Monday, March 28, 2011

What Does God Think About Crybabies?

I cried yesterday. What a baby, right? It doesn't matter what made me cry. No, it wasn't the end of “Forrest Gump” or “Romeo and Juliet”. It wasn't even brought on by the Dallas Cowboys. It was something to do with God's direction of my immediate future. And this morning my best friend gave me words of encouragement that made me realize how God views our tears. At first thought you might think that God's mighty men of valor have the strength and intestinal fortitude to squelch any outward expressions of emotions and simply march towards victory in the joy of the Lord. But as I thought about it sitting here at my keyboard, I realized that I am in a pretty good company of those who had tears stream down their faces.

1. King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:5 and Isaiah 38:5)
2. Queen Esther (Esther 8:3)
3. Ruth (Ruth 1:14)
4. Job (Job 16:20)
5. Jonathan (1 Sam 20:41)
6. King David- what a total crybaby. He cried all over Psalms. (Psalm 6:6, etc.)
7. David's might men of valor (1 Sam 30:4)
8. Timothy (2Tim 1:4)
9. Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4)
10. Paul – another crybaby (2Cor 2:4, Acts 20:31)
11. Jeremiah (called the weeping prophet, too many instances to name)
12. Peter (Luke 22:62)
13. John (Revelation 5:4)
14. Mary (John 20:11)

Heck, even the Lord Jesus himself cried. Remember the shortest scripture in the Bible? Two words: Jesus wept. (John 11:35) And were those misty-eyed man tears? Look at this:

“While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.” Hebrews 5:7 (New Living Translation)

So what does God think about all this crying going on down here? One might think he would stand up from his throne and yell with the rumbling of thunder “Quit yer crying you weenies and man-up!” But we find another scenario in relation to God in the Bible. He actually thinks our tears are precious, and cherishes them enough to save them in a bottle.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (New Living Translation)

So it seems that our crying is not in vain. It is noted from above. And it is welcomed as part of a purging process that is divinely inspired. Look at what both the Old and New Testaments have to say about God's part in our crying:

“The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.” Isaiah 25:8

“And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4

This doesn't look to me like a God that shuns our crying. But one who connects intimately with our sorrow and grief. So go on and cry if you need to. And see if a friend will show up with the finger of God to help wipe away your tears.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Better Than Rocket Science

Last night an amazing thing happened. At a class I was attending we talked about Gideon having to remove the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole from his Dad's house before God would send him to deliver his people from the enemy. (Judges 6) The conversation turned from removing sin to accountability. Then people felt safe enough in that environment to start sharing some of the secret things that they might not have ever told another living soul. The power of sin lies in secrecy. But honestly, there is no secrecy. We are surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses. (Heb 12:1) Lots of people in the spiritual are looking on. If God sees every sparrow that falls to the ground, don't you think he sees the porn on your computer or the income you didn't file on your taxes.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” Luke 12:2

Does that scare you? It should if you have something to hide. It does me because there is plenty in my life that I am not proud of. But fortunately, God has made a provision for us because we all are the same: trying to make it in a fallen world. One gentleman confessed something that I am pretty sure he never confessed to anyone else ever. Others were transparent and honest enough to talk about some of their struggles and victories. Well, what I mean is that they talked about their struggles. We seldom have a problem being transparent with our victories because we know that brings God glory. But the struggles...well, you know.

So here is the solution. It is a system that works every time. It is like the Pythagorean Theorem or some mathematical formula that is guaranteed to get the results you desire. Leave one of the steps out and you have a cake that has fallen because not all the ingredients are there. Apply them all: and presto! Instant relief. They work in tandem. It's a beautiful thing. Want to know what it is?

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16

It's so simple. Confess your faults/sins/frustrations/desires/secrets to another living person. Pray for each other. Remember that Job's captivity was turned when he prayed for his friends. (Job 42:10) Pray for the one confessing, or pray for the one you are confessing to. And then receive your healing. Bam!

One guy last night talked about how the shame and condemnation he was feeling since sinning lifted the minute he confessed and another man prayed for him. It's not rocket science. It works. Every time!

Do you have someone you can be completely honest with? Is there someone you can trust with your most embarrassing things? You know it's going to eventually come out. So why wait?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Does God Live in District 9?

Has God ever spoken directly to you? What was it like? Did He speak in a whisper? Did He send some sort of mind picture? Did you hear it in your head? Or was it transmitted to your heart? God speaks to each of us in different ways. And this morning as I was trying to sort through some revelatory knowledge I received yesterday that troubled me, God spoke to me in order to ease my mind a little bit. Remember Daniel?

I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” Daniel 7:15 (New King James Version)

Daniel had some amazing visions and most of them troubled him. But God is faithful. And Daniel usually had some sort of visitation to help him understand and make sense out of what he had just seen. I love that about God. What a good teacher He is. And Jesus did the same thing in order to help the people who lacked understanding to “get it”.

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.” Matthew 13:34 (New International Version)

So God obviously knew that I was troubled by what He has been revealing to me in the word lately. So He sent me an understanding from the movie “District 9”. I saw the movie, twice. I can't recommend it to anybody reading this blog because it is violent, and has lots of “f-bombs” strewn throughout. It does have a very astute underlying lesson throughout the plot line. Here is a clip God showed me this morning during my quiet time:

Humans did not know how to operate the alien weapons. There was an amazing power available to them. But they lacked something to be able to utilize such power for protection or destruction. And God used this lesson to help me understand the Bible in the last days. There is an amazing power available to us. And most Christians are simply stockpiling the word without being able to understand the hows and whys of it's use in the end time. The two witnesses in Revelation 11 are a great example of what I'm talking about:

And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days. These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lamp-stands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.” Revelation 11:3-6 (New Living Translation)

They won't be fire breathers. This kind of power given to them is indicative of the Word of God...the Bible. It is the sharp two-edged sword of Hebrews 4:12 that Jesus wields when he returns in Revelation 19:15. And I'm sure that the true warriors of God reserved for the end time are being taught to effectively exert the sword of the spirit which they are commanded to put on daily in Ephesians 6:17. The Bible has power, unlike anything we can imagine. But we can't use it effectively unless the DNA of our God surges through our spiritual veins. Then...the things Jesus did, shall we do also. And greater things that that shall we do because He goes to the Father.

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (New Living Translation)

Start working out with the sword. Then get ready to strap it on. There is an enemy flood that is amassing just out of our sight. And there is a victory on this planet that has yet to be finalized for our coming king.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Dude, Where's My Sustenance?

In times when so many people are struggling financially, the field is ripe for the prosperity preachers to bank upon the hope of the kingdom. It's not that they are misquoting scriptures. On the contrary, they are talking about the prosperity that God wants all of us to have. Remember that God delights in the prosperity of his servants. (Psalm 35:27) So when it doesn't work, what's the scoop? The Bible is filled with lean times where people had far too much week left over at the end of their money. Some of it was to test their faith. Some of it was because they were lazy or stupid. But the overwhelming majority of the times of famine and leanness were because the very people who were created to walk, talk, and fellowship with God had broken their connection. Many of the people were just plain “far from God”. And God decided to withhold His blessing from them in order to get their full attention. Hey, I've been homeless before. I know what it's like to look up to the heavens and yell “OK, have my full attention!” Every time I have been financially lean in my life it was because I FIRST became spiritually lean.

Love the story of Gideon? Here is how that amazing saga begins:

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.

And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’” Judges 6:1-10.

I love it how the New King James uses the word “sustenance” for their vanished stuff. That Hebrew word is also translated in other places to mean “life”, “food”, “revival”, etc.; all the things we need most now in this nation.

So before we cling to “hope and change” from media crackpots and phoneys; maybe we need to see if there is any sin and/or rebellion in our life. This story ends in an amazing way: Gideon delivers and restores God's people. Until another Gideon comes, this is an excellent time for us to take inventory of our lives. David asked God to do something that is a very scary request for most Christians:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 (New Living Translation)

The good news over and over in the Bible is the fact that when God's people repented, they were restored to times of peace and prosperity. First comes the fellowship. Then comes the bank account. See how it works. If more people really understood that principal, the prosperity vultures who sell your deliverance for a $29 DVD would suddenly find themselves in the same boat. And God is no respecter of persons.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (New Living Translation)

It's our move! Move the King of Kings back into your life if you find him off the board these days. And if He is alive and well in your game, march forth and go take the enemy.