Month: August 2012

The Choice is Yours

Make a choice. It’s yours to make.

You have to make a choice.

Pick your button.  In a world going slightly mad we each will respond with the push of a button and our choice to panic or not to panic will be based on some of our basic foundational beliefs.

What do you believe about who is in charge of the events of the world around you?  Do you believe there is a God who rules the affairs of man or are we on our own?  Is there anyone at the helm of the ship or are we all in for a “Titanic” event? 

Our responses to the world unraveling around us tells us a lot about who we are trusting or if we are trusting anyone at all.  Is there an easy button available for a third choice?  Do you believe there is a God who rules and is in charge of the events of the world around us?  Do you trust Him as we see the problems the daily news plates for us each day?

Our choices don’t affect what happens in the world we live in, but our choices do affect how we respond to the events of the day.  

In the midst of all you see and read on a daily basis it’s tempting to push the panic button, but wait a moment, don’t be in such a hurry to be afraid.  In a time when it seems that the world is falling apart, we need to trust that God is in charge, directing the events of our days.

There is a God and He is all-powerful.  He rules the universe  you simply need to trust him.  He will care for you.  Don’t panic.  Push the easy button instead.  There is a good God on the throne.

 

 

 

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Facing The Storms of Life

I love a good thunderstorm.

We haven’t had many this summer, but I enjoy watching and listening as a storm comes through, with thunder and lightning and a good hard rain.  There are times I just like sitting on the front porch and watch it come in and in a strange way it relaxes me.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m not crazy.

Storms come.  

They always come.

Some of the storms we face are not filled with lightning and thunder, high winds and a hard rain.  But rather these storms are when our life is filled with strife and turned upside down.  Times when our hearts are broken and we feel the pain that this life can bring.  Disappointment, loss, regret and when we feel like a part of us has died.

These are the storms of life.

Life is full of storms.  Everyone has them.  No life is exempt.  If you meet a person who says that they have never really been through a rough storm in this life, watch them because one is coming their way.  It is part of life. 

Storms deepen us and simplify our lives. They blow away the things that aren’t important and focus our attention on what is important.  Storms clarify our lives. We suddenly realize what really matters.  Life never stops mind you, but during a storm in this life it feels as if our life is suspended and we hold our breath waiting for a better day.

But don’t forget storms pass as well.  They won’t linger forever.   One day the sun will shine, the clouds will clear and life once more resumes. 

Life moves on.  A new day dawns and we begin afresh.  My fear is that for some, when the skies clear,  so quickly forget His presence and they resume their lives and their need for God and their focus on Him fades.

I don’t pray for storms in my life but I am no longer afraid of them.

I have found that a life without a storm every now and then will never find a bold faith in God.  As I have experienced these times in my life, the storm in my life is what turned my attention to Him.  In the midst of these storms of life,  God reveals Himself and He feels very close and I am comforted by His protective hand.

Isn’t it amazing that the very thing we dread….the storm….is the thing that brings us closer to the God?

Why does it take a storm to draw our attention to God?  Why do we have to be threatened with the loss of everything to truly seek Him? I think it’s because in the storm we lose the ability to care for ourselves. We realize we need help and we turn to the one who can truly help us through the storms in our life.

Ultimately, the storms of life is where our hurt and the healer collide.

 

Know Your Enemy

We are in a war, but it’s not the war we are trying to fight.  In most cases, we really do not know who our real enemy is.

It’s not a battle between Republicans and Democrats.

It’s not a battle between conservatives and liberals.

It’s not a battle between Christians and Muslims.

It’s not a battle between gay and straight.

It’s not a battle between “us” and “them”.

These are the battles we are fighting in the Christian world we live in, but they are the wrong wars, the wrong battlefields, attacks against the wrong enemies. 

This week we fought a battle that many made into a war.  I believe that it was the wrong war to fight but none-the-less,  Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A,  had stated his opposition of gay marriage.  This started a battle among those that agreed and those that opposed.  The outcry from those that disagreed, took the stand that as a CEO of a major company such as Chick-fil-A, he had no right to express his feeling nor was he allowed to spend his money to support groups and organizations that were against gay marriage. It became more about his beliefs as opposed to what the battle was really about.  It was, in my opinion, a battle about “free-speech” not gay marriage.

What followed was a call to support Chick-fil-A by standing up for your beliefs by purchasing a chicken sandwich.   Most critics said that we as Christians and as a church failed to show love to those we disagree with. While I agree we missed an opportunity to show love… wasn’t this really about free speech? The freedom to believe in what one wants to believe?  It just so happens that this event was based upon a comment about a belief about gay marriage. It could have been about anything but it became all about gay marriage and our chance to “show love”. I am not sure if it was a “failure” of the church as some stated.  I would say it was a missed opportunity to do something more than reduce the chicken population. There is a distinct difference between “failure” and a “missed opportunity”.

The Christian world I live in has chosen to fight the wrong war, focus on what is not the enemy,  oppose what isn’t the real problem at all.  All the while the real enemy prospers and smiles at our foolishness.  He has masterfully misdirected our attention at the wrong things. We are indeed in a war…I pray we realize who the real enemy is and focus our attacks in the right way, with the right weapons at the real enemy.

Our battle and our war is not against the gay community.  Jesus showed love to sinners and was “despised and rejected” by most. We could have done nothing except try to show love to the gay community and do you think that would have made it a victory for the church if that message would have been rejected by almost all of them? God’s dealings with the gay community over history has not been one that I would say is filled with tolerance but that is another discussion.

Maybe we should have a had a day of volunteer community service to show our support for free speech… because that is what this was really about. How long of a line of volunteers do you think that might have been? A lot shorter I presume…because people wouldn’t have got a chicken sandwich at the other end of the line.

God hasn’t changed his views.  He still says marriage is between a man and a woman only.  He still says that sex outside of marriage is wrong.  He still says that homosexuality is sin just as lying and stealing are sins.  Even as I type this I know I will be the subject of our inverted morality and be called a bigot, someone opposed to “marriage equality”, but I’m not.  I view the world right side up and refuse to agree with those that try to turn the world upside down around me.  

There is still evil and good,  dark and light, bitter and sweet and these things  do not change simply because the culture doesn’t like the way God describes right and wrong.  Yes, I realize I live in a culture and world inverted by sin, but I still have to declare to the world around me that all of this is upside down.  This is not the way God wants us to live.  Nor is it the war that God wants us to fight.  Even if the upside world around me doesn’t like to hear it said it’s still upside down and inverted from the way God designed it.

We are taking swings at the symptoms and not at the real enemies.  We find ourselves boxing shadows and completely missing the real enemies among us.  It is a war of the worlds, but not the one we fight now.  Here’s the real battlefield, here’s the real enemy.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”           -Ephesians 6

I’m sure our real enemies are thrilled with the shadow boxing we are doing….swinging at what is not the real enemy at all…and all the while our unseen enemy continues the fight.  

Our battle in never with people, let me repeat that….our battle is never with people…it’s always spiritual and with an enemy unseen.   If that enemy can get us to focus our attention on the wrong battle, the wrong enemy, the wrong battlefield all the better for him.

In this world of misplaced wars, I pray we see what the real war is about, who the real enemy really is and how we are to respond.  The real war is for the souls of men, the real enemy is the devil, and the proper response for us is love and prayer.  Those are the “weapons” that will change the culture around us and deal a death-blow to the enemy’s plans.

The real battlefield is spiritual.   The real war is spiritual.

And the real war is fought in prayer and with love for others, regardless of their sin.