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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

America’s Only Answer

When we look at the state of America through the lens of news headlines it is not very buoyant.  And if our news sources supposedly reflect the true nature of our country then I must say they are only getting half the story.      
Typically, alongside the daily bad news they report stories about efforts to turn our country around through elections, new laws, religion, education, conferences, summits, awareness campaigns, improved research and analysis, healthcare, poverty relief, volunteerism, social justice and much more.  Yet, America continues to decline and the world with it.  All these attempts are good things.  They have made pockets of progress and been a genuine help.  However, they are lacking and temporal at best.  The Scriptures give us the answer saying, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Jesus is the person in which America’s future rests.  When we leave Him out of our efforts for change we do so to our peril.   
Prayer is one practical way in which we can bring Jesus into the middle of our nation’s woes.  Prayer in His name can do the impossible.  People are seeing this and during 2016 our national prayer life has grown exponentially.  This year we have seen news worthy movements of prayer that have largely been ignored by most of America’s top news outlets.  Here are the ones I am aware of:  Azusa Now; United Cry; Burlington, North Carolina revival; Harvest America; Decision America Tour; West Virginia revival; The 8-8-8 God Speaking Initiative; Together 2016; The Gathering and Cry Out.  I am confident there are more.  It is no stretch to say these events have reached millions in America and across the world.  Though unconnected they have four things that unite them.  1) The United States is in a moral and spiritual decline.  2)  The rate of decline is a cause for serious alarm.  3)  There is only one solution – Jesus.  4)  We must seek Jesus in prayer and go announce Him anew boarder to boarder.
These gatherings are producing large swaths of people, scattered all across the nation, to call upon Jesus.  They are calling out for His intervention into the lives of individuals, and for the soul of America.  It is a historic time.
The news headlines are only telling half the story of the state of our union.  It is a time to believe and persevere.  Press onward!  Join the movement.  Gather together with others and cry out to Jesus for revival in the land.  He is our answer.  Turn to Him and see Him act.          
 
© Anthonyheflin | Dreamstime.com - Cross And American Flag At Sunset Photo

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Campaigning With Honor

Some historians view the Presidential Campaign of 1800, between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as the origin of dirty American politics.  According to the Miller Center's research one newspaper gave a stern warning about a potential Jefferson Presidential Administration writing "Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes."  

Religious leaders, 205 years after the Jefferson/Adams campaign, put out a statement calling for decency in politics saying that politicians, “ . . . should also use dialogue characterized by mutual respect, coolness, truthfulness, maturity, sobriety, and [have] the use of decent language.”  This was actually written about politicians from the African nation of Ghana. 

All nations across the span of time have regular ongoing issues with ugliness in political campaigns.  It goes farther back then 1800 though.  Its origin goes back to a pivotal historical event in the Garden of Eden. 

Why is there, and will there always be, this ugliness?  One word sums it up – power.  Everyone wants to be the top dog and with it comes unrivaled influence, riches, fame and the ability to shape the future and be remembered in history.       

If I could get an audience with the two main candidates for President here are three suggestions I would offer in their pursuit of this seat of great power.       

1 – Have honor in your name.  Some good advice is given in the Bible, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).  Already your names “Clinton” and “Trump” have developed a reputation.  The rest of the campaign and election will continue to shape those.  Conduct yourself in such a way that future generations of your family (not the public) will be proud of that name. 

2- Be compelled by your own vision for the good of America and not by vision of others.  Running for President can bring out the leaches.  Despite people pushing and pulling from all directions, remain true to that vision. 

3 – Bring God into the central working of your life and campaign on a private level, not in front of the cameras.  Seek God's wisdom in His Scriptures and through His faithful followers in your daily responsibilities. 

No one can completely control what others say and do, but we can control one person, ourselves.  In pursuit of the highest office in the land and for the sake of personal conscience, win or lose, may our candidates aspire to a legacy of honor.    

 

© Chrisdorney | Dreamstime.com - US Presidential Election 2016 Photo

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Having Optimism in a Chaotic World

One day as I was checking out from a store and visiting with the clerk about random things, he said to me “We are in trouble!” referring to world and national events.  He is not alone in his line of thinking.  Many people I visit with are very concerned about the state of our world no matter if they are religious or not. 

Honestly, they have a reason to be.  The natural disasters America is experiencing with monumental flooding and raging fires is displacing tens of thousands and causing hundreds of millions in damages.  The death tolls our major cities are facing due to violence are higher than what our soldiers have faced on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The effect of political ideology and battles are reaching with devastating effects, to the smallest corners of our society.  Even so, in the face of this I have tremendous optimism. 

First, I understand where all this craziness is coming from so it comes without alarm.  We live in a place where there is a God who is good, and a Devil who is evil.  These opposing forces naturally lead to ongoing spiritual battles that are revealed in our daily news headlines.  Jesus spoke of this when He said, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  I came that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  The work of the thief produces chaos leading to pessimism, while the work of Jesus produces hope leading to optimism. 

The reason I believe these are great days is because of Jesus’ resurrection centuries ago.  There is a common phrase in Christian circles that goes, “Because He lives, I live.”  This speaks of the victory Jesus won through His cross.  Leading up to His epic victory, evil and its allies threw every form of attack at Him.  When He was arrested, tried and sentenced to death - they rejoiced.  When He was tortured - they cheered.  When He was nailed to the cross and died - they rose in a spirit of achievement.  When He was buried - they celebrated. 

Then three days later the tables were turned.  Suddenly, Jesus was revived!  He rose from the dead!  He walked victoriously out of His own tomb!  Evil cried out in anguish at His triumph.  He won!  Evil was defeated!  Evil no longer was the world’s Dictator.  People can now have optimism and hope in the face of violence and destruction.   

Because He lives, so can we!  Because He overcame, so can we overcome!  Because He was victorious, so can we be victorious!  Because of Jesus’ resurrection, no matter the circumstances, there is ALWAYS a future and hope!  If we turn from our sin and place our trust fully in Jesus, His victory and hope will be ours.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Police and Black Protestors - The Unnecessary Divide

The clashes between police and black protestors have riveted the nation.  Young black men have lost their lives at the hands of police and police have lost their lives in retaliation.  As a result charges of racism have been thrown back and forth by supporters and opponents.  The word that comes to mind when I ponder all this is – division, and how unnecessary it is.          

What good do protestors accomplish by cursing, yelling, throwing rocks, physical assaults and death threats?  Yes, they get the attention of the public, news media and lawmakers.  However, in the face of such lawlessness their cause has become blurred due to their egregious actions.  Furthermore, the character they have brought to the table to attain their goals has become marred. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was adamant about his use of peaceful means for change.  He once stated, “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”  Yes, his protests did have clashes with police but he did not provoke it with rude and crude means.  He maintained class and calmness in the face of unjust circumstances. 

There is indeed a tragedy of epic proportions among the young black men of our American inner cities.  The situation they face should alarm all Americans no matter their color.  For an inner city black baby to grow up and graduate from high school is against many odds, then adding college, finding a career, getting married and having a family is even more rare.  Unfortunately, going to prison or getting shot from gang violence or police is all too common. 

Does retaliating against police or the system help these young men?  I believe the answer starts with Jesus.  Through His suffering, death and resurrection overcame all the forces hell could assail at Him.  He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd” (John 10:10). 

If protestors sought out inner city pastors and churches and together they cried out to God against the evil and injustices in their communities, what a difference that would make!  Through Jesus division can turn to unity, evil to good and hate to love.