Where have all the leaders gone?

A dear friend of mine sent me a forwarded email containing part of an excerpt from Lee Iacoca’s new book. My reply to that email follows:

Thanks for sending this. It was interesting to read the entire excerpt.

I’ve thought a lot about getting involved in all of this on a political or social level. Iacoca mentioned the Titanic, and our country has not only been headed straight for the iceberg for decades, but accelerating towards it for most of my lifetime (e.g., Roe v. Wade, 1973, etc.).

So what is my personal responsibility to my country, in a leadership position or otherwise? Do I strive to heal our economy so we can continue to delude ourselves into believing we’re on the right road? Do I work to improve government so everyone’s comfortable and continues to ignore God and reject His commands? Comfort, success, money: these are the great pacifiers that so easily lull us into apathy and ruin, away from the God who has blessed us with all the good things we have been given.

Iacoca mentions crisis in the excerpt. These crises we’re experiencing have done more for my relationship with God than any of the good times ever did. What our country needs most is crisis, which is the only thing that seems to cause people to return to God. No amount of public policy, or rescue of capitalism and free markets will fix this root problem: our rejection of the one true God. Iacoca seems to be looking for the same Messiah the Jews were seeking: a leader who would save them from their political and social problems. When the actual Christ appeared and provided the true answers, the establishment had nothing for the Savior and His message but contempt.

What, then, is the answer? This is where I plan to focus my energies:

– I resolve to continue to commit myself to prayer and love of God’s Word.
– I resolve to continue to rear my children in the knowledge of God and His precepts, and teach them love for Him and for others.
– I resolve to continue to spread His love and His Word at every opportunity to those who so desperately need Him.

These are the things that build a strong foundation for a nation, and I believe I could do nothing of greater value for our country in these desperate times.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Joshua 24:15 – But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Priorities

What is really important in life? What do you really want to accomplish? God has allowed me to see that what He wants from me are two things: love, and love.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were a nasty lot of hypocrites, who used religion to further their own interests. Hoping to discredit Christ, they once asked Him which of the Ten Commandments was the greatest. Jesus answered that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord God with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength; and that the second was like the first: to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Jesus went on to say that on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

What an amazing statement! The Law and the Prophets were the entirety of Scripture at that time, and Jesus so boldly summed all of it up in two basic commands: love God, and love others.

If there were ever words to live by, let these be the ones. I’m constantly praying for strength to allow these to be the ruling principles of my life.

What true love is

Love is not a feeling. The noun form of the word would not exist without the verb form, and a verb connotes action. Love without action is empty rhetoric. Love in word only is actually hatred, and a lie. There is no truth in it unless it is manifested in selfless action toward its object.

1 John 3:18-20 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

All the Complaining!

I keep hearing people complain about the President. I constantly receive forwarded emails that contain nothing but griping and complaining about the direction our country is going, and about its leadership. Who truly holds the power in our society? Have we, the people, no longer any power to do anything but complain to each other? If we continue in this course of action, we will indeed find ourselves without power.

Here are some facts that can help all of us who love God:

1. God sets up kings and takes down kings.
2. If God wanted us to have a different President, we would have another.
3. We have a president who, if God allows it, will be our nation’s leader until his term has ended.
4. We all have the power to do something more than gripe about our country’s leadership.
5. The President can do little without the support of Congress.
6. Congressmen want you and me to re-elect them next term, and they listen to big groups of people who can sway the vote.
7. You, the individual, can make a difference in this world through the power of the love of God.

Let’s spend less time talking about our leadership, and start working toward a stronger America. How?

Jesus said that all the Law and the Prophets hinge on two commands: love God, and love one another. There is no end to the problems we will create and worsen if we disobey these commands. There is also no problem we cannot solve if we, as individuals, commit to obey these most basic directives given to us by the Almighty.

Love cannot exist without action. What action can we individual Americans take to stop the complaining and start changing the world through the power of the love of God?

1. In order to stop the complaining, do this: stop complaining. This negative behavior is born of self, not of love, and we must cease this destructive activity immediately.
2. Find an issue about which you are personally passionate. Pray for wisdom. Think about the problem. Make a plan. Start working on a solution.
3. Encourage others to stop talking and start doing the work.
4. Pray that God will stay His hand of judgment long enough for us to do this work, His work of love and change for the good and the right. Pray that He will forgive us for our apathy, selfishness, laziness, and disdain for the work He has given us to do.

Many Americans today are like 400-pounders sitting on the roof of a luxury apartment eating bon-bons and drinking chocolate milk. We sit and watch what’s going on below: the heartache, pain, and the have-nots. We complain about the bad people who are breaking the foundation of our building with sledge hammers. We complain about the people who are trying to fix the building in a way we don’t like. We ourselves, however, do little or nothing to back up our empty words. Eventually our absence of love (i.e., our hatred) for others will cause the building to collapse, and we will fall with it; and deservedly so.

Is this what our great nation has been reduced to? Will we continue to waste our lives with this constant talk, while doing nothing to right the wrongs? Wake up, America! Rise from your slumber! We must cease being part of the problem, and make ourselves part of the solution. If not, we’ll talk our way into every dismal abyss we’re complaining about being headed for.

Work, for the night is coming. The night is coming, when no man can work.

Problem, or Opportunity?

These hard times, characterized by fear and uncertainty, grant us an extraordinary blessing that most Americans may have rarely been afforded in our lifetimes. We are offered a glimpse of what it might be like to be faced with fear and uncertainty every day of our lives. This is reality for untold millions within our sphere of influence. What will we do with this blessing of information we’ve now received?

What will you do, and what will I do? Will we just try to “get through it”, shutting out the light we’re seeing, or will we turn this experience into empathy, compassion and action, and strive to make a difference in the lives of others through the love of God?

By His grace, let’s turn this problem into an opportunity, and change the world through the power of the love of God.

Greatest Evil?

I was watching a show last night on the History channel about Michel de Nostredame (AKA Nostradamus), the alleged oracle of the 1500’s. I thought Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) made a good point in that documentary. When asked what he thought about the validity of Nostradamus’ prophecies, particularly as they relate to the events of 9/11/2001 in the United States, he said something to this effect:

“Where were the Nostradamus enthusiasts on 9/10?? If someone knew this thing was going to happen in advance and didn’t tell anyone, I can hardly think of a better definition of evil than their act of silence.”

From the very little I know of Penn, I perceive that he and I share little in common regarding faith in God, or our responsibility to the Almighty. However, I believe this paraphrased statement of his is true. What kind of black-hearted degenerate sees such a heinous evil approaching and tells no one?

It occurs to me that true prophecy must have a selfless purpose. While Nostradamus’ prophecies could hardly serve anyone but himself, the words of the prophets of God are always a public service announcement to all, accompanied by a call to action. That action was always “Turn from your own ways; turn to God and seek His perfect ways.” The true prophet’s audience is warned of impending judgment, yes; but there is always action they can take to avoid judgment, and find the path to true peace by the same action. What action? Love God supremely, and then love others as much as we love self.

Do you and I believe in our hearts and souls that to receive the gift of God’s love exemplified in the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life with God? Do we believe that rejecting this gift results in eternity apart from God?

Is failure to warn 5,000 people about an attack that would end their mortal lives the definition of the ultimate evil? What then can we say of ourselves if we refuse to warn people about the fate of their eternal souls! Let us not be weary in well doing. Work, for the night is coming. The night is coming, when no man can work.

Trust God, Not Man

I read today about a leader who committed suicide rather than face charges brought against him for corruption. One former backer expressed “As a supporter of the values he stood for, I feel greatly let down.”

This brought to my mind a related story I once heard. I was sharing the truth of the Gospel of Christ with a friend. He rejected the Gospel, stating as his sole reason that a man he knew who was a minister disavowed Christ late in life, becoming hostile to everything he had once professed to believe. My friend must have reasoned that if God had done anything of value for the man in life, he would never have rejected God in his final days.

The problem with both of these scenarios is this: man is flawed. If the truth is revealed, man fails every time. The only one who never fails us is God. His Truth will never fail. His Love will never fail. His Word will never fail. These are rocks upon which we can safely build the houses of our faith.

Have you placed your faith in a man? Are your beliefs based on the actions of another imperfect person? Don’t be led by the blind. Only one man ever existed who did no wrong — the only begotten Son of the Living God: Jesus Christ. Turn your eyes to the one true God, the Originator of Truth. Trust in His unfailing love evidenced in the perfect sacrifice of His Holy Son, and never be disappointed.

All Those Lawsuits

Hosea 10:4

“They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.”

Be Not Afraid…

There’s a lot of fear in our world today, most of which revolves around money. The U.S. and world economies have taken a downturn. The USA has a new leader, one whose views are very different from those of our former President. Unemployment rates are rising. People are losing their investments and their homes. In response to these changes, I’ve heard some of the following kinds of statements lately:

  • “America is on the way to a socialist state!”
  • “The banking crisis is the beginning of the collapse of the American economy!”
  • “We’re not far from mass chaos and riots in the streets!”
  • “Get an unregistered gun before all Hell breaks loose!”

As a follower of Christ and believer in the Word of God, I have a very different perspective on the current world events. Here are some scriptures that instruct God’s children on how to react to fearful situations:

Proverbs 3:25: Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.

Psalm 46:1-3: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 33:13-20: From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth — he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Jeremiah 17:7-8: But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Matthew 10:28-31: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

These passages need no explanation. What they do need is listening ears. Let us hear what God is telling us through His Word, and do it. Are you a child of the living God? Do not be afraid. Do what is right before God. Pray with thanksgiving, because He has promised to take care of you, and He will do it.

Do you want to know the one true, all-powerful God, and have Him as your strength and shield? He protects and provides for His children, and they have nothing to fear. Even when calamity does occur, they can rest in His unfailing love. He gives peace, hope and joy even when the world offers none of these things. If you want to know God, I invite you to read about how you can know the peace of God, which passes all understanding.

Those who fear God need never be afraid.