Posts Tagged God

The End of the World

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It is May 22, a day some did not believe they would see, and in reality, some didn’t. Yesterday was the last day in this world for someone, somewhere.  There were a number of people preparing for yesterday to be their last, and because it wasn’t they now have time to make some adjustments, or so they assume.  Like Harold Camping, we think we know, but instead our confidence is more likely it will not be today. We all assume, but we do not know the number of our days.

A few years ago when my world nearly ended in an instant, in a single moment, my assumptions were confronted.  Not that I would want to relive it, that confrontation did have a benefit.  I am no longer arrogant to assume that I have anything more than today. No, I don’t take unnecessary risks for the adrenaline rush, daily rewrite my bucket list, or live for myself out of some egocentric idea that this is all there is anyway. However, it made me settle a few things, even those things I thought I already had. Everything was on the table for evaluation—it was not the time for wishful thinking or cliché living, which makes you feel better without addressing the real questions. As for me, most were again answered in Christ and those still unanswered rest in eternal hope.

If you have spent even a millisecond in the abyss of Why? What then? What if? then you are familiar with the deeper things simmering in the soul. If left unsettled or unasked, we begin to think the important stuff is material, experiential, unlinked to the cavernous void we try to fill, or that we mock. Sure, we can scoff at Camping and his followers, which feeds our sense of superiority for just a minute, but a passing smirk or sarcastic chuckle doesn’t abate the questions. I am not excusing Mr. Camping and his responsibility in all the hype; I believe the individual is responsible for their own choices. Some are too easily led astray, some are too arrogant to ponder the questions, and some are not paying attention at all.

If there is anything positive we can take away from the May 21, 2011 End of the World stuff this week, it is the reminder to prepare. Don’t wait for a near death experience, a sudden loss, or the next end of the world prophecy to seek the answers to lingering questions—that creates too much pressure to come up with quick answers. Take the time to prepare your soul for the day your time here ends (which is more likely to come before the Second Coming) and prepare your heart to receive each day as a gift until that time arrives.

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When Laughter Bubbles-Up

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After a good cry this morning over things outside of my control, a laugh bubbled-up from within that banished the tears.  It came out of nowhere, shifting my focus from the crummy stuff that happens in life to Eternal hope.  Ironic really, it was a spontaneous laugh, which had little to do with joy and more to do with declaration. Don’t know that I would call it holy laughter, though it did remind me of my Hope.

In the midst of this transitional moment, Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come”, came to mind (not coincidentally I am certain). I think she laughs in confidence, not because she knows the future or because present circumstances always point to something positive, but because she knows Who holds her future. I suppose that is where the rub is, the unknown can be my undoing as much as the known reality right before me.  Maybe the Proverbs woman airs her confidence with laughter since she knows that strength and dignity are divine, given by God, unaffected by the cares on her shoulders or circumstances at her feet.

Maybe that is where that spontaneous chuckle bubbled-up from—that deep place of trusting the One that holds my future. Being enveloped with divine strength and inherent value will indeed turn dread to delight, lamenting to levity, and gloom to guffaw if we let it.

Today, I let it.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (NIV) Isaiah 54:10

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A Hypothetical Conversation…or is it?

Lord, here I am at your feet…again.  I am disappointed, awash with regret.  The old overtakes the new just when I least expect it.  Old patterns, old voices…all the things I gladly left behind.  I feel defeated when I fail even though Your word says otherwise.  Oh, please forgive me.

My insecurities obscure truth like cobwebs over treasures in an attic.  The treasure is there, at least I want to believe it is, but how will it ever be revealed so long as I wallow in this perpetual state of desperation? I want to be well; I want to be healed, if I could just be closer to You.

I am tired of being manipulated by unhealed hurts, the fear of pain’s return.  Is there some secret to filling the void and keeping my soul at peace when the temporal seems to overwhelm the eternal?  I’ve been here before; I thought I was done dealing with this.  How do I draw close enough to You that the rest melts away?  What can I do or say to manifest Your presence more in my life?

Child, your questions were answered in “Lord, here I am at your feet”.  It is the best place you can be, not your last resort.

Not sure what it is about revelation coming in the bathroom, but I could hardly shower fast enough as this conversation played out in my head and heart, wanting to write it down before it vanished like the water at the drain.  It was as though the Lord dropped this in my spirit as a follow-up to the scripture we read last night in Mark 6:55-56 They ran through that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces.  They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

I could not help but think about those that pursued him for healing vs. those that must have remained at the city gate, resolved to remain as they were.  Healing has never just happened in my life, it has always manifested through pursuit.  At times, it has felt like I’ve traversed vast regions to touch the hem of his garment, other times it was but a breath away.  I do not understand the paradox of its timing, only that it takes place at His feet.

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Restoring Honor Rally: A View from the Crowd

On August 28, a multitude gathered around the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. for Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally, which raised more than $5 million dollars for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.  The speakers included representatives from SOWF, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Dr. Alveda King and Marcus Luttrell. Pastor Paul Jehle and Dan Roever delivered the opening and closing prayers.

Since there is no shortage of opinion circulating about the Restoring Honor Rally, I wanted to offer a view straight from those who participated.  L.T. and Tina Bowens traveled from Oklahoma to attend the rally.  Tina is a Captain in the U.S. Army and L.T. attends Oral Roberts University while caring for their daughter at home.  This is their experience.

1. What motivated you to attend the rally?
Tina: I have been listening to Glenn Beck for a while and the message of the event was appealing. I wanted to participate—to take a stand for the realization that a spiritual awakening will be necessary for America to regain honor.
L.T.: I was really motivated by Tina.

2. What was most significant about the experience for you?
Tina: The closing speech by Glenn when he said, “God is not done with you yet, he is not done with man’s freedom yet.” This was significant because although our country hasn’t been perfect, we have done many things well.  We have a firm foundation to draw from as we look to the future.  We have the freedom to choose. Individually we must get our own lives in order, turn to God.
L.T.: Several people said, “I’m glad you’re here.” One older man said, “I wish more of you could be here.”  I believe he was expressing that he really wished people knew they are not racist and they want to be united. (L.T. is African-American.) Anyone can have an impact and make a difference if we make the decision to do so. God is not done with you; he is not done with man’s freedom.  The presentation was genuine. I appreciated the lengths they went to and the effort they made to be inclusive.  I especially liked the definition of honor that I heard: Honor is keeping your promises.

3. What was most disappointing about the experience for you?
Tina: I lament the pervasive deception that prevented more people of different ethnicities from attending the event in greater numbers. So many have been told outright lies about Glenn Beck and the people who were to attend the rally.  Actually, it just saddens me that we’re not able to penetrate the deception and reach more people with the truth, yet.  One other aspect that was disappointing was the looks of disdain from protest groups.  That made me uncomfortable. 
L.T.: As a believer in Christ, while I appreciate the idea of being unified, I do have a concern that people could miss being unified in Christ.

4. What types of comments did you hear from people who attended the rally?
Tina: The sharing of ideas, encouraging one another toward civic involvement, people getting to know each other in conversation.
L.T.: Concern for their country, concern over people being oblivious to what is going on in the country, “we’re not going away—it doesn’t end at this event,” the agenda of the Obama administration, loss of freedoms.

5. How would you describe the composite of people in attendance?
Tina: A great mix of ages, vocations, families, retired folks, veterans, and community groups.
L.T.: Most of the people seemed to be middle to upper income, business owners, but there were young families too.  Mostly Caucasian, maybe 8-10 percent people of color, various ages, but a lot of 50+ in the crowd.

6. The theme of the rally was restoring honor in America. Did you walk away with a clear understanding as to how to do that (the solution), or was the focus more about the lack of honor in America (the problem)?
Tina: The problem of the decline of honor in America was acknowledged, but there was more of a focus on the responsibility of the individual to put themselves on God’s side.  The military was an example of honorable behavior. People were encouraged to emulate the courage and honor displayed by our military personnel in our own lives. We were encouraged by the awards for Faith, Hope, and Charity, and hearing their stories. Dr. Alveda King talked about focusing on character rather than skin color.  There was a 40-day challenge issued for each person to turn back to God (prayer); sacrifice for one another, our children, and our future; being honorable in your own life by getting the lies out of your life—stop lying to others or yourself.
L.T.: For me, it is to keep my promises.  During the song Amazing Grace, I thought of the verse, I was blind, but now I see.  Even though saved, I can still be blind to certain things or issues. When we depend on ourselves, we can be blinded, when we depend on God, we see more clearly.  We must be oriented toward God.

7. Was there a particular speech that was especially stirring?
Tina: Alveda King’s speech and Native American pastor, Dr. Negiel Bigpond, who introduced C.L. Jackson.  He spoke about the need for all people to hear the gospel of Christ, for Native Americans to come off the reservations to impact their community and no longer be isolated.
L.T.: Glenn Beck’s concluding speech when he talked about the “giants” of history (Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King). Alveda King’s speech: She thanked Glenn for putting together a rally that focuses on the content of a person’s character rather than the color of their skin. To be united as the human race.  She ended her speech encouraging people to repent from racism.  I feel like people also need to repent for unforgiveness toward those who have been racist toward them.
[Beaufort County Now, Dr. Alveda King ended with these words: “I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day that the God of love will transcend color and economic status and cause us to turn from moral turpitude. I have a dream that Americans will repent from the sin of racism and return to Honor. I have a dream that America will pray and God will forgive us our sins and revive us in our land.”]

8. How would you describe the atmosphere at the event?
Tina: Hopeful. Peaceful. A feeling of community and willingness to help one another. A sense of camaraderie, we are not isolated or alone.
L.T.: They [the people at the event] were some of the nicest people you would ever meet. People proud of the freedom they have because others sacrificed, yet humble, motivated by gratefulness for what they have.

9. L.T., what are your feelings about this rally being held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech?
L.T.: I felt some would misunderstand and misrepresent the intention of holding the rally on that day.  Personally, I believe it was honoring to Martin Luther King, but it went beyond that. Some people think that day [MLK’s speech in 1963] is just for people of color, but it is for freedom for all people—all mankind. People who think it is just for one group of people missed the point.

10. What impact, if any, do you believe this rally will have politically?
Tina: People are less apathetic, becoming more involved in their communities. The religious leaders of the Black Robe Regiment committed to take the principles of honor back to their church community, estimated to reach over 1 million people. They will encourage their congregations to be informed in their voting/political choices and more involved in their own communities.
L.T.: People left with a sense that they were not alone. They realized that hundreds of thousands of people believe and stand for the same things that they do. This has the possibility of encouraging people to get involved and solidify their resolve to stand firm on what they believe—to not give up. If people had a question as to whether they should get involved, this event helped them make that decision. I have a new resolve to sacrifice to preserve freedom in this country.

Note: Doug Schoen, political analyst and Democratic pollster, mentions meeting this couple in the Dallas airport in this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/09/03/doug-schoen-tea-party-mainstream-media-bias-glenn-beck-martin-luther-king/#content

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Freedom’s Call: Standing Firm in Liberty

by selimbk

As patriotic prose stirs the hearts of Americans on the 4th of July, let us consider the freedom we hold dear and its resounding call.  From Pharaoh’s palace, to Calvary’s hill, to Pennsylvania’s State House in 1776, people have proclaimed freedom.  A parting sea, the cross, and the ringing Liberty Bell have all symbolized the triumph.

Freedom’s call is not only to those oppressed by chains or laws, but to the fettered soul as well.  Woven into the pattern of history is humanity’s struggle to attain freedom, often through intense sacrifice.  This beckoning song of liberty resonates in every human heart, regardless of culture, creed, or circumstances—embedded in our DNA by the Author of freedom.  Though hopelessness, intimidation, and fear may tout an advantage, our God-breathed spirit echos any whisper of deliverance.

As much as the heart yearns to be free, the threads of liberty are often intertwined with the propensity to relinquish it through apathy or insecurities, exchanging one form of slavery for another.  The Israelites were free from their taskmasters, but the desert heat and seeming uncertainty left them longing to return to the security of slavery.  Believers receive salvation in Christ, yet forgo the abundant life for institutional religiosity.  America’s founding principles of liberty and justice inspire hope around the world, yet are gradually relinquished through apathy and the complacency of prosperity.

Each year, we celebrate the freedom we enjoy in this great country on July 4, remembering the courage and sacrifice required for our benefit.  Each day brings opportunity to celebrate our liberty in Christ and His authorship of freedom, allowing it to saturate our lives.  Whether it is physical, cultural, or spiritual, there is always a price for freedom, a requisite diligence to maintain it, and someone waiting to take it (or convince us to give it up).  Galatians 5:1 affirms the responsibility of the individual for freedom’s keep—it does not endure if it is not guarded.  May we learn from the annals of human history and stand firm in our liberation.

Sonnet “The Liberty Bell” by R.R.R. Moore

Ring loud that hallowed Bell!
Ring it long, ring it long;
Through the wide world let it tell
That Freedom’s strong:

That the whole world shall be free —
The mighty crowd, the mighty crowd —
That the proud shall bend the knee,
The haughty proud.

Ring, ring the mighty Bell,
In the storm, in the storm!
Brothers! It shall herald well
Fair Freedom’s form.

Ring it Southward, till its voice
For slavery toll, for slavery toll;
And Freedom’s wakening touch rejoice
Both limb and soul.

Ring it o’er the negro’s grave!
Ring it deep, ring it deep;
Its tones are sacred to the slave,
In Freedom’s sleep.

Ring it, till its startling tones
Thrill young and old, young and old;
Till despots tremble on their thrones,
And their blood run cold.

Ring it, till the slave be free,
Wherever chained, wherever chained;
Till Universal Liberty
For aye be gained.

Ring it, till the young arise
To Freedom’s fight, to Freedom’s fight;
Spring gladly toward the kindling skies,
All clothed in light.

Ring it, till the bonds of sect
Be torn away, be torn away;
Till every man, as God’s elect,
Kneel down to pray.

Ring it, till the world have heard,
And felt, at length, and felt, at length;
Till every living soul be stirred,
And clothed with strength.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Hall
Photo by: http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp171/selimbk/Cross-Flag.jpg
http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/07/losing_the_republic.html
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+5%3A1&version=NIV
Sonnet “The Liberty Bell” by R.R.R. Moore, Published by the Friends of Freedom, 1844

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