Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Rest of the Story...

This morning, I just finished reading through the Bible for the year and will start back in Genesis tomorrow. I have been doing this (reading the Bible through 2x each year) for the past 20+ years as a part of my devotional life. It has been a great discipline to have and I always learn something new each time through. As I finished up the book of Revelation today, I had a few thoughts come up that I would like to share...

1. We know the end of the story. In the midst of all that was going on in Revelation - the trials, persecution, judgments, etc. - there is a profound sense building of peace that we know the final outcome. Jesus will conquer, sin and death will be vanquished, and He will establish his new heave and earth to be inhabited by His chosen. It's kind of like watching a sporting event that has been previously taped and you know the outcome. You still have moments of anxiousness. You still doubt at times that the home team is going to win. But deep down inside, you know. You know the end of the story!

2. The enemy is working overtime. Revelation 12:12 says that, "...the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time." Satan is furious. He knows the end of the story as well. He doesn't want to believe it, but in truth, He cannot escape it. He is furious with Himself. He is furious in action against God's elect, the church. He is doing all he can to delay the time. But in the end, guess what? He's a defeated, fallen angel whose course has already been set. It is a course of utter defeat.

3. Jesus is coming back. This is not fiction. This is not wishful thinking. This is not a fairy tale. This is God's honest and promised truth - Jesus is coming back! He will come to judge and make war in righteousness. He will wear a robe stained with blood, His blood, and He will be recognized as the Living Word of God. He will strike the nations with a sharp sword but He will also shepherd them with an iron (unbending) scepter. And the name written on His thigh will proclaim who He is: King of Kings, Lord of Lords!

So, I don't know about you, but I take encouragement in knowing that the battle belongs to the Lord. In the midst of all the crazy things this world has to offer and the crazy things my country/culture decides to pursue, I know the end of the story: Jesus is coming and God is the final Victor!

I simply close by agreeing with John the Revelator when he says...

"Come, Lord Jesus..."

To which I hear Christ echo...

"Yes, I am coming quickly!" 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Farmer's View on the DOMA Overruling...

I am a simple person but not a simpleton (I hope). I am not overly upset by the US Supreme Court's decision yesterday to overrule the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I am also not unmoved. My emotions and reactions to the decision lie somewhere between the hysterical "it's the end of civilization as we know it" syndrome and the Pollyanna-istic position of "everything is going to be all right".

You see, I am an agriculturist, a farmer if you will. And I have come to learn some laws of nature that are in reality the laws that our Creator God has amazingly instilled in everything. So, with your permission, let me share with you some things I've experienced and gleaned from the land and from the Lord.

1. God is in control of the growth and the final product. We can plant, weed, toil and even worry all day long but in the end, only God can cause the growth and the product to emerge. I have always been amazed when I plant a vegetable seed. It is so small and yet all the potential for growth into a new plant (thousands of times larger than the original seed) and all the yield that will come from it, is already encapsulated in that very seed. I can prepare a good growing environment, supply plenty of water, make sure it is in a sunny area, but in the end, only God can bring about the growth and the final product. The reason I don't fret too much about the US Supreme Court's ruling on marriage and the family? I know that God's laws are never changed by man's law. In fact, I am told that He sits in the heavens and even chuckles at our errant efforts.

2. You generally harvest what you plant. I have never planted a pea patch and had an abundant harvest of corn. It doesn't work that way. Bean seeds produce beans. Tomato slips produce tomatoes. There are weeds that grow up and want to obscure what was planted, but I am pretty sure that what you plant is what you eventually harvest. With the reversing of the Defense of Marriage Act, we as a society have sown a seed. It will produce its own harvest. And since it is a anti-Biblical and opposed to God's law, it will be interesting to see what we reap. Again, I am not a doomsday prophet. But we would be foolish to think that we will not reap what we sow.

3. The rain pretty much falls on the unjust and the just alike. No matter what the man-made decisions that our country and society comes up with, we as followers of Jesus should passionately hold to His teachings, His ways. However, in the process, we should never stop loving those whose opinion, choices and even lifestyles differ from ours. God doesn't love those who support this act any less than He loves us. Nor should we.

As I said, I am a pretty simple person. And I am convinced that no matter what little decisions we make down here and whatever little good seeds or bad seeds we plant, God is still on His throne. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Today is the Longest Day of the Year...

Today is the longest day of the year. We call it the first day of summer. We celebrate by getting off work early and heading to the lake, pool or somewhere outdoors to welcome the season. But for many others, it is simply another day. In truth, every day seems to be the longest day.

It is the longest day for...

* The 1 billion chronically hungry people of the world who not only woke up hungry on this day but have no idea where or even if they will get food today...

* The 43 million people who woke up away from their homes and can't go home today or for the most part, the foreseeable future. They are internally displaced within their home country or have had to flee to another country. The reasons are legion: war, famine, persecution, etc.

* The 4.2 billion people who live in some sort of poverty. 2.6 billion live on less than $2 per day. 1.3 billion live in what is called "absolute" poverty or less than $1 per day.

* The 1.1 billion people who still have inadequate access to clean, safe drinking water. Many of them will spend hours today walking, waiting and hauling this precious resource.

* The 2.6 billion who still lack adequate access to clean sanitation.

* The 2.5 million people, mainly women and children, caught up in human trafficking. The majority of these are 18 to 24 years of age.

Yes, it is the longest day of the year. But if you're one of the above, in many respects, every day is a longest day...

We serve a God who proclaimed...

"The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)

I wonder, on this longest day, could we stop and find a way to help ease the burden of just one of the least of these who experience a longest day every day?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

World Refugee Day...

Today, June 20, is World Refugee Day. Did anyone notice...

* The 27 Million internally displaced persons in the world? These are people living in their own countries but have had to flee their home for reasons of war, poverty, hunger, or persecution.

* The 16 Million people who have not only had to flee their homes but their countries? Together with the IDPs of the world, this constitutes about 43 M people worldwide

* That more than half of the wold's refugees come from five countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and  Sudan?

* The major refugee host countries are: Pakistan, Iran, Germany and Kenya?

* Almost 50% of the world's refugees are 18 years or younger?

Jesus said in Matthew 25,...

"I was a stranger and you took Me in..." (v. 35)

Over 43 M people in the world cannot go home tonight. As followers of Jesus Christ, what are we doing to minister to these "least of these?"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just a Reminder...

I read a great verse in devotions this morning from 1 Corinthians 1:25 which says,...

"God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God's weakness is stronger than human strength"

It is a sad trap that I fall into so often. I try to live my life in my own power and my own resources. I don't do it on purpose. I know deep down that God is all powerful and all sufficient. I also know He is my heavenly Father who cares for me and knows me better than anyone including myself. But I still fall, or rather slide, into the trap of just doing it on my own.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that none of us are self-sufficient. In fact, we are all deficient and the only real sufficiency that can be found is in our relationship to God through Christ. Even though he was an apostle of apostles, he rightly recognized the fact that his greatest wisdom and strength was not even close to the least of God's attributes. In fact, God's foolishness (sic) and weakness are greater than the best any of us have to offer.

When I look back over my life, I can give testimony to this verse. Of all the "great" things that have happened in my life and the things that I would like to take credit for, all of them are small when compared to the smallest of miracles that God has wrought during that same span. In fact, my testimony is that the greatest events of my life were what God did and had very little to do with me.

So, once again, I stand humbled and confess that anything from God is way better than what I can come up with. I acknowledge that I generally make a mess of things when I try to live in my own strength. And once again, I repent and renew my commitment to trust in Him with all my heart and to continue to try not to lean to my own understanding of things.

Lord, let me be a fool for You and let me be completely helpless yet secure in your wisdom and strength.