Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2 Chronicles 7:14

which indicates a choice

My people,
those who are chosen by God

who are called
but so often are not listening

by My name,
and no other name

again, there is a choice

humble themselves
realize they are in need of His help

and pray
which they should have been doing all along

and seek My face
actually look for God with open eyes and hearts

and turn from
not a 360 or 270 or 90, but a 180

not anyone else’s

wicked ways,
which are any ways not approved by God

not later, not before, but right then

will I hear
because, unlike us, God is always listening

from heaven
because that is where He listens from

and will
God’s promise

forgive their sins
hallelujah, praise His name

and will
another promise

heal their land
because we, as His people, need our land healed

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In My Grandfather's Day

When I was quite young, my parents got divorced and my father moved 20 miles up the road. To me, that was a very long ways away, and I rarely got to see him. On top of that, my mother decided, with my help, that it would be best if my grandparents raised me, so, at the tender age of six, I was legally adopted, along with my older brother, and moved even further from my father. The visits became even rarer.

Some men just aren’t cut out for the role of dad. Some try, but never reach the level of sacrifice and unselfishness that is required to be a dad. Many don’t even try. I think that was the path my dad took. He just didn’t want to be a father, nor did he want to accept the responsibilities of being one.

But God knew my father’s heart and my need for an honest and loving father figure. So, He tapped my grandfather on the shoulder and put him in my life. And he stepped up to the plate and accepted the assignment of raising both me and my brother. In the voluntary absence of my biological father, my grandfather did a bang-up job. Thank You, Lord, for the best grandfather that ever walked this earth.

Thanks to my grandfather, I feel that I am a much better father and grandfather than I would have been if my biological father had tried to raise me. Why? It would be because my grandfather was cut from the cloth of responsibility and sacrifice. He knew that things had to be done, and he was more than willing to do them, especially when it came to flesh and blood. He was a great man who died far too young.

But before he died, he instilled in me the desire to be the best father and grandfather that I could be. He showed me how to love, how to work, and how to put the needs of others before mine. He was, by far, the greatest man in my life.

When I think about him, I often wonder just where men like him have gone. Once upon a time, our great nation was nearly overrun by men who were willing to accept responsibilities and do what was best for their wives and children. Upstanding Christian fathers were all over the place, and they were willing to not only uphold the standards, set by God, they were willing to live the standards.

In my grandfather’s day, the vast majority of men chose to do whatever was necessary to make their families the best they could be. Today, far too many men run as soon as the going gets tough.

In my grandfather’s day, a man was head of the household, responsible for their protection, their provisions, and their happiness. Today, the man’s role has been reduced to no more than a bumbling buffoon, ruled by his wife, and insignificant in the raising of his children.

In my grandfather’s day, a man was the spiritual leader of his family. He was the first to go to church; the first to teach the Bible to his family, and the first to pray for their needs. Today, most men have a hard time finding the Ten Commandments in the Bible, let alone knowing what they mean or how to use them to set a Christian example.

In my grandfather’s day, a father showed unconditional love for his family. In fact, many men worked themselves to death to take care of their loved ones, and many others gave their lives so that their loved ones could continue to live. In other words, fathers were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for those they loved. Today, very few men seem to be willing to give up a day on the golf course to attend an event their children are involved in.

So, what’s the difference between my grandfather’s day and today? Why have fathers in America changed so much? Have our expectations changed? Has society effectively removed fathers from their position as leader of the family? And what about the fathers who still want to be like the fathers were in my grandfather’s day?

We could blame society, women’s liberation, the liberal movement, or any number of reasons for the decline of the role of American fathers. After all, society no longer recognizes men as men. The women’s lib movement does everything it can to demoralize the male species. And the liberal agenda is so focused on moral relativity that their misguided sense of right and wrong has no room for those they feel have dominated the world for so long. With all of these forces working against fathers, it no wonder we’re no longer the backbone of our families, let alone the backbone of America.

In my grandfather’s day, fathers were fathers. Of course, Christianity was accepted, men and women were different, and children looked up to their parents and to God for guidance. We need to return to the way things were in my grandfather’s day. All fathers need to step up to the plate and be the fathers they were meant to be. Amen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Age-Earned Respect

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:32

Now that I am nearing the silver status of my existence, I feel that I have earned some respect from those younger than me. Of course, respect based simply on the grayness of my hair or the wrinkles under my eyes is really no respect at all in this day and age. You see, in America, the aged are more often left on their own than revered. Age no longer means what it once meant.

But, it should. As a matter of fact, it should mean more now than at any other time in the history of our great nation. It is now, when our country is in turmoil that we should turn to the aged and wise for guidance. We should lift them up and seek their wisdom before it’s too late. Instead, we treat them like fools and hide them away in old folk’s homes or retirement villages. And there we leave them, to be ignored and forgotten.

In doing this injustice, we deny God’s command to respect the elderly. We forget from whence we gained our abilities to survive, at the same time eliminating the link to the past the next generation so desperately needs. This trend will mean the undoing of our future.

We need the aged and wise to help us remember our roots and our mistakes, lest we make the same mistakes again. We need the aged and wise to remind us of how we got here, and Who is ultimately responsible for our prosperity. We need the aged and wise to stimulate the voice of the Spirit that calls to us to do God’s will. Without the aged and wise, that voice is waning. Before long, it will be silent.

The aged and wise have earned respect. And so has God. It is up to us to renew that spark of respect and reverence in this generation before the fire goes out, and the elderly are forgotten altogether.

I know that I don’t want to be shoved into an old folk’s home or retirement village and forgotten. I have a lot to pass on to the younger generation, and I do not want to be disrespected or silenced.

Help me Lord, to instill in the younger generation a desire to respect the elderly not only for their age, but for their wisdom and what they can pass on to help the youth of this country survive. Dear God, we need their wisdom and their example, lest we stray by our own disrespect.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yes, Jesus Loves You

Drowning in convictions, he waits patiently

For his time in the spotlight; his Bible at his side

The music is erupting; thousands on their feet

Lifting praises to Jesus, their souls open wide

All but preparation for the Word yet to come

The music, the lights; they soften every heart

Soon, they all are willing to hear the Lord speak

Through His servant’s lips will come spiritual sparks

The words of the music sooth his nervousness

The love of the Father sewn throughout each line

In silent prayer he waits, his moment at hand

The music fades, he prays, “Your will, not mine.”

He comes into the spotlight; all eyes are now on him

All ears are awaiting his message of truth

Then God takes control; the message is clear

He wants them to know simply, Jesus loves you

“Yes, Jesus loves you!” he boldly confesses

“He loves you, and you, and He even loves me.

His love goes beyond anything you can imagine.

His love didn’t end on the cross at Calvary.”

“Yes, Jesus loves you!” again he repeats

“I know this to be true, yes, indeed I do.

And His love will go on forever and forever

He’s got more than enough love for all of you.”

“Yes, Jesus loves you! Will you love Him back?

Will you give your life to Him without reservation?

He’s waiting for your answer, don’t waver too long.

He’s coming back soon; no time for hesitation.”

Then His servant grows silent, a hush fills the church

Then His Spirit takes hold and hearts start to break

As prayers rise, the tears fall, and Jesus is praised

As more realize that it’s their eternity at stake

Revival takes place through one broken soul at a time

As the cries for salvation come from pew after pew

And the angels in Heaven rejoice with each tear

For ‘tis here they now know, “Yes, Jesus loves you!”

Monday, October 6, 2008

It Is Written

One of the newest catchphrases being used to defend the homosexual lifestyle is that “Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality.” And, although they may be right, their statement is meaningless. After all, there were many subjects not directly addressed by the Son of God; but does that fact elect us the judge of whether they’re right or wrong, even when they’re dealt with unambiguously in other parts of the Bible? I think not.

My question is simply this: Is it necessary for Jesus to directly address such an issue in the first place? And if so, wouldn’t His confirmation of the Scriptures spark the pro-homosexual zealots to come up with equally pointless rationale for their immoral and unnatural behavior?

You see, although Jesus didn’t directly condemn homosexuality, He did confirm that the Scriptures were to be followed as written. And, in confirming that the Scriptures were true and pertinent during His lifetime on earth, He therefore did affirm that homosexuality was a sin and should not be condoned by His followers.

He accomplished this task with three particular words that show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He relied upon the Scriptures, and that we should, also. These three words were used to defend Himself from the temptations of Satan, and to provide assurances to His disciples that He was the one and only prophesied Messiah. These three confirming and convicting words were, “It is written.”

Throughout the King James Version of the Bible, “It is written” is used a total of eighty times. Only seventeen references appear in the Old Testament, while the remaining sixty-three appear in the New. Of the sixty-three in the New Testament, twenty-six appear in the Gospels, with eighteen coming from the mouth of Jesus, Himself.

In all cases, “It is written” references previously written Scripture. In no cases that I found did this phrase reference anything written outside of the Bible.

So, what does this have to do with Jesus and the homosexual issue? Well, that’s quite simple. You see, the many uses of “It is written”, strengthens the truth and accuracy of the Scriptures by enforcing their use in the lives of both the followers of God and the followers of Christ.

The repeated use of this phrase to reinforce the importance of the Scriptures, especially by Jesus and the Apostle Paul, leads one to the unarguable conclusion that what was already written was as important, if not more important, than what they were preaching. Not only did their references uphold the accuracy and truth of the Scriptures, the Scriptures reinforced the message they were attempting to get across to the masses. In other words, “It is written” ties the truths of the Old Testament with the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

In doing this, Jesus did speak against the homosexual lifestyle by confirming the Old Testament as accurate and true. In upholding the Scriptures as the guide for living a life acceptable to God the Father, Jesus upheld the written law that prohibits homosexual activity. It wasn’t necessary for Him to directly address this issue, for it had already been directly addressed in the Scriptures that He endorsed.

With that argument out of the way, let’s move forward in the Bible to Paul. Once known as Saul, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ confronted him on the road to Damascus with a question as to why Saul was persecuting Him and His followers. Saul recognized Jesus immediately, and fell to his knees in fear and repentance. From that moment on, the man formerly known as Saul preached the word of God wherever he went. Handpicked by Christ, Paul preached from the heart of the Lord Himself.

Paul wrote in the book of Romans, Chapter 1, verses 24-32, and 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, verses 9-10, about the condemnation of active homosexuality, and went on to state that those who refuse to turn away from their evil lifestyles will not see the kingdom of Heaven. And, no matter how one tries to read into these verses, there is no denying exactly what he said.

So, you see, Jesus referred many time to the Scriptures, and the Scriptures condemn homosexuality. Then Jesus handpicked Paul to spread His message, and Paul also condemned homosexuality. But, both Jesus and Paul preached that those who turn away from this and any other worldly sins can be washed in the blood of Christ and forgiven. Because, “it is written” that all one has to do is admit the sin, turn away from it, ask Jesus to forgive, and commit his or her life to the Lord.

In light of this, we as Christians need to pray for the lost souls who are delving not only in the homosexual lifestyle, but also those who are experimenting with other forms of sexual perversion. We need not put them down, but lift them up on prayer so that they may turn from their wicked ways and get things right with the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the same time, we need not condone their lifestyle choices in any way, nor should we simply write them off as a lost cause. For “it is written” that Jesus came to the world to save it, not condemn it. And we need to carry His purpose forward, even to those who have twisted His words around to fit their unnatural and immoral agenda.

Christians across the globe need to rise up against the homosexual movement and, at the same time, bring the message of Jesus Christ to them in a loving and forgiving manner. After all, He forgave us, and He will forgive them.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The New Minority

When this great country of ours was formed, one obvious majority existed. Without them, America would not have been born, because, without their leader, the colonists would not have been willing or able to break away from the motherland. Their leader was the spark that ignited the Boston Tea Party, the inspiration for the Declaration of Independence, and the courage that allowed victory on the battlefield. Their leader was God.

And the majority was the Christian men, women and children who were willing to give their lives for the cause of freedom. With God at their side and Jesus in their hearts, they overcame the power of the British forces and laid claim to a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Through the fortitude and faith of these Christians, this nation became the most powerful and prosperous on earth. From sea to shining sea, America became the standard for all other democracies to strive for. We became a shining city, blessed by the grace of God, built by the blood, sweat and tears of a Christian majority. That’s a fact.

But, over the years, things began to change. Slowly but surely greed and pride festered our society and we no longer looked to God for the guidance that He so lovingly wanted to provide. He who made us great no longer got the credit for our greatness. He who protected us from evil for so long, was no longer relied upon for that protection. No longer a part of our daily routine, we only sought God when the chips were down. Our society had put Him in a box, and, in doing so, reduced our once vocally and proud Christian majority to a nearly silent and disillusioned minority.

Although there have always been anti-Christian zealots who’s primary purpose was to stifle the message of truth, this movement took off in the early ‘60s when the Supreme Court deemed prayer and Bible reading unconstitutional in our public schools. Since then, every conceivable ill related to our youth has increased, including teenage pregnancy, drug use, murder, the dropout rate, teen suicide, abortions and all forms of sexual immorality.

Of course, some statistics have dropped, such as test scores, our students’ educational standing when compared to other civilized countries, and the desire for young people to attend church or enlist in the military to protect the freedom of others. Sadly, almost every traceable statistic concerning our youth and our country changed for the worst in the early ‘60s. And that’s a fact.

Another trend that has hurt America is that the rights of the individual often take precedence over the rights of the many. Majority rule is no longer the accepted norm and individual responsibility no longer exists. Judges overrule juries, the rich walk free, and the loudest get the stage. All the while, the majority is forced to watch this injustice in court-mandated silence.

Unfortunately, our newly acquired status as a minority does not afford us with the same protections that other minorities enjoy. In fact, we, as Christians, face increased discrimination from all sides. Even in light of the 9/11 attacks and the new fervor of American pride, Christian’s rights are being trampled by the opposition on the liberal left.

With so many people against us, what are we to do? How are we to become that vocal and proud majority we once were? Is there a chance for American Christians, or are we to be defeated by those who scoff at our God?

As I see it, we only have three choices. One, of course, is the choice that we have been making for the last forty years, to remain silent and hope that God will deliver us from the evil, or that Jesus will return to take us home. In retrospect, however, this option is not winning the battle. The fact of the matter is that we are losing miserably, and I don’t think it pleases God.

Our second option is to speak up and let our voice be heard loud and clear. There are several ways for us to accomplish this task, including unifying the churches, boycotting non-Christian businesses and organizations, or coming out in mass on election day and speaking our mind through the ballot box.

Unless there is a major catastrophe affecting Christians throughout America, the probability of the churches unifying is practically null. It’s hard enough getting a couple of churches in the same town to unite for any cause. Life is just too good to have to impose on others, even if they worship the same God and sing the same hymns. Although I do not agree with this position, it seems to be the norm.

As for boycotting, the success of this action lies with individuals, not with the church or the Christian population. To tell the truth, it’s almost impossible in this day and age to find any big business that stands for the same things that Christians stand for. So many have bowed at the homosexual and abortion alters just to be seen as politically correct and fair.

If every Christian did actually boycott all of the businesses that disagree with our beliefs, we could bring them to their knees. But, if we can’t even get a couple of churches in the same town to unite for a simple cause, the chance of us uniting against pro-homosexual or pro-abortion big business is remote.

What I’m getting at is this: American Christians used to be the majority. I believe we still are. Unfortunately, we are neither vocal nor united, thus making us the new minority. And history tells us that the silent accomplish nothing. We must unite or fade into oblivion.