14 Reasons Why Christians Rock the World

1. We refuse to place ourselves at the center of Creation and worship ourselves

2. We refuse to bow down to rocks, trees and Mother Nature; thereby worshiping the creation rather than the Creator

3. We reckon God as perfect:

               perfect in love: and so we are taught to love

               perfect in justice: and so we are commanded to obey

               perfect in His Word: and so we are enlightened by the Truth of  the Bible

4. Christians show respect for all men, created in God’s image, by seeking their eternal salvation

5. Christians reject the human faith in progress and humanism: the twin deceptions of Satan

6. Christians do not need a social gospel; the Gospel teaches and the Holy Spirit leads us to produce all good fruits that serve God and men

7. Christians practice mercy

8. Christians protect life

9. Christians ended and today fight slavery

10. Christians founded and run hospitals, schools, food banks, orphanages, receovery centers, homeless shelters, etc.

11. Christians are at the scene of every natural disaster: floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanoes

12. Christians support Israel spiritually and materially and politically

13. Christians do not put their trust in men to make this a better world

14. Christians live in a far greater hope: the promise that Jesus Christ is coming to judge the world and institute His kingdom

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Published in: on September 15, 2009 at 10:05 am  Comments (1)  

Waiting on the Lord

“The steps of a good [righteous] man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 32:23).

Waiting on the Lord. I am in one of those holding periods in life, awaiting my next work assignment. I am perpetually a wanderer, landing on shores unfamiliar to me by routes unknown to me.  As I look back over my past transitions, it is clear that my carefully imagined, stressed-over plans for my material life were never fully realized–and when things materialized approximating my intended result, it was never on my terms or my timing. My career changes, from teacher/coach to financial advisor, to investment branch manager, to Wall Street regional vice president, to marketing executive, have been uneven, unequal, and even, at times, uncalled for or unwanted. I’ve moved from New York to Florida to South Carolina to Florida to Colorado to Texas. 

 I’ve also wandered from serving the Lord. While I have always believed (as do the demons and Satan himself !), there have been huge periods of time where I was without faith and worship, spiritually adrift, in and out of the church of my childhood, without a church at all, back to traditional church, and finally, mercifully, summoned by the Father and delivered into the hands of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.


 “No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

 

 

My belief and religious efforts were not enough; could never be enough I now understand. God had to reach down and shake me by my foundations, break my pride, shine the mirror of His Law on me and lead me to repent and acknowledge Him as both Saviour and Lord–a Lord who commands us to obey His Law and conform to His will.

 

Now I await Him and my next calling. His path will open to me,I am sure, but in what way and when, I do not know. He has already made the important and decisive moves–leading me out of my old self into a new creation. What I originally thought was  deliverance from a debilitating “environment” of work and life, I now recognize was  reshaping of my own heart. it wasn’t the outside that needed changing; it was my own self that needed radical transformation. That came through the trifecta of salvation, regeneration and sanctification. My regeneration has created in me a clean heart, renewed my spirit, and begun to make known to me God’s promises to deliver those things I seek. He has put me into the hands of a wise and loving wife, and into the embrace of a caring church that humbly calls upon the name of our merciful Lord and Saviour. He has led me through the narrow gate to follow Him down the hard way. What I could never do, He has decided for me and promised me:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

The wait is not totally in the dark. We know from the Word what truths lie ahead. To take up one’s cross and follow Jesus is not a promise of easy living, fast money, and an instant circle of friends and supporters.The Lord must purify us, refine us as gold in a fire, and prepare us for His service and His kingdom. If we go back to the epistle of James, we can harken to the lesson that ‘trials produce benefits.’ Trials may be beneficial when they are: corrective, constructive, glorifying to God, and/or demonstrative of our trust in God.

 

Corrective: Sometimes we fall back onto our own plans, our own power, our own thinking. Stinkin’ thinkin’ I like to call it. The Lord wants us to stick to His plan!

 
“Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”(Amos 3:7)

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11)


Constructive: We are impatient, and want our calendars filled in completely and way in advance. Patience requires waiting on the Lord to work in us in His own good time.

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7)

“All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come.” (Job 14:14)

 

Glorifying: What the Lord plans for us is always glorifying to Him and His kingdom, even if it means apparent and real suffering, humiliation, and setbacks for us in the world. The very reason we live is not for ourselves but to give glory to God.


“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name.” (Psalm 29:2)


“Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD;in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD.” (Isaiah 24:15)


“Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.” (Acts 12:23)

Rewarding: Our reward is that by yielding to the yoke of Christ, conforming ourselves to His will, we will enjoy Him forever. That’s not just an ordinary earthly reward; that’s an eternal reward!


“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Trust in God, not the self: By enduring trials and tests, we can earnestly thank God for who He is, not just for the good things He does for us. It’s all about Him– especially in the valleys, for He is with us.

 “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1)

As we all wait on the Lord, we can be assured He is working on us and in us: for me He is imparting lessons on patience, humility, selflessness, trust in Him, and in His plan for my life. He is refining each one of us for service. And that commission to serve God is never over and is never perfectly fulfilled by any man except the God become Man, Jesus Christ. So I wait: imperfect, humble, anxious, excited, praying for strength and trusting in Him.


“I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'”(Lamentations 3:24)

  

 

Published in: on September 10, 2009 at 9:56 am  Comments (2)  

Trials, Tribulations and Tsuris: How We Benefit

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Just when I thought my life was finally all tidied up, nice and ready for presentation, like a trophy fish to put up on the wall, something happened to mess it up. Again. Ever get the feeling that our quest to take care of our ‘to do’ list is just a human version of the hamster wheel. We think there’s an end in sight, but in reality the last item on the list is only an illusion–there is no end to the wheel. Our life in the world is never all put together. How much more special than a false promise of relief from all suffering to be able to proclaim that God has called us to be  His children, with a promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him. The ol’ hamster wheel doesn’t feel so bad when we can take a long, as in eternal, view of things.

But while we’re still here, trying to make the best of a fallen world despotically ruled by fallen, depraved, wretched man, what do we get? Trials, tribulations and tsuris. Tsuris is a rich, perfect expression, a Yiddish word I learned at an early age growing up in Brooklyn. Tsuris means “trouble” and is always exclaimed with somber demeanor, accompanied by much nodding of the head, and with an exchange of deep full eye contact  attesting to the revelation  in a glance that the sufferings of this world are universal, though not uniformly distributed across space and time.

We all go through valleys in life. It’s the cavalcade of valleys that makes the false gospel prosperity preachers so attractive: they seem to have the answer to avoiding those valleys. They promise only the peaks of life: success, health, wealth, peace and happiness. I can’t imagine these guys ever having a successful ministry in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. Everybody there knew the truth about tsuris and its established role in life. And there was enough tsuris to go around for everybody.  There was a whole generation of people who had fought in the Second World War; two generations that had lived through the Depression; lots of people who came to New York in the lower decks of steam ships from less than wonderful lands; and I had neighbors who had serial numbers tattooed on their wrists. What could Joel Osteen or Benny Hinn possibly offer them? 

So, what’s my point? It’s this. We all (save the Joel Osteen ‘life is yours  for the asking/taking’ group) acknowledge that tsuris is our human condition, so how can we best understand it?

Let me list a few benefits we get from the trials of life. We can thank God for the benefits, because after all, He has a plan, and all things work for the greater good, right? If we approach and understand that our trials are part of God’s plan, we can give glory to God in them and in what we become through them.

 

Benefit 1. Our trials are tests of our faith. Job comes immediatley to  mind. I think especially of Abraham, commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Human sacrifice? Kill the seed that was to fulfill God’s promise to make Abraham’s offspring as many as the stars in the sky?  Did that make any sense to Abraham? Did he question God at all? No. Now that was a test. Compared to that, how bad can my tests really be ?

For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:3)

Benefit 2. We are humbled through tsuris.  The sin of pride is a strong one (I can personally speak to this one), so trials and tests come along to humble us. We are not as strong, as pure, as self-reliant as we’d like to think. Even Paul had  a thorn in his side to keep him humble. When he asked God to remove it, God politely declined. Three times.

“a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. ”     (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Benefit 3. Tsuris devalues our attachments to the things of the world. When you’re lying in a hospital bed, or visiting a dying relative, how important is that car, or house, or job, or whatever? If we are attached to something in the world, and it distracts us form knowing that our real treaure is in heaven, God must show us that the real value of the things of this world is zero compared to what He offers.

“it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

Benefit 4. Through trials we learn to seek first the Kingdom of God.  Despite the good sense that we shouldn’t wait for trouble to turn to God, we still do. As God is merciful,  He  hears us in our time of need. What we hope is that the ear that so eagerly inclines to the Lord during a trial will permanently stay attuned to Him and follow His will. Out of trouble comes stronger communciation with God, and with that, faith. Our struggle with trials has a glorious end.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Benefit 5. Arising out of troubles, we are enabled and moved  to help others. How many great charities and causes have been started out of one person’s or one family’s specific trouble? We can take our pain and experience  of a trial and strive to help others avoid the same condition or better cope with it when it does strike them, whether that be disease, addictions or social ills. As Jesus said to Simon Peter:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-31)

Benefit 6.  Through trials, we become stronger spiritual warriors.  Every trial we endure, we emerge stronger. Stronger because we are more attuned to the human conditon, more sympathetic to our fellow man, and more reliant on God and more obedient to His will. It’s the only logical result. It is simply not in our power to avoid or successfully manage the trials and tribulations of life on our own . We need God to be our guide, our comfort, and our hope for the future.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:11-12)

 

Benefit 7. We come to appreciate the blessings the Lord bestows on us. When we see tsuris descend on those around us, or even on ourselves, we can stop and offer thanks for the good things God bestows to His children: life, hope, and then promise of eternal life, plus all the worldly blessings we take for granted: our homes, our food, our livelihood, our church, our freedom from persecution, from war and terror, and more.

 
“A faithful man will abound with blessings.” (Proverbs 28:20)

Benefit 8. Through tsuris we become more obedient. As we reflect on life’s valleys, we come to realize that many of them are brought about by our disobedience, by our choosing to not follow God’s laws. Chastening may lead us to the realization that God’s law is for our own well-being. In obedience we will be more secure, keep many of the dangers of the world at arm’s length, and grow in God’ s love.

“Although a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”  (Romans 5:8)

 

Benefit 9. Through trials we learn patience. God works out our life plan according to His schedule, not ours. And His schedule includes the microscopic items in our lives, and the eschatological unfolding of the universe.  We may wait impatiently for resolutions we can only guess at, but the Lord already knows, so what’s the worry or the hurry?

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:25)

As the trials of this life rage against us, we must be strong, not in our own abilities to endure, or to overcome, but in our faith in our Lord, and our hope in His promises. Our trials can serve to refine us and make us stronger in Christ.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;    your rod and your staff,   they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4)

Next time you find yourself in a valley, be at peace. You are not alone and not without hope.

Published in: on September 1, 2009 at 3:50 pm  Comments (3)