Powerful Delusion

“For this reason God will send them a powerful delusion so that they believe the lie” 2 Thes 2:11

I don’t watch the news. I haven’t watched a news cast in well over 20 years, probably 30 years. I hear things here and there in the marketplace and have friends tell me what’s going on in the world if they think it’s pertinent, would interest me, or it comes up in conversation. Then if I want, I can go to the web and try to figure out the story or event from an unbiased source without an agenda or slant — these days a scarce commodity.

That’s good enough for me. Solomon, reported to be the wisest man who ever lived, about 1000 BC said, “I’ve been young and now I am old, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Isaiah in about 700 BC said by the Spirit, “He who keeps his ears from hearing about bloodshed and his eyes from looking upon evil will dwell securely with me.” (Isaiah 33:15-16) And Jesus said in about 30AD, “…your eyes are the window to your heart.” And Solomon again said, “above all else watch over your heart.” (Pro 4:23)

So I read the Bible, and study history, believing like Churchill that we see more clearly what lies ahead by looking back at the past.

And then I try to lead a quiet and peaceful life and work with my hands. And think upon beautiful and positive things as the Apostle Paul instructed the church in Thessalonica and Philippi and the church of all ages to do.

“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,” I Thes 4:11

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Phil 4:8

“I try not to consider things too difficult for me,” as did David, king of Israel, one of my heroes in the faith. (Psalm 131:1) And leave all the heavy lifting to the Lord of creation and the Lord of human history. (Isa 30:15 & Zech 4:6) He is going to be up all night anyway, so I can peacefully sleep. (Psalm 121:4)

The Evening News — Life Is Bad

My father was a news attic, especially later in life, and I would say typical of the population in that regard, certainly his generation. I was a news attic in college and earlier in life. But it’s like I used to tell my dad about the news, “They don’t tell you that 7.79999 billion people get up, go to work, school or play, every day, and come home, without anything bad happening to them.” Instead, they scour the earth for images and reports of bloodshed and violence and paste that all over the evening news — these days, the 24/7 news. We all know that’s what attracts people’s attention. People will watch it and also watch the advertising during the newscast. And subsequently buy the products, so that more such news casts can be produced, for profit. But is this a correct representation of life on the planet? Is it the truth about what’s going on each day? Is it the big picture? As best as we can envision it? I would say no! I would say it’s a lie. A system perpetuating lie about life and living on the planet.

The Bible — Life Is Good

Life is good on the planet. Especially for those who abide with the Lord (Jn 15:5, Ps 91:1-2). It’s a gift! A gift to be seized and enjoyed each and every day we awaken. Carpe Diem. Enjoy the gift!

The prophets of old attest to this, even as they predicted future judgment and doom on those who rejected the goodness of God and the close relationship he graciously and mercifully proffered, and proffers still. We see the last of them, Malachi, writing, ” “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)

At the same time there does seem to be some spiritual “second law of thermodynamics” at play. Things with humans tend to disorder and decay without His sustaining life and activity on our behalf.

We’ll call it a mystery because that’s how the apostles described it, and that’s what it is. It’s observable in people of every race and every generation for which we have record. In every epoch from Job to this very day. (I Tim 3:16)

So we observe it works but know not how it works — like believers and the wind John describes in John 3:7. This seems to be only communicated in the Bible, and from person to person, also involving a direct revelation or encounter with the Holy Spirit of God. That’s the most beautiful and mysterious part. It’s like a secret, but as Tozer tells us, “It’s an open secret.”

The church, disciples of Christ, of all people should know this, and be practicing His presence in public and in secret. But there seems to be a serious delusion at work. Perhaps a delusion that was predicted and revealed to the Apostles that would take place in the latter days. (2 Thess 2:11)

Darwinism — Evolution

Some have suggested Darwinism to be that delusion. What’s commonly called the Theory of Evolution is not supportable by modern science — it’s something that is proven more so each year to be not only improbable but impossible. Yet it is painted as truth in textbooks and museums around the world. In the same time frame as Darwin came Karl Marx in the political world and Sigmund Freud in the psychology world and other men of the age, in the spirit of the French Enlightenment, who wished to experience or create or imagine a world without God. A powerful delusion.

The Media

As I ponder this today I see the media as “a powerful delusion” or a major part of it. Day after day, night after night, they pour forth their lies and half truths, that bring them monetary gain and keep people watching, serving their financial ends and political agendas, acting like little gods helping us see the world in their truth and their light.

Secular humanism-house of cards

Do you watch it? Then you know. How does it make you feel? I admit it appeals to the humanistic side of all of us — to know. We want to know. “In the day you eat thereof, you will be like gods knowing good from evil ….” said Satan to Adam and Eve. (Gen 3:5)

And if the subtile work of humanism has crept in on you until you are possibly a Christian-humanist (that should be an oxymoron), then you think you must know these things so you can fix them, like a god. Okay I better stop… hopefully you get it or will.

Unfounded Fear — A Judgment

One very interesting, observable side effect of this negative news and sensationalism, is that people living in one of the most free, most safe, most prosperous countries in the world live in some measure of fear and dread, not enjoying the blessings given them because of fear of situations that aren’t substantiated or real.

I think you can add this to one of the judgments of the Lord on our land, along with hurricanes, wildfires, super winds, pestilence and plague. A judgment of fear. Fear is typically a tool of Satan. Much of the time it is irrational. The propensity for fear in humans serves both good and bad purposes. It seems sort of wired into us at our core. So without spiritual protection, we are susceptible to it’s ravages and angst.

So I will ask you this,”Why do you watch the news?” I see it like taking a little poison pill daily. You can feed your faith or feed your fears? Maybe you like being lied to? Or maybe you feel like you’re so important, you have to know? Or that knowing makes you more important to others?

I don’t want to make too big an issue of this. It could be that you want to be a living part of your culture, an agent for change, and you think this is an integral part of life and living? Or maybe you have the calling of a watchman or prophet on your life? You decide. But give some thought to unplugging! Those around you and your own heart will thank you.

As I once told one of my best friends, who was very spiritual, a believer, and a watchman, “Brian, promise me you’ll read your Bible at least as much as you watch CNN, FOX, Etc.!” He said he would. And I know he did. You can’t tell a watchman not to watch! But you, decide for yourself, what the Spirit would have you do.

Secular Humanism — The Great Delusion

At any at any rate, we are not like God. We are made in his image, but we are not like him. He is “other” than his creation.

Come to think about it, the media may not be the great delusion. It may simply be the voice of the great delusion. Secular humanism is possibly the great delusion. Man thinking he is God, or trying to be like God, and go forward without Him. Delusional! A powerful delusion.

How does that happen? How does it work? Is it a valid model for what has befallen our churches and culture? Is it a piece of the puzzle? And maybe a most important piece? We’ll look at that next, or soon!

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Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” Jesus Matthew 6:22-24

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
” Proverbs 4:23

“Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of human hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat.
Those who make them will become like them,
Everyone who trusts in them.”
Psalm 115:4-8

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” I Tim 1:17










I Have COVID-19

My first interaction with China was in June 2008. I flew a Boeing 777 to Shanghai from Chicago for American Airlines and spent a couple days in the city. I know Shanghai is more western and showy than the rest of China because of its history and interaction with the West. But I will never forget what I saw there; its vibe, its raw economic and technological power.

My second and most recent encounter with China was yesterday. I tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19

I had experienced symptoms for a few days of what I was pretty certain was a common cold, an intermittent wet cough and a mild headache. But I was planning to fly today to a Bible conference and visit some friends in Monroe Louisiana, so I thought it prudent to be tested.

And just like that, the trip was canceled, and I began the prescribed 14-day quarantine from the first day of coughing, along with my beautiful bride who now must also assume she’s contagious, although she’s asymptomatic.

I hope it’s not too much togetherness for her! 🙂 We will try to social distance in the house, using different bedrooms and bathrooms, practice excessive hand washing, and wearing masks if we need to be closer than six feet. But our daughter who is a MD says she is likely to get it anyway. I don’t know many people personally who have contracted COVID-19, less than ten I think, but in every case except one where there was a couple involved, they both got it.

I hope and pray if she gets it, her symptoms will be mild like mine. 99% of the cases reportedly are. The mystery and variety of the 1% is what’s troubling.

The biggest pain for us is the restriction of freedom. Not going out to eat, to shop, to run errands, etc. But we will make the best of it. Lots of reading, writing and journaling for me — that’s not a big change. It will be harder for her.

As someone said early in the pandemic, their baseboards have never been so clean. Those of you who know my wife know they’re already clean. I’ll probably have to get them re-painted after this!

Our kids called last night concerned, but also pointing out this could be a good thing and good timing going into the holidays, as we’ll be immune and not worried about getting it or giving it to others! 🙂

China

A bird just flew into our windows with a thud. Then it flew away in a bit of shock, confusion and with a headache, if birds get headaches?

I guess that’s what having COVID-19 myself means for me spiritually? I feel like I’m awake spiritually, and walking in light, His light. But how does one really know? Deception has the intrinsic quality that if you are deceived — you don’t know it.

But that bird knows it now! Whatever he or she saw enticing or encouraging full speed flight into our window was a mistake. It was caused by an illusion, a wrong perception, not seeing things as they really are.

China — A Piece of the Puzzle

My COVID-19 story has gotten long, so my China musings will be brief. They will serve as an introduction for you possibly of what has recently come onto my personal radar.

A few weeks ago a retired CEO in our 2020 book club and men’s group told us about a secular book he was reading about China. The author is an intellectual, a think tank person, but one who has advised several US presidents on foreign policy and international affairs.

I have not read the book yet, but I will. As our CEO friend shared from his notes and then a summary, it became clear that political China is an enemy of the United States of America. Also that they are probably already the world’s leading economic power, and on a course to be the world’s leading military power. The author, for reasons I won’t go into at this juncture, sees a future war with China as probable if not in inevitable.

I’m coming to see that China may be to us what ancient Babylon was to Judah before 586 BC — on the rise. A tiger. A dragon. Read Habakkuk, as he asks the Lord about what he was seeing in Babylon and Judah, and what would be the outcome of it all?

Ask Yourself

Ask yourself, “Why did China suspend all flights from Wuhan into China while releasing flights into the rest of the world?”

I’ll build my case later for this. But I see China as a major piece of the puzzle for life in the U.S. and on the planet in the next chapter, even in this present darkness.

They are to us a formidable enemy on the rise like Babylon was to Judah before 586 BC. It depends on the prayers and repentance of the church when and whether they come.

Either way one can read Habakkuk and see the Lord’s discussion with the prophet as how it might play out. And more importantly how a true believer will act and regard these times and those times, if it happens the way I’m describing.

Two Streams

To complicate the matter, although it’s not complicated to the Lord, almost certainly the largest and healthiest church in the world is the underground church in China. Its size is estimated about the same as the US population currently. They are our kingdom brothers and sisters in the true faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So while they are our true friends, their government is our true enemy. The situation merits watching, just like watching Israel .

You may recall Jesus told us to be alert for the signs that point to the end of the age, or the latter days, and his return.

Israel has always been one of those signs and will always be, because of God’s promises to them and to the nations who treat them well or treat them poorly.

I’ve often thought China would loom large and be a major player in the end time events. Now there is much evidence this is the case. And the time could be now, in the coming decades, maybe even in just a few years?

More on this later but let me point you to a few books and publications that point to the truth and evidence of what I’m suggesting.

The book my friend read: Destined for War by Graham Allison

A recent Hillsdale College article on China: Imprimis Sepember 2020 “Facing Up to the China Threat

About the underground church in China: The Heavenly Man Brother Yun

Also about Christian life in China’s underground church: Bold as a Lamb Ken Anderson The Story of Samuel Lamb

My Advice & My Personal Tact

Stay awake. Stay alert. Stay close.

Abide in the vineyard. Stay close to the Master. Be like Habakkuk at the end of his book. The Lord bless and keep you. The Lord turn his face toward you and be gracious to you. The Lord cause his countenance to shine upon you and give you peace. Amen [Numbers 6:24-26]

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O LORD, I have heard the report of You; I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds. Revive them in these years; make them known in these years. In Your wrath, remember mercy!” Hab 3:3

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
” Hab 3:17-19

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you….
” Psalm 91:1-3a

Do We Have a President?

It might appear that the election for our president is over. It might be said the Lord’s decision in the matter is final? But where the Lord of creation, the mighty God, is concerned, it’s not over till it’s over, maybe even after it’s over? Remember Lazarus?

If there was any skulduggery, impropriety, corruption in the election process, I pray it be shown. If there is any legal challenge to the results, I pray the laws of the land prevail. We are still a nation of laws despite the corruption and abuse of the present generation.

That said, I am aware that Mr. Biden received, I believe The New York Times reported, four million or so more popular votes than did President Trump. And of course they clamor for doing away with the electoral college, thinking they have more wisdom than the Founding Fathers. I predict history will show, and indeed has shown, they do not. We wouldn’t have wanted to miss the crisis leadership of Abraham Lincoln, would we?

Anyway the people have voted in record numbers and asked for a certain king. It’s still my prayer that God will give us by some means known to him, legally of course, the best leader for our nation at such a time as this. And show His mercy in this way.

If that turns out to be Mr. Biden, perhaps succeeded by his running mate, “May the Lord do what seems good to him,” as Eli prayed.

I would suggest to Christians, if you can’t pray that way, perhaps you don’t know the goodness of our Lord nor his power. Sometimes the way up is down. He knows. A quick glance at the cross and the Roman empire would show us that.

Also if the election is where you placed all your hope for the future — the political system and our government may mean too much to you? And the kingdom of God with its present and eternal King too little? (Psalm 2)

Anyway, the real question is, “What will you do today, and the rest of your days?” The same question was posed by Joshua to a similar people, in a time similar to ours, with similar things at stake. Joshua said it this way, “Choose you this day whom you will serve… But as for me in my house, we will serve the Lord.”

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

A friend of mine, a dentist, once said in a sermon from his church’s pulpit, “Only two days matter; this day and that day.” Choose wisely, and by His grace. Amen.

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” By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just.” Proverbs 8:15

“No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.”
Psalm 75:6-7

“So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes.” I Samuel 3:18

We Wait…

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I have a good friend who started sending out a morning Scripture and missive five years ago or more. Today’s seemed to really fit for believers, so I share it with permission (bolding mine). Thanks Dwayne Russell.

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Set your hope fully on Him!!!
There is a lot of craziness, lots disorder all around but Jesus is not moved from His position. We are still called to occupy till He comes. That day may be sooner than we think. We have to be willing to suffer as our Savior did. It may get harder before He comes, but one thing I know He is faithful and we can trust Him with our tomorrows.”

And today’s verse of the day from YouVersion seemed to be an excellent reminder considering our days and today. His blessings to you and yours!

“For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

Vote! & Devote!

Good morning! As I arise at the cabin before sun up and see the breaking of dawn on the horizon, I am reminded that God is faithful — the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s in Him I put my trust, and not in any man or political system.

That said, He has ordained and given us our unique political system and government for His purposes and to serve us. Today is an important day in which we get to select our leader for the next four years. Please exercise your constitutional privilege, your civic duty and VOTE!

Yesterday’s blog mentioned two things that seem to be at the forefront of this election for Christians; platform and character. Both are important, but in this election I said the platform or issues loomed much larger than character, and I spoke to the issues. They are so starkly different that any Christian should see that to vote one way is to choose secular humanism or man’s rule in the totality of life, and to vote the other way would be to choose God, His ways and His rule in our national life.

CHARACTER

But I said I would address the character issue and I will. First I will give you my short, simple version. Then quickly I will defer to an article a friend sent me yesterday by Wayne Grudem who discusses the same issue. I consider Wayne Grudem one of the best theologians and Bible scholars alive today. And he certainly hits this nail on the head, discussing the character issue in depth.

DWAYNE’S THOUGHTS

That we should be voting today between two men with low morals, according to the media and the campaign ads, says more about our country and ourselves, than it does about the candidates perhaps. So I would suggest a look inward, and upward, asking the Divine for help in righting our moral ship with His Trustworthy Compass.

But decide we must.

If one is in the business of throwing stones, both candidates loom large as targets. And their lives have been put under a media microscope, perhaps one more than the other. The critics of one point to pride and past sexual misconduct. The critics of the other point to bribes and corruption evidence, as well as someone who frequently says one thing and does another, or changes what he says about an issue depending on the audience .

I’m going to give my nod to President Trump as having the best character of the two. A man who has done what he said he would do when he ran four years ago and since he took office. Speaking the truth, and keeping your word to me are very important signs of underlying character.

And again, God is the ultimate judge of character and actions, not me, not you. We just have to look at our options and vote.

WAYNE’S THOUGHTS

Wayne Grudem’s thoughts are through, well thought out, and conveyed, typical of writers, scholars, and theologians. I’m only going to quote a few thoughts here that seem the most apropos to the issue and provide you the link. He writes (Bolding mine.):

“A candidate’s character and policies are both important to consider before voting. And I would agree that there are some character flaws so serious that they would by themselves disqualify a candidate (such as an avowed racist). But in most elections, and with most candidates, we have to choose between two rather ordinary human beings, both of whom have flaws. In that case, an evaluation of their policies becomes decisive. And that is the case in this election.”

“Here is the point at which people will make different political judgments, because human beings are extremely complex, and therefore an accurate assessment of a person’s character is difficult. It certainly should not be done quickly on the basis of small snippets of information. And complicating the task is the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:20), so every human being has flaws that others can criticize.

Piper speaks of Trump’s character in entirely negative terms. Because of unbelievably hostile reporting in the mainstream press, other people can see no good character traits at all in President Trump. My assessment is different, and I think it is more balanced. I wrote this in 2016 and it still applies: 

“’He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas…that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him…He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages. These are certainly flaws, but I don’t think they are disqualifying flaws in this election.’”

“On the other hand, I think some of the accusations hurled against him are unjustified. His many years of business conduct show that he is not racist or anti-(legal) immigrant or anti-Semitic or misogynistic – I think these are unjust magnifications by a hostile press exaggerating some careless statements he has made. I think he is deeply patriotic and sincerely wants the best for the country. He has been an unusually successful problem solver in business. He has raised remarkable children. Many who have known him personally speak highly of his kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity.”

“And now, after his nearly four years in office, I would add that he has shown remarkable courage of his convictions, faithfulness to his campaign promises, steadfastness of purpose in spite of an astoundingly hostile press, incredible energy in the performance of his job, dignity and even eloquence in many formal speeches and ceremonies at home and abroad, respect and appreciation for his wife Melania and his sons and daughters, and a wide-ranging understanding of the hundreds of different issues that every president faces. In contrast to his past life, during his term in office there is not been even a hint of any sexual impropriety. He is sometimes boastful but on a number of occasions I have seen him publicly give credit to many other people for things that have been accomplished. And I think he has shown mature and wise judgment in a variety of situations that he has faced as president.”

“With Trump, we will get good policies and character flaws, but with Biden we will get bad policies and character flaws.”

“It is easy to compare President Trump with a hypothetical “perfect” president and to conclude that he falls short, but that is not our choice. If Trump is not reelected, we will have President Biden, with an entirely different set of character flaws. The multiple allegations that Vice President Biden used his government office and influence to enrich members of his own family with millions of dollars from China, Russia, and Ukraine should be of deep concern, because using government power to enrich one’s own family is the consistent characteristic of corrupt leaders in many countries of the world.”

And lastly:

“The Trump administration has brought to prominence many leaders with exemplary lives.”

“Donald Trump is not the only person we are voting for. It is remarkable that the Trump administration has elevated so many self-professing evangelical Christians – far more than any in my lifetime – into positions of high influence in our government. They also provide role models for Americans. To vote for Trump as president is also to vote for Mike Pence as vice president, Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Russell Vought as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and numerous others. In addition, Trump has appointed numerous deeply committed Roman Catholics to various positions, the most recent being Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The character of these leaders is also a role model for the nation.”

I hope you have found this discussion helpful. And that you will vote… wisely. For your own well being, as well as that of our children, and our grandchildren. America is in a moral free fall it seems, the kind that has produced collapse and judgment in the past, and this election will not fix that problem. Only the God that gave us life, and this nation birth, can do that. And He’s willing to help. But the outcome of this election will be a big step in one direction or the other. In letting Him know what we want. And showing us what we’re asking for?

May God give you wisdom, and peace, as you consider the options, and VOTE!


“Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.” I Kings 8:61

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;”Col 4:2

“This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” I Cor 7:35

VOTE TOMORROW

I’m working on a book about the puzzles of COVID and our times — in the church and in the culture. I had a dream of getting it finished before the 2020 Presidential election tomorrow. It was a dream when I had the thought, and it’s clearly not going to happen. But I intend to include these thoughts anyway when I do publish. It will date the book and tie it’s genesis to this time and this season in our country’s history but that’s fine. It’s actually very apropos to the theme of the book.

The puzzle of this election even being close, and it promises to be so, exposes a cloud of deception over our churches and our country. Deception is puzzling isn’t it? How do people, a large group of intelligent people come to believe completely opposite things or positions? Even among close friends and close family members? Many times both calling themselves Christians. Puzzling? Especially when these positions are so clearly different — practically opposite!

I write to Christians, people who believe the Bible, people who know and fear God. But truth is truth for every human just as it is for every Christian. I want to write with “gentleness and respect” as Christians are instructed to do. (I Peter 3:15) And with humility of course, but honestly I don’t get it — how a disciple of Christ, one who reads and believes the Bible, one who fears God in a healthy way could choose to vote left in this election? Puzzling indeed!

But God certainly honors our free wills, so certainly I should, and I will.

I just want to state my voting position and how I came to it.

Character

This election and the last were so very simple to me. Which candidate has the best character? By their fruits you shall know them. Not by what they say, but by what they do. Jesus taught us this truth. I know that’s hotly debated, and I don’t want this to get long, so I will discuss that in tomorrow’s blog.

Platform

The LORD judges people, peoples, and nations according to His Word, the Bible. Read Psalm 2. It’s demonstrated and repeated throughout the Bible. Wise men and women aplenty have seen it in history too and become seers and leaders in their crucial times, e.g. Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc.

Which platform or agenda shows more deference, honor, and respect for God and His ways? That’s the one to vote for each and every time if you value His blessings and your well being. That’s what the Bible says.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” Ps 33:12

Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

[1] One side is pro life and against abortion. (Ez 7:23, Has 4:2, Lev 18:21)
[2] One side supports Israel while the other doesn’t (Gen 12:3)

Those two issues alone are enough for me to see a clear voting decision. But there are more.

[3] One supports Biblical traditional marriage while the other doesn’t
[4] One supports Religious freedom (not suing bakers or t-shirt makers for matters of conscience) (The First Amendment — Freedom of Religion and Speech) (Why the Pilgrims came to America in the beginning.)
[5] One supports Economic freedom (reducing taxes and regulations to promote innovation and create jobs — the thinking of our founding fathers in America )

These have been in line with Christian thinking for nineteen centuries throughout the history of the church.

These line up with the Bible, and thus with the thinking of our Creator and Judge. The acceptance or rejection of them have strong future consequences as they have had strong historical consequences. Choose wisely. And may God bless and keep you. And may God have mercy and extend His hand of grace to our nation.

COVID, Faith & Fear

Overview

Isn’t it amazing the different theories and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic in our families, friends and country? Those reactions are as mysterious as the disease itself. And they are  telling … about us and what we believe about God, which A.W. Tozer says “is the most important thing about us.”

Isn’t the uncertainty and inconvenience causing us all to pause and think? To consider what might be going on, instead of running up and down the road, to and fro, living lives that are too busy doing meaningless things and serving our possessions and selfish purposes to extremes;  yet not really noticing due to the speed of our lives. This slow down, if you want to call it that, seems to me like a grace attack. It’s affecting every country in the world, yet without destroying an inordinate number of lives.

If the God of the Bible, Who says He is the One true God, wanted to judge our country and world, then destroy it with fire as the Bible says He will in the end, He would have plenty of reason right now it would seem. Yet He mercifully restrains Himself and tries to show us what we are without Him, giving us yet another opportunity and more time to know Him and be known by Him. To consider our ways.

It’s more like, to use a medical analogy, the Lord our Cosmic Surgeon, has diagnosed our culture and church (not in that order probably?), to have cancer (a serious sin and idolatry problem), and He is  going about cutting it out, before it spreads further, threatening to destroy the whole. Indeed I feel like He is answering the ancient prayer, “In wrath, remember mercy.”

This Morning

I have a good friend who was taken by ambulance to the hospital yesterday with COVID. He has openly been skeptical of the threat of COVID and, while taking the normal suggested precautions, has thought that our reaction as a nation in fear is way out of proportion with the threat, and doing more damage to our economy and way of life than the disease. So this morning one of our common friends said, “Isn’t it ironic that the only local friend or acquaintance we know that has contracted the disease is him?

I also have a close college friend, the best man in our wedding, who flew fighters with me in the air force, retired from that, earned a theology degree and became a pastor in Colorado Springs. He and his wife contracted COVID a few weeks ago. She only had flu like symptoms, but he went to the hospital with it.

It’s synchronistic that both are named Ron, and both are Christians, not in name only, but in practice, part of His church and His family, known by Father God through His Son Jesus Christ. They are both healing up. If judgment begins in the house of the Lord, as Scripture tells us, perhaps mercy does too!? 

Well I’m not trying to be prophetic or make this any kind of example, which one hardly could from two isolated instances anyway. I’m talking about walking by faith or by sight, in this COVID stricken time.

I called Gilberto, a friend in Honduras, last week to see what the situation was there with COVID, and whether we should be thinking about returning there on a mission trip this January.  He reported things are improving and some tourists and missionaries are returning. Then I asked him, “Do you know anyone personally who has contracted the disease or has died from it?” He said, “No.”

How many do you know? So why are so many so afraid? 

Oh, it’s a real threat. People have and are dying with it. Also how it’s contracted and how it’s to be treated and further prevented has mystified health care professionals around the globe. So the “unknown” aspect of it has caused many to fear. 

But child of God? What have you to fear? Death has lost it’s sting. The grave has no power over you as demonstrated by your Savior, Redeemer, Friend. Nor does anything, any circumstance short of death. Grace is available for living. So is faith. It’s a gift from God you know. Ask for it in prayer if you feel you need more. Dive into the Word, and rediscover the powerful God of your trust.

Creation & Thermodynamics 

Yes, there’s decay in the world. It’s a part of His design. And it’s the reason we need Him and the care and relationship He proffers. It’s a universally accepted law of physics, the second law of thermodynamics, that everything tends toward disorder and decay over time. They use the word “entropy” which is defined as a “lack of order or predictability, gradual decline into disorder.”

But in Scripture we read that Jesus the Son of God, was creator of all we see and call home. And then we read that He now sustains it by the power of his Word.

“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:3 *

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16*

“The Son reflects the glory of God and shows exactly what God is like. He holds everything together with his powerful word. When the Son made people clean from their sins, he sat down at the right side of God, the Great One in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3 NCV

We also read the hairs on our heads are numbered by Him, and not a sparrow falls to the ground without His awareness. The birds of the air and lilies of the field do just fine without worry, and we’re instructed to live like they do by the caring Creator. 

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then …” Jesus (Matthew 6: 26-31a NASB)

Feed Your Faith not Your Fear

Do a word study on “sustains,” read Psalms 139, read the Sermon on the mount. Feed your faith and not your fear. 

You can read the Psalms, the New Testament, the Old Testament, some of the Bible every day or you can listen to CNN or Fox News? You can feed your faith or your fear. You choose. What you do says a lot about what you believe and who you trust, does it not?

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.” Psalm 131:2

If even a wise, busy king charged with running a kingdom can say this, surely we can. The same king no doubt read, and meditated on the Psalms, because he wrote most of them. Then the Bible would go on to say about him that, “he had a heart like God’s” and that “he accomplished the purposes of God in his generation.”

And the author of most of the New Testament and an apostle of Jesus Christ, charged with bringing the Gospel to the gentile nations and birthing the church, a reasonably active guy we might deduce, said to…

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” I Thessalonians 4:11-12 NASB

And pray to your Father in secret….to hear from Him personally…. to be continued.

*Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Jesus-Christ,-Creator

Don’t Lose Heart

Besides the prayer scene from the Apocalypse recorded in Revelation 8:1-5, what else do you need to encourage you to pray? Maybe Jesus’ example?

Jesus’ practice was to go be alone with the Father and pray. The disciples saw how it changed Him or affected Him, and said to Him, “Teach us to pray.” He gave them a model prayer we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”

And he told them a parable about prayer—about a poor widow crying out to a wicked judge, who granted her request because of persistence, so they “would always pray, and not lose heart.”

Notice Jesus prayer “for deliverance” and “of submission” in the garden with his sleeping friends. Notice his prayer to Father before raising Lazarus from the dead. Notice his prayer of thanksgiving upon the return of the seventy disciples and their reports of spiritual exploits and spiritual authority poured out on them.

Note Jesus in prayer. Follow his examples. Follow his lead.

Note when he prayed prayers of mercy for the likes of us, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Notice when he answered prayers for mercy like those of blind Bartimaeus in Jericho, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:46-52)

This is a skill you learn by practice as you go your way; it’s an art form; it’s a simple heart cry. It’s individual to you. It’s not complicated.

But it’s done! It must be prayed. That’s the main thing. Often and much. It demonstrates humility and worship. It fosters relationship and knowing the King – to Whom you pray — and Him knowing you.

You can almost hear Jesus as He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them.”

So pray! It pleases him. He delights in the prayers of his people, the upright.

It’s the most important communication in your earth experience, to know and be known — by Him.

I’m quite certain prayer is an important piece of the 2020 puzzle. Prayerlessness is in large measure what got us into this present darkness. Prayer will be key to getting us out! Certainly personally, and also for our families, our friends, our churches, and perhaps our nation.

Don’t lose heart!

Pray!


“He does what’s best for those who fear him—
    hears them call out, and saves them.” Psalm 145:19 MSG

The Blessing” from a good God, Who hears and answers prayer…

Teach Us To Pray!

Prayer is a piece of the puzzle. Would you agree? Read Revelation 8:1-5 — what does this tell us about prayer? Is this some sort of mystical image or an actual, ongoing event? Something that really happens moment by moment, day by day, that affects things in heaven and on earth? In our lives and the lives of the people we love?

Tomorrow our 2020 reading, friendship group starts our look into prayer.

It’s purpose and practice? How it works? How and why it pleases God? How to approach it and affect changes in our circumstances. How to expect and experience those effects.

I’m expecting new revelation about prayer — its power and efficacy. And I am expecting newly experiential intimacy with our Lord, Maker, Master, Creator, Father, Friend.

Prayer is the spiritual discipline in which I’m personally the weakest, that I understand the least. It’s also possibly the one that matters most to joyful and victorious life and living!

I’m praying for a new insight into its power and practice. That seems to be a good and humble place to begin.

It appears the Holy Spirit has led us to two simple books to read about prayer and ponder as He provides revelation, insight, and grace for the moment, to apprehend this portal into the heavenlies, into the actual throne room, for his purposes and our pleasure, our good. And the good of those around us.

The first book is “Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer,” by Max Lucado. The second is “Talking with my Father: Jesus Teaches on Prayer,” by Ray Stedman.

Feel free to get copies and read along with us, asking the Spirit to open all our eyes and hearts to the practice, purpose, and Person of our prayer.

His grace to you. Amen

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“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 NASB

Russian & Jewish Prophets

I just read the “Men Have Forgotten God” speech by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn delivered May 10, 1983 at Buckingham Palace, London, as he received the Templeton Award. The Templeton Foundation dubbed him, “a pioneer in the renaissance of religion in atheist nations.”

One of the famous quotes from that speech and his main point or summary goes like this. “…while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’”

Wow! The whole of his speech that day blows me away! His insights — historical, political, geographical, philosophical, moral, intellectual, theological, Biblical… also “behold the man” standing there having been imprisoned many years and made a slave by his beloved Russia, full of love, and passion for his country and the world.

While I can see today’s churchmen and self-fancied theologians arguing whether Solzhenitsyn, if they even know who he is, should be considered a prophet or not — much like men playing cards in a hotel that’s on fire — his words ring honest, telling and true! Just like those of a prophet do.

This speech was delivered on the world stage in the 1980s in palaces and in leading universities around the world. I am in awe of it’s historical insight, sage wisdom, and prophetic candor. He certainly seems to be one who sees, when his culture, country, and the world around him didn’t or doesn’t.

So we have a modern Russian prophet and an ancient Jewish prophet saying, once again, essentially the same thing — from God. That’s what prophets do.

Want to hear what they’re saying? You can read the Russian prophet for yourself here. And I’ll quote the Hebrew prophet below, in part, from Psalm 106.

See if you can put the parts together looking at our country, our world, our day. Atheism and agnosticism it would seem are an important part of the puzzle of what’s going on in our culture, country, and churches.

Who in smug America knew? What atheism could do?

Atheism flowed in with idols galore
Secular humanist who think they know better
Boasting they know more

In the vacuum of God
In the strength of men
Slavery, death, and disaster
Soon reign again

The Almighty sits not idly by
But magnanimously watches from on high
He grants their desire, their want, their prayer
Knowing He must soon act with love and care

Justice meets mercy
Like a surgical knife
Cutting away cancer
Preserving life

Watching individuals and nations
This surgery can look pretty grim
Unless the eye is trained
On Him

Below are the words of the ancient Hebrew Prophet, Poet, and King — David. See if you can see a correlation to our country and our times? Much like what was reported and accurately ascribed by Solzhenitsyn to those terrible times in Russia. It would appear, barring His Grace, and our change of hearts and minds, we are on the same trajectory.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the Lord,
Or can show forth all His praise?
How blessed are those who keep justice,
Who practice righteousness at all times!

Our fathers … did not understand Your wonders;
They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses,
But rebelled …

They quickly forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But craved intensely …,
And tempted God .…
So He gave them their request,
But sent a wasting disease among them.

And worshiped an [idol].
Thus they exchanged their glory
For the image of an [idol].
They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things [for them],

Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe in His word,
But grumbled in their tents;
They did not listen to the voice of the Lord.

Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.

But they mingled with the nations
And learned their practices,
And served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons,
And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and their daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols …;
And the land was polluted with the blood.
Thus they became unclean in their practices,
And played the harlot in their deeds.
Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people

Does any of this sound right? Or familiar? Or like something that could happen or is happening? When men forget God?

Gratefully, Psalm 106 ends on a hopeful and merciful note, and a prayer. Let all who have ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. Amen.

Nevertheless He looked upon their distress
When He heard their cry;
And He remembered His covenant for their sake,
And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.

Save us, O Lord our God,
And gather us from among the nations,
To give thanks to Your holy name
And glory in Your praise.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
From everlasting even to everlasting.
And let all the people say, “Amen.”
Praise the Lord!