A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

June 1, 2024

How Do We Walk In The Power of Jesus?

As to the question I've proposed in today's title, our culture actually makes it hard to walk in the true essence of Jesus's power. Our culture and the world tell us we should ascend in stature and position as we grow in power. We use terms like, climb the ladder, rise to the top, work one's way up, rise to power, gain [or grow] in power. We have examples throughout history of men who ascended to the pinnacle of world power; Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Constantine, Napoleon, Vladimir Lenin, Winston Churchill, Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, George Soros to name just a few. [NOTE: I acknowledge that there have been women of power throughout history, but for the sake of this post, I will refer to men in the fact that I am comparing them to Jesus, a man]. 

But how did they get their power and what does it consist of? I recently read an article titled Obedience, Power, and Leadership that started me on this journey of understanding how Jesus's power was so radically different than what the world had experienced before His arrival on earth. In my limited expertise and simple understanding, I see the psychology of power like this: power in our cultures is founded in the ability to influence society, even when the people being influenced may attempt to resist those changes [Fiske, 1993; Keltner, Gruenfeld & Anderson, 2003]. Although this article is highly focused on social psychology and the ability of leaders to create conformity and obedience, it showed me that man's view of how to exercise power is far removed from Jesus's.

While the world teaches us we gain power as we ascend to a height of influence, Jesus says we gain power as we descend from the world's definition and become more humble; we seek to become a servant to others, and not their master. While the world leaders throughout history have used their power and influence for personal gain, Jesus had no interest in accumulating wealth or material things. 

Man's purpose on earth is most often focused on what he can gain here, on the physical earth, during his lifespan; what he has to show for his life at the end of it. Jesus, on the other hand, had an eternal perspective. He didn't come to build up a storehouse of treasure on earth. He knew His assignment here was temporary and to be short-lived. He would be returning to Heaven soon, and anything He amassed would be meaningless to His purpose. He didn't seek to climb the mountain of fame and influence to benefit Himself -- although He certainly could have. No, instead He lowered Himself by emptying Himself of all the benefits of His deity, by taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). 

[NOTE: We need to understand that emptying Himself  implies that He did not renounce or diminish His deity, but only temporarily gave up His divine equality with the Father, and His rightful dignity, in order to take on the likeness of men]. Philippians continues to reveal the beautiful part of this Truth in that He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death on a cross for us! So how does His humility translate to His power? And if we are to walk in this world like Jesus, what does that look like in relation to our humility and our power? 

If you will recall, Jesus spent a lot of time in solitude with the Father. He often left His disciples to go off by Himself to confer with the Father on how to best complete His assignment. I can only imagine those conversations and the desire of the Lord to proceed with mindfulness and forethought to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit not only the Name of the Messiah/Christ, but also to protect His ultimate purpose: to die for our sins, offering us a way into an eternal and reconciled relationship with God. And because of this attentiveness to His purpose and assignment, Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men [Luke 2:52]. 

So, as always, Jesus is our model. He walked in confident humility, having spent time with the Father, receiving His instructions and being obedient to follow them through. He walked as a servant to others, offering to everyone the word of Life, while also being responsible to do what He had been called by God to do. The same should hold true for us! Spend time with the Father and Son, asking questions, and discerning how best to carry out our purpose, all with a servant's heart for God and our fellow man. Furthermore, we don't overuse the authority Jesus has given us to trample on the Enemy. We don't seek wealth and success for their own sake, knowing they have no value in eternity. And we don't sow our spiritual power into political or military endeavors because eternity is a bigger goal than those transient pursuits.

In the end, walking in the power of Jesus looks nothing like what the world offers. Seeking my personal gain for the short time I'm here on earth is such a waste when compared to my eternal gain by walking in the example of Christ. It won't be easy, because our culture and the world are constantly tempting us to follow them. But my joy and peace can only be found in what Jesus makes available to me. If power truly comes from the ability to influence others in our society, I believe I can best do that by following in Jesus's footsteps of humility, serving others, and being obedient to seek the fulfillment of my purpose on earth. He was given the ability to do signs and wonders to express the power of Heaven over the power of darkness, and Jesus has transferred that divine power to us. We have all we need to influence the world for the Glory of God. Don't quit or give up! Don't think you are incapable! Do what Jesus did ... pray and ask for the strength of Heaven. And above all else, get quiet and meet with the Father. He will lead you into His wisdom, strength, favor and power. Jesus is a testimony of that! 

Ephesians 1:19 ... [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is, in us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength...

May 28, 2024

Love Like Jesus Loved!

I am constantly amazed as to how God connects the experiences throughout my day to teach me something that I desperately need to know. I'm sure many of you can relate when I say that the TV series The Chosen has opened up new spiritual principles that I either was never taught, or never sought. And I have experienced profound emotions as the Bible has opened up to me on a whole new level.

I feel as if I'm in a new season of diving deeper into my relationship with Jesus. So as I am rewatching this amazing series, I find that my spirit is awakening to Jesus's teachings in almost a revolutionary new way. To be precise, I was watching an episode in which Jesus's capacity to love is so evident. And the way in which He loved was  contrary to how our human spirits would respond. Furthermore, the people He was coming in contact with were not particularly lovable. They certainly were not loved by their community or the religious institutions of the day. And they didn't respond in any form of reciprocal love. But Jesus responded with patience, sharing the Father's love for the Lost and the Religious in equal measure. And He came to show us how to extend that love to others.

I daresay that those of us who identify as Believers are very familiar with God's commandments to love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). But it is Jesus's words in John 13:34 that has captivated [and challenged] my heart, mind, soul, and spirit .... "I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another". Wow! It is that last sentence that brought such new and profound conviction to my spirit! 

AS HE HAS LOVED ME, I AM TO LOVE OTHERS! Such a simple concept, right? But do we truly know what that looks like and understand the breadth and depth of His love? And how are we capable of imitating that in our humanness? To love others as He has loved us sounds like such a simple precept, but my friends, how many of us can actually accomplish it? During this last week, God aligned several experiences to highlight the importance of following this commandment from my Savior. The first was while watching the episode of The Chosen in which the woman with the bleeding issue forced her way through the crowds for the opportunity to simply touch the hem of Jesus, believing He could heal her. This has always been a touching testimony for me because I suffered so long with endometriosis and all the emotional and physical suffering that accompanies this disease. Like the woman in the Bible, doctors were unable to help me, and it often left me feeling disheartened and discouraged. 

I longed for that deliverance myself, and even experienced a vision in the night of being bowed down before Him [in Heaven] as He walked past me and I saw (in reality, in the spirit) the Hem of His robe, close enough that I could reach out and touch it. It was so powerful, that the adrenaline shocked me out of the vision and I sat straight up in bed! But it was the ability of the actor who plays Jesus to touch my spirit so that I finally recognized My Lord's genuine and compassionate love for ME! I saw the Lord's heart and the depth of His love in that scene for that woman, and understood, for the first time, that that is how Jesus loves me! As He bends down to her, Jesus calls her "My Daughter", at which time all the years of suffering I had experienced responded to the nuance of his voice and the compassion in his eyes so that I couldn't stop the tears. I have known, intellectually, that I am His Daughter, but I felt it in the depth of my being. And when the character Jesus tells her that her faith has healed her and He is so glad they found each other, I was overcome with the conviction that Jesus was glad we have found each other, too! The intensity of His love was like nothing I thought I would ever understand!

But here's where God doesn't leave me in the emotion of my deeper understanding. The next morning [after watching that episode] was our Home Church and we were studying Romans 14. In this chapter, Paul is talking about the situation that existed in the early Church between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians in regards to following the religious regulations of the Law; in this case, specifically the dietary laws. The Jewish Christians wanted to still follow the regulations regarding the eating of meat, while the Gentile Christians were set free from those obligations by the Coming of Jesus who gave them the freedom of their conscience to choose what they ate. The bottom line is that Paul was teaching them all not to criticize or judge one another in the matter of what they ate or drank. "Do not, for the sake of food, tear down the work of God [in a person's life]". The Kingdom of God is not based on what food we eat, but on "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." So, as Believers, instead of judging each other for our choices, we should be building each other up, which leads to our spiritual growth and mature relationships with God. If we are offending each other by our criticisms and judgments, then Paul says we are no longer walking in love toward our brothers and sisters in faith.

Which brings me right back to AS HE HAS LOVED US, WE ARE TO LOVE OTHERS! I quickly became convicted of how many times the Body of Christ engages in disagreements over theology and denominational doctrine and man-made religious rituals. I have been guilty of seeing the differences between Believers, instead of celebrating our mutual love of Christ. Yes, we see things differently regarding how we celebrate Communion, whether we celebrate the Feast Days or not, whether speaking in tongues is a prerequisite for being Baptized in the Holy Spirit. I have not been guilty of focusing on those things, but have still been guilty of noticing them. None of that matters to Christ or the Father! What matters is how well we are loving each other! As Paul says in Romans 14:4, "Who are we to judge the servant of another? Before his own master he stands approved or falls out of favor... Let everyone be fully convinced [assured, satisfied, convicted] in his own mind". Jesus is each Believer's Master and it is through their relationship with the Lord that they will stand or fall. We are responsible for ourselves, no one else. Our job is to love each person as Jesus loves them, encouraging them to grow in their relationship with Him so that they will be convicted in their hearts, minds and souls as to what He requires of them. That is what will expand the Kingdom of God across the world and defeat Satan's dark kingdom. 

Because in the end, as Paul points out in Romans 14:10, We will all stand before the judgment seat of God [who alone is judge]. We will give an accounting of how well we have represented Him, and what we have done for His Kingdom. How well have you shown what it is to love others? How well have you loved My people? It won't matter whether we are Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran or Catholic. It won't matter what religious titles we held. And it sure won't matter what we accumulated in this world, or how well we succeeded by the world's standards. Did you show the Lord's unconditional compassion and mercy to others as He has exhibited to you? Did you share His Agape love -- the highest form of love, because it is given whether it is returned or not; it is the spiritual love of Christ to humanity.

So, I admit that I am far from walking in the love of Christ, but I see so clearly and deeply how selfless His love has been towards me. And I want to grow into that image and love others in the same way. I am convicted in my own heart and mind that others deserve what He has given me, and I will earnestly work towards their own personal recognition of just how much He loves them. We all know the foundational truth that God so loved us all that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. But I want everyone to experience that deeply personal and emotional moment of hearing Him call you "Daughter" or "Son", like I did. You will never be the same!

John 13:35       By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.


May 24, 2024

Take My Advice ... Please! A Letter To The Next Generation

I have recently suffered an injury to my shoulder that severely inhibits my ability to sit at the computer and type. So, I have been contemplating how to overcome this obstacle while I am healing. And I realized that after writing this blog for over 12 years, that perhaps, there are some creditable essays worthy of re-consideration. The following is a post from just two years ago, yet I find its message even more urgent and important to share. In just the last two years, we have slid even further towards grave consequences for our nation and the world. More people are awakening to this truth, but it is for our future generations that I want to focus upon our reality once again. And for those who choose to ignore my comments, I'd like to offer you a piece of advice ... you can deny reality, but you won't escape the consequences. I pray that you will seriously contemplate what I have to say and seek the One who can deliver us all from evil.

My husband and I had a conversation this morning about what the future looks like and how concerned we are for the next generation -- on so many levels. We feel blessed to have lived in this country and to have experienced the height of prosperity and innovation that few citizens of the world have known. We are old enough that we have heard what "hard living" looks like from our grandparents who experienced the Great Depression and an attack on our homeland. We can at least understand that the "American Dream" [that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their version of success by working hard] is under threat, and that we can no longer take for granted that it will exist for the coming generations. We are also well aware that the Founder's idea of the "American Experiment" is on the verge of collapse; an experiment that believed a nation of people could govern themselves without need of a ruling or privileged class; that we are born with unalienable rights that are not granted by a government, but inherently endowed within each being by a divine Creator.

Are these ideas that the Millennial Generation and Generation Z can comprehend? Do they understand how important it is that they know these historical concepts and why they are significant in defining their freedoms and future? Sadly, I would suggest that being the recipients of modern technology, many have been seduced into measuring the boundaries of opportunity and success by whatever the social media giants have told them is acceptable. Their ignorance of world history is setting them up to become slaves to a system that will crush any idea of innovation, individuality, originality, or "blazing your own path" -- all characterizations of the American spirit. Generation Alpha (born in the early to mid-2010s) will be our last chance to retain this distinct persona. But being the tech-savvy children born to Millennials, they have been subject to our corrupt educational system who has done everything in its power to destroy the unprecedented American identity. And it is to these latter generations that I wish to address a letter of counsel and admonition...

To The Next Generation(s):

I hope you are able to consider my words as more than the ramblings of what you most likely consider "an old woman". I understand that tendency; I, too, used to think that those of previous generations were outdated, irrelevant, and unsophisticated in the ways of "the modern world". But I have had the opportunity, as I have advanced in years, to understand that what they imparted to me was worth more than I ever imagined it could be. They taught me values and skills that we are in desperate need of in this "modern" world -- values such as personal responsibility, moral obligation, character, and faith. And I learned skills that I thought were "old-fashioned", but I now perceive will be virtually life-saving as we enter an alarming phase of our national and world experience -- skills such as knowing how to grow food, how to preserve food, how to light a fire, basic first aid, how to sew and repair clothes, how to repair machinery, how to read a map or compass. 

You may think that none of this applies to you... you don't need to know how to do any of these outdated practices, because all you have to do is pick up your cell phone and there's a YouTube video that will instruct you how to do it; and that's only if you are unable to hire someone to do it for you. But, sadly, you need to know that you are only one EMP, solar flare, or grid-down scenario away from being stripped of the advantages of that mini-computer in your hand. All the benefits of modern technology will be gone in an instant. Imagine how you would fare if you were suddenly living in the 19th Century, because that's what it will be like.

And have you considered how foreign oppression might affect your life? If you haven't, you should. All the efforts of the global elite to put the governing powers of individual nations into the hands of international organizations has resulted in the loss of national sovereignty. There is a growing trend towards globalization as a means to dismantle and control independent self-government. That's a wordy way of saying that the freedoms you have enjoyed and taken for granted are slowly dwindling away. And while you, the younger generation, boast of being more accepting of diversity, globalization actually threatens cultural diversity by drowning out some cultures, local economies, and discouraging development of culture-specific ideas. Globalization affects trade throughout the world, and in seeking lower production costs in order to be competitive in the global market-place, companies are reducing labor staff or replacing them altogether with robots, so that job insecurity is a real worry among your generation. And then there is the very real issue of cyber security. The internet has been a wonderful invention for all kinds of reasons, but it has also increased the threat of identity theft. Our lives are subject to interference and intrusion by uncontrolled entities. And need I point out the unfathomable numbers of undocumented foreign individuals who have stormed our southern border?  

I know that you may be thinking that I don't know what I'm talking about, but there is one axiom that I hope you hear, if you don't consider anything else I've said, and it is this: "Those who don't learn from history, are doomed to repeat it". As hard as it may be for you to comprehend, you are no smarter or more creative or better capable of leading than other generations. Why? Because human nature is what it is. From the Garden forward, generations of human beings have chosen [out of their own free will] to abandon the knowledge of God and gratitude for what He has done for us, His creation. When that happens, we look only to ourselves for our preservation and prosperity. Each generation is willing to criticize the one before it for its failings, but they don't learn from those mistakes. Instead, every generation, out of pride and self-importance seeks to increase their power, status, and wealth over the previous one, without the benefit of counsel and guidance from God.  When that is the path generations take, the history of the world has shown us that humans will devour each other in endless patterns of prosperity and war. 

So, I hope you will take a good hard look at the state of this nation and the world at this date in time; in your generation. Take the time to study history and note the differences between times of peace and prosperity, and times of war and destruction. Learn from the mistakes of my generation and all the ones that have come before. What does your generation plan to do to change the directory of the patterns of history? It is clear to me that the world is approaching a climactic event that can either redeem it or destroy it. Are you ready? Do you know the One who can determine that outcome? That is the most important and consequential decision you can make for your future. You must decide where your hope lies, because your future, and the existence of future generations depends on it.

Deuteronomy 32:7  Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.


May 20, 2024

What Does God Demand of Us, and What Does the World Tempt Us to Covet?

As I have expressed in past posts, I want less of what the world has to offer. And as I advance in my faith [and my number of years on this planet], I yearn, instead, for more of the Kingdom in my life. Furthermore, as I learn what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, I can discern the differences in a life lived surrendered to Him, and one that answers the call of the world.

So, these considerations have led to an awakening in my spirit of the ways our Enemy diverts the paths of Christians and steals our peace and joy. It's easy to see how the Unbelievers respond to the world. For them, there is no contemplation of what the Lord might ask of them, or how He might desire they live their lives. Instead, those with little or no faith simply are drawn to what the world tells them has value, or that promises them they will receive validation from their fellow men. 

What does that look like? It's easily seen with spiritual eyes. The world sets the standards ... you must have a big house with a pool; hundreds of followers on social media; the latest hairstyle, clothes, and weekly pedicures; belong to the "right" club, group, or clique; climb the corporate ladder; have a title, whether it's in the boardroom, the community, or the church. And above all else, the world teaches us that we put ourselves first; that self-gratification is our means to achieve happiness, success, wealth and power -- it all culminates in the indulgence or satisfaction of one's own desires. 

But did Jesus teach any of that?? What does God demand of us? What does He desire our lives to look like? If we call ourselves Christians, there is an obvious Bible verse that shines a light on what God desires. It's Micah 6:8 ... And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness [compassion], and to walk humbly with your God. Put simply, God wants you to live a lifestyle that shows you know right from wrong. Such a lifestyle is characterized by being just [ethical, moral, righteous, principled, full of integrity] in an unjust world. Jesus is our example. Consider how He conducted Himself in the midst of Roman autocracy. He did not respond as the world would have responded. He hit the mark on every one of those descriptions that I used to describe what just means. But the world would have us react out of anger, pride, and vengeance. Just turn on the TV and watch the News channels, talk shows, and the live broadcasts of our Congress in action.   

Secondly, God desires that we love others and practice kindness, compassion, and mercy. Remember that at the time Micah wrote this, Israel's religious focus was on their rites and sacrifices as the way to curry favor with God for forgiveness of their sins. But their emphasis was all wrong! They were convinced by hard hearts to add to the sacrifices sanctioned by the Law of Moses. They followed the pagan culture and began sacrificing their firstborn sons as a means to cover their sins. That gives such a profound meaning to Jesus's quote in Hosea 6:6 ... I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I think God's most intimate desire is that we know His love and how to share it with others. That is the most important thing to Him; He sent His Son to model that for us. He does not demand rigid, religious rites. He desires changed hearts which reflect Him to the world; justice, mercy, and love are the foundation of God's Holy Nature. The modern Church has sadly compromised with the world, and too often subverts God's holy commandments in order to listen when the world's culture whispers "diversity, equity, and inclusion".   

Thirdly, Micah 6:8 tells us God desires us to walk humbly with Him. Again, this shows a heart fully surrendered to God; one that sets aside worldly pride to stand committed to showcasing God's glory and His attributes, rather than our own. Let's be honest, it is easy to recognize a person who puts God first in their life. They do not call attention to themselves [as the world tempts them to do], but rather, they simply do what is right, and people are drawn to them because of their loving heart. Their walk with Jesus is their way of life. And that brings us to another thing God desires of us: that we walk in all His ways in our steadfast relationship with Him. That requires a healthy fear [or reverence or awe] of the Lord, rather than idolizing what the world holds up for our entertainment and worship. His goodness should motivate us all to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and spirit because He is worthy of such adulation and respect. Walking in the ways of the Lord means it is incumbent upon us to seek knowledge of His Word, and to walk in obedience to do what He calls us to do, wherever He sends us, giving all honor and glory to Him. The world, however, encourages us to love ourselves and what it defines as worthy -- money, fame, beauty, material things, power.

And anyone who has experienced life with Jesus knows that those things are empty and meaningless in the Kingdom of God. Regrettably, I have seen those very temptations draw people [that I love dearly] further away from a life that will lead them to God. The world speaks lies that these idols are worthy substitutes for a life lived in the midst of God's love, and the joy and peace it brings. It doesn't mean our life in the world will be a bed of roses -- in fact, our Enemy will do everything to persuade us to abandon our allegiance to God and His ways. But, I will continue to pray that I grow more into the image of Christ, that they may have the dirty veil removed from their eyes and see the world in all its decay and deceit. Until then, I will do my utmost to live a righteous life; show kindness, compassion and mercy to others; and to walk in humbleness before my Lord. I know I am not perfect and there will be times I fail [a lot], but I also trust that He knows my heart because I know He is full of forgiveness for the repentant.

So, join me in praying for the world; pray that we who desire to please the Lord by following Him in all His ways can be a righteous influence and role model for those who desperately need to know Him. Let's show them that they don't need to follow any religious rules, but just allow Him to come close to them. They are His delight and His joy, and He paid everything for them to restore their relationship. And then let us invite them to tell them how we know!

2 Peter 1:4     And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.  

May 16, 2024

Prophets and the Pagan Gods

I am aware that this blog post may not be everyone's cup of tea. I think the peoples of the world are so hungry to be free of what they innately discern is the crumbling structure of their lives that they only want to hear what makes them feel good. And I understand that! Too often, I am awakened in the middle of the night with discouraging thoughts, and it is only through focusing my soul and spirit on Jesus that I am able to take those thoughts captive and receive His peace. 

But that doesn't mean that I ignore the reality of what I clearly see as the truth of our situation. And I want you to know that I am cognizant of the whispers of the Father of Lies, so I am careful to vet the Source of what I am seeing [and hearing]. We no longer live in the times of the Old Testament when God primarily spoke to His people through the prophets [oftentimes in dreams and visions]. Today, He speaks to us through His Son, who has given us the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us in His ways. And you can count on the Spirit speaking the Lord's truth... When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you in to all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.

It has become apparent to me that it is not just any spirit that speaks the truth and prophesies what is coming, but the Holy Spirit! It is not my spirit, or another man's or woman's human spirit, but the Spirit that is God! And it most certainly is not a demonic spirit who owes its allegiance to Satan. We cannot trust the latter two spirits to be speaking truth. And it must be discerned among the people of God that the demonic spirits can come from worshipping false [pagan] gods who love to fool our human spirits into accepting what "sounds like" it's coming from the One True God. I often think it's inherent among the human race to always be looking to replace what they don't like about the state of their existence with a new vision of their own creation, instead of looking to the perfect existence in the True Creator. 

And that takes me to an unlikely reference to what I'm trying to express. The 70s anthem, "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who, communicates the need to be critical in our assessment of whose voice we are listening to as we strive for truth and transformation that is real and lasting in the Lord. The song is a picture of Satan's unchanging and predictable plan of causing chaos that leads to rebellion, and then convincing people it's all new. It could be the anthem for today ... There's nothing in the street looks any different to me. And the slogans are effaced, by-the-bye. And the parting on the left is now parting on the right. And the beards have all grown longer overnight...I'll get on my knees and pray we don't get fooled again.  

You see, the prophets of old were called by God to be His spokesmen and share His message to His people within the historical context of what was happening in their lives. They reported the will of God in the particular situation. The prophets not only exhorted and challenged men to obey God's will, but entailed His plan for the situation, and either encouraged the righteous according to God's promises or warned the people of coming judgment -- all according to what God revealed to them, the prophets. Because of the people's preponderance to follow false gods, worship idols, and disobey God's laws, the prophets of old spent lots of time rebuking sin [and repeating God's warning about the punishment He intended] if they didn't answer His call for repentance. 

They also announced what God told them regarding their deliverance that would come with the Messiah and His kingdom. The difference between a true and false prophet could be discerned by which prophecies were fulfilled. And that is an interesting detail in light of today's "prophets". How many of our modern-day prophets were proclaiming worldwide "revival" and the Third Great Awakening just a year ago? And how many of those same prophets have now reversed course and are warning that worldwide war, persecution, and dark days are coming? 

I guess my basic question is this: Are you truly hearing from the Lord? Are your prophesies coming from your own discernment? Or are you prophesying what the people want to hear? And because our Lord predicted that false prophets would abound in the Last Days to lead us astray, I am careful to observe if today's prophets are only relating conditions and events in the world without pointing us to Jesus and His promises. I am not a prophet and do not claim to have the last word on whether a proclaimed prophet is the real deal or not. But I am able to see evidence of their fruit [or not]. I have simply been assigned to stand on the walls of this nation and warn against what the Lord shows me are the dangers we are being tempted to participate in. I do NOT require people to believe me. They must take what I've been equipped to see and ask the Lord for confirmation and act accordingly.

Both my husband and I are particularly sensitive to the idolatry the Lord is highlighting as our nation is influenced by the pagan gods of old to adopt spirits of greed, perversion, ungodly rituals, sacrifices of children, and a reliance on the pursuit of Religion instead of the Kingdom. You see, in ancient history, those gods were worshipped as Mammon, Moloch, Baal, Chemosh, Astarte, etc. Today, we know them as Wealth, Power, Lust, Abortion, Knowledge, and again, Religion with a capital "R" [which Jesus never brought, nor asked to be exalted]. The names and means of worship may be more sophisticated, but the results are the same: suffering and a painful separation from God. Our Bible tells us that any elevation of a false god above the One True God comes with consequences. You shall have no other gods before Me makes that pretty clear. 

And I want to make it clear that I have not heard from the Lord as to His plan of judgment or punishment, and am not called to prophesy of their certainty. At the same time, my God repeatedly points me to His Word for confirmation that both are grave possibilities when He shows me what He wants me to see from my position on the wall. But I am to only report what I see, and what could happen, not declare what will happen. Hopefully, that makes us all take stock of where we are in our obedience to God's will.

In conclusion, this is what I know for sure ... God can [and has] delayed His judgment; sometimes for hundreds of years, in the hope that peoples' hearts will change and they will return to Him. But He will not be mocked and He will not be patient forever. The Word says that there will come a time when The Restrainer's hand will be removed. For now, I pray that I will continue to clearly see what the Lord is pointing out to me, His Watchman; and that the true prophets will be easily discerned as authorized mediators who speak for God. I read somewhere that even in Elijah's time, there were 450 false prophets for every authentic one anointed by God! One anointed prophet is more than enough to overcome Satan's strategies of delivering false warnings and/or promises. I pray that we come together with pure hearts and reject every false god, false prophet, and false religion, all for the glory and power of the Kingdom of God! From my view on the wall, the time is now! Amen!

Philippians 2:10-11      ... so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord [sovereign God], to the glory of God the Father.    

May 12, 2024

How Satan Is Using Men, War, Power, and Greed to Enslave Humanity

From the beginning of this Age, the fallen angel, Satan, has sought to control this world. As Christians, we know that from our Bibles. Actually, his plan has been pretty transparent ... his pride was the instigator in his rebellion against God, thinking He could be like the Almighty. We see that desire to cause rebellion and chaos exhibited  in his temptations of Eve and Jesus, and again in his accusations against Job, Joshua [the High Priest], and so many of us. Satan's own selfishness and greed for power led to conflict and hostility between God and His former "guardian cherub". 

This led to Satan's fall and his subsequent position as a powerful ruler in the spiritual realms, with a sizable order of demon followers that help him accomplish his purpose to "steal, kill, and destroy" those that belong to God. And those demon powers influence men on the earth, who have made a choice to align with Satan rather than their Creator. The Bible reveals that this battle between God and Satan has continued to escalate since the devil's fall and will eventually culminate in the final War between Good and Evil at the end of the Age when Jesus returns to defeat Evil, once for all. 

But it has also become evident to me that it has always been Satan's intention to build a Council of War, so to speak, [on earth] to bring about his desire to obliterate man's relationship with God and to establish his own power bases to help carry out his oppressive and tyrannical control of the world. Sometimes he enlists the help of a single man such as Herod, or Antiochus Epiphanes, Hitler, Stalin or Mengele. At other times he recruits organizations such as terrorist groups or corporations to instigate his agenda of destruction.These people and groups might not inherently be considered "evil", but through demonic and spiritual influence they evolve to serve his unholy will.

And one of his favorite weapons is War [and the threat of War] to bring about his totalitarian control of all mankind. Jesus, Himself, told us that we would continually hear of "wars and rumors of wars". When I was in college, God opened my spiritual eyes to see how this works. For the first time, I saw how the international bankers used War to create wealth for themselves and their nations, creating a military/industrial cabal that periodically masterminded conflict in the regions of the world to bring enrichment to the members. And then about 12 years ago, God again revealed the hypocrisy of the United Nations, whose stated objectives are "the maintenance of international peace and security, the promotion of the well-being of the peoples of the world, and international cooperation to these ends". 

Yet I haven't seen too much "international peace and security" happening in the last few decades. It seems the world has been in constant war, with the UN gaining more and more power to usurp the sovereignty of nations and their self-government. You see, each new war that erupts is not isolated. The world now finds itself immersed in "global conflicts", which in turn are used to create a "global crisis" that must be mitigated by... you guessed it, the one organization that is charged with the "well-being of the peoples of the world" ... the United Nations. 

So, what are these "crises" that require the UN's supervision? I'm sure you can identify them -- we currently have food, health, energy, economic, and environmental crises declared on a global scale. And, if you have spiritual eyes to see, it's not hard to discern that this is exactly what Jesus said would be the fallout when nations rise against nations, and kingdoms against kingdoms. And then He infers that what follows War is famines and earthquakes, plagues and great signs from heaven; "the whole land shall be a desolation". There we see the crises of food, health, and environmental. The Book of Revelation reveals a rider on a black horse who is holding a pair of scales  in his hand. "Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages, and six pounds of barley for a day's wages". That certainly indicates an economic crisis. And the energy crisis? All the wars in the Middle East over the last few decades have been fought for control of the Earth's oil. But has man forgotten that "the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof"? Apparently so, because Satan, our Enemy, has tempted men to go to war for power and greed. And then he manipulates organizations like the UN in ways to purportedly promote our "well-being". 

And just how has this august organization proposed to institute our welfare, happiness, and prosperity? Initially, it was through Agenda 21, which was designed as "a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations system, governments and major groups, in every area in which humans impact the environment". But that wasn't enough! In 2015, the UN announced Agenda 2030, which was billed as "a new Universal Agenda for humanity; a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity". In addition to addressing the environmental, or "Climate Change" issue, this new Agenda set ambitious goals for those areas already mentioned, such as economics, health, energy -- and a whole host of new issues such as education, agriculture, and gender equality. 

But don't think Satan is through using the UN for his global takeover. In September of 2024, they will hold their "Summit of the Future", with the goal of introducing "Multilateral Solutions for a Better Tomorrow". The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, has indicated new radical and drastic reforms in the structure of the UN. What does that mean for the people of the world? Guterres reports that he is calling for the UN to be the one world global response organization, having all power in global emergencies, with the power to oversee emergency responses. They suggest that the crises could involve the climate, economies, pandemics, a black swan crisis (an unpredictable event with potentially severe consequences), or even something from outer space. 

Sounds to me like anything can be declared a crisis by the Secretary General, and then all power and authority would go to the UN. Did you know that that there is an agency within the UN, called the UN Population Fund, dedicated to figuring out how to drastically cut the population of the planet? And what better way to depopulate the earth than with war? The international bankers get wealthy and the global elite get rid of those who are taking up space and using up their resources. And what better way for Satan to accomplish his goal of stealing, killing, and destroying God's creation than to use ungodly men and organizations to do his bidding? 

But once again, I am left concluding [and encouraging you] that hope is not lost! God always has His remnant! I don't relish writing of these plots and plans to enslave humanity to a global government that climaxes with Satan ruling the world. But now is the time for good men and women to wake up and see what is behind the curtain. Throw off the blindfold and the tactics of our Enemy to hypnotize us with our computer screens. Satan isn't the only one that has influence over humanity. Good men with morals and values; followers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, are willing to stand with God against Satan's tyranny. But God expects us to do our part! And we have the heavenly host backing us up! Yes, it seems as if the physical world is submerged in war. But we need to understand that our God fights for us, and there is a war going on in the spiritual realms as well, and it's on our behalf. So, we need to put on our full armor of God and get in the fight! Heaven is cheering us on!

[Thanks to usawatchdog for insight to these latest global plans of the UN]. 

2 Corinthians 10:4    The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.      


May 9, 2024

A Confession: Longing to Die to this World and Live for Christ

I know the title of today's blog may sound depressing to some. But within it lies the hope and longing for my true purpose in this world. So, as you may surmise, I am in a place of deep contemplation. Maybe this naturally comes with the aging process. When I was young and could only see the value of life in how it served me and my selfish desires, the meaning of death [in all its ways] was not even on my radar. The world was full of prospects and hope for an exciting, profitable, romantic future. I couldn't wait to see what the world would bring to me.

So, therefore I thought the world would bring me adventure and success and love that exceeded all my dreams. And, of course, being the world, it didn't really care whether I succeeded or not. And, in reality, it never had my best interests at heart. It wasn't until my junior year in college that I began to be taught [by the world] that there were forces actively involved in making sure I was defeated. One of the most pervasive lies [that has now exponentially invaded our culture through social media] is the false principle that "you should change everything about you that is not desirable to the world". That includes everything from your thoughts to your profession to body shape, morals, laws, gender, clothing, education, hair color, sagging skin, social status, the car you drive, your ideas, your politics ... EVERYTHING  that society has not stamped with their approval. But that makes you a slave to the world, doesn't it?  

It took a moment of youthful rebellious pride, on my part, during that junior year of college, in which I discovered it was frowned upon to be independent. You had to stay within the strict boundaries of the University code of loyalty to whatever mindset the elite Board of Regents deemed appropriate to satisfy their overlords. As an employee of the institution, one was not allowed to question policy or "color outside the lines". So, I turned in my resignation. I will admit to a spirit of defiance and unrest in my soul. I could have compromised and continued to toe the line, but my heart was uneasy at the subterfuge and deceit that I witnessed, and although my rash decision left me with no financial means to continue my education, and no place to live, I was more unsettled about the state of my spirit. [It didn't help that I heard my father say he was disappointed in me! That was an arrow to the heart for sure!) 

Then the fear of the unknown set in. I instinctively cried out to Jesus! Although I had no personal relationship with Him, I knew of Him, and my inner being knew that somehow He was the answer. I knew I didn't want to fit in with what the world was showing me as "the right way to live". And in the depths of my despair, He slowly began shaping me and speaking to my heart that He was "the Way, the Truth, and the Life". I'm not going to lie -- my transformation saw many ups and downs; one step forward, two steps back; taking wrong turns on the path He laid out before me; and many years of questions and searching for a way, often living with one foot in this world, and one foot in Jesus's domain.

But it was always obvious that when I was tempted by the world, I was miserable. Something profound was missing! I knew Jesus had the answers, but I didn't know how to disentangle myself from the world. It seemed that I was always being overrun with worry about paying bills, and the couple of relationships I had were unhealthy and brought no fulfillment. The Churches I attended preached the message that faith in Jesus would bring you the riches of the world. But I began to realize that I didn't want what the world had to offer! People were miserable whether they had money or not. I didn't see any relationships that seemed satisfying. And the people in the Churches were just as miserable as those outside. How could I get to Jesus? I knew He was there and holding out His hand. Why couldn't I break loose and run to Him? I wanted Him and not the world!

All was not hopeless, because it was as my crisis of faith was escalating that the Lord brought the man whom He had chosen for me into my life. Mark was the light in the midst of the world's darkness. He had a visible faith and a strength in spirit that helped me begin to seek Jesus in an honest, sincere way. After two years, we became engaged. Then one night, I believe the Enemy laid out his plan to keep my union with Jesus and Mark from ever happening. A hit-and run driver slammed into the rear-end of my car on a well-lit [and well-traveled] stretch of a major highway through the heart of downtown Austin, TX, sending my little car rolling end over end up an embankment. I cried out for God with each rotation, glass shattering all over the interior, and the roof caving in just an inch from my brain. No one stopped to help. I was able to climb out of the car through the passenger side and run [with heart pounding and adrenaline skyrocketing] across the highway to summon help at a hotel. I ended up with only a mild headache and only 6 stitches in my head. God had gotten my attention!

To make a long story short that was the beginning of my separation from the world. I had a hunger to know Jesus and His plan for my life. That also meant that I began to feel that I didn't belong to the rest of the world. Both mine and Mark's goals became different and distinct from everyone we knew -- our family and friends struggled to identify with us in the same way they had before. Our life looked different than everyone else's. But I was blessed with a husband who filled His Godly mandate as the leader of our home, and who took his cues [regarding who he was to be in this world] from the Creator of the Universe. We were a team; devoted to encouraging and equipping each other to be who Jesus made us to be, and to have the courage to follow His lead. I will tell you that Mark has never questioned His trust in the Lord, while it has been a lesson in perseverance for me to reach that same level of certainty and freedom of doubt that the Enemy is so good at sowing into our minds.

It's been a life of gaining the knowledge of the Lord and the revelations of His purpose for me.And once I learned that my relationship with Jesus is my answer to the disappointments of this world, I am not afraid of death -- of physical death; of the death of my dreams; of the death of worldly ties and temptations. In fact, when I die to those things is when I will be the most alive. While on this earth, I long for separation from this world and yearn for the excitement and adventure of belonging to Jesus! Because I know that He lives in me, I know the possibilities of all I can receive directly from Him as the Holy Spirit helps me to follow the path He has laid out before me. The riches of a life lived in obedience to Christ overflows into every aspect of this physical world. It colors it vibrantly and dramatically, bringing love, joy, and peace -- even in the midst of the defeat the Enemy is whispering.

You see, I know that as long as I am on this side of Heaven, Satan's forms of physical and spiritual death are always stalking me. They are always fanning the flames of doubt, fear, anxiety, and abandonment; aiming those fiery darts at my heart, causing confusion. But those times of "shaken confidence" are like the shaking I felt in that out-of-control car on that dark night. The result is that I cry out to God, and His Life [in me] rushes in to support my mind, heart, soul and spirit! I know who I am and whose I am! I know that I don't need to change everything about me to satisfy the desires of this world -- I long for the death of all those desires; to die to this world as I long only to change everything in me to please the will of my God, and my Lord and Savior. 

I am not oblivious to the deterioration of this world; of the destruction that may soon come upon my nation and my family. I am very aware that Death is coming for all of us who profess our undying faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. But I also know that out of that darkness will spring forth the Light of the Universe; a Love so powerful that Victory is ours! We need have no fear of the sting of death; no anxiety as to our future; no worry about our destiny. I truly believe that the Lord Jesus has prepared a table for us in the midst of our enemies; that He has anointed and refreshed our heads with oil [the Holy Spirit]; and our cups [of spiritual provision] will overflow. As we die, more and more, to the demands of this world, He is preparing us for our service to His Kingdom -- the one presently on this earth, and the everlasting, fulfilled Kingdom when we are re-united with Him in Eternity. So, I glory in the freedom from the demands of this world that comes when I seek to willingly die to self. Each day brings me closer to being in His presence, and absent from this earthly realm. May the Glory and Majesty of the Lord come soon!

Psalm 23:4    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. (Amplified Version)  

May 5, 2024

Today's Christian and the Quandary Over Romans 13

It goes without saying that Romans 13:1-7 has been a subject of debate among Christians since it was written nearly 2000 years ago. But as with any critical consideration or interpretation of Biblical text, one must evaluate this passage within the context of what Paul is experiencing in his environment, and what God wants him to teach readers. I will admit that it is difficult to do that in the midst of our own experiences and environment; we are always wanting to contrast the two.

But this isn't about explaining our own biases in interpreting Romans 13. We must comprehend what Paul is explaining to the First Century Believers, with the clear understanding that God intends for us to take this teaching and apply the same Godly principles, not substituting our own prejudices. It's not an easy thing to do, and can lead to false justifications for our actions. So, let's dive in and see what we can discern.

It's important that we understand what has led Paul to this point in his letter to the believers in Rome. Remember, all the chapters prior to this one have related to instructing the Jewish and Gentile believers that God has a had a plan to reconcile [and bring into unity] all those who will believe in Jesus as His Son and the Redeemer of the world. God sees no difference between a Jewish believer and a Gentile one. In Chapter 12, Paul's letter brings everything from the previous chapters into focus to reveal that God demands our action [towards each other] as well as our believing and thinking, which leads to faith that expresses itself in obedience. 

All that coalesces into the instruction in Chapter 13 to "Submit to Authorities" or "Be Subject to the Government", depending on your translation. But here is what is not made clear in this short chapter. At the time, the Roman government imposed a hefty tax burden upon its subjects [which included the Jews], and those taxes had to be paid in coins [called a denarius] that portrayed the image of Caesar with an inscription calling him "divine". In addition, the Jewish people had a temple tax, which was required of Jewish males over age 20, and the money was used for the upkeep and maintenance of the temple. In this case taxes were paid in shekels.   

This information brings Romans 13:1 clearly into focus ... Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. Here, I believe, knowing the context of the culture Paul was writing from, he is saying, "Whether it be Caesar, or the Temple authorities, we are to render ourselves as subjects". Why, you may ask? Verse 2 tells us ... For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. These authorities, whether a nation's leaders or church/synagogue leaders have been appointed by God to serve a purpose in His plan. The problem is that citizens, whether in Paul's time or our own, are short-sighted. We have only looked at these leaders as to how they have served or affected us, instead of understanding and honoring that God appointed them for HIS purpose.

So, here is what we need to come to terms with: God has not always appointed them to bless the people. Sometimes He puts them in place to judge the people or to ripen the nation for His coming judgment [bring His judgment to maturity]. If we would rightly discern the Word, we would see that neither the Lord nor Paul disputed or denied the authority of either the Roman Emperor or the Pharisee priests. In fact, both Jesus and Paul would suffer and be killed by the Roman authorities, having been targeted by plots of religious Jews. 

Just as Jesus did, we are not to resist [governmental] authority because to do so is to resist the decree of God. [NOTE: The exception to that is if authorities order us to do something in contradiction to God's law. We see that instruction in Acts 4:19, when Peter and John told the Sanhedrin that God's law superseded the laws of men, including the Sanhedrin's]. Back to Romans, Paul teaches that those who resist governmental authority will bring civil judgment and penalties on themselves. This should be a warning to all the people... if you do what is good, according to the law, then you have nothing to fear from the civil authorities, because they are God's servant to you for good. And in contrast, if you do wrong, then you should expect to be punished for going against God's protectors of society and social order. 

The mention that the civil authorities carry a sword of punishment and law and order seems to imply that force may be used, when necessary, to maintain order. If the authorities are acting in accordance to God's mandate to them, and the citizens comply with ethical and principled laws, then society operates in unity, everyone knowing what is right before God. It is through just punishment that government serves God's plan to hold man's sinful tendencies in check. IF a government fails to carry out this mandate from God, then it will find itself subject to God's own judgment and correction. This should be a stern warning to all the DA's who are not upholding our laws as we see crime escalating at extreme rates.

Then comes the verses that are most problematic for American Christians. Romans 13:6-7 says, For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. From our cultural context, these verses rub us the wrong way. Having been birthed in rebellion to governmental authority, our national inclination is to object to an overlord that taxes our own hard work that has made us prosperous. But remember, Paul is writing to the First Century believers in Rome; both Jew and Gentile. We are to give to the state the money, honor and respect which is due them, while also giving to God for the work He desires to do. 

But it must be made clear [and understood] that these verses are implying that the taxes collected are for the purpose of restraining evil and keeping an orderly society -- not to line the pockets of the government officials. Paul leaves a lot of questions unanswered at this point in his letter. So, here we are in the 21st Century wondering how God wants us to respond to government authorities whom it is clearly discerned are not acting as righteous servants or ministers in accordance with His governmental "plan and purpose". At what point do we take a stand as Peter and John did? When and how do we justify actions to resist these ungodly authorities? We must remember that they are sometimes put in place [by God] to render judgment, not blessings, to a nation that has fallen far from Him. We must all be seeking God for these particular answers. We do not want to interfere with His purpose, but we want to do His will.

At this point in the chapter, Paul switches to the only "debt" we are to carry: Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Yes, we are instructed that we have an obligation to pay our taxes and follow the laws our government has put in place. That is all the responsibility we have to our society. But Loving our Neighbor is a "forever" obligation and a debt that is never released. You can be religious and do all the "works of man", but to love like God loves is true obedience to our Lord and Master. 

Then we come to verse 11, which speaks so deeply to my spirit ... Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour for you to awaken from your sleep [of spiritual complacency]; for our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed [in Christ]. This verse reminds me of the parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom were asleep in their spiritual contentment and slackness; unprepared for the hour that would divide those invited to enter and receive their kingdom inheritance from those whom the wedding feast was withheld. We cannot sleepwalk into the Kingdom! We must be wide awake, clothed in righteousness and in Christ, with our armor on and ready to defend our faith in the Name of Christ, as well as attack the forces of Evil that are readying for the return of our Lord! 

Romans 13 is a call to spiritual arms for every Believer in Jesus Christ, the Messiah! We must be discerning of both our government and church authorities. We must do right by God and His appointed authorities, trusting that whether they have been appointed to bless us or judge us, God will be with us and for us. And so, we look forward to that day we hear the trumpet blast that announces His return. It can't come soon enough for me!

Proverbs 21:1    The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will.

May 2, 2024

Our Counterculture Mindset Needs Jesus

As I was considering the span of years in my life, I was actually amazed at all the changes in our culture; how it seemed as if each decade was beset by new challenges to societal values. In addition, the years seemed to also foreshadow the forces that were coming as counter to our "accepted" national culture. But we must recognize that the word "Culture" is hard to pin down. That's because a National Culture is usually identified as a group of people that share certain expectations of how things should be done, and share the values that surround these expectations. But within that social construct, Americans are a conundrum. 

True, we like to espouse individual freedoms, equality, diversity, patriotism, privacy, and democracy as hallmarks of our common American culture. But because we are a melting pot of other cultures with their own individual norms, behaviors, customs and values, we have often been at odds with each other -- and at no time more than when we fought a devastating Civil War in the 19th Century over how our national culture would be defined. 

I'd like to say that we've always celebrated the differences in our American culture; that we've honored those differences with respect, and have accepted others' values and standards of behavior as falling within our moral fabric. I'd also like to say that we've been a nation founded on Christian principles, continuing to be faithful and consistent in following Jesus's commandments in our government, churches, commerce, schools, and everyday lives. I'd like to say that ... but honestly, I can't. 

You see, there has been a spiritual power that runs counter to any Godly culture we might have, or have had. And it doesn't even try to hide its purpose as we examine the various "counterculture" movements that have swept through our land -- just in my lifetime! I first became cognizant of the term counterculture when I was in high school in the mid-late 60's. It was the era of the "hippies", free love, and the Age of Aquarius, in which a New Age of peace and understanding, self-awareness, and the brotherhood of man was proclaimed. And of course, all that self-examination led to an attack on God in our culture with the removal of prayer from the classroom.

It was also the age of Woodstock, a burgeoning drug culture, psychedelic rock n' roll, and anti-war and civil rights demonstrations, which were often violent. Obviously, these swings away from the uniformity and conformity of American culture in the 1950's represented a culture that was becoming counter to the norm. You can see how Satan was influencing the hearts and minds of our American psyche. But you can also see how God counterpunched with the Jesus Movement, an evangelical movement of American youth that, in itself, was countercultural in its desire to return to a Christianity that favored the historical Church movement in the First Century, in contrast to the religious interpretations of the traditional 20th Century American Church.

With each advancing decade, we saw America embracing the idea of being countercultural; adopting values and norms of behavior that differed considerably from mainstream society. In the 70's it was personal liberation and rebellion against authority. Feminism changed the shape and foundation of the family forever, leading to Satan's most devastating accomplishment: convincing women that willful abortion was acceptable. And Roe v Wade became the law of the land. The first Earth Day was observed, opening the door to worshiping Mother Earth, rather than God, its Creator. Student protests turned violent and Kent State happened. Students no longer respected the U.S., and the radical ones began infiltrating the university educational system. Americans began doubting their government as Watergate, inflation, the energy crisis, and Three Mile Island occupied the news cycles. 

Thus began what could be called the "counterculture revolution", with the 80's, 90's, and the new 21st Century decades becoming characterized by political and social liberalism, consumer materialism, the meteoric rise of technology, globalization of everything, and the ultimate polarization of society, as common values were disregarded in favor of personal standards. The absolute truth of God's moral principles were discarded for moral relativism; the only truth that mattered was what a particular individual or group believed was true. And the most destructive aspect of these forms of counterculture was the transformation happening in the Church.

Even the idea of God, who He was, and how we are to relate to Him, came up for debate. Everything about Him was questioned; from theological doctrine to whether the Bible still had value as our moral guidebook. Lines were being drawn between those who still believed in the "old paradigm" of the virgin birth and the deity of Christ, and those who were members of the "new paradigm", believing that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, thereby freeing people who identify as Christians to create their own version of God and what He commands. Long story short, it became all about a "Me-first" mindset and "what I want", instead of a "God-first" worldview and what He commands from His followers. 

Our slide into "counterculturism", so to speak, has led to a lamentable separation from God. We see it in the shift of our societal standards. Sadly, marriage, gender, what is considered Godly faith, the treatment of children, how we treat our neighbors, what we worship, and what we value are now often counter to God's standards set before us in His Holy Word. And I am left with the heartbreaking question ... How have we Christians failed to influence this culture that is hell-bent on becoming counter to everything God stands for?

It's easy to become enmeshed in our Christian communities, whether small or large -- thinking that we are being an obedient follower of Christ and accomplishing great things for His Kingdom -- and still be blind to the fact that the culture has influenced the Church-at-large, instead of the other way around. Are we cocooned in a comfortable mindset, convincing ourselves that the state of the American Church and Faith are healthy? But let's step back and look at the big picture ... Can we honestly say that the institution of Religion, as evidenced by the American Church, has not amassed wealth by society's standards? That many denominations have not accepted new definitions of marriage, family, and what is defined as "life" for a fetus? If Jesus came back today, would He praise or rebuke "the Church"?  

So, in this matter of counterculture values, where does that leave the faithful follower of Jesus? We know that His teachings were definitely counter to the cultures of the religious rabbis and the Roman Empire. To declare that the poor in spirit were blessed because the kingdom of heaven belonged to them, must have sent a tremor through the elite who ruled over the people. The people had been conditioned in that culture to receive their physical needs from those with earthly and material power over them, whether religious or political power. So, when Jesus explains that the meaning of His teaching is from God's perspective, and that riches and poverty are a description of our spiritual conditions, we see that He challenged the culture of the time.

Again, when He teaches that "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant", that runs counter to the culture of the Gentiles [as well as the religious leaders] who exercised authority over the people. This teaching is definitely not a "Me-first" prescription for self-actualization [which is the fulfillment of becoming the best version of yourself, according to your own desires]. Here's the thing; somewhere along the way, I wonder if the American Church has forgotten that it belongs to Jesus. It is His values and behavior that we should be imitating, not the culture's. If we say we truly belong to Him, then our values and behavior are going to be counter to the culture's. We aren't going to desire to look like everyone else, or compare ourselves to the culture to see if we measure up -- no matter how much the social media [that we are in bondage to] tells us we should. 

Think about that -- we belong to Jesus! He paid for our sins and He expects us to change the culture to look more like Him! That's a tall order, considering how far off the reservation we've allowed the culture to roam. But Jesus has created each of us with a purpose for His Kingdom. So, that means we all won't look alike. But how we think, what we say, what we do in [and with] our lives will look counter to the culture -- we will stand out. And we may even look different from each other. But if we are truly righteous, we will reflect the heart of Jesus, and recognize that we each identify with the culture of Heaven and our Sovereign God. 

I believe in the Remnant of God; those whom He has chosen, knowing they will be constant in their faith and devotion to Him and all He commands. I also believe that this Remnant can and will challenge this corrupted culture to turn from their rebellious ways. We must persevere in showing Society and the established, institutional Church that following God's way is the only way to finding meaning in this world. He is truly the way, the truth, and the life that will meet all our needs. If nothing else, the Remnant will be unquestionably counter to everything the rest of the world is chasing after. Our lives will reflect a conflict with everything our society and culture lust after -- popularity, wealth, and power. Let us provide the same challenge that Jesus did, and in the process, draw others to Him. We are the faithful counterculture, and our movement comes from Heaven, where our Lord awaits His return to change the world forever!

Revelation 22:11    Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy [vile, impure], still be filthy; and the one who is righteous, still be righteous; and the one who is holy, still be holy.


April 28, 2024

Politics or Jesus? Man's Government or God's?

The other day I listened to a short 3-minute soundbite from a sermon delivered by Pastor Loran Livingston, of Charlotte, NC. Although I'm not a fan of the "hellfire and brimstone" manner of speech of some Southern preachers, I was definitely in agreement with his message. He lamented that the Church is lacking in their practice of praying and reading the Bible, which can "directly affect a believer's mindset and interaction with the world". I agree wholeheartedly! And I would like to dive into this discussion, with the understanding that I do so with a heart that has nothing but love and respect for my fellow Christians, even though we might disagree on some aspects of this conversation.

To begin, Pastor Livingston's main focus was how much faith and reliance believer's seem to be putting in politics as the answer to our country's woes. I found it interesting that he said, "Some of you bring politics into the church. You think politics is spiritual stuff. Don't be talking to me about my spiritual responsibility to vote! I don't have a spiritual responsibility to vote. I have a civic privilege"! 

What he is describing is a tension fomenting within the Body of Christ, between those believers with a particular attitude or philosophy that gives credence to the idea that if we just elect good Christian men, they will pass laws that provide for the welfare of the American citizens; and those believers who feel that politics will never be the answer to our problems precisely because it relies on men making laws to change our world.

The part of the church that believes the right men in office can turn things around also thinks that if more good Christian men and women got involved in getting these righteous people elected [by voting], then we could count on our representatives in government to stand up for our rights and do the moral and ethical thing ... i.e., stop abortion, stop human trafficking, protect parents' rights, rid our school libraries of pornographic reading material for middle schoolers, ban drag queen story time, decide how to reduce our taxes, and which wars are the justifiable and/or moral ones. Those would certainly be issues God would approve of! But have they fulfilled their oaths of office and promises to us? 

In other words, some of our fellow brethren believe that getting engaged in elections and voting is our civic duty [obligation or responsibility] -- if we call ourselves a Christian and a representative of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps they hold that position, believing that there is hope for change in the culture of a nation that has lost its way. That by electing Godly men as officials of the government, they will defend and promote Biblical truth and Christian principles and values. That would be wonderful if it was true! But sadly, I do not believe that any man or woman who goes to Washington D.C. sees themselves as the savior of the Biblical worldview and a moral culture warrior!

I believe elected officials know how the process works ... they know they will be part of the activities, actions, and policies [that men and women] use to gain and hold power in order to influence the decisions of the government/governing bodies. That in itself is not a bad thing. That is the purpose of a government in the world! But what's the first thing you see these newly elected officials do? They jockey for those coveted seats on the prestigious Committees in Congress. They know they are entering into a power struggle among men to assert rival interests. That is called "politics". And it is of this world! Yet, somehow, Christians have come to believe that by voting or getting involved in the voting process -- or championing one person running for office versus another -- we can bring God's Kingdom into that activity. Oh, how I wish that were so!

But, let me present a couple of questions. Doesn't the mere fact that these elected officials are called "representatives of the people" point to whom they serve? This governmental body openly declares that its job is to serve people. They don't say they are elected to serve God! That indicates [to me, at least] that they are laboring for things of this world. Yes, we are called to do the work of the Kingdom wherever we find ourselves in order to transform this world into Kingdom territory. But that is the job of the Church, not elected officials! 

Don't get me wrong -- I desperately want Godly men and women to serve in our government bodies. But the work they do there is work in the world. They write and pass man-made laws; they are to see to the welfare of their states and constituents; they answer to their political party; and too often, their allegiance is to themselves and the power the worldly government has given them.  The idea of Heaven's government is a totally different construct.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 16 that the form of government He brings from Heaven is called the Ekklesia, NOT the Church [which is a common mistranslation in our modern Bibles]. And listen to what He says ... On this rock [foundation and cornerstone] I will build My Ekklesia; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it. I will give you the keys (authority) of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have (already) been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have (already) been loosed in Heaven. 

So, let's do a quick dissection of this passage ... The word EKKLESIA is translated from Greek to mean a "called out assembly"; a group separated from others, whose purpose is determined by the context in which Jesus uses it. Here, He contrasts it to GATES. The first mention of a gate in Scripture is found in Genesis 19:1. The gate was central to community action; where courts were convened; important civic business was conducted, and the governing of men decided. KEYS is used in Scripture as a symbol of authority and power; signifying the intrusting to someone with an important charge. And the charge of the Ekklesia is to "bind and loose" what has already been established in Heaven -- in other words to bind [to restrict, constrain] what is UNLAWFUL [according to Heaven's government] in the earth, and loose [release, deliver] what is LAWFUL in Heaven into the earth. If the men and women we elect would see themselves as, and act as, the representatives of Heaven, rather than of men on earth, perhaps we would have better choices to vote for.      

I pray that those with spiritual eyes to see, and ears to hear, might understand that Jesus intends us to discern that He is pointing to the affairs of men in this world, and it is "the Most High who is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes". It is God who determines our leaders. YES, we have a voice in the election of our leaders, and we can [and some argue should] exercise that right by voting for those whom we think best demonstrate our Christian values. But is Jesus calling the Church [as the entire Body of Christ] to do this, or is this the commandment to the Ekklesia -- those called with this particular mission of governing?  

NOW, think on this for a moment ... Do you see anywhere in the Bible that Jesus or His disciples spend time teaching new believers how to reform the pagan world of their evil, corrupt governments? Do you see them call for what is known as "civil disobedience" towards the Roman Empire's immoral and violent rule? Certainly, there were valid reasons to do so! Instead, we read about Jesus commanding us [as He taught His disciples ] to proclaim the gospel to everyone, and to live our lives so that they are testimonies of the transforming power of God in the earth. That is the primary purpose of the entire Body of Christ [the church]!

Please hear me when I say I honor the hearts of my God-fearing Christian friends who seek to return God to our halls of government. I see the time and energy they put into this mission. The Good Lord knows we need that! And I do not question the hearts of Christian men and women in our governmental bodies who are serving the people out of hearts that love God. But ultimately, don't we have to ask the questions, Where is the fruit of that service? Have we seen government take back territory from the kingdom of darkness? Is the culture of our nation more moral than it's ever been? 

PERSONAL NOTE: As much as I hate to say it, I have seen Christians rally around elected officials who openly and dramatically espouse their faith and their intention to put that at the forefront of their time in Congress. The recent newly elected Speaker of the House is a good example. And then when the time comes to stand on that testimony for the betterment of the people they say they came to serve, they cave to the pressures of this world. I am beginning to understand why the Remnant in the body of Christ are no longer willing to put their faith in men and our current process of governing. Jesus is our only answer! 

So, I think that, as Christians, we have to offer grace to each other as to how we choose [or not] to devote our time and energy  -- whether to social reform and activism in local and national government; or to do the work that Jesus did: heal the [physically, emotionally and spiritually] sick; cast out demons; cleanse the lepers [social outcasts]; raise the dead; and spread the Good News that the Kingdom of God is reclaiming the earth! Whether you're called to one or the other [or praise God, both!] is your decision, and I honor your heart to serve others. 

For me, the bottom line is this ... We have to ask ourselves, what is God's purpose for us, as the body of believers in Jesus Christ? How do we incorporate our civic privileges and responsibilities in the world with our Heavenly mandate to bring Heaven's redemption to mankind? Our situation in this country, in this century, is no different than the history of countless nations that have come and gone since God established nations in Deuteronomy. Ungodly governments and faithless cultures have always existed among us. Yet history shows that faithful people in the One True God not only survived them, but flourished under them. And sometimes evil governments were part of God's plan to refine and cleanse a nation of its evil ways. Just a thought ... Remember how it turned out when the people of Israel decided on their own leader, rather than waiting on God to anoint him? They got Saul instead of David! 

Regardless of who we get as the next leader of our nation, we are taught by the Bible to honor, respect, obey and pray for all leaders because they are there at the discretion of God's will. It is also our instruction that they are not the source of our provision or our preservation from judgment or destruction. Only Jesus is our Deliverer!

I would like to leave you with this quote from a Christian website, called Got Questions. It is not a judgment against anyone, but a statement on which I believe the Body of Christ can find common ground ... "Political entities are not the savior of the world. The salvation for all mankind has been manifested in Jesus Christ. God knew that our world needed saving long before any national government was ever founded. He demonstrated to the world that redemption could not be accomplished through the power of man, economic strength, military might, or politics. Peace of mind, contentment, hope and joy -- and the salvation of mankind -- are provided only through Jesus's death and resurrection". 

And I would like to add to that my own postscript ... and because Jesus came to reclaim the earth for His Father's Kingdom, He not only died for my sins, but gave me the power and authority to speak into the world to change hearts; and thus, truly change the culture of our nation. Whether I choose to cast a vote or not in this world, it will not change my heavenly mandate as a citizen of Heaven to be the light of Jesus and show my true Source of hope. I am trusting in God; that His will be done on earth [in everything] as it is in Heaven! Let there be fruit in my life for Your Kingdom, Lord! 

Daniel 4:17     "This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers and the decision is a command of the holy ones, so that the living may know [without any doubt] that the Most High [God] rules over the kingdom of mankind and He bestows it on whomever He desires and sets over it the humblest and the lowliest of men".