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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.

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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.”

Jesus and Powerlines

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the church should be.  So many people have their own ideas of how the church should function.  It’s easy to get lost in a myriad of questions about worship style, dress, sermons, offerings, and communion.  Some people hop from church to church hoping for the perfect combination tailored to their every taste.  Others hold on to a stagnant, dead building without ever trying to infuse life into the damp and musty services. 

The other day we had to take a drive on an errand and as my husband drove, I relished the ability to just sit and be.  (Now a parent myself, we have a dvd player in the van.)  Looking at my passing surroundings I was drawn to the power lines.  I noticed that there are all types of poles for the lines.  Some are simple, made of crude wood logs.  Others are intricate, made of sturdy metal.  The lines are even tied differently depending upon what type of power they are servicing.  I even found some with the mysterious red balls on them.    I’ve always had a small fascination with power lines.  I guess part of the reason is that as a child we lived in Texas, far from any family, so we drove a lot.  Back then we didn’t have iPods or dvd players.  We didn’t have cd players, I’m not even sure that we had a cassette player for several years.  So we entertained ourselves with observing our surroundings.  Games like ISpy, the ABC game, or sign watching were often played.  But one thing I’ll never forget is the red balls that hung on the power lines, seemingly, everywhere near our house.  I never knew what they were for, but I always think of Texas, even today, when I see them.  But this day the poles that captured my attention and got me thinking were in the shape of crosses.  There was a country road completely lined with the cross-shaped poles.For some reason this made me reflect back upon the function of the church….

The poles of power lines serve no other purpose, but to hold up the line.  The powerline itself only serves to route power to outlets.  And then the outlets are useless, unless someone taps into the power.  Power is not forced to people, they must choose to plug into it.  When one line is damaged, the whole street or city is disconnected from the power source.  Someone must maintain the power lines.  If a limb falls on the line, someone must remove it, otherwise there is danger that someone could be hurt or that the line could eventually become damaged. 

I was amazed at the parallel of powerlines to the church.  The church is so similar to a powerline system.  Our purpose is to bring the Power of God to the community.  Of course all we can do is bring the Power, only they can choose to “tap in” to God and allow Him to give them Light.  In the church, each individual has a specific purpose.  Some of us are the poles, others of us are the lines.  Without either, the Power is not transmitted to the community and they live in darkness.  When a storm comes and one of our own is damaged, we should tend to that individual.  Simply ignoring a stray limb could pose a threat to the community and the entire system, itself.  Stray limbs might come from storms, such as past hurts, current family crises, sickness, job loss, or even temptations and sin.  Storms always come.  But, careful pruning and maintainance of the lines lessens the chance that limbs cause damage.  It is not important how it looks or what part is vital, each part is essential and without one the system doesn’t function.   Above all the most essential part of the powerline system is that the people receive the Power

2Corinthians 4:5-7

 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

 That’s all they need.

We could all take a few lessons, simply by observing power lines….

Living in Jesus’ Shadow

If you live in the midwest right now, you probably are beyond annoyed with the  chill.  I cannot wait to throw open my windows and let the breeze through my house!  I love to sit outside and just enjoy the sun, basking in the heat (always with some sunscreen) and allowing it to warm me through.  Even more than this I love an amazing sunset.  The most brilliant colors, colors that have a million different hues are splashed across the sky, accentuated occasionally by clouds of all shapes.  So many times I look at a sunset only to have my breath completely taken away.  It’s almost as if there is an ocean of color simply for my viewing pleasure.  “Eye candy” could never better describes any object.  The sun is absolutely fascinating.  Scientists are amazed at the power and energy that a simple, enormous ball of gas emits.  It gives us light.  Heat. Power. It’s really no wonder that this one piece of creation is used over and over as a metaphor for God.  

So many people in our culture want to be famous.  Some for beauty, others for intellect, and still others for reasons, perhaps only known to themselves.  Why is this?  What merit does humanity have that causes his fellow-man to elevate him to a higher status?  Beauty is culturally founded.  Intellect is subjective.  So what causes man to pour so much energy in highlighting such temporary attributes?  He wants to be known.  Why?  We have a God-infused desire feel valued. But rather than looking to God and what He values, man looks to himself.  Instead of seeking to live like Jesus, man believes he is Jesus.  We see this even in the church.  You have Joe Schmoe who somehow thinks that he has all the answers.  See Joe isn’t one of those people, “those people” being the proud, judgemental types.  He has the right perspective, inside knowledge.  And what is more, Joe is so bitter about the people he terms, “self-righteous.” He doesn’t realize that he has become just as judgemental.  He has no grace, no tolerance for the proud.  So he is content in his misery, jaded by bitterness and fighting a battle with the same weapons that “they” use.  But, Philipians tells us that our attitude should be that of Christ Jesus.

 We need to take step back.  It should not be our faces that are illuminated by the sun.  Jesus is the perfect reflection of God.  It is not by our own merit that we are valued.  God loves us through Jesus.   If we would live in Jesus’ shadow, allowing the radiance of God to fully illuminate the qualities of Him, our world would be a much brighter place.  Our own shadows are so small compared to that of Christ, why not live in his?  Why not be so submissive to God that our only desire is to live in the shadow of Christ?  We don’t need to be known if we live in his shadow…

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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