Musings on Personally Perceived Strangeness of this Christmas Season

Many things are on my heart and mind and it is all in general very connected. We are at the time designated to celebrate God’s birth, His incarnation. The focus is on family and sharing love through gifts and fellowship. For me this time, this season is strange. Currently am moving in and out of feeling my own pain and connecting with the pain of those around me. Currently my brother and his family is in town. It is uplifting to spend time with them, knowing that they have come through a tough time with the death of my sister-in-laws mother from breast cancer and their issues with dealing with her father. They also are caring for their son, Anant, who embodies a joyful creativity even at four going on five years old. All this is rather normal. Here are the things that have gone to make this season strange.

If you are a follower of this blog you know that the central portion of the strangeness is the health of Janie Blake. When Cancer returned a few years ago, she reported having a word from God, “you shall live and not die.” Then she went on to engage the battle and appeared clear of cancer cells, only to have them reform to the point where her very life is in jeopardy. It was a shock hearing the news back in mid-October and even more shocking the rapid degradation of her health. Today is first I have seen her since stopping by to help the clean in preparation for her brother’s visit. The sight was heart breaking. For I really appreciate how God has used Janie in my life and the life of those I love. Yet, what God’s sees is even beyond what I see. He knows His will and His plan. He is always faithful to what He promises our job is to surrender no matter how things look. It means letting go of our will for His. He can heal. He can restore. He is the one that makes all things new. We submit to Him alone. I really want Janie around, but that is up to God alone. There is life here and greater life in His presence.

Janie’s health is not the only aspect of the strangeness of this year. There is my mother’s ongoing vision loss and going through a process of learning. She deals each day with great pain and loss while focusing on learning how to function without depending on vision. My mother has endured and survived through a lot of suffering in her lifetime. Now she faces this challenge. Yet, I know God is using this to strengthen her and use her in the lives of others. He has given her special moments one of which will eventually share on this blog, as it likely connects to all that has been going on. Now, my mom’s vision loss is nothing new. It has been ongoing. But it is one more dynamic to the strangeness of this year.

Now not all that is going on is dealing with health and illness. For my wife has been going through and interview process for a potential promotion to service manager. My wife really does posses natural talents that would make her a great manager. Her prayer has been for those interviewing her to see what God wants them to see in her. Her heart she simply wants whomever they promote to be someone that will build and strengthen the team. We know it is in God’s hands and the promotion would be a great blessing to us. As I am writing this, in my mind the elevation of Daniel standing out over all others in Babylon would fit, if that is God’s will for Liz. We simply await the answer, hoping one thing but surrendering to whatever the outcome.

In my own life, still am working through matters of reluctance and holding self back. Yet, my workload is increasing and there are things on the horizon, yet many obstacles still stand with my-self being one of the obstacles. There is the ongoing question as get busier whether I can take on more or how can I find ways to improve all together. There are lessons learned as always in this process. The key principle to all here is coming back to surrender. There is much we cannot see in terms of what is ahead. Some like my mother have to learn to operate without sight. My stepmother appears quickly headed to death. My brother and his family already faced loss, may face more, are loving and building up their adopted child who is God has made as one who is joyfully creative in the midst.

So it is a strange season, this year. There is hope of seeing God give blessings and doing amazing things. There is the need to move beyond the visible. Ultimately, it is surrender to God regardless of the outcomes, walking not by our sight, but depending on Him alone. For He alone is the Rock. He alone is our safety. By Him alone to we stay or go. By Him alone do we rise or fall. He is the one who gives life or takes it. Yes, our choices and actions play a role we can walk His path and walk his way or go our own. One leads to life, one to death. God allows us our choices and then simply calls for surrender and walk the way He leads even if it seems impossible. There will be barriers from inside and outside. We want to make everything about us, but it is always about God and His glory and purpose which ultimately is to show and reflect His love in pain, in sorrow, in struggle, in fear, in reluctance, in anger, in pain, in joy, in blessing, in hope and so on which is all in His life in us.

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Helpful articles: Who is the greatest prophet?

One of the ways I am going to improve the site in this new year i by rather then either posting the articles on the forum or simply linking helpful and challenging articles I am going to post them on the blog, at least until I have a more productive web portal going.  Today I received two thought provoking articles via the Revival school email  list.  Hopefully site readers will be challenged and blessed by the article. 

So the first article is titled Who is the  greatest prophet and was written by an S. Hill. The original source of the material is found here: http://www.harvest-now.org/harvest-news/n/archive/2009/april/16/article/the-greatest-prophet/

WHO IS the GREATEST PROPHET?
-by S. Hill.

Would that be Ezekiel due to the intensity of his visions? Would
that be Isaiah due to the accuracy of his revelation of Jesus?
Would that be Daniel due to his wisdom and ability to interpret
dreams that kept him at the power centers of two world empires?
Would that be Enoch who had such a powerful encounter with
God that he literally was not here anymore?

According to Jesus the greatest prophet was John the Baptist who
came preaching “repentance for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”.
So far as we know John never had a vision, dream or angelic
encounter. Yet Jesus called him the greatest prophet!

How many prophets do you know who are preaching repentance?

It is difficult for them to preach repentance from the practice of
casual divorce and remarriage since such would close “ministry
doors” to them and offend folks who pay for their conferences and
buy their books.  But Jesus did so in Matthew 19:9!

It is difficult for them to preach repentance from selling the gospel
and making merchandise of the people of God since most have
embraced the same values.  But in Matthew 10:8 Jesus
commanded us to freely give as we have freely received. In
II Corinthians 11:5- 21 Paul said that the  difference between the
true and the false was not in message, anointing or gifting but in
how they related to the people and money!

It is difficult to for them to preach repentance from self
promotion,  the love of position and title since most have
embraced celebrity status but Jesus did so in Matthew 23:1- 12.

It is difficult for them to preach repentance from seeking special
experiences and angelic encounters since those experiences are
their tickets to “prophetic” status in a world that values
experiences above obedience.  But Paul did so in Colossians
2:18- 19.

You cannot preach repentance from inside the camp!  You support
the camp.  You can only preach repentance from outside.  The
court prophets support the court.  The prophets from the wilderness
are free to preach repentance.  That is why Hebrew 13:13 calls us
to follow Jesus outside the camp.

Jesus said that “the pure in heart shall see God”.
The result of true repentance should be a pure heart to see God.

Once you see God the claims for revelation from the prophets will
literally be seen in a different light.  Once you see God all dreams,
visions and words will take their proper place.  That some talk
about third heaven experiences as casually as a trip to Pizza Hut
and claim to be able to teach others how to have them, shows that
they have never been farther than their own imaginations.

Maybe the fascination of the general church world with the
supernatural experiences, dreams, revelations  is simply because
few of them have ever seen God?  Maybe we put prophets in a
wrong place because we do not have God in the right place?

Maybe we would be less fascinated with “supernatural experiences”
if we understood the vision of God that Jesus presented to us?
Yes, He came to show us the Father but He also said that if we
served the least, we served Him.

He placed the face of God on every suffering child.

The pure in heart will see God and when they do the whole
religious game of status, money, recognition, book sales and
numbers will fade away.  They will see God and they will see
His face as the face of human need and they will serve.

Jesus is the greatest Prophet!
Hear Him!

Christianity and Politics

 

Well the elections season is moving into full swing.  We have the candidates for president of United States lined up on both sides.  The usual political process will ensue and someone will be elected.  Folks will vote for the candidates who to them seem to fit their views best.  This year more than ever candidate’s religious views seem to be at the forefront. You have candidates professing to believe in Jesus as Messiah but coming from all different perspectives.  Is the espousing the belief in Jesus as Messiah truth, or a way to try and garner votes.  The balance of truth is somehow in the middle.  However, it does point to the fact that in the United States, those professing to be Christian do make of a good portion of the electorate.

      In viewing the political scene, it has been easy to develop a cynical view of how things operate in this country.  When one really analyzes both political parties, truth and error can be found in both.  Sometimes it seems like where the parties ultimately compromise is some position at the expense of the truth.  On the side of the Democratic Party, the truth they hold to is the looking out for the poor and disadvantaged. They hold to the importance of reaching out to those who cannot do so on their own.  One of the negatives of the party is that they emphasize individual choice and press toward accommodation and tolerance in the name of treating everyone fairly.  In terms of the Republican Party, there is a solid stand for building strong social morality.  The negative side is there is an emphasis on looking out for self over others.  Now, granted those characterizations are generalizations and the actual dynamics are far more complicated. It does break down to both sides standing for things that are true and that should be things a Christian values.  On the negative, they both present ways that self is elevated over others. No political party stands for the whole truth.

                So given this mix, what are Christian’s called to do regarding politics and the running of a country?  Christians are called to be salt and light to a culture.  However, as salt and light not just to be pointing out morality issues but ultimately be pointing the way to Jesus.  We are to stand for truth with the truth being found in Jesus.  We are to have the mindset of Colossians 3:1-2: Since then you have been raised with Christ set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  This is what God desires as well as Romans 13:1:  Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  We are consistently directed to submit to authority, however not at the expense of preaching the gospel.

                Now, that is not to say the Christians should not enter the political realm or be concerned with our government.  We are called to be salt and light, but we need to always be submitting to the King of Kings.  The Bible does show of people God put in positions of authority and called them to a specific task.  People like David, Daniel, Joseph, and Esther for example.  The Bible however, is also full of examples of people in power that become corrupted (Saul, Solomon) or are corrupt (Jeroboam, Ahab, Jezebel) but they always meet their judgment.  In this political process we don’t really know the true hearts of the men and women seeking office. Outward appearances can be deceiving, but regardless we can rest in knowing that those in authority are those God allows, to ultimately serve His purposes.

                However, the church in the United States of America currently seems obsessed with politics.  Part of the response to the cultural shifts in the sixties and seventies and essentially starting with the Ronald Reagan presidency was the formation of the “Christian Right” and a focus on Christians being involved with politics.   There are members and elements of the church that became obsessed with social morals and changing the society by passing what would be considered morally right laws. 

                This mindset came from the shifts that happened in the United States. Many Christians see the secularization of schools, the legalization of abortion and other societal ills as being a sign of the failure of the church to be salt and light.  Many out there even profess upcoming judgment on United States of America do to the lack of changing of moral laws.  The perspective is lost that change in laws will not change the hearts of people. We live in a day an age, that regardless of party, the focus on elevating the individual is emphasized.   The church in America has lost sight of the fact that true change comes not from political change through the establishment of law, but by changing hearts and minds of men and drawing others unto the Gospel.  We are always going to be looking after  our own interests.

                The most dangerous thing about politics is that it is about the acquisition of power.  As John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902), once said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” It is possible for people to start out with honorable intents and falter, much like Saul.  Even David, a man after God’s own heart, abused his power, committing murder.   Power is alluring.   Jesus was tempted with all power of all the kingdoms of the world, to turn his back on God’s plan.  So the problem with Christians entering into the political scene is the enticement of power to even do what would be considered “right” things, yet doing so as building own kingdom and not kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not political change or change in the laws of man.  The kingdom of God is people living in surrender to Jesus.

                In terms of how we view this political process, the expectations, the fears, and the hopes in regards to the candidates for office we need to surrender our will the Jesus.  God is in control. There may be no righteous candidate; all may head things in the direction of evil. If this is so, God is still in control.  Now there are many other aspects one can explore and there will be other articles examining elements of Christianity and politics.  In essence we need to submit to God and keep our thoughts not on this life, but on things of God.  We need to ask ourselves what do we care most about, political change or the true change of hearts and minds that comes through the Gospel.