Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Biblical Political View

I am sorry for returning once again to the Biblical principles of politics, but here I am again.  I have much I want to say on prayer that God has shared with me over the last year or so, that will actually bring about the change of the political atmosphere of our country, but I have what I hope is a final word on this subject.

Our government was designed to have a strong church at its foundation.  As the church weakens, so does our country.   The church as a whole does not understand the principle by which this government was established.  The Church has converged to prop up the government rather than propping up the church.  If this persists, in the end, we will have lost both.

Many people in the Church struggle with the concept of the Church being the foundation of our government.  I assure you it is not only Biblical, but it was the concept our founding fathers adhered to and so designed the foundation of our government to be the Church and the foundation of the Church is God.  One doesn’t exist without the other.

Here are just a few quotes from our founding fathers:

George Washington, 1st U.S. President:
"While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."
--The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Clergyman and President of Princeton University:
"While we give praise to God, the Supreme Disposer of all events, for His interposition on our behalf, let us guard against the dangerous error of trusting in, or boasting of, an arm of flesh ... If your cause is just, if your principles are pure, and if your conduct is prudent, you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts.” "Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy of his country."
--Sermon at Princeton University, "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men," May 17, 1776.

James Madison, 4th U.S. President:
"A watchful eye must be kept on ourselves lest while we are building ideal monuments of Renown and Bliss here we neglect to have our names enrolled in the Annals of Heaven."
--Written to William Bradford on November 9, 1772, Faith of Our Founding Fathers by Tim LaHaye, pp. 130-131; Christianity and the Constitution — The Faith of Our Founding Fathers by John Eidsmoe, p. 98.

As you can see, our founding fathers had a clear grasp of the Biblical principle of God’s sovereignty and that no government can stand, even ours, unless the foundation is Jesus Christ.  Our government has not failed us because it didn’t have enough checks and balances.  Our Constitution didn’t fail us because it was inadequate, or our Bill of Rights did not cover enough freedoms.  The Church bares the sole responsibility of our nation because it was placed in our hands, not by the Founding Fathers, but by our sovereign God.  When the church began to stray from the principles within God’s Word, the nation began to stray from God.  People began to stray from the fundamental truths of the Bible and then began to run for office, and like-minded people began to vote for them.  Many preachers have left their pulpits to pursue a more active role in politics in order to bring about change, when God actually chose the pulpit to bring about change.

Romans 10:14 (Webster):

14) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Now, we have come to a point in time where people in church will vote for a politician who supports the killing of an unborn child, or will stand in favor of same sex marriage.   That they claim to be a Christian somehow justifies any action they might take no matter how far it strays from God’s Word.  You have heard it said, “You are what you eat.”  I say, you are what you vote for.  Our vote mirrors who we are as a country and the country mirrors the Church.  When the votes are cast in November and you don't like what you see, it's the Church’s fault.  One more final quote from Thomas Jefferson shows the connection between the Church and government:

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence:
"God who gave us life gave us liberty.  And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?  Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event."
--Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.
I have said enough on this matter and I hope you will catch my next few blog posts as I share some insights on prayer which I hope will change you and everything around you.   Let me leave you with this verse:

Romans 12:12-13 (KJV):
12) Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chariots of Fire

"Chariots of Fire"

It was so cute to hear my then two year old granddaughter say, "What in the world?”  It always brought a smile to my face.  The question itself is one of astonishment mixed with confusion.  I now find myself looking at the church and asking, "What in the world are you doing?"

I guess now is the time to take this opportunity to interject a disclaimer: the vast majority of the Church will not like what I'm about to say and it could induce vomiting, increased heart rate, reddening of the face and slurring of the speech, causing incoherent verbal abuse and bad thoughts toward me.  If symptoms continue for more than a few hours, you should seek immediate help from the Great Physician! 

With that out of the way, let me continue.  I feel that church's preoccupation with politics is a great deception of Satan to neutralize its efforts of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let's face it: most denominations will admit that they have been in decline over the past 20 years.  I know I'll catch some heat by saying this, but I believe that the greatest perpetrator of this decline has been the church's political involvement.

In the history of man, there has never been a successful government, not even with God's chosen people, Israel.  Let's Read Samuel 8: 9-20 (BE) to see what God's opinion of government is:

9) Give ear now to their voice: but make a SERIOUS protest to them, and give them a picture of the sort of king who will be their ruler.

10) And Samuel said all these words of the Lord to the people who were desiring a king.

11) And he said, This is the SORT of king who will be your ruler: he will TAKE your sons and MAKE them his SERVANTS, his horsemen, and drivers of his war-carriages, and they will go running before his war-carriages;

12) And he will MAKE them captains of thousands and of fifties; some he will put to work ploughing and cutting his grain and making his instruments of war and building his war-carriages.

13) Your DAUGHTERS HE WILL TAKE to be makers of perfumes and cooks and bread-makers.

14) He will TAKE your fields and your vine-gardens and your olive-gardens, all the BEST OF THEM, and GIVE them to his servants.

15) He will TAKE a tenth of your seed and of the fruit of your vines and GIVE it to his servants.

16) He will TAKE your men-servants and your servant-girls, and the BEST of your oxen and your asses and PUT THEM TO WORK.

17) He will TAKE a tenth of your sheep: and you will be his SERVANTS.

18) Then you will be CRYING out because of your king whom you have taken for yourselves; but the Lord will not give you an answer in that day.

19) But the people gave no attention to the voice of Samuel; and they said, No, but we will have a king over us,

20) So that we may be like the other nations, and so that our king may be our judge and go out before us to war.

Does that sound a little familiar?  All of that could have been said in a speech to the American people last night!  So, why should the focus of our hope be on a government?  Many people are so surprised by the failure of our government.  All one has to do is apply just a little understanding of human nature to know that government plus people equals failure.  We will always have to deal with flawed government until Jesus comes to rule and reign.  The United States has been called the great experiment, and we gave it our best shot, but anytime you put people in the equation, it just won't work.  Saul, Israel's first king, was humble.  He even seemed to have low self-esteem, but in the end he was consumed with power and became jealous of any opposition.  Power breeds corruption and corruption will bring down the greatest of governments.

Now I'm not saying that we shouldn't vote.  I believe that all Christians should take the time to study the candidates and vote.  We should take seriously the responsibility of being a good steward of this great country God has given us.  So, you are probably asking, "Where is your problem?"  Well, the problem is, it was always when Israel disobeyed or turned away from God or, might I say, when God was no longer a priority in their lives, that judgment ALWAYS came.  What makes the church think they can fight this battle politically or any other way?  There is only one way to fight.  We find it in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV):

14) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Many Christians have the tendency to say that if we can get this man elected or that man elected, or get this law passed or that law passed, then all will be well.  But I just have to ask this question: how has that worked for the church over the past 30 years?  There is only one remedy and the church is failing to do it.  I have also heard many people say that if their candidate doesn't get elected, it's all over.  It very well might be over with, but not because your candidate didn't get elected. It will be over because the church has failed to recognize God as their only source of power.  II Chronicles 7:14 still applies today.  Some say this Scripture was intended for the children of Israel and I would have to agree with them, but the reason that it applies to us today is because we serve a God that the Bible says does not change.  Man changes, man's theology changes, but God can’t change.   If the solution will work for Israel, it will work for the Christian church today.  Verse 14 starts off with "If".  In this context, “if” is a positive statement.  If we do this, God will do that.  The answers to our problems today don't get any simpler than that.

The first thing God gives us to do in Chronicles 7:14, is to humble ourselves.  In other words, stop running around in circles in a panic saying we have to do this or that to fix this thing.  We have to stop and say, “God, we can't fix this.  It's out of our control.  We’re not big enough or smart enough or powerful enough.  God, you're the only one who can fix this.”  That my friend is humility at its best.  That is where we must begin.

Next, God simply says to pray and seek His face. To pray that’s the words man speaks to God, but to seek His face is to demand His attention.  The context of what He said is to pray to God with passion and fervency as if we really can't do anything about it and He is our only hope.  Next, Chronicles 7:14 says to turn from our wicked ways.   Do right, and God will take it from there.  Simply do right,

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Christians traded the altar for the voting booth.  The late 1980’s gave birth to the Christian Coalition and the Christian Coalition did what Christians do best.  They bickered and fought so much that now they're irrelevant.  When those same Christians decide to go back to the altar, they will find that the altars have been taken out of the church.  As was the case throughout the Bible, we are going to have to rebuild the altars that have been broken down before God can do a work.

In the 34 years since I've been voting, we have amassed a $16 trillion debt and the church has lost many rights that it once held dear.  There have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million babies aborted.  As our government changes hands from Democrat to Republican, then Republican to Democrat, like a well orchestrated ponzi scheme  the church continues to lose ground.  We have found ourselves taking a knife to a gunfight and coming out on the short end of the stick.  It's time to break out the heavy artillery and pray; you must never lose sight of the fact that our God is sovereign.

Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (KJV):

3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4) For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;

5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Notice verse 4.  Our weapons are not of this world.  We are mighty only because of God.  Hebrews 11:32-34 (KJV) says:

32) And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

33) Who THROUGH FAITH subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

34)  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

We can also find hope in Jeremiah 32:26-28 (KJV):

26) Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying,

27) Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

The Church doesn't need a perfect political climate to flourish.  We only need to turn back to God.

The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire began during the ministry of Jesus and continued intermittently over a period of about three centuries.  This persecution can be traced both historically and in the current era.  Early Christians were persecuted for their faith, at the hands of both Jews and the Roman Empire, who controlled much of the land early Christianity was distributed across.  Yet the Bible said they turned the world upside down and during that time no government could stop the growth of the church.

God and Samuel were both disappointed when Israel chose to be ruled by a man rather than God; but have we not done the same thing by putting all of our efforts into political actions instead of seeking the face of God?  I can remember many in the church as a kid who didn't believe in voting.  There was an element in the church that condemned them for their beliefs.  It is necessary to find balance.  In the 1960’s, there was a political upheaval that spilled over into the church.  It was the final nail in the coffin of any revival in the early part of the century.  Topeka, Kansas and Azusa Street are just foot notes in a history book now.  As the church’s political clout grew, revival and the power of God faded away.

When the Apostle Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, Nero was emperor of Rome.  Ultimately, Paul was beheaded on Nero’s orders.  It is especially important to keep Nero in mind when reading Paul’s admonition to the Romans as recorded in Romans 13:1-2 (KJV):

1) Let everyone put himself under the authority of the higher powers, because there is no power which is not of God, and all powers are ordered by God.

2) For which reason everyone who puts himself against the authority puts himself against the order of God: and those who are against it will get punishment for themselves.

No tyrant, no matter how terrible, achieved his rank through his own effort.  While Satan is certainly capable of corrupting tyrants, he is powerless to appoint them.  This is one of the harder passages of Scripture, but it is nonetheless true.  Every tyrant in history was either appointed by God or the Bible is not true.
We must be careful that we don't find ourselves working fervently against God and His purpose.  God should be our main focus, with politics in our peripheral vision.  Again, I know many will disagree with me, but you can't read the Bible and not see it has always been people's attitude toward God that determined the direction of a country, not the politics of a country.  The Church can make a huge difference in this world by returning to God with a renewed enthusiasm for the power of prayer.  Don't you think it's time for the church to try a different approach?  If we want real “hope and change”, let’s try the tactics that have actually worked in the past, such as found in Joshua, chapter 6.  We could march around a city seven times, blow our horns, wait for the walls of the city to fall, then just walk right in.  Or maybe Judges, chapter 7, and take an army of 32,000, reduce it to 300 men, surround an enemy who outnumbers you by about a thousand to one, at night no less, break a pitcher and blow a trumpet, shouting "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon"!  Then wait for the enemy to become confused enough to kill each other and just chase away the remaining few.
I have a bunch more ideas and all of them have already been used and were very successful if you're willing to listen!  I must warn you, though, that all my ideas involve praying a lot, doing little, and letting God do the work.  I think our greatest battle is within ourselves, trying to go it alone without God’s help.
Read what God told Gideon in Judges 7:2 (KJV):

2) And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are TOO MANY for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

We have a great division in the church today, much like the children of Israel had when Moses led them.  Look at Numbers 13:27 – 33:

27) And they said, We came to the land where you sent us, and truly it is flowing with milk and honey: and here is some of the produce of it.

28) BUT the people living in the land are strong, and the towns are walled and very great; further, we saw the children of Anak there.

29) And the Amalekites are in the South; and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill-country; and the Canaanites by the sea and by the side of Jordan.

30) Then Caleb made signs to the people to keep quiet, and said to Moses, Let us go up straight away and take this land; for we are well able to overcome it.

31) But the men who had gone up with him said, We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.

32) And they gave the children of Israel a bad account of the land they had been to see, saying, This land through which we went is a land causing destruction to those living in it; and all the people we saw there are men of more than common size.

33) There we saw those great men, the sons of Anak, offspring of the Nephilim: and we seemed to ourselves no more than insects, and so we seemed to them.

The vast majority of the church only looks within themselves and their abilities, whereas there are only a few who will say, “With God's power and strength, we can win!”  A person might be able to change a vote, but that vote will never change a heart.  If you change a heart, that changed heart will change a vote.
For those who have taken the time to read this in it’s entirety, I would like to pray for you the same prayer that Elisha prayed for his servant in II Kings 6:17 (KJV):

 17) And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.  And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nothing ever looks the same after a storm.

As I was worshiping God this morning, my thoughts were running rampant as I collected all the dead limbs that had fallen across the path I walked.  They were the result of one of the worst tornados to hit our nation in a very long time. I could tell God was speaking; I just couldn't bring my thoughts together. So I prayed and asked God to gather my thoughts that were scattered on the four winds and bring them together. I continued to praise him and then God answered my prayer with a short sentence. 

Nothing ever looks the same after a storm.

I have seen many storms in my life time.  While in the midst of the storm, you don't often see change taking place, but after the storm you see change the changes. Storms always bring change. I remember our last ice storm.  It brought down one of our trees that was almost 4' in diameter as well as other trees and branches.  It took over a week working every day to clean up the limbs in our mobile home park.

Then there was the legendary snow storm.  I say "legendary" because it was one of those dreaded wife things - you know, they say something idiotic like "don't park the truck in the pole barn.  It could collapse" and I say something very intelligent like, "it has been standing for a lot of years and has seen many a snow storm."   Then I add a smirk so that she can see my superior intellect bleeding through. It only took a week to dig the truck out from under the collapsed pole barn, but I've gained a hundred pounds from eating all that humble pie these many months since!  But I will not be defeated - every bite I take is with a smirk, hoping she grows tired of baking the same old thing. 

The change the snow storm brought is obvious.  Where a red truck once sat under a pole barn, there is now a white truck sitting under the hot blazing sun - a constant reminder of my wife's lucky guess.  On my face remains a really sad smirk!

This last storm was a tornado.  It was almost a mile wide and around fourteen miles long.  It started on one side of town, went right through the middle of town, and didn't lift up until it had gone through another small town.  Around thirty percent of our town destroyed.  Eighty percent of the small town next to us was destroyed.  It left in it's path over three billion dollars worth of damage.  And it only took 30 minutes. That night found us clearing debris out of the streets for the fire department as they went house to house looking for survivors. The next morning we hit the streets again, but this time there was nothing hid by the darkness of night.  As we drove through this town where I have spent the last eighteen years driving the streets, we had trouble navigating.  There were no landmarks to go by.  Slabs were wiped clean.  Not even street sign survived the destruction.  When we looked at our GPS, we were shocked to find that we were on a main road, one that we knew well.  The landscape will never be the same; it will be forever changed because storms bring about change. 

Bill Davis the chief meteorologist with the weather service in Springfield said the tornado was an act of nature.  The fact that so many more people were not killed was an act of God. In the years to come people will drive through this town and see brand new houses, not knowing of the a old houses that were destroyed, many of them old and dilapidated.  They won't remember Main Street past in it's hey day.  All they will see is brand new buildings with a modern look, not realizing  the loss of life or the many who lost everything because of the storm.  All they will see is the change.

Most often in the wake of life's storms, mixed with the debris, you will find God's blessings.  I have been confronted with many storms in life and each one brought about change for the good in my life. Nobody sees the old Bobby, just the change. My wife has been there to go through some of those storms with me and she has seen the change, but she has also seen the landscape before the storm.  Most storms seem to last a lifetime but they are in reality just a brief moment in time that brings about change that lasts a lifetime. 

Often, we can point to one particular storm that brought a complete change to our lives. It left you stronger, more resilient, but most importantly with a greater trust in God and a deeper love for Him. If we will take the time too sift through the debris of the storm we will always find another piece to the puzzle that will give us a greater understating of God and a better understanding of ourselves. 

The purpose of the storm is always the same - to bring about change.  So embrace the storm and except the change that it brings. God is bringing about an internal change with eternal results.

Psalms 107:25 - "These see  the works of the LORD , and his wonders  in the deep.  For he commandeth, and raiseth  the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.  He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.  Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.  Oh that men would praise  the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Living In The Fast Lane

I am now at the half century mark, and looking back, I just shake my head and wonder “how did I get here so fast?”  I don't remember doing it, but somewhere along the way I must have hit the afterburner button!  It's not about getting old and my memory failing me, it's about life going by so fast that it’s just a blur.

As I write this I feel the aches and pains of an abused body.  It all started yesterday.  I got up that morning to take my morning 4 mile stroll with my friend Jesus and had a great time.  I got home and soon found myself alone, with the exception of Paul David, my cousin from California.  Why the two names?  You'll have to ask his mom and dad, but I think it’s because their other son, Jonathan, was a week or two old before they finally named him, so out of fear of that happening again, they gave Paul David two names and thought they would decide later which to use! If you drop by their house you can find them still arguing, did I mention Paul David is 25 

As I was saying, I found myself with too much time on my hands.  It just so happened that I needed something for my computer from Best Buy and since I’m always looking for a way to show the world how young I am and what great shape a guy of fifty can be in, I decided to go get it via the most dependable transportation I had on hand:  a 1960 deluxe model with very high mileage, but made by God himself!  I had decided to walk the ten mile roundtrip to Best Buy and back.
It took almost four hours of my life along with dodging some of the most pathetic drivers I have ever seen in my life!  Needless to say, I am now an advocate for no cell phones while driving!  From a walker’s point of view, those cars were all over the road, swerving and dodging pedestrians while smiling and having a good ole time with whoever was on the other end of the line.  And all the while, my life was in danger!
As I walked the same roads that I have driven many times while doing my own share of swerving and multi-tasking at sporadic speeds except I do it with style and greater precision. As I walked I noticed everything.  I noticed which houses had dogs and which dogs had chains. I even noticed how long each chain was!  Hardly anything escaped my attention – the colors of homes, flowers and landscaping, which house needed repair.  I was just blown away by all the detail I have missed driving down these same streets through the years. 

When we slow down, we notice the things we missed while speeding by, but what really struck me was that I had no idea how much I didn't see until I walked. I have been married almost thirty three years, have raised four children, now have seven grand children with one on the way in the jungles of Vanuatu, and I wonder how much I missed in their lives while speeding through life with the after burners on.
The problem is, I'll never know what I missed.  If you’re a young parent with children in the house, it's a big mistake to speed through life.  You can't possibly know what you’re missing until you slow down.  By getting out of the fast lane and possibly even having less of what the world has to offer, you will have far more time to enjoy the things that really matter. 
Walk sometime and you’ll be far more aware of all the crazy drivers out there who don’t have a clue as to what they’re missing. 

By the way I'm still hurting from that walk!  I think I need a tune up, maybe even a new motor! If I were to check, I’d probably find out that God has issued a recall on all 1960 models!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Storms of Life or Showers of Blessings?

We have within ourselves the power and authority to decide never to face another storm but only dwell in showers of blessings. As I walked and prayed this morning, I noticed the gray skies and knew that it could change quickly, as it usually does here in Missouri. I asked God to hold back the rain long enough for me to get to the place I call the Holy of Holies. It's my special place where I talk to God. I always find comfort and solitude there and I thought the thick canopy of trees would keep me from the brunt of the storm. I could hear the pitter patter of rain on the leaves as God began to share with me about the anatomy of a sin, which I will be posting on my blog very soon.

My thoughts took a drastic turn as thunder shook the trees. I continued to walk and talk to God through the trees slightly distracted but soon the thunder became a steady roll with intermittent loud booms that would disrupt my pace for an instant. With the constant roll of thunder came a lightning display that was unbelievable. I couldn't see the full view but was watching through the thick canopy of trees above me. Within moments, I was drenched. Then came the 1/4" to 1/2" hail stones that bounced off the brim of my hat. I found a big oak tree and nestled close hoping for a little more cover, praying that one of the many bolts of lightning didn't choose that tree to strike.

It was then that God lay on my heart that if I would continue on my walk and praise him, then he would turn this vicious storm into showers of blessings. So I did and He did. I walked and gave God praise. I no longer felt the cold drops of rain hitting me. The hail stopped but the rain become more intense, the thunder and lightning continuing as an orchestra to its final crescendo. But I was showered in God’s blessing.

After about thirty minutes, the full body of the storm had passed but the rain lingered behind with a light sprinkling for the rest of my time of worship. It was in this time that God spoke. It is in the storms of life that God ALWAYS speaks, but we don't always hear. It is because we get too busy looking at the storm to notice Jesus walking on the water. The next time a storm hits, instead of focusing on the storm, look for Jesus because He has something to say. You will be amazed at how quickly the storm will pass. I have lived long enough to be able to look back and see that all of my spiritual growth came from the storms of life. Now I endeavor to embrace the storms that confront me and look for Jesus, listening for His voice.

So for some it will always be a storm, but to me, showers of blessings.

Mark 4: And he arose , and rebuked the wind , and said unto the sea , Peace , be still. And the wind ceased , and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Do I Love Jesus More

This morning it was as if I was in a great auditorium and the show was about to begin. I was awakened with a great yearning and excitement. I went through my morning regiment with a rush. There was an urgency to get to my place of worship.

With great anticipation I waited for the show to begin. When I bailed out of my car and found my way to the walk trail, it was as if the curtain opened and I was enveloped in Christ's love and power. I began to worship and Jesus walked beside me. It wasn't long before He spoke to my spirit and said, "Bobby, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you. I allow him to have his power, but it is you that I love and it's in you that I dwell. So if all power emanates from me then he can have no power over you. Therefore, he cannot destroy you because within you is the full authority and power of Calvary."
Jesus began to show me where He has brought me from, and this is what I saw. I was standing at the edge of a high precipice flailing my arms to keep from falling. Then Jesus appeared from out of nowhere to extend His hand. I reached for it and felt His strong, sure grip. It was then, while still at the edge of the precipice, no longer flailing but feeling very safe, that he said, "Do you love me?" I said, "Yes, Lord, I love you." Then he said, "Feed my sheep."

I know you have all seen this scenario before with a guy named Peter a few years back. But this is different because this time, for me, it was very personal. God gave me some pieces to a puzzle and said to finish the puzzle that I have been given. Looking at the puzzle, I, like Peter realized I love Jesus. But not enough. What can I do that will cause me to love you more. Then Jesus said, "Finish the puzzle with the pieces I have given you. When I looked at the puzzle the piece right next to "feed my sheep" was missing, so I put in first the piece of commitment. I can't feed sheep without commitment.

The picture became a little more clear, so I looked for the next piece. There it was. Prayer. Yep, a perfect fit. But there was one last piece. Faith. When I put faith on the other side of feed my sheep, I had all the pieces together. It was a picture of a powerful and perfect relationship with Christ surrounded by our love for each other. You see, your love is measured by your level of commitment. Your commitment will drive you to prayer and it is your prayer that will empower you to action. It is your action that builds your faith and it is your faith that increases your love. That is the complete picture, the same picture that Peter saw. Three times Peter denied Christ,three times Peter was asked do you love me, and three times Peter was called into action.
Love is most often destroyed by what we don't do rather than by what we do. For example, in a marriage it is what a husband or wife fail to do that will ultimately destroy a marriage. We become so focused on patting ourselves on the back because of all the things we are doing right, that we don't pay any attention to the little things that we are not doing. It is these things that keeps our love for Christ from growing. Take the time to look for those things that you are not doing and do them, then watch your love for Christ and in your marriage grow.

At David Wilkerson's memorial a video was played. It listed many accomplishments and ministries that are now worldwide and though he is now with Christ, the workcontinues. What got my attention was at the very first of the video, it showed a television being turned off and the narrator saying, "David Wilkerson turned off his television." Before David Wilkerson accomplished anything, there was a commitment made and that commitment called him to prayer and his prayers sent him to the gang riddled streets of New York. When he found himself on the streets of New York, reaching out to gang members, he soon saw his faith Increase. As time passed his love for Christ had been made complete.

In a successful relationship with God, it will always be the same pattern. Love is measured by our level of commitment. Our commitment will drive us to pray. Our prayer will empower us to action. Our action will build our faith and it is our faith that increases our love.
This cycle begins with commitment and it is you who determines your level of commitment. How much do you want to love Jesus? Feed His sheep.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

This picture doesn't mean anything to anyone else but my wife and I. You might notice the tools strewn around, or me working on a tool trailer. You might take notice of three of my four children (Bobby Dale, Ruth, and Nathan) helping or hindering. Take your pick, they both apply! You might even notice that I was skinny, but you could never see what I see.

This picture was taken eighteen years ago as I prepared to move from Merced, California to Neosho, Missouri, 1500 miles away. I don't just see a picture that captures a mere second of time of my fifty years of life. I see eighteen years that grew out of that one second. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this picture was worth eighteen years.

In this picture, I see my eldest, Bobby Dale, on the church staff. He and his wife, Kelly, are making a difference in young lives. I see Naomi blogging on marriage, her husband, Ben, active in foreign mission work, as well as going school to school teaching character and personal ethics to teens. I see Nathan and his wife, Jennifer, living in Vanuatu, living in what Americans would call a substandard way of life in a foreign land, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. I see Ruth working in children’s church, helping to make a difference in young lives, and her husband Robert going to Bible School because he feels God’s call on his life. Through the tears in my eyes, that’s what I see in this picture. The past eighteen years came out of just a moment of time, a picture, a decision to obey God.

Our decisions are always accompanied with the passing of time and in the end, the results of the decision. Most decisions you make are like seeds that have been planted. Once a decision is made, it begins to germinate, then soon, through the course of time, the decision bears fruit. You can't change the type of fruit that comes from the decision because that was determined when the decision was made.

In my case, it's here in this picture. I couldn't possibly see what would grow out of a decision made eighteen years ago, but God could. If God directs you to make a decision, just follow. He knows what seed He has given you, therefore He knows what fruit the decision will bare even if you don't have a clue.