Tuesday, December 09, 2014

For my city...

People have all sorts of reasons for wanting a town to fail...
I can't say I know why, exactly, that is, but Jonah didn't like Nineveh or that city's citizens. When God has compassion on Nineveh, and relented of His plan to destroy that city and its people, "...it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry." (Jonah 4:1 ESV) Jonah was so displeased with God's graciousness and mercy towards Nineveh that he wanted to die when God relented (see verses 2-3). Jonah was mad. Real mad.
God asked Jonah a probing question: "Do you well to be angry?" (see verse 4) Or, another way of asking, "Jonah, is it right for you to be mad about my pity on Nineveh?"
You see, Jonah is wrong. He's not the only one or the first one or, I doubt, the last one to ever be wrong.
If a city is still breathing, God is having mercy upon it.
To Jonah, God said, "And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:11 ESV)
Do we well to be angry about Roxboro? It's breathing. God's pity is real and alive; today.
Do we well to be angry about Ferguson? 
Do we well to be angry about New York? 
Do we well to be angry about Chicago? 
Do we well to be angry about San Francisco? 
Do we well to be angry about Dallas? 
Do we well to be angry about Miami?
May God have pity on our cities and may we each obey our call and preach the Gospel. May we each be joyful when people repent. May we put down roots and build the Kingdom in our cities. May we seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God in our cities. May we love our neighbors AND our enemies in our cities. May we show Christ, share Christ and shower Christ upon our cities. May we plow and plant in hearts and sow and seed God's word in our cities. May we defend the weak, speak for the mute, work for the weak, give to the needy, encourage the downtrodden, feed the hungry, visit the lonely, gather with the grieving, serve the sickly and dig wells for the thirsty in our cities. May we judge less of what we see in others and judge more of what we see in ourselves in our cities. May we be family to the orphan and befriend the stranger in our cities.
Many people scoff and scorn, belittle and berate. Many people tear up things and tear down people, like locusts sweeping in swarms, ruining much in a gobbling rush to fill self.
But, I will show you a better way!
Let us love the city we are in! Its buildings still stand and its people still breath; God's pity is active.

Let us not run from our calling. Let us, instead, run to it!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Get wisdom, get understanding...

Get wisdom, get understanding...
Of getting wisdom and understanding, John Gill said, "Not only moral and political wisdom and understanding, but that which is spiritual and evangelical; Christ, and the knowledge of him; he being the only happy man that has an interest in him, and is possessed of him by faith, which is the meaning of getting him." (from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)
Gill was commenting on Proverbs 4:5, which commands, "Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth." (Proverbs 4:5 ESV)
And, when you get it or some or any, "do not forget" and "do not turn away."
We like to hunt and shop and search and inquire. We love, as the Apostle Paul said to the philosophers in Athens, to spend our "...time in nothing except telling or hearing something new" (see Acts 17:21).
We love the search, but for what? Are all new things full of wisdom and understanding? You bet not.
Are stores and websites and books and magazines and movies and songs all full of wisdom and understanding? You bet not.
Wisdom comes from the Lord. Understanding is a thing of God. 
Go to Him...
Get wisdom! 
Get understanding!
Listen, beloved, wisdom and understanding are worth getting! The previous chapter finds the proverb writer saying: "Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed." (Proverbs 3:13-18 ESV)
If nothing else, getting wisdom and understanding is worth it to me because I love that "all her paths are peace" (vs. 13:17).

Go look...seek...search...inquire with the Lord! Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget it! Do not turn away!

A Just Petition to a Just Action Taker

Are you a just action taker? Are you a just action petitioner?

A just action taker doesn't need to be begged or protested into submission. Such a person sees what is right and does it. A just person doesn't have to be compelled out of personal comfort to take action. A just person gives up personal comfort to do what is right.

What is an unjust action taker? A biblical definition would lead us to understand an unjust action taker is one who neither fears God nor respects man (see Luke 18:2). The unjust action taker (1) does not care what God says is right nor does he (2) care what people need. An unjust action taker will take action, but they have to be compelled.

Consider the following parable from Jesus: "And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, "Give me justice against my adversary." For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ''Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.''' And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?'" (Luke 18:1-8 ESV)

Part of our nation is trained to seek justice in the way they do because it's filled with unjust judges / unjust action takers. If we had godly people making decisions -- note: godly, not religious -- such people would not have to be compelled from their comfort by belligerent beggars. They would do what is right (1) because God says it's right and (2) because God would be leading them to really care about people.

In more disturbing ways, many people fail to understand exactly who we should be seeking for justice and change. We -- ME included; ME first -- NEED GOD!

We need more prayer meetings to the One True and Just Judge than we do protests meetings to unjust judges. I think it's interesting, especially with so many so-called Christians lighting up social media with hate, political junk talk, race baiting and arguing, that the Luke 18 passage ends with Jesus asking a question: "...when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?" In other words, will those seeking the Just Judge be found? Or, will the earth be consumed with men and women biting and gnawing on each other.

I know who the Just Action Taker really is. I may want to lead protests, but I'll start with prayer meetings. I may want to rail against man, but I shall begin by petitioning God. I want it to be said of me that the Lord Jesus can "...find faith..." in me. I know who the real Just Action Taker is and I want to be a just action petitioner.

May God find faith in Person County. May God find faith in His Church. Whatever needs doing, changing, starting or stopping, let we who know the Just Judge lead the way in petitions, action and sacrifice. If we know right, let's do it. If we care about people, let's serve them.

Protest against man is weak if it is not filled with petition to God. Petition to God is weak if it is not filled with the righteousness of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.

Much love. I'm praying for the nations, and our nation. Join me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Lovely Little Woodshed I Was Taken to Today

Some Scriptures make me wrestle more than others...
This honesty make shock you, but I'm going to risk the shock to open my heart to you...
Sometimes, I'm disappointed. Sometimes, I feel like I've given and given and given and haven't received. Though I rarely use such stark or blatant words, it's a safe bet that my heart has felt and my mind has thought what my lips have not allowed my tongue to say: I deserve more from God than what I'm getting out of life.
Whew. Truth be told, I've felt that way lately.
Then, because I truly do want to "Let the word of Christ dwell in [me] richly..." (ref. Colossians 3:16), I stay in the Word. I do believe there's always something for me there, and I look for God and wait on Him. Well, He showed up and kicked my booty today, and I'm thankful for it. A good Dad disciplines a loved son.
Check this out; Jesus was teaching, and He said, "Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'" (Luke 17:7-10 ESV)
God owes me nothing. I am indeed an unworthy servant!
What have I been expecting?
Did I expect God to make sweet tea and bake crullers and send me a Day Spring "Thank You" note? i am the unworthy servant. HE IS THE MASTER!
God has given me MORE than I deserve...plus, plus, times plus multiplied by more plus something else. In Christ Jesus, I am infinitely rich. I've been put in my place, and I'm thankful. My stinkin' thinkin' was in the way of my rich joy.
That old, rotten, stinking, lying, thieving, destroying enemy creeps into my thinking from time to time and gets me to thinking like he did Adam and Eve. He makes me believe God owes me something or is holding out on something.
Well, hogwash. ‪#‎hogwash Pound sign, hogwash. Number sign, hogwash. Just hogwash. God does not owe me a thing! The Father has given me the Son. Dwell on that with me...God has given me the Son for salvation and the Son sent the Spirit for sanctification. I'm a blessed man!

Wow, Luke 17 today...wow. Thank You, Lord, for loving me and chastising me for my own good. Thank You, Father, for your great grace and mercy. Thank you for continually giving me more than I deserve and thank You also for not giving me what I actually deserve.

A reflection concerning accountability for the Body of Christ

This is for my Christian brothers and sisters...I'm talking exclusively to those who claim saving faith through the name of Jesus...

Do you know how we say, "You can't judge me!"? Yes. I hear it all the time from young people (actually, they say, "Only God can judge me" but they are really meaning "YOU can't judge me!").

I agree. God is Judge. Amen. Praise Him who is love and whose justice is perfect! Praise Him, THE Judge who is full of mercy, but also perfect in judgement. Thank You, Father!

So, we agree, right? God is judge. Amen.

Check out what Jesus says: "Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4 ESV)

We are called to live in community with one another, and we are called to take care of each other. Part of taking care of each other is NOT looking over sin, pretending it's not an issue, glossing it over or ignoring it all together. We are called to care for each other by rebuking.

What? Rebuking? Yes.

Now...LISTEN CAREFULLY [READ CAREFULLY]: "If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back." (Matthew 18:15 NLT)

See that? The New Living Translation says "...go privately..." The English Standard Version says "...between you and him alone..." The New American Standard Bible says, "...show him his fault in private..." The New International Version says, "...just between the two of you..." The Holman Christian Standard Bible says, "...rebuke Him in private.."

We don't ignore sin.

But, we don't call people out in public; not on social media. C'mon, now. Let's get with Jesus on both sides of this deal!

Let's not ignore sin. But, let's handle it the right way! There is a time and a place to bring some individual's sin out in a group, but there's a couple steps to cover BEFORE calling them out in a group. AND, the GROUP you call them out in front -- AFTER the other stuff has been tried -- IS THEIR LOCAL CHURCH where they can receive loving discipline AND have hope of being restored. (Check out Matthew 18:15-20)

And, it's not just an issue of not ignoring sin, nor does it only involve who we rebuke in front of whom. There's more...

Who should rebuke someone? What is the goal of rebuking someone's sin?

Galatians 6:1 asnwers it most succinctly: "Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself." (NLT)

Who should rebuke? "...you who are godly..."
Well, who's godly? Back up into Galatians 5:16-26; that'll answer that.
What is the goal? ''...help that person back onto the right path..." Or, as the ESV says, the goal is to "...restore..."

We are called to live in community! "Pay attention to yourselves..."
This stuff matters!

Don't ignore sin.
Obey Jesus.
Obey Jesus.
Do it the right way.