Monday, August 8, 2016

"Mommy, I'm Scared"

What do you tell children who are afraid of what is happening in the News?

When children hear about a gunman shooting police officers or a bomb blowing up people in the mall on the news report, their mind and heart are overwhelmed. The fear that gets into their psyche produces anxiety which may come out in nightmares, abnormal timidity, or negative behavior.

What can a mother say?  Number one, don’t put the child down with some quick remark like “that’s foolish” or “you shouldn’t think that way.”  How much better to listen, ask questions, and give the child a chance to express what is in their heart.

Can you be honest enough to say that sometimes you get scared too when you hear these things?  Let the child know that it isn’t uncommon for even big people to have these feelings.  When someone understands, it opens the door to hope that maybe things will be okay.

Love is greater than fear, so take the opportunity to hug the child and let the young person know that you love him (her) so much.  And how much more is  God’s love for each one of us?  What a powerful time to pray together asking Jesus to get rid of those bad fears with His perfect love, and to protect our family from all the evil in the world.  Encourage the child to say his own prayer asking Jesus to help him.

If the child is old enough to understand, this may be an open door to explain about sin, which leads to evil, and that is why Jesus died on the cross, to pay the price for all evil.  Sometimes when things go wrong, people realize they need Jesus’ help.  God wants every person to come to Him.  Besides what Jesus did 2000 years ago when He became man, someday, Jesus is going to come again and make everything right.  Then there will be no more evil, or crying, or death.

Often the evening news only tells us about the bad things that are happening, but God is doing a lot of good things too.  For example, the news reports all the trouble in Syria, Iraq, and in the Middle East where there are a lot of Muslim terrorists.  But on the other hand, consider how God is opening hearts to turn to Jesus.  “From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims that have converted to faith in Jesus Christ has grown from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people”1(Joel Rosenberg)  Ten million people brought into the kingdom of God forever is so much greater than the trouble.

The child who is afraid needs our comfort and help to restore hope that his world is not falling apart.  The truth is that it does look that way many times, but we also know God is greater and He has a plan to put an end to all evil.  Jesus rose from the dead and overcame all sin.  He will come again and make all things new.  Come, Lord Jesus!   

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Put an End to all Evil

"I'm so afraid of the coming events described in Revelation that I don't even want to think about the end times."   These and similar reactions are typical of Christians interviewed about their reaction when someone mentions the last days.  How do you approach conversation or even your own thoughts about the days that Jesus described, "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved?" Clearly there are some extremely hard times ahead, but how should the mature Christian think and feel about what is coming?

As the daily morning news seems to highlight one more act of violence and murder, racial hatred, and ISIS inspired terrorist act, we have all become only too familiar with the fallen nature of man and how the enemy is able to "steal, kill, and destroy."  A growing spirit of depression and frustration gets stirred up in the human heart each time we hear of one more act of injustice.  No wonder the Bible states that "because lawlessness is increased, the love of most people will grow cold." Matthew 24:12

On the other hand, God is not mocked and is moving mightily on the earth. We just don't always see it.  Just as the coming of the baby Jesus seemed like a completely helpless and futile attempt by God to change the world and mankind. Today God is raising up millions of prayer intercessors around the world that may seem insignificant to the average person, but this mighty force is powerful in shaking the heavens and the earth. 

“From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims that have converted to faith in Jesus Christ has grown from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people”  Joel Rosenberg recently said, citing a 19-page peer-reviewed study.  See   Likewise reports continue to come in about an unprecedented move of God's Spirit in Latin America and millions are responding to the Gospel in Africa.  As Christians unite in prayer, and 24/7 prayer/worship groups continue to rise up, the prophecy of Isaiah 60 will surely come to pass: "For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen..."  God is not mocked by evil men or the devil. He raises a Standard against it. We know and believe God's plan will bring in the most possible souls into the kingdom, for He desires that all be saved.

There is one main warning Jesus gives in His comments about end time, found in all the Gospel accounts.  "Be not deceived."   Paul reiterates this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first."  Why or how could those who have come to know Jesus and believe in Him fall away?  Verses 9 and 10 of the same chapter point out, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved."  The key to having peace and not being shaken is to receive the "love of the truth," namely, God's Word.  May you and I call on the Holy Spirit right now to give us a love for the truth that never wavers, even in the light of public opinion, peer pressure, and false signs and wonders.

Yes, evil days are coming and the tribulation that Jesus and Revelation describe will occur.  It will only stop when Jesus comes again and instantly changes every kingdom to "become the kingdom of our Lord."  What is He waiting for?  Could He be waiting for the Spirit and the bride to say, "Come."  When Christians see how evil the enemy is, and how fallen man in his pride and fleshly lusts, and how he arrogantly thinks he can do whatever he wants without consequence, then we will long for and cry out with all our being, "Come!" 

So I have come to love and desire to know more about God's perfect plan and triumph in Revelation (God promises a blessing on all who read and/or hear the words of the book), and to see things going on in a new light.  Each enemy attack and victory for those who defy God's law opens my eyes to need for Jesus to intervene.  The more I  understand God's plan for the end, the more my heart longs for Him to come and to put an end to all evil.  Come, Lord Jesus!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Too Late

"Get out of the car."  The teenage boy continued to play with his iPhone and simply ignored the request of his father.  "Son, you need to get out of the car and come right now!" demanded the father.  Still no response.  "Robert, that's enough playing around, put the iPhone away and come with us into the school." pleaded the dad.  Slowly the young man got out of the car and walked with his father and grandfather to the school building, although his attention was clearly still focused on the game he was playing on his device.

Inside the school the boy plopped himself down on the stairs while the dad spoke to the school receptionist.   When greeted warmly by the school secretary, the boy did not even look up from his game.  Trying to engage the young man, she asked "What is your name?"  No response.   She then turned the inquirers over to the principal.

The dad explained that he was having trouble with the boy and wanted to put him into the Christian school.  "He needs help."  The principal listened to the father share the situation and greeted the young man seated on the third step.  The boy did not even look up.  He wouldn't answer or acknowledge the principal either.  Finally, the school official had to inform the parent, "It is too late.  If he refuses to listen or obey you, we are not able to work with that attitude or to help him here."  Sadly, the father looked at the grandfather and realized the truth of that statement.  It was too late.   

Let's look at the big picture.  God obviously calls parents to "bring up children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  Parents really only have two choices concerning the education of their children: either do it themselves or have someone teach them who will instill the same truth and values that the Christian parents know.  Yet public education is free.   Often we are willing to compromise our convictions when money is involved. 

But we all know that "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10).  And in this case the money saved opens the door to the child being brought up in the ways of the world. Two studies conducted by both the Barna Group and USA Today found that nearly 75 percent of Christian young people fall away from the faith and leave the church after high school.  Consider the facts. Statistics show that children today spend an average of 30 hours per week in school where they are often taught ideas that are diametrically opposed to biblical truths, e.g., evolution, the acceptance of homosexuality, living for self, etc. Then they come home to another 30 hours per week spent in front of a television set bombarded by commercials and sitcoms, playing video games, or connecting on social media. This is in contrast to the time spent weekly in the church classroom or in family Biblical instruction: 45 minutes.

It is time to wake up.  Obviously God knew the challenge before He declared this truth, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6)  Parents, who do everything in their power to build God's love and truth in their young children, need to make sure that when they reach school age, Christian truth and environment continues to be the heart of their learning.  Churches need to encourage and to be willing to count the cost and make sure that Christian education is available for every child.  The time to put children in Christian school is when their heart attitudes and thought patterns are being formed.  Unfortunately, many parents are only awakened to the need when the young boy or girl exhibits negative attitudes and behavior from years of being exposed to and trained by worldly ways.  That is too late.

Another older parent, who now supports Christian education, weeps as he tells me how his son has left the faith and is showing very destructive behavior to himself and the family.  He now greatly regrets not having put him in Christian school when he was young.  Obviously, God never gives up on anyone.  However, it is not always necessary to go through all the grief and misery, and there is never any guarantee that the child will repent and come back to the Lord.

Consider the lesson of Esau.  "lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.  For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:16-17)  Sometimes it is too late.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Be of Good Cheer

Something bad happens.

You feel it is unfair and not right.  You want to complain.  You want to feel sorry for yourself.  You want to blame someone for the way you were mistreated.  You are upset and frustrated.  You feel, just like Jonah after a worm killed his shade tree outside of Nineveh, that you have a right to be angry.  You want to find someone to pour out all your pent-up emotions and frustrations upon, so you can have some sympathy.  You may even feel depressed and just want to quit. 

Do you know what is wrong about all these responses?  They don't work.  They only increase the negative results. 

The question is what do you do?  or maybe, what can you do?

Two strong suggestions:  1) Shut up.  Don't shoot your mouth off and make comments that later show your immaturity and for which you may be sorry.  2) Open your eyes to see beyond the immediate circumstances.

First, be quiet.  Proverbs 18:21 instructs us that death and life are in the tongue, so watch what you say.  Secondly note the wise response: Proverbs 29:11 declares, "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." and Proverbs 10:19 states that "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise."

Secondly, see the big picture.  You have been created in the image of God, you have been given life and love and a unique personality that God designed to enjoy His glory forever.  Jesus has paid the ultimate price for you showing your infinite worth and His everlasting love for you.  He is faithful and will be with you in the greatest or least trial.  You will make it.  Jesus said it this way (in John 16:33) "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  Later, in first John, He tells us that everyone who is born of God overcomes the world.

How do you get there when you feel overwhelmed in a negative situation?  Ask God for help.  He tells us in Ephesians 4:26  “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath" and in Romans 8:13 "but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Since He has called us to make these choices He also is here to do it inside us. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).  Ask Him to do it as you surrender your fleshly "rights."

Last but not least, be filled with the Spirit.  The Word of God is spirit and life, so in other words, it feeds and gives life to the spirit.  As you read the Word and choose to obey it, the Spirit of God causes that seed to grow inside us.  Since it is God's will that we rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), we release the Spirit's power to dominate our flesh when we begin to give thanks, choose to rejoice, and deliberately trust God to work the situation for good.  His strength will enable us to make it through the current situation.

Are you in trouble?  Jesus answers it best, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."