Sunday, July 23, 2006

If the Devil ran the World…

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome. (Genesis 32: 22-28 NIV)

So, God decided that for reasons only He understands, the nation Israel would be directly created by Himself. It says so right there in the scripture above. This one act, has influenced the entire human history of the people of Israel. It has marked them as the chosen people of God. It has separated them from all other nations of the world. God also has placed Israel in a land surrounded by people openly hostile to them (has been for their entire existence), yet there they remain, despite the fact that almost the entire world has no love for them. Have you ever wondered why Israel is so reviled by almost everyone one from the Arabs to the Europeans to the UN?

God has a sworn enemy (Satan). He detests God. He detests everything about God. As such it stands to reason he also detests the chosen people of God…the nation Israel. I submit that every hostile act against Israel comes directly through the devil: every rebuke of them in the UN, every sneer about them in the halls of power from Europe to the Far East, every negative comment in the talking point of liberals, comes directly from Satan – the great puppet master. Think about it. If one detested Israel, what would one most want to see happen? How about getting a world power to try to exterminate them, while getting an apathetic world to look the other way (Hitler and the Holocaust). How about inciting hatred for them by virtually every country that surrounds them? How about getting most of the world media to report them consistently in a negative light? How about getting “reasonable” world leaders to suggest that they shrink the size of their borders so that they can “live in peace”? Simply put, it’s not like the devil can show himself tangibly and smack Israel around. So, he gets those who are powerless against his influences to do his work.

Why does this matter? Well, it simply symbolizes the incredible influence that the devil (God’s enemy) has on the world and the people of the world today…Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's special favor that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:1-5 NLT) God’s special favor however still remains with Israel. It is His special favor that allows Israel to survive every inevitable attack that has come her way in 6000+ years of existence. His special favor as referenced in the scripture above, also gives life to every believer in Jesus Christ, and it is this belief in Jesus Christ that God is waiting on from His people Israel…"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. And now look, your house is left to you, empty and desolate. For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, `Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Matthew 23:37-39 NLT)

Why do evangelical Christians support Israel so steadfastly? Because it indicative of our worship of Jesus. Despite her temporary rejection of Jesus Christ, Israel still belongs to God, just as Christians belong to God. As Christians…we could do no less.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pride...our Prison Guard

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." (John 9:35-39 NIV)
I happen to be reading John Chapter 9 when I came across the above verse of scripture. As with all scripture, it’s accuracy captures the essence of the world in which we live, and as such is a perfect indictment of our fallen society and world. The blind man in the story (and by the way it is a true story) is representative of so few in our world: people who truly want to believe. When Jesus asked the man if he believed in the Son of Man, he didn’t know who that was, but his heart did not dismiss the possibility of believing in something that was obviously greater than himself. When presented with Jesus’ reality, the man believed instantly.

In our world, people are oftentimes not humble enough to want to worship God. When Jesus is presented to most of us, we are unwilling to put aside our “lifestyles” to follow Him. That is why humility in a person is such an endearing quality. It was the man’s humility that allowed him to so readily accept Christ. When I was unsaved, every time that the topic of Jesus or God was presented to me (though in retrospect it was not very often), I was unwilling to subvert myself to accept something that instinctively I knew was greater than myself. For example, I wouldn’t respond to the alter call in church or the opportunity to pursue a religious conversation offered by an acquaintance. I knew I would have to change. I didn’t want to change…although I knew perfectly well that my life was nothing so great to hold on to.

When I finally accepted the sovereignty of Jesus Christ as Lord over myself, it was an act of submission. Thankfully for me I resisted my pride (which was screaming for me to stop) and willingly said in my own way “Lord, I believe” and I have been worshipping Jesus ever since.

I pray for everyone who may be reading this post, and who may be seeing themselves somewhere in this story. I pray that they accept God’s continued offering of Himself to them through His Son Jesus Christ. Overcome your prison guard of pride - it only wants to keep you trapped: Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mother Jesus?

The Episcopal Church USA continues to stake out their territory as a “church unto itself” as opposed to a part of Christ’s body of believers with such decisions as 2003’s approval of the New Hampshire Diocese's election of V. Gene Robinson, as the organization’s first openly gay bishop. This year the “church” elected liberal Katherine Jefferts Schori as their leader. Along comes this not surprising bit of information about Ms. Schori courtesy of Newsbusters.org.
Most recently, she irritated some conservatives by speaking about "Mother Jesus" in a sermon....the website then goes on to quote Washington Post reporter Alan Cooperman who stated: To those who accuse her of heresy for referring to a female Jesus, she responds with a typically learned disquisition on medieval mystics and saints who used similar language, including Julian of Norwich and St. Teresa of Avila. "I was trying to say that the work of the cross was in some ways like giving birth to a new creation," she said. "That is straight-down-the-middle orthodox theology. All language is metaphorical, and if we insist that particular words have only one meaning and the way we understand those words is the only possible interpretation, we have elevated that text to an idol," she said in a telephone interview. "I'm encouraging people to look beyond their favorite understandings." Jefferts Schori's "all language is metaphorical" approach is a giant red flag to traditionalists…who believe that the Episcopal Church is heading toward schism because it has departed from the plain words of the Bible. – Newsbuster.org
All language is metaphorical? I assume by that she includes the language of the Bible as well. If so...by definition, the Bible can mean whatever it is that the reader wants it to mean. Seems like a likely position to take, if one wants to shoehorn such positions as the acceptance of homosexual leaders in the church. The Bible may have commented on the coming of such "church leaders" as Ms. Schori in the following verse of scripture: But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Peter 2:1-3 NIV) The Bible also warns: Don't let people waste time in endless speculation over myths and spiritual pedigrees. For these things only cause arguments; they don't help people live a life of faith in God. (1 Timothy 1:4 NLT)

I know very little about Ms. Schori. I assume that she along with the Episcopal Church USA leadership believes in the core tenet of Christianity that Jesus Christ is Lord - even if it is clear that they reject some basic biblical teaching. My purpose for writing this post is however to give pause to anyone under her teaching who will hear positions that evidently calls into question the simple message of the Bible which is this: For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV - italics mine)

Celebrating Ourselves


The widespread publicity afforded to Warren Buffet last week when he announced his intention to leave his billions to charity coupled with a somewhat similar announcement a few weeks earlier by Bill Gates regarding his intention to step down as leader of Microsoft to focus on his humanitarian foundation illustrates a very deceptive flaw in our global human thinking. These very caring people are to be lauded for their giving spirit to others, but at the same time, the outpouring of attention continues to cement the myth of human “goodness” to combat the evil of this world, when in fact such “goodness” is nothing more than a deception that we can cure ourselves.

We as human beings are selfish, depraved and self centered; that is how God describes us in Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? The generosity of billionaires cannot cure it. God presents only one cure for the human heart: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 1:8 thru 2:1-2, NIV)

As people we need to understand, that it is not by human altruism, human attempts at goodness that this world will be changed. Our love for evil and our depraved nature will always overcome the riches of all the billionaires combined. We need Jesus. We need the pure and holy love that God displays when He decided that His Son needed to die in our place as the only way for us to be accepted by Him. This is the love, the giving, that will change human hearts from the inside. Man's acceptance of Jesus will make the need for billionaire charities obsolete. The world needs a heart change...which cannot occur through human charity. When a person accepts Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for themselves, they in effect subvert their existence to His authority. That is what is needed throughout the world.

Again, I do not wish to diminish the motivation of the Warren Buffets and Bill Gates of the world. Their dedication to spend their money in helping others is to be commended by all. But, apart from doing it as a part of worship to the authority of Jesus, the charity will ultimately be in vain.

A God who sends people to Hell?