Praying For and Adjusting to the Slightly Imperfect

5 03 2018

Our family often had the nations around our table as our children grew up. We loved the cultural examples each one brought to us. I remember in particular a couple from Zimbabwe who we invited from a local college for Thanksgiving. In the middle of the meal the wife told us, “You throw away the best parts of the turkey.” We all had a great laugh because we do not eat the head, liver or the feet of a turkey. But we desired our children to know and understand that every life is valuable to God and His design for them. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of nations and nations represent people.

Proverbs 12 tells us, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” What does your tongue bring to those around you, your co-workers and your acquaintances?  I am personally challenged by my thoughts (not often spoken, but still thought) that do not think the best of others or those thoughts which do not give those different from me the benefit of the doubt.  To have the privilege of traveling the world and to experience different cultures is enlightening, while at the same time difficult to not think comparatively, i.e., my culture vs. their culture.

I can remember being invited to a wedding in Central America that was to begin at 11:00 AM.  My wife and I were there and ready for the ceremony to begin at ten minutes before eleven o’clock.  The funny thing was, no one else was there other than a few people who were setting up.  I had my wife recheck the invitation and sure enough it said 11:00 AM.  The wedding actually began sometime after noon.  It was our introduction to a significant cultural difference.  It wasn’t wrong, just different.  Our North American mindsets needed to be desensitized so that we could accept the cultural norms of another nation.

How creative of God…warm cultures, cold cultures, on time cultures, fashionably late cultures, brash and bold cultures…all to His honor and glory,  All cultures representing differing characteristics and attributes of the nature of a loving Father. Did you know the word nations is found in the Bible 564 times? In the book of Revelation, chapter 21 reveals, “The glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into it [The New Jerusalem].”  The nations will be represented in that new city.

Thank you, Lord, for Your patience with us, our lack of understanding and proverbial comparisons. How You love the nations!

 

 

 

 

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Five Powerful Responses to Our Government Leaders

12 02 2018

Politicians can be an especially difficult bunch due to their near truths or outright lies, placating, patronizing, cover-ups, political correctness and bottom line desire of being reelected.  You rarely know who is telling the truth today.  You especially rarely know the full truth because of a press that now also includes “fake news.”  Further, the news outlets often only report what will support their causes and their politicians.  It is why I love inside reports from Christian leaders I am acquainted with (throughout the world) who are in the know about so much of what is truthfully happening around the world.

It is the unshakable kingdom of God we serve first and foremost, not this world’s shakable kingdom.  It is this eternal kingdom that should draw the most passion from us in order to fulfill Matthew 28 in every nation of the world.  So, yes, I care about politics, but I also know how very shallow, surface, selfish and incorrect it can be at times.  It’s a challenge to not be distracted by the shakable kingdoms of this world.

It is easy to get on a bandwagon and rant and react, especially with the access of social media today. It is harder to find the truth, pray, search the scriptures and locate a godly response to these matters.  The latter takes a lot more time, more listening, more humility and less of a desire to be right.  It is good to remind ourselves Jesus lived in troubled times with a very ungodly government and ungodly religious system.

I know I am not a perfect example of this, but I am growing and desiring more grace for such situations. I desire to be a truth giver/teller that brings life and love with it. In an attempt to share with you God’s word on the matter of government, here are five key responses toward our governmental leaders:

 

  1. I urge, then first of all that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (I Tim 2: 1-4)

 

  1. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.  (I Peter 2:17)

 

  1. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13:1)

 

  1. The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.  (Proverbs 21:1)

 

  1. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.  (Titus 3: 1 – 2)

 

As Christ followers, we have a long way to go to do more listening, considering, growing and developing.  But there are many undeniable written words from God that do not and will not change with culture.  We are called to influence culture with Biblical truth. While our opinion may be valuable to some, it will not supernaturally change a life.

We are to be known by our love.  Love is not accepting everything that comes down the pike as a, “That’s OK if it works for you,” but loving even when we disagree strongly.  There is an inordinate amount of I John 2:1-8 going on in the world today, i.e., claiming to know God and to love Him, but unwilling to obey Him and His word because of its inconvenience to personal sin or cultural belief.

Let us be reminded of the “rulers” that we are actually struggling against as Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”





Is Judge Roy Moore Guilty?

20 11 2017

Is Judge Roy Moore guilty? Yes, he is. But then, so are you and I because we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. I do not know about any current accusations against him, but I pray he tells the truth for his sake and for the sake of the women who are accusing him.

I bring this topic up because this blog is less about the currently accused and more about how we are living our daily lives. There are accusations being leveled against so many presently in the US and it seems that almost daily a new story spreads to the nation through the press. It’s difficult to imagine, but in each report the accusations could be decades old.

Time doesn’t change sin or misconduct, it only delays the inevitable — it will surface. So here is the first warning: How we live our life today will affect our integrity tomorrow. Someone once said that it takes years to build a reputation of integrity and only minutes to destroy it. Sin always has a way of surfacing. “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)

Secondly, know that the ungodly in this world do not like your integrity and will desire to destroy it. Why? Your righteousness reminds them they may not be walking in truth and righteousness. Proverbs 29 says this, “Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright.” (V. 10)

One more Proverb worth mentioning, “ The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.“ (Proverbs 11:3)

It seems wrong to be guilty until proven innocent, but innocence is a very rare commodity today.





Perhaps Our Nation Needs a Perpetual Crisis

6 10 2017

When your neighbor’s house is flooded, the roof is blown away from a hurricane or gutted from a devastating fire, are you inclined to help them? Are you moved with compassion to serve them and pour all the effort you can into assisting them toward recovery?

If your answer to those questions is “yes,” then please consider the next set of seriously posed questions. Before reaching out a hand, would you first ask them their political persuasion or would you first consider their race or nationality? Perhaps you might contemplate their religion or sexual orientation…?

I doubt it. I think you would roll up your sleeves and get busy. Why? At the point of crisis these things do not divide us, rather we are united by the need in their lives. We are drawn by compassion with a desire to help alleviate their personal disaster or discomfort.

United by the need in their lives… That perceived need causes you and I to respond differently. That need reflects our heart to benevolently care for others, even though they may be radically different from us in numerous persuasions.

If it takes a crisis to unite the nation we live in, then perhaps what we need are ongoing, deliberate and strategically placed crises. But that just sounds heretical and down right awful doesn’t it?

How about this instead?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   Jesus





Twenty-Five Years After a Rwandan Genocide and Genocide of Another Kind

23 06 2017

The Rwandan government is speaking and teaching there is only one people group in the nation of Rwanda. There are no longer tribes and factions. On paper and in speech this sounds fine, but there’s a deep wound in Rwanda that is still not healed.

To speak “one nation” without major heart transformation, forgiveness and blessing rather than cursing would seem like empty and hollow words. Words that mean well, spoken to move the country forward, but words, nonetheless. Unity cannot be legislated while a process of healing cannot be forfeited.

I just returned from this beautiful, clean and prosperous nation in Africa. The Rwandans from the churches that I was part of are dealing afresh with trauma as many of those persons who were incarcerated for their crimes against humanity are now being released from their prison cells. These persons are once again walking the streets and it is causing a response of fear and unrest.

There was so much blood spilled on this soil, but it seems the best answer the world or a government has is to put it out of your mind and move on. How does one reach forgiveness of those who now walk free while their fathers and close family members are in the grave? How does one obey the law of the land while at the same time find freedom from some of the deepest pain a human can endure? Genesis three and verse seventeen records God’s response to Adam concerning the ground he was working. Due to his disobedience God told him, “Cursed is the ground because of you…”

Does the blood of thousands of innocent Rwandans soaking this ground bring life or a curse to this soil?

Thank God that His Son became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). The Son of God died on a Roman cross and was placed into the cursed ground only to be miraculously resurrected. Our King became victorious over death, hell and the grave. The soil could not hold Him. The blood He shed would break the curses of generations.

I was seated at a local church in Kigali, Rwanda waiting for my time to speak thinking about the entirety of the above and actually thanking God that my home nation has not experienced such horrific pain and suffering, at least in my lifetime.

Almost immediately I had this thought, “Not true of America, your home.” And then my next thought was concerning the present holocaust: abortion. Everyday my nation is killing babies in the womb, spilling innocent blood and everyday we walk through life as though it is a normal occurrence to be accepted. My government protects this practice and calls it “a choice.” There is no choice for the baby found living in the womb.  

According to the World Health Organization, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. In America there are 1.3 million abortions a year, that’s 3,562 per day!

The definition of genocide is: The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. Between April and June of 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days. Since Roe vs. Wade we, America,  have realized almost 60 million killings!

Can you imagine that we have politician after politician, governors, presidents and Supreme Court members who work tirelessly to keep this crime of abortion alive? Can you imagine that people vote for these politicians dedicated to keep babies torn to pieces by the thousands per day? Rwanda’s genocide is over and has been for many years while ours continues on and on and on, day after day after day and year after year.

Governments will never find the solution for the broken human heart. Legislation cannot change our blood-saturated soil. Even our national leaders would call those leaders who kill their own people uncivilized barbaric murderers. And yet, they themselves are doing similar.

Judas, after betraying his Master, Jesus, said that he had “betrayed innocent blood.” (Matthew 27:4) The Psalmist describes this sin of shedding the innocent blood of children when he writes, “They shed innocence blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.” (Psalm 106:38)

Their blood desecrated the land and themselves (v.39); do we get that?

I am extremely grateful that the tide is turning and the younger generation is far more pro-life today, but I also hear the present generation say to me that they are not one-issue voters. Could this aberration, this abnormality called abortion be normal now in the mind of a believer in Jesus? Could this injustice and lack of mercy toward the unborn be a curse in our land as this innocent blood is shed daily?

In Rwanda there was a tribe dedicated to killing another tribe. And in America there is a demonic tribe dedicated to eradicating the lives of the unborn. If it’s murder to kill a child outside the womb, is it not murder to kill a child inside the womb? I agree that abortion is not the only important issue, but it is foundational to values that we hold dear. It is foundational to what we call life and it is foundational to how we respond at every other level of life.

It was Mother Teresa who said that if we do not respect life in the womb, we would not respect life at any stage of life. We experienced the first school shooting in our nation right after she spoke these words while in Washington, D.C.

The blood of the innocent cries out in Rwanda for sure, but the blood of the innocent child cries out in America too. Are we listening? Are we speaking up for them? Are we a voice for those who have no voice?

Endnote: In the time that it took you to read this there were approximately 80 abortions performed in America.





When Tithing Really Counts: The Trust Factor

7 05 2017

Recently I read some research on charitable giving. It was amazing to see how generous Americans are. Last year, 2016, Americans donated $358 billion to numerous charities. That’s the good news.

The bad news is unbelievable when it comes to unscrupulous nonprofits that exist today. For example, the Cancer Fund of America based in Knoxville, TN has a record of only 3% of all funds donated directly aid anyone with cancer. What happened to the 97%? According to the Federal Trade Commission the money was spent on the charity’s staff with trips to Disney World, trips to Vegas, exorbitant salaries, cars, luxury cruises and even college funds for the executive’s children.

This one really bothers me as I travel to this nation annually. In 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti killing tens of thousands of Haitians, while many more lost their homes. Generous U.S. citizens donated approximately $488 million to the Red Cross. A year later the Red Cross announced that it expected to spend $100 million constructing permanent homes and various community development projects. Four years from this time NPR reported, “Despite having spent nearly half a billion dollars…the Red Cross had built a grand total of six new homes in Haiti.”

When we are tithing to our local church, we know we can trust the leadership to make right decisions with the money we’re giving to God. And as we share our offerings to that trusted missionary organization or homeless shelter in our community, we can literally see the difference that our giving makes. Use wisdom in your giving; do your research before you donate. Check out the ministry/organization on their website and do not hesitate to call and request them to verify the percentage of your donation that will be used for administration. You worked hard for your income; be sure to pray and ask God about your giving. Imagine inadvertently donating to some nonprofit executive’s children’s college fund when you have yet to start a college fund for your child.





Sanctuary Cities: We Desperately Need Them

6 03 2017

images-10I’ve never heard of a sanctuary city until recent news, but it made me think how we are desperately in need of such. In the Old Testament, the sanctuary was the inner court where atonement for sin would take place. The sanctuary was a place of God’s dwelling (“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” Ex. 25:8). According to Numbers 8:19 it was a place of safety from the plagues. In I Chronicles 28 God instructed Solomon to build Him a temple, a sanctuary. Importantly, while Israel was away from their homeland and scattered throughout different countries, the Lord said that He was a sanctuary to them. (Ez. 11:16)images-9

Regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or age people are hurting and they need a sanctuary place. They need a place to find God. Would your city be friendly to them? Would your home be a sanctuary? Would they feel God’s presence in your life and see His love reflected in your eyes? Have you asked that person who stands on a street corner with a cardboard sign their name? Are you a safe place for disclosure, for someone to open up about his or her life without judgment? Hebrews 9:24 states there is no longer a man-made sanctuary, for it was only a copy of the true one. You and I are that sanctuary, practicing the presence of God to the lost, misplaced, adrift, disoriented and confused ones.








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