Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Short Hiatus...Or Maybe Not!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I will be staying the week with my Mom who recently had hip surgery. She's coming along great! In the meantime, I hope you re-visit some older posts. I was surprised to see how many there were to date! Don't give up on me - I'll be back soon! :o)
In Christ,

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Persecuted Church Alert

Although by now you have probably already heard about this, I felt it necessary to post the news on the blog. Ri Hyon Ok, 33, was executed by the N. Korean government for distributing Bibles and "spying" for the U.S. and S. Korea. She is at rest with our Lord, but her family has been detained in a prison camp. Please pray for her husband and three small children.

Also, please be in prayer for another Christian woman who was arrested and tortured. Seo Kum Ok, 30, has not been seen or heard from since, and it is unclear if she survived. Her husband was also arrested and their two children have disappeared.

Praise God that there are people bold enough to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this dark nation in spite of the persecution they suffer. Pray that His Holy Spirit will pour out His Word upon the people and that they will embrace Him as their Savior.


Friday, July 24, 2009

The Persecuted Church: Chiapas, Mexico

Not far from the southern border of America is an area with which few Christians are familiar. Lying in the southwestern portion of Mexico is the State of Chiapas.

hiapas, Mexico has proven to be a conundrum in my online search for information. The amount of information is not the problem. It is the confusing mixture of conflicting data that causes me to have trouble assembling it and putting it into perspective regarding the persecution of Christians within its borders. When Chiapas is Googled, the first page is full of travel information, touting it as a place worthy of visiting, with pictures of beautiful waterfalls, quaint villages, and green mountains. One thing is clear, however: Protestant and evangelical Christians are persecuted there. Of this, there is no doubt.

The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) lists Chiapas Mexico as a "hostile" area. This means that local law enforcement attempts to provide protection for Christians, but Christians are often persecuted because of their witness. Religion statistics by VOM are not available for this region; however, they list Chiapas as a "mixture of Pagan, revolutionary and liberation theology" (The Persecuted Church Global Report). It is regularly stated by most agencies and statistician websites that the theology is predominately a mixture of Catholocism and ancient Mayan "syncretists". "Catholic/Mayan Syncretists" are those who have blended the rites of Catholicism and witchcraft into a religious form. They view evangelical Christians as a threat against their political, economical, and indigenous culture. The result is a lack of tolerance for those who bring outside influence into their communities.

The fact that the Catholic Church encourages this type of paganism by turning a blind eye to it is more than just disturbing. It begs the question, "why"? It is not my intention to offend anyone who adheres to Catholic theology. But the Catholic Church does more than just tolerate it. They also allow the Syncretist's pagan rituals to be performed within the confines of the church building (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XopnOQ-0qFs). There have also been reports from evangelical missionaries in Mexico of Catholic Priests who have at times encouraged their congregants to persecute those who are witnessing to Mexican Catholics (for more information on this, see Dana).

When the Spanish Conquistadors conquered Mexico, the indigenous people were forced into subjection to the Catholic Church. It was not until 1810 that it gained its independence from Spain and established itself as a republic in 1822. In 1917, a constitution was instituted. It took another 74 years for increased religious freedoms to be granted, but restrictions still apply. "For example, religious groups are required to gather only in their own buildings and church leaders are not permitted to criticize Mexico’s laws or authorities." (VOM)

"In the past several years, relations between evangelicals and the Roman Catholic Church have improved but there continue to be conflicts. Protestants are sometimes viewed as a threat to Mexico because they are suspected of having ties with the United States. Evangelical Christians in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca have suffered attacks often provoked by Caciques, powerful community chieftains who practice 'traditionalist' religion, a semi-pagan mix of Roman Catholic beliefs and ancient Mayan religion. In late August 2008, a Christian family was attacked in Chiapas by neighbours who accused them of witchcraft. Three were killed and six seriously injured." (http://www.compassdirect.org/en/display.php?page=news&idelement=5567&lang=en&length=short&backpage=archives&critere=Chiapas,%20Mexico&countryname=&rowcur=0).

"In Oaxaca, four Christians were jailed in mid-November 2008 when they refused to participate or help pay for a festival that blended Catholicism and native religious beliefs." (VOM)

In November, 2003, a evangelical Pastor in Chiapas was assasinated. (http://www.compassdirect.org/en/display.php?page=news&idelement=2424&lang=en&length=short&backpage=archives&critere=Chiapas,%20Mexico&countryname=&rowcur=0

The following YouTube video provides an excellent, well-produced look into the persecution of evangelicals in Chiapas, Mexico: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-oGzG12XQI

In spite of what I see as misinformation about the wonderful tourism possibilities in Chiapas, Mexico that the web provides, the dark side of this State can also be glimpsed if one is willing to dig deep enough. We cannot blindly accept that all is well simply because a picture of a cascading waterfall and forest-covered mountains appear alluring. It is what is hidden within the hearts, minds, and souls of the people living there that should concern us. It is all too often that we refuse to believe a church that is recognized internationally as the "authority" of Christianity has buried within it a darkness that is hate-filled and oppressive. We must look beyond the exterior and into the heart of it.

I, along with The Voice of the Martyrs, Compass Direct News and others, ask that you remain in prayer for those who faithfully strive to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Chiapas, Mexico. As we lay our requests before God's throne, I pray they will be a fragrant incense to Him and that out of the faithfulness of those who remain bold in their witness, a great harvest will be presented to Him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Only Way

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6

There is a great deception being taught by some that Jesus was merely one of many great prophets, such as the likes of Mohammed, the Dahli Lama, or Ghandi. To further compound and confuse the weak is the persistent declaration that all religions worship the same God, only in different ways. It is the most destructive heresy being perpetuated and the intent of this lie is to unite and blend all religions into one massive ecumenical system of belief.

The other night while watching the Fox News Channel, contributor Juan Williams stated he was a Christian. Then in the same breath, Williams unknowingly denounced his claim by minimizing the God he claims to worship in the way described above. I have heard Bill O’Reilly and others make the same assertion. And because there is rarely, or never, a guest present with the truth embedded in their heart and the strength and willingness to express it, these men and women go unchallenged. The lie dangles in the air like an offensive stench to the true believer. But it permeates the minds and souls of those ignorant of Scriptural truths.

Because of the present state of world affairs, there is a growing unwillingness to offend, even at the cost of Christians compromising God’s truths. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is being rewritten in such a way that prevents the reality and validity of it from being presented in its entirety. Many denominations that once preached it in its purest form are white-washing and watering it down to one that is more palatable and “seeker friendly.” The likes of Rick Warren and his ilk feel it is necessary to embrace and draw all religions into one big happy family.
This accomplishes nothing except pervert the very core of the Gospel. The masses are being spoon-fed a diet rich in distortion and the main dish is called “tolerance." And if the people can be subjected to tolerance, there is no longer a desire to hear or to speak the truth to a lost and dying world.

The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of God (Revelation 19:10). But if His testimony is being twisted into a doctrine of combined faiths, then it becomes a lie. Because we know that God cannot lie (Titus 1:1-2), those who falsely proclaim Jesus as a mere man and prophet and place Him in the same category of liars will bring swift and just condemnation down upon themselves (Jeremiah 9:5; Jeremiah 14:14; Romans 1:25; Galatians 1:6-7; Revelation 21:8).

There is one God. He is sovereign and there are no others (Isaiah 40; Jeremiah 10:7-16). He has prepared a way back to Him by providing a substitution, Jesus Christ, Who took upon Himself God’s wrath and punishment for our sins. There is no other “way” to salvation and eternal life except through our God Who came in the flesh - Christ Jesus. To perpetuate the lie that there are other ways only deceives and brings eternal death.

Although we are commanded to do so with love for the sinner, we must remain firm in our deliverance of the Gospel, never wavering or altering it out of a fear of offending someone. The only fear of offense we should have is that of insulting and angering our Maker by denying His sovereignty and classifying Him as a mere man of faith. We must stand firm on His foundation of truth because millions of lives depend on it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Kicking Against The Goads

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

Acts 26:14-18

Not many know what a “goad” is now days. In today’s fast-paced and abbreviated society, terms used only a few decades ago are no longer part of our vocabulary. To modern man, it is easier to use a form of shorthand when communicating with others, as is most evident in the electronic technology flooding our markets. For those of you who are not familiar with this archaic term, a “goad” was a wooden stick or rod that was sharpened to a point on one end. Used by men training oxen to pull, its purpose was to break the animal of its stubborn kicking. The more it kicked, the more it was poked, and eventually the ox would move forward in its attempt to get away from the painful object behind it. As cruel as it may seem to some, it was not long before the animal learned the commands and became subjected to obedience.

Saul of Tarsus carried his own goad on the road to Damascus. A Jew of Jews, a Pharisee in the first order, Saul moved from synagogue to synagogue, and even into foreign cities with his own sharpened stick. He arrested and imprisoned, had flogged and stoned those who were followers of Christ and who refused to deny Him. As Stephen was martyred, his clothing was laid at Saul’s feet as Saul nodded with approval while the false witnesses cast their stones (Acts 7:57-58). Saul’s goad was honed to a keen and brutal point, intent on destroying what this man Who called Himself God had started.

But Saul also learned about God’s goad on the road to Damascus. Saul the persecutor of Christians became Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles. By all appearances and human logic, Saul was the worst choice God could have made. He was obsessed with his hatred for Christians. His cruelty knew no bounds. His determination to stop the blaspheming Jews consumed him and he made it his mission to put an end to it once and for all. But God’s wisdom far surpasses our own. He had His own sharpened stick which He used to subject Saul to obedience. And as history reveals to us, Paul’s mission dramatically changed history the day he met the Lord he was persecuting on the road to Damascus. His “kicking against the goads” had finally come to an end.

As I read this account, I am forced to ask myself how many times I have “kicked against the goads.” How many times have I stubbornly refused to heed God’s commands? God is not a harsh taskmaster or a cruel herdsman who harnesses and drives his children with no concern for their well-being. He does not force subjection and obedience, but His goad can be painful when we kick against it. My life has proven this to be true. On my own road to Damascus, many times I have felt the sting of the rod when I refused to obey.

Our God is a faithfully persistent God. He is patient when applying His lessons. As He proved with Saul, if we are chosen by Him, He will have us no matter how much effort we put into ignoring and avoiding Him. I began my search for Jesus early in my childhood. But it took half a lifetime to finally yield to His gentle prodding. The pain I felt along the way was caused by my own doing, not by Him. I kicked. And I kicked some more. He did not poke me and prod me with His goad. But I was painfully aware that it was there every time I kicked against it.

This is not to say that I no longer “kick against the goads”. I do it often; more often than I care to admit. I kick against His providence; thinking there’s never enough. I kick against His mercies, wanting a picture-perfect Christian life, if there is such a thing. I kick against His call to witness; fear and inconvenience often slip in and convince me not to approach others. There is a multitude of things we kick against if we would only stop and consider them. We may not be a Saul, a persecutor of Christians, but all of us can claim the title persecutors of Christ. If you are offended, think of this: each time we ignore Him, each time we fail to stand up for Him and help bear the cross, we persecute Him - and this to our eternal shame.

But I am learning, as I hope you are. My Teacher is the best one could have. And like the ox, I am beginning to resist less, to submit to Him more, and yield to His gentle prodding. It is not the goad I fear and the pain it produces. If I kick it is my own fault, not His. It is the fear of letting Him down, of not demonstrating my love for Him as well as I could and should. So, I will pull the plow that prepares the ground for the seeds He plants. I will strain against the weight the world stacks onto the cart behind me. And with His help, I will move forward in obedience and devotion as Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, did on the dusty road to Damascus.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Untold Persecution

You won't read about this in the mainstream media. Unless you make efforts to be kept aware of events outside your comfortable existence, you will never know that our brothers and sisters in other nations suffer greatly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I feel it is my responsibility as a Christian to help you obtain that awareness and to encourage you to be in constant prayer for those who are persecuted in ways that seem beyond comprehension to us. If I can play but a small part in remembering those who faithfully continue in spite of the hatred, I am content that I am serving the Lord in the best way I know how.

My prayers for this part of our family are in response to Paul's request to the Ephesians: "Pray also for [them], that whenever [they] open [their] mouth, words may be given [them] so that [they] will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which [they are] an ambassador in chains. Pray that [they] may declare it fearlessly, as [they - and even I] should." Ephesians 6:19-20

The Voice of the Martyrs Prayer Update
On Tue. Jul 14 2009 at 01:43 PM Moderator wrote:
SOMALIA - Sons of Christian Beheaded – Compass Direct News

Islamic extremists have beheaded two boys in Somalia because their Christian father, 55 year-old Musa Mohammed Yusuf, refused to give them information about an underground church leader, according to Compass Direct News. The extremists from the group al shabaab killed 11-year-old Abdi Rahaman Musa Yusuf and 12-year-old Hussein Musa Yusuf, after abducting them in front of their mother. The terrorists are currently looking for Yusuf in Kenyan refugee camps. Yusuf was a leader of an underground church in Yonday village, 19 miles from Kismayo, Somalia. On February 20, the extremists interrogated Yusuf about his relationship with Salat Mberwa, the Christian leader who discipled him in the faith and led an underground fellowship with 66 believers. When Yusuf told them he did not have any connection to him and knew nothing about him, they left and vowed to return the next day. Yusuf fled immediately and the next day the extremists killed his sons. Yusuf’s wife and 7-year-old son have joined him in the refugee camp in Kenya where Mberwa and other believers are helping them. VOM encourages you to pray for Yusuf and his family as they have lost their sons. Pray God comforts them during this difficult time, and provides the family with other believers who can encourage them with scriptures and songs.

1 Thessalonians 2:2

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One Word

Have you ever struggled to pray? When your circumstances seem so overwhelming that you find yourself unable to form your thoughts into a structured petition before the Lord? I think we all have been in that position at one time or another, whether in trials, grief, or trouble. Our emotions rise to a boiling pitch and we are at such a loss for words that the only thing we are able to do is groan.

Before I knew Jesus, there were many times I felt this way; perhaps too many to count. I would cry out to God. I would beg for relief. I would plead forgiveness. I had been raised to believe there was a wrathful God Who would pour out His vengeance upon me if I did not live and think a certain way. Recalling the spiritual agony of these false teachings brings much regret over not knowing sooner that He is also a gentle and loving God Who is quick to forgive with just one word.

I used to be impressed by those who prayed with fine-sounding eloquence. Their many words seemed to flow from their lips with practiced ease. Their sentences were filled with flowery phrases. And the length of time in which they prayed seemed endless. But Jesus condemned the “hypocrites” whose desire it was “to be seen by men”, those whose intent it is to impress others and gain attention (Matthew 6:5). He instructed us that our prayer should be a time of communion and fellowship with God. Although there are times for public prayer, Jesus encourages us to seek Him in private, to “go into [our] room, close the door and pray to [our] Father Who is unseen.” (v6). This time of prayer should be intimate. It should be a time when you alone seek His audience and lay your petitions before His throne. And because He “knows what you need before you ask Him,” it is not necessary to burden God with the “babbling [of] pagans” in order for Him to hear you. Shallow repetitions coming from an insincere heart will not be heard by Him. But the few words from a honest and sincere heart will gain His ear (v7-8).

When Mary Magdalene wept at the tomb of our Lord Jesus, consumed with and stricken by utter grief, I am convinced she was unable to express it except with groans of complete sorrow. But Jesus heard her, and with one word lifted her from the depth of her despair. “Mary.” Her name was all it took to relieve her, and her single word response, “Rabboni!”, all that was needed to dispel all doubt and re-instill hope (John 20:10-18)

We know we have an Advocate, One Who “searches our hearts” and “intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” Eloquent and lengthy prayer should never be a concern, for “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26-27) I am greatly comforted by this knowledge. Although I may often struggle in prayer, the utterance of just one word will cause the Holy Spirit to carry my plea to the Father Who waits patiently to hear from me. And the greater promise is that my “groans” will not go unnoticed by Him, and according to what He sees as best for me, He will respond.

Recommended reading (all citations are hyperlinked):

Psalm 6
Psalm 65:1-4
Matthew 21:18-22
Philippians 4:4-7
Colossians 4:2
James 5:13-16
1Peter 3:10-12
Revelation 5:8

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To Gaze Upon His Face

"But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

1John 3:2b

y greatest desire is to see Jesus’ face. Each night while lying in my bed communing with God, I express my longing to see Him, to touch Him, and to hear His voice. To me, it will be the ultimate reward to at last be in His presence gazing upon His glorified self.

The Bible gives us little to define Jesus’ physical appearance, both then as He walked the earth and now as He is enthroned above it. We are only given small glimpses of His countenance. Isaiah wrote, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2) Scripture fails to define Him as it did so with Solomon, Samson, or David. We are able to form a mental picture of what these men perhaps looked like. But not so with our Lord.

We must remember that God explicitly forbid the making of idols in any form. He did this so man would worship Him, the invisible God, instead of a graven image. (Ex 20:4) No carvings, sculptures, or images of Jesus were created during His brief tenure on earth, perhaps for this very reason. Rather, Isaiah writes: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” (Isaiah 53:3) The Christ is described as a plain man with no distinguishing characteristics, no beauty or majesty to make Him stand out among men. Perhaps this was intentional for if God had appeared as such, His message may have been lost to the people who waited for a King in the manner and likeness of David.

In the Old Testament we know Jesus appeared to men when certain circumstances required it. He was often described in various ways: an angel (Genesis 48:16; Exodus 23:20-21; Judges 13:18-22); as the Rock (Genesis 49:24; 2Samuel 23:3; Psalms 19:14; Isaiah 26:4). Daniel described Him as a “man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around His waist. His body was like chrysolite, His face like lightening, His eyes like flaming torches, His arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and His voice like the sound of a multitude.” (Daniel 10:4-6) The men who accompanied Daniel did not see the man but knew He was there and they fled in terror. Daniel is described as feeling “helpless” and losing all strength fell to his knees. This man is noted as a “messenger” of God, but the details of His power and might make me believe it was the Lord.

I have often wondered that even the Apostles failed in their writings to give us a clearer picture of Jesus’ physical appearance. They speak fluently of His attributes, His works, His journey to the cross, but never of His physical characteristics. John the Baptist, upon seeing Jesus for the first time, describes Him in this way: “Look, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Saul, upon his conversion, describes Christ’s appearance as a sudden “light from heaven [that] flashed around him” and knocked him to the ground (Acts 9:3-4). As was the case with the men who accompanied Daniel, those with Saul heard the “sound but did not see anyone” (v7). Mary, who faithfully followed Jesus to the conclusion of His atoning work, did not recognize Him at the tomb, “thinking He was the gardener” until He spoke her name (John 20:13-16), and the men on the road to Emmaus were kept from recognizing Jesus (Luke 24:15,16), as well as the disciples hiding behind their locked door (Luke 24:36-42).

I have always been uncomfortable over artist’s conceptions of our Lord Jesus. Many churches, especially those from our childhood, had a framed picture hanging somewhere within their confines. It depicted Him as a fair-skinned and handsome man, a sorrowful and thorn-crowned image gazing heavenward, or a haloed image with out-stretched arms. They were intended by the artist to capture certain characteristics or acts of Christ, but because we do not know what He truly looked like, they speak so little of Him and His true countenance.

Perhaps the most revealing is the description of the glorified Christ occurring in Revelation 1:12-16. This is what my eyes long to see! Although John was so overcome by what he saw that he “fell at His feet as though dead” (v17) - in other words, he fainted! - this vision of the Son of Man, the Alpha and the Omega, our High Priest adorned with all divinity, wisdom and judgment, is the image that burns within me as I lie in my bed each night. It is a reminder of what is to come and what I can expect when at last I am in His presence for all eternity. I know I will never tire of gazing upon Him and hearing Him speak my name.

One day I will see Him as He truly is. And that day cannot come soon enough.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Living Nobly

"When I passed by thee,...I said unto thee...,'Live.' " Ezekiel 16:6

I have been reading and watching Brother Peter's poignant questions for the last couple of days and meditating upon them. Today, God brought my thoughts to completion. Both of my morning devotions, Spurgeon and Chambers, melded beautifully together in perfect union to offer me a conclusion to my meditation. I would like to share them with you.

Spurgeon takes us to the first part of Ezekiel 16 which is an allegory of Israel as a helpless newborn baby and how God said to her "Live!" He cleansed Israel, wrapped her in garments, and adorned her with jewels. It is a perfect analogy of our own salvation, how He "passed by and saw [us] kicking about in [our] own blood" and said to us "Live!" God saw us as sinful and in need of a Savior. For those of us who chose Him, He bestowed upon us life eternal.

Chambers exhorted me to live a noble life, one worthy of my Christian calling, by reminding me that "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way" (Matthew 7:13-14). In this verse, Jesus is saying the way is not full of obstacles and hurdles we must first navigate through before salvation becomes ours. Rather, He is telling us there is only one way to be at peace with God and He is the Gateway to that end.

Chambers further encouraged me by saying, "If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult...Do we so appreciate the marvelous salvation of Jesus Christ that we are our utmost for His highest?" (Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest)

By blending the two devotions together - being made alive in Christ and then living a noble and Godly life - we must take into account the second part of both citations. In Ezekiel 16, God admonishes unfaithful Jerusalem for become prideful and haughty, disobedient and prostituting themselves to idols, sacrificing their children to them, and building "lofty shrines". In other words, they forgot how God had lifted them out of their "blood" and blessed them with His providence. His people had forsaken Him for worldly pleasures and His condemnation was upon them.

Matthew 7:14 reminded me that we can fall into the same trap Israel found itself in if we are not careful to stay on the "narrow" pathway. Having been pulled from death into life, it is imperative we remain faithful to God. "He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure; but we have to work out that salvation in practical living...If we fail, it is because we have not practiced." (Chambers) It is our obligation to fulfill all that God works into us and to demonstrate Christ to a lost world. If we refuse or fail to "practice", we may find ourselves on the "wide...gate and broad...road that leads to destruction..." along with "the many who enter through it."

"Christians, recognize your position: you are debtors to grace. Since God has commanded you to live, show your gratitude by living earnest, Christlike lives." (Spurgeon, Evening by Evening) I must reveal Christ to all men by faithfully sharing His Gospel. I must strive to reject the world, to have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness, to refuse to elevate myself, others, or objects above the Eternal God, and to keep my feet firmly planted on His pathway. In other words, I must nobly work out what He has so graciously worked in - a new and eternal life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Avenue Called Grace

My life is a thoroughfare. It’s not a one-way street. As much as I desire that all who pass upon it steer towards the avenue called Grace, it’s a two-way street and those who traverse it do so with free will.

At the entrance, there stands an odd toll booth. The price of admission is free for all those who choose to travel upon its roadway. Some come through willingly with open hearts and minds. Others with caution, slowly inching their way and suspicious that there is no cost and of what may lie ahead of them. Still, others come with agendas of their own. Like a bulldozer with its blade lowered, they attempt to grind, rip and tear up the street’s surface in order that the way be made harder for others to pass. But, the roadway is lined with indestructible pavement. Those who come with the intent to destroy only temporarily disrupt the traffic’s flow.

At times, it appears the travelers are rushing wildly with no clear destination. They are not heedful of the warning signs that line its broad path. The traveler looks for short cuts in an attempt to diminish the congestion that often appears. He fixes his eyes straight ahead; impatience pushes him; arrogance drives him; pride compels him. He’s only passing through and thinks he is certain where he is going. He has no time to pause and reflect, no time to gaze upon the beauty that lies beyond the meanness of his existence. So he drives through and ignores, forgets, rejects the signs I have placed along the thoroughfare to point him to the avenue called Grace.

Along the thoroughfare of my life is an exit sign that is divinely placed. Long ago, the sign was carried there by pierced feet and fixed firmly in the ground by healing hands equally pierced. It is clearly marked. The elements of time have failed to erode or fade its brilliance. Nor have the designs and plans of men succeeded in its removal. Men have attempted to build upon it, or erect structures around it to block its view from the weary traveler. But the monument is embedded in solid rock and built from life-giving blood by the One Who placed it there. Standing against the testaments of time and man, the exit sign is eternal and it awaits those who journey toward it.

I am the toll gate keeper at the entrance to my thoroughfare. I have been entrusted with the duty of handing out the map that defines the way to the avenue of Grace. I am only able to greet and encourage those who are sent by my Master Who, if travelers are willing, will lead them the rest of the way. The map is clear and distinct in its markings. There are no side trips, no confusing twists and turns. The precision with which the journey is charted leaves no question in the minds of those steering towards it, for the hand that drew it also built the street.

There was a time when I was given my own map and made the journey down the narrow and winding streets of another gate keeper’s thoroughfare. But the way was made clear and the path broad and wide by the One who piloted me to the safety within the haven of the avenue of Grace. When others pass by me, I will not always know how they have fared. It is a certainty that roadblocks will loom ahead of them. Road signs reading lies and deceit will lure them towards what appear to be more appealing exits. Yet, if they choose to follow the map I have given them and allow the proffered hand of divine help to steer them, they will surely find their way.

My life is a thoroughfare. It’s not a one-way street. Many have come and gone. Many have become lost along the way. Some lose the map and must return to request another which is gladly given from the limitless supply. But there is hope in that they have chosen to drive through my toll booth and take the map that is offered them. They’ll know the exit when they see it. It is paved with gold and a gathering of other travelers joyfully await them on the avenue called Grace.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Equal Justice

“Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD,
for He comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.”

Psalm 98:7-9

The framers of our Constitution maintained that equal justice was intended for all citizens of the new Federation. It was critical that this be the foundation upon which America was built. Her forefathers understood the threat of tyranny and oppression for they had risen out of the scorching ashes of such governments. Through prayer, blood and tears, the early settlers fought to form a nation established upon the principals of God’s holy and just laws. They wrote our time-honored documents to reflect His perfect and indisputable commandments by insisting that “all men are created equal” in God’s sight and that “all men should be afforded equal protection under the law.” And in order to assure equal protection, basic human rights were awarded to the people to prevent a return to the tyranny from which they had escaped. It is my contention that God Almighty established this nation, not man. They were but the obedient instruments used to reveal His perfect justice to a world of injustice. Through His guidance, America would become a beacon of light shining upon a dark and oppressive world.

For two centuries America remained that beacon of light. The downtrodden flocked to her shores seeking a better life and the freedoms she afforded. God continued to bless her with prosperity and protection and placed the United States as an example that brought envy to the world. But within the last half century her walls began to crumble. The very documents that established America as a God-fearing nation were being eroded and reinterpreted by men bent on rewriting them to suit their own twisted philosophies. Basic rights once given to protect the citizens from heavy-handed, tyrannical intrusion were amended to further weaken the premise of “by the people, for the people.” Complacency and ignorance swept over the populace as they placed men in positions of power who were driven to bring “change” to what was once a bright and shining example of the closest thing to perfection men could devise. We now find our beloved America at a crossroad where one wrong turn could bring her walls completely down to a heap of ruin.

In spite of those who adamantly deny that our forefathers allowed God to guide them in the creation of our nation, our founder’s own writings prove otherwise. The claim of contradictions regarding their spirituality are weak at best. Regardless of their tenets, each reflected within their writings an affirmation of a sovereign God and His perfect justice. They acknowledged Him clearly and plainly as Creator. They honored His name by adhering to His principals and instilling them in our governing documents. But our Creator is systematically and methodically being ripped from them. Cunning attempts to completely remove God from every visible aspect of our government and our society are being made by men and women with no understanding of the true peril of their actions. If they are successful, our God will completely remove His blessings upon our nation and the America He has so graciously blessed will cease to exist.

God’s judicial equality extends far beyond our immediate situation. His justice is perfection and it is required and demanded by Him that all men eventually face a final judgment. However at this juncture, His justice also provides us an opportunity to return to obedience, to re-instill Him in our society and government, and to re-acknowledge the abundance with which He so richly blessed our nation.

America has been given a stay of execution, so to speak. But in God’s timing, she has only minutes left to remedy the wrongs committed. Let us all pray it happens quickly before the Lord enacts His final justice equally upon all her citizens.

Recommended reading:

Job 8:3:7
Psalms 99:4
Isaiah 10:2; 30:18; 56:1; 59:8-11
Joel 2:12-14
Hosea 14
Luke 18:7
Romans 3:25