Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A king Is Born!

Much of the world stood on pins and needles as it anticipated the arrival of a new King.  They had been waiting for this moment for a long time.  Finally, the moment had come and everyone was captivated by all the excitement.  Then the announcement was made, "A new King is born! A new King is born!" Emotions went through the roof.  Some jumped for joy, some cried, some clapped their hands, and some shouted from the rooftops as they celebrated this new King.  No, wait I think I'm getting my stories mixed up. Jesus' birth wasn't anything like that.

This week much of the world has waited with great excitement anticipating the arrival of a new addition to the royal family.  And finally we heard the word that the new heir to the throne was born.  Every photographer wanted desperately to be the one to get the first picture of this new king.  Media outlets from all over the world had reporters and camera operators standing by to bring us the news live because this child was royalty.  Never mind that the throne he has to stand in line for is one with little  power or authority.  Forget the fact that great grandma still maintains a firm hold on that throne and this new heir still has grandpa and dad ahead of him.  A new king is born!  Let's all get excited!

Ok, so perhaps I should tone down the sarcasm a bit.  But, I can't help but contrast this moment with that of Jesus' birth.  The King of kings, King of the universe, the King whose kingdom never ends, was born one night and most of the world couldn't possibly have cared less.  The masses weren't following this moment waiting for the announcement.  The town in which He was born made no place for Him.  He was so insignificant to those in Bethlehem that nobody offered Him a room for the night.  Apart from His parents and a few wise men from a distant land, nobody had a clue as to who He was. Quietly, the King came into the world He had created and hardly anyone knew He had arrived.  Like any proud father, His Father in heaven had to announce the birth of His Son, so while the world slept through this monumental moment, all of heaven celebrated.  And to a handful of shepherds hanging out in a field, God sent word to declare,  "He's here!  He's here!  He's here!"

So, the birth of "The King," goes by with few to notice it and no fanfare from the masses.  Still to this day, much of the world fails to recognize who this Jesus is.  "He was just a man," some say.  Others think He was nothing but a fable.  But one day this King will be back and all the world we see Him then.  A world who failed to recognize Him the first time, will not struggle to recognize Him this time.  His return will not go unnoticed by the masses.  While many will still reject this King, multitudes will celebrate His return. This next time, He'll get the fanfare and the praise He deserves. And every other king, queen, prince, princess, emperor, ruler, leader and potentate will bow their knee to His throne.  For His throne is above every other and unto Him alone belongs all power, might and authority.

I am really excited for Prince William and Kate on their new addition, but don't expect me to join in all the hoopla.  For goodness sake, I'm an American, so my red, white, and blue DNA kind of opposes the whole monarch thing.  More importantly though there's another King who I'm expecting to return.  So, while the world's eyes are all turned toward jolly ole England, mine are set to the eastern sky.  -- Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.  He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fined linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.  Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron.  He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev. 19:11-16 NKJV).  --  Now, that's my KING!  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Search My Heart, Oh God...

I will admit when it comes to the Zimmerman/Martin case, I have not followed it with the interest of many others.  That being said, I don't live under a rock either.  Because of that, I know much of the details surrounding this tragedy.  I'm still a bit puzzled as to why it became such a national story but I'll leave my theories on that for another time and place.  Over the course of the last few months as I witnessed much of the hoopla surrounding this case and now the aftermath of the verdict play out on my television screen, I'm reminded how ugly human nature can be.

Tainted by a media, who rarely can tell a story without some type of slant, agenda, or bias, many made judgments one way or the other long before there was ever a trial. Oops, did I make a judgment about the media there? In the court room, the idea is that the jury will get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Then based on that "whole truth," they can rightly judge someone.  Unfortunately, much of the time each lawyer only wants one side of the truth and is more interested in winning than justice being served.  Oh wait, that kind of sounds like a judgment call on my part as well doesn't it?  Sorry about that.

The fact is that we are often so quick to rush to judgment.  Something happens and immediately we have an opinion on the matter.  Never mind that we don't have the whole story.  It is indeed tragic that a young man lost his life.  I would not want to be in his parent's shoes and navigate through life in the aftermath of this huge loss.  I can not begin to imagine what they are going through.  At the same time is it right to condemn Zimmerman when I have no clue as to what exactly happened that night?  I know there was a lot of evidence presented at the trial, but we will never truly know the whole story, the whole truth of what happened that night.  Did he overreact that night?  Is he a racist?  Did he watch too many John Wayne movies or Dirty Harry movies growing up?  Was he afraid?  Did he fear for his life?  What was going through his mind that night and if he could replay the event would he do anything different? I pray I am never in a position such as he was that night.

Was this a just outcome?  I don't know.  Do any of us really know?  I mean sure you may lean one way or another, but is this really an easy call here?  One with no doubt either way?  From the chatter following the verdict, it would appear many are convinced their own judgment regarding this case is the right one.  Things have been said and been done, that have left me scratching my head.  The anger and hatred that is being spewed speaks volumes about the content of our hearts.  Sure, we can mask it really good when things are going the way we want them to, but throw something like this out there and the garbage in our heart rises to the surface.

Human nature, or "the flesh" is a truly ugly thing. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul speaks of the works of the flesh and none of them are things anyone should embrace, especially believers.  Yet, how many of us want to stand on our soap box because we are convinced we are right. We want to spew venom because the world certainly needs our venom in the mix, right?  Paul links hatred, anger, wrath, and causing division with things like murder, idolatry, and witchcraft.  In other words, he indicates there is no difference between them.

Issues like this are always good gut check moments.  They always serve to reveal what's below the surface.  Much of the time there are things there we have no clue are there until we encounter moments such as this.  Many times we justify our thoughts, speech, and actions rather than recognizing them for what they are... works of the flesh that have no place in the life of a believer. Many have reacted and will continue to react in ways that are consistent with the content of their heart.  As a believer we are challenged to allow God to search our heart and remove anything that is not consistent with His nature.  Of course, that will change our dialogue and how we respond in times such as these.  Scripture tells us that Jesus made Himself a man of no reputation.  He was not interested in standing on a soapbox, proving He was right, or defending His position.  He was determined to make sure that the world saw His Father in Him.  We would do good to take His lead in reflecting the nature and character of God to the world.  If you're with me then let's pray together, "Search my heart, Oh God and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"