There is only one way out.

one way sign

There is something fundamentally wrong with us.  In what country does someone just nonchalantly walk into a church and shoot up men, women and children?  We don’t need terrorists.  We have our own nutcases and they are armed with assault rifles.

There is only one way out of this plague of shooters and victims.  Scripture tells us that if the country which is called by God’s name will repent and turn from its wicked ways, He will repent Himself of the evil and stop it and heal that nation.  We need repentance now.  We have become a violent society.  Why does our country continue churning out violent movie after violent movie and violent computer game after violent computer game?  Many of our young people are addicted to violence and others among us are becoming desensitized to it.

Years ago, if someone wanted to see violence or pornography, they had to get up and go somewhere to see it.  Nowadays, they just turn on their computers and it’s all available right in their living rooms.  Violence and lust will not beget anything but violence and lust.  We allow our children to fill up their brains on a continuous stream of this junk without making a peep.  Do we then expect them to turn out to be kind and caring individuals?

I am heartbroken.  Why does another mother have to bury her young daughter?  A newlywed bury her husband?  Or a baby lose its mother?  How can one family lose eight of its members in one instant?  How many more will we tolerate being slaughtered in their pews?  Or in their restaurants?  Or on their bus?  Simply living a quiet life.  One minute they’re here and the next they are taken out of this life by some angry or demented soul.  Why do we continue to allow it?

We need to turn this around.  We can do it as a society if we forego focusing on our differences and instead unify in our repentance. We can change.  We can stop future mass shootings.  They are not inevitable.  However, there is only one way out.  We have to find the violence, the anger, the hate inside of ourselves and eliminate it.  Cast it out.  Refuse to give in to it even when people make it so enticing for us to hate.  Do the opposite in our daily lives.  Live with conviction in love with God and with our fellow man.

Jesus said: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37 – 40

 

 

A Cold and Snowy Winter

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This winter is keeping us on our prayer toes. Three consecutive Monday snow storms. So far I have missed teaching all three Mondays of my Monday/Wednesday evening class. That means nine hours of teaching time lost.  Even though it’s troublesome, the snow is beautiful. Perhaps these are some of the treasures of snow that God has reserved against the time of trouble. (Job 38 22) It is certainly unusual for us to have such a consistantly cold winter like this.

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Parables

Jesus spoke in parables so that those who loved him could understand and learn valuable lessons, and at the same time those who didn’t know him would just think that it was a story.  People loved his stories, whether they understood them or not.  However, those parables teach us priceless lessons.  How?  Through correspondences.  From the parable of the mustard seed, we understand that the mustard seed corresponds to faith because it is so small, but becomes something much larger.  We also understand the pearl of great price, the story of the ten virgins who took oil in their lamps and many others.

Today, our world is telling us a story.  It smacks us in the face each and every day, but do we understand it?  Do we see beyond what is happening naturally around us?  One of these modern day parables is the food we eat.  The food we eat corresponds to truth.  Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth (Mt 4:4).  What are we eating?

The world is being flooded with junk food.  What an appropriate name!  It appeals to our taste buds by including plenty of salt, fat and sugar, but it is making us sick and even killing us.  More insidious is the food that looks real, but has been completely adulterated.  It is either poisoned with herbicides and pesticides or it has been changed genetically from the way God perfectly created it.  The result?  Cancers and more diseases.  Not only is it killing us and making us sick, but we are addicted to it.  We love it!

Looking at it as a parable, we have to see that people are dying from a lack of knowledge (of the word of God).  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Ho 4:6).”  People don’t believe that they live by every word that comes from God. (Mt 4:4)  They accept falsity rather than truth, they change the truth into something more ‘acceptable’ in our times, and they look for soothing words to appease their consciences.  Read Jeremiah 23:16, 17.  That is real spiritual junk food with all the elements necessary to make our souls fat and lazy, overpowered by the sugar high given to us by smooth and  ‘sweet’ words.

Let’s get back to the real Word of God.  It will nourish us and when we see the beauty it brings to our lives and how we flourish from living it, the world around us will change with us and reflect the new reality that is ours.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  When that becomes reality, the natural elements of this earth will show forth God’s kingdom.  There is no junk food in God’s kingdom, only delicious food that nourishes our bodies and spirits.

An end of the year letter for 2012

This is the letter I will be sending to family and friends this year:

I started to write an end of the year letter a few weeks ago.  I even got several paragraphs written.  It has all become rather meaningless over the last few days in the light of the heart-wrenching tragedy being experienced by other families in Connecticut right now.  So, I hope you won’t mind if I send you a few paragraphs concerning some of the thoughts that come to mind over this tragedy instead of a letter about my life and about what my kids are doing these days.  We’ve been busy this year, we’re all fine, and that’s about it.

And God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  Genesis 2:7

It is the breath of God that came into Adam on that day and the same breath that continued to breathe through Adam’s children and grandchildren on down through all the following generations.  Without that breath of life, he was just a lump of dust.  It’s the same with us, his many times great grandchildren and that makes us all the children of the living God.  So, what gives?  The events of this year, and especially the events of the past few days, make us pause and reflect on what on earth is going on.

You could say that there are many causes.  You could blame assault rifles and violent video games and the absenteeism of working parents who are too busy to take care of their children or to teach them the values that they themselves were taught, or were supposed to have been taught.  However, the fact of the matter is that many of God’s children either don’t know or have forgotten who they are.  They are not living like children of an awesome and loving king, God.  They’re living like derelict bums.  That is the tragedy.

It is as if the world has taken on two natures.  Part of humanity seems to be speeding towards God, hoping to find Him more each day, but increasingly more numbers are enticed by the glitz of a worldly life and are as a result speeding in the opposite direction, becoming more unlike Him every day.  To become more like God, one becomes more beautiful and more brilliant and if that’s true, then the opposite must also be true that those who are heading in the wrong direction are becoming more and more insane and hateful.  We can see that in the news on a daily basis.  Perhaps that is the meaning of “the valley of decision.”  We must all go through it and decide for ourselves which way we will go.

We have been greatly blessed in our family to have our parents and children and grandchildren finding God and seeking after Him.  We have discovered the immense power of prayer and how things absolutely change because of it.

Over the last few days, I can see how God grieves for the innocent lives snuffed out meaninglessly by one so selfish and callous.  Some call such people disturbed and say that there could be a personality disorder.  We have experienced a relative with what may have been called a “personality disorder,” but he didn’t pick up a rifle and shoot people.  In fact, through the power of prayer, he spent his last years on earth a happy and well liked person.  Prayer can do that.

This nation and this earth are in their valley of decision.  We need to turn our prayers to our greater family, the brothers and sisters with whom we share the same breath of life.  We are all brothers and sisters and it’s so sad that our brothers would hate us enough to want to kill us and more importantly that they would hate their own eternal Father.  They have no clue how much He longs for them to turn back to Him.  Above all, we need to maintain faith: faith that God will lead us if that’s what we’re praying for, faith that we will continue on this path, and faith that our children will find a way to reject this world’s evil when their day comes in that valley of decision.

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision …  Joel 3:14

So, may we all spend this season joyously in that we know who we are, gratefully because we know who it was that saved us, and yet a little bit more soberly since we know that there is yet so much lacking both in us and in our country.  Let’s pray that we all in our nation and our brothers and sisters in other nations will humble ourselves as it says so beautifully in the Scriptures:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Drought in the Midwest

The nightly news is replete with information about the record drought this summer.  It’s important to watch these stories because the reporters cover the story from a variety of angles. You can see many of the ramifications of such an historic summer.  As you watch the different segments of the story, it gives you ideas on who and what needs prayer.  The farmers, most definitely, but also the poor animals who are hungry and hot, the cows and the chickens.  Many professions are affected besides the farmers, including river boat pilots on the mighty Mississippi and other businesses that depend on it as a resource of some sort.  There is much to pray about this summer.

At the same time, we have to consider why this is happening.  Scripture tells us that the land is full of adulterers (it is) and that because of swearing the land mourns and the pleasant places are dried up (Jer 23:10).  In our modern world, our whole lifestyle is adulterated.  Even our crops are adulterated.  Scientists engineer the seeds that are sown in the ground and the companies that own the engineered seeds make sure that only their seeds are used.  God knows that the seeds were perfect and pure before all of the engineering.  He sees the bigger picture that the engineered seeds are not good for our bodies.  What is He to do?  He loves His creation but we are destroying, not only ourselves but others and the land with us.

The fertilizer required to maintain these engineered crops is running off into the ground water and in its turn is destroying the river that it runs into.  The mighty Mississippi carries this pollution into the Gulf of Mexico and vast regions of this beautiful body of water are now dead zones.  What is our Father to do?  You could say that instead of a green thumb, we have a black thumb that destroys everything that we touch.

God loves His creation the way He created it.  If you were God, what would you do to get the land to return to the way it should be?  So far, everything that mankind has tried hasn’t worked.  No one takes the naysayers and the protesters seriously.  Therefore, God HAS to send a strong message to the ones who are the most instrumental in its destruction.  What if the drought in the Midwest is actually a blessing?  An intial thrust of change in the way things are done?  God is certainly drawing attention to this most critical area of our country and showing us the value of this rich farm land.  We need to return it to its pristine beauty of only a few short centuries ago.  It is entirely possible to reverse what we have done to the land.  God always gives us a way out.  He tells us multiple times in the Old Testament that if we turn our hearts to Him, He will hear and heal our land.

God’s way is the perfect way.  His garden was the perfect one.  We can turn back the clock of destruction by turning back to our Father and letting His way be true.

Why does mankind allow evil?

There is a generation of God’s wrath.  By looking at the day’s headlines, we could surmise that this generation is it.  Hoodlums, hooligans, just looking for an excuse to create mayhem.  However, God’s wrath is an appearance.  God Himself is like liquid love.  His love is like a mother bear roaring after those that might harm her precious cubs.  We associate wrath with anger, but God is incapable of the kind of anger we see as humans.  His wrath is His burning love.  His only desire is to help further our life in God.  Every single thing that God does is for our benefit.  Therefore, His apparent wrath can only manifest if we force it and if it will in some way benefit mankind.  The tipping point, where evil is overwhelming the good, is coming to a head, perhaps forcing God to step in and do something to save the righteous that remain.

A lot of people wonder why God even allows evil.  But the true question seems to be, why do humans allow it?  For thousands of years, God has been so patient and kind, waiting for mankind to understand just a few basic ideas of practical living.  Love God first.  Do unto other people what you would have them do unto you.  Take care of your earth because it is the gift of God to feed you and to heal you.  Be kind to all of God’s creation because He made it and therefore it’s good.  There have been a few who understood and lived His life while they were here on earth.  Many of them were horribly persecuted by those that didn’t want to live that same kind of life.

Basically we have screwed up so badly.  We can’t just point the finger at youthful hooligans and say that they are the problem.  They are more of a symptom than the core of the problem.  Every area of human life is in a shambles: religion, government, education, agriculture, justice, family life.  The list is very long.  Can you think of any area of human life that isn’t in total disarray?  I can’t.  Oh yes, there are exceptions here and there, but the major part of our civilization apparently cannot be recovered.  If we don’t fix it, we force God out of His heavens.  We force Him to come and fix what we won’t.  Isaiah 64:1, 2 says: “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at they presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make they name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!”  If He has to come down and fix things, He will come with flaming fury.  If we force His hand, He will come “with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgments upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds … (Jude 14, 15)”

God’s heart of liquid love is broken because of the hurt being done to innocent people.  His heart aches for someone, or someones, to start a revival of basic human decency.  He has never left anyone without any hope.  There will always be the story of Jonah.  Ninevah was to be destroyed, but they repented and our holy and almighty God changed His mind and did not destroy them.  In Malachi, He ends the Old Testament with this warning: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  It is a dreadful thought.  A study of God’s curses show that He is exquisitely precise and righteous.  In the modern vernacular, He knows how to nail you.  However, in the warning is also an exceptionally bright promise.  If the heart changes and fathers and children once again love and respect each other, then, like the great city of Ninevah, we can touch the heart of our awesome Father and He will turn away His anger for “the curse causeless shall not come.”  (Proverbs 26:2)