Justice and Righteousness

www.bible.com/1713/amo.5.24.csb

So I’ve been working on laundry and housework today. Been singing a couple praise tunes, but nothing profoundly spiritual. Kids are out of school today for the holiday. I’ve got a half-day since our census is down at the workplace. So I’m sitting here trying to think of something profound to say.

Justice seems to be the theme of the day, right? With Trump’s impeachment trial in the news, and Virginia’s gun issues all over the headlines. People are looking for justice. But then there is also this holiday, which seems to me to be more about civil rights than about Martin Luther King, Jr. today. I mean, what other civil rights advocates got to have a federal holiday? MLK had the advantage of being a martyr, but there are plenty of civil rights advocates that have done as much. Emmett Till didn’t get to grow up to be a great speaker. Malcolm X was just mean. Louis Farrakhan is trying to be the next MLK but he’s in the wrong religion.

And what are they preaching about justice today? In short, it is to hold the sons accountable for the sins of the fathers. Specifically, modern advocates of “justice” want to take away from those that have and give to those that have not because of the belief that the “have not’s” are poor because they didn’t grow up with the same advantages today that the “have’s” did. Therefore “justice” is wealth redistribution on the premise of historical bias.

Do you know why there is such a thing as “white privilege”? It is because white families tend to keep their fathers around longer than black families. Why do Asians do so well, even better than whites? Because Asian families have an even higher expectation of their children than whites do. When you look beyond the race issue, you find families that are suffering because the traditional nuclear family no longer exists for many children. If you have a successful black man, you will find a successful family behind him. You will find a family that had high expectations for their child.

“Social justice” isn’t an attempt to make a level playing field. It’s an attempt to rehabilitate the War on Poverty of Lyndon Johnson. He believed that if blacks learned to depend on government, and replace the father with a welfare check, blacks would vote for democrats in perpetuity. So far, he’s been proven right. It’s human nature. If you are handed something without working for it, you will fight to defend your right to receive it, because you “deserve” it. No one has a greater sense of privilege than someone who didn’t have to work for it. Ask rich kids.

Is this a rant? Yeah, probably. I frankly despise anyone who cloaks family breakdown and economic disadvantage with skin color. America is the freest country in the world when it comes to economic opportunity and faith. That’s why she is most harshly attacked in these areas. If justice flowed like water and righteousness like a river these other problems would disappear in a generation. If we were right and just and fair with each other, if we acted with integrity with our fellow man, “racial inequality” would vanish. If we practiced that simple Christian principle of “think of each other more highly than yourselves” what good could we accomplish?

Father God, we are wise enough to realize that we have not done well as a nation. Our fathers committed sins that we are still paying for. I know there is anger on all sides of these issues, and to stir up the embers of old fires isn’t helping anyone. Father as your people, whether our skin is white, black, yellow, red, or green, we know you did not make a “master” race, because all of us are made in Your image. Help us to remember that it is not about the color of skin that makes us special, but the cost for our souls. May we remember that we were bought with a price, not with gold or silver, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. It is the value of His sacrifice that makes us valuable. It is the cost of His blood that makes every life costly. Help to remember all of these things and grant us wisdom to deal with our fellow man with gentleness and respect, regardless of their skin color. We pray these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Guide my Feet

www.bible.com/1713/psa.119.105.csb

Not sure where your life is going today? It’s Monday morning and you are back to the same ground you’ve been doing for years. Nothing has changed. Monday is a painful reminder that your life has been put on hold indefinitely. Yes. It’s a job. Your family is cared for. Your needs are met. Your marriage is good. But it’s Monday and life is dull. It’s been this way for years and you just don’t know how to get out of this rut.

May I suggest something? The excitement you at looking for will not be in a new location, job, or marriage. It doesn’t really matter when you are the same. What needs to change is you. If you keep looking at the world through your own lenses, it will only be as exciting as you can imagine. Take a look at your world through God’s vision. What do you see?

God sees relationships and work that He is blessing. God sees a great foundation for ”greater works than these.” Imagine the contrast of a family if one element of your blessed life is removed. Good job but bad marriage. Good house but unreliable work. Food on the table but one child is hooked on drugs. Imagine if one thing was knocked out of your perfectly boring world. Doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

Yeah, but I’m still bored. I’m sorry others aren’t as blessed as me, but that doesn’t change my situation. Maybe remind you of one verse in Philippians? ”Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Both of these drivethe engine of joy. Are you godly? Are you striving to be more like God every day? Do you appreciate and thank Gid for the blessing you enjoy every day? Do you bring the needs of others before God? Do you see others as God does? If you feel you have reached a plateau in your spiritual life, that’s not God’s fault. The depths and mysteries of God cannot be fathomed. If that doesn’t at least pique your curiosity, then you seriously need to work on your faith. Read more. Listen more. Get out of your own head. You already know everything in there. Submit to God in your daily activities and see what He can do with them. It’s not all about you.

Heavenly Father, being back to Monday isn’t what I had in mind for a good time today, but You remind me that life is more about my own needs. You remind me that I was put on this earth for You and Your purposes. Show me today what I can do to grow in my faith and not be so consumed my my own little world. Help me to grow past the dull and into the light. Show me the path. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving! Or at least as best you can manage…

www.bible.com/1713/1ch.16.34.csb

I hope you get to spend yours with family and friends today that love and care about you. Living with family isn’t always easy. Sometimes for the sake of family we won’t let ourselves out too much. Family has a way though of getting under our skin and rooting out old anxieties and issues. That’s why family get-togethers are both welcome and shunned. It’s tough being who you are since you left your home of origin. Sometimes there are bad memories of who you were, or who they were.

But fear not. The God of yesterday is the same as the God of today. If you need a moment to center yourself, find a quiet space, gather your thoughts, and meditate on the goodness of God. This day is about thankfulness. Even if your own family is a mess, we know God is not. Don’t retreat into your phone or whatever’s on TV. Retreat into God, for there is your only sure stronghold.

I hope and pray you won’t need it, but if so, may the peace of God be with you today. May His peace fill and infuse your gathering. Fear not. God is with you.

Submit to Freedom

www.bible.com/1713/1pe.2.16.csb

No one is ever truly free. The only free Being is God because He is subject to no one. All of us however are subject to something. In this life, we are slaves to our needs for air, water, and food, however long we think we could hold our breath or go without. If you live in a society in which currency is a necessity, you are never far from obligations if work or bills. If you live in a family, there are surrendered obligations of raising children or meeting your spouse’s needs. Additionally, if you have older family members, you are never far from obligations to meet their needs.

So tell me where I am free? I am free to think, choose and believe. I am free to choose what beliefs govern my life, and how I choose to meet those obligations. I am free to determine the frame of my life, which motivates me to choose certain actions over others. I am free to choose my values. And in the context of this text, I am free to choose God’s values of the world’s values. But to whichever system I choose, I am subject to it and it’s consequences.

Praise God His consequences are joy and peace! His consequences are belonging and hope. With Him there no fear, no anxiety or worry. I am free from the bondage of sin and sorrow and have entered into His glorious presence! If I must be in chains, then let those chains be forged from His sacrifice for me; His love for me never ends. I would give my life for such a One who loves me as God does. Wouldn’t you? Happy is he for whom it is said, ”Well done my good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!”

A Father’s Compassion

www.bible.com/1713/psa.103.13.csb

Happy Father’s Day to all the men who have sired progeny today. This day we set aside to honor and remember those men whom we call “Dad” above others. Some memories are harder than others. For some, dad was a hard-nosed disciplinarian. For others, he was non-existent, or cruised from day to day from his recliner and never-ending case of beer.

No surprise, dads are human. As one Scripture says, our fathers disciplined us the best they knew how. I empathize with those whose fathers were less than ideal.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Regardless of what kind of father you had, you had a better picture in mind. It’s funny, even children raised by bad fathers can tell something isn’t right. It’s like we have this implanted knowledge of proper fatherhood, and when we become fathers, we suddenly feel nervous because we feel we will fail that inbuilt standard.

That’s why today I want to draw attention to this verse, because compassion is something we seldom associate with fathers. Discipline, angry outbursts, hard working, but compassion? We see that come out in grandfathers, seeing their grand babies for the first time, and feeling like God has given them another chance. I think grandfathers may feel the grace and forgiveness of God more acutely.

Compassion is a gift given where it is not deserved. You can’t earn compassion. It is given freely and with no expectation, and when fathers are expected to raise kids according to rules, learning the helped knocks of life, compassion seems like an extra lesson. More than this, it is the measure of a good father. A father who exercises compassion is the reason we have a Father’s Day today, because a little girl once thought there ought to be a day to honor men like her father.

Father I want you to do a compassion check today. Do you care when your child is sick, or your wife is hurting? Do you seek your child’s best interests, or your own? What is more important, your needs or your wife’s? If you were able to answer in love, you are probably doing okay.

Men, I want to encourage you today to take after your Father. He has called you to be His witness to your family of His love and grace, as well as His justice. MY you find that just as sensitive a balance as I have.

God bless you all!

So What’s the Promise?

www.bible.com/1713/eph.6.2.csb

We have a lot of Scripture to thank the Apostle for. We can attribute much of our daily practice and theology to him. Which is why this passage presents us with a problem.

Paul has written elsewhere that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law, and that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. That said, he presents this text “Honor thy father and thy mother”, the fifth commandment, complete with its context, for this commandment contains a promise “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land” the Lord God is sending you to, i.e., the land of Israel. Here’s why this is a problem.

The promise of the fifth commandment is to the people of Israel, so that they could occupy and inhabit the land of promise indefinitely. The promise involved a particular piece of real estate. However, Paul does qualify this promise in its original context. Instead, his quote ends at ” land”. The problem, one might argue, is that Paul is appropriating the land promises made to Israel and passing them on to the Christians of his day. In a greater argument that Paul is extending the promises (and obligations) given to Israel are also to Christians. That’s a lot of weight to put upon one verse, especially taken out of context of the rest of Paul’s words.

Rather, Paul is extending the promise here made to Israel by observing a different focus. His focus is on the promise of “long life” rather than the land. The land here really could be anywhere Christians find themselves. The strength of this promise comes from the authority of God Himself. So why do Christian children, who have honored this commandment, still die young?

Let me present the third possibility. That the land of long life promised here isn’t eighty years and dying of old age. What’s in view here, a child that honors his father and mother by clinging to the God that saved them is a child who is promised eternal life in the land God has prepared for them.

If we are honoring father and mother, we are working out God’s will in our lives. We are honoring those He chose to bring us life, and this is important, whether we actually respect them or not. Being able to honor them is to fulfill the commandment, and to honor the God that maybe even despite them, brought you to Himself.

Not every parent is perfect, and many don’t come close. But the commandment of God is non-negotiable. Honor means respect, both in life and in memory. Honor can be honest, but it must be respectful. If you have good parents, this is easy. If not, this is one of your greatest challenges. But know that we are all in this together. If you need help, ask. Let us pray with you.

I hope you can have a happy Father’s Day. God bless you all!

The Law of the Harvest

www.bible.com/1713/gal.6.7.csb

Honestly I don’t think about this one very much. I don’t live in a area where I am surrounded by cornfields and soybeans like I used to. But I remember enough of those days to know that whatever you plant, you can expect to sow. That is, you won’t get wheat if you plant corn. You won’t get tomatoes if you plant potatoes. You reap what you sow. You harvest what you plant. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? That’s why it’s called the Law of the Harvest.

However, did you know that this law extends into other areas? If you sow lies, you will get deceit. If you sow anger, you will get rebellion. If you sow infidelity, you will get betrayal. If you plant something in your relationships and even in your church, you will reap accordingly. Do you want a good family? Then must at least do good among them. Do you want a good marriage? Then you must at least be a faithful partner.

The fist part of this verse says this: “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked.” What is this supposed to mean? God has already said what is the best way to deal with your kids, your spouse, you family and you church. He has already told you how to deal with your manager, your friends, other people in the world. He will not be mocked by you. Others may try to deceive you into another way to deal with all of these people and relationships. They may tell you that letting your children be free to discover themselves is the best way, but God says, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” A child needs external discipline from parents to teach them what good and courteous behavior is. Only with that external discipline will they begin their own internal discipline, which makes for good citizens, and people of conscience. God told us, and He will not be mocked. And we have already seen the results of what happens when you spare the rod.

I don’t know what pain you are going through right now, but I want to encourage you too. It’s not too late. God will not be mocked, but He will forgive. You may have been deceived, but you don’t have to stay that way. God calls you today to truth, believe and you can be forgiven. Come to Jesus so that you may receive forgiveness through His blood. You won’t regret it.

God bless you today.