More Boring than a Wheel

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day (Exodus 20:9, 10, 11).

A CBS News story reported in May that Jews and Christians made up the idea of the 7-day week as a form of time slavery. The “week is man-made, arbitrary, a substance not found in nature.”

Instead of time being a continual revolving cycle of renewal, “Judeo-Christians decided that time was actually linear, beginning at creation and moving toward end times. This idea stuck—and it’s way more boring than a wheel.” To improve the conquest of time, the author of the report said we must elevate the weekend, which she claims was invented by socialist-minded politicians.

If you think that socialism is compatible with Christianity, here’s more proof you’re wrong.

God has a different idea about time than communists. The Bible says that He created the idea of a 7-day week when He created the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested on the seventh. It’s not man-made, it is inherent in His creation.

Instead of conquering time, we must be living circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

The Church is not a Democracy

where living begins

Jesus said, I will build My Church (Matthew 16:18)

The local news headline said it all: “Catholics Rally to Accept Same-Sex Marriage.” A group of Roman Catholics met to demand the Vatican change its view on homosexuality and allow same-sex marriage.

More and more Americans – including those sitting in a pew on Sunday morning – believe that God’s Word is old fashioned. They argue that God needs to catch up with our enlightened views. What we think today must become the Christianity of tomorrow. Christianity is a democracy that must bend (or break) to the will of the progressive majority, not to the will of God.

Sadly, poll after poll shows that Americans are both ignorant of the Bible and don’t care what it says anyway.

But truth is not defined by people. It comes from the God who declares Himself to be truth (John 14:6). The Church of Jesus Christ is not a democracy, it is a Theocracy. It was created by God the Father, is being built and ruled by Jesus Christ, is empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and is governed by the written Word of God. Truth doesn’t come by taking a vote; it came from God to man through the Bible. We cannot change God’s truth; when we do, it ceases to be truth … and becomes a lie.

Protest and petition till the cows come home, but when people who claim to be Christians oppose the clear teaching of the Bible, it is open rebellion against the God who breathed it.

Jesus prayed, Sanctify them by Your truth, Your Word is truth (John 17:17).

Our Responsibility

Our responsibility as followers of Jesus is not to fix this broken world. Never once has God called His people to march for justice, redistribute wealth, end cruelty to animals, solve the world hunger problem, or save the oceans. Not once has He commanded the Church to polish the brass on this sinking ship called Earth.

Instead, He commissioned us to preach the Gospel of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).

He saved you to proclaim His message of reconciliation – not racial reconciliation – but the reconciliation of sinners to a holy God.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

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Amazing Hands

When did you last consider your hands? Muscles, tendons, ligaments all working together pulling bones and stretching skin. The skin folds in just the right places and ways. Your fingerprints are unique among everyone in the world. Your nail is placed perfectly at the tip of your fingers.

Take a moment to look.

I remember holding and staring at the teensy hands of my son after he was born.  Your hand is a miracle of God’s plan!

The Bible has a lot to say about God’s hands too. Job said of God, Your hands have made me and fashioned me, an intricate unity (Job 10:8).

In Psalm 18:35, David sang about his on-going conflict with a former friend who was hunting him. Your right hand has held me up.

My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me (Psalm 31:15). What a strong affirmation that God is in control of your life.

Proverbs 21:1 reads, The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. His hand even moves the hearts and decisions of politicians.

He has amazing hands!

God’s hand is personally involved in every aspect of your life; but we often forget that. At one time or another, we’ve all thought, “God has forgotten me. He’s walked away. He’s forsaken me.”  In those times when we feel abandoned by Him, look at your hands and remember His hands.

Now, aren’t hands wonderful?!

Broken Promises

My son and I supported different candidates in the 2016 US presidential election. Daniel’s candidate won and mine lost.

Nearly each week now, we have a conversation that goes something like this:

Daniel, did you see on the news today that your guy broke another of his campaign promises?

Yeah, well, he’s a politician and that’s what politicians do.

But Daniel, didn’t people vote for him because they said he wasn’t a politician and had no reason to lie?

Meh.

Many of us have bought into the idea of putting our hope in a political figure. We’re sure that if we don’t elect so-and-so it will be the end of life as we know it. We place our faith in a man in Washington DC or Nairobi or Harare to make all things right, bring justice, and improve our lives, instead of trusting in the Man from Galilee. Politicians are sinful people like the rest of us. They will always put their own re-election and self-interest ahead of those they are supposed to represent. They will always betray the voters. Always.

Only One put the absolute need of His people first. He proved it by dying for them. Name a political figure who will do that.

Jesus is returning one day to claim His kingdom and bring it to earth. Until then, we eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). He is the only King who will both save His people and rule in righteousness. He’s never broken a promise; He never will.

A New Puppy

Pastors and presidents have this in common: they are either dearly beloved or vilely hated. There’s never middle ground.

I’ve never been the President of the United States, but I have been a pastor for more than half of my life. I’ve was threatened that the church doors would be locked and the building burned down with me in it. I’ve been warned that my throat would be slit in the middle of the night. I’ve been called a false prophet, a thief, an easily manipulated dolt, an idiot, and much, much worse. There have twice been demands to return all the money people have donated over many years. I’ve overheard a group saying that I should have been fired before I was hired. Sounds like an American president or two.

One Sunday a man pulled me aside after the morning service; always a frightening event for a new pastor. You’re like a dog we used to have, he started.

I nervously smiled and thought of all the bad directions he could go.

That old dog that could do everything, then that old dog got sick and died. We were devastated. We thought about getting a new dog, but we were sure no dog could ever fill the gap in our hearts.

A friend’s dog gave birth to a litter of puppies and we were offered one. We took a look at the puppies and one stood out and we brought her home.

The puppy was a wonderful addition to our family. Right away we learned to love her, and it turned out the new puppy was better than the old dog. You’re like that puppy. 

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11).

Ask any pastor; it’s a lonely and often thankless job. I’m grateful for the people who not only appreciate me for what I do, but for friends who appreciate me.

True Greatness

rivals-2There was also rivalry among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest (Luke 22:24)

Lots of people are turned off by the level of nastiness surrounding the 2016 US presidential election. We live separated from history and we’re prone to forget that politics became the world’s most violent sport long before Clinton and Trump.

We all want to be the best and win at something. We want recognition for what we do or who we are. This is the game of politics and it was played even by the disciples of Jesus jockeying for greatness on no less than three different occasions (Matthew 18:1; Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; 22:24).

On the evening of the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. They began arguing about who would do it and then argued about which of them was the greatest. Natural progress, eh?

In the midst of their political ambition, Jesus didn’t tell them to hug each other, change their Facebook status, or riot in the streets. His way is different; greatness is about quiet service in the background rather than titles or winning.

Earlier that evening Jesus had humbly washed their feet and served them dinner. I am the One among you who serves (Luke 22:27). He’s our example of true greatness.

Hyphenated Christians

Hyphenated Christians

Until recently, America has largely avoided violent internal strife because as a nation, we’ve lived simply as “Americans.” Wherever we came from, old labels were left behind and American became our identity. We even fought a great war to put an end to rising tribalism and bind ourselves together as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 

Since the radical 1960s however, we are less and less “American” and a nation of tribes. “Mexican-Americans”, “Gay-Americans”, “African-Americans”, “Evangelical Americans” and the list goes on. Sometimes our tribalism is about where our ancestors came from, but more often it’s a celebration of our divisions.

This trend exists in churches today as it plagued the ancient church in Corinth two-thousand years ago.

There are no hyphenated believers in the family of God. We are not Paul-Christians or Apollos-Christians or Peter-Christians. We are either followers of Jesus, born again by the grace of God alone through faith in Christ alone, or we are not Christians. Our only foundation for truth, faith, and practice is the Bible or we follow a religion other than Christianity. Other divisions are phony and prideful externals, both immature and sinful (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).

There is great gain in knowing the past; celebrating the best of the past and repenting of the worst, but when that past creates ungodly division among brothers, it must be put away.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ … there is one body (1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 4:4).

A Rose by Any Other Name

a-rose-by-any-other-nameJesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

The English poet William Shakespeare wrote in his great love story Romeo and Juliet:

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

The Bard was saying that a rose smells sweet and a skunk stinks. Changing the names of things don’t change what they are. Names are just labels.

The United States has been wallowing in a time of great social upheaval. We’ve had a president who worked toward the “redistribution of wealth.” There are cries from every corner against “income inequality.” In common lingo these phrases mean: if you have something I want, give it to me! 

According to God, the redistribution of wealth is called greed, and greed is a sin. To demand and take something which belongs to another person, that’s called theft. Theft is also a sin.

No matter what political name you call them by, progressivism and socialism are still the sins of materialism, greed, and thievery.

Jerusalem

jerusalemJerusalem which now is, is in bondage with her children – but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all (Galatians 4:25, 26).

David’s first act as king over Israel was to establish a new capital city. David chose the centralized city of Jerusalem, a stronghold of a people known as Jebusites (Second Samuel 5:6-9).

Earlier called Salem, meaning peace (Genesis 14:18), Jerusalem sat on a narrow finger-shaped hill with steep cliffs on 3 sides. The highest point of the city was Mount Zion. The Jebusites thought their city was impregnable so that even the blind and lame could protect it; but David knew God had given Israel all the land. He conquered the city and became great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him (Second Samuel 5:10).

Since the time of David, Jerusalem has been the capital of God’s earthly people Israel. It’s had a turbulent history and is today a politically and religiously divided city.

As Christians, we support the people of Israel and their right to their God-given homeland, but the Bible reminds us that we desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:16). A New Jerusalem is the capital of God’s heavenly people, the Church. It is from this heavenly capital that the Prince of Peace rules and reigns and we will one day live (Revelation 21:2 – 22:5).

While the earthly Jerusalem is a symbol of man’s bondage to the sin of this world; the heavenly New Jerusalem is symbolic of God’s grace and freedom from sin (Galatians 4:25-26).