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The Prospect of 2013

December 29, 2012 1 comment

The Year 2013: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Following the Christmas holidays, its natural for people to get sentimental, reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year.  The media always has their “wrap-up” citing the headlines that most impacted the nation and the world.  There are wishes for a “Happy New Year,” promises, conjectured in the form of “New Year’s resolutions” (lose weight, spend more time with family, etc.).So, as I sit here and ponder the events of 2012, I must admit, my outlook is….bittersweet.  By nature, I consider myself neither an optimist, nor a pessimist.  A realist.  I know, I know, most people like to overuse that label for themselves, but truly, when asked if I see a cup half full or half empty, I will always respond, “BOTH!”Perhaps, it’s not my outlook, so much as my bull-headed determination.

I’ll stick with the previous assertion, thanks.  (Its my blog. Well, for now.)

This year has obviously been interesting with the election.  For my part, I was absolutely unclear about who was going to win, though, I certainly thought I saw tremendous support for Mitt.  However, in light of the direction the world was turning, reading the tea leaves also gave strong indications that Obama would pull through, in spite of no record, nothing what-so-ever to recommend him, and a continuing treasonous scandal.  I advocated for Romney, as much as I could, grew tense, like the rest of the country, fervently prayed, and waited.  Like many of you, that night, though I wasn’t shocked, but I was shocked.  I had been on my face, begging for God’s mercy on this country.  However, I also prayed for His will to be done.  The Lord spoke, the fate of America was solidified.

I went, immediately, to a somber state of acceptance.

Like most of you, the prospect of 2013 is dismal, in light of the political arena.  I have lost all faith in politicians, even in those I thought were truly fighting for truth and justice.  Time and time again, we have seen them bow to the will of those who grow in worldly power.

NATIONALISM VS. PATRIOTISM

I have recognized, through this process, that there is a clear distinction in “nationalism vs. patriotism.”  Nationalism retains that sense of arrogance, even in the face of God that we are better, bigger, and stronger.  That nothing will stop or hold us down.  Contrarily, patriotism is vastly different.  The patriot humbly clings to the principles that make one’s country great.  He recognizes the blessings, even undeservedly, that have been bestowed upon his nation, contingent upon obedience to the Lord and the principles for foundation.  A patriot doesn’t put faith in any man, but looks to the Lord for his sense of national direction.  He bows his knee to the Great I AM, accepting His plans, knowing that the protection of the nation is directly hinged upon what is done with the blessings and how well we uphold Biblical precepts.

As I stated before, I am an eternal realist.  My worldly outlook for the nation ,as far as the state of this planet, is grave.  Evil has been unleashed.  All too common these days, we hear of rampages of brutal murder.  People immediately want an answer,

“WHY?” 

What could possibly be the reason for such senseless violence? Now we see a spectrum of blame, polarities that want to crackdown on this heinous barbarianism.  On one side, governmental leaders are grasping, white-knuckled, to the claim that the problem is GUNS.  “We MUST eliminate firearms!” Another argument from the other side is that “We MUST revisit mental illness!”

As you might expect, I do not subscribe to either.

The problem is that all sense of morality, more specific, humility before the Almighty, has been cast out.  Society, as a whole, has spit in God’s face and pushed out any shade of godliness.  People have been hypnotized by the Dark Angel, masquerading in light.  They don’t believe in evil, unless it suits their purposes.  They don’t believe in the antithesis of evil, that being salvation only through Christ’s blood.  Instead they exchange one lie for another, until all sense of rationality and reason is subjective and without basis.

So you see, we could talk about the continued, growing scandals that have growing tentacles over the White House.  We could talk about the wildfire of Radical Islamization.  We could talk about the fiscal cliff that looms, in mere hours.  We could talk about genocidal dictators racing toward mass-extermination.

But, the crux of the matter is not as complex as it seems.  People are hung up on the thousands of symptoms of a simple, albeit, eternal crisis.The world has cocooned itself in a cozy bed of Godlessness.  They have set up their own altars, whereby they sit on their own throne.  Rather than serving the God of the universe, humans, regardless of culture, ethnicity or nation (a true testament to color blindness), embrace and worship the god “within.”

This cannot last.

Just as God is grace, He is the perfect balance of Justice and Judge, as well.  He does not force His will on man, yet retains the control in decision-making.  He can allow us to make the ridiculous choices that will cause self-destruction, both individually, corporately, as a society, and internationally.

Though He allows us our own way, don’t think for a second that He isn’t angered by it.  We cannot be so pompously deluded to think that we were created by a limp-wristed pushover.

He is YAHWEH!

THE GLASS IS HALF-EMPTY, BUT IT IS ALSO HALF-FULL.

In God’s never-ending kindness, the removal of protection can serve as a wake-up call.  When we are stripped of comforts, whether in leadership, or in security, we have the opportunity to turn to the only lasting truth in YESHUA, Jesus Christ.

For the few of us, who are truly watching, wide-eyed at the plans unfolding around the world, faith is strengthened.  I’ve heard it said, “The national and international headlines are now catching up to the Bible.”  The cards are on the table.  We are coming to that fork in the road, whereby we can choose to move toward God, or turn our backs on God.  Sadly, the Bible tells me that many will fall away from the faith. (Matthew 7:14, 2Timothy 4) Further, Christ tells us, “15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev.3:15-17)

My hope is in the Lord.  I do not know the specifics of what 2013 will bring, but I trust that He is JEHOVAH.  I take great hope in His mighty power.  (Ephesians 6:10-18) My outlook for this world, in the direction it is hurtling toward, is bleak.  People have chosen the path of Baal.  The Lord is rousing from His Holy Hill and He will come with absolute Authority and Justice.

Though, I am desperate to see His glory and His might, at the same time, I tremble at the prospect of an angry, JUST God.  I fear living in a land that has chosen to shove the Lord’s hand of protection away for the false notion of self-preservation and governmental rule.

If this nation refuses to humble herself in fear of the Lord, it is doomed to destruction. 

Nationalism is idolatry.  It is an ideology that dominates both parties, both sides of the aisle. 

With all of this bleakness, comes great hope, when one seeks and clings to the ONLY hope we have!  We have access to TRUE LIBERTY!  We can be unfettered and freed from bondage in the hope that comes from faith in the Lord, through YESHUA.  When we recognize that He IS the source of life; we are liberated, REGARDLESS of worldly powers.

These days, I treasure God’s Word.  I recognize the NECESSITY OF IT.  It is easy to get enthralled and overly distracted with the events unfolding.  Though Christ commanded us to, “WATCH!” (Matt.24:4, 42 read all of chapter 24) I must keep my FOCUS upon HIM.  We must SATURATE ourselves in the WORD.  I am constantly amazed and deeply grateful for the Bible.  Without it, faith and hope would be very burdensome.  But again, God in His grace and mercy, gave us the Cliff Notes version.

In summary: I know how the story ends;

He wins.

——————————————————————

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON:

1 Samuel 12:24-25

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

A Gift of Sympathy

Hope for the holidays

This time of year is rich with blessing.  Eye candy abounds with twinkle lights and beautiful décor.  Pastries and delicacies fancy the taste buds.  People often seem more charitable, more giving, save for the last-minute shoppers who are nonsensical about their goal.  Even those of us who only revel in the snow until January 2nd are taken with the beauty of the winter landscape.  For Jews, Hanukkah represents a family and people solidarity, the providence of a miraculous God.  And then for the Christian, the season is a deepening time of reflection.  Time devoted specifically to the wonder and awe of our Saviour’s preparation and birth. 

 The beginning of the end of our bondage to sin and eternal death. 

Yes, these are wondrous moments.  But, for some, they are laced with the absence of someone.  For some, a seat once filled and warm, sits empty and void of the loved one who used to occupy it.  Those of us who have much to ponder, things to do, people to see, we  often overlook the sense of loss and sadness that courts our acquaintances.  Military families, death of loved ones, and strained relationships tint the color of the holidays with a sense of grief and loss.

While we sip hot cocoa, soldiers lay entrenched in battle.  We go to our houses of worship, when they reflect on how much they miss home.  They endure, so we can celebrate freely.  I have moments where I am in awe with how much these families sacrifice in the name of freedom and country.  As a Midwesterner, not seeing the snowy landscape would somehow lessen the magic of the season for me, but troops trade the same fond memories of powdery snow for sand and desert.  I remember a soldier who had recently returned home from a tour of duty in the Middle East tell of the culture shock of returning back to the States.  What he had missed most, other than his family, was green grass

 The landscape of home

 When we see yellow ribbons tied to trees that adorn homes let us say a prayer.

 The holidays are a time of family and togetherness, but that time somehow won’t be quite the same in many homes.  The loss of a loved one, whether within the year or many ago, can bring reminisce of sadness.  My own extended family has had two such deaths.  This Christmas will not be the same.  These losses bring fresh remembrance of others who have passed before.  We take comfort in the brevity of such absence, knowing that our loved ones who have gone before, if they have known Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, will be reunited with them someday, soon.  Still, life continues, and must, but we will miss the ones who celebrated with us, who made the family time special. 

For family who have lost dear members this year, or in years past,  let us say a prayer.

Though these losses are difficult and sad, they hold the prospect of warm memories and future reunion.  But, there are some breaks in fellowship that don’t have that hope, relationships that have been strained, due to disagreement, divorce, or unwillingness to forgive or ask for forgiveness.  Sparring between family members can easily cause the loss to be felt by all.  Disputes, lack of communication, and such arguments tinge the holidays with regret, hurt, and loss.  Not dealing with issues breaches the bond or allows the chasm to continue spreading. 

Without necessary healing, the pain continues, icy and piercing.

For families, including my own, who feel pain and loss with disputes,  let us say a prayer.

This year, having small children I rejoice in the fun and excitement.  There is such great joy in seeing my kids delight in the beauty of the festivities.  I cling to my faith and the joy of my salvation in the wonder in the birth of Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago.  This event was the pivotal point in history that could give hope in spite of the losses that so many of us face.  We continue to live life, with its difficulties and hardships, but we mustn’t forget to reach out to those around us who are missing someone. 

To remember a friend’s grief in the separation of military service, death, or broken relationships is to give a gift that is priceless. 

In the midst of the radiance of holiday, don’t forget the tears that fall during this time.

Say a prayer, send a note, call just to bless someone and let them know you have remembered their loss and hurt in this time.  This only adds to the beauty of the season and fulfills one of the reasons Christ came to earth.  When asked what the greatest commandment was, He responded,

’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

 From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas….

A Letter to My Dear Friend and My Dearest Friend

My dear friend,

I am holding you up in prayer.  I know that you are holding me up, too. 

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 

9 Two are better than one,
       because they have a good return for their work:

 10 If one falls down,
       his friend can help him up.
       But pity the man who falls
       and has no one to help him up!

 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
       But how can one keep warm alone?

 12 Though one may be overpowered,
       two can defend themselves.
       A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Our redemption is SO near, why would we be assaulted if otherwise? The flames lick at my wounded heart.  The pressure is intense, but this is the closest to Hell we will EVER know, for our Savior has conquered the grave.  He sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes on my behalf…His spirit resides within me and though I wait here in a dry and desolate land, my soul is content in the promise of His unfailing word.  My spirit groans within me longing to be clothed in His righteousness in the heavenly dwelling where I am at home.  I long to look upon the One who paid the debt for my sin, the very One who is desperate to touch a dying and decaying world.  I praise Him despite my foes who are eager to try me for an unjust crime to which their imaginations create to give fodder for their own foolishness.  I pray for them, for their ignorance slanders not my name, but His.

“Lord, You are good!  Your love endures forever!  My soul is quenched by the Living water and my frame is strengthened by one Word from your heart to mine.  I am in awe at the splendor of Your existence and I yearn to proclaim your name from the rooftops!  How long will you put up with the defamation of Your name?  I long to defend One who needs no defense!  I long to stand for the One whose very presence none can fathom!  My soul will only rest in you, yet it shall never remain silent until you sit on your rightful throne, in heaven and on Earth.”

Though none go with me, still I will follow….

River

  What image veils you in serenity? Waterfalls….

meadows….

rain….

palm trees and waves…

mountain tops and lakes…..

om…ooooommmm….

Well, snap back to reality.  Whether we want to or not we have bills. Taxes.  Mortgages.  Sickness.  Arguments.  Employers.  Kids.  Politicians. 

Yesterday was kind of a rough day for me.  I felt weighed down, burdened.  There wasn’t anything in my home that was amiss, but it just seemed that the crumbling world around me was suffocating.  I’m not talking solely talking about political events.  I have a wayward family member.  Someone I love dearly on the wrong path, venturing on any journey, but the one that will bring her peace and lasting security.  Though she has hit pitfall after pitfall, her desperation leads her to the next empty route.  The next mirage of happiness.  After confronting this reality, yet again,  I ran into a friend at the store and found out his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  My heart hurts for his family. 

So many people right now are facing uncertain and devastating circumstances.  Divorces, job loss, sickness, pain…This world is wrought with failure.  Failure of relationships. Failure of job security.  Failure of the body.  Personal failures and government failures.  What do you say?  What do you do?  Especially for the perpetual wanderer.  If you have tried to encourage them to “think outside the box.”  If they continue to wander in the wilderness and you have given them a map to the oasis, what then

Psalm 23 is one of the most famous passages in the Bible.  Only six verses, but powerful meditations that salve the deepest wounds and encourage the most downtrodden spirit.  Today I want to highlight the second verse: 

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters

Even when we are so heavy laden with the cares of the cruel world, we have a God who walks beside us.  A God who veils us with serenity, the serenity of hope for the future and the presence of his Spirit.  His love flows over us like a cool, calming river.  He speaks to us as a quiet, bubbling brook washing over our hearts.  So many times we try to swim against the flow of his River.  We become waterlogged, tired, and some even drown, dragged under and trapped in the hidden growth below.  What if we just let the River carry us?  What if we allowed it to lead us to places unseen, trusting that it will flow only where the path has been carved out for us?  It’s a humbling prospect, letting another force lead our lives and carry us, rather than trying to control what we never had strength for anyway….

I recently came across this song written by LIGHTS.  I love it.  I hope it refreshes your soul and leads you to the Creator of the river…

Lyrics to River :
Out across cities I see buildings turn into piles
and watch the world in wonder, as mountains turn into tiles
and trees loosing their leaves and their faces becoming tired
i wish i could discover something that doesn’t expire
come stumble me

take me river, carry me far
lead me river, like a mother
take me over to some other unknown
put me in the undertow

such other things that make a kingdom rumble and shatter
the same dynamic that another day would never matter
it really just depends on who’s giving and who’s receiving
and things that don’t make sense are always a little deceiving
come and humble me

take me river, carry me far
lead me river, like a mother
take me over to some other unknown
put me in the undertow

i wanna go where you’re going
a follower, following
changing, but never changed
claiming, but never claimed

take me river, carry me far
lead me river, like a mother
take me over to some other unknown
put me in the undertow

take me river, carry me far
lead me river, like a mother
take me over to some other unknown
put me in the undertow

Loud-Mouthed Preacher To The Rescue

The other day I had a choice to make much less dramatic than the story that follows.  A friend and I had the priviledge of leading a young lady to Christ after we had gone out for a girls night to a restaurant.  The Lord guided and directed the conversation, but I came to a point where, after knowing that she had not accepted Christ, I could have said, “Well, you can think about this and get back with me.” I mentally answered that option, with a resounding “No, our next breath isn’t guaranteed.”  I would  regret not offering to pray with her that night at that moment.  I asked her if she wanted to pray in the car, right then, to ask Christ to save her. Her excitement shocked the socks off of me!  Her longing for God’s saving grace…her eagerness was contagious, almost tangible….

Why do I tell you this?  By no means am I patting myself.  I DID NOT save her.  Through a variety of circumstances and paths of the conversation, solely directed by an Almighty God, using an unconfident and  unimpressive woman, she came to the feet of Jesus.  I was humbled and rejoice, longing for more opportunities.  The story I have followed with my own recent experience is the intense, horrifying, desperate situation that could happen to anyone.  I encourage you to pray for uninhibited boldness for those of you who are believers.  Ask questions.  For those of you who have no certainty of your eternity, trust God.  Search.  You won’t be sorry…

Praise the God of this Universe for orchestrating the paths of the heavenly and humanly bodies,

Jennifer

Loud-Mouthed Preacher to the Rescue by Michael Mickey 10-15-09

The following is a description of an incident that took place last Wednesday, 10-7-09, as described to me by Pastor Rob Madden on the very day it occurred:

When I witness to people I often ask, “If you were to die in the next five minutes, where would you go, Heaven or Hell?” Or when I’m teaching a class on soul-winning, I ask, “Would you be able to tell someone how to be saved if he had only five minutes to live?”

Well, I was tested on that today. As Brenda & I rode home from work, we noticed a car in the woods, all by itself. We thought it strange to see that. And then we both noticed smoke coming out of it. I pulled over, and as I walked toward it, I saw it was wrapped around a tree completely.

As I neared the car, I saw the silhouette of a head inside it. I yelled to my wife, “Brenda, Call 9-1-1!” I rushed to the driver’s side, with the tree in the middle of the car, and somehow managed to get a part of my body into where she was. I wanted to see if she was dead or alive. Her legs were wrapped and distorted by the mangled steel around them. Her breathing was barely noticeable.

My heart started crying for this young person. I was yelling to passers-by to get help. I ran to neighbors’ houses, but no one was home. The road we were on is out in the sticks of South Mills, NC. My wife was stopping any cars going by, because our cellphones weren’t picking up any signals. I ran back to the car and noticed the girl wasn’t breathing. I began to yell at her to wake up, because I wasn’t going to let her die on my watch. I held her head with one hand, and grabbed her right hand, and started telling her that she couldn’t die until I told her about Jesus Christ and His salvation that she could have.

By then, people were beginning to gather. Then she starting breathing as I shook her, and talked with her. All she could do was fight me, and groan at me. She didn’t wake up or talk; she just moaned and groaned. Blood was coming out of her right leg, which was mangled deep into the engine. I knew the vehicle could have ignited, but I knew I had to give her the Gospel message of God’s glorious Salvation. I wasn’t going to let her die, if I could help it! Then she stopped breathing again, and I began to yell at her, “You have to let me tell you all the Gospel of God’s saving grace!” I shook her, and pulled her hair out of her eyes, and I said, “You are the same age as my daughter. I need you to stay awake and talk with me.”

I shook her again and again, and then suddenly she started groaning and moaning, still unconscious. Close to 25 minutes had passed, during which she died several times but would come back as I shook & talked with her. With tears in my eyes, because all I could see was one of my children or grand-children, I kept telling her Christ loved her so much, that He wanted to save her from her sin and take her to heaven one day. I said, “But today isn’t the day!” By then a firefighter who’d arrived told me to stay with her and keep her alive. Because of the position I was in, outside/inside the car, I was losing my strength, especially in my legs. They were shaking profusely. My wife saw what was happening to me, came up behind me and, with all her body’s strength, supported me for around 10 minutes. By then, a Marine had stopped and he took our place. Perfect timing. The Marines always come, just when you need them!

Ultimately, the emergency people came and took over. We were told to leave by a State Trooper (just doing his job). As we left, we were pretty confident that this girl was going to make it. The “jaws of life” were used for over thirty minutes to remove her from the mangled car.

God is good folks! A lady that was there around the same time as we were, told my wife, “Isn’t God awesome? The first person on the scene happened to be a preacher! This girl and these people got to hear the Gospel!”

I can say a big AMEN to that!

Remember, people are dying all around us. Have we done our part to share the Gospel to them? Oh God, break our hearts over the lost & dying all around us!

As soon as Pastor Rob wrote this to me, I knew I wanted to post his story to the site, both to give God the glory for allowing Pastor Rob and his wife to be where they were when they were and to acknowledge Rob and his wife’s love shown to the young woman at the risk of their personal safety.

Three times the young woman in the car stopped breathing, according to Rob, and each time his call to her was to remain with him that he could share the gospel of Jesus Christ with her. Praise the Lord!

Rob wrote to me the following day to update me on her condition:

Just an update on the accident. I called the NC highway patrol this morning and they told me she was medevaced to Norfolk Sentara in Norfolk, VA. The injuries to her body were mostly in the lower extremities area. After we left I was told that she was ornery & combative, in and out of consciousness. Probably because she had to listen to some loud-mouth preacher yelling to her “that she needed to repent & trust Jesus”!

Thank God for loud-mouthed preachers and everyone who puts forth an effort to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, especially to a stranger in a worst-case scenario.

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