Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Lord Sees

To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, to deny people their rights before the Most High, to deprive them of justice— would not the Lord see such things? Lamentations 3:34-36

Does the Lord notice the underdog’s plight? God loves the poor and down-and-out. Jesus seemed more comfortable with them rather than the power elite of the day.

Jesus noticed the people no one else cared about. In the Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14), Jesus invites the down-and-out because the power brokers of the day were too busy buying land and oxen. What and who the world ignores, God notices. The hurting ones, the world does not see, God sees and He cares.

He would not have us crush the less fortunate under our feet; He would not have us deny the rights of anyone. We are not to deprive any man of justice. Why? Because the Lord says so and He see the injustices we ignore or allow. Yes, the Lord sees.

This Memorial Day, remember men and women have fought to defend the rights of everyone no matter if they are powerful elite or the down-and-out. Remember, America stands for freedom and justice. Fight for what is right and remember, the Lord sees these things.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For God’s Own Glory—God’s Unique Military Strategy

Joshua 6:2-5: "Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

Joshua was about to enter his first military battle as commander of the children of Israel. I bet he had butterflies in his stomach!

At the end of Chapter 5 of Joshua, we find Joshua in the presence of the angelic commander of the Lord’s army. We find Joshua face down in the dirt.

God then reveals His plan for taking the city of Jericho. This plan has never been and never will be taught in our military academy’s “Military Strategy” classes. It seems preposterous.

Joshua obeys and God delivered the city of Jericho to them. Joshua 6:20-21 says: “When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.”

God means business, but why such a plan? Why? So man could not take glory for God’s clear and present intervention. God’s strategy was so unique, so different, no man could conceive it much less carry it out; the only logical reason for it is God’s divine intervention.

Are there things happening in our lives that are hard to understand? Do we ask “why all these persistent problems?” Could it be we are taking God’s glory for our own? I hope not.

Let’s find ourselves face down in the dirt before the Lord himself. Whatever happens, give God alone the glory; for He alone is worthy of receiving it. God puts us in situations where we are desperate for His power; He responds in marvelous ways, hard to understand, but He alone deserves the glory.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pure Praise from the Heart

Click on the blog title for a YouTube video.

"But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  1 Samuel 16:7

For many years, my wife was involved with a ministry which included a choir. One of the highlights of this group was a yearly concert. It was with much dedication that they met and practiced for this large choir gathering at Crystal Free Church in Crystal, Minnesota.

On the night of the concert, the large metro church was full for a praise service with choirs from many communities. The Cokato group (Judi’s group) was first to sing. Family and friends waited with anticipation.
The choir came forward to sing (Did I mention this group was made up approximately 40 developmentally disabled adults?), the lights lowered and the spotlight focused on all the smiling faces on the stage. They began to sing “I Love You Lord”; the words were not always distinguishable but they sang with vigor and passion. There were tears in their eyes and of all of us in the audience.

If the music critic from the Star Tribune had come, he would have to say the quality of the music was very low but the passion was off the charts. Yes, they sang the best they could; no one else could have had purer motives. They just loved to sing praises to their Lord no matter how discordant or disjointed. Man may not have been impressed because man looks at the surface things. But God was impressed; He looks at the heart and it was a sweet, sweet sound in His ear.

Many times I have visited churches and heard special music that is of excellent quality. It is amazing how God has gifted so many people. Yet I wonder if our “high standards of quality” have left us somewhat barren. We have not embraced the full spectrum of man’s praise to our Savior. But for one night I sat transfixed and blessed; quality--no; passion--unlimited. Praise to our Lord never sounded so good and it was truly a sweet, sweet sound in His ears.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

If I’m comfortable, do I need the Comforter?

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort."

Last week, after almost 40 years in this business, I saw things happen that I have never seen before. People comment on my age and say, “I bet you’ve seen everything.” I thought I had but I haven’t.

One incident I saw this week is a case where a tenant locked his keys in his suite and rather than wait for someone else (fellow employee or even call us) he kicked in his solid core door. The cost of repair will exceed $700. Why couldn’t he wait or call us? I asked him that question. He put his hands in the air and just shook his head in disgust.

What is happening to us? Why the impatience? Why the despair?

The world may lose its head, racked with guilt, despair and impatience; I guess the last refuge of relief is to kick in your own door.

I talked to the man at length; however, for the sake of privacy I do not reveal any more about the incident. But, when the world sees only randomness, no purpose and no plan greater and bigger than themselves, I understand when they say “To hell with it all”.

Jesus said we must obey and live out the incarnated God upon earth in the Name of Jesus. Who is called to have compassion upon these lonely, hurting people – we are! As believing Christians we should be the sweet fragrance of Christ. If we obey and demonstrate the love of Christ it will cost us--inconvenience, time and even our own personal peace.

To live radically for Christ means our lives, schedules, our favorite relationships will be thrown in disarray. Easily we can slip into the mind boggling despair, gloom and impatience. People inside and outside the church will encourage us to “leave them alone.” If we will, our life and schedule will not be in disarray, our heavy hearts will not be burdened.

Our life will be much more comfortable if we ignore the hurting and needy world around us. “Don’t get so radical - leave them be”, people will say. “I don’t feel sorry for you if you are stupid enough to get involved in their fractured life.”

Yes, I really understand the temptation to look the other way; I have convinced myself I didn’t need to do anything. I do all the second guessing, I do all the running away from the obvious--because I want a comfortable, undisturbed life.

Then I asked myself, if my sole desire is to have a comfortable life - why is the Holy Spirit called the comforter?

Only people who live uncomfortable lives need “The Comforter.”

Hiding out in my comfortable life is not what I was called to do. I’m called to be salt and light and demonstrate the love of Christ on the streets of Minneapolis and small towns of Western Minnesota. If I obey, I may be uncomfortable. But God has provided the Holy Spirit - the Comforter and I need not lose my head in despair. Why? Because I have “The Comforter”.