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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What is America’s Future?

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”  An ancient prayer from the Bible says, “Two things I ask of you . . . give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7-9).

The idea conveyed is having little or much can affect the character of a person - and a nation. The United States has seen both. In her early years she had little, while in modern times she has had much. Today, the U.S. is the leader in innovation, has the greatest university system, the world’s most powerful military, the largest economy and provides unequaled human freedoms.  

Since the late 1800’s, which began the industrial age, America has seen incredible growth. The success has changed America’s character. Her pride has grown into arrogance. Her increased knowledge has questioned the need for God. Her advancements in technology have made her like a god and her hi-tech weapons have replaced God.     

The principle of abundance leading to a denial of God is a predictable pattern. When riches, power and success mount there is a quiet shift in the heart of a nation, that when left unchecked, can lead to its downfall. 

Who is America’s greatest enemy? Some other nation, terrorists or a conglomerate of cyber warriors? Our greatest enemy is – we the people. 

The lure of money and power is becoming our Great Destroyer. Its deceptive appeal has caused us to think too highly of ourselves. It has created a false sense of security bringing us to believe we are a nation that is indestructible and indispensable to the world. We have been willingly seduced by prosperity giving birth to the children of ease, complacency and immorality.    

Let us learn from the downfall of ancient kingdoms like Rome, Egypt, Greece and the once vast British Empire. Mere common sense says if we continue down the path we are on, America will eventually implode. 

Despite the growing number of atheists within our borders, the Lord God does exist, and He is our only hope. Not political parties, legislation or changes in the economy. Let us examine our ways and do something about it. We must humble ourselves and stop our power hunger, corrupt and immoral practices. We must make peace with God and with one another. This cannot be done through multi-faith efforts or by starting an organization. This turn around can only be done through our faith in the Creator God, and His only Son. Let us plead for Him to pour out a heaven-sent spiritual revival to sweep border to border.    

A prayer for you to pray– Lord God, I see evil and lawlessness across our land. We desperately need you to send a move of your Spirit upon us. I admit my own wrong doings and how I have contributed to the condition of our country. Forgive me Lord for what I have done. Oh God, come upon our land. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Is Life Worth Living?

Clay Center, Kansas –The fall of 1993 was one of the most difficult periods of my life. 

I was a sophomore at a Christian college, studying for a career in ministry.  I went through a valley that seemed to get deeper and darker as the weeks passed.  The semester began with taking a Greek class, only to drop it after failing multiple exams.  In relationships, I went through two break ups back to back.  I also battled a strenuous relationship with my dad.  In ministry, I felt like a failure as a young preacher and doubted my call as an evangelist.  Consequently, with short notice, I canceled being the guest speaker at a week-long revival.  Additionally, I resigned from leading a campus ministry.  I turned inward, pulling away from people and activities into my own dark world. 

One night, as I was lying on the bed in my dorm, I stared up at the ceiling with my mind racing.  “How can I make it through this?  What’s happening to me?”  Thoughts of leaving school, the call to ministry and ending my life even flashed across my mind.  Have you been there or know someone who is? 

“Is my life worth living?”  That is a question that can surface in times like this. 

Your parents came together and you were born, but behind them is your ultimate Creator.  It is said about Him, “God created man in his image.  Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).  And when He made your life, He did so with value and purpose. 

In one of the Ten Commandments God said, “Do not murder.”  He said that because He values human life.  Only humans were uniquely made in His image.  As a result, He does not want you or someone else ending your life.  And when He made you, He did so with purpose and meaning. 

About all humanity, it is written, “. . . they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.  Yet, he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).  You may feel alone, yet the God who made you is closer than you think. 

I ended up making it out of my dark valley through the help of encouraging people, God’s invisible sustaining hand, and the truth of His Word, the Bible. 

It was not easy reading or listening to the Scriptures, because they pointed out the problems that were causing my problems.  Ouch!  There is a reason you do not think life is worth living, so it is important to face the unvarnished truth, through the searchlight of God’s Word. 

Take your eyes off yourself and away from your despair.  Lift them toward God’s Son, Jesus.  For He came from heaven to earth, to die on a cross and rise again--for you.

A prayer for you to pray–“Lord God, I wrestle with the thoughts of wondering if my life is worth living.  I turn toward you, my Creator.  Show me my purpose.  I accept that I cannot do this anymore on my own.  I turn from the wrong things I have done and call out to you for help.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Even The Devil Believes in God

“I believe in God.”  I have heard the statement many times in my years as a minister in rural communities across the Great Plains.  The regular at the local bar, the businessman, the county jail inmate, the greeter at the church, and the friendly neighbor across the street all have said they believe in God and are doing fine.   

Additionally, nearly every person I have talked with has heard of Jesus, God, the Bible and are familiar with many Christian terms and concepts.   Some regularly attend church while others only went as children.  Others have gone just for funerals or weddings and a few have never been.  And though many are not familiar with traditional Bible stories, the majority have heard or read at least portions of the Bible. 

If so many people believe in God, then why are our communities so filled with abuse and immorality?  Should not this belief make a difference? 

Perhaps there is a misunderstanding about what belief in God means.  Maybe people think they believe, but in truth, they do not.  

The Bible is the original source for understanding the whole idea of belief in God.  A casual reading of the Bible on this can be a little confusing.  On one hand the Scripture says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved . . .” (Acts 16:31).  While on the other hand, it says, “You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe—and shudder” (James 2:19).  The Devil believes in God like everyone else?  What is wrong with this picture?  It all comes down to understanding what belief means, not according to our opinions, but according to God’s Word. 

If you study the Bible on the subject you will see five truths.  1)  Believing in God is synonymous with belief in Jesus.  Since Jesus is God’s Son, to refuse to believe in Him is an empty belief.  2)  Believing in God is an acknowledgement of Jesus.  It means you acknowledge His deity, virgin birth, death and resurrection.  3)  Believing in God is to trust in Jesus.  It means you are willing to entrust your whole life into His care and submit to His leadership.  4)  Believing in God is to follow Jesus.  It means you are willing to do what Jesus and the Word of God says, no matter the cost—even unto death.  5)  Believing in God is union with Jesus.  It means Christ is in you and you are in Him. 

The belief the Devil has is knowledge-based and does not proceed to trust, following or union with Christ.  The Devil’s belief does not lead to a changed life.    

However, a whole-hearted, biblical belief in God through Christ shows itself in a spiritual and moral transformation.  The old has gone, the new has come.  You do not have to tell someone you believe in God, they can see it.
 
I urge you to embrace full-on, radical belief in Christ.  Go beyond superficial words and the mere window dressings of religion, like Jesus did, when He went to the cross and shed His blood for you.  He counted the cost and laid His life down.  Do the same.  Count the cost and believe in Him with all your heart.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Turning The Tide on American Violence

Are you becoming increasingly concerned about your child’s safety at school?  Has your church begun discussions on providing security during worship services?  Have you had some uneasiness while at public gatherings, wondering if some incident might take place?  Unfortunately, this is where we are in American life right now.  More and more people are having these concerns and rightly so when you see the news. 

Our society is becoming more dangerous and I am not the first to ask, “What is the solution?”  Let us start with identifying the problem.  The epidemic of violence is highlighted by cold blooded murders in our schools and inner cities.  And it also involves the brutality of physical and sexual assaults in homes, on the streets, on campuses and in workplaces.

There is a place for new legislation, better enforcement of existing laws, awareness campaigns and task forces.  But they all have limits.  They can help restrain violence and provide all kinds of data and resources for combating it.  However, none of it goes to the source. 

What is the ultimate problem?  The human heart.  The Scriptures say, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  (Jeremiah 17:9)  It is where a person’s values, beliefs and standards lay.  This is what gives them the justification to terrorize.  It is where they become a god unto themselves and exert power over others to destroy.

Only the presence of God in a human heart can give what our society is calling for.  But ironically, that is missing from the public debate.  America has a chronic heart condition, and the more we stray from God, the more violent our nation will become.  It is truth and consequence.

To end the violence in our streets requires humbling ourselves before God and asking for His help.  We have tried it our way.  Now let us try it His way. 

Our world has never seen the horror of violence more than in the death of Jesus of Nazareth.  It was brutal.  Yet, through it, a morally perfect man, took on Himself the evil that existed in every human heart.  He bore the sheer depravity of all mankind.  And when He rose again from the dead, He overcame the darkness.  Through it He became what every heart, every city longs for – peace.  Jesus Himself became our peace.  In Him, a person of brutality can become one of tenderness.  In Him, a monster can be changed into a beautiful and precious child of God. 
 
A prayer for you to pray–Lord God, search my own heart.  Let the change in my city begin with me.  Point out if I have hurt people physically or with my words.  I am sorry Lord for how I have treated others.  Rid the evil within me.  Forgive me for what I have done.  Make me into a kind and loving person by your power.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.