Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Washington DC - Incredulous Tyranny

I find what is happening in Washington DC these days to border almost on the incredulous. Tomorrow, February 25, is the day for the great bi-partisan summit on health care reform. I find it very interesting that both sides are to be represented - Republicans and Democrats; however, the Democrats will outnumber the Republicans. Let's see, if it is to be bi-partisan, why not have equal numbers, why stack the deck, if you will? And the President has already said that if the Republicans either do not present their own plan or subscribe to his, then his plan will be "reconciled" with the House plan. This is a procedural move - rarely used, I might add - whereby only a majority of Senators must give their approval. That means only 51 Senators need to vote for it instead of the usually required 60.

Now what I find incredulous is that the debate even continues. According to recent polls, near 2 out 3 Americans do not want the government to be taking over health care. Yet, 51 Senators will vote against the will of 2/3 of the American people? It seems to me that the 1/3 of Americans who desire a government-run health plan certainly have the eyes and ears and votes of the majority of America's legislators. And I thought this country had the principal of the will of the majority. Guess we have forgotten that!

Also, according to recent polls, less than 1 out 5 Americans believe Congress is doing a good job. That tells me that those men and women who will be voting for this government-run health plan are not the most popular folks back home. Perhaps many of them see the writing on the wall and realize their days in Washington - at least as representatives of the people; future lobbyist status not withstanding - are numbered.

For the past several years I have diligently pursued the study of the American Revolution. I find it fascinating that the outcry that led to that rebellion against Great Britain was over the rule of a minority - the House of Lords and Commons and a King - against the wishes and will of the majority. The battle cry was against tyranny. A similar tyranny now exists. A handful of people are seeking to force upon the American people something they do not desire. Whereas during the American Revolution it was "taxation without representation," today the cry is "taxation with faulty representation."

Personally I believe this is just another step toward the surrender of our freedoms and the forced acceptance of a life run by the government. It is another step on the way toward a one-world domination. If you read Revelation 13 you will notice that the Antichrist has the power to dictate who can buy and who can sell. Those who choose to rebel against those governmental edicts will be hunted down as criminals and summarily put to death. No one can oppose the tyranny of government! But the writer of Revelation says that "blessed are those who die, rather than those who live." Why? because they have lives dedicated first to God.

In America we have the privilege in a few months to cast out those who have misrepresented us. If only 1 in 5 Americans approve of their Congressional delegates, then it appears that in the Congress there will be many new faces. Perhaps there might yet be hope!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are You Paying Attention?

Hey, are you paying attention to what is going on in your world? I mean, more than the recent Super Bowl, or the more recent Olympics. Now there is nothing wrong with either of those events. [May I pause just for a moment to make an observation concerning television commercials? My wife and I were greatly dismayed by the quality of the commercials offered during the Super Bowl. They all seemed to have at least one of two themes: violence or sexual innuendo. I guess sex and violence must characterize those who watch professional football. But, we have noticed that the commercials for the Olympics are much more family-friendly; probably because that has always been the foundation for the Olympics - family.]

Have you been noticing what Iran has been up to? February 11 has come and gone. Now some of you are saying: What does that date have to do with Iran? Well, the Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme Muslim leader of Iran, had said that on that date the Iranians would deliver a "stunning punch" (those were his words) to the West. Yes, it was on February 11 that President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran was now numbered among the nuclear nations in the world. This was hardly a "stunning" announcement as most leaders recognized Iran's pathway toward nuclearization these past years. Perhaps the "punch" came a few days before when he also stated that Iran would now enrich its own uranium to at least 20%, if not higher. [They are presently at a 3.5% rate.] This higher rate definitely indicates that their nuclear program is more than just for electricity. And two weeks ago the Iranians launched their first rocket capable of putting a satellite into space. Could such a rocket be used to put a nuclear device in space?

I am fairly confident that you have been observing the weather patterns. Record snowfalls have blanketed the East Coast, even shutting down government - maybe not such a bad thing right now :) Last week snow was reported in 49 of the 50 states. I think that was a first. My grandson in Texas called and was so excited about the snow in Dallas, although I think he over exaggerated when he said they had 32 miles of snow. Then there was the earthquake just outside Chicago. Is the New Madrid fault line becoming more active? And Vancouver, site of the winter Olympics, is having difficulty getting enough snow, prompting some to call these the "spring Olympics."

And then there is the impending - or at least it appears to be impending - collapse of the euro. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy are all awash in red ink. Guess we did not have an exclusive claim in that department. Can the euro endure? The same can be said for the dollar. The more the currencies of the world labor for survival, the greater the possibilities of a world-wide currency being accepted.

I could go on. But you get my drift. It is time we stop and consider the signs of the times. And when we do, we are hastened back into the Scriptures to hear more of what God proclaims will occur. Let me encourage you to read Dr. David Jeremiah's book titled, "What in the World Is Going On?" That will begin to open your eyes. God truly is at work in this world orchestrating each event with the ultimate purpose of bringing the King to His rightful throne.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What's That In Your Hand?

In my devotional reading this morning - and, as I shared with you last week, I am following the Jewish reading of the Pentateuch - I came across a very interesting statement by God. It is found in Exodus 23:15 - "No one is to appear before me empty-handed."

Now this command is found in the midst of a section describing the three annual pilgrimage feasts - those celebrations that required the attendance of all Jewish males, first at Shiloh where the Tabernacle resided, then at Jerusalem after the construction of the Temple. You might remember that the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which followed Passover, marked the beginning of the barley harvest; the Feast of Harvest or Shavuot marked the beginning of the wheat harvest; and the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot in the fall of the year marked the start of the grape and olive harvests. God was saying to Israel and to all future pilgrims: When you come to celebrate, don't forget to bring something, namely the first fruits.

As I reflected upon this thought - "No one is to appear before me empty-handed" - I realized it had been a very long time since I had pondered what I bring into the presence of God. I know that we begin very empty-handed as there is nothing we have that God desires. I remember the prophet Isaiah saying that even our good deeds are considered as filthy garments before God (Isaiah 64:6). The word that Isaiah uses is the Hebrew term for a "menstrual cloth." Pretty graphic phrase, don't you think! In other words, I have nothing. Yet, that is how God accepts us...with nothing. We come empty-handed so that we might receive from Him life abundant and eternal.

But, that is merely the beginning. Yet, sadly, for many believers, they continue to approach God with empty-hands. They are always ready to receive from God, but never consider returning to God.

What can I give to God? Israel brought physical fruits and grains, representative of their labors in the fields and vineyards. Such produce was a sign of praise for what God had provided so the fruits and grains could grow. Yes, at times I can present to God something physical. Often it is in the form of money. Sometimes it is in the form of time given to help others or to serve God well.

What else can I give to Him? I can give Him my schedule. Being a type-A personality, I guard my schedule pretty tightly. But God wants that schedule. And so I bring to Him my availability to be used as He sees fit. I can also bring to Him an honest heart. The more I read the Psalms, the more convinced I become that honesty before God is difficult. We do a lot of pretending that all is well, when our hearts are nearly breaking.

A grandchild is heard to exclaim, "Grandma, what did you bring me?" And so God asks, "Max, what did you bring Me?" I trust that it is not too often merely empty hands.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

To Whose Voice Are We Listening: God's or Men's?

Since October I have been reading through the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch, in the sequence that the Jewish people do. Every week there is a different portion. This week the reading was from Exodus 18-20. Of course in that section is the giving of the Ten Commandments.

Now I probably do not need to remind you of those Commandments. You might have memorized them as a child. You probably have seen them inscribed on a public building, perhaps even one within your own community. And you will remember that great scene from the movie of Charlton Heston holding the two tablets aloft.

But what few people truly understand is that the Ten Commandments were given orally by God before they were written down by the finger of God and given to Moses. Turn in your Bible to Exodus 20. The first verse reads: And God spoke all these words. Then follows the recitation of the Ten Commandments - the first four dealing with man and his relationship to God; the last six dealing with man and his relationship to his fellow man. Then follows these words: When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die" (Exodus 20:18-10).

In an audible voice that instilled great fear into the hearts and lives of the people of Israel, God thundered His commandments. The people stood there listening and shaking in their sandals. The voice of God convicted them of their smallness compared to His greatness; of their inadequacies compared to His power. And so they said to Moses, "We don't want to hear God's voice anymore; but we will listen to your voice." In other words, "We don't want to hear God; we want to listen to man."

Later, as he was writing his final thoughts, Moses said this about the office of prophet: The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die" (Deuteronomy 18:15-16). We know that this passage is a reference to Jesus Christ, God's great prophet who came to share with the world the message of God. In fact, until the coming of Jesus, God's voice was never heard audibly again.

Because we do not hear God's voice today in an audible way, that proposes a danger of totally relying upon what men say. Are men, especially those who stand behind the pulpits today, truly speaking for God? Or are they merely sharing with they know men and women want to hear? The prophet Isaiah records this concerning the people of his day: They say to the seers, "See no more visions!" and to the prophets, "Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" (Isaiah 30:10-11). They were saying to their religious leaders: "Don't tell us what God says. Tell us what we like to hear. In fact, don't talk to us about God at all." If you were to listen to many of the sermons preached across America today, in a good percentage of them there would be no mention of the Bible at all; in many sermons God might only be referenced as one would an expert authority. There would be no meeting between a sinful humanity and a holy God. There would be no challenge toward repentance from sin and getting right with God. We are like ancient Israel: We don't want to hear God; we want to hear from a man.

Now I praise God for those who are not afraid to share the Word of God and a "thus says the Lord" with a congregation every week. I pray that they will remain true to the Word and not succumb to the temptation to only speak words that will the praise of men.