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.

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.

How Great the Father’s Love for Us

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. (Rom 8:28 KJV)

How often have you thought about this verse? It is often quoted by Christians, particularly in bad or difficult situations. But it is a weak salve for most people because we do not meditate on its meaning. Quoting it, to self or to others, is apt to provoke a response of indignation, “HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT THIS IS GOOD?” And they are probably right, as far as they go.

This verse requires several acts of faith: 1. God is omnipotent; 2. God is omniscient; 3. God is good; 4. God is actively seeking both temporal and eternal good for His people. The point of this verse is not that everything that happens in our lives is good, we know that many things, maybe even most, are not. It is that in God’s will the effects of all that we do and experience will combine together for good to us. This good being most fully expressed in our salvation by Christ and our sanctification in Christ. Thus, we evaluate everything in terms of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ our Lord.

What does this mean? When we suffer we remember that Christ suffered on our behalf. We know that although our suffering may be grievous and overbearing it has a purpose that ultimately is for our good. Although we may not know what purposes God has, we do know Him as Savior and Friend, Healer and Comforter. We also know that our suffering has an end, it is finite and temporal, not infinite and unending, we have been saved from that. We know that our suffering gives an opportunity for Christ to be glorified in us. He will strengthen us. He will come alongside us. He will not forsake us. Even when we feel alone we know that we are not alone. He knows all our infirmities and weaknesses. He knows the limit of what we can bear. He will not let us be taken beyond that limit. He will not break us, nor will He allow anyone or anything to break us. He endured the infinite wrath of God against sin so that we would never see wrath but would with our own eyes see the good He has for us.

Likewise, when we enjoy good things we remember that every good gift comes from our Father in heaven, who delights in His children. The most mundane things are wonderful when seen in the light of the Father’s love. Sunsets, thunderstorms, a cool breeze in summer bring joy and songs when seen in His love. The very act of eating our food is worthy of praise: have you ever considered what a delight it is that food is delicious? God could have made food such that, while necessary, it was no more pleasant to us than filling a gas tank is to a car! Social media is filled with pictures of delectable food, recipes that make mouths water in anticipation. It is so simple and yet such a wonderful gift! It is our Father’s love!

Regardless of the situation you are in, seek God’s face. Lean on Him when you need strength, rest in Him when you are exhausted, praise and sing songs in every situation, proclaim His great love, and thank Him every day. If you do so, your joy will never fail!

He is waiting to hear from you.

Eyes, Ears, and Hearts

To look at the state of America today is to despair if you put your trust in man. The unrelenting assault on righteous foundations is breathtaking in its zeal. The blatant disregard for the law is matched by the malevolent use of the law to destroy those who disagree with the political-media elites.  Goodness is declared evil and the vilest evil is declared good and all who demur are slandered into bankruptcy and silence.

We are in a civil war where one side is avowedly pagan in its outlook: it looks to Man, most particularly Collective Man in the form of the national government as its god.  It gives this god many names: The People, Science, Social Justice, Socialism; but it is the old Moloch worship and Baalism.

The other side is effectively pagan as well.  Its god is Tradition, Law & Order, Individualism, Conservatism; but it too is Man-centered and is thus just a different version of the same thing. It is, in fact, a weaker version of the first because its highest form is the power of the individual or family.  And since the power of Collective Man in the form of the state is far greater than that of the individual or family, the proponents of Collective Man inexorably drive back their opponents.  So-called conservatives, contrary to their view of themselves as principled, define themselves in relation to progressives. As such, conservatism is constantly changing to be the progressivism of a previous generation.

There is no hope in this war except for repentance and submission to Christ. This should be the prayer and proclamation of the Church, but far too many have buried their coins. In the parables, a servant buries the coin/talent he is given because he considers his master to be a jerk.  He accuses his master of being a hard man–one who requires far too much of his servants and does nothing for them.  He sees no point in engaging in the most minor work with what he is entrusted with because of his contempt for his lord.  At the same time, you can easily imagine the boasting of this servant about how much his master had entrusted him with in the right company.

This servant exemplifies the church today.  There is much work to be done with what has been given us. We are given so many things to do: teaching, convicting, correcting, training, worshipping, comforting, visiting, and much, much more.  All of this to be done to glorify Christ and build in His kingdom.  Yet we reduce our efforts to the absolute minimum, while loudly proclaiming the tasks we have been given.  We give lip-service to evangelism, loudly, but only 2% every year will evangelize even one person.  Even when evangelism is done, it is generally so twisted and watered down that it simply confirms people of their own self-righteousness.  There is no call to repentance. There is no call to faith in Christ. There is no call to die to self. There is no call to sacrifice, much less obedience. We see churches filled for a time by man-centered methods and yet no change in lives, no change in families, no change in communities, and no change in the nation.  And we wonder at it all.

I hesitate to even mention 2nd Chronicles 7:14, but it bears looking at again. God says, “If my people”, His people–the ones called by His Name–Christians.  If they will humble themselves. If they will pray.  Pray and do what?  Seek His face. Why? So that they, the people of God–Christians, can turn from their wicked ways.  Then, and only then, will He hear from heaven.  Then, and only then, will He forgive us and heal our land.  Until then our prayers condemn us just as the Pharisee who thanked God was condemned for his prayer.

We must fall on our faces before the Lord and confess our sin, as individuals, as families, as deacons, as teachers, as pastors, as churches.  And we must forsake our sin, begging the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing.  We must beg the Holy Spirit to examine us thoroughly and show us our sin in order that we may repent.  We must have godly sorrow that leads to repentance.  And we must cast it all upon Christ and then arise in newness of life. A life that is full of faith, hope, and love.  One that is shown in steadfast love and devotion to Christ.

Then God will hear and heal our land.  Maranatha!