Cry unto the Lord

We are in a time of judgment sent from the throne of Christ. This coronavirus, its concomitant disease, all the fear and confusion, all the wicked, selfish actions of rulers, the crashing of the econony, are judgments from Christ. He must reign until he makes his enemies his footstool. He rules all nations, yes even America, with a rod of iron.

We are the people of Christ, a peculiar people, called to be a kingdom of priests. As priests we pray unto the Lord on behalf of individuals and nations. As priests we make known the word and judgments of the Lord to individuals and nations.

Many people speak of 2nd Chronicles 7:14. Social media lights up with this verse in every calamity. It has become a mantra, a magic talisman rather than the Word of God. But it is the Word of God.

2Ch 7:14 KJV If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Who is it speaking of? In the context of when it was written it was the people of Israel. Today, it is those who are called by Christ’s name. It is Christians.

What are they called to do? They are called to pray.

What are the conditions of the Lord hearing their prayer?

  • Humble themselves: to bring ourselves very low; to acknowledge that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercy; confessing our sinfulness in truth, not posturing
  • To pray: to declare our sins and the sins of the nation; to declare and agree on the justness of the Lord’s judgments; to beg for mercy, not based on our righteousness, for we have none, but only in the name and righteousness of Christ
  • To seek the face of the Lord: to ask Him to look upon us with kindness and grace; to hear our confession of sin and our intercession for mercy
  • To turn from our wicked ways: not the wickedness of the heathens, but ours; to forsake our sin; returning to the tent of the Lord

Then, and only then, will the Lord hear, forgive, and heal our land. But, let us not be as Israel, crying out for deliverance from evil, and returning to our idolatry once judgment is lifted. Because therein lies disaster.

What is our sin you ask? It is many and flagrant, like Israel fornicating with the Moabites. It is like the lukewarmness of Laodicea. It is the deadness of Sardis, the lack of love of Ephesus, the toleration of evil in Thyatira.

We tell our pastors to speak smooth things to us, and don’t take too long about it. Rather than teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we sing vain repetitions. We teach doctrines of men, both maintaining our own ignorance if the Word and obsequiously currying the favor of unbelievers. All in all, rather than being transformed by repentance and salvation, we seek an empty baptism of unexamined, unaffected, unchanged, unrepentant lives. We seek the whitewashed tombs of Pharisaical arrogance.

We must repent. We must do so in spirit and in truth. To do so lightly courts the indignation of God.

So let us come before the Lord with prayer, with supplications, with intercessions, and with thankfullness. But let us do so with all repentance and sincerity by the Spirit, in the holiness and righteousness of Christ.

Psa 2:12 KJV Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

The Grief of the Lord

Joh 11:35 KJV Jesus wept.

Jesus stood before Lazarus’s tomb and wept. Knowing he was going to regenerate Lazarus’s body, Jesus wept. Knowing he was going to resurrect Lazarus, Jesus wept. Our Creator, our Savior, the giver of life, who was going to return Lazarus to life, wept.

Why? Why would Jesus grieve at a time like this? Why wasn’t he rejoicing?

Jesus wept because we have a merciful high priest who understands us and our infirmities. One who has been tempted as we are, bore our sin, and tasted death on our behalf.

Lazarus died, as we all do, because of sin. Not sins, but sin. Some may die as a result of particular sins, we all die because of sin. Call it sin, call it sin nature, call it flesh, whatever you call it, it is that evil that infects us with hatred of and rebellion toward God. And sin, in turn, brings death. Death is the temporal outworking of the wrath of God on our bodies. If outside of Christ, then death is also the eternal outworking of the wrath of God on our souls. The first death brings a temporary separation of persons from one another and is grievously painful and sad. The second death brings an eternal separation of a person from the love and blessings of God and is unimaginably painful and sad.

Jesus wept, even though he knew what he was going to do, because he understood the fearful cost of sin to us. We are sinners, our hearts, souls, and minds are infected with sin. All our works are tainted by sin. God is holy and just. His justice demands that the soul that sins must die. His holiness demands that we be perfect as he is perfect. Jesus looked at the anguish that the death of Lazarus caused his sisters. The anguish of other family members and friends. Jesus looked at all the misery caused by the sin of man and he wept. Because the holiness and righteousness of God cannot be set aside. They must be fulfilled.

The need for forgiveness of sin was evident to all: without sin, neither Lazarus, nor anyone else would die. The need for someone to call Lazarus, and every other human being, out of death, was evident to all. And it would very soon be seen that Jesus was the only one who could. He is the resurrection. He is the life. But many there that day could not see it.

So Jesus wept.

A Time for Courage

No one has a love greater than this, that he lays down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 ULB)

There is an old term, an acronym, for what is going on in our country: FUD–Fear Uncertainty & Doubt. On the surface the source for this is the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID19–also known as Wuhan flu. Certainly most people are reacting to what they have heard and seen of this disease. It is equally certain that good information about it is largely hard to determine. This is the uncertainty. The uncertainty stems from the fact that we no longer trust the institutions in which we have placed our trust: government and the news media. This in turn brings the doubt: doubt that we can trust anyone; doubt that we should trust anyone. Regardless of the true virulence and deadliness of this virus, the FUD is deadly to us as a people, a culture, and a nation.

In the town I live in and across the country, people are reacting with panic–wildly buying food, cleansers, sanitizers, anything they think might help them survive. In so doing, we generate the shortages that we think are sure to happen. We’re doing the same thing with our medical institutions: clinics, hospitals, doctors offices, thus draining this vital resource that will be necessary to treat those who are critically affected by the disease.

These things exemplify raw cowardice. We are portraying ourselves to be a nation of cowards. A nation of men, who rather than saying “women and children first”, is collectively saying “to hell with anyone but me”. It is disgusting, perverted, and the most un-American thing I have seen or heard of in my lifetime. Even worse it is the most un-Christian thing I have seen happen in this nation.

Men, Christ calls us to courage–the courage to lay our lives down for our neighbor in service of Him. You’re concerned about supplies of food and essentials, fine. You’re concerned about the spread of the virus and think maybe you and yours should hunker down at home, fine. Order and pay for it online and pick it up or have it delivered. Make sure you’re the only one in your family going to the store and then segregate yourself at home. Take prudent precautions to protect your family. But stop selfishly buying and hoarding. That shows your hatred of your neighbor, particularly the vulnerable, the elderly and the chronically ill. But courage has to go beyond this.

This virus may sputter out or it may balloon and kill millions in this country. We don’t know and we won’t know until it is past. But we do know these things: healthcare workers are being overworked and overwhelmed. They’re going to need help to keep going. In the worst case, they’re going to be decimated by the virus as they lay their lives down for all of us.

What can we do? We can start by praying, crying out to God for mercy on us and them. We can see if there is any aid we can give them. Maybe bringing food and water and dropping it off. Entrepreneurs can look at ways to make sanitizer more abundant, make masks more abundant, make replacement parts onsite in hospitals for equipment using 3D printing. We’ll have to make inquiries locally on what we can do to ease the burden of our healthcare system. In so doing we exercise courage, because some of us will be affected by the virus, some of us may die of the virus. But that’s what men do: it’s part of why the Lord made us men. We protect the lives of those around us.

We also can help by helping the elderly in our neighborhoods. They’re the most vulnerable to this disease. Pickup and deliver their groceries. Make sure they’ve got electricity and water. Make sure someone is keeping an eye on them. This is the type of situation where wolves come out to prey upon the vulnerable–there needs to be shepherds to look out for the flock.

Truckers are being taxed–that means loaders at the docks are being taxed. Our whole logistical system is being taxed. There are going to be a myriad of needs and as men we need to rise to the occasion. As Christians it is not enough to pray, as necessary as that is. The apostle James speaks of the folly of using prayer as mere sentiment–praying for starving, freezing people to be warmed and fed, rather than feeding and clothing them.

We’ve got to show our love by our actions. We’ve got to take our love to the very limit of laying our lives down for our friends, our neighbors. Maybe none of the ways I’ve mentioned are practical. I don’t care. We’ve got to face this situation and quit ourselves like men.

It’s time for ending FUD.

It’s time for courage.

In All Things

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 KJV)

My family knows that praying I will thank God “in all things”. By this I mean that I thank God that he works all things to bring good, even though all things are not good. The origin of this was in 2008. We were on a wonderful vacation in Colorado with my brother and sisters. Yet, every time I prayed that year, the Holy Spirit would say “rest in me”. My response was puzzlement, because I already did, or so I thought.

Then in 2009, I lost my job of 18+ years. No worries, I thought, headhunters have been after me for years, so a month, 6 months at the worst, and I’ll be employed again. Two years would pass before that happened. During that time, my pride was humbled as even local gas stations and fast food would not hire me. God provided for us: help from family, particularly my oldest sister; yet, again and again I’d be amazed at how people would come up and give us some money and I’d protest saying that we were fine. They would insist and then it would turn out I’d made a mistake on the bank account or some unexpected expense would occur. Then after countless resumes, job applications, on site interviews, phone interviews, even an email interview—all fruitless, a phone call came out of the blue. A former coworker wanted to know if I was still looking for work because there was an opening at the university. A month later, I was on the job. God carried us through that time, teaching me to look to Him day by day, for that day.

But now I’m looking farther back to 1979, when my mother died of cancer. This rocked me to my core and I was angry at the Lord for 20 years. You see, we had been taught in church that believing prayer is receiving prayer. Much prayer went up for mom and she had gone into remission. Then, after a few short months she had a seizure. I knew what this meant–the cancer was in her brain. Doctors confirmed this and said she had 3 months to live. I prayed constantly, asking the Lord to heal her, asking him to take me instead, anything but let her die. That 3 months seemed to stretch out so long that it seemed far longer, it seemed that surely mom was being healed, God was going to heal her…but in 3 months she had died. I was deeply angry, angry at God, angry at the family doctor who misdiagnosed the cancer as arthritis for so long, angry at everyone. Bitterness filled my heart and I vomited it out all around me.

This bitterness continued even into our marriage. In 1999, our marriage was in dire straits because of my anger and bitterness. And then two things happened: the Holy Spirit convicted me and broke my anger; and Lisa unexpectedly became pregnant with a baby boy. God healed our marriage, saving it, and part of the way he did it was sending Christopher. It was not an easy pregnancy. Doctors told us Christopher was a Down’s syndrome baby, severely mentally and physically handicapped, and strongly pressured us to abort him. We prayed, and the Lord healed Christopher of any trace of it. Chris still had issues as a baby–he was born with a telescoping bowel–it would hurt him so badly he would cry and scream in pain inconsolably for up to an hour or more. It was heartbreaking to be around. The Lord slowly healed him of it and healed our marriage–Christopher was His gift to us.

And now Christopher is gone. Doctors told us that even if he survived, he would be severely handicapped, mentally and physically, neither capable of walking or talking. As in over 40 years before, much prayer went up for Christopher, and for a time he seemed to be holding his own, possibly getting slightly better. During this time, I had been praying constantly in the hospital chapel, and had asked the Lord to show me something, anything. He sent a man, whose name I can’t remember, to come comfort and strengthen me. This man prayed with me and said the Lord told him to come tell me that He heard my prayer, that my son’s salvation is assured, and to encourage me to keep praying. Tears of joy came. Surely, this meant my prayer for Chris’s second miraculous healing would be answered. But he slowly slipped away, then went suddenly. At 10:30 pm on Feb 29th my oldest son, Matthew, flipped his ball cap around, grabbed Chris’s hand, and said, “Come on little brother, let’s rally!” Chris was gone shortly after.

And now here I am 41 years after the first time, feeling the same temptation to anger. Anger at God, anger at doctors, anger at everyone. But, then I remember: “all things”. All things work together for good. All things are not good things. This most assuredly is not. But the Lord is good and I am not. The Lord is God and I am not. The temptations come, the sorrow threatens to overwhelm, but God’s love is far greater than either. I know this to be true.

You see, because although my dad died when I was 5, my mother when I was 13, I have never been an orphan.

I know my Father and his love for me.

One Thursday Morning

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
(Ecclesiastes 7:2 ESV)

At 12:10 pm Thursday March 27th 2020, my wife called me on my cellphone concerned about our son. She works in the ER and heard there had been a car wreck and young men were being airlifted. She had a gut feeling our son was one of them. He was.

Despite his injuries, which were severe, Chris was most concerned about his friend Ros. As long as he was conscious, Chris put Ros first. Chris fought hard for life, lasting 60 hours, 36 hours longer than we were initially told. His life was 20 years, 4 months, and 21 days.

My last view of Christopher before the accident was Wednesday night. My wife came into my office and said both Chris and his dog Duce were on our bed snoring. I looked at him there and thought about laying down with them, but didn’t want to disturb them. I had no idea that was my last chance to hold my son and tell him I loved him.

Chris and Duce 15 hours before the accident

Christopher and I hadn’t been close since he was around 15–his grandfather was in hospice care at our house and died there in 2015. Chris was profoundly wounded by this and fell into a darkness that none of us could enlighten. It grew worse until he ran from home a few days before his 17th birthday in 2016. For a year and a half, he bounced from couch to couch, street to street. We heard about him sporadically and worried constantly.

Then on March 1st 2018 at 3am we got a phone call. Chris wanted to know if he could come sleep on the couch–he had no where else to turn. We went and picked him up and he came home. It was not an easy homecoming. He had a host of issues and was full of anger, but he was home. It was rough, but he overcame things that I have never seen anyone overcome. He was walking back to being our smiling, loving Chistopher.

On March 1st, 2020 at 9am he was pronounced brain dead. We had two years of joy and peace that our son was home. Two years.

It’s been over a week since the accident and his funeral was yesterday, but for us it is one never-ending day. Everything is all linked together with no interlude. It is all one day. Two short years. One long day.

Why am I writing this? Is it to put words down and work through sorrow? Is it to try to comfort myself somewhow? No. It is because as that verse says, the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. All my coulda, woulda, shoulda’s are empty and worthless toward Christopher. He is with the Lord. I will go to him, but he will not come back to me, nor would I truly want him to. His pain and suffering have been overcome and overwhelmed in the presence of the Lord.

No, it is because I have learned more deeply the admonition of the Lord to love one another. Love today. Reconcile today. Hug today. Kiss today. Whomever you have affection for in your life love them today, love them tomorrow, love them everyday. Grab them and hug them. Hold them and squeeze them tight. Seek out the sound of their voice. Do it today. Do it now. Because we are not promised tomorrow. And while there is great solace in the knowledge that you will see them if they are saved, that does not erase the pain of separation on this side of eternity.

Love them today.

Christopher Nathaniel

Son I remember when I kissed you when you cried and held you tightly to me. You were just a baby boy, a shining gift from God. Everytime that you were hurt, I tried to love you whole.

Now you’re lying in this bed and there’s nothing but the waiting. Doctors say that it’s the end and it’s time to say goodbye. I want hold you in my arms and wake you from this night. But though my prayers were heard, Jesus says it’s time.

I won’t pretend to understand why you suffered as both boy and man. You felt so deeply others pain and were their kindest friend. Why oh why is it you that’s gone, when I should be the one?

So Son, I’m lying here next to you to say goodbye and that I love you. Jesus says he loves you too and he wants to bring you home.

So Son, my gift, my life I kiss you one last time.

It’s my last kiss, til the next one, when we meet in heaven. It’s my last kiss till we walk on those streets of gold. Father God, please keep him for me, I’ll be there when its appointed.

It’s my last kiss til the next one, when the morning comes.