Are you discouraged by the times?

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Many Christians grow more alarmed, daily. Violence at home and abroad, coupled with upside-down moral values in government and society, create fear and anxiety. I am not immune. But God’s Word gives me hope. We are most definitely NOT the first body of believers to have been marginalized or persecuted.  Nevertheless, I think some of us ‘moderns’ FEEL caught by surprise by the times.

For months, I have tried to imagine the conversations among the faithful German remnant of believing Christians who must have prayed unceasingly during the Hitler years. How did they fight the darkness of monstrous and barbaric Nazi rule? What were their heart to hearts with God like?

  • “God – what is up with this on-going nightmare? How long, O Lord, must we endure this evil Führer and his henchmen? Why are you allowing Hitler to live? Why have you not permitted the assassination attempts to succeed?  Can’t you see that we’d be better off without him?  Do you realize what has happened to your church here in Germany?”

And what is God’s word throughout every generation, to peoples swept up in the plots of vile men?

  • Psalm 37:1 Fret not because of those who are evil…
  • Psalm 49: 5 – Why should I fear when evil comes, when enemies surround me? And verse 15 – But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.

Clearly, for German Christians to keep happy in God, they had to preach truth to themselves. Truth about what God promised to do and be for His children.

But theirs was not the only horrific era. Jewish believers during the rule of King Manasseh (he lived from 709 to 642 BC) had 55 years to hang on to God’s promises by faith. This descendent of David was the most evil and long-lasting King of Judah. How did those faithful, God-following men, women and children cope? What did they talk about when news from the royal court included reports of the King sacrificing his own sons to false gods? And when prophets like Isaiah emboldened by God to preach Truth were murdered, how must they have feared and cried out to God!

I am learning to think biblically and that keeps the despair away. Nowhere in the Bible does God guarantee his children physical safety or a type of heaven on earth. ‘Au contraire!’ – what he does promise is that those who put their whole trust in him will have their souls saved. Maybe our bodies will be sawn in half or burned in a fiery furnace like what was intended for Meschach, Shadrach and Abednego. But for eternity, we will be with God in physically resurrected bodies. Jesus said so. And he came back and showed his followers proof – himself.

Even Job knew this and declared as reported in Job 13:15 – Even though he kills me, I’ll continue to hope in him. At least I’ll be able to argue my case to his face!

So, physical deliverance is not something I can count on, but that does not mean I should not petition God, asking him to be a refuge, to bring me out to an open space, to rescue me. Furthermore, I together with all of you, my brothers and sisters in the Lord, need to PRAY for our church to grow more holy.

I used to think that if the Church were purified, then we as a body might have a salvific effect on society.  But I’m beginning to see otherwise.

Pastor John Piper mentioned in a sermon, posted on his website that, “we must be very careful not to assume that the degeneration of culture at the end of the age is owing to the failure of the church to be holy. There is no promise in the Bible that the holiness of the church will guarantee the transformation of culture.

That startled me!

So why be holy?  Why work to purify the church?  I think it’s so that we, the faithful, may see Christ more clearly.

That’s it?

Seeing Christ more clearly sounds so….lame!

Not so.  We are not to despise the little things.  Seeing Jesus as he is, now that is the very source of our happiness and our strength.

If we don’t keep our eyes on God, His promises, His past actions and the unchanging character of the Holy and Happy Triune God, we will look at circumstances, society, ourselves and be depressed.  And impotent.

May we follow the example and join the ranks of our believing Fathers and Mothers, hanging on to God by faith and with tenacity, good cheer and solid hope through however many dark days He has ordained is best.

When a fellow Christian hurts you


“She’s gonna pay!”

Have you ever been THAT kind of mad at a sister/brother in Christ?  I have!

You could have caught me ‘speechless’ the other night, after reading John Piper’s daily reflection on my iphone app called “Piper Devotional” (excerpted from his book Future Grace).

What stopped me in my tracks and made me reconsider the times when I’ve been mad at others was reading Piper’s thoughts on Romans 8:1

There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

What that means is that when someone else in the Church hurts me and they rightly deserve to pay for that offense, the payment has already been made – in the past – on the cross by none other than Jesus.   It HAS to be that way for them NOT to be condemned by God.  The other alternative would be for God to say, “Susie has hurt you?  Just forgive her – ‘cause she’s your sister-in- Christ.  Period!”

That, actually, would NOT be fair!  And God is the God of justice, or else he is NOT God!  Someone WILL pay or HAS paid or DOES pay.  One of the privileges of being in the King of the Universe’s family is having Big Brother Jesus cover our deliberate AND inadvertent mean or thoughtless words/ actions toward one another.  How?- in his flesh, on the cross.

When I want to make Christian sister Susie pay, I’m actually saying that I want Jesus to suffer STILL MORE for the harm done me.

Reading Piper’s piece, I actually pictured Jesus softly saying, “That’s okay, Maria, I can take it.  If that brother-in-Christ needs to pay for what he did to you, then I’ll pay for him.  Lay his iniquity on me.  I’m here to suffer the rightful punishment for what he did to you!”

In my scenario, I found myself saying almost with tears:

‘No, Lord, I don’t want You to suffer any more; I will let my brother go, I won’t hold IT against him anymore.”

Talk about injustice!  If my twisted desire, to see him or her PAY, means Jesus has to suffer more, then I don’t want that, especially not just to make me feel better.

Now THAT’s a sure, quick way to drain off self-righteous anger!

So what am I saying?  That they should get off, just because they are Christian?

–      Well, you and I have ‘gotten off’, haven’t we?

–      Are we aware of all the ways we have hurt someone else, another family member of God?

–      And what about all the many ways we have ignored God or rebelled against Him?

Jesus HAS paid it all.  And it did cost Him.

I HOPE that the next time I start to feed some righteous indignation due to wounds from a fellow member of the household of Christ that I can PICTURE Jesus asking me, “How much do you want them to squirm…however much you think they deserve, I’m ready, in their place. Your call, Maria!”    

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