Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888) was a successful lawyer in Chicago who maintained a keen interest in Christian activities, deeply spiritual and devoted to the scriptures. He experienced the death of his son. A fire in Chicago around 1871 devastated the city; invested hugely in real estate, the disaster wiped him out. Two years after the fire, Horatio Spafford planned a trip to Europe by boat for him and his family, his wife and four daughters. He was unable to go, struck by another vessel the ship sank, his daughters all drowned but his wife was saved. Knowing God as his personal Lord and Savior, he held on and wrote the hymn, “It is well with my soul”. His words, “Whatever my lot thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul”. What is it that empowers man who has been through so much to have such a faith? Is it made-up phony mysticism with little substance? I think not! Do not make the eternal mistake of dismissing Christianity as a foolish collection of mis-guided writings. Rev. Alistair Begg said on April 29, 2010 of our response to the Truth of our Savior God, Jesus the Christ, that “this is the great issue of life”!
Slave trader, John Newton, a seasoned sailor, thought he was in control when one day a large storm at sea forced him to see God. He stopped his focus on himself, saw God as a loving and forgiving God, and wrote “Amazing Grace” in 1779. His words: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.” Later he became a minister and dedicated his life to the Gospel of Christ. Oh how we think we are in control. I pray you gain the eyes to see as John Newton did. We do need to be open to God, give in to His control, and not our own. We are lost. We have no control. I remember the day when the world hiccupped and 5,500 people died in Kobe, Japan (the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake), or terrorists brought down Americas’ tallest structures, the two 110 story New York World Trade Center buildings, and killed 3,000 innocent people in 2001.
I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous line, “judge a man by his character and not the color of his skin”. The blood in all our veins is red and all skin colors have bled for this country on the battle field. That makes us all brothers and sisters. The liberals and progressives among us like to divide us into groups, and then pit those groups against each other. We Christians are instructed to love our neighbors! There is no other qualifier. There is no statement about loving those who are like you; you are to love your neighbor no matter what. Your neighbor lives next door to you, resides in the next state, and across many borders. The Bible goes further to instruct us to love our enemies, so how can we possibly ignore an innocent neighbor!
In our land, every local school board and city council hold great debates on the qualification of a potential candidate and whether they are qualified to hold a seat at that table. Sadly, our country elected a completely unqualified man with no experience to be our president simply because of the color of his skin. Furthermore, the country elected him twice which is long enough to have the institutions of government start to fail. We now have the IRS, the EPA, the VA, the TSA, the CDC, the Department of Education, Homeland Security, the Senate, and the Secret Service all failing the citizens of this once great country.
As the Bible instructs us, we must pray for the leadership of this country, and I do; a country once the great hope of the world for peace and goodness…a compassionate country willing to help our neighbors across the great seas…a generous country that gives to others more than any other. The hostilities and warring madness of the Middle East and Africa, breaking God’s commandment of “Thou shall not murder”, are a despicable evil impacting the innocent of the world. Who can stop them now? Our military has been decimated by our own lack of common sense, most of the good commanders have been fired by mis-guided leadership, and the country has lost its faith and heart. As the famous quote goes, “for evil to flourish, good people must do nothing”. Who is going to stand up for our neighbors now?
Have you ever wondered if there were some hidden political motives by some group when it appears that all of a sudden there are massive sets of attack articles on a given topic? I mean, we could go years with not a peep, and then day after day, articles on some genned-up topic. Case in point, the current daily stories about the NFL and spouse abuse or child abuse. The fact that the NFL’s rate of these un-excusable practices is much lower than what we see in our culture makes no difference. It is blood in the water attracting the sharks. It seems to me that people simply love to distract from what they are doing in order to go “hang” someone else. The fact that our country seems to find joy in the destruction of someone’s life is absolutely sinful. A whistleblower stating our US State Department has been doing criminal acts and messing around with underage prostitutes gets attacked inspite of 18 congressional acts to protect whistleblowers. Why are these stories being ignored and the NFL is the current target zero? While I don’t condone the things that are being accused of the NFL players, I say, let those who have not ever sinned throw the first stone (John 8:7). Who hasn’t let a word slip like Paula Dean? Martha Stewart is sent to prison for doing what is lawful for Congress to do. I believe in spanking and discipline, but never ever with anything in your hand, and never more than just one light time. I believe a man should never ever hit a woman, no matter what she does; but is that a reason to destroy a man’s life and force the owners of teams to sell their teams because of the actions of others? Our country is sinking fast into the cut-throat abyss…a deep canyon of chaos where there is no escape.
The more people “pile-on”, the heavier the weight will become that will eventually sink us as a compassionate nation, one of only a few left in the world. Can we not deal with bad actions on a local basis and nationally promote the good actions of people? I know, I have heard the lame excuse that good news doesn’t sell, well that just reflects our true materialistic sickness…we might as well continue our awful and easier tendency to throw a bloody lamb to the wolves and watch the fight!
How about the story of the Texas man who paid Chick-Fil-A a $1,000 for 88 customers behind him? How about the NFL’s 5 year veteran, David Nelson assisting Haiti in its recovery from a 2010 earthquake? We don’t hear of Nelson’s tearful reaction to a boy’s request, released from being trapped in some ruins, to simply be held. Or, Nelson and his brother adopting 9 Haitian kids, previously on the verge of death.
Yes, we should hold the bar as high as reasonable to promote goodness and be good examples to others. We must also practice and promote what Colossians 3 tells us to do; from the NIV, http://biblehub.com/niv/colossians/3.htm; and be more forgiving. As we are and have been forgiven, which is an un-measurable amount by the way, so too we should also forgive. Set your minds on heavenly things and strive for goodness and peace.
Aren’t we living at a strange time? Maybe every generation has said this, but I wonder. We see worldwide celebrations of the birth of a new prince, yet we turn our backs on the thousands of aborted babies every day. Paradox! We go after young Zimmerman and throw gasoline on the fires of racial-hatred when there is no racial component in the case. Why? Do the emotional marchers have another agenda? They are not looking at the facts, so they must have other motives…but why all the hatred? These mis-guided marchers cry out about the unfortunate death of one young man, while ignoring the other hundreds of black on black deaths. The liberal programs have all but destroyed the black family; we should be crying out about a much bigger picture of destruction! Those crying for peace actually seem to dispose the most hate! Paradox!
We talk about diversity and allowing all to have their view points, but just propose a view point counter to the liberal masses and see the extreme hate that follows. Paradox! The ugly obscene posts on social media; the coarse language pouring out of unlearned mouths! These so-called loving people calling for the death of someone simply because they have a different point of view? What is going on in our culture now? Of course, they would say, “we don’t really mean it…it is just talk.” Oh, really? Just talk? No, it is mob rule and it is serious. Paradox! What you say is what is in your heart, plain and simple!
We must step back and look at where we are and where we are going. Reflect on your thoughts and your speech; are these acceptable in the sight of the LORD? Would you like the same words to rain down on you? Put your brain in gear before you open your mouth. Be alert yet be at peace. Show more love and less hate; this is something we all can do. Yes, I challenge you to become “A Different Kind of Tree”; sink your roots in more fertile soil.
I have a growth story; it is a “changing” story, from selfish sinner to a child of God. It could also be a pathway for you as well as you struggle through the obstacles of life to come to know the One that has already given you a precious gift if you will but receive Him in your heart. Only the peace of God that passes all understanding can remove your obstacles; this is done by changing your heart and mind in Christ (Philippians 4:7).
Many criticize the church for not being like the culture; that it is “behind the times”. That’s the point, the church is NOT supposed to be like the culture. The culture is corrupt and doomed! How can a doomed institution save you from doom? The more you fight against Jesus, reject God and worship at the altar of “earthly stuff god”, the more you will desire and strive for what the world is selling, and the more obstacles will be in your path and in your life. There is a better way, a way different from the culture. Turn to your only Savior Jesus Christ and become “A Different Kind of Tree”.
I was NOT wrapped up in all the trappings of the Royal Wedding. It just seemed like a bunch of gossipping to me. But I awoke on that Friday morning with all the airwaves filled with TV coverage, and lo what did I see? I saw smiles, happiness and excitement. I saw a nation pull together for a singular event. I saw pride, laughter and merriment. People, lots of people, calmly wishing to be close; to be close enough to actually be a participant in the event. They were seeking to be included in something worthwhile and much bigger than themselves. I saw a world interested in something positive and happy…something good, instead of being a world we see in the news as being so hateful and ugly! The world was groaning and now is on fire; we need something beautiful and refreshing to put out those flames!
We all have “storms” in our lives, problems and pains. The “storms of life” come against us all. Jesus chose the disciples for a grand purpose; He would not allow them to drown in the Sea of Galilee…read Mark 4:35-41. Furthermore, Jesus had a purpose for the group to get into the boat. The purpose was NOT to drown in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, but to get to the other side. So, why do you suppose these seasoned fishermen, familiar with the storms on the Sea of Galilee, were so upset that they thought they were going to drown? They forgot who they were traveling with! The Lord Jesus would not allow them to drown; they had nothing to worry about. So let me ask you, who are you traveling with? Jesus can and will calm the “storms in your life”, all you need to do is to get into the boat with Him! Amen.
A wonderful ministry, Truth for Life, shared the following comment: “Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; to pretend otherwise would signal a victory for the powers of darkness.” It was based on Revelation 12:7. Unlike the book entitled, “War and Peace”, peace is not the opposite of war; it is the opposite of threat…threat from evil. Sometimes to remove the threat, we must engage in war; there is such a thing as a “just war”.