Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's only one man's opinion...

It’s curious. It crosses all political lines. Conservative, moderate, liberal - it doesn’t seem to matter. Somehow, for some reason, few seem to be at peace. It is as if we are in the process of losing something - and we can’t quite put our finger on what that “something” is. There is a gut-wrenching fear that whatever it is, if we lose it we do so at our own peril.

Political pundants temporarily ease our minds by placing blame on the various political parties and organizations in power - or wanting to be in power. For a time, we are lulled into the hollow security of at least “thinking” we know what is going on. We would tell ourselves, “if we can identify the problem, we can solve it!” And so the endless cycle of finger pointing continues. Not that anyone expects it to address real issues and solve problems; it just feels good to think we know the reason for them.

There is a Bible verse in the Old Testament, written specifically to the Jewish people of that time - but with a principle not exclusive to any peoples or nations.

“If My people, who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” - 2 Chronicles 7:14

This isn’t a political sound-bite. It is not a campaign slogan. It is not exclusive to the conservative, moderate or liberal. It is universal, written to anyone willing to claim the promise. It is not social, it is spiritual.

Yes, yes it is only one man’s opinion but, for anyone interested, I’ll share it. The future of America depends upon the spiritual condition of God’s people. Who are they? They are truck drivers, engineers, students and clergy. They are actors, carpenters and computer technicians. They are bikers, scientists, housewives, attorneys and musicians. They are young and gregarious. They are old, often feeble and alone.

There are no statues to commemorate their deeds, no oil paintings of them to decorate the great halls of government. They may not be remembered by historians but they, YOU AND I, are essential to the revival of our nation.

The time for a personal revival is now. The time for commitment is now but commitment is no easy task; you have to stick with it!

Commitment is the consistent pursuit of a specific goal. Commitment is pouring one’s self into a specific task, emptying one’s self of all other objectives and focusing, with singleness of purpose, upon one specific endeavor. Commitment is the underlying focal point of every moment until its objective has been squarely met, its opposition challenged and overcome. Commitment separates common endeavor from driven pursuit. No excuse can attach itself to commitment; commitment is never found “under the circumstances.”

Commitment is separated from success only by time and effort. There is no uncertainty in commitment. Once committed to, the task is as good as completed. Commitment is relentless.

Commitment is deaf to the cajoling of the jealous, the prayers of the pious and the doubts of the defeated. It is blind to danger; there can be no failure! It scorns adversity and embraces risk. There can be no obstacle, no natural disaster that can derail true commitment. Commitment faces the seemingly impossible and proclaims, “I WILL NOT BE DENIED!” Don’t give me statistics; don’t give me political polls; don’t give me odds; don’t give me history; don’t give me facts as determined by consensus; give me commitment! No other endeavor of mankind can yield eternal value.

I personally believe that right now, at this precise time, in this precise moment, the heart of our nation, its core values, stand at a unique juncture in history. If God’s people [based upon His standards - not our bias], from every walk of life, will humble themselves and pray, turning from anything that might distract their singular focus upon Him and His will, He will hear, He will forgive, and He will heal our land.

But, that’s just one man’s opinion ...

God bless!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hold The Tow!

Have you ever knowingly put yourself in a compromised situation figuring that well, if things got “a bit out of control” God was obligated to work it all out?

Have you ever rationalized something to the point of determining your own, “Code Of Conduct” for God?

Okay, okay, maybe it’s just me. Sometimes I CREATE my challenges and adopt the attitude that I have no responsibility in the matter. It’s simply fate! Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t appear to support that philosophy.

I recall the first time I water-skied. It was on a river in northern California. I held tight to the tow-rope, allowed the boat to pull my body out of the water and, for a time, enjoyed a relatively calm ride safely nestled in the wake of the boat. However, once I ventured outside of that wake, choppy waters and debris created an obstacle course that captured my attention, threatened my safety, and for a time interrupted my enjoyment. It was, however, my choice to venture outside of the boat wake. Oh, I was still behind the boat, still holding onto the tow, still within eye-shot of the captain, but just not enjoying the ride I was ill prepared for.

When we allow God to take control, when we allow Him to map the course and determine the speed, we can have absolute confidence that we are safe within His care. We feel His gentle tug. We know He is with us, leading us. There is no danger that can befall us that is not under His control.

Yes, yes indeed, there are still challenges in life. But God’s children never face the challenges of life alone! He controls the storms of life and strengthens His children as He guides His children through those storms. God grows us to become more dependent upon Him. As we face the challenges of life we do so dependent upon His promises to guide us, to keep us in His will and to make us vessels He can use to share His love to others.

“Ah” you might respond, “what about the Prodigal Son? He partied-hardy, fell on hard times, and still had a home to return to!”

The word, “Prodigal” means wasteful. This young man enjoyed the safety and benefits of his father’s love and care. He CHOSE, however, to take the portion of his father’s estate (which his father had set aside for him), and squander it in wild living (Luke 15:13). The temptations, no doubt, were subtle. They chipped away at the young man’s values methodically, persistently until the young man turned his back on his father and went his own way (Isaiah 53:6)

The result? The young man was ill prepared for the severe famine always awaiting those who turn from the Father. He began to be in need (Luke 15:14). He was starving; a self imposed outcast. The very best he could do with his life was to wallow in the muck and mire, eating with pigs. THINK OF IT; IT WAS THE BEST HE COULD DO!! (Luke 15:15-16). He was not destined to live with pigs. He was not destined to live a wasted life. He was not destined to be alone and lonely. It was a matter of CHOICE!

The story does not end there. Indeed he does return to his father. Indeed, we see the only occurrence of the “Father” running back to the son! But make no mistake, while the son’s position was restored - I would venture to guess that this son would never forget the lost opportunities of life, the lost time, and the scars of shame.

Today is a new day! There is so much to rejoice in. We have another opportunity to focus upon Christ who loves us so.

“This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” - Psalm 118:24

Today is an opportunity to make an important choice.

“...Choose you this day whom you will serve...” - Joshua 24:15

“And a furious storm of wind (of hurricane proportions) arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled. But He [Jesus, Himself] was in the stern [of the boat] asleep on the [leather] cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, “Master, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “HUSH NOW! BE STILL! And the wind ceased, [that is, sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating] and there was (immediately) a great calm - a perfect peacefulness. And He said to them, “Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith - no firmly relying trust?” And they were filled with great awe and feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey Him?” - Mark 4:37-41

While we hold tight to the tow-rope, our Captain not only controls the ship, He holds the winds and the waves in the palm of His hands!

Make the choice to rejoice!

God bless!