Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rising above the Drama

It seems as though 'drama' is on the rise in our culture.

By 'drama', I mean negativity, gossip, slander, and criticism. Whether it's in politics, churches, circles of friends, it seems like this spirit of negativity is everywhere!

Maybe our media-saturated culture encourages it. 24/7 news, Twitter, Facebook...all make it very easy to level criticism at someone that we would almost never have the nerve to say to thier face!

It is so easy to put opinions out there that are hurtful, critical and flat-out rude...and then, someone responds...and others jump in...and you've got a full scale war of words on your hands!

Question: How is a follower of Jesus Christ to behave in this environment?

The easiest thing in the world is to join in and pile on...to add one more log to the fire. We know, though, that this is not what Jesus did--or would do. We know that the Spirit within us convicts us if we start to go over the line.

This calls for wisdom...fortunately, God promises to answer our prayers for that wisdom! "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." (James 1:5)

...but remember that the Wisdom from the Lord is NOT like the so-called 'wisdom' of this world! People who don't know the Lord will advise you to do lots of things which, on the surface, seem to make sense, but in the long run will make things worse.

"But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness." (James 3:17-18)

When others gossip about you...when they malign you...when they criticize you unjustly and you want to lash out, don't! Let thier 'smallness' and negativity expose them for who and what they are. As for you,

"Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the Lord
...Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good."
(Romans 12:17-21)

It can be difficult to take this position. It can be tough to let others speak poorly of you without retaliating (again, the need for wisdom--sometimes it is warranted to straighten things out). Ultimately, we must strive to please God, not people...and we must lean on Him to defend us.

In the long run, He will.

So...when the negativity and gossip starts; when the anger directed at you for standing up for truth comes; when the 'haters' come out because of jealousy, and so on...rise above it!

Let God defend you!

Lean on Him for strength!

God is your fortress and strength!

He WILL give you victory!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SEE the rain today! (Video: Days of Elijah--Donnie McClurkin!)

Elijah has just had a MAJOR victory!

He stood up for the LORD and the prophets of Baal had been routed. The people had turned against those false prophets of a false god, and had killed them.

Now, 3 years after he first prophesied a drought, he began to look for rain.

He told Ahab to get moving...cuz "there is the sound of heavy rain" (1 Kings 18:41). Ahab must've thought he was nuts! It hadn't rained in 3 years...and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

But Elijah saw rain!

Elijah had his servant go to the top of Mt. Carmel and look into the sky..."There's nothing there", the servant said. 7 times Elijah sent him back--not wavering or doubting, just trying to discern God's timing--and the 7th time, he returned saying "A cluld as small as a mans's hand is rising from the sea". So Elijah said "Go and tell Ahab, "Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you." (vv.44-45).

Again, Elijah saw rain when there was no rain!

Elijah had learned that, when God decrees something, it's as good as done--it's only a matter of God's timing as to when it's done...and he knew that God had said it would not rain for 3 years. Now the 3 years was up, the prophets of Baal had been defeated, the LORD had been given the glory He was due, and therefore, Elijah knew that rain was coming.

Even in a blue sky, he could 'see' rain.
Even with a cloud the size of a human hand, he had seen rain.

His eyes didn't only look at things the way they were, but rather, the way they would be, as God did His work.

Elijah saw rain...by faith.

...and so can we.

When it feels as though your life is in a drought and a famine...like there is no blessing, like there is no 'life'--may you see the rain.

When it seems as though no one is standing with you against the onslaught of worldliness and evil...when you know you're standing on God's Word, but others try to get you to cave--may you see the rain.

When it seems as though God Himself is removed from you, and you can't 'feel' His presence. You know He's there, you know He's working, but you can't feel it--may you see the rain.

May God Himself give us 'eyes to see and ears to hear'. May you see in that cloud the size of a man's hand a great downpour of God's presence, blessing, and power...and may you walk it out, depending on Him for the timing.

"Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on..." (v. 45).

Today, May you 'see' the rain!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fire from Heaven--Glory of the TRUE God! (1 Kings 18) ("Give Us Clean Hands")

Elijah has already seen some amazing things. He's already been fed by Ravens, seen the oil and the flour of the widow who was caring for him be miraculously preserved (see previous posts), and The LORD has backed up Elijah's words and has not sent rain on the land of Israel for some time.

Yet, the people would not decide--were they going to follow the LORD, or follow the gods of the nations around them, such as Baal?

The Lord inspires Elijah to make it plain: he challenges the prophets of Baal and Asherah to 'showdown' of sorts.

Elijah calls to the people "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow Him." But the people said nothing." (1 Kings 18: 21)

Elijah (and the Lord) have had enough! Elijah says to 'Make 2 altars.. Dig ditches around them, but do not light them. You call to Baal, and I'll call to the Lord, and we will see which one shows up. The God who answers by fire--he is God!" (1 Kings 18:22-24).

The prophets of baal call out to him, pray to him, dance before him, shout do him, cut themselves for him from morning 'till noon. At noon, Elijah begins to taunt, "Shout louder--he may be asleep!". (v. 27)

They shouted louder, until evening. Still no one answered.

Elijah had seen enough. He called the people to himself, prepared the altar, then put the animal on for the sacrifice. He then did something very unusual--he had the people drench the sacrifice with water...jugs and jugs of it--until it filled up the trench aound the altar. He then said "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant...".

The the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench!" (1 Kings 18:38)

Then the people fell prostrate and cried "The LORD--He is God; The LORD--He is God!"and they seized the prophets of Baal.
(v. 39),

The lessons for us today?

1) God deserves all the praise we can give Him; He is the ONLY TRUE GOD.

2) God does not 'share' His glory with false 'gods'. He will drive us to make a decision--whether to follow Him or not. 3) It does not matter the size or the circumstances of the challenge--if God is going to move, He has more than enough power to move in mighty ways!

4) Do not 'waver'! We must declare--and remember, and reaffirm--our allegiance to the LORD! Do not give his glory to another--another
god, another desire, another pursuit.

There are many 'gods' or 'idols' in this world, but the LORD will not share the glory that He alone deserves. He will require us to make a decision, and will raise the pressure on us until we do. Let's save time, suffering, and grief...and decide now to follow the LORD

We must seek Him, follow Him, and serve Him!

The LORD--He is God! The LORD--He is God!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Let My Life Light Up...for You, Lord! (with video)

What is YOUR goal in life?

Did you even know that you have one?
We all have them...we just dont' think about them very often.

We have 'operational' goals--goals which drive us on a day to day basis:

For many of us, our goal is 'to get through the day'.
For others, it's 'to get our kids raised', or 'to get a better job', or 'to save money', etc.

Those are fine, for day to day goals...but what is your "LIFE Goal"?
What do you want to do with your whole life?

Many of us don't really think about those too much. We aren't aware of the power that these goals can have over our day-to-day existence.

The right 'Life Goal' can change your day-to-day existence in big ways!

When you know what your goal is in the 'Big Picture', it can dramatically change how you view the circumstances of the day.

For example, my Life Goal is 'To be so passionately committed to God, through my faith in Jesus, that every relationship and interaction I have is impacted positively for it'. I want my life to "Light Up" for Jesus.

I want my marriage, my relationships with my kids, coworkers, and friends to be genuinely impacted for the better because I 'bring Jesus' into those relationships. (Not that the others don't bring Jesus too...I'm just speaking of my own perspective.)

I believe that this matches up with God's goal for me...and it may very well be His goal for you too--if you are a Christ follower.

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering" (Romans 12:1-2)

My relationship with God, through faith in Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit has changed me in dramatic and powerful ways...at the end of my life, my greatest prayer--my overall passion, my Life Goal--is that everyone sees this and is impacted by it.

I want my life to "light up like the city lights...to burn for You in the darkest night, Lord"!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Truth will set you FREE!

There's a lot of hate in the world!

Islamic extremists 'hate' America, Israel, and the western way of life. They 'hate' everyone who believes differently than they do.

People from the Westoro Baptist Church 'hate' America, American Servicemen and 1st Responders--because they 'hate' what America has become (and they think GOD 'hates' America).

To 'hate' someone or something is to see no positive in them. It is to wish them only pain, sorrow and death. It is to look forward to the day when they no longer exist.

In that case, the bumper sticker is right--"Hate is NOT a Family Value" (or for that matter, a Christian value).

...But there are a lot of things that are labeled as 'hate' that are not. "Hate speech" might simply be speaking out in disagreement with someone or something. Does doing so imply 'hate'?

Not in my mind, it doesn't!

You and I can disagree--even strongly--about important things. Christianity vs. other religions; Pro life vs. Pro Abortion opinions; America's right to go to war, vs. our need for peace; homosexuality as a viable lifestyle vs. God's Word on it.

We can disagree...but can we disagree without hate?

I think we can!

For me, as a Christ-follower, it comes down to this: I am called to glorify God by submitting my life--every aspect of it--to His revealed will in His Word. I do not (nor does anyone else) have the right to arbitrarily change His Word, or to 'pick and choose' what we believe about Him.

Am I going to do any of this to perfection? NO.

God knows--and everyone esle who knows me agrees--that I'm far from perfect at it.

Yet, I dare not change the standard, just to fit my preconceived ideas, or to fit with this world's philosophies.

What does the Word say?

"1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

I believe--and am convinced--that God's will for us--as revealed in His Word--is indeed, "Good, pleasing, and perfect". He WANTS us to experience freedom...beauty...holiness...liberation.

But that does not come from adopting the standards and practises of this world! Rather, it comes from adapting our lives to HIS standards and practises--as revealed in the Scriptures, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

My desire is not to condemn...it is, rather, to help you see the path to freedom and blessing. I am not being "hateful", but rather, I'm trying to be genuinely--and for real--"Loving".

May God teach us the difference between disagreement...and 'hate'.

...and may He enable us to experience all the blessing He has to offer!

Love to all,