GOD DID NOT ASK!

Exodus 3:14 – God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Earth in HandsAs we approach the celebration of Easter 2014, I invite you to take a trip with me back in history. We will go back before the founding of this great nation, America, back before there were inhabitants on this continent. We will go back before Noah and the Arc, before Adam and Eve in the Garden, back to a point where creation as we know it did not yet exist.

There, before all things is God! He exists. He is, yet He has not yet created the universe of the physical dimension. As far as the material universe is concerned nothing yet exists, except in His mind. He is free to create in simplicity or great complexity, or to not create at all. He may do as He pleases, for He is God.

There is no Supreme Court to judge His actions or to correct His inaction. There is no United Nations to lobby for world domination or to stipulate what is the rule of law for the world. There are no human organizations, councils or counselors. No one is there to influence Him or to guide Him or to exert their authority. He does as He pleases, for He is God.

There is no time, for the dimension of time exists only in the physical and material arena. There is no schedule or no vacuum of authority to fill. There is nothing that foresees, forestalls or demands. There is nothing of existence as we know it, except the “I AM!”

Then in an instant, out of nothing, creation begins. We still conjecture as to when, but we cannot know for certain. In the moment of beginning, shapes, sounds, materials, all take form and are ushered into existence. The reality of the physical and material universe as we know it takes the shape determined by God alone. He does not ask for counsel, for He is God. He does not consult with engineers or scientists, politicians or preachers. He does as He pleases, for He is God.

He did not ask Adam and Eve what they needed, for He created the needs and the supply for them, because He is God. He did not ask for permission to make humankind as He did, for He is God. He did not ask for counsel in bringing Israel out of Egypt, for he is the Great I AM!

Walk from that point of beginning with me through the annals of human history. At what point does God ask for permission, or determine His will based on anything other than His own creative mind? No, He is not confined to any course of action, determination or permission. He is the Great I AM, and there is nothing outside of His determination. That is the nature of God. He is inexplicable, all powerful, and exists above and beyond the creation that He expresses.

  • He did not ask Noah if He could send the flood, because He is God.
  • He did not ask the Pharisees if He could be born in human form and go to the cross for our redemption, because he is God.
  • He did not gain permission from the King of England to bless America, because He is God.
  • He did not ask the Supreme Court for permission to sanctify life, because He is God.
  • He did not ask President Obama for permission to bless His people or to give humanity freedom, because He is God.

There is often a disconnect between people who have power and the creator. Those who accumulate power tend to feel as though they have the right to make determinations for the people they rule as though they know best and are all knowing. But they do so to their own demise, for God does not share His position with anyone, because He is God. He will rule creation as He has made it to be and anything that stands between His purpose and His people, will ultimately be ground to powder.

He is the Great I AM, He is the ruler of the universe. He is!

Little more can be said of He who is, yet everything can be ascribed to Him. He still walks among us and speaks to us and calls us upward into His presence. He is the Beginning and the End… He is God!

Our limited finite minds cannot grasp the wonder of all that He is, nor can we comprehend the vastness of His existence. What we had better do, is walk in His ways and be responsive to His will. Anything less is self-destructive.

As we celebrate the resurrection of the Savior on this Easter season, let us stand in awe of the God who is in control of all things. He is not finished with us yet. He has not abandon us to the rule of tyrants, the misguided purposes of egomaniacs or to the deranged mind of those who stand in His way. He does all thing well, for He is God!

 

Living in Friday

PassI only wish that every day of life would be an eternal spring, with beautiful flowers, fragrant breezes, warm sunshine and the colors of sheer wonder. But that is not how we experience life. Try as we might, we often find ourselves living in Friday. Friday, you say? – Let me explain…

Cherry Blossoms 4Years ago Linda and I went to Washington DC for a special gathering of Christians from across the nation. It was a delightful time, with cherry blossoms galore, beautiful weather and a chance to get away and enjoy each other.

The thing that bothered me was an undercurrent of fatalism in many of the meetings as speaker after speaker told us of the dire condition of our nation and how we were doomed. I suppose they were attempting to garner cooperation for the coming election and they also supposed that electing a Christian to the White House would solve the problems.

Constitution hallToward the end of our stay we attended a gathering of Christian leaders at Constitution Hall. It was to be the capstone of the entire event for us. Speaker after speaker came to the podium and provided another layer of fear and doom, and the noise in the hall grew as people were talking, mostly in worried tones.

The final speaker was announced. I forgot his name, but I shall never forget his message. He was a dignified appearing black man, with greying streaks on the ends of his black hair and sideburns. He walked to the podium and just stood there, silent, exhibiting a commanding presence. Soon, the hubbub and chatter grew still as the focus of the crowd came to the podium and the man standing there.

Cross 4He finally spoke, softly at first, then the volume rose as he worked through his speech. “It’s Friday… The disciples have all left the grounds and retreated to their despair. The crosses have been taken down and the bodies placed in their respective tombs. The tears of Mary have followed the trail to burial and their bitter sting lingers on her ashen face. She too had great hopes for Jesus. She too thought he would deliver them all from their bondage and the oppression of both the priests and the Romans. How had this happened? How did all those dreams come tumbling down?”

“The disciples huddled, some together, and some could no longer be found. They were in deep despair – all hope gone, all that they had dreamed of and hoped for had been destroyed in a few short hours. How could this man have allowed them to hope for greatness and freedom and then be crucified in such a terrible and cruel way? How had they been suckered into this grand movement only to see it disintegrate in a moment?”

“All is lost. All is gone. Nothing turned out the way they expected.”

“But listen to me, that’s only because it’s Friday! Sunday’s a coming!”

Satan & Demons“The devil had surrounded himself with the hordes of hell, shouting victory over the God-man. They had won the day. They had finally put the redeemer out of commission and now the victory was theirs to enjoy. It was party time in hell. But that was because it was Friday! Sunday’s a coming!”

And he continued to work that theme is colorful ways – It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a coming!

He told us that he realized that things looked bleak on the political scene, in our educational systems, in the economy and, well in life in general. He agreed with the speakers who preceded him. He had no quarrel with their assessment, but that was because if was Friday! Sunday is a coming.

Worship 2Little by little he took the fear and depression that was on the crowd and lifted it into the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. By the time he was finished, the meeting was transformed from defeat to victory and the sound of praises of triumph resounded in the hall. Sunday was coming and everyone knew that was the plan all along.

What is your Friday experience? Illness, death, depression, financial ruin, loss of love, betrayal, lies… The list goes on indefinitely as the effects of the fall attack us and bring us under the curse. But that is not the end of the story. For there is something working in us and through us that brings resurrection into the experience of the now! Redemption is not a word disassociated from our experience. Redemption is the promise for which His death was necessary, but from which His victory over the fall and its effects is entirely realized. Hang on! Hold out! It’s Friday – But Sunday is coming. The resurrection is sure and certain. It cannot be deterred or delayed, for it is secured in the past, present, perfect work of Calvary!

Easter 4Listen! Stop for a moment and tune your ears heavenward. Is that the sound of angels I hear? Is that the hosts of heaven singing? Yes, it is; it is the anthem of Sunday. The tomb is empty and the victory is won. Your Friday experience was part of the bargain. It is paid for and finished. Get ready! The victory does not come by our trying or by our flesh. It is already in the works, already paid for, already released.

Friday is swallowed up as the stone is rolled away, revealing an empty slab. He is not here, He is risen, and has triumphed over death, hell and sin. It’s Sunday! Rejoice!

Pastor Dave

 

Freedom and Responsibility – A Call to Action!

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Garden in HandsIn these brief words are the foundations of God’s purpose in mankind. Man is not created as an observer or as a robot, but as a participant in the ongoing work of creation that God intends. Man is to ‘rule over’ creation. Man is made responsible. It is this relationship between responsibility and freedom that underpins the whole of human history. There is a direct corollary between the amount of responsibility and the amount of freedom. That is why God allowed man options from the very beginning. He did not intent to control man but to allow him to succeed or fail, win or lose on the basis of his actions and sense of responsibility. Freedom is a God thing!

God’s control of His creation is in the genetic structure of the elements He created. He made thing to work a certain way. These principles of creation or laws of nature, if you will, are the means by which God exerts His ongoing influence into the creative process. Mankind is not independent from God or His purpose, but we are invited to fellowship with God and know His ways or to go our own way and learn from experience that which we will not learn by obedience. That is, we are not compelled to go against our own will, but it sure makes things work much better when we do things the way they were created to be.

The actions of humankind is initially to run from God. Cain went out from the presence of God and built his own city. The history of man from that time on is one of the struggle between human control and freedom, of responsibility and patronage. They who rule over others in human forms of government, always assume some God given right to do so and assume that they have better information and a higher intellect to know what is best for those they rule over. This elite assumption always ends up stripping men of freedom and of centralizing responsibility at the top of the governmental structure.

God's WorldThe results of this propensity for man to control other men always leads to the same tragic end – rebellion. There is something inherently free in the human spirit and for creation to work as it was supposed to be, responsibility needs to be given away to everyone, not held by the few. When people are responsible that seek freedom to carry out their responsibilities. When they have no power, they become dependent and unproductive. Power was never to be held but shared. Everyone who is responsibility must have the freedom to be responsible for their administration of life and the power to do it. That is God’s order and that is the way it works.

When human social systems tap into this principle, they work. When they set up contrary systems, they do not work. God does not need to control the details of life. He can leave us free to learn and explore. He simply allows us to be frustrated by our error until it dawns on us that there is a better way.

The common assumption is that if I submit to God and His oversight, He will take all the fun out of life and I will be bound by religious activity. The opposite is true. When we submit to the Creator, He places us back in freedom and responsibility. He invites us to partner with Him in the ongoing work of redemption and restoring the planet. If we choose to not walk with Him, then true bondage and control happens. We become slaves of the passions and addictions of the flesh.

John 8:36 – Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Earth in HandsWe often think of spiritual principles as something ethereal and apart from our social world or of the day to day affairs of living in this world. But the greater reality is, what is true spiritually has practical application within our physical world. Freedom, whether in the spirit or on the ground, is a God thing. Whenever we see bondage, if we are partnering with God in the administration of His life on this earth, then we have a responsibility to speak freedom to it. This is not some religious separatism or spiritual escapism.

You don’t get to walk away from that which is ungodly in our world. We are here as representatives of the King and as such are to be busy bringing the kingdom of God into being in the now. The role of the believer is not to hold out and survive until we die and go to heaven but to bring dominion over creation back to the King of Kings.

AllowAlthough we acknowledge a dual kingdom relationship, in which the Kingdom of God co-exists with the kingdom of man, our involvement within the kingdom of man is part of our context in bringing dominion to the planet. We are here to invade every avenue of human life and to see redemption worked in it. Love does not ignore human suffering or the tyranny of human arrogance. We have bought a separation attitude from American liberal philosophy, that the church should not be involved in politics, which means with people’s lives. Separation of church and state in its original meaning and intent is that human government should not be involved in creating or authorizing or establishing religion. It does not mean that our Christian principals and mission should stop the gates of the city. We have a responsibility to speak principle and grace into all areas of life.

Some might ask, then how does that differ from the Islam objective of imposing Sharia Law on a nation or a state? The simple answer is, Christ acknowledged the existence of two kingdoms and proposed that we cooperate with and walk beside human government…

Mark 12:17 – And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him.

Billy Graham 2It is not that we should overthrow human government, but we should in our role as citizens of this earthly kingdom, effect the principles of redemption within it as we can. God did not restrict the Christian from speaking peace and righteousness into the world in which we live. In fact, we are responsible to see it work in the human family wherever we are.

Does that mean that we should be political? If we understand what politics is, then we should be responsible. Politics is simply the systems of the administration of group dynamics. It is part of any group, church, club or organization. It is the means by which people govern and structure social groups. That’s all it is. And it is everywhere. What we usually object to is the dirty tricks people play in manipulating the system, or in the nature of power hungry people who seem to always come to the top and rule. I agree, politics is dirty and needs to be cleaned up. So let me tell you a little story…

Years ago I worked for General Motors as a consultant to GMC Truck dealers. It was a fun job, going from place to place and discovering the problems dealers were having and attempting to work with them to find a solution. I liked the job. The part I did not like, was the politics.

It all came into focus one day when I was telling a Christian friend about a company party that we attended the night before. All of the dealers and company people gathered for dinner, some entertainment, a few speeches and dancing afterwards. I watched as various low level manager worked the boss, and his wife and noted that some of the low level manager’s wives were not averse to making points with the boss, in my opinion, inappropriately. I reacted and was not happy about the politicking and positioning I was seeing.

Billy GrahamAs I was telling my friend about it, I voiced my objection and reaction and stated that I was not going to any more of these political nightmares. He looked at me with quizzical eyes and said, “So you chose to be an observer rather than a participant, and because the political interaction is abhorrent to you, you will walk away and have no influence into the setting that God has placed you in?”

I was dumbstruck. How could this fellow make me responsible for the behavior of others, jockeying for position? What was I supposed to do about other people’s behavior? What influence could I have without having a greater position from which to set the context for such meetings?

I thought about it for a while and then felt that still small voice inside my head speaking words I really did not want to hear at the time, but words that brought understanding and freedom. He said, “If the corruption continues, and you do nothing, then you are part of it. If you will not involve yourself then you consent to the problem. You are here to bring redemption in my love, not to observe and complain.” I wept…

I wish I could tell you that I knew what to do, but I did not. So, I asked the Lord to give me wisdom for my dealer’s problems and started seeing things turn around for them. The district that I served was last in the nation in per capita truck sales. I had some ideas and they worked. In a short time, sales began to rise and the district was no longer last. The dealers were happy and made it known to the corporation.

First-Amendment-on-scroll1Then we had another meeting, this time a luncheon to give out awards. I was surprised to receive an award for making the greatest turnaround in the company. My district had gone from last place in the nation to first place in the nation. I was thankful, but I knew that it was not me who did it. I took the award and said nothing, but something had changed. My influence in the politics of the company was different. I was consulted by other managers and treated differently by the boss.

It was not to last long, for the President of our Division called and asked me to come to Pontiac, Michigan to talk to him. When I arrived he offered me the National Sales Training Manager position. So I returned home, told Linda what had happened, and then we moved, not to Pontiac but to Reno. It was time to step out and fulfill our call to ministry.

Our world is a mess. We can see it. We can understand it. We can stand aside and be the observer and the critic or we can speak into it and affect it. If the condition of our world remains the same, and we do nothing, then we are the problem – we consent to it.

It is not a matter of forming a Christian political party or of taking over an existing party. It is a matter of involvement, of influence and of actively working to make this world the kind of place where justice, peace and freedom reign.

Freedom of ReligionI apologize to my friends who sincerely believe that they should not get involved in politics. I understand the perspective. But may I ask if you are not involved in that you are a citizen and a contributor of tax funds to our government. Then are you not involved already? The question is not are you involved but of what role you will play in bringing God’s grace and redemption to our world.

I am feeling some old feelings. I am hearing some old counsel. I am probably not going to be able to just watch and criticize. Just the way I am now! God already dealt with my hesitance. Ready???

Pastor Dave