we have to submit ourselves once again to a yoke of slavery. Too many in our society have been conditioned to believe that the government is the “end all-be all.” First, I think it’s important to remember that scripture declares the government will be upon HIS shoulders; and this is certainly not a reference to Trump, but rather to Christ. I find it interesting that in the last 16 years we have witnessed three different campaigns that won on very different, but in some ways very similar platforms.

The first being a message of compassion, you will remember that George W. Bush ran his campaign with a message of compassionate conservatism. I find that interesting because as a society we have no clue what real compassion looks like. Sure it’s a good catch-phrase, but to put that message to the task is to elicit varied responses from the masses. Some will say that compassion is to view life as God does and that the murder of unborn children is wrong; I don’t disagree. Still others will say that true compassion is to allow thousands of scarcely vetted immigrant’s access to our land and our freedoms. Or, that to show compassion is to allow everyone the opportunity to engage and participate in Holy Matrimony. The real question is, how does God line up on the issue? That is a question that most if not all will simply refuse to ask. Compassion literally means to be moved to pity and love in our most inward parts, but instead of having compassion on others, especially those that oppose our political or sometimes ideological positions, we bring down wrath and condemnation. If we are to learn anything of compassion, we are to learn it from Christ, whom though he had not sinned became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. A God-Man that loved so deeply (that even while the object of his affection was still in sin) He died for us. That my friends is compassion; to have died for a people that despised him, that spat upon him, and that would so callously trample the blood of our Savior under their feet.

The second was a campaign ran on a message of Hope. Hope in what? Progressiveness, post-modernism, liberalism, equal rights, women’s right…what exactly was our hope supposed to be in. Perhaps that was part of the problem after the election was won. It seemed as if nobody could agree on what exactly we were hoping for. That is with the exception of the liberal left. Again the problem is that hope is something to be enjoyed by all people. So where do we find this hope? How exactly do we identify a particular hope that all can agree upon. Turning once again to the Holy Scriptures we find that we are called to a living hope, one that does not put us to shame – a hope that is in Christ. It is of particular importance for us to understand and take heed of the fact by placing our faith in Christ we have a LIVING hope. You see the hope that so many people undoubtedly felt just eight short years ago is now dead. The evidence lies in the fact that many today our grieving over the outcome of the last election…some have allowed this grief to manifest itself in very destructive ways. If what we had experienced in the past was real hope, than to be sure it would not have been lost with the election of Donald Trump. Real hope is not found in a president, a politician, or any other celebrity or idol that one can craft. It is instead found in Jesus Christ.

The third campaign, which was filled with as much cynicism and divisiveness as we have witnessed in our lifetimes was a campaign built on a promise of greatness, or to be more specific a promise to restore the greatness that we once had. Fortunately for Donald Trump the power of nostalgia is enough to overtake the feelings of anxiety and reservations that so many had (and still do) about a Trump administration. The promises that were made were too many to count, and unfortunately politicians are never held to account for the promises they make. Yet again we see that scripture proclaims to us something different about greatness. In fact, while our president declared in his inaugural address “America First,” what we see in scripture something very different “the greatest among you will be the servant of all.”  If we are to serve all people than we must have value for those people, coincidentally scripture would declare this as well “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” It is possible that God may still bless this country as he has in the past; of course it is also possible that God may be judging this country as he has others in the past. We are not above correction, but subjected to it when we go astray.

Scrolling through social media is another area of fascination for me, as I have discovered that many people are now praying for our president. My question is: were you not praying for the last president? It seems somewhat hypocritical that suddenly the church is compelled to pray. Prayer is something we are instructed to do, not compelled to do. For Christians maybe a better illustration will help to underscore the message. If your church is like ours, and you find yourself in a need of a pastor, perhaps you have been encouraged by your leadership to pray. To pray that God would identify that man and move in his heart to submit his resume, and then likewise to move in the hearts of your search committee, offering discernment and wisdom to know who that man is. Suppose that through these petitions God answers in a mighty way, delivering that man to your church: Do you then stop praying for that man? There is no need to answer the question; I know the answer, because I too am guilty of having pressed the pause button on prayer from time to time. But isn’t it true that our president as well as our pastors need as much prayer while they are administering their oath of office as they did while they were seeking it? Perhaps this then explains much about the current condition of our nation as well as our churches. Or maybe it is better stated to say that perhaps the current condition of our churches explains the current condition of our nation.

We have become far too political and far less theological in our leanings. The effects of such cataclysmic error are that we will, if we are not careful have submitted ourselves once again to a yoke of slavery. We are a free people, not because our government has extended those rights but because our savior with extended arms died for those rights. The freedom He offers serves to develop within us the compassion we long for, a compassion that will move us to love. In love we will learn to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure…all things. In the end it can be said our God is great and because of that we too have been privileged to know greatness. We are called to greatness…as a nation, as a people, as fathers, and mothers, and children. But let us also remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A great man is always willing to be little.”

My Grandmother: The Saint…

Saints and Angels are of a different stock, scripture would tell us that Angels have longed to look into the matters regarding Gods saints. I have never known an Angel, but to be sure I have known many of the saints. Of the ones I have known there is but one that stands as a benchmark to the rest. One in whom the loftiest standards of holiness have been set and kept. One, whom has known the greatest of tribulations in her own life, yet used her life as a vessel of God’s grace and truth.

The memories I have of my Grandmother will never be recorded in our history books, the life she lived will not be studied by the minds of theologians, missionaries, or any other high minded Christians seeking to glean some new truth for their arsenal. In fact, history will in large part forget her. I will never see a movie about her, hear a song about her, or see her name in lights. But rest assured I will never forget her, and while her name and her life may be forgotten by man, I know that it is recorded in the only book of History that matters when your life here on this earth ends…the Lambs book of Life.

I don’t know much about the battles she fought, I only know they were numerous. She would engage the enemy daily for the sake of her family. A husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would all be beneficiaries of the great victories she had wrought through prayer. She was a small and frail women; but a mighty wrestler she was…wrestling with God through the night on behalf of the wayward. I count myself among those as there was a time in my own life when I had chosen a path that was contrary to what she had taught. She never judged, never ridiculed, never complained…she prayed. That is how I will always remember my Grandmother. As I already said she was a small woman in stature, but without question she was and always will be the strongest woman I have ever known.

Though right now she is tired she is not yet asleep. Instead her flesh has waged its final attack against her spirit; the flesh loves the world and wants not to leave it. Jesus said a friend of the world is no friend of mine. Her spirit however longs for the great reception that awaits her as she slips off to sleep. We, who are left, are left with no other option than to lay siege against the enemy as we ourselves fall to our knees in prayer waging our own defense of the woman who had defended us all. God-speed Grandma as you enter your reward and receive the crown that you had so earnestly sought. A life spent with a heart that was rent, you have run the race and you have kept the faith.

I was told that one of the last things Grandpa said before he died was “remember your Faith, in the end it’s all that matters.” Well Grandma, in the end it is your faith that I will always remember, without it so many of us would never have found our own.

ich liebe dich oma

Designer God with a Gospel Design

Gospel Design
“Let us create man in our image,” this was the command breathed out by the Grand Designer himself. The command that went forth was different from the previous commands in which God said…let there be and there was. The act of creating in either case was quite obviously an intentional act, but for man, God chose a different method, something quite special. Special in that He would now put his Holy Hands to the task, and so along with the two other members of the Trinity, God Fashioned and molded his most precious creation of all, and he would do it in his own image.

This must have been a spectacular moment, a moment in which God himself would summon all knowledge, all wisdom, and all power to create this treasured thing. Then, at the completion of this most pinnacle of moments, when the sixth day had come to its end, and having saved his best work for his last work, God rested. He looked down upon his creation and uttered the words that we all should hope to hear at our end…”it is good.” How blessed is that moment when we all can look upon our work, upon some creation that hath been made by our own hands and say…”it is good.” We are reminded than that this skill of ours is only useful when employed with knowledge, and knowledge is only useful when employed with wisdom. For instance, man in past times may have had the skill to cut down a tree and burn its core for heat. But knowledge hath taught that man that the tree is useful in many ways…we may fashion for example: tools…tools that can then be useful in building better homes, or weapons that may be useful in protecting those homes when they are built. But in the same manner without the wisdom to know what those objects are useful for, the knowledge and the skill become futile.

Why though, for what purpose hath God created anything? I should think at first glance, and to be sure it only takes a singular glance, we observe the beauty of God’s creation. Picture if you will the snow-capped and jagged edged mountains that split our nation down the middle. The magnificence of such a thing, who, but God would have ever thought to have given a man this picture? Or the many oceans of the world, stretching as far as the eye can see, and making landfall on beaches around the world, beaches that share nearly as much beauty as the waters. It’s almost as if God hath said to himself “let the oceans meet the sand that my people will have a soft place to stand as they look upon the beauty of the seas and wonder.” Many men have known great fear of the waters deep, as they should. For within the waters there is great and massive power. We however have trained ourselves to ride upon their waves in glorious splendor, or even to sink below the surface and ride the currents beneath. So long as we follow the prescribed order written into the oceans charter, we shall not be consumed. We must at all costs understand and appreciate its power.

This truth is painted in a way that teaches us about our God, the same God which these oceans were created to reflect, for our God is a consuming fire, and we are instructed to fear Him, not for his wrath, but his power. God hath painted a picture, a living picture, one that moves and breathes and in some way reaches down into the depths of our souls and causes us to wonder. As we wonder our minds are carried away quite naturally to another place by which we wonder about the creator of such things. It is here, in this place of wonder that we come to realize the answer to our question…Why?

God is communicating his love to us through his creation. Why, because without him we are doomed and damned to a place of everlasting torment. God is, I think a true romantic, hypnotizing us with his beauty, and drawing us nearer and nearer with every glance upon his masterpiece. As we make our approach, seeking a deeper examination, we observe the lines, the curves, the color, the height, the width, the breadth and we reach out our own hands now to touch and to feel the thing in our hands. We are launched now into a much deeper investigation, one that will lead us to an even greater discovery. We will have uncovered the true identity of the author and creator of such things.

This is where the Gospel comes in, for we may discover the name of our creator, Elohim, without ever having come to know him ourselves. This is not enough…we must know. We must make every effort to come to him, to introduce ourselves and lavish upon him the Glory he is due. There never has been or ever will be an Author quite like this. It is clear however through our own discovery that this Author and Creator is one of perfection. We realize too that we ourselves are far less than perfect. Will he allow us into his presence, or might we disrupt his Holy hands from doing Holy work? We hear that this author has a son, a son who like his creation was perfect…a son in whom his father delights. We hear also that his son has come to our land in search of us, that he might take us to his father. What wonderful news this is, however it gets even better. You see the son knows too that his father demands a clean garment and we have none to wear. Yet the son has come to give us all new garments, garments that look much like his own. Garments that his father approves, the only condition is that we accept the invitation.  Yes, the gospel was in mind when the Grand designer designed.