Times: They Are A-Changin’

Times: They Are A-Changin’

“Times: they are a-changin.” Bob Dylan made that phrase popular during the 60’s. It may have been true in that season, but it has never been truer than today.

When I say that, you might think that I am talking about the negative changes in our society, with its lawlessness and its rebellion against God and His Word. But that’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about some good changes. In fact I believe the changes I’m talking about are gifts from God . Changes to help us navigate the waters of our current society, throwing out life boats to all who will pay attention.

So what are these gifts? Let’s take a little trek back through history, and I think that we will see God’s new gifts with more perspective. Throughout the centuries, God has inspired creativity to flow through the minds of men so that inventions could elevate their lives – bringing comfort and opportunity.

1450 was one of those significant moments for western civilization. Prior to that date, messages were hard to deliver – whether those messages were political, religious, or of newsworthy events. Every message had to be written by hand and even carried by a courier to reach its appointed destination.

In 1450, Johannes Gutenburg revolutionized the world with his invention of the printing press. No longer was the sending of messages so time-consuming. Now books and other writings could be mass produced and distributed with greater ease. Yet the sending of these written materials was still difficult – with couriers on foot, horseback, or in wagons doing the job. The manuscripts could be written, but they were still expensive and hard to come by. Only the elite and educated could benefit from this revolution.

Fast forward a few hundred years, and we see a century which brought more dramatic changes than ever in history. As the nineteenth century turned over to the twentieth, transportation began to come of age. Trains, automobiles, and airplanes introduced incredible opportunities for people to get from one place to another quite quickly – and for the written materials to get from one place to another, as well. Books, magazines, and newspapers gained in popularity.

People could read the messages, but couldn’t hear them. So the inventions which surrounded the ability to transmit sound came on the scene. The telephone, phonographs, and the radio again changed the way people lived. Most of us have seen pictures of a family gathered around a huge radio as they heard  President Roosevelt tell the nation that we were at war. Or as they listened to Orson Wells deliver his drama. So the message could now be heard.

Soon to come was the introduction of seeing the speakers as well. Motion pictures, and then television, transformed society. Even to this day these two inventions are significant in molding the thoughts of people throughout the world. Sometimes influencing for good – and sometimes influencing for evil.

Well, the last of the twentieth century introduced the most amazing discovery of all times. The computer. At first, it was cumbersome and slow – as businesses (and only the largest, at that) had equipment rooms the size of small houses in order to hold the necessary machinery. Yet, as we all know, that too has changed.

Today we are still in the middle of a technological revolution. With the introduction of the internet , the cell phone, and much smaller computer devices, we have access to information from around the world at our fingertips. The most remote parts of the world are available to us in a moment any time, day or night.

When you stop for a moment and think about it, this is truly amazing!

We can clearly see that God Himself has been behind this revolution and  it is so important for us to “get this right.” God has given us an opportunity to reach mankind in an unprecedented way. I want to be a part of His great plan, and I realize that it’s up to me to take that opportunity.

Now all of these inventions throughout the generations have been conveniences which were neither good nor bad in themselves. At every juncture of advancement, there have been some who used the new means of reaching people in a godly way and others in an ungodly way. The same presses which could print tawdry novels, could also print the Bible. The television, which could send pornography to your home, could also allow you to participate in a world-wide revival event.

I remember years ago hearing some Christian leaders lament the fact that Christian groups had not embraced the television soon enough. When TV first came out, many Christians thought that it was a tool for evil, and shunned it altogether. Years later, some leaders thought how different society could have been if the leaders had embraced the technology immediately – bringing God’s message and good Christian programming to the world from the start.

Today, something similar is here. There are those who sit back and see the newer technologies as only evil. They just want their people to stay away from the devices.

I see something different.

I believe that we have an unprecedented opportunity – given to us by God – to deliver His message of hope to all the world.

Not even radio or television had the ability to go into all the world. The internet does. Even the most remote villages around the world are being targeted for some form of internet service.

The internet is more effective than any invention in history when we use it well. And not only is it effective, it’s surprisingly inexpensive.

Publishing books the old fashioned way can be expensive. Running radio or television programs can go into the millions.

The cost of getting your message online can be almost nothing.

What a powerful blessing we have at our fingertips!

So let’s do it! Join me in a mission to impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the good life which goes with it.

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The Power of Hope

The Power of Hope

There is power in hope. Regardless of the way things may look, when you have hope, you can count on a brighter future.

For 25 years we lived in a house which had been built in 1877. While there, one of my delights was being surprised by many outbursts of color as shrubs bloomed or bulbs suddenly created a splash on the scene.

And there were trees galore – of all sizes and shapes.

One of my favorites was an oddity. There was a tree which had been cut down, but which had refused to quit! It had a stump dwindling away, but right in the middle of the stump, was a tree. Standing tall and proud, this tree had grown right up out of the center of that stump.

Defiant.

Determined.

I loved that tree. It wasn’t really the prettiest one around, but it spoke volumes to me.

Then I ran across these verses.

For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again. And its shoots will not fail.

Though its roots grow old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. (Job 14:7-9)

That tree became a picture of hope for me.

Is there something in your life which seems dead? Your career? Your marriage? Your relationship with a child?

If so, pray and ask God to show you how to proceed. He is a God of Hope, and He will begin to impress upon you pictures which are different from what you see with your eyes.

Ask Him to guide you to verses in the Bible which uphold your vision of hope, and start speaking those verses to yourself and to the world around you.

As you do this, you will be developing your very own arsenal of weapons against fear, doubt, and depression. You will find yourself seeing with spiritual eyes more than the natural.

Then do what He says.

That’s how you fight the good fight of faith. And it’s how you turn things around.

Now be persistent and be patient.

Be like that Tree of Hope in my yard.

When that tree first got cut down, I’m certain that it looked completely dead. There was no evidence that any life remained.

But at the scent of water (in your case the scent of the Holy Spirit speaking life to you), the green in the tree began to grow. It had to fight its way to become a tree again. It had to be persistent and patient.

Eventually the shoot overcame the obstacles and won its right to be a tree again.

That’s like you and like me. We are determined not to be cut down and destroyed.

We are coming back. We will make the changes we need to make, and we will come back. Stronger. Taller.

That’s the way it is when we follow our God’s direction. We always have hope for a better day.

Our God is faithful to guide us to that victory.

May your Christmas season be filled with God’s hope!

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Christian Roots of the USA

Christian Roots of the USA

The elections are on everyone’s mind now. And there are so many varying opinions.

I happened to run across a bunch of quotes today which i had compiled several years ago. These are quotes from the founders of our great nation. It brings tears to your eyes when you realize what great duress people went through in the early years of establishing the nation. Yet they were dedicated because of a great purpose.

They paid a great price for the freedoms we enjoy – and even take for granted.

I know that they got lots of things wrong. But when you look at our history, you can see God’s hand bringing repentance and clarity again and again.  He’s not through with us. But for us to get this right, we have to run toward God and not away from Him. He will continue to change hearts and lives.

When searching the historical papers of the founding fathers, the Christian theme comes up again and again. Here are a few of the quotes which bring inspiration to believers. The importance of every believer voting for righteous men is truly revealed in these quotes.

Be inspired by them – and then vote for righteous people. 

 John Adams

We electors have an important constitutional power placed in our hands; we have a check upon two branches of the legislature . . . the power I mean of electing at stated periods [each] branch. . . . It becomes necessary to every [citizen] then, to be in some degree a statesman, and to examine and judge for himself of the tendency of political principles and measures. Let us examine, then, with a sober, a manly . . . and a Christian spirit; let us neglect all party [loyalty] and advert to facts; let us believe no man to be infallible or impeccable in government any more than in religion; take no man’s word against evidence, nor implicitly adopt the sentiments of others who may be deceived themselves, or may be interested in deceiving us.

[John Adams, The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, ed. (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. 1, p. 81, from “‘U’ to the Boston Gazette” written on August 29, 1763.]

Samuel Adams

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.

[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781.]

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.

[Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. III, p. 236-237, to James Warren on November 4, 1775.]

Matthias Burnett

Consider well the important trust . . . which God . . . [has] put into your hands. . . . To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]. . . . Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you. . . . [L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust. . . . Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutely oppose the torrent of iniquity. . . . Watch over your liberties and privileges – civil and religious – with a careful eye.

[Matthias Burnett, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk, An Election Sermon, Preached at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 12, 1803 (Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1803), pp. 27-28.]

Frederick Douglass

I have one great political idea. . . . That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded. The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.

[Frederick Douglass, The Frederick Douglass Papers, John Blassingame, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), Vol. 2, p. 397, from a speech delivered at Ithaca, New York, October 14th, 1852.]

Charles Finney

[T]he time has come that Christians must vote for honest men and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them. . . . Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter. But the time has come when they must act differently. . . . Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you He does see it – and He will bless or curse this nation according to the course they [Christians] take [in politics].

[Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1868), Lecture XV, pp. 281-282.]

Thanks to www.wallbuilders.com for providing these documents.

Isn’t it amazing to see how unashamed our forefathers were of proclaiming for righteousness and truth. They were clear in their attitude toward the slack minded, and they were totally committed to Godly character.

Be inspired as you meditate on these quotes.

Let God Clear Your Focus

Let God Clear Your Focus

The year was 1985 and our family was visiting my parents on the southeastern coast of Georgia. As my husband and I drove over the causeway to Sea Island, we were overwhelmed with the beauty – the incredible expanse of marsh grass, the huge Live Oaks dripping with Moss, the windswept trees, the sand dunes, and the array of extraordinary vacation homes.

Each home was unique – representing the taste of its owner. There were some resembling ornate French palaces. Others exhibiting more of a rustic look. Some extremely modern. Others traditional.

There were also some common elements.

These homes were very expensive – and well-manicured. They were the vacation homes of well-moneyed families, top executives,  greatest philanthropists, and even international royalty.

The richest of the rich. And many of the leaders of our nation.

I had taken this drive many times over the years and had loved it. It was refreshing and energizing to see the variety of homes and landscapes, and awesome to think of the money required to maintain such a lifestyle. Splendor and more splendor.

But this time it seemed different.

I felt a heaviness coming upon me – a sadness. I couldn’t understand why this could be. Suddenly I realized that God was calling me to pray. But why right now?

As we returned home, I went off alone to talk to God and He began to give me some revelation which has continued unfolding through the years.

Those homes were homes of the most powerful leadership in our country. Since they were the leaders, they also made a statement about the spiritual condition of our country.

Then I was in for a surprise.

The Lord led me to Isaiah 46:1,2: Bel bows down, Nebo stoops over…They bow down together. They cannot save, but are themselves going into captivity.

During this season, my husband and I had been studying about the time when Israel was taken into Babylonian captivity. They were captured and carried away to a foreign land – with foreign gods, and foreign customs. We were studying the underlying conditions of Israel which had caused that to happen, realizing that the natural episode was a type for a spiritual condition.

Then the Lord spoke very clearly, “My church has been taken into Babylonian captivity. No longer am I, the One true God, being worshiped, but the Babylonian gods are being worshiped. Bel (Baal) and Nebo are the idols of my church now.”

I knew who Bel (Baal) was: the god of prosperity. But who was Nebo?

I began to do some research. Nebo was the Babylonian god of handwriting, but by extension he became the god of education and the intellect.

Ah, there you have it. I knew what God was saying. He was saying that the church trusted more in money and in humanistic education than they did in Him, the one true God.

This new revelation took some pondering, because I knew that our God didn’t want us to be poor and ignorant. He wants us to be educated and to be prosperous.

But when we don’t put Him first, when we don’t look to God for our answers then the blessings of education and prosperity can become a curse. They can cause us to worship the creature and not the Creator.

We become humanistic in our approach to life.

I started to see how entrenched these idols have become in our culture, and the results are obvious. When we are worshiping ourselves, there are no standards. We think that whatever we desire is just fine. No restrictions. Lust, greed, perversion: no problem.

For many, the rule has become that whatever you can “get by with” is okay. Much hurt and confusion have come as these idols have caused us to trample God’s truth and to trample each other.

But God…

But God is calling back to Him those who will listen. He is calling us out of Babylon. He wants to cleanse us and show us His true nature. Then He wants to show Himself strong to the world.

So am I coming against education? Am I coming against prosperity?

Of course not! These are gifts from our Father.

But we are called to worship the Gift-giver, not the gift. When our hearts are pure and our perspective is clear, these gifts are true blessings.

They enrich our lives and those of others.

It all comes back to the attitude of the heart. When our hearts are in the right place, then we do have standards: God’s standards. And these standards are the foundation for our knowledge and wisdom. They become a base upon which we build our beliefs.

It seems like it’s time for all of us to do a heart check, and to continue to do these checks as we go forward.

There is much for us to do, and we want to have clear minds. We want to represent God’s truth to the world, not a skewed version of it.

Only pure hearts can do that.

It’s time to bow our knee and let God be God.

Let Him clear our focus.

It’s time to cast aside any Babylonian garment we may have acquired, and represent our father in spirit and in truth.

The Wisdom of Frederick Douglass

The Wisdom of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was one of the great movers, shakers, and thinkers of  the 19th century. As a young slave in Maryland, he learned to read – and began to teach his fellow slaves by reading the Bible.

Determined to be free from slavery, young Douglass  escaped and fled to New York to a safe community for freed slaves.

Then his attentions turned to freeing others.

Frederick Douglass established a newspaper, North Star, and became a writer and orator. Douglass traveled the United States and into Europe speaking for the abolition of slavery – and for women’s rights.

He wrote several autobiographies, sharing his stories of slavery, deliverance, and his Christian views.

Douglass was truly a remarkable man. One who stood up before his time. Before it was fashionable.

His quotes are significant nearly 2 centuries later.

One is especially significant today.

I have one great political idea. . . . That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded.

The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible.

It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34].

This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . .

I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.

An amazing man. An amazingly accurate outlook.

[Frederick Douglass, The Frederick Douglass Papers, John Blassingame, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), Vol. 2, p. 397, from a speech delivered at Ithaca, New York, October 14th, 1852.]