Sunday, June 28, 2015

Exhortation For The Church

On Friday morning, there was no vote in Heaven. Regarding the definition of marriage, God did not stop to ask the opinion of 9 black robed justices. Their opinions, as well as our opinions are irrelevant. All the chatter and all the noise, changes nothing in regards to what God has established. God declares a thing and it is. God says it, that settles it. How arrogant of man to think he could ever redefine what God Himself has already defined. To attempt to do so is nothing more than an exercise in futility.

The Supreme Court stepped into an arena once again that is far above their pay grade. Re-defining marriage? Really? How utterly ludicrous!!! Their ruling regarding gay marriage isn't worth the paper its written on.

Oh, of course it becomes the "law of the land" but don't think for one minute that all of heaven is fretting over having to do a dictionary re-write. Heaven's dictionary doesn't change because the Supreme Court took a vote. Marriage as God defines it is no different today than it was when He established it in the beginning. The Kingdom of Heaven which was, is, and is to come isn't shaking in its boots because some inferior, temporal kingdom set itself in opposition to it. Throughout history, kingdoms have risen and fallen, yet one kingdom still remains.

It remains because its foundation is unchanging and unshakable. Its a Kingdom built upon a Rock. A Rock that doesn’t move or change because of a shift in public approval. It’s foundation is a King above all kings, a Lord above all Lords. We, as believers, would do well to remember that above and beyond anything else, we are citizens of that kingdom. And not just citizens but members of the Royal Family. Sons and daughters of the King. Let us not forget that while we may occupy space here, we are not of this world. We are in it, but not of it. Our loyalty and our allegiance first belongs to the only One truly worthy to be our King. We are not here to pick sides, or to engage in petty debates. We are ambassadors of heaven and our mandate does not change because somebody took a vote. We are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. We will not run, we will not hide, we will not be silenced. We will not relent! Where there is darkness, we will be light! As representatives of His Kingdom, we offer hope to the hopeless, healing to the wounded, sight to the blind, and freedom to the captives. We offer love to the unlovable, acceptance to the rejected, and family to the lonely. We will not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus because it is the power of God unto salvation!

We will not play the victim. We will not be shaken. We will not cower to the spirit of fear or intimidation. We will not retreat inside the four walls of the church. We are marching forward. We will not be overcome with evil, but we will overcome evil with good. It was our King who declared that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. So we march onward with confidence in the promise of the King we serve. We will not shrink in fear of the giants that we face, for we serve a God who is able. A King who has all power and all authority. A King who has overcome. A King who cannot be defeated or overthrown.

Let’s be clear, we do not war against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. So, let me declare, its game on!!! The battle lines are drawn and we will not be defeated. We, the church, we aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t looking for a place to hide. Like David, we are picking up our rocks.  Spiritual stones for spiritual battle.  Giants will fall. Strongholds will be broken. We are taking back what the enemy has stolen. We are taking territory for the Kingdom, because:

"The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters."

"Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory." (Psalm 24:1-2, 7-10 NKJV) 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Guns??? Really????

Nine people lay dead in a church.  In a church for God's sake.  A place that should be a refuge.  A place of safety.  A place where people go to connect with God, not a place where people go anticipating to literally meet Him face to face.  I have to say, as I read the initial stories coming out of South Carolina, I was a bit numb.  I didn't know what to feel.  How to feel.  I didn't know what to say, or how to say it.  I was just numb.  To be honest, I still am.

Then, before the investigation at the crime scene is even completed, here comes politics into play.  I was outraged by it all, to say the least.  Guns??? Really??? We are going to go there before the blood of 9 martyrs is even dry?  Let's not waste a tragedy, right?  Let's stand on our soap box and declare our political position on gun control before the story becomes yesterday's news.  Pardon me, while I puke.

Let me be clear! I'll not smear the memory of nine of my brothers and sisters in the Lord, with a statement on where I stand on gun control. Today, that point is irrelevant.  This is not the time nor the place to give room for that debate.  In the aftermath of such a tragedy, to take opportunity for political propaganda is disgusting and as Americans we should demand more from every leader regardless of their party affiliation.

A young man, full of hate, walked into a church and killed a group of people that looked different than him. A group of people who had a different skin color.  The why is the real issue, not the how.  Hatred!!! Regardless of how it looks, the driving force is a tainted heart. A heart full of hatred for another.  While the "experts" will analyze this in order to minimize the possibility of it happening again, I can assure you any solution that doesn't address a heart change, will not solve anything. We live in a society that wants social change but wants only to deal with surface issues.  We want to suppress the real answer, while screaming from the mountaintops, man made antidotes that have as much chance at ushering in real change as an aspirin has of curing a brain tumor.

Lock the lunatic away or, put him to death.  Regardless, of the penalty, apart from a heart change, he will go to his grave with a heart full of hate. Take his weapon away and the hate remains.  Let's not pretend here that hatred to the point of killing another needs a specific way to get what it craves.  Cain used a rock, but a stick or a few well placed right hooks would have got the job done as well.  Hatred is ugly and when not dealt with can manifest in ways unimaginable.  Hatred has many more faces too and is not limited to those with different colored skin.  There are those who hate those who think differently; those who vote differently; those who worship differently; those who speak differently; those who dress differently.  There are those who hate others because of their economic status, or educational level. There are those who hate because they've been wounded or abused.  There are those who hate because they've been raised to hate.  Regardless, of the face it wears, the root of hate is always the heart.  Any solution that doesn't begin and end there is a complete waste of time and energy.

Hate is not a political issue, a cultural issue, or a religious issue. It can't be fixed by politicians, political correctness, or some man contrived religion.  Hate is an issue of the heart and as such can only be remedied by the Creator of man's heart.  Jesus came to do just that.  He came to change the heart of man.  He came to create in mankind a clean heart, a heart void of hatred and malice.  He came to empower us to truly love one another.  Ours is a culture that wants no mention of this Jesus, but apart from Him there is no other answer to this problem.  Jesus changes hearts.  Jesus is the only One capable of replacing a heart of hate with one of real love. I don't know what will become of this young man who walked into that church and murdered those 9 believers.  I don't know if he'll carry his hatred to the grave.  But, I'm reminded of a man in Scripture who once sought out believers and persecuted them.  Until one day, he encountered the Heart Changer on the road to Damascus.  On that day everything changed.  His hatred for those who thought different than him was replaced with a heart of love and compassion.  My prayer, for this young man is that he too, would encounter Jesus in the same way as the apostle Paul did so many years ago. Jesus was, and still is, the answer for the world today.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Your Fly Is Open!

A couple years ago I was at an all day event where a particular man was going to be speaking to several hundred people over the course of the day.  Prior to him getting up and speaking I saw him walking across the room and I noticed his fly was wide open for all the world to see.  There were well over a hundred people there at the time and I sat there thinking, "am I the only one that notices this?"
Certainly somebody would tell him, right?  I gave it a couple minutes and nobody approached him.  He was about to grab the mic and address the crowd.  I had a choice to make.  To walk up to a guy I didn't know all that well and let him know his fly was open, or do nothing and watch him stand up in front of everyone with his whitey-tighties peaking through his open fly.

I thought to myself, if I were in his position what would I want someone to do?  I don't care who approached me, I would want someone to let me know my fly was open.  So, I approached him and called him aside and let him know his fly was open.  He chuckled, fixed the issue and put his hand on my shoulder and told me thanks.

Was I the only one who saw his fly open?  Perhaps, but it was so blatantly obvious, I find that hard to believe.  Regardless, nobody wants to have to approach someone and say, "hey, your fly is open!"  Especially someone you don't know or don't know that well.  Isn't it much easier to ignore it?  Isn't it much easier to just let them figure it out on their own?

Several years ago, I got home from church and was changing clothes.  As I pulled off my pants I noticed that my Dockers had a gaping hole in the seat.  This was not a little hole.  Oh no, this sucker was at least 2 feet long.  No, I didn't bust the seat out because I was too fat, although that has happened before.  The seam had come completely unraveled.  I stood there in horror thinking how my entire hind side had been exposed to the world.  There was absolutely no way I made it out of that church service without somebody seeing my white Hanes underwear through the 2 foot gap in my navy Dockers.  I was on the stage, I sat on the front row, trust me there was no way in the world somebody didn't see.  Yet, nobody said anything.  Nobody approached me.

Ok, I get it.  Its a little uncomfortable to approach somebody in regards to something like this.  It's like seeing a booger in someone's nose.  Or being at dinner with someone who has some food related substance on their face.  You don't want to embarrass them, right?  So, you elect to stare at the thing hoping that somehow, someway it will fix itself.  But, it doesn't.  It never does.

The truth of the matter is that thing in us that paralyzes us and prevents us from saying anything is more about us and less about them.  We live in a culture that doesn't really like getting uncomfortable.  It doesn't like conversations that stretch us.  We live in a culture that preaches a message of tolerance and political correctness because nobody really wants to stir the waters.  Nobody really wants to go there.  Its a culture that paints a picture of peace as one that just avoids the uncomfortable feeling of confrontation.  It's a culture that has a perverted view of what real love is.  So, we stare at the "open-fly" because to say something would require us to move into a place that is beyond our comfort zone.

The love that Jesus modeled is so very different than what our culture declares is love.  Jesus, didn't avoid addressing the "open-fly" in our lives.  He didn't stare at the things in our lives that were "issues" hoping they fixed themselves.  His love didn't tolerate our messes in order to maintain a sense of comfort.  He is less interested in hurting our feelings and more interested in dealing with what needs to be dealt with. No, his dealing with our sin is not a condemning, judgmental approach.  His love is kind and gentle, while at the same time confrontational.  His love does not ignore our issues, but addresses them.  Our salvation is not the result of Him sweeping our sin under the rug but the result of Him confronting each and every one of them.  

Loving one another the way Jesus did requires a boldness to speak about things that our culture wants to ignore. Tolerance as our world defines it has no place within the body of Christ.  In the same way  judgement that condemns is not love either.  I did not approach this man and tell him his fly was open in a demeaning or belittling way.  I was discreet, kind, and gentle, yet I still approached him.  All I know is when it comes to my sin, that's exactly how Jesus approaches me.  One last thing, if you ever see my fly open, or a booger hanging out of my nose, or the back seat of my pants split open, for the love of God please approach me!!!