POTD: Truth or Dare

When people invent their own truths and live by them, almost always they expect others to conform—chaos and conflict are guaranteed to follow. Then comes the finger-pointing: radical movements, inept and hypocritical politicians and worse. But as believers, we know where we stand—we stand on God’s truth. Or do we?

Scripture tells us God’s standard of evil and good, and it’s easy to say we agree with it. But it’s also true that we manage to invent and rationalize ways to live by our own standards while still praising His. The truth is, our own flesh is as devious and rotten as the people we criticize as lawless evildoers.

Before our righteous indignation erupts today at the evil infesting the world, take a moment to pray with King David, who so wisely understood the necessary state of the human heart—lest we, too, hate like haters hate, and by the same standards—our own.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

—King David, Psalm 139: 23-24

POTD: Bigger than Covid, Cabals and Despots

Take a deep breath. Let it out—slowly. Relax. Read. Something infinite, eternal permeates the trembling world—it’s greater than everything, and forever will be. Read it slowly—read it out loud. Tell yourself the story…

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair bowed down with care
God sent His son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong;
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song!

Could we with ink the oceans fill
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the oceans dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong;
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song!

F. M. Lehman

Amen.

The Starting Point of World Change

POTD: The true starting point of world change. Let’s Pray…

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

—King David, Psalm 51:10-17

Thank you, Lord.

The Creed of Revolt

Satirist Steve Turner was something of a prophet concerning the creed of the current—or any—modern revolt…

“CREED”by Steve Turner
This is the creed I have written on behalf of all us.
We believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin
We believe everything is OK as long as you don’t hurt anyone, to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your knowledge.
We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.
We believe that everything is getting better despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated, and you can prove anything with evidence.
We believe there’s something in horoscopes, UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think His good morals were bad.
We believe that all religions are basically the same–at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.
We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then it’s compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.
We believe in Masters and Johnson.
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.
We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors and the Russians would be sure to follow.
We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.
We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.
We believe in the rejection of creeds, and the flowering of individual thought.
 
Post-Script: If chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky, and when you hear State of Emergency! Shooter Kills Ten! Cops on Rampage! Protesters Go Looting! Bomb Blasts School! It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.
More to come…

What the Devil Wants from Us

The Devil wants us angry, because anger blinds people to reason and deafens them to dialogue

The Devil wants us to react, because reaction is anger-driven and anger blinds

The Devil wants us to ‘justifiably’ hate, because hate is a reaction of anger, which blinds

The Devil wants us to believe what we choose to believe—he doesn’t care one bit if we believe him so long as our autonomous beliefs are in conflict with our neighbor’s

The Devil wants us to stand and fight for our tribe and to remember that our ‘side’ cannot be wrong—because to divide is to dominate, and divisions come from anger, reaction, hatred and our own autonomous truth

The Devil doesn’t want us love our enemies and neighbors or to lay down our lives for others—anger is a foothold that works his will, even when that anger is justified

The Devil wants us full of outrage and righteous indignation, focused on whatever offends our autonomous sensibilities—because under no circumstances does he want us to see the big picture: how he is orchestrating through angry people a global coup predicted in the Bible, where he will dominate, deceive, divide and then reunite the world under a abominable man who will enthrall the world by fostering anger, hatred and autonomous truth against those who ‘disagree’ with him

The Devil doesn’t want us to think, pray, reason and respond like Jesus to the world’s chaos

The Devil wants us to forget that anger is his foothold and lies are his vocabulary

The Devil wants us to forget that Jesus will return to Judge the world

The Devil is just warming up the engines of destruction

And God wants us to know this.

POTD: A Prayer When God Does All the Talking

Confused, Stressed, Angry, Helpless, Hopeless. That’s everyone since Eden’s Fall. Humanity ruined God’s perfect creation—but the Maker still speaks amidst the ruins. Let’s pray—and let Him do the talking…

Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

—Psalm 46:8–11

Let it be as you have said, O Lord.

Defining Moment in an Overheated World

Here is a patch of smooth air in a turbulent world by Pastor Tim Brown of Calvary Chapel Fremont, CA. Ah, the difference the right words could make if only believed…

In the over-heated rhetoric flowing from the murder of George Floyd and the protests and riots that dominate TV, radio and social media, I’ve allowed myself to lose sight of the words of Jesus— “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

Am I supposed to bless rioters and looters and those who have made me out to be the enemy? What does Jesus say? “Bless those who curse you.”

Am I supposed to bless those who curse me because I don’t see the current crisis in America exactly as they do? What does Jesus say? “Bless those who curse you.”

In the thinking of some, I am all that is wrong with America—I’m white and male and Christian and heterosexual and cis-gendered. In the eyes of many, that description alone makes me a racist and a bigot and a homophobe. They would say, “I don’t need to know you personally to know what your character is like. I just need to know what class you belong to.” To them I say, “I bless you in the name of Jesus!”

The word bless is ‘eulogize’ in the Greek. At funerals, someone (usually a family member) brings the eulogy—a good word about the deceased. When I bless those who curse me or who have made me their enemy, I ask God’s favor on their life for success and well-being. No—not success in wrongdoing and unrighteousness—but success in finding the right way, and coming into the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. It is the opposite of condemning them— “I hope you rot in jail,” or “I hope you rot in hell.” To bless is to release someone from your judgment and, at the same time, it is a prayer asking God to release this person from the bondage and chains of sin. Blessing keeps my heart compassionate, even toward those who hate me; blessing keeps my heart from callousing over with judgment and condemnation. 

When I get to the place where I withhold blessing others in the name of Jesus, I am wrong—for I am no longer following the example of Jesus. What greater demonstration of this do we have than when Jesus Himself, God in the flesh, prayed to His Father as His enemies surrounded Him on the cross, cursing, mocking, and hurling abuse. Jesus poured out blessing upon them in His prayer, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Now, He could have said what Isaac said to Esau, “I am plum out of blessings.” And who would have blamed Jesus had He foregone blessing His enemies on the cross. To place Jesus on that cross they had to forego the conventions of a fair trial. Jesus truly was the victim of social injustice and religious bigotry. Their hatred of Jesus justified, in their eyes, the rush to unrighteous judgment and letting a criminal go free and crucifying Christ. And when all the sin of the world, the injustice, the bigotry, when all the hatred and condemnation were poured out on Jesus, from the midst of that pile, from the bottom of that pit, from the pain and shame of the cross came forth words of blessing, “Father, forgive them…

When I get to the place where I am so angry and lathered up and withhold blessing others in the name of Jesus—I am wrong.

My job isn’t to bring justice—that’s the government’s job; my job is to speak peace in the name of Jesus. The government bears the Sword; the Church bears the Cup of Christ. When the Church puts down the Cup of Christ and takes up the Sword, it has ceased to be the Church. I cannot have the Sword of Justice in one hand and the Cup of Blessing in the other. Does this mean that the Sword is not the best way to deal with some of that we see around us today? Not at all. I rejoice in the Sword—but the Sword isn’t in my hand. The Cup of Christ is in my hand and I bless you in the name of Jesus. 

Bless those who curse you.”

Be blessed, stay healthy and bear the Cup of Christ.

POTD: A Prayer in a World Gone Nuts

A world gone crazy is nothing new—it just reminds us how much we needed God all along. Let’s pray…

Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?”
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.
You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:6-8

Now say ‘amen’ and rest.

POTD: A Prayer when Waiting is Agony

Waiting for God to answer can be agony. King David was having ‘one of those days’, so he prayed this prayer. Join in…

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man
who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

Many, O Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.

I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O Lord.

I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.

Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord;
may your love and your truth always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.

Be pleased, O Lord, to save me;
O Lord, come quickly to help me.
May all who seek to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
“The Lord be exalted!”

Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.

Amen to that.

(Psalm 40)

POTD: Reading Scripture, Praising God

A Rabbi once said, “Reading Scripture is the highest form of prayer because that’s when God does all the talking.” Here is a Scripture that prays gloriously—the Word of God praising its Author. Join in… 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” —Paul, to the Ephesians 1:3–6

Hallelujah.