Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Find Peace

I have been thinking about a statement by Corrie ten Boom, a Nazi concentration camp survivor, that is pertinent to what we are currently going through. I hope that her statement will encourage you and give you a needed nudge in the direction of Jesus.

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.” Corrie ten Boom

The 24-hour, minute-to-minute, news cycle makes it hard to not look at the world. Just going to the grocery store and seeing everyone waiting in lines to get into the store, wearing masks, and avoiding each other is enough to cause distress.

“Sheltering in”, not interacting with people you work with, play with or share life with can lead to depression and loneliness. Especially for those who live alone!

Twenty-seven hundred years ago, the prophet Isaiah wrote of peace that comes from focusing on Jesus. He wrote: “You, LORD, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you.” Isaiah 26:3 (NCV)

Push away the view of what is happening in the world, push away the view from the inside, look to the Lord, depend on him, put your trust in Him and peace, “true peace” will be yours.

Jesus, teach us to depend on you and trust you! AMEN

Monday, March 30, 2020

God is Faithful

This week I have been thinking about parallels between Noah and his family climbing onto the Ark and what everyone of us is experiencing. I don’t want to make too much of the comparison because “The Flood” was a God ordained judgment on humanity for their evil. The COVID-19 virus and the calamity springing from it results from living in a world damaged by the effects of sin.

When Noah was told to get ready for a flood, build a boat and then get aboard the boat with his family, the experience was new. None of them had ever experienced rain, water rising, currents and waves, darkness because of the land being shaded by clouds, and people dying in the flood. They were in the ultimate season of having no control and complete uncertainty as to the end of the events unfolding!

They were told that it would rain for 40 days and nights. That is all they were told, that is all they knew. It wasn’t until day 150 that the waters began to recede from the land. In the seventh month the Ark landed on dry ground. After ten months the mountains were finally visible. Forty days later Noah sent out a raven and a dove. The raven never returned. The dove found no dry ground to land on. Seven days later Noah sent out another dove, and it returned with an olive leaf. He sent it out again after another seven days and the dove did not return.

Fifty weeks had passed, and the family’s “Ark” ride was finished. Now it was time to rebuild.

Again, I don’t want to make too much of the idea, but it frames a few thoughts.
God is faithful! He will take care of us throughout this “Ark” ride. Noah and his family entrusted their lives and future to God because they had no other choice and they knew that there was something better ahead.

“Seeing then that all these things are to be destroyed, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, while you are waiting for and desiring the coming of the day of God … according to His promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:11-13 (MEV)

Monday, March 23, 2020

Surrendering and Trusting in the Sovereignty of God


Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 NLT

Several years ago I started taking time to focus, worship and thank the Lord for his sovereignty. Merriam-Webster defines sovereignty as having supreme power, supreme excellence and controlling influence. I remind myself the Lord has supreme power, supreme excellence and controlling influence. Supreme means above all others.

The complexity and uncertainty of life often causes serious stress to the soul. Complexity and uncertainty have become part of everyday life. They are unavoidable. Those that try to control complexity and uncertainty find themselves even more stressed by attempting to live with the illusion of control.

I have found that surrender to the sovereignty of the Lord is the healthiest position I can take. Nothing complex for me or for humanity confounds the Lord. Nothing uncertain for me or humanity confuses or takes the Lord by surprise.

Like David’s words above say, “Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours … the one who is over all things.”

Things take place in life and on this planet I don’t like. I can get all worked up over those things and get angry at God and others, but my response doesn’t change reality. There is only one Sovereign.. I trust Him with the complexities and uncertainties of life.

I invite you to do the same. Surrendering and trusting in the sovereignty of God is the way to peace.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Eight Things the Coronavirus Should Teach Us - Mark Oden

The Gospel Coalition had a great post by Pastor Mark Oden, in Italy. The post is called “8 Things the Coronavirus Should Teach Us.”

Here’s his list of thoughts and some of my comments.

1. Our fragility. Humans are weak against a little bug! “Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.” Psalms 103:15-16 NLT
2. Our Equality. It infects people of all ages in every corner of the planet. The virus has infected people in 134 countries.
3. Our Loss of Control. People love to control. We are captains of our own destiny, masters of our fate. NOT! Control is an illusion, it always has been and always will be.
The Pain We Share in Being Excluded. His point is about those in quarantine and isolation.
4. The Difference between Fear and Faith. Our reaction to any crisis reveals faith or fear. Is the crisis in control or is the Sovereign God of the Universe in control?
5. Our Need of God and Our Need to Pray. “Work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7 NLT
6. The Vanity of So Much of Our Lives. I have to admit it bummed me when I heard about the cancellation of March Madness. Do I need to say anything else?
7. Our Hope. God’s story is about the hope found in Jesus invading earth to heal from the virus of sin and death.

Monday, March 9, 2020

A thought about judging others in a "Call-Out Culture"

You might have heard the term “Call-Out Culture” used over the last year. Wikipedia describes “call-out culture” as a “form of public humiliation that aims to hold individuals and groups accountable for their actions by calling attention to behavior perceived to be problematic, usually on social media.” The terms “outrage culture” and “cancel culture” are variations of the same idea.

Jesus taught about judging others in the “Sermon on the Mount.” “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” - Matthew 7:1-2 NLT

Most people, who know these words, think Jesus was giving a blanket statement about NOT JUDGING. Mainly because they don’t know the rest of what Jesus said. He followed those “famous” words with instruction about judging true prophets (teachers) and false. The standard of judgement was to be their fruit or judging them by how they live and how they treat others.

It is impossible to live a healthy life without judgment. Every day we judge doctors, lawyers, teachers, bosses, politicians, judges, preachers, etc., etc., etc., as to their performance and merit. Rightly so! Only a fool would get treated by a physician without judging. BUT when a person judges, they must judge by the same criteria that they would want to be judged by.

That is not how it works in the “call-out culture” and especially in social media. People judge others by what they post and judge themselves by their motives and intentions. What would happen if every person who posted on social media would judge others by their motives (giving the benefit of the doubt) and judged themselves by what they post?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Counter-Cultural is the Jesus Way

It seems like the teachings of Jesus become more counter-intuitive and counter-cultural with every passing day. Jesus said crazy things like:

“If you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment.”
“If you look at a woman with lust, you have committed adultery with her in your heart.”
“Love your enemies!”
“When you give to someone in need, give your gifts in private.”

Almost every culture would say that anger, lust, hating your enemies and making a big deal out of helping others is normal, right and maybe even necessary. Culture says; “People need to get angry, it is normal. There is something wrong with you, if you don’t get angry. Lust is just part of life. It’s harmless and often beneficial. Lust sells things. No one would love their enemy. That’s warped. More people give to the needy when they know who is giving and how much they are giving.” Intuitive and cultural thoughts don’t jibe with the way Jesus described life.

What are the counter-intuitive and counter-cultural situations that you bump up against?
Don’t get mad, get even!
Stand up for your rights.
Get all you can get out of life, YOLO!
You are the most important person.
We find the answers within us, look inside.

The Jesus way might not always be the easiest way, the intuitive way or the cultural way, but it is always the best way. Jesus calls to us: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest.” Matthew 11:28 MSG

Monday, February 24, 2020

Humility

One desperately needed characteristic today is humility. The age of superstars, celebrity brands, selfies, and social media feeds pride, the opposite of humility.

While writing about humility and pride C. S. Lewis wrote, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Long ago, Friedrich Nietzsche observed that the “will to power” is the basic drive in human nature. There is no need to teach a child to exert their will in a power play. Grasping for power runs through people of every age and every level of social strata. Pride is both the fertile soil where the “will to power” grows and the fertilizer that boosts its growth.

Three thousand years ago Solomon included these words in his collection of Proverbs. “Pride comes before destruction” and, “humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 15:33) The Apostle Peter commented on the juxtaposition of pride and humility when he wrote, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 ESV.

Rick Warren shortened a definition that C. S. Lewis wrote of humility by saying; “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.”

Jesus, work humility into my life and into the lives of those that I influence. Amen.