Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Elijah

It's nearing August.

For me that isn't some casual annotation as I glance at some Dilbert calender on the wall like someone might, to note an upcoming payday or dentist appointment.
In the beginning of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, there is a soothsayer that utters the phrase"Beware the Ides of March" over again as a foreboding shadow of things to come.
It's just a month. A regular month. It happens every year...
...but then again, I think of Veterans who have seen the face of war. I know many who get messed up on an anniversary of tragedy. It is a wound. Not the kind that Neosporin helps you patch either. It is the kind of hurt that goes beyond the physical nature of a person and leaves a mark upon their soul. A compound fracture.

I've had two different relationships end in August.
August is also the month that My father died.
It is also around the time that a very important friendship of mine ended.

These things have been on my senses lately. They cross my mind once in a while, every now and again throughout the year, but the frequency tends to increase the tempo in the progression towards August.

Now, I don't know if it was a series of God orchestrated events strung together with a purpose... or an assault by the enemy to strike in the same point in an attempt to instill a weakness.

It's there though. Some years, I've hid. Some years I've ran. A few I've tried to ignore it away completely.

When I lost my Dad, I was out on the Indian Reservation with a bunch of strangers at a sweatlodge. My Mom and Brother and Sister had all moved out of state prior. It was my Dad and I, and I will spare you all the details, He died. He died right in front of me.

And I was alone, out there, in the dark, surrounded by strangers... Just God and I, because I know He was there.


When I was 18 I knew this Girl. I thought that we were in love with each other. I trusted Her and allowed myself to be vulnerable. Some people can trust easy, and get their heart broken and in a day or two its like nothing ever happened.  I wasn't that way. I was very very careful with who I gave the opportunity to hurt me. There was long phone conversations across the long distances that we were doing what we could to make work. It wasn't enough though.  I packed my things I was keeping, and I sold the things that I wasn't. I boarded a plane to where she was and was staying in her youth pastors basement. I'll spare you the details, but it was only 3 days before we broke up.

And I was alone out there, in the dark, surrounded by strangers, ... Just God and I, because I know that He was there too.


In these times, I think of Elijah and that idea of being out there alone, Just him and God.
I read things  like this:


 The word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.  It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.”  So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.  It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.- 1 kings 17

I wonder how alone he felt out there, eating bird scraps, Just him, and God.

One of the passages that I think of often is this one:

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”  And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” - 1 kings 19


I think about how he was with God, and He was walking in the obedience that God had called him.
I think about how he cared... and saw a great many people who didn't care.  I think about that sometimes and I wonder. The next part I recall often.

Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away


A life of solitude, called to deliver a message to a people, and when delivered... it is met with such hostility. I can imagine him with a burden of vision, seeing that God would prefer recollection with his people, a people that would rather kill the messenger.

 So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

I was never truly alone, when My dad died. My family was out there somewhere.  Or when the women that I cared about left, I still had a few close friends. When my friends left, I still had a few core people that didn't leave me stranded.

 The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram;  and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him.  He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?”  So he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.


After Elijah literally throws in the towel, God brings him someone that ministers to him.



I know that God is bigger than August.
I know that He's stronger than the world.

Elijah was without a doubt one of the most amazing Prophets in Israel...
and I know that he felt pain, and solitude too.

 Endure until help arrives.
Endure until God brings the car around.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Patriot or Priest- Our government and God

Most of my friends on Facebook are far too aware of the fact that I read the news and keep myself comprised of what is going on in our country. I make very little effort to hide that when I post 3 or four articles with captions like "WHY IS AMERICA FUNDING TERRORISM AGAINST AMERICA" and "STOP GIVING EGYPT FIGHTER JETS"

I spend 5 to 10 minutes here and there through out the day reading headlines, and I'm sure that in my news feed, it probably looks like I'm scouring the internet pasting together articles in some dimly lit room mumbling about drones or whatever. I'm sure that it looks worse on Facebook than it actually is.

This isn't my life...
However, there are things that I read and I see going on in this country that do effect my life.

The right to bear arms is kinda a big deal to me. I was mugged once when I was 14 and living on the racial divide back in Michigan. Ever since that moment, I never wanted to feel like a victim to an unjust oppressive force. It doesn't matter if that force is 16 people of a specific ethnic persuasion or specific branches of a government entity.

I was talking to a very nice gentleman about something that I struggle with as a believer. The balance between being a patriot, and being a priest. Our government was established with certain ideas in mind...

Life...
Liberty...
the ability to pursue happiness....

Are these God given rights?
I assured him that for the first two I could make a solid case.

Life and liberty.

Can these two things be supported from a biblical text ?

Deut. 30: 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Proverbs 14:27
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.


A case can be made that we are each given the right to choose, Life or death.
We are given an inalienable right to Life, by God.
God doesn't force Life upon us... but HE allows us to chose it.
HE allows us to choose Him.
 Or, we can choose our way, the ways that defy him, and death.


Choice. 


I honestly think that many of us believers want heaven.  We want heaven, and we want Jesus to come back, but if he's coming back, we want it to be a suitable place for him... and it isn't a suitable place right now because look at all these terrible sinners... 
I think we have this idea, that if we start legislating Biblical ideals then more people in this godless nation will have to follow the law, and therefore sin- less. We picture this in out minds and we want something like that to play out. Sometimes we get so desperate for heaven that we try to create it in our own image. 


Recently, the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme court. They stated that it was unconstitutional. I thought long and hard about that, and I had some conversations with some godly people regarding the separation of Church and State.  My brother pointed out the position of the Anabaptists who initially called for the separation. Christians. Christians stated that our government, and religion should have no partnership. 
He poised a question so deeply profound that here, weeks later, I still am wading in the depths of.

"IF God Himself, gives man the option to either follow His ways or to not.... .... ... Then who are we impose a demand on others to submit to His standard of rule" 

I believe that homosexuality is a sin. The Bible states that it is a sin. Do I have the right to force people who engage in homosexuality to submit to God's standard? 

I don't believe I do. 
In fact,
1 cor 5
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

What have I to do with judging those who are outside ? 
It isn't my place to judge those who choose the things not of God. 
I can't find a place were Jesus says "go forth and picket a funeral, be a complete tool to anyone who is not a believer in me, and hate... hate a bunch of folks because then that will really show them my love"
I don't know what version of the Bible that everyone else reads, but that isn't in mine.

The Bible states that Jesus was tempted in every way... That includes sexual immorality.


Our Government isn't Biblically focused. Our leaders are men of power and flaw. 
We won't know the fullness of Life and Liberty until our Messiah establishes His everlasting government. 
Our government isn't going to solve all our problems. 
Until the Messiah gathers all whom are His from the corners of the earth... 
We submit.. 
We pray for our leaders instead of mocking them in really hilarious facebook posts.... 
We pray for them instead of photoshopping them with underwear on their face. 
We pray that God be stronger in all of us as a nation, and His Spirit would stir our convictions to repentance. 


Matthew 7 13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

I see much of being a patriot as political dissent and rebellion... which is really cool, but the opposite of the Biblical prescription
I see being a priest as being submitted to God so much that we can serve even the most sinful of hearts with an attitude of the one who has saved us.

I'm working on that.