Saturday, October 29, 2016

What happens when we feel "out of control?"

Typically, when we feel out of control, we take control.  We need to feel like everything is safely within our grasp and arranged in perfect order.  This need will be more pressing for those who are fearful or already have a need for strict perimeters in their lives.

I've been observing the presidential campaign these past couple of months--and just life in general.  I've been struck by how divisive things have become so quickly--especially on social media. I think it's because we all feel out of control.  Things aren't normal or the way they used to be.  So we've grabbed the remote control of life and have determined to change channels.  Some have gotten loud, angry, and demanding with their opinions because they've determined the way things should be and everyone is not cooperating to get life back to that familiar place--or to a completely new place.  They feel like they have the answers and want everyone to agree with them.  The problem is...everyone has a different opinion about the way things should be!   Even Christians!!  We all resist being controlled.  We hate being told what to do.  So when someone is shouting at us to tell us what to do or what to believe, we resist them and their message.  But we all still put our opinions out there in hopes of compelling people to conform to us.

I had to stop this week and ask God, "Am I totally off course?  Because things sure feel off balance!"  And I had to remind myself of the basics of life...of the Christian life, that is.
  1. Press in to God and follow Him.  
  2. Hear His voice.  
  3. Read the Word. 
  4. Pursue Truth. 
  5. Be still and know that He is GOD!  
  6. Trust Him.  
  7. Submit to the Holy Spirit.  
  8. Remember God's good plan.
God has an ultimate plan for this world.  Things are going to happen which are completely out of our control.  But we have a choice in how to respond to those things.  The safest place to be when our world turns upside down is nuzzled in right next to the Good Shepherd.  His ways are right and perfect.  He's watching over His sheep day and night, safely guarding and calming them.  We need to press in to Him.  We won't have to convince anyone of anything--except to draw near to this Good Shepherd and hear His voice.  He can be trusted to lead us in the paths of righteousness.  And for all those sheep still out of control, going their own way?  Pursue them in love and bring them back to the Good Shepherd who is Truth.  No wonder Jesus prayed, (in John 17)  asking that we would be one as He was one with the Father.  Unity is a sweet thing.  It's coming in agreement with God which brings harmony between us, His sheep.

"If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.] Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another."  Galatians 5:25-26

"Brothers and sisters, if someone you know loses his way and rebels against God, pursue him in love and bring him back to the truth."  James 5:19

Friday, October 28, 2016

God's Promise to Abraham--and us!

"Listen to the solemn vow the Eternal One has spoken: “Because you (Abraham) have done what I asked and were willing to give up your son, your only son,  I will reaffirm My covenant of blessing to you and your family. I will make sure your descendants are as many as the stars of the heavens and the grains of sand on the shores. I reaffirm My earlier promises that your descendants will possess the lands and sit in the gates of their enemies, and from your descendants all the peoples of the earth will discover true blessing. All this is because you have obeyed My voice."  Genesis 22:16-18 (emphasis mine)

Who are the descendants of Abraham?  Israel, for sure.  They are the direct physical descendants of Abraham.  But believers in Jesus Christ are also descendants--spiritual/faith descendants.  We've been grafted in to the family tree!  (Romans 4-11)  So the eternal promise made to Abraham is also our promise.  What is that promise?
  • We will be many.
  • We will possess the lands.
  • We will sit in the gates of our enemies. (where legal and binding decisions are made)
  • The earth will discover true blessing because of us.
Claim your inheritance!  Abraham lived by faith.  This promise was made because of his faith.  We need to believe these things are ours--by faith.  There are lands to possess and rule over.  In Genesis 17, where God originally makes the promise, Abraham is told that nations and kings would descend from him...and they have...and will.  He's also told his descendants would be fruitful.  We will make legal and binding decisions in enemy territory.  There is a whole earth which needs to discover true blessing because of us. 

Abraham's part of the agreement was that he and his descendants must keep God's covenant throughout the generations--and He promised to be our God forever.

That's a pretty sweet deal!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Propaganda or Truth?

Dalai Lama's Palace

I don't remember the year exactly, but around 1999, Andy & I went to Lhasa, Tibet to visit a friend and to look for opportunities to help people.  Tibet was a closed communist country and we were required to have a "guide" the entire time we were there.  The guide did actually give us tours, but they were also placed with us to make sure we weren't detrimental to their country.  Before we went, we were even told to assume our motel room would probably be "bugged."

One day, Andy was with the guide touring the Dalai Lama's palace (I chose to forego the climb) and I was out touring the city with our friend.  All of a sudden, a voice came over the loud speakers placed around the entire city.  Since my friend could speak Tibetan, I asked her what they were saying.  Her reply was, "Oh, just a bunch of propaganda."  I was kind of stunned.  It wasn't my first time to be in a communist country, but it was my first time to be confronted with propaganda being blared so blatantly.  Her words never left me.

I came home and began paying attention to what was going on around me in the good ol' USA.  Were we being fed propaganda and weren't even aware of it?  Remember...this was 17 years ago.  I began noticing then that newscasters weren't even trying to be objective anymore.  More recently, I've been paying even closer attention.  Not only are we being fed propaganda, but great diversions are being created to get our attention elsewhere so people can change the direction we're going while we're not looking.

I encourage you to be aware.  If a herd of sheep are resting quietly in a pasture and a small dog runs into their space--they'll all react in fear and take off running together.  Ewes have even been known to abort their babies in a situation like that.  Don't be like a sheep and run with the mob in fear.  Take a quiet seat and observe.  And while you're watching, ask God to reveal truth.

A good question to ask the Father is, "What are You doing?"  And, "How can I agree with You?"