DEAD BUT STILL DEADLY

Image result for Facing Your Giants SpiritualThe epic tale of David and Goliath is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. On one side of the Valley of Elah stands the Philistine army, with their nine-foot-tall champion named Goliath. On the other side of valley stands the Israelite army, cowering in fear under the leadership of their king named Saul. For forty days Goliath has been taunting the Israelites and holding them in the grip of fear. Day after day he has been challenging them to send out one soldier to face him man to man. But so far, nobody has volunteered.

Perhaps you can relate to the plight of the Israelites. Some kind of giant is standing before you keeping you from being less than God wants you to be. The good news is that God has made a way for these giants to fall. Jesus came to set you free from the giants who rise up against you and hold you paralyzed in fear.

Jesus has already overcome the enemy. However, as we read in 1 Peter 5:8, the devil still “prowls around . . . looking for someone to devour.” In many ways, he is like a snake with its head cut off. When you kill a snake, you have to be sure to bury its head, because even after death the serpent holds a lethal dose of venom in its fangs. If you step on a dead snake’s head, you can still get poisoned. In the same way, even though Jesus broke the power of Satan at the cross, he can still inject his deadly poison into our lives. He is dead but still deadly.

If you truly want to see victory over the giants in your life, you need to understand your dependency on the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Victory is all about trusting in Christ and not about trying to succeed.

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Who Is In Control?

Surrender: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another
Control: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command

Let’s be honest; most of us like to be in control. We stress out when things seem out of our control. Growing up with two brothers, control was a big issue, whether it was who would ride “shotgun” in the car or would we watch cartoons or American Bandstand. It feels nice to call the shots, drive the car, hold the mic, dominate the remote, and plan out a detour-free itinerary for our lives.

Control becomes a major issue when we refuse to surrender control of our lives to God.  I’m like, “Hey God, I know you created the world, and exist outside of time, and are unquestionably wiser than anyone could imagine, but I just want to give you a heads up. You’re going the wrong way!”

Jesus prayed, “Your will be done,” right before His crucifixion; and our hearts, words, and lives should continue His prayer.

We cannot micromanage God, but we can trust Him. We can yield to His guidance, knowing He only leads us in the right direction.

We all get to choose. The options are confidence in our own partial understanding or surrender to the one who holds the map.

God’s Identity Crisis

I would imagine that many of you read the title of this blog and were shocked! Before you brand me a heretic; allow me to explain. I do not imply that God has a problem with knowing exactly who He is. Rather, it is we, His creation, that is confused concerning God’s true identity. There are hundreds of misconceptions about who God is and what He is like but I think most of them could be placed under two major headings.

The Transcendent God. People see God as so holy, so powerful, so pure that He could not have a relationship with fallen humanity. It is true that God is totally above all creation.      1 Chronicles 29:10-12 ; 1 Samuel 2:2

The Benevolent Grandfather. Some people see God’s purpose is to make us happy and give us what we want. He is like a celestial vending machine; insert your prayer and out drops your answer. He is the “grandfather” who grants all our wishes. 

But I think the picture below shows the proper balance of who God really is.

jfk

This is the famous picture of President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office. Underneath the desk is his son, John Jr. President Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world. He was to be respected and honored. And yet, he was a father who loved his son.  He had a relationship with his son, so “John-John” could pop out from under his desk and speak to this powerful figure without. 

Fresh leadership

No one can say that this newly elected President is “business-as-usual.” One of the reasons is that he is not a career politician; therefore his approach to problem-solving is totally foreign to those have been entrenched in the government system. His Cabinet nominations have caused a lot of anger and criticism. Our senior statesmen point out that the people he has selected not to have the “experience” necessary to run that office. Really?

If experience equals success, then how can they explain that every government agency has failed, though lead by ‘experts’ in their field?

Department of Energy has had 43 years to free us from dependence on foreign oil. How are we doing?
Social Security has had 77 years to correct all their problems. Failed.
Veterans Administration has had 86 years to provide care for our veterans. Failed.
Our Postal system has had 45 years of a constant bailout from the Federal Government.
Department of Treasury has been in existence since 1789. Over two centuries and today we are 20 Trillion dollars in debt! Failed.

Our experts have not solved our problems. It is time for a new approach and I think that people who have had proven success in their field may bring us a solution.

We Don’t Want This Man!

People do not change very much over time. Indeed, they are pretty much the same as they were 2000 years ago. The same reaction to Jesus we find back then is what we also find today. It is really just the same old story. Consider just one passage of Scripture about this.In Luke 19, Jesus tells a story about a prince who was soon to be crowned king. The prince in this story is clearly speaking of Jesus. The people’s response?

Verse 14 “We don’t want this man to rule over us!”

I know that president-elect Trump is not Jesus Christ but people’s attitude toward authority is still the same. If they disagree or dislike a person in authority; they make it known. I cannot understand why mature (?) men and women are going to boycott the Presidental Inaguration just because their candidate did not win the election! It sounds like children on the playground. If you don’t play the game I want to play; then we will not play at all!

Aren’t these the same people that were elected and took an oath to represent their constituents? They were not put in office to serve their political party nor were they elected to pass legislation that benefits large corporations. 

I cannot understand why the two political parties consider each other as enemies. “If you are for it; I am against it.” Why can’t they cooperate instead of compete? Both parties say they only want to do what is best for the country. If that is true, surely the solution cannot be that difficult. 

Like It or Not…

The most often asked question that a pastor is asked is “How can I find God’s will for my life?”  I have found that the majority of people who say they want to know God’s will, want to know so they can decide if they will obey it or not. It is very unlikely that God will reveal His will to people who have that mind-set.

We sing this chorus in many of our churches:

‘ll say yes, Lord, yes
To your will and to your way
I’ll say yes, Lord, yes
I will trust you and obey
When your Spirit speaks to me
With my whole heart I’ll agree
And my answer will be yes, Lord, yes

It does not say, “If I agree with it, I’ll say yes.” To know God’s will, we must be willing to obey BEFORE His will is revealed to us.

“Whether we like it or not, we will obey all that the Lord our God says.”  Jeremiah 42:6

Cops. Friend or Foe?

160213-baton-rouge-shooting-417p_a6b509fbf582470cce1495f37de464ae.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg (1659×1000)To be honest, I cannot get my mind around the senseless killing of our law enforcement officers. I do understand that those who committed these crimes have a totally different world view than most of the world. They have been taught from childhood to hate and distrust anything that even hints of authority.

Most people do not realize that God instituted authority for our good and those who have authority are God’s “agents.” Listen to Romans 13:1-5 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

I realized that there are a FEW people who will misuse their authority but we cannot paint ALL police officers with the same wide brush. We need to respect those in authority and pray for them daily.