Monday, April 29, 2013

Yes Sir

Openness, humility, admiration, appreciation, love, respect, submission.

Honor.

With some young people, you can see it in their eyes when they look at their parents. 

(One of my favorite examples is at 2:02 in this video: https://vimeo.com/37457216 )

Those young people are so inspiring to me. I want to model that kind of honor for my siblings, for my friends.

The LORD has been convicting me of my own lack of honor for my elders in general and my parents in particular. Sure, I do what they tell me to. But honor is about so much more than that.

I listened to an excellent Generations Radio broadcast yesterday about honoring parents; Mr. Doug Phillips was the guest on the show. He, too, is a recent source of conviction and inspiration for me in this area; the honor that he gave to his father in his lifetime and is still giving him now after he has gone on to glory is so beautiful to behold.

On the show, they talked about the issue of jurisdiction. God has placed me under my parents' jurisdiction. It is not for me to critique them (openly or in my heart); I'm not their judge. Rather, I should be striving to bless, serve, honor and obey them, and to assist their vision.
How beautiful, how loving, how liberating is the honoring life!

Pride is something else that I struggle with; I don't think it's a coincidence. Scripture tells us to put off and to put on; it's going to be hard to put off pride unless I put on humility- which is a huge part of honor towards authorities.  And oh the joy, the freedom from irritation that comes when I'm no longer wrapped up in my own schedule and my own plans and my own me.  What I want, what I deserve, blahblahblah.

And how amazing is it to think that the first commandment with a promise is the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother"?  God will bless those who honor their parents.

So: want to be happy? Want to be humble? Want to be blessed? Want to be successful? Want to be wise? Want to defeat the kingdom of darkness?

Say "Yes sir."








Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Complacency of Fools

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you realized, deep down, sincerely, that in the next few hours, you could die?

Until earlier this year, my answer to that question would have been "no."


A few months ago, we went out into the desert for a men's prayer advance; not the most dangerous thing in the world, usually, unless you're a part of the army of darkness.

Part of the itinerary is that on Friday after lunch all the men go off and find a place to pray for a little while; this allows for time to really focus on what is being learned; time to spend alone with God and in His Word.

Off I went; I picked a peak in the distance (but it didn't seem to be any significant distance) and set off towards it.  On my way there, I had the vague idea that I wasn't quite paying attention and wasn't exactly sure how to get back to camp, but I figured that so long as I reserved a little extra time to get back, it would be no problem.

It's a humiliating, frightening, perspective-changing thing, being thwarted by a few miles of dirt.

The extra time that I reserved to get back to camp came and went, but no camp appeared.  Up one hill and down another; these gentle, rolling rocks suddenly became impenetrable camouflage, providing a vantage point when on top and obscuring any distant objects at all other times.

I discovered a huge variety of things that I didn't know were near our campsite; the Gila river, abandoned buildings, mineshafts.  I nearly stepped on a snake; that was- exciting.  Again at another time, I heard the distinctive rattle of our favorite local reptile.

Eventually I gave up trying to find the camp and switched tactics; I could see the highway in the distance, so I made that my new destination.  Yet now a new obstacle met me- the Gila river.

I heard some people talking in the distance, but after a brief long-distance conversation I began to suspect that they were the sort of people whose help I might not want anyway.  My trek continued, and I started back along the river in hopes that eventually it would cross the highway and I would be able to get help.

The sun was going down; my heart was sinking with it; though, praise God, I was afraid, but at peace.

Then I saw some kind of factory, its two imposing barrel-towers standing above the earth, its lights a welcome sight in the darkening desert.  I got to the factory and searched for a person, a phone- nothing.  The doors were locked; the area was unoccupied.

Never have I been so grateful for water as when I smelled, taste-tested, then gulped the water that came from a hose apparently used to wash trucks.

After doing some exploring and pondering (and taking another drink), I set off towards the highway again; this time, the path was clear.

Once there, I started waving down cars- well, "waving down" sounds a little less agitated than I was.  It was not the best location for doing so, as a prison was very nearby, but, thanks be to God, a man stopped.  Another moment of great relief.

He was able to call my Dad, and then he took me to a nearby gas station, bought me some water, and left me there for my Dad to pick up.

-------

The other side of the story comes from my Dad, who at first, when I didn't return, was simply planning to reprove me for inconsiderate lateness- but then he began to suspect that something was wrong.  Eventually, the whole camp was looking for me.  Dad, my little brother, and two other men took a truck out to look for me.

Micah, my 5-year-old brother, at first found it to be an exciting little jaunt, but as the sun set he said "I miss Gabe."

Someone suggested that it was time to call Search and Rescue.  Dad was about to dial 9-1-1 when another man in the car asked if he knew where they were; not wanting to call only to not be able to answer the questions of the operators, Dad decided to wait until they returned to camp, so as to be able to give an accurate location.  It was then that he received the phone call from the man who picked me up.

It was a tearful reunion; not the most idyllic location, but I was certainly thankful for that little gas station in the desert.

The sermon that we had heard just hours before?

How God often gives moments of preparation with Him- Gethsemane- before He calls for great sacrifice- Golgotha.

Dad had honestly and genuinely figured that I was dead.  He says that he now knows just a fraction of what it must feel like to have a dead son.  And even in the moment, he was praying that if this was his Golgotha, he was willing.

I praise God for a father of faith like that; odd though it may seem, it is the father who is ready to give even his own child if God requires it who truly loves that child more.  He has never failed to make clear to us all that Jesus comes first.  Jesus always comes first.  Oh, may that be true of all of us.

As for me, I had the most frightening, humbling experience that I've ever had; as I said at the beginning, this was the first time in my life where the reality of death stared me in the eyes.   I was immensely blessed, really; all the experience ended up being was a multiple-hour hike without much water.  Yet it was enough to serve as a powerful reminder of so many things.

As far as the other campers are concerned- well, I'll probably never live this one down.

-------

There's plenty to learn from this, of course.

1.  Don't underestimate nature.  I'm an Arizonan; I should have known this.  A few square miles of dirt is all it takes to kill us if God is not merciful.  People die from experiences like this all the time!

2.  Don't overestimate yourself.  "I'm a young, fit, obstacle-race-running teenage guy.  Surely I should be able to be stupid and get away with it."  Oh, you young, fit, obstacle-race-running fool.  Whether this approach is taken consciously or subconsciously, it is dangerous and foolhardy.  How many times must we be warned?

3.  Make your ear attentive to wisdom.  Actively make your ear attentive.  My parents have warned me enough about things like preparedness and attentiveness that I have only my own complacency and pride to blame for my danger, my father's and friends' turmoil, and the disruption of the entire camp.

4.  Pay attention.  The simple act of marking a few landmarks in my mind would have been enough to change this story into the story of just another normal day at camp.

5.  We have it so easy.  Years ago, pioneers traveled this land in small groups of covered wagons; cowboys roamed the desert on horseback.  Now, we scarcely venture off the asphalt, and when we do dare step out of our air-conditioned carriages, and wander a little ways off into untamed wilderness, we are so easily lost.  Let's not let the blessing of hot meals and cool rooms make us weak.  If those things are taken away, will we still be able to press on for The Kingdom of Christ, to still bless the name of God?  I don't want to be a soft man; though I have no aspirations of living in a covered wagon, I do want to take the occasional cold shower, or crawl under barbed wire every once in a while.


6.  Remember how short life is and how blessed we are.  Staring death in the eyes makes one appreciate so much and appreciate it so much more.  Tom Hanks in Castaway, after living on an island for years, was content to simply turn the lights on and off- and on and off.  We have so much; how much of it do we even notice?  How much of it are we even grateful for?  How much have we invested in our siblings?  Our parents?  Time goes by so fast; may we invest it wisely.

I'm sure there are more takeaways; point 6 leads easily into a discussion of the honor of parents- something else that God has been recently working in my heart about.  Another topic for another time.

For now, though, I shall conclude this chronicle of the providences of God by saying that I am so grateful to God for His mercy.

Don't be a fool like I was.  Learn from my mistakes, my sins- don't perpetuate them.

For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. - Pr. 1:32

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Leftist Jihad

If you haven't heard it, you haven't been involved in politics for very long:

"Jesus was a socialist!"

There's a remarkable, ironic incongruity evident when those who desperately cry against a statue of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse in the same breath plead for their agenda because "that's what Jesus would want."

Yet perhaps the irony fades when seen in the light of two crucial truths; first, that the Jesus of their socialistic gospel is not the Jesus revealed in the pages of Scripture, but is an idol fashioned in the image of Marx; second, that the separation of Church and State is as impossible as the separation of soul and body.

There is perhaps no idea so important, so relevant, as this one is to the political climate of today.  In a culture of bubble-wrapped, emasculated, truthless "tolerance," the political realm can acknowledge no god but Caesar.  Yet this is precisely the dilemma which faces the supposedly irreligious politicos:

They will always acknowledge a god.

The question is not whether religion will be allowed in the realm of politics, but which religion.

Will it be Islam, with its brutal and tyrannical but self-consistent sharia?  Humanism, with its arbitrary, self-contradictory, thoroughly lost and ultimately despotic platitudes?  Christianity, with its loving, perfect, liberating laws?  Or simply government as god, state as savior, the empty promise of redemption through men tainted by the very thing from which redemption is sought- sin?

It is time for the great facade of secular neutrality to be torn down.

This is the real reason why all evidences of true Christianity must be stripped away from America's schools and courtrooms; not because religion cannot be allowed into the state, but because the Christian religion contradicts the religion of the state.

How can "thou shalt not steal" be displayed in a courtroom which endorses theft?  How can "thou shalt not kill" be displayed in a school that provides abortifacients?  How can "thou shalt not commit adultery" be displayed in a town hall which condones homosexuality?

Those remnants of Christian doctrine are heresy in the eyes of the priests and priestesses of this new religion, a religion with a new "Jesus," a new "Bible," and a new god.

The intolerance of the left only makes sense when it is understood for what it truly is; not the confused and arbitrary condemnation of religion by those who desire to preserve political purity, but rather a modern sort of inquisition, a jihad, a crusade against the one religion which the monolithic magisterium of socialism cannot withstand:

Biblical Christianity.

The Church of Marx cannot tolerate the Church of Christ, yet the Church of Marx needs a way to control a population which overwhelmingly claims to be part of the Church of Christ.  Herein lies the sinister genius of the "new Jesus."

The left has at once hidden itself behind a facade of religious neutrality while subtly substituting the true tenets of Christianity with their new gospel; a gospel of redemption through social justice rather than the bloody Cross of Jesus Christ.

Once this substitution has been made, the rest is easy.  In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand sums the idea up nicely:
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them... just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted--and you create a nation of law-breakers--and then you cash in on guilt." 
And so the left has done, both in the literal world of laws and prisons and in the realm of ideas- and it is the ideological prison which has chained America.  By poisoning the well of Truth which is Christianity, by perverting the tenets of Scripture, the left has rendered American Christendom largely confused and politically impotent; instead of standing firm on the truth of Scripture, the Church in America weakly flings conservative platitudes against liberal ones, always a little less wrong than the Marxist, but rarely any more right.

The godless left is just as religious as the Christian right, but the former has convinced the latter that their religion has no place in the political sphere.

The people of God in America have been disarmed of their Sword; worse, they have flung It down and joined their enemies in ridiculing It.  It is not ultimately Marx's fault that America has let go of the legacy of Christian liberty left her by her forefathers; the blame falls squarely at the feet of an unfaithful Church.

It is time for the Church to awake again; to repent, to return, to reform, to again, as the prophets of old, proclaim the real and living Jesus, and decry the new gospel of the Church of Marx for the lie that it is.

Until this is undone, no serious progress towards liberty in this nation can be accomplished.  Jesus said "Whoever is not with Me is against Me."  America needs to remember this.  Any entity which claims to be irreligious is by necessity anti-Christian; any entity which claims to be Christian must by definition submit to the Word of God.

So let the Christian right first remember that the Marxists are just as devout, just as puritanical, just as desperately clinging to their religion as the Christians are.

Then, she must remind the eager evangelist of the Marxian mysteries that in the same Bible which he quotes so glibly it is written: "thou shalt not steal."

Which means that Jesus definitely wasn't a socialist.