Do You Know Your Identity?

 January 21, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

Do you know your identity? It shapes our attitude. When you remind yourself who you belong to, you will behave accordingly.

A doctor, is wary of who he is in society. He cares for people, and builds his image on the power of his profession. Same with other jobs. The job shapes you; is it a good thing, to an extent but eventually money and that false imagery destroys the soul. No matter who we become in this world, however educated or get into the highest positions, the word of God must stand tall in our lives. All is vanity, perishable, only the word of God is forever.

What happens when you know your identity, and walk in the realisation of God’s love and power?

You will walk in Him, whether you are a doctor or anyone. God takes precedence; His nature of love and peace, overcomes the false imagery of the profession set by the standards of the earth. As heavenly citizens, we perform the duties of earth, staying focused on the first (love) priority in Christ alone. We begin to walk in the wisdom of God. We begin to walk in the fear of God daily.

A woman of God, the ideal mother, who takes care of the house walks in the power of God. As a comforter, healer, builder, helper, name it all. God presents Himself as our all in all.

Jesus is our all in all! When we deny our self and walk in Him, we live the life God desires. It’s no more about us, it’s about Christ forming in us to meet the mental, emotional and physical needs of the people we are called to serve. It’s impossible for us to do anything good without Jesus (John 15:5).

May God bless us all, Maranatha, praise God and amen!

Do You Know Your Identity?

Where Are You Finding Your Identity?

By Eric Geiger -April 19, 2021

Finding our identity when the places we would go to give us a sense of who we are are taken from us.

More than any other time, I am hearing people say phrases like “I need to find myself again,” or “I feel like I don’t know who I am anymore.” Some are changing ZIP codes, switching careers, ending marriages and relationships in a pursuit to “find themselves” and where they fit in this world. Perhaps one of the reasons people feel loss around their identity is that the places that contributed to our sense of identity were taken from us during the pandemic.

Some identify with their career. “I am a lawyer.” “I am in sales.” “I manage a team.” And the office was an identifying marker of the career, a place one could go to feel he or she belonged and had purpose. During the pandemic many offices were closed and some are not reopening. Some grab their identity from their friends at happy hour or buddies on the college campus. Whose we are often defines who we are. During the pandemic school was online and happy hours were disrupted. Some identified with their activity and community surrounding the activity—lifting weights, bowling, basketball twice a week, etc. All of these were interrupted.

During the pandemic the places we would go to give us a sense of who we are were taken from us. And many people were rattled to the core.

In Old Testament times, the Jewish people would journey three times a year to the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was part of their heritage, identity and community. Going to the temple helped them remember who they were and how they fit in this world.

Easter reminded us of incredible news. Jesus, when he announced his upcoming resurrection, referred to himself as the temple: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days” (John 2:19). As Jesus was overthrowing tables in the temple, he was establishing himself as the new temple, a better temple. A temple that could not be ruined or taken away because he (the true temple) would rise from the dead.

Unlike the gym, the office, the bar or the campus, Jesus never closes. Because he will never be taken from us, our identity is secure in him. Jesus is more than a place. He is a person who gives us joy and meaning. C.S. Lewis wrote:

“Your real, new self will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for him. … Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin and decay. But look for Christ and you will find him, and with him everything else thrown in.”

Because places were taken away from us, many of us are searching for ourselves again. May we look for him, the One who will never be taken away from us. The One who offers a much better identity than all the places in this world.

This article originally appeared on EricGeiger.com and is reposted here by permission.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/23/behold-two-paintings-that-show-a-miraculous-christmas-meeting/

Interrupt the Downward Spiral

By Max Lucado

Anxiety is an out of control thought pattern.  It settles over the mind like a severe weather system, spewing thunderclouds and casting lightning bolts.  Life feels like an airplane in a tailspin.  It feeds on what-ifs and worst-case scenarios.

What if the Coronavirus is unstoppable.  What if a pandemic takes over?  I’ll be quarantined for weeks! The economy is sliding into a bear market.  I’ll lose my health.  I’ll lose my job.  I’ll lose it all.  How will I survive on unemployment?

Down. Down. Down.  Don’t give in to this thought pattern.  It’s a sinkhole. Don’t catastrophize your way into quicksand.  Take a deep breath and then…

1.   Pray about it. At the first hint of an anxious thought, Take the thought captive. Don’t tolerate the devil, not even for a second. Lasso the anxious thought with a word of prayer. Lord, there is an intruder at the door! Please take over!

2.   Identify the culprit.  Generalities are not permitted.  None of this: “I’m worried.” Get specific: Lord, I’m worried about the layoffs at work. Now, that’s better. But even more detailed: I’m worried that I will lose my job. Will I be able to find more work? Will we have to move? Specificity disarms anxiety.

3.  Take a reality check.  Is this a legitimate concern? Or is this a vague, ill-defined, rumor-fed possibility? They say layoffs are inevitable. Who are they?

4.  Take an action step.  Assuming the concern is legitimate, what can you do? Make a list of two or three steps you can Resist the urge to try to solve everything immediately.

5.  Ask: “Can God solve this?”  Is this challenge within his skill set? Is he overwhelmed by this setback? Are the angels pounding on the door of heaven trying to convince him to come out of hiding? Is he resisting?

I can’t handle this challenge It is too great. I don’t know what to do! I’m stumped, stuck, and stalled out.

No…I don’t think so either. God is never baffled or belittled. Take the problem to him.

Reflect on this verse: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment, You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17).

And, pray it through:

Lord,

Thank you that “before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” (Psalm 139:4).  Thank you that there are no surprises with you.  Help me find deep comfort in the fact that you are unshockable and nothing is too great, too terrible, too large, or too heavy for you.  Help me see the problems that I face today in light of how big you are.   Amen.

© Max Lucado  (adapted from Anxious for Nothing, Thomas Nelson, 2017)

Practical Life’s Lessons From The Nativity

by Pastor Ray Patrick

1. Spend Quiet Time with Yahweh

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

The baby was soon to come and Mary had so much to do. In spite of all her preparations in the physical, she had to spend spiritual one on one time with God. Spending time alone with God is an important part of spiritual development. This week, amidst hectic holiday preparations, make time for quiet meditation. Stop the talking, working and rushing long enough to be still. God is waiting for you. Begin now!

2. Yahweh Source of All Hope

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Isaiah 40:31

For 9 months Mary and Joseph lived with great hope and expectations. Hope is a powerful thing, but the real strength comes from the source of hope. When you place your desires and dreams into the hands of God, nothing is impossible. Hope for all mankind came through Christ, born as a lowly child in a stable.

Are you feeling run down, dealing with worry or frustration?

Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ today, say a prayer and stand in hope…

3.  Make Faith In Yahweh a Habit

So exercise yourself spiritually and practice being a better Christian.

1 Timothy 4:8

Mary had to make faith a daily habit. She had to trust God moment by moment, day by day. Through loneliness, ridicule and the pain of pregnancy she had to exercise faith and make it a habit. Someone once said that practice does not make perfect; practice makes habit. This advent season, dedicate time to your spiritual exercises–prayer, Bible reading, meditation and make deepening your relationship with God a daily exercise. So like Mary, you can stay on track on your spiritual journey.

4. Focus on Yahweh’s Gift

Be very careful, then, how you live…making the most of every opportunity.

Ephesians 5:15-16

This time of year was a busy time in the Jewish calendar. Mary and Joseph would have had lots to do. But they had to stay focused on the gift God had blessed them with. December is a busy month for most of us. Filled with opportunities—parties to attend, special worship experiences to have and chances to reconnect with family and old friends. Make sure to focus your heart on the true reason for every Season. Focus on God the man, Christ Jesus and the tremendous difference He makes in your life. Pray for the wisdom to keep the holidays blessed rather than stressed.

Pray With Me
Yahweh, our Creator, we offer this humble prayer today. Father, we worship you with a song of thanks in our hearts—a song of redemption, a song of hope and renewal. We pray for joy, hope, love, forgiveness and peace upon the Earth. God, we ask for the salvation of all our family members and friends, and we pray your blessings on all people. May there be bread for the hungry, love for the unlovable, healing for the sick, protection for our children, and wisdom for our youth. We pray for the forgiveness of sinners and abundant life in Christ. Holy Spirit, be with us in love and power. In Christ’ name. Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2019/12/25/practical-lifes-lessons-from-the-nativity/

She’s Interested and He’s Not Pursuing

What’s up with all the godly Christian men not making a move?

by Godinterest

Houston, we have a problem. It’s a problem that will require all of our effort, courage, confidence and creativity to solve.

Christianity is the largest religion in the world, claiming 2.2 billion of the world’s 6.9 billion people, as of last year and dating is a big deal for most young Christians. However, ask any young woman what the Christian dating scene is like these days.

“Christian men … ugh.”  Grim. Impossible. Slim pickings they’ll  say.

Young Christian men simply won’t commit, they’ll  say and if you’re lucky they’ll  call once — never to be heard from again.

And the churchgoing men who are available? Well, there’s a reason they’re single.

“Usually, he respects or admires the godly young woman (or, other people in his Church think he should admire her more), and yet he’s not physically attracted to her. She’s not his “type,” he says.”

So why are all the single Christian ladies having trouble finding single Christian guys for companionship and romance?  A plethora of Christian dating websites, books, blogs, advice columns, and magazine articles have surfaced in the last few years, attempting to give Christian young women some helpful tips for snagging a godly man and achieving that much-desired state of wedded bliss.

  • Date for at least a year.
  • Don’t kiss before you’re married.
  • Be careful how much time you spend together.
  • Date a bunch of people before getting serious.
  • Don’t unless you are ready to move in the direction of marriage.

It’s not terrible advice– waiting until marriage takes work. But here’s the thing: Relationships take work.  However, while most Chrisitan ladies have internal regulations in the form of our Spirit inspired convictions and knowledge of the Bible, it does not seem to be enough?

Could it be that we screened all the godly young men out of church as boys?  

Probably not entirely, as according to Mark Regenerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas, young single women in the church outnumber young single men by a three-to-two ratio.

That’s right ladies, you’re not imagining it: there’s a severe shortage of single men in the church. Not just here in the U.S., but also around the world.

“There are almost no men in my country who are following Christ. And French men will not marry a woman whose faith in Jesus is so strong. She is a leper in their eyes.” –  Christian woman from France

A young godly man knows he’s a catch — particularly if he’s dedicated to his faith, good looking and works out and there are hardly any other man is his Church. With each week that passes, he’s presented with a congregation full of single women. Most haven’t been on a date in a while. He has his pick of the bunch.

There’s even a joke about the gender imbalance. It goes like this:

“Men in the church are like parking spaces. All the good ones are either already taken, or they’re handicapped.”

Furthermore, it has been confirmed that the supply of young women grows with each passing year.

So whats the solution?

God Will Orchestrate the Love Story

Do you find yourself becoming resentful that God is withholding something from you?

  • Still waiting to find the man of your dreams
  • Your greatest desire is to have a baby
  • You want to experience the joy of being “equally yoked” with a godly husband

Desperation is dangerous because it focuses on self: What I want. What I must have. What I cannot live without. Firstly,  if and when the time comes for you to be married, God will orchestrate the love story. But in the meantime, your focus is to be on serving God and pouring your life out for God, not on getting serious about getting married. The timing is up to God, not you.

Singled Out in Church

Secondly, research shows that single men are more likely to attend churches that fit the following profile:

  • Large
  • Headed by a male pastor who’s bold and outspoken
  • Offers intentional male discipleship
  • Worship service is done in under 90 minutes

Apart from salvation, there is perhaps a way that the concept “God helps those who help themselves” is correct. We’re not suggesting you switch churches over this issue. It probably wouldn’t hurt to visit another church once in awhile — especially if your church offers nothing for singles.

Also remember that there are actually some Christ-men out there who are praying and hoping for a set-apart young woman — one who is not following after the trends of the culture, or who are not wallowing around in discontentment or on the constant prowl for a guy.

Any pastors who are reading, have you ever stopped to listen, really listen, to the women in your church about how they feel they are treated or perceived?

https://godinterest.com/2018/03/18/shes-interested-and-hes-not-pursuing/

People Series: David, man after God’s own heart

January 15, 2020 by Nehemiah Zion

David, the greatest King Israel ever had. A shepherd, warrior, worshipper and a lot more. What did I find when I mapped his life onto the seven point framework? Similar to the previous article on Cornelius. If you enjoyed it, please leave a comment or share your thoughts as you are moved by the Spirit.

David knew his Identity

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” Psalms 139:17 

Full marks to David for knowing the heart of God concerning him aka His children. He had no doubt that God loved him greatly, he was so filled in the love of God himself. He knew his joy and peace came from the salvation of God alone. His gratitude and adoration is revealed in his words of praise to God. What a life of hope!

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24 

David knew the state of man. He knew his true place as a human being on earth. Even though he was King, he knew he was nothing before the King of kings. He was eager to please God every day. His only desire was to be with God forever.

David knew he was Unique

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalms 139:14

David believed he was uniquely created. He had a clear vision of his life, knowing that God had created him with purpose. He fed his spirit with Gods will, and not his own.

David only Expected from God 

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalms 62:5 

One of the key enablers of all confusion and unrest in life is living on wrong expectations. It’s impossible to satisfy a longing soul. He knew God alone could fulfil the longings of his soul.

He expected only from God. He waited on God for every help he required for battles and life.

David gave his Time to God

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Psalms 84:2

When Jesus is your first love, you’ll only want to spend all your time with Him. Are you hungry and thirsty like the OT King? We who have the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, how passionate are we about praying and meditating on Gods word?

David loved fellowship | People

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalms 133:1 

David not only loved God, but also loved fellowship. He believed in a lifestyle of unity. When the families of his army and his own family were captured, his own people turned against him. Yet, he encouraged himself in the Lord. He leaned on God when everything was against him. Not only did he get the families back but the love of his people was greatly restored.

David knew the secret to true success in this World

“What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?” Psalms 34:12 

Everyone wants a good and long life (when things are going well for them), but you cannot have it without walking in the fear of God. David who had it all, personally realised the price one pays when he or she strays away from the Word of God.

David knew his Enemy

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalms 23:4-5 

David’s lifestyle, his love for God and people, not only brought him victory over his enemies but also converted enemies into friends. His devotion in worship brought healing to those who were affected by evil spirits of depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional problems. No matter who the enemy was, in the physical or spiritual, He relied on God to overcome them all.

Original here

 

A Liberal Order That Seeks To Shut Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Survive

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left. It makes them wonder: Why not us?

A Liberal Order That Seeks To Shut Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Survive

Dec 26, 2019

It is a basic Christian teaching that good works are insufficient for spiritual salvation. We should also remember they are unlikely to suffice for cultural and political salvation either.

Chick-fil-A’s abandonment of The Salvation Army is yesterday’s news, but its lessons should be remembered, for they explain our cultural and political trajectory. That the chicken chain capitulated even though everyone was “eating mor chikin” is instructive regarding the power of the LBGT lobby and its allies. That they directed this power against a Christian organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless — including those who identify as LGBT — is even more instructive.

It exemplifies how hard-liners are driving the cultural left. It is not clear that a majority even of those who identity as LGBT hate The Salvation Army. For example, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg volunteered for the organization (albeit for a photo op) a couple of years back. Now he is facing criticism from LGBT activists, as those running the movement want total victory, not coexistence. And they are winning.

The campaign included government officials from Buffalo, New York, to San Antonio, Texas, retaliating against Chick-fil-A for its support of The Salvation Army. Even without full control over the government, the left has been aggressive in its use of government power against Christians who believe traditional teachings on human sexuality. The left seems to target particularly those engaged in charitable work, rather than protecting them on account of their good works.

The left’s legal wing is trying to compel Christian hospitals to perform abortions and sex-change surgeries, Christian schools to affirm same-sex relationships, and Christian charities such as women’s shelters to pretend men can be women. A purportedly serious Democratic presidential candidate wanted to tax dissenting Christian organizations, including churches, into oblivion.

The left won’t even spare elderly nuns. When the Trump administration ended Barack Obama’s legal campaign against the Little Sisters of the Poor, various Democratic attorneys general made a point of continuing that unholy effort.

The Rise of Post-Liberal Christianity

This should not surprise us. Jesus promised that the powers of this world would hate his followers, not that they would love us if we were virtuous. While we Christians should always strive to be more like Christ, we should not succumb to a quasi-Pelagianism that presumes our winsomeness determines how others receive the gospel. Christ himself was crucified, and the grace and charity many martyrs exemplified did not save them from persecution unto death.

But that we should expect trouble in this world does not mean we should be disinterested regarding politics, nor does it excuse governments that oppose the church and oppress its people. That our nation seems to be starting down this path has intensified Christian reconsiderations of liberal political theory. Although our government ostensibly protects the freedoms of religion, association, and speech, procedural liberalism increasingly appears insufficient to protect our rights or to ensure a culture of tolerance and pluralism that includes Christians who maintain the traditional teachings of our faith.

The supposedly neutral principles of the legal left consistently restrict the rights and opportunities of orthodox Christians, and the left always pushes the envelope. Christian litigators should, of course, do their best to defend our rights, and thank God for their efforts, but it should be no surprise that more and more Christians are intrigued by varieties of post-liberal thinking, including previously marginalized ideas such as Catholic integralism. It is understandable that Christians are turning against the system of liberal democratic capitalism as it turns against them.

Post-liberal Christians are unlikely to find their minority status daunting, for they see that minorities can win if they are determined and the institutions they face are weak and full of cowards. After all, a minority of hard-line leftists control cultural, economic, and political pressure points that grant them power far beyond their numbers.

For example, the 2020 Democratic field is so radically pro-abortion that even The New York Times has noticed. The Democratic Party stands for abortion today, abortion tomorrow, and abortion forever, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren illustrated in promising that at her inauguration — angels and ministers of grace defend us! — she will wear swag to rep the nation’s largest abortion chain.

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left and wonder: Why not us? A decadent and despairing culture with weak institutions and degraded elites is precisely the sort that a determined minority might govern.

Thus, they see an opportunity as our culture disintegrates despite its wealth and technological prowess. Liberal individualism seems to be devouring itself: Fertility is down, loneliness and depression have increased, and deaths of despair from suicide, drugs, and alcohol are way up.

Should Liberalism Be Preserved?

Perhaps it is time to be bold and reorder society toward the highest good, rather than accepting liberalism’s dishonest promises of “live and let live” neutrality. As some post-liberal thinkers note, we increasingly live in a non-Christian integralist society that mandates belief in sectarian dogmas, such as the mystical belief that a man may become — indeed, may already be — a woman. Therefore, they see the alternative to post-liberal Christian politics not as liberalism, but as some sort of post-Christian illiberal politics.

I am sympathetic to some of the post-liberal thought developing on the right. I see the appeal, especially as liberalism’s promise of legal neutrality is exposed as so much fiction. I share many of the critiques of liberal political theory and find its discourse far more interesting than the stale talking points of neoliberals and neoconservatives.

But I am neither Catholic nor Calvinist enough to be much of an integralist, and I remain more skeptical of the likelihood of governmental efficacy and rectitude than many post-liberals seem to be. I also remain attached to many liberal practices, such as the right to trial by jury.

I am, in short, still thinking over these matters and am not entirely in either camp. From this in-between, I would recommend post-liberal thinkers reflect on the frailty and fallibility of human institutions. I also suggest that the defenders of liberal democratic capitalism take the critiques of post-liberals seriously. A liberal order that seeks to shut down Christian charities for nonconformist views on human sexuality does not deserve to survive.

Nathanael Blake is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. He has a PhD in political theory. He lives in Missouri.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/26/a-liberal-order-that-seeks-to-shut-down-christian-charities-doesnt-deserve-to-survive/

Mighty Warrior

by Discerning Dad

Judges 6:12“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

I struggle to know if I am moving in God’s calling in my life.  After all, days turn into months and years and the grind is real.  Who am I that God can use?  My past, my sin, my fear, my doubts are all reasons for why I am not qualified.  God couldn’t possibly use someone like me, look at what other people are doing in God’s name, look at the ministries, the salvations, the miracles… how can I measure up?

Let’s take a look at Gideon, he was a mighty warrior for God and one of the most famous of Israel’s judges. If you look at when God called him, he was not even close to who we think of him today.  God first saw him and called him a “mighty warrior.” Why? Had he won battles yet? Had he defeated Israel’s enemies yet? No… but God saw him for what he could become, he called this out of him before Gideon even believed it. In fact the next verse (13) Gideon answers the angel by saying “Pardon me, my lord, but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about…. But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”  God responds to this by saying “Go in thestrength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.  Am I not sending you?”  God shut down Gideon’s doubts pretty fast, Gideon is overcome by his circumstances and basically tells God that He abandoned them, he says this directly to God’s angel, talk about being bold!  God responding with “Am I not sending you”, as in- I know what I am doing, I chose you for a reason if you were to but act upon it and believe it.

This should have been enough right?  I mean, if God told you directly that he was sending you, would you obey?  Or would you come up with excuses? Take a look at Gideon’s NEXT response in verse 15 “But how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Gideon still had excuses, he refused to believe God knew who he was calling and tried to correct God by telling him where he came from.  The Lord then responded “I will be with you,” as if to say, none of your past matters, I am calling you into a mighty future.  The rest of the chapter is Gideon asking for signs from God to confirm even more what has already been spoken.

You have to give Gideon credit for his boldness in the face of God, he was worried that he couldn’t be a mighty warrior for God and yet here he is, in front of the creator of the universe, telling Him how He is wrong.  I find it interesting too that God allowed Gideon to express his fears and concerns without giving up on him, he came through on Gideon’s asking for a sign and did not go and choose someoneelse.  God knew what he was doing and God knew why he called Gideon.  Fast-forward some verses and Gideon destroys Israelites enemies and fulfills what God spoke over him as a “mighty warrior.”

It’s been said that God doesn’t call those equipped but equips those he calls…

What does God’s calling look like on your life?  Have you been walking faithfully in it or have you been running away from it because you are not “qualified.” What I have seen in my life is that following through on God’s calling is taking small steps and saying “YES” to God, in whatever that may be, big or small.  God is patient and wants to hear your fears and doubts. He may not always answer a “fleece” (v.39) we put before him, but he will always encourage us and always sees us for who we really are and the“mighty warrior” we can become!

Discerning Reflection: What is the reason I use for why I “can’t” do something God is calling me to do? What have I said YES to that has turned out to be a blessing to me or someone else?

Prayer- God, help me see myself as you see me. Help me walk in the calling you have placed on my life, however big or small it may be.  Help me not use excuses from my past as to why I can’t but give me boldness and guide my steps.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tim Ferrara

 

 

TBT- Mighty Warrior

Choosing To Forgive

by Discerning Dad

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which bind them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14 NIV

Most Christians will agree that forgiveness is the right thing to do, after all there are over 100 verses in the Bible that talk about forgives or forgiving others. And yet, forgiving other people can be extremely hard to do. It seems to come easily for children, I know that my children will quickly forgive each other and move on about their day. They never bring up infractions from a week, month, or year ago! Why does this get harder to do as people move into adulthood? As you become adults, the wrongs levied against you become more severe, we build up walls over time, and we can analyze a scenario to judge if someone is deserving of our forgiveness.

A recent Barna study (1) among practicing Christians said that:

76% offered unconditional forgiveness to someone else

55% received unconditional forgiveness

27% identify someone they don’t want to forgive

23% identify someone who they can’t forgive

22% struggle to receive forgiveness for something

We can learn a lot about forgiveness in the Bible. Let’s take a look at the story of Jacob and Esau.

Jacob had God’s favor but he was not a good brother to Esau in the least. He took advantage of Esau when he was weak and traded him some stew for a birthright (although Esau was not very smart to have agreed). Jacob also betrayed his brother by stealing the blessing from his father by dressing up like his brother, with his mother’s help nonetheless! This was a double betrayal for Esau from his brother and mother.

Jacob brought about division against him and his brother and he had to flee for fear of repercussion. The interesting thing is that the brothers meet up again, many years later in Genesis 37. Jacob is justifiably scared of this encounter. He does not know if Esau will attack him and steal everything. Jacob separates out his wives and children into groups so that if one group is attacked, the other can flee safely. Jacob also prepares a generous gift for Esau when he arrives.

Surprisingly to Jacob, Esau embraces his brother and even rejects the gifts that Jacob brings saying, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what you have for yourself.” (Gen. 37:9) The brothers are reunited despite the past. God blesses both of them as they grow in livestock and wealth that they eventually have to split up because the land cannot support both groups.

Esau made a decision to forgive his brother. Jacob did not ask for forgiveness before it was offered. Esau had every “right” to stay bitter and even steal from Jacob his possessions. Esau chose the high ground.

Esau was betrayed by his own flesh and blood, how often does family betray their own? This hurt can be harder than others to recover from. If a stranger hurts me, it may make me sad but I can move on. When family hurts you, it sometimes makes the relationship irreparable and can cause devastating psychological damage.

The same can be said for our church family. Too often I hear and have experienced fellow Christians who hurt and betray their own, either through difference of beliefs or petty arguments. This can result in unforgiveness and someone choosing to not go to church or not let another Christian brother or sister close to them again in case of a future hurt. If an effort to control your surroundings, you end up taking extreme measures that hurt you in different ways such as the lack of fellowship and community. We are meant for relationship with fellow believers and to meet together regularly (Heb. 10:25).

Forgiveness does not forget the past. It does allow you to keep the past from controlling your future.

Forgiveness does not excuse or condone previous actions and it does not mean you have to sign up to get hurt again.

Forgiveness should be given even when it is not asked for. The person you forgive does not even need to be present in cases of death or abuse. You can still forgive them before your Heavenly Father.

Forgiveness is more an act of release for YOU than the other person. We hold on to unforgiveness because it gives us power, but it also destroys us in the process and steals our joy. They say power corrupts, I would say that unforgiveness corrupts our spirit.

There’s an old saying that says, “Harboring unforgiveness or bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

But we only forgive those who deserve it right? After all there are some actions that are reprehensible, that cannot be forgiven even if I wanted to? I don’t want to judge but I also can’t forgive because of what this person did to me…

If anyone “deserved” to hold on to unforgiveness it would have been Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. She tells of an amazing story of one of her captors after the war, coming to a camp where she was preaching about Jesus. She chose forgiveness there on the spot when he told her who he was and what he had done.

Corrie ten Boom then told of not being able to forget this incident. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn’t sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest.

“His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor,” Corrie wrote, “to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks.” “Up in the church tower,” he said, nodding out the window, “is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness.

When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down.” “And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force — which was my willingness in the matter — had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts.”(2)

What unforgiveness in your life do you need to let go of today, like letting go of a helium balloon? Let unforgiveness float away from your life and allow the Holy Spirit to heal broken wounds like only He can.

Discerning Reflection: What areas of my life do I have unforgiveness? Do I forgive as quickly as Jesus commands? Who do I need to pray about forgiving today that God is placing upon my heart?

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your immense gift of forgiveness that you gave us through your Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Help me to not hold on to unforgiveness which can lead to bitterness. Reveal to me today who you would like me to forgive, even if they are not asking for forgiveness.

Tim Ferrara
Discerning Dad
1- https://www.barna.com/research/forgiveness-christians/
2- http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/f/forgiveness.htm

Choosing to Forgive