Friday, November 18, 2016

Post Script

It has been pointed out to me that my last post might lead people to think that I am claiming that "God's side" won in the presidential election. I apologize for that, because it couldn't be further from what I intended to say. So to clarify...Trump's win does not mean God favors Republicans over Democrats, or that He favors white over black or brown. He doesn't love heterosexuals more than homosexuals. God's agenda has nothing to do with civil rights. A Republican administration can neither save nor keep us. 

My gladness at the election results has nothing to do with liking Donald Trump or believing that he is a godly man. Nor does it mean that he will be a good President (although he could surprise us all). I was simply expressing my relief at avoiding another four to eight years of liberal policies which had been growing more and more oppressive to Christians. I think Mr. Trump's win has less to do with political parties, or national and world affairs and more to do with preparing the church for whatever comes next.

God sets up and pulls down governments to further His plan for the people of the Earth—all people.  

So I hope that helps clear away any unintended confusion.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What now?

The Lord has been gracious to us. He heard our cry for help and sent relief to His people. He has stopped government overreach and given us a season of rest. I am grateful, so very grateful. God came down into our mess and intervened. I have been thanking Him all week, while fighting to keep my attitude right and my words kind. 

God has delivered us, but a greater deliverance is yet ahead. We have been given a moment, a pause, a cease-fire from the battle we face every day. The great battle to remain the beloved of God in a world grown dark and more anti-Christ moment by moment. So this is not ordinary time, it is extra-ordinary, a supernatural moment in which God has drawn near and is—like Aslan—on the move. When the long winter begins to break in Narnia, the animals know that is it because Aslan is on the move. The signs were unmistakable. I urge you, my friends, to consider that this political miracle is not so we might be free to return to our lives and live them as before. It is not so America can have high standing in the world. It is not so our rights are confirmed. It is not so we can blithely wander in our own way, paneling our own houses, gathering things to ourselves and building our own kingdoms. I believe that we are at a fork in the road moment of decision, a Joshua 'as for me and my house' season. 

God is always about the big picture...even in the smallest of details in the most individual of lives. He is working toward the conclusion He ordained from the beginning. A time so long ago that it nearly seems a fairy tale to us in the twenty-first century. God made Man and placed him in a garden that He might be with him. The earth is a garden made for us, but in a greater sense it was made for Him. It was made as a place in which we might discover our great purpose. It was made that we might know and love Him. A place in which we might learn what it means to belong to God and become prepared to live with Him forever. We've been given space to consider what that means to us and how we go forward from here. 

God works in our lives in seasons that come and go. Therefore this season of rest, however long it might be, is a blessing we must not waste. The election is a megaphone, reminding us that there is a God in heaven and He does whatever He wants, urging us to draw near and hear His voice, warning us to disentangle ourselves—not from the world, but from the love of it, inviting us to seek Him particularly, asking us to set our faces toward Him as a Bride coming down the aisle. Though the church be full of people, she has eyes only for her beloved. 

My heart longs that He might bless us once again with revival. Not so we can have great meetings and feel good about ourselves, but that He might fill us up with Him. That we might be equipped for the greater deliverance still before us, when we are stripped of our own way and baptized into His. A deliverance from ourselves that we might behold the fiery One, enthroned among the cherubim. That gazing at His inexpressible beauty, we might be changed. I want that for me. I want that for my friends. I want that for a world tearing itself apart chasing fulfillment it can never find, because it exists only in the place of surrender to the One who made it. I long for the transformation of the church into doorkeepers who cry out, "Here! Here is the way! What you most long for—the beauty and the satisfaction and the rest for your soul—it is in here! HE is in here!" Beholding Him and letting Him fill us will equip us to be His doorkeepers, His voice, His body on the earth doing the works of Jesus. His dealings in our lives will activate in us Jesus' calling to 'bring many sons to glory' (Hebrews 2:10). His love will empower us to overcome the world. He is worthy and we are privileged. Maranatha!

"May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering." 
John Leonard Dober and David Nitschman,the first Moravian missionaries in 1732 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Just say "Yes!"

The annual Torah reading schedule has just reset. It is appropriate that the recent portion in Genesis took me back to "in the beginning" in the Garden once again. That beautiful place God created especially for us so we could commune with Him. It's good to remember that His intention in creating the earth was not that we would make something great of it, but that we should have a place to be with Him, a place in which to know and love Him. That meditation is a comforting antidote to the maelstrom of election confusion and anger swirling around us.

We are being told that this is a season to make our stand...or retreat into prayer...or protest for our rights...or sit down and be silent. It's our Christian duty to vote. It's not Christian to vote this time. It's a mess, but a mess God is permitting—perhaps to drive us to Him that we would draw near and listen. Reading about our beginnings is reminding me that now, more than ever, we need to be with God, to remember who we are, to draw near in friendship, to listen for His voice, to let Him fill us up. There are lots of folks shouting about what is happening in our world (and what we should do about it), but the one voice we most need to hear does not shout. In John 10, Jesus our good shepherd says His sheep hear and know His voice. It whispers behind us, "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21). God has no dog in this fight. His loving concern is about people, not governments, systems or parties. Only He is sufficiently outside, beyond and above the clamor of the world to be objective, so we desperately need to hear from Him. His trustworthy voice can safely interpret and direct us. Make no mistake, there are things to be done, decisions to make—important decisions. But we must sit at the feet of Jesus like Mary before we rise and serve like Martha.

How terrified the Israelites in Goshen must have been when God was humbling the Egyptians and their gods. Death and terror surrounded them for days on end, though it did not come near them. When God said to put lamb's blood over their door posts, it must have seemed pointless. How in the world could that stop pestilence? But they trusted and obeyed, though they did not understand. In this hour He wants me to be so tuned to His voice that I will hear and obey, even when it doesn't make sense to me...especially when it doesn't make sense to me. That is faith, believing in His love, wisdom and ability, relying on His character, and His track record. If I listen for His voice, He will show me the way I should go. My part is to listen and obey. 

So I've been convicted to ask for mercy and help. I can't even desire more of Jesus without Jesus' intervention. The world is so loud and shiny and distracting, so I am asking for greater ability to focus. I am meditating on Scripture—not to get more information or prove a point—but to renew my mind and hone my listening ears. I am asking for a deeper desire for His will and His ways. More than anything else I’m asking for Jesus Himself--His presence is what I most need. That lovesick yearning that keeps me adoring at His feet produces the oil I'll need in my lamp going forward (Matthew 25). I can ride above the muck and the mire of current events, no matter who wins on Tuesday, when He holds my gaze. 

I am grateful that God still seeks those who will walk with Him in the cool of the Garden. He  peeks through the lattice of our hearts and urges us to come away with Him. He is asking us to say ‘yes’ to more of His presence, so His power and ability can lift us above our circumstances, above the crumbling world, above the impending election and its results, where Jesus sits enthroned. Then we can fix our eyes confidently on Jesus, knowing that He has not left us forsaken, knowing that His love will keep and perfect His church—not in a weak-whimpering-barely crawling across the finish line kind of way—but blazing with light and sacrificial love. Oh that we would embrace His presence and be filled with more Jesus! Drink deeply of His love, His power, His peace, and His joy. Come away. Come away with Him. You won't be disappointed.

"O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!" Song of Songs 5:1b

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