Granting us the Desires of our Hearts

Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that give me trouble, but the parts I do understand.” That’s been true for me as well. One verse like this is Psalm 37, verse 4.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. “

Everything comes from God; even our desires. This is why in Heaven there is no need for laws, or tears, or any fleshly institution. God is patiently ridding us of our own desires, pride, rebelliousness, and replacing them with Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Self Control. His desires, if you will.

At first reading, one can be forgiven for interpreting this verse to mean God will give you anything you desire as long as you delight yourself in Him. I can call this interpretation number one. We realize Interpretation number one isn’t true the first day we put it to the test. We don’t get a new Ferrari, or receive healing from cancer, or get married to (insert name here!) .

So if God granting us the desires of our heart is not unlimited, then what is the Psalmist telling us? We hear preachers and teachers telling us that if we delight in the Lord, the desires we have that line up with the His will are the desires He grants. I will call this interpretation number two. So praying for a new car, or relationship, or even healing may or may not be requests according to God’s will. It is here that God will give us a greater sensitivity as to what His will is, and we will deepen the quality of our requests, say, for salvation for a family member, or protection and wisdom for our leaders. This is the explanation I have stood on for most of my Christian life. One thing I knew for certain was that if it was God’s will, He would hear me, and I would receive my request (desire). John 4:17 even tells us this. So I would seek God’s will on a situation or person, and pray for that. On the one hand, this somewhat limited my prayers. I would eliminate anything in my perspective that wasn’t in God’s will. I tended not to pray for anything for myself as it seemed to be from the flesh, not the Spirit. On the other hand, I eliminated most of my superfluous prayers.

For the last few months, even this interpretation has made me uneasy. Look at Psalm 37:4 again. “Delighting in the Lord” is a condition of us receiving the desires of the heart. What if I am not “delighting” in the Lord? What exactly is “delighting”? Websters defines it as “extreme satisfaction”. Although I knew that I needed to align myself with God’s will, that didn’t seem to be the same as delighting in Him. The second interpretation, while true, was incomplete. There was something more here. Can I really say like the Psalmist in Psalm 42,

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.”

Really? All the time? How do we do that with a bad health diagnosis, a fight with a friend or family member, a lawsuit, in traffic?

I do not hear God audibly. He doesn’t give me winning lottery numbers, or tell me exactly when His Son is coming back. But I do know that he directs my paths, and sometimes in a real way. Some time this summer He began telling me my requests to Him in prayer were too modest, too small. He told me I was praying to too small of a God. I realized He wanted me to pray for more impossible things. So I started thinking of things that seemed impossible and that definitely would be in God’s will. I began to pray for 3 distinct requests. Things that could not happen. So far, one prayer has been answered, and one looks well on its way. As a result, I could see God working in the same way that He worked parting the Red Sea, or stopping the Sun in battle, or igniting the fire on Mt Carmel. THAT is Delighting in the Lord.

Delighting in the Lord is not something we feel or do. It is our response to what God does. By the same token, “granting us the desires of our heart” is much deeper than what we usually think. God doesn’t grant OUR specific desires, He gives us HIS desires. They aren’t initially our desires at all. As we walk through our Christian life, He conforms us to His image He gradually, or suddenly removes our fleshly desires, and imparts His Godly desires into us.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. “

So what is our role in this transaction of changing OUR desires to HIS? If He gives us Delight, and gives our requests, what part do we play? First of all, we get to witness God in all His Glory and Power. Secondly, we submit to what God is replacing in our lives, knowing that in the end, God will have replaced all our fleshly desires with His Perfect Will, and we will, in every way, be one with Him This process will happen inevitably, (Philippians 1:6) but I would like to experience it sooner rather than later. Thus I pant for God as a deer pants for water. Come and join me!

Joel, Jeff, Jonathan, and Jesus

I have walked with Jesus since around 1978. During my journey, I have grown, (and fell down) in many ways. God has put many of his servants in my path, and at the age of 60, I tend to reflect on these people more and more.

The most recent example of God growing me is what has happened to me, along with my wife Patty, in the mission field.

Four years ago, I had a definite opinion of Muslim immigrants. I always wanted revenge for 9/11. I was “for” us doing something, anything, to lash back at the most deadly terrorist attack our country had ever known. I also read Mark Bowden’s “Blackhawk Down”, and was familiar with the movie “Captain Phillips”. Both of these stories involved the chaos in Somalia. In addition, we live near the largest mosque in Colorado and I interact with Muslims daily in my line of work.

I see what uncontrolled immigration is doing to Europe as a result of the Syrian Civil War. I see that our politicians want to have the same open door policies that will result in a vastly different America that I grew up in. In short, 4 years ago I was not only anti-immigration, but anti-Islamic as well.

Around 2010, I started listening to Joel Richardson on YouTube, and read his book “Islamic Antichrist”. Through his videos during his travels to Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and pretty well everywhere else in the Middle East, Joel talked about the suffering these people were experiencing. Joe’s view was that the refugee crisis was an opportunity to win souls for Christ. He recounted stories, interviewed missionaries, and asked hard questions that started me on a path to question my heart towards the Muslim world. He pointedly avoided the political issues and focused on the human aspect of what was going on.

I had a friend at church who had returned from working in Iraq for 12 years. Jonathan is a Christian. He also has a son who converted to Islam. As a result, Jonathan studied the Koran to rescue his son from Islam. He also had frequent dialogues with Muslims about God. From Jonathan, I grew to understand how Muslims want to talk about God, and welcome dialog. Jonathan taught me a few Arabic phrases to greet Muslims, and I used them to garner smiles and nods from men and women who I normally wouldn’t talk to. My heart started to melt toward the people I used to resent. But God still wasn’t done.

I met Jeff at another church. He is 70. Seven years ago he started fixing kid’s bikes in a refugee apartment complex. This apartment complex had refugees and immigrants from all over Africa, South Asia, and the South Pacific. Jeff always says that God told him to love his neighbor, leading him to ask: “Who is my neighbor?” (Hint, Jesus answered this question with the parable of the Good Samaritan, which leads to an upside down answer.) In this apartment complex, Jeff still fixes bikes; but there now is a weekly Bible Study there. Christians have joined Jeff weekly to help refugees in whatever they need; cleaning apartments, moving furniture, fixing vacuums, and always playing/crafts/reading with the children. An international mission group have joined the regular team several times a year. They have initiated a Vacation Bible School two years running now, at the apartments. There are now quite a few Christian families, and at least one conversion to Christ.

About 2 years ago, I visited a new apartment complex where Jeff was breaking ground. He called it “hard ground” when I started. It was. There was fear and suspicion among the tenants. It was nothing like the original community. It is mostly Muslim. They don’t mix easily with “non-faithful” such as Christians and Pagans and vice versa. However, from the start I was sucked into a spiritual vortex of serving, and falling in love with these people. We are serving “our neighbor” as we do in the other site; fixing bicycles, moving furniture, hanging curtains, fixing appliances, pushing kids on swings, helping them on “monkey bars”, jump rope, helping them read, doing crafts, coloring, etc. After 3 months, my wife got roped in as well. She and another Christian are teaching English as a second language to Somali Muslim women. (It is a unique cultural situation—sometimes 4, sometimes 15 come to the class!) The Muslim women serve the English teachers African tea with lots of milk. The Americans bring cookies or cake. They sit on the floor and visit and have bonded together as women everywhere do. We all pray for openings to share the Love we know with our neighbors.

Together, my wife and I go to the apartments every Friday, and after 2 to 3 hours we come home giggling with stories, praising God, and thanking Him for the Joy we receive in loving these “neighbors”. (One of the advantages of serving mostly Muslims is most of the names for the boys is Muhammad, so we don’t have to learn as many names!) The children are hungry to be loved; and after a couple of years, the mothers stay nearby but trust us more each day. The men even come by and chat when they are off work (which isn’t often; they work hard).

In the last couple of months, we have had dialogues with adults and kids about Jesus and Muhammad. The door has opened ever so slightly. At the end of every Friday, our team prays in the middle of the court, surrounded by the apartments. Every once in a while a child will join our circle as we talk to God. One or two women usually hover around us discreetly while we pray. Some have asked us what we are doing, and what we are talking to God about.

None of us know what is going to happen here. There is a danger as there is in most mission fields. My prayer is that the apartment complex will be flooded with the Holy Spirit, and that we will witness a mass revival from these image bearers of God. I also ask that I will be present to see it happen. Maybe even Joel Richardson could stop by if he is in town and give us some pointers! Stay tuned!

Heaven’s Grocery Store

I was walking down life’s highway a long time ago.
One day I saw a sign that read, “Heaven’s Grocery Store”.
As I got a little closer, the door came open wide,
And when I came to myself, I was standing there inside.

I saw a host of angels, they were standing everywhere.
One handed me a basket, and said, “My child, shop with care.”
Everything a Christian needed was in that grocery store.
And all you couldn’t carry, you could come back for more.

First, I got some patience, love was in the same row.
Further down was understanding, you need that wherever you go.
I got a box or two of wisdom. And a bag or two of faith,
I just couldn’t miss the Holy Ghost, for He was all over the place.

I stopped to get some strength and courage, to help me run the race,
By then my basket was full, but I remembered I needed some grace.
I didn’t forget salvation. For salvation, that was free,
So I tried to get enough of that to save both you and me.
Then I started up to the counter to pay my grocery bill,
For I thought I had everything to do my Master’s will.

As I went up the aisle, I saw prayer and I just had to put that in,
For I new when I stepped outside, I would run right into sin.
Peace and joy were all plentiful, they were on the last shelf,
Song and praises were hanging near, so I just helped myself.

Then I said to the angel, “Now how much do I owe?”
He just smiled and said, “Just take them wherever you go.”
Again, I smiled at him and said, “How much do I owe?”
He smiled again and said, “My child, Jesus paid your bill a long time ago,”

The author wishes to remain anonymous

Living in a Post Modern, Post Constitutional America

There is a prevailing meme that exists in conservative circles today. You can hear it on talk radio, Fox news, and blogs on the internet. The subject comes up in conversations as well. The meme basically asserts that this election is dire. That if Donald Trump doesn’t win the presidency, Hillary Clinton will appoint up to 5 Supreme Court Justices, and, among other actions she will take, this will result in us “losing our country”. Although I agree that a Hillary Clinton presidency would do harm to our constitutional republic, we are already past the point of no return. A Trump presidency might look different, but in the end, either way we will end up looking like a much different nation than we were say, 15 years ago.

When did our country reach the point in which there was no turning back? Historians can see several points in time where the argument could be made that we lost the idea, as De Tocqueville put it, “America is great because America is good.” Maybe you have a different concept when we, as a country, drove off the proverbial cliff. Here are mine.

  1. The takeover allowed colleges and seminary’s by liberal thinking. Mainly during the early 20th century, these institutions surrendered an orthodox Christian worldview to professors and administrators with a humanistic, and postmodern one. Doctrines such as the Trinity, Biblical inerrancy, Salvation by Grace Alone, the Deity of Christ, disappeared one by one. They were replaced with Higher Criticism (Biblical Errancy) and Relativism.
  2. These transformed schools, in turn, produced clergy and staff for the mainline Christian denominations. By the end of the 20th century, these denominations, (with a couple of exceptions) changed to the point where they are unrecognizable to what they were when they were founded. The graduates of the schools slowly but steadily eroded what the Church stood for. And the supposed “watchmen on the walls” let them do it.
  3. As a result of this upheaval, when prayer was taken out of our public schools in 1962, the tactical spiritual warfare involving kids shifted in favor of darker powers. The complexion of these k-12 schools changed drastically. And the church did very little. Instead of learning reading writing and arithmetic, new generations learned cultural relativism and “everyone gets an award”. Kids were and are taught conformity instead of critical thinking. Parents, for the most part, are quietly acquiescing.
  4. In 1973, Roe Vs Wade was passed, and close to 60 million babies have been sacrificed to the alter of convenience and personal freedom for the mother. The results of this law has led to many consequences, none of which have been beneficial to anyone except the abortionists.
  5. In 2008 we elected a president unlike any other in our history. Brought up and indoctrinated by Communists, raised with a hatred for American Traditions, and disdain for our allies. It was obvious for anyone to see what he meant when he said he wanted to “transform America”. He has been wildly successful. As I write this, our health care system is about to collapse, with all but a few exchanges closed down, and little choice for Americans as to their health care. Our military has been severely weakened by allowing radical command and personnel changes. We are in endless conflicts killing thousands of civilians all over the globe. Our national debt has tripled to over 17 trillion dollars. There are 94 million out of work adults in a country of roughly 300 million. Our congress and courts are allowing free reign to the rich and powerful to commit crimes with impunity. Anyone just voicing disagreement with the status quo finds their tax returns audited and their businesses harassed. The racial divide that has always existed in our country is stronger and more unsolvable than at any time in history. The church is still weakly voicing concern.

No my friends, we won’t lose our country due to this election. We have already lost it. The Constitution no longer exists. There are no Bill of Rights. The postmodernists that so well destroyed our churches and schools have completed the takeover of our courts. The people in charge of our institutions to guard against this takeover have been co-opted. We ourselves have succumbed to modern culture where the politician who promises us the most in worldly pleasure wins the most elections. The only question we have to ask ourselves is, when does our car that ran over the cliff crash into the ground?

3 women I have known

As I am in the habit of doing this, I have temporarily removed the log in my eye to observe the specks in others. My judgment mode has been temporarily disengaged.

Consider Sue, Mary, and Liz. It goes without saying the these are not their real names. All three have been close friends with each other for a decade.

First is Sue. Divorced. 3 daughters. Owns her own business. She is vivacious, (I don’t know exactly what that word means but I rarely get the opportunity to use it.) diligent, funny, and very smart. She is enjoyable to be around, and is easy to talk to. She is a wonderful hostess, and is sensitive to others. As to her spiritual life, she says she is a “Christian”. Presently, her concerns are her children and grand children, and her relationship with the new man in her life. Sue doesn’t want to get married, and just wants a partner to travel with and date. The man in her life wants the “whole hog” relationship of getting married and living life as one.

Next is Mary. Single all her life. Works in IT. Maybe the most intelligent of the three. Loves tradition, and celebrates with enthusiasm holidays and birthdays. Is gentle, generous, and comes through in a crisis. She was active in ballroom dancing a few years back, and her enjoyment of it was obvious. Her only family is a sister who lives in Michigan. Mary identifies herself as a Roman Catholic. Due to health issues, they can only contact each other by phone, letter, or email. Her dog is probably the closest to her. She has invested much money in keeping him healthy. At present she is not dating. Also, she he has a debilitating eye condition that impairs her driving.  Because of her introverted nature, she rarely has personal contact with friends or acquaintances.

Last is Liz. Liz is another divorced mother of 3 children. Devoted to them. Liz has sacrificed her time, wealth, and talents to see that they have been set up in life to succeed. She is very loyal, and has worked hard her whole life. If you ask her, Liz will tell you she is a christian. She has dated men since her divorce, but none of the relationships has gotten too serious. She laughs easily, and her laughter is contagious. Lately, her children have reached the point where they are becoming less dependent on her, and have all moved out. For the first time, Liz is alone. Some financial person has recently told her she doesn’t have enough money to survive retirement, and this has terrified her. She is presently in a radical downsizing period of her life.

Each of these women have locked themselves into a lifestyle choice that has, one way or another, restricted them from self growth, harmed their relationships, and caused them fear of the future. The interesting thing with them is they themselves have the log and speck way of looking at life.

Each woman can clearly identify what the other two’s issues are. They can see the damage the other two are allowing in their lives, as well as what the others can do to improve their situations. (The speck)   None of them either recognizes the reality of their own predicaments, much less would take the steps needed to change them. (The log)     As a result, Sue’s relationship with the present man is froth with arguments, breakups, and reconciliations. Mary is lonely, doesn’t socialize, and fears unemployment, isolation, and any change in her life whatsoever.     Liz intensely fears growing old with no money, and is making irrational decisions based on what someone who sells retirement plans told her.

We all deal with the same situations. It is natural to see the problems and solutions easier in other lives better than we can see in ourselves. Jesus told us this would happen. Fortunately there is a remedy to what all of us go through.

First, we can find and cultivate healthy relationships. Spouses, family, and close friends, are more than ready to point these things out to us (they have specks and logs as well,)

Second, we can utilize professional resources like counselors and pastors. Its amazing what professional training in the hands of a competent practitioner can see and do.  Additionally, I have found that books, particularly the Bible, can reveal harmful trends in my life and actions to avoid them.

The final key to being able to utilize what others see in your life is humility. You don’t have all the answers. Listening objectively, although tedious and painful, is the most effective way of overcoming your log.

Try it. When you are in a massive struggle in your life, look around and find the person that can give you an honest and correct appraisal. Listen. And be mindful no matter how ridiculous it sounds,

Minnesota and Dallas

So Philando Castile is gunned down in his car in Minnesota, another in a well publicized series of African-Americans vs Police confrontations. The evidence is not all out, but it appears that this was a case of an innocent citizen being killed in an unjustified manner.  Last night in Dallas, during a protest of that killing, the numbers I saw were 10 police were shot, and 5 are dead. These are the most police deaths I can remember in my lifetime. More protests and killings are promised.
The time for action is NOW! Before the fear and anger start a conflagration we haven’t seen since the 60’s, and it may get worse than that.
There are a lot of “solutions” that can be considered. Increased police presence, speeches, more protests are the normal reactions.  Retribution will occur. Escalation will ensue. This course of events will be ineffective to calm the situation. The scars on both sides run too deep. There are real and perceived outrages to all.
What I KNOW we must do is turn to God. And not just any God. I KNOW that this is not going to be a war primarily between races or classes.  It will be and has always been a war between our Just and Loving Creator, and Lucifer, aka Satan. Satan is using his minions, both demonic and human, to stir up division, hatred, and fear. Against these weapons there is NO human defense. God has revealed this age old conflict to us throught History, and in His Holy Bible. He also said things would get worse exactly in the manner that we are reading about and watching on TV and the internet. “…And then the End shall come.”
All of us, beginning with the church, need to voice this, and that only God through the Holy Spirit, can stop this. We must use the weapons of prayer, forgiveness, and sacrificial love for all of our brothers and sisters, regardless of race or other superficial differences.  Nothing can stand against the weapons God has given us.  We need to unite as mankind, against the real enemy, that being the forces of the devil.  The redeemed, those of us accepting Christ’s forgiveness on the cross, need to vocally point to Jesus Christ as the only way out. Besides being vocal about pointing to God as our answer, we must all turn our faces to Him, and pray. God will ultimately defeat the forces of evil. He is giving us, the human race, the historical  opportunity once again, to pick the right side, not between Black and White, but between God and Satan. Lets don’t disappoint Him this time!
God have Mercy on us all.

A Hypothetical Question

From time to time We have all asked ourselves, “Why are things the way they are?” Its a natural tendency among us to question, and then gripe, about circumstances.  We all see unfairness, mainly in our own lives, occasionally in others as well, and wonder.

Maybe you think you could do better. Maybe if you had the chance, you could improve the “fairness” of your existence.  So what kind of universe would you create if you had the choice?  If you could make any universe, (assuming you wanted one) what would it look and act like?

Would the universe be finite or infinite?  Would it be simple or complex?  Would you include time, and would it be the same or different than our time?  Would you give the universe colors, and how would they compare to our universe? Would you have the concept of “beauty”?  How about stars and planets?  Galaxies?  Would you create gravity to hold things together?  And how about the other rules the universe would follow, like electromagnetics, quantum physics, chemistry, and the relationship abstract numbers have with each other?  What would all that look like in your world.  Would you make sunrise and sunsets magnificent, or mundane?  Would your planets be somewhat round, like our present universe, or do you prefer a different shape or form?  Would they consist of water, earth, rock, gas, taffy?  Come on, be creative.  You make the rules!

Once you got the framework of the universe created, what would you make life look like.  Or do you just want a beautiful universe without it?  Would your life be carbon based like ours?  What colors would you create?  Would your life be made up of the same elements your non organic creation consisted of?  Plants and animals?   Microscopic beings as well? How about if you could design each species?  How would they look? Would form follow function or would you just follow your whims of what each form life would take. And what temperature and humidity would they thrive in? And speaking of temperature and humidity, how would you regulate them once you decided.  How would the plants and animals acquire energy, and multiply.  You would probably need to design that into their structures.

Would each species have a life span, or would they live forever?

Now you would have an environment with gardens and pets,  How about that? You have made exactly what you want and how you want it.

Now what?  Wouldn’t you like to share your creation?  Wouldn’t you like to show someone how you create; your talents and abilities?  Wouldn’t you be proud of the universe you made?  Or would you just experience it for yourself forever, with no one else around.

Here’s an idea. Why not create a living creature, like the life you have already made, except with one distinction.  Why not make a creature that is self aware? Then it could share in the beauty that you created, and give you company as well. You could even design how it could communicate with you,  Would you give it language, music, art, a technological ability?  How much of your awareness and nature would you bestow on this creature?  What would its appearance look like if you wanted to commune with? How about looking like you?  Wow. The combinations are endless!

But wait!  We are at a crucial point in your universe, In order to more thoroughly share this “creation” with this last creature, how would you construct its nature, its essence?  Would it think like you?  Could it make judgments?  How else could you get an honest reaction from it about your creation?  Do you just want a creature to automatically act like a computer program, or do want an creature more like you, with higher desires than just survival?  Maybe give it some leeway in its self awareness, its thinking… a free will perhaps. Would this creature operate with strict limitations so as to always act like the rest of creation, or would it have autonomy, and to what degree?

I have asked a small amount of questions concerning the creation of what you would consider a “fair” universe.  There would be an almost infinite amount of decisions you would have to make to have a viable creation to even lead to a concept of fairness.

Now, look around at our universe. Our creator did very good wouldn’t you say? Could you really do better?  Could you even come close?

Hope and Change

 

Where does your Hope lie?

As I have traveled through life, the conversations I have been having with friends, family, and acquaintances lately have usually led to what is most on their mind. Usually, people talk about politics, relationships, health, or finances. Most conversations involve their hurt in the cases of relationships, or their struggles in the case of finances, their frustrations in the case of politics, and the struggles to find a job. As I have gotten older, I have offered my opinions and solutions less, and listened more. It is interesting that the same patterns emerge in so diverse a group of mine that includes scientists, lawyers, the homeless, retirees, and others. No matter what is on their minds, the focus is mainly on their issue, and, for some of them, what should be done about it. What I never hear when I am just listening, is any mention of their hope.

In all of the conversations with these men and women, I usually just listen and ask questions. More and more the question I am prompted to ask is, “Where does your hope lie?” In EVERY case they pause and look dumbfounded.

After thinking about it though, the person I talk to usually has a hope. For example, some have lost a loved one in a relationship and are hoping for a new one, A lot of people I listen to are looking at this presidential election for their candidate to win. The ones that lost a job hope to get one that pays well, Two have been diagnosed with cancer and they are hoping for a cure.

All these hopes are good and normal. What startles me is none of the people I have talked to expressed this hope without me prompting them.

Try this. In the next few days, engage people that know you in conversation about their life. It shouldn’t take long if you listen to hear of their biggest struggle. See if they mention the word “hope” in relationship to it. Then ask them, “Where does your hope lie?” See the look on their face, or if you are talking to them on the phone, listen to their tone.

So what is the point of all this? There is a common thread. We all suffer some degree of lack of hope. What little hope we have is immediate relief of our issue.

Patty and I are finishing a 4 year small group study in the book of Psalms. As I have been reflecting on a unifying theme to them, I see the psalmist having a lot in common with us, experiencing the same trials like the people I talk to. The issues the psalmist includes are closeness to death, persecution, loneliness, poverty, and depression to name a few. In fact, there is a whole genre of these Psalms called “laments”. One example is Psalm 22. Look at the depths that the singer (its a song) is going through.

But as for me,
I am only a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by people.

Everyone who sees me mocks me;
they gape at me with open mouths
and shake their heads at me…”

But in the end you see his ultimate hope. That is the pattern of most of these laments.

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord;
all the families of the nations will bow in submission to the Lord.
Indeed, the kingdom belongs to the Lord;
he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous people will eat and bow down in submission.
All those who are about to go down to the grave
will bow down in submission,

along with the one who can no longer keep himself alive.
Our descendants will serve him,
and that generation will be told about the Lord.

They will come and declare his righteousness
to a people yet to be born;
indeed, he has accomplished it! “

What these Psalms have taught me these last 4 years is to have an ultimate hope in my mind, not just a short term one. A light at the end of the tunnel as it were. A hope that is sure. The Psalmist has one. It is the solid rock of the character of God. All else is sinking sand.

So what about you? Where does your hope lie? May I make a suggestion for you to look at your ultimate hope and consider mine?

 

A Biblical Perspective of Donald Trump

The Big Story in political theater these days is the rise and popularity of Donald Trump’s campaign for the Presidency in 2016. Love him or Hate him, he dominates the news cycle like I haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan.

He seems to be a lightning rod, transcending traditional political camps.  Even Evangelicals are split into 2 sides in supporting or opposing his campaign. This is strange; a man who was married 3 times, has a foul mouth, comes off as sometimes arrogant, vain, and divisive, traits that are not normally associated with the Christian right… and yet he has a large following with them.

As is my habit, I turn to the Bible, to see if there is anything I can find in there that can help sort this phenomenon out. And here it is: 2 Kings 9-11. Read it a couple of times. Go back to Chapter 9 of 2 Kings to see the moral behavior of the Israeli government.

Now remember that the Bible has a lot of imagery embedded in it. We call them “types and shadows”. Most of these types in the Old Testament foreshadow things to come. Well, I believe this is a type and shadow of what’s going on today, albeit without as much bloodshed yet.

First, we see an Israeli government, once good and noble under King David, degenerating into corruption, division, and wickedness. Lets take the case of the king prior to this story, Ahab. Following his wife’s lead, he murders a man to get a garden he wants, with no immediate repercussions. The due process set forth in Mosaic Law is ignored. In addition, almost everyone in the general population is turning from the faith of their ancestors into religions of immorality, up to and including child sacrifice. Looking at the United States, we see a similar country, powerful, set up with generally noble principles, degenerating into a corrupt Washington DC.  We are a people abandoning the principles of our ancestors for the god of this corrupt government, giving us security (free stuff) in return for our freedoms. Like ancient Israel, there are only a few left who are willing to resist this erosion of society. (In biblical Israel we are told there were 7,000 out of millions.) But even a premiere Prophet of God, Elijah, runs from the wife of King Ahab and hides. This woman, Jezebel, had the reputation that justified his fear. She killed, lied to, seduced, and threatened anyone that got in her or her husbands way.

Along comes Jehu, a captain of the King’s guard,  Jehoram is the king.  Another Prophet of God, Elisha, is told by God to anoint Jehu as the new king. Now read about Jehu. He seems a little like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. Jehu is single mindedly relentless in killing off hundreds of Ahab’s descendants throughout both nations of Judah and Israel. He does it through treachery and lies mostly, and by the end, every one of Ahab’s descendants is brutally dispatched. Jezebel is also killed in a rather violent and degrading fashion.

That is the story.  If you change Hillary for Jezebel,  Bill Clinton for Ahab, Trump for Jehu, The Washington Establishment for the  Sons of Ahab, and  all of us today for the nation of Israel, and you have a pretty good analogy. (This analogy has its limits, and the violence exhibited by the biblical main characters is toned down today.)

Now, look at the fear developing in the two Kings (Azariah of Judah and Jehoram of Israel), and their allies. They have never come up against such a relentless and fearless enemy as Jehu. Look at the Washington Establishment. They are in full panic mode seeing Trump win primary after primary. He seems to have one mission – to get elected and defeat the status quo. He is single minded and relentless. If we are looking for the hero in this story, neither Jehu nor Trump is it. But could it be that God is using Trump just as he used Jehu to invoke the beginnings of judgment on both parties in Washington, as well as the on corrupt federal bureaucracy, and eventually on us?

Incidentally, a possible minor type and shadow of the end times is in 2 Kings, 18-29. Jehu clears the temple of Baal of God’s people before he carries out his God-given assignment and massacres the Baal worshipers. Could this be a possible pre-trib rapture picture?

Can you see why some Evangelicals support Trump? In their eyes the government is so corrupt, so ruled by evil rulers, that drastic action is needed.  Many see a nation that is much more on the brink of Judgement than ever before.  They feel we need a leader who is unafraid of what the media, enemies, and his so called friends say about him.  Like the biblical story before, no one from God’s people has stepped forward and formed a following like Trump.   He is, as of now, immune to the political correctness enforcers.

Back to the story. On the surface, there is no real happy ending to this. After clearing out the corruption and wickedness, Jehu himself succumbs to Idol worship.  Israel gradually diminishes as a nation until they are conquered and dispersed by other empires.

Looking back at this story today, we can have hope. We know that around 300 years later, the Israelis return from their exile, never to worship false idols again. Then, around 500 years after that, Messiah returns to declare His Kingdom, and redeem His children by His death and resurrection. Sometime in the future from now, He will return again and be fully manifested as our King forever. Pretty good finish isn’t it?

The Revenge of Crazy Horse

Throughout history, people groups like the American Indian or Jews have been removed from their lands. Some, like the Etruscans or Aztecs have even been eradicated. It seems it is a normal course of history that a once thriving civilization diminishes, or even disappears. You might say that, up until the present day, it is inevitable, Rather than list every kingdom or country in history that has succumbed to oblivion, I would challenge you to come up with a nation or culture that has survived. The closest thing we as a Human Race has in a perpetual civilization is the culture of Ancient Rome or Greece. Most of you have been on the observer side of things, learning about extinct and lost civilizations.

Now, however, we as a nation have a chance to see this phenomenon taking place in real time, on television, and through our links to the worldwide web, What happened from 1609 to the 20th century to, say, the American Indian, is happening to the United States of America now. I suppose the title of this piece would give the Natives of this country some satisfaction that what comes around goes around.

We as Americans are being invaded by hostile armies as you read this. One of these armies, thousands of Syrian refugees, most of them peaceful and law abiding, (but a percentage are radicalized and violent) are being given cash, transport, and housing at the American taxpayers expense, and relocated across the nation. Cities such as Dearborn Michigan are transforming into Muslim enclaves, and are multiplying relentlessly. When a politician suggests a pause in allowing this flooding of immigrants, as Jimmy Carter did in the 70’s, or FDR in World War 2, he is vilified as a racist and Islamophobe.

As the Cheyenne brave saw a Conestoga wagon in his day, so we see another mosque, or Hijab clad woman in ours. When Red Cloud signed a treaty with the United States government, he was given promises to allow his people an unencumbered life “as long as the grass grows and the wind blows”. Our treaty with Iran, the “Red Line” in Syria, echoes the same double cross.

At one point in history, a critical mass with the influx of the white man was reached. By 1900, the great Indian nation was relegated to reservations. America started looking European as Manifest Destiny was realized. Today, Americans are told we have to be tolerant, and welcome this invading force. Our nation’s Attorney General has threatened prosecution if we even voice our dissent. Just as 150 years ago, we are being lied to, threatened, and forced to accept these new visitors.

At least I now can understand a little how Crazy Horse felt.