Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why Manchester?

The horror in Manchester is a chilling reminder of the evil in our world.  It is hard to imagine how someone could strap explosives on their body, walk into a crowd full of preteen girls, and detonate a bomb.  ISIS has, as expected, taken credit for the bombing calling the bomber a “soldier of caliphate”.  World leaders cry out for justice and the defeat of radical Islam while families in England struggle to imagine a world without their child and cry out to God “Why?”.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Many wonder, if there is a God, why doesn’t he care?

The Manchester bombing is just another of a long line of tragedies that leave people wondering about purpose in this crazy world.  I believe there are some Biblical truths that can help us as we sort through these evils and strive to make sense of a world in chaos.

First, we must remember we live in a fallen world (Genesis 3).  Man chose self over God and God cursed this world because of sin (Romans 6:23).  Jesus came and paid for our sin and gives victory over death.  However, he has yet to come back and take his place as ruler over this world.  He tarries, not to allow sin free reign, but to give opportunity of salvation to all who will receive him (2 Peter 3:9-10).  Evil is man’s fault, not God’s.

Second, our enemy seeks to destroy us.  The destruction Satan seeks is not a flat tire on a rainy day.  He seeks to destroy our lives.  He walks around this earth seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).  He delights in the death of the innocent.  Horror such as this is the result of the schemes of our adversary (Ephesians 6:11).

Third, our battle is not against flesh and blood.  Our battle is against the spiritual forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12).  We, as Christians, do not battle Muslims, ISIS, or any single person.  Our battle is against the spiritual forces that are out to destroy man.  The man who blew himself up along with those innocent children is not the enemy.  He is a man who was looking for answers in the world and thought he found them in allegiance to Mohamad.  Too bad he had not found “The Way” through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  Only because of God’s grace do we not find ourselves capable of such horror (Romans 6:14, 2 Corinthians 12:9).

Lastly, peace is coming.  Events like Manchester, 9-11, and the OKC Bombing cause us to long for that day (2 Timothy 4:8).  There is a day when Christ will return in all power.  He will take his place as ruler.  Death will be finally swallowed up in victory.  The curse of sin will end on this world.  The enemy will be placed in chains.  And there will be no more tears, sickness, death nor horror (1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 14:13). 

As we hurt with our brothers and sisters in Manchester, let me encourage you with the words of the Apostle Paul.  “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Walking with Purpose, Acts 3:1-10

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

You Cannot Hide

Three-and-a-half years ago I was doing wedding counselling for a couple.  They had a two-year-old that joined them for the counselling sessions.  I usually pulled out some of the toys I had in my office for her to play with while we talked.  On one of these occasions I pulled out the nesting dolls that my parents brought me back from Russia.  She played with those dolls for most of the session.  At the end of our time together all she had with her was the top of the largest doll.  She would not tell us where she put them and we spent several minutes scouring my office.  Despite our diligent search and the fact the little girl had not left my office, we could not find them.  We looked again at our next appointment together and Tara even joined in on the search but to no avail.  The top of the largest doll set lonely on my shelf knowing that someday they were sure to reappear.  This morning while looking for some pictures from a previous trip to Malawi I opened a CD case Bro. Paul had given us containing 10 CD’s with all the pictures and videos from our trip.  When I opened the case out came all the pieces from that nesting doll.

That little girl proved to be great at hiding things.  I believe that all of us are good at hiding certain things.  We are good at hiding our brokenness.  We are great at coming to church on Sundays with a smile on our face and a positive answer anytime anyone asks how we are doing.  We hide the sin that we keep returning to.  We hide the brokenness in our family and the distance we feel from our spouse.  We hide the evil desires of our heart or maybe the guilt of painful decisions.  We hide our financial shortcomings as they destroy our peace and joy.  We all have secrets that we are good at hiding from others.

We may be great at hiding these secrets from those around us but we can never hide them from God.  He knows our failures even before we fail.  When we are in the darkest time of our life he is there as a father watching a son destroy themselves.  The very best at hiding their failures from others can never hide their sins for a moment.  But the good news is, when we are in the darkest hour, God is there with the light of Christ.  He forgives us through the blood of Jesus Christ and completely removes that which we have tried to hide.  Stop living with the guilt while trying to pretend the mistakes never happened.  Allow God to take the weight off your shoulders and live in victory because the price has already been paid.

Powerful Fishing- Acts 2:37-41

Monday, May 8, 2017

National Day of Prayer: Prayer for Media

This is my prayer from the National Day of Prayer Service at Voice of the Martyrs.  I was asked to pray for the media.

Our Great Father,

We humbly come before you today as we cry out for our city, our state and our nation.  You are the answer for our world.  You created us in your image and redeemed us through the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ.  You have given us your Spirit to empower us as we influence the world in which we live as the light of Christ, preaching the Gospel to all nations, beginning with our own.  It is through the power of the Holy Spirit within us that we are given the power of the resurrection to be the light in the midst of darkness.  You have called us to be the truth in a world of lies.  Jesus said to Nicodemus, “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”  Help us, the Church, be the bearers of Truth.  Let us recognize Truth and call out that which is a lie.

With that foundation, we lift up our media to you.  We know that a strong media which upholds truth helps hold our leaders accountable.  But in our world today it is increasingly difficult to know what is true.  I pray you raise up journalists that bear truth.  I pray that you put believers in positions of authority that will influence what our nation understands.  I pray for Christians to find places of authority in newspapers, radio stations, news shows, tv networks, blogs and all other forms of news providers.  May we see a return of trust as we are set free by the truth revealed to us.  I pray for believing journalists to rise up as possessors of truth.  May they find favor with their supervisors and boldly proclaim truth through a world-view that understands you as Creator, Savior and Lord.

John tells us, “They are from the world; therefore, they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God.  Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”  I pray, therefore, that you give us as believers the wisdom to see the truth through all the noise of social media.  Let us not become victims to fake news that we wish to be true or even fear to be true.  Protect us from wrong conclusions as we sort through competing ideology.  May we recognize truth and avoid untruth.  May we experience what Jesus said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Thank you Father for the gift of eternal life that has come through the payment of Jesus Christ who gave his life on the cross for us.  We humbly surrender to you every influence and possession in our lives as we call upon you here this evening.  During these days of confusion, we walk in faith, knowing Jesus Christ is the foundation of your Church. We do not ask these things in our own name or power.  We ask these things in the name above all names, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God Provides

God provides in many different ways. I have been reading Ezra as part of my daily devotional time.     Ezra leads the people of Israel out o...