Friday, July 29, 2016

Running After Bread Crumbs

I was with a group of people discussing the renovation and redecoration of a business office. The interior designer said, “I’ll come up with wall hangings that won’t offend anyone.”

That is what we’ve come to isn’t it? And in coming to this we have come to the other end of the spectrum as well, an uncontrolled passion and anger to offend without caring how it may hurt and destroy others. The masses have been bludgeoned into a mental and emotional stupor that have robbed them of intellectual and emotional vitality – once they could not speak what they thought for fear of retaliation, now they cannot speak because they cannot think or feel.

Over and above the masses are those at war, call it what you will, it is about control and power. Truth is hardly the object, for those at war employ spin doctors as their medics and manipulate words and images to achieve their own ends. Those at war seek to manipulate the masses, and succeed, by telling them what they want to hear as many times and as many ways as they want to hear it – the immediate is all that matters, instant emotional, psychological, and material gratification.

The masses are like pigeons in a park, running to this person and then to that person, they will run to whoever is throwing the bread crumbs. Sadly, again, the pigeons run to and fro listening to preachers of prosperity and peace and self-promotion – who needs the Bread of Life in Jesus Christ if we can have bread crumbs? Following Jesus will cost us our lives, running after bread crumbs costs us nothing…we think.

A wicked irony is that those who think they are in charge have become spatially disoriented to the point where they no longer know the truth from a lie; whether in government, politics, education, business, the arts…and sadly in much of the church. This is not relegated to one group, it is pervasive.

Everything outside of Jesus Christ and His Word is uncertain.

“The nations have sunk down into the pit which they have made; in the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught,” Psalms 9:15.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Selling our Souls; Selling the Church

Proximity to power corrupts. Charles Colson wrote about how, when in the Nixon White House, the Administration manipulated Christian evangelical leaders – they were so easily intoxicated by proximity to power.

I wonder what Colson would say today? How little it takes for us to sell our souls and the church, how little it takes for us to bow down before the altar of power and limelight.

The Kingdom of God is not of this world and the Church cannot speak into the world if it is of the world.

The choice must not be between one candidate or another, it must be between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world – the Gospel must take precedence over political expediency and over the false hope that there is hope in any name other than Jesus Christ. Psalm 2 and Daniel 2 and Matthew 28:16 – 20 must inform our thinking or we will complete the descending journey we are on…that of being salt that has lost it saltiness.

There may come a time in history when there is a U.S. presidential election in which the Church has one last opportunity to articulate the Gospel and the Kingdom of God, to set itself apart from the kingdoms of this world; how sad it will be should we fail to do that.

While I would never say this because I would not want to offend others, I can image an Old Testament prophet saying, “The leaders of my people have sold their people into promiscuity, into prostitution; the leaders are intoxicated with proximity to political power and fame and are casting their votes, and their souls, for the kingdoms of the age rather than the Kingdom of God.”

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Morning Worship, Morning Thoughts

Are we tempted to turn our thoughts to the world in the morning before we turn our thoughts to God? Are we driven to the “news” before we encounter God in His Word? Is the story of chaos to enter our hearts and minds before the renewal of the story of God?

Which waters shall we bathe ourselves in as we awake and prepare for the day?

The river of water of life proceeding from the throne of God? 

Or shall we immerse ourselves in a cesspool? 

Simple imagery. 

Hopefully a simple decision. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Psalm 23: I Shall Not Want

“I shall not want…” (Psalm 23)

As David pondered his care of his father’s sheep and how he, David, cared for them so that they had no wants, it must have been a wonderful moment when it dawned on him that Yahweh was his shepherd and that he would not want.

Jesus tells us not to fear and that we are of more value than sparrows whom God’s eye is on – not even one falls to the ground without God knowing and seeing. While I can’t directly relate to David and his sheep I can relate to the sparrows for Vickie and I have two hopper feeders with seed, one tube feeder with peanuts, one tube feeder with finch mix, one tube feeder with seed, one suet feeder, and a bird bath that is heated in winter. We also have a number of bird houses. We don’t put insect killer on the ground because we don’t want to harm the birds. I have thought more than once, “If we care for the birds in this way, how much more must our Father care for us.”

It strikes me that the words, “I shall not want” speak not only to the present, but also to the future. It isn’t just that I will not want today but that I will not want tomorrow – this is a trust unnatural in our world, a world that plays upon fear, indeed an economy that creates fear and then uses that fear to manipulate us into consuming goods and services. Motivation by fear is the primary motivation used by government, political parties, businesses, and…unfortunately, often within churches and families. We are puppets on the strings of fear.

And yet…if we will but trust our heavenly Father we can learn to say with David, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The LORD (Yahweh) is my Shepherd

“Yahweh is my shepherd…” (Psalm 23)

I wonder when these words first came to David. When did he realize that Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, cared for him as he, David, cared for his flock?

Did David ponder the depth of his own care for his father’s sheep? David not only cared for his father’s flock as a whole, but he cared for the particular sheep in the flock, to the point of risking his life to save them from wild beasts (1 Samuel 17:34-35). When a lion or bear grabbed a sheep and ran with it David didn’t count it as shrinkage, as the cost of doing business; rather he went after the predator and saved the sheep.

One day it dawned on David that Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth, was not just “out there”, but that He knew David and loved David and cared for David – that He, Almighty God, was also a shepherd – that He was David’s shepherd.

Has it dawned on us that our heavenly Father is also our shepherd? Do we see our Lord Jesus, our Great Shepherd, laying down us life for us? Caring for us? Loving us?

Have the words of David become our words? Can we write, “The LORD is my shepherd”?

Why not take a pen and paper and write them right now?