Saturday, August 6, 2016

No Chicken or Fish For Me

          I’ve been thinking lately about my Christian friends who keep telling me that we have only two options in the upcoming Presidential election, so we must vote for Trump. Their thought process goes something like this: someone from one of the two major parties will win the election, and they will be responsible for the naming of several Supreme Court Justices. If Hillary wins, she will choose judges who support the murder of our unborn children, so we must vote for Trump to keep Hillary out of office. I find this thinking to be incredibly flawed.          This kind of thinking discounts that fact that 71% of Americans identify as Christians, 48% as Evangelicals. If each and every Christian went out and voted on election day, we could easily elect a godly man or woman into office. In fact, we are obligated to do all that we can to elect a godly leader. We are not dependent on one of the two major parties to pick our options for us. We do not have to use our vote to vote against one person. We can use our vote to vote for a good candidate.

          This kind of thinking totally discounts a mighty God who “sets up kings and deposes them” (Daniel 2:21). It seems to me, that these Christians are forgetting that God is all powerful. They are forgetting just who they serve or maybe they are forgetting just how much He cares about righteousness. I have confidence in God and His work in this election. I take heart in the words in 2 Chronicles, “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.” I wonder how many of us have repented of our sinfulness here. What have we done to encourage and support godly men and women who are seeking office? Have we worked their campaigns, donated money, talked them up with friends, family and coworkers? I wonder how many of us have really sought God’s face in this election. How many of us have fasted and prayed? How many of us have bothered to research third party candidates to see if there might be a man or woman after God’s own heart looking to be our next President? I fear that the answer is not many.

I am told that I must choose chicken or fish. Steak is on the menu, people. Not only is steak on the menu, it is the best dinner. On top of that, you seem to forget that I am the child of the owner. If he feels that steak is right for me, that is what he will give me for dinner. I am telling you to look over the menu. If you don’t want chicken or fish, don’t order it. Ask for the steak. Tell your friends that steak is available. Trust the owner.

My last thought on the issue is this: if one of the two front runners wins the election, that doesn’t mean that my vote was wasted. My job is to look at all of the options, popular or not, and to vote for the one that will bring God the most glory. That is because my purpose is to glorify God in ALL that I do. I don’t see that the words and actions of either Hillary or Trump are at all glorifying to God. If God chooses to put one of them in office, that is because He knows what is best (possibly what will bring us to our knees in desperation). I stand with three of my heroes here. “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18 go ahead and read the whole thing).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A New Perspective on an Old Story

This week I heard an old story with fresh new ears. It is one I have known since my early childhood. If you have been around the church for any time (and some of you who haven’t at all), you know it well too. You can find it in Mark 6: 30-44, the story of the five loaves and two fish. But today God showed me the story from a different perspective.  

Moms, picture this scenario. You have been working tirelessly doing all the things that you have been asked by your loving family. Clothes are clean, cupboards are stocked, bathroom floor is mopped, doctor appointments made, etc. You love what you do. You adore your family. But you are just bone weary tired. It can get that way. We have all had those days when we feel like we are running our fastest just so we don’t get too far behind. You are not alone, my friend.

That is just where our story finds the apostles. They have been off doing the work Christ gave them to do. We are told, “Many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” We know how that feels. Jesus does too. He totally gets it. Immediately he recognizes the problem AND has the solution. Not just any answer; the perfect one. “Come away and rest awhile.” YES!! We are all cheering here. That is just what we want someone to say to us on those overwhelming days. Before you get too excited about it, wait for the rest of the story.

Did you know that the word rest also means abide? (This is a hint of what is to come). I started thinking about some of the abide verses that I know. John 15:4-7 and I John 2:24-29 were the first to spring to mind. They are all about our need to abide in the Lord so that we bear good fruit and have confidence in Him. This is the kind of rest that Jesus gives us. He gives rest to our souls. We don’t have to worry because we know Him. Jesus knows us, our every weakness and all of our needs. He knows what we need even better than we do.

So the story continues. The tired men jump in a boat and head out with Jesus to a desolate place. We have been in those places. The place where you can’t even muster up the slightest desire to even call on God for help. The place where you feel deserted by everyone. The place where you are the most vulnerable, most hurt, most destroyed creature. But we know this truth. No place is beyond our God. No place is without Him. Even at our most desperate, God is there. He never leaves us in our need. Just as in the story, Jesus didn’t leave those who needed Him. The boat lands and the apostles find crowds of people waiting for them. These people needed Jesus, and they knew it. They RAN to this place. And Jesus did not disappoint. He taught them. All 5,000+. Here it was. A chance to abide in Him.

Now comes a chance for the apostles to shine, to show that they find their rest in Christ and are ready for whatever comes. Like the so many of us, they fail. It is late and everyone is hungry so their solution is to send the people out to get their own dinner. Can you imagine their shock when Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.” Say what? We don’t have enough money for that. We are in the middle of nowhere. You must be joking. Do those words sound familiar? They sure do to me. God gives me a job, and I immediately start telling Him why he has the wrong person. All. Of. The. Time. You would think that I would learn, but I don’t. This week He is using this story to remind me. I hope I get it. Unfortunately, just like these men, I forget who I serve. I forget just who God is. Wake up, Melanie. This is God. He created the whole universe from nothing. What can He not do?

He showed the apostles just who He is too. 5 loaves. 2 fish. Nothing really. That probably wouldn’t fill my hungry family. But Jesus blessed what was there and everyone ate. Not only that, they ATE AND WERE SATISFIED. Can we work on remembering that? God uses who we are, what we are, and what we have no matter how insufficient it seems to accomplish His purposes. He satisfies us. We cannot do it on our own.

In the end, the apostles didn’t get the rest they so desperately wanted or felt they needed. Many times we don’t either. They, however, did get much more. And, you know, I bet that when they saw that miracle, they were renewed. They were reminded about how big God is, how much He cares for us, and how He will take care of all of our needs. I would love to say that from here on out, I am totally, 100% sold out and committed to giving God my all, trusting Him completely, and serving with my whole heart. It isn’t going to happen. I will fail, but I will remember this story, and I will get up and do better because I know a GREAT God. I pray that you do too.

BTW, none of this means that moms never need time to rest, relax, and renew. We do. Take the time you need to rest, just remember that rest also means abide. Don’t forget that part of your life.