Just a few thoughts . . . .First, my heart goes out to all the people bracing for the landfall of Hurricane Gustav. I can't imagine what it must be like to evacuate your home not once but twice in three years. I hope and pray this storm hits a sparsely populated (and totally evacuated) area.Second, I have to comment on John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin for his running mate. This was a brilliant tactical decision and one that will definitely impact the election . . . and from a Christian perspective, it is quite refreshing to see a true conservative on a Republican ticket. When was the last time you heard any politician anywhere say how important it is to have a "servant's heart"? This has been a fascinating election so far and it's only getting more interesting by the minute . . . . And finally, I love Sundays for so many reasons: the fellowship, the teaching, and most of all, the time spent worshiping God. I especially love it when that worship time brings a sense of awe and reverence--a sense of the presence of God. It puts me in the mood to worship all day. . . .I was listening to one of Keith Green's albums this afternoon, and one song in particular touched my heart and made me think about how hard the Christian life can be sometimes. Life comes against us with all of its worries and fears, and it's so easy to forget just how much God loves us. So many times people have said to me, "I pray, but God doesn't hear me," or "Where is God? Everything is falling apart." We all suffer through these desert times; times when we feel orphaned or abandoned--and they are some of the most painful days of our lives.I don't have the answer for why we worry or grieve; I don't know why a good man loses his job or a wonderful mom dies of cancer. I can't offer any profound words of wisdom. I only know that God says He loves us, and I have to cling to that love even in the darkest times. Keith Green wrote:My eyes are dry,My faith is old,My heart is hard,My prayers are cold.And I know how I ought to be,Alive to You and dead to me.Oh what can be donefor an old heart like mine?Soften it up with oil and wine.The oil is You, Your Spirit of love.Please wash me anewIn the wine of Your Blood.I think that in these dark hours, when our faith feels old, we can only step beneath the shadow of His wings and be comforted by His Spirit of love. During the darkest times of my life, I cling to this verse:Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalms 63:7Life is hard, but something wonderful always seems to happen the moment I step beneath the shadow of His wings . . . . Have a great week!
In light of the "faith-filled" Democratic Convention now underway in Denver, I thought I would revisit some of my previous thoughts on life in America today . . . .Fighting for the American Way
A few days ago, I was talking to some friends and we got on the subject of our childhoods. We all agreed that it was a world gone by—so much different than the world our children face today. Our moms would send us outside for hours, and never worry about something bad happening to us. We used to have bells that would ring all over the neighborhood at dinner time, and kids would stop in the middle of whatever they were doing and yell, "That's Martins' bell!" or "That's Savilles'!" and we would all scatter for dinner.Those were the days . . .
Families ate together at the dinner table.
On Sunday mornings the neighborhood went to church.
People trusted the government.
The media cared about morals.
Most companies valued their employees.
Age and experience counted for something: maturity meant respect and rewards.
People cared about the quality of their work.
Truth, Justice, and the American Way were synonymous.
Homosexuality was illegal.
Sex before marriage was shameful (and so was adultery).
The unborn were called babies.
"Oh my God!" was swearing.
People were more valuable than animals.
Christians were the good guys.
America was one nation under God . . . and proud of it.
I could go on and on, but the fundamental difference is this: when I was a child, the good openly reigned supreme. Oh, I know evil lurked in suburbia; I know the darkness was there, but it hid under rocks and seldom slithered into the light. It didn't dare because people refused to tolerate it.
But today, a new time has come. Evil is not only out in the open, it has become the norm. In the twenty-first century, evil reigns supreme. People not only tolerate it—they worship it. Hundreds of millions embraced the sexual promiscuity of Friends and Seinfeld. It became the social norm. Millions tolerated the homosexual agenda . . . it became the social norm. Millions now accept the prejudice against Christianity . . . it will soon become the social norm.
The old saying, "A man who will not stand for anything, falls for everything," remains depressingly true. If we do not stand up and fight today, there will be nothing left to fight for tomorrow.
The battle is a spiritual one, and the Church has the ultimate weapon. We are well-armed but woefully prepared--consumed by the cares and comforts of life--we sell-out our children's future for the price of popularity, big homes, luxury cars, designer labels and wine clubs.This is America in the twenty-first century.But . . . we can still make a difference.It is never acceptable to tolerate evil.
It is never enough to disagree with evil.
We must fight it.
“All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”
I've been informed that Mariners Church in Irvine, California is at it again, cozying up to their partners in doctrinal crime, Greg Johnson, (Standing Together "Ministries") and Craig Hazen (Biola University). It seems they have another evening of "Conversation" scheduled next Sunday, August 24, with the King of Mormon Propaganda himself, Robert Millet.*And guess what? The Mormon Church is also calling upon its people to "join hands for an Evening Of Mormon/Evangelical Conversation". Check out this Mormon blog for more details: http://ldsfocuschrist.blogspot.com/2008/08/2008-evening-of-mormon-evangelical.htmlI wish this was nothing more than a bad dream but, unfortunately, some naive and perhaps not so well educated church leaders believe this is a "loving" way to reach Mormons: Invite them in to the House of God, seat the young sheep before them and never--ever--say anything offensive to them (like exposing blasphemous doctrinal issues, for example). Just throw wide the doors of the true Church of Jesus Christ and offer God's platform to friendly purveyors of satanic theology . . . all in the name of love.So Joseph Smith claimed he did a greater work than Jesus Christ? (Shhhh--you might offend someone.)So Jesus was not conceived by the Holy Spirit? (Really? You're not very loving.)So God the Father had physical sex with his daughter, Mary, to produce Jesus? (How rude.)By the way, this is the same Mariners Church that offered its parking lot to faithful Mormons attending their new Temple opening--and then banned Christians from witnessing to them.All I can say is, "even so, come Lord Jesus."Let the leadership at Mariners know what you think:Pastor of the Day - 949.854.7030 x450http://www.marinerschurch.org/pages/contactus.html
*For some fascinating insight on the Craig Hazen/Greg Johnson Mormon issue see http://www.waltermartin.com/blog/2007_03_01_archive.html
Walter Martin:THE CUP OF FELLOWSHIP
"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (NIV)
Calvary did not sneak up on Jesus of Nazareth. He had prophesied repeatedly that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men; he must go to Jerusalem, he must suffer many things from the Chief Priest and the Scribes, he must die and rise the third day.The core of a great spiritual truth of the Easter season is something we often fail to see. Do you remember when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane? "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14:36) Some theologians have said that in this verse Jesus was displaying true humanity. He was frightened at the prospect of imprisonment, punishment, and death, just like any of us would be. And so he cried out, “Father! If there is a way for me to avoid this, let it be so.”
That’s not what it says. What is the cup? It’s not the cup of suffering because Jesus said he’d been born to this end. He knew all the things that were going to happen to him. What is the meaning of that cup? If you study your Bible, you’ll find out that it’s the cup of fellowship. This cup is a very important cup. It is the symbol of union. What Jesus was saying was this, “If it’s possible for me, Father, to go through the hell of Calvary and not break my fellowship with you, please let it be.”
Do you know what the agony of the Cross was? Not just the physical suffering for your sins and mine, and the spiritual anguish of rejection, but the absolute horror of suddenly being separated from the cup of fellowship you’ve had with your Father from all eternity. Jesus said, “Oh please, Father, if I can just maintain fellowship...” The Father said, “No. You can’t maintain fellowship, but you will never be left alone.”
The Father looked upon the Son as the sin offering for the world. Contrary to popular evangelistic fervor, he did not turn his back on Jesus and walk away. No, he studiously looked upon the suffering of his Son and realized, in the agony of himself and Christ, that there was a separation of fellowship between them. For God cannot tolerate the presence of evil, and Christ—who knew no sin—was made to become sin for us that we might be made as righteous as God by faith in him.
This is the cup that Jesus did not want to have to endure: the moment when the Father and he would be in a separation of fellowship. Scripture gives us that lesson so we will never, ever underestimate the suffering of the Cross.
For all of you interested in politics, here's a fascinating article on the "lost years" of Obama. Quite illuminating . . . .http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/386abhgm.asp?pg=1This is a time when our country needs all the prayer it can get. I look around me and see thousands of people losing their jobs, vacant homes labeled "Bank Repo" and the skyrocketing price of oil and food, and I think--What is going on here? It's almost surreal to go from so much prosperity over the last few years to such hard times. Add to that the terrible disasters that have hit America and the world at regular intervals lately, and we should all sit up and take notice. Something is happening here, my friends; time to toss the TV remotes and PRAY.In the middle of all this chaos and sadness, I am so thankful to God for His presence in my life; so thankful for the peace that only He can give.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7
There is a supernatural peace that is beyond human understanding; a peace that I feel--at this very moment--guarding my heart.
This morning at church we had Communion, and I was reminded once again of just how much God loves me. This is my body broken for you . . . This is my blood shed for you . . . .Love like this puts life, with all its stress and heartache, into perspective. God knows what He's doing, even when life gets scary, and He loves me. He promised He would take care of me no matter what, and that's a promise that makes all the difference in this crazy world to me.