Are You a Terrorist?

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Are you a terrorist? Would the government ever consider you a terrorist? With the incredible amount of technology and the ability of our government to spy on its citizens at any moment would they ever convict you of being a terrorist? A terrorist as defined by the FBI, “Involve(s) violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law; Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”

Before you get nervous about the government locking you up for buying extra ammunition, or keyword searching your emails and Facebook, let’s break down some characteristics of terrorists.

     Terrorists have no outside authority. It may surprise you to know, that I am personal friends with several trained killers. I actually feel very safe military-81782_640when I am with my friends, and the reason for that, is my military friends do not have the luxury of killing whoever they choose. When I realize that they are under orders, I am actually safer and feel more protected with my military friends. Because they are under their commander’s authority.

How about us as Christians?  Do we continually submit our actions to God’s authority, or are we spiritual terrorists? A soldier can neither make up his own orders or get creative with the ones already delivered (II Tim 2:15). As Christians we are duty bound to follow our Commanding officer.

Terrorists fight for their own purposes. Before we get on our moral high horse and condemn the acts of terrorists (and they are wrong actions), let us take a moment to consider our own actions as Christians. Do I follow my own purposes? Do I seek to destroy people because they offended me? Do I point to other people’s wrongs to justify my own acts of hatred? Do I lash out with destructive accuracy?

If terrorists are wrong for acting on their own authority and their own purpose, should not I apply the same moral standard to my domestic acts of terror?

At core, am I acting any differently than a terrorist when I want my own way? According to the FBI part of the definition of a terrorist, Involve(s) acts dangerous to human life…. Appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” How many family members will I attack and tear down, in order to gain a piece of respect? How many friends will I coerce, so I can get what I want? How sweet will I be in order to get close enough to plant a bomb in someone else’s life if they do not give me what I want?

The problem with Christians is not that they have a difficult time standing and fighting, the problem is that we wage war continually against each other, in order to get what we want instead of what God wants. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your desires that war in your members? From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your desires that war in your members?” (James 4:1)

We must continually ask ourselves, “Am I upset, because God’s Kingship was called into question or mine?”

What does God want? What are the results of a true Holy War? Peace. Peace with God and then with each other. The Gospel is the message of good news of peace between God and man through the submission of my rebellious state (Rom 10:15). This submission to God through Christ, changes us from terrorists running around blowing things up for our own agendas and transforms us to mighty heavenly warriors with weapons that are unearthly. God’s weapons are those of truth, grace, and humility that can never be destroyed because they were forged in the armory of Heaven.

When I realize that I am included in the inheritance of God’s Kingdom, I do not have to fight and scrap for a measly piece of temporal ground. I become temperate and controlled as a warrior. Because I am no longer fighting for myself, I am able to boldly desire rebels (unbelievers and believers) to bow in submission to the commands of the Great King.

Ours is not a battle where the spoils are divided, but rather a call to submission where the Joy is shared.

     So back to the original question, “Am I a spiritual terrorist?” Do I continually submit to God’s authority as defined by the Bible? Do I try to coerce and force my own purposes on others? Our call to Christ’s service is clear, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2Co 5:20).

The Terrorist Next Door

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In the wake of the recent surge in terrorist groups, does it make you uncomfortable knowing that known terrorists are able to enter our country? Suppose your next door neighbor was a terrorist, and that tomorrow morning, you observe massive amounts of activity and wake up to a large missile carrier outside your window and see his shed emblazoned with the words, “Death to America!” How would you respond?

I would like to submit to my readers that this exact scenario not only will happen, but has alreadyMissiles happened in towns and cities all across America, and you must be ready to decide how much terrorist activity you will allow in your backyard. The greatest terrorist network has already started moving missile launchers and weapons into position. They are much older than Al-Qaida, more ruthless than ISIS, connected, and well funded, and they already have established base camps throughout our world.

Even though they have collectively declared war, they are hard to spot. Their espionage works not only because they are masters at integration, but because common citizens are willing to defend, protect, and even offer assistance in their unholy war. The worst threat facing America and the world is the embracing of the demonic realm and agenda by Christians.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, one of his goals was to warn them of the cosmic battle that is taking place on a daily basis (Eph 6:11-19). The war has been raging since the dawn of time, the spoils of war have been servitude and allegiance, and the battle ground has always been our hearts. The thought of giving over the control of our hearts terrifies us, so mankind desperately clings to following his own way. God wants the submission of our entire being, yet we resist Him. The longer this battle rages, the more pain is inflicted upon ourselves and others.

The Great King calls to each heart to end the bloody coup. When we lay down our arms of inssurrenderurgency and bow to His Kingship, God takes our failing emotional economy and builds factories of peace and joy, God removes our sewers of despair and gives us hope, He breaks down our walls of pride and the cities that once could only take and maim become centers of love.

This process is started at the moment of surrender to God (salvation) where we in faith repent of our sins and rebellion against the Great King and claim peace with God through the death of the Prince of Heaven.

After our surrender, God begins to build in our lives a great country. But the problem is, our new country although under a new government, is still open to terrorists, because we invite them in.

Paul warns of making room for terrorists in Ephesians 4:27, “Neither give place to the devil.” Paul is saying, “Don’t give the Devil a plot of land to fire missiles from!” As believers we expect threats and missiles hurled from the outside (Thankfully God’s anti-missile program is top-notch. Isaiah 26:3 Phil 4:6-7). Yet God does not protect us from the terrorists (or the missiles they send) when we invite them into our lives.

In context Paul is specifically talking about dealing with anger. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Even though the principle of not inviting sin applies to every sin, improper handling of anger specifically will lead to the destruction of our cities.

     Paul does not give Christians an option. He is saying that anger must be dealt with in a godly manner. Notice he does not say all anger is wrong, but simply deal with it according to God’s rules in less than 12 hours (slightly more or less depending on what hemisphere you reside in.)

     Satan is building a launching pad for evil, and that should bother all serious Christians.

Suppose your terrorist neighbor while building his arsenal, knocked on your door and asked you for some extra cash to purchase some Uranium or rocket fuel? The obviousness of your response would not even merit speculation, yet how often do we fork out our financial or mental resources to help Satan send nukes from his home base in our heart?

This constant scenario reminds me of the woe against the ancient Kings of Judah, “Nevertheless he removed not the high places of idol worship.” It does not take long for our cities with our well fed and supplied terrorist to resemble the cities of the unbelievers who are still at war. In war time people get tense, edgy, untrusting, selfish….

After the long siege of Satan, our hearts begin to starve for the way things were, and we then go on the offensive and maim and attack other believers, James 4:1 makes this perfectly clear. “Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you?” We besiege other people (friends, family, co-workers, random people at Wal-Mart), and allow Satan to bombard them from the missile hubs of our heart. We launch these missiles, and they flow from our heart to our mouth wreaking havoc (James 3:9).

  The defilement of bitterness has allowed Satan a no fly zone of safety from which to launch his missiles.  

      Satan knows that even though he cannot keep a believer’s heart for eternity, he can bring as much hell into our life after the initial invitation. It may seem like an innocent grudge for a wrong yet from that fireman-100722__180harboring of anger and resentment, a whole assault of your life will take place. Nothing is sacred for Satan, and once we open the door and give him his “Green Card,” he has no reason to go back.

      Satan will sit happily in his fortified bunker, hurling missiles that will destroy your closest relationships.

How do I know if I have been aiding terrorists? What are some tell-tale signs of the destruction and fall-out of Satan’s bombs?

  • Am I consistently thinking about how others wronged me?
  • Am I wanting to give them a piece of my mind? (instead of a piece of the cross)
  • Am I consistently standing up for my “rights?”
  • Am I afraid to ask spiritual people for help?
  • Am I enjoying the company of wicked people?
  • Am I talking about other’s wrongs to other people?
  • Am I always thinking about going to war?
  • Am I always giving excuses?
  • Do I feel apart from God?
  • Do I hate going to church?
  • Do I lie awake thinking?
  • Do I wait till the other person repents before admittance of wrong?
  • Do I envision this entire list as applying to others?

So what is the cure? If I have allowed Satan to build a network of terrorism in my heart, what do love-699480__180I do? Thankfully, God doesn’t give us commands without the resources to carry them out. Paul gives the answer, look to Christ.  Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

You may have been hurt in ways that are so grievous that it seems impossible to let go of the comforting inner fire of rage. Forgiveness is not easy, nor is it natural, and that is why God has given us supernatural weapons and perspective. I cannot forgive, until I look at the cross of Christ. When I realize the depths of my grievous sins against God and submit to His example, God’s Spirit enables me to let God handle the consequences (Eph 5:18, Gal 5:16, Rom 12:19).

As much as I long to crucify someone, the cross reminds me, I deserve what Christ received.

The hurt and rage we feel against people for wronging us intentionally or unintentionally, cannot exist when we look through the lenses of the cross. It is impossible to see men and women with rage and malice when we are looking at the gift of our Savior. We must take our eyes off of the bleeding Savior, in order to stay angry and continue to let Satan wage war on our lives.

 

The Cost of Undiscipleship

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What is the cost of discipleship? In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus called 4 of His Disciples and we see the so-called cost of discipleship. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.”

You don’t have to look very far in this passage to see some of what following Jesus might cost. It cost the Disciples, a job, security, career, family ties, respect, etc. If you look at verse 12 John the Baptist is in prison for being a disciple. Following Christ is not always easy. Think of the many believers you may know who have stood up for the sake of Christ and lost family, friends, or even a career. Even though being a disciple of Christ may have its price, I think it would be a lie to say that it is costly.

     What would it have cost the Disciples not to follow Christ?

It would have cost far more than a career, just think of what they would have missed out on if they had not followed Christ. They would have had to be content with hearing about the miracles of Christ second hand. They would never have heard the Sermon on the Mount or seen the transfiguration of Christ in person. Peter would not have walked on water, they would not have seen the sea calmed, or Lazarus raised to life.

Just think what they would have missed out on spiritually. Being able to talk with Jesus around a camp fire on the sea of Galilee until the embers slowly died out, listening to Jesus tell of Heaven or the creation of the universe. Imagine missing out on traveling across Judea, casting out devils in the name of the Lord, healing those who came to you, and introducing people to Jesus.

Think of the eternal ramifications. What would compare with eternal life? If they had owned all of the fishing boats in Galilee, it would not compare to any of the blessings of eternity with Christ. What temporal thing do we have that is worth holding onto at eternity’s expense? Think of the honor given to these fishermen. Revelation 21:14 talks about the 12 Apostles having special prominence in the New Jerusalem and even having the foundations of the city named after them. All because they said yes.

What would it have cost others? Think of the tens of thousands of people that would not have heard the message proclaimed by the Apostles in the first century. Think of the millions and even billions of people that throughout history would never have heard of the glorious light of the Gospel, because a few men said no to Christ’s call.

Think of what it would have cost you and me if they said no. I would imagine if you were able to trace your salvation story back far enough there is a good chance that one of the 12 Disciples started the chain of witnesses that lead you to Christ. It would have cost a huge portion of the Scriptures. Think of a Bible void of the 3 Gospels. Without the Disciples our New Testament would probably start with Luke, and end with Jude. Imagine turning from James to Jude and then closing the book because Peter, John and Revelation were never written.

In this passage, Jesus broke the normal pattern of Rabbis. Most traveling teachers would be solicited by parents to teach their children, and the better the Rabbi the harder to gain admittance, similar to getting into a prestigious school today. You would have to be worthy or have good credentials. Jesus reversed the mold, and sought unworthy people so that he could make them worthy vessels to hold His glory.

How about you. Has Jesus called you to follow Him, and you are hesitant? Maybe the reason you do not see Him yesworking and simply hear about the miracles of changed lives or the great works of God is because you are too busy mending your nets of relationships, career, or other dreams, and have never truly counted the cost of undiscipleship. What great things does God want to show you about Himself as He calls, “Follow Me.” Will you answer, have you truly counted the cost?

Am I Going to Heaven?

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Have you ever doubted your salvation? Have you lain awake late at night wondering if you would be left behind? Maybe you partook in a horrendous sin, and the resulting shame pummeled your soul with waves of guilt and insecurity? To make matters worse, when you go to church the people there do not seem to struggle. During the message you don’t catch them looking at their watch, getting bored, or even lusting and coveting for someone else. They seem to have testimonies of God’s victory, and peace. And then you begin to wonder, why do I feel so terrible, why can’t I have victory, am I really saved?

The struggle of assurance of salvation is probably one of the biggest and most ill-defined struggles ofhand-792920_1280 the individual believer. The struggle is often aggravated by shallow and unbiblical answers. The urgency is also heightened because of the enormous stakes that are involved, “What if I died tonight, and I wasn’t really saved?” There are many reasons that cause people to doubt salvation but primarily these reasons can be narrowed down to a few categories in which we should never place our faith.

We doubt because we have too much faith in ourselves, in our feelings, or in our goodness.  

Before taking a look at those categories, we must take a brief look at what “being saved” truly means. Many years ago, I listened to a preacher rightfully call sinners to salvation. In his message, however, he never defined what “Get Saved” meant. Another time I overheard a youth worker mention after a youth conference that the preaching was good, but inapplicable for the saved, since it was only on salvation. Both examples clearly show that the church sadly does not understand salvation.

Take a few moments and answer these two questions. What is salvation? How do you get saved? How you answered those two fundamental questions will dictate the areas of assurance that you may be struggling.

So what is salvation? The clearest and most concise definition of the Gospel is found in I Corinthians 15:1-4. There Paul defines the Good News as Christ being slain to pay for mankind’s sin, and the promise that as Christ rose from the dead, so shall all who believe. So what are we saved from? We are saved from living under the wrath of God and the curse of sin.

The wrath of God is the default position of every person because we are born sinners. Jesus told Nicodemus (a teacher of the Bible) in John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believehellth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” When we recognize that we deserve God’s wrath because of our sin and rebellion against God, we must then submit our way to God. The recognition of our guilt before God, and the realization of our inability to rescue ourselves should lead us to call on Christ’s mercy to rescue us. God then applies His Grace and saves us because of the payment Christ made.

Once an individual transfers the deed of his life over to God, he is saved from the destruction of His soul that God would bring because of rebellion. Salvation is the deliverance from living under God’s wrath. At salvation, an individual is transformed from a rebel enemy at war with the Almighty, to a loved child wrapped in peace. Paul explains the idea further when he instructs believers to stand up against the doubts of the Devil. “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15) He tells believers to remember to firmly plant themselves on the fact that they stand at peace with God.(1)

Secondly, those who are saved are freed from the curse of sin, which is death. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6:6. We are free in Christ to be able to do what Christ would have us to do (Gal 5:1). The very fact that the Epistles (written primarily to believers) are filled with admonitions on how to live show that Christians will fail, but through Christ are able to serve and overcome.

That brings us to the second fundamental question, “How do we get saved?” Paul makes it very clear that I am not working my way to Heaven by any cosmic scaling system, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Ga 2:21) The entire history of religion is replete with examples of mankind trying to build a tower that would allow them to reach Heaven. Biblically that does not work. As Paul points out, if we could be good enough to get into heaven on our own, we have an even bigger problem to deal with. God killed His Son for no reason, and we have made God the worst pedophile in history. So God is not waiting for me to be good enough to earn or keep my salvation. The only person who was good enough to keep His salvation was Christ, and He is the very one offering it, free of charge. Anything else maligns the character of God and confirms mankind’s rebellion against Him (John 10).

That is why Peter calls the very same group of people who crucified Christ to repent in order to receive pardon from God’s wrath (Acts 2:38). Once a criminal is pardoned, they will not face double jeopardy in God’s courtroom. Since I cannot earn it, that means I am saved by grace. As Paul brings out in Galatians 3:3, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” So not only am I saved by grace, I am kept by grace, because any amount of works to keep salvation, would actually be bribing God.

God has made salvation very simple. In response to a Roman soldier on the verge of suicide, Paul answered hMEDION DIGITAL CAMERAis question. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:30-31) Even though it is simple, because of our rebellion, it is very hard for mankind to entrust the keeping of their souls to God. It seems too easy.

This brings me to an area that I especially struggled with. I believed the truth of Scripture that salvation was by grace, and salvation was all of God, but the one who I questioned was not God, but myself. Did I do it right? Did I really mean it? Was my prayer sincere enough…. John Piper puts it well in his blog on assurance, “The most agonizing problem about the assurance of salvation is not the problem of whether the objective facts of Christianity are true (God exists, Christ is God, Christ died for sinners, Christ rose from the dead, Christ saves forever all who believe, etc.). Those facts are the utterly crucial bedrock of our faith. But the really agonizing problem of assurance is whether I personally am saved by those facts.” (2)

One well-meaning answer that I was given was, “Did you call on Christ to save you? Does God ever lie? Then quit doubting God.” Even though it is very possible to doubt God, my main tension wasn’t a doubt of God’s ability or even God’s promises, it was a question of if I had really trusted God in the first place. This is especially true of those who were saved at a young age, as it is difficult to remember what exactly you said or what you confessed.

The problem with the “Quit doubting God” answer is it does not take into effect the paradigm that maturing believers begin to see that they cannot trust themselves. Continued failed attempts at holiness, and verses such as Jeremiah 17:9 (on the wickedness of the heart) cause the believer to question his sincerity or the effectualness of his prayer. Because after all doesn’t James 2:17-20 tell us that faith without works is dead? (3)

Ironically, one of the great comforts for the doubter is that they are incredibly wicked. And the realization of this wickedness should lead them to depend more on the Savior who bought them. As a high school basketball coach this principle was vividly portrayed by the starters. Those on the team that were the best, were the most acutely aware of their failures and weaknesses. They did not question if they were on the team, they systematically worked on their errors because they were mature enough to see them. For a dramatic example of this principle see Isaiah 6:1-10 where the righteous prophet of God falls to his face begging God for cleansing.

I don’t have enough goodness to be in Christ. That is the very reason I need to be in Him.

When Jesus called out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and told us to look at their fruit in Matthew 7, they would not admit their errors, so much so that they felt justified in rejecting and crucifying the Savior. Rejection of Jesus is the sin that condemns people to Hell. Saved people, have an acute sense not only of what they were saved from, but Who saved them. They realize they cannot begin to rescue themselves and that condemnatory belief, through God’s grace, causes them to continually call upon the name of Christ.

But what happens when I still feel guilty? After all, doesn’t God say to examine yourself to see if you really are in the faith? A verse commonly used to support that idea is 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” In this passage, Paul has defended his own salvation and Apostleship and then asks the Corinthian church to see if they are growing spiritually.   Dr. Constable explains this verse well, “He told them to examine their works to gain assurance that they were experiencing sanctification, that they were walking in obedience to the faith.”(4) When you think of it, if they were dead and unbelieving, according to Paul’s writings in Ephesians 2:1-4 they would be far too dead to determine if they were saved or unsaved.

Paul is responding to those who are questioning the authority Paul has to command the church. As Hodge points out, “After twelve chapters in which Paul takes their Christianity for granted, can he only now be asking them to make sure they are born again?”(5) Nowhere in Scripture is a believer commanded to search his own heart. We are commanded throughout Scripture to submit our hearts and actions to God and His Word. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Ps 19:14) The Word of God is the powerful Sword that cuts away the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb 4:12).

But our feelings still gnaw at us, and cause doubt (particularly after sinning). How do you know when guilt shows up if it is Satan or the Holy Spirit? Guilt is a natural result of walking away from God and His commands. Satan has twisted physical love (designed to bring couples closer to God) and turned it into lust (which drives a wedge between man and God). In the same way, Satan can take guilt and turn it into a barrier to meet with God. Guilt is designed to bring the believer back to Christ. But Satan has hijacked man’s operating system.

So how do we know if guilt is from God or Satan? If we take a look at two examples of guilt, the answer becomes clear. Judas and Peter both denied Christ (in fact Peter denied Christ 3 times as many as Judas did). They both fled Christ, they both went out and wept bitterly, but they did not both have the same end result. One felt guilty and ran to death, the other felt guilty and ran to Christ. Are you running to Christ for assurance or man and systems?

So how do we now if the uneasiness and sense of guilt and insecurity is from God or Satan? We know by where we run to in our guilt. If our guilt causes us to run to Christ, it is from God. Paul made the Corinthians feel terribly guilty for partaking in sin. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Cor 7:10) Paul rejoiced that the Corinthians felt guilty because they ran to Christ!

Satan wants you to feel guilty about forgiven sin, God wants you to feel guilty about unrepented sin.

This is why most of the doubt of one’s salvation comes associated with some sin of a believer. Proper guilt should cause me to run to the feet of my Savior and confess that I tried to do it on my own again and failed. The ondirectory-466935_1280ly place I will “feel” forgiven is in the presence of the all forgiving Savior. Satan knows that he cannot stand before God and he cannot reach us in God’s presence, so his best diversion is to make me think God can’t stand the sight of me. This has been Satan’s strategy from day one. After Adam and Eve sinned, they ran from the very person they walked with. They hid, and covered themselves in scratchy leaves. Their actions resulted in two common traits, fear, and guilt. Those two traits turn off the faucet of God’s love because they cause us to run from the very God, who is willing to clothe us in His righteousness.

Satan was able to cause our ancestors to fear God, so that they would not experience God’s love. He tries the same trick on us today by causing us to run from God’s love. We have nothing to fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (I John 4:18) Because Christ drank the whole drought of God’s wrath, there is nothing to pour out unto believers, but God’s love. Which is exactly Paul’s argument in Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Could it be that the reason you are doubting your salvation is that you are not currently trusting in Christ? There are two ways for believers to express their doubt of Christ. The first is in outright rebellion by choosing sin. If a believer is continually partaking in willful sin, it should be no surprise that they are struggling with feelings of assurance, because God cannot give perfect peace to those whose eyes are not fixed on Him. The lack of assurance will be a result of discipline (Hebrews 12:7).

The other expression of doubt is much more subtle, and therefore much more common. That is the idea that after salvation, we have the ability to make ourselves holy. Many Christians live like God bought the ticket, but they have to land the plane. Paul addresses this mentality in his epistle to the Galatians, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel…. Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 1:6, 3:3).

We must remember, that the power that saves us is the exact power that sustains us (Eph 5:18). Far too many Christians try to live the Christian life on their own. They seek through self-discipline, Bible study, prayer, sacrifice, and other forms of evangelical Penance to make themselves acceptable to God. (6) Their actions may be good, but in truth they are living in direct rebellion against the commands of God, and robbing Him of the glory of finishing His vessel (Jer 18:4, Eph 2:10).

The lack of assurance when we are living such a life of self-propelled Christianity are the mercies of God in disguise that will not allow us to have peace, when we are in actuality running from God.

Jesus loves us too much to allow us to continue to try to lift the burdens of sin on our own.

I am not so vain as to think that I could answer every question relating to assurance in this brief post, but I would love to help you see the beauty and joy of walking in the fullness of Christ’s Love.

When Stones Really Do Talk

Could a Pebble control your life?

In Luke 19:40 when the people are praising Jesus, the Pharisees deride him, and Jesus answers that if the people were silent, the stones themselves would testify of His greatness.  As we continue the series on the simple proclaiming God’s greatness, there is an Old Testament passage where a pebble overthrows the edict of an emperor.

Imagine if you were a Jew in 5th century Persia, on your way to worship you pass by the market and hear the proclamation, “On the 13th day of the 12th month Adar, anyone of Jewish descent is to be destroyed, including women and children, and whoever destroys any Jewish inhabitant, can have their goods, homes, businesses, and livestock for their own. – Signed Haman by order of his Lord Sovereign Ahasuerus the King.”

Would you feel much like worshiping? It is very easy as a believer to watch as similar declarations that attack the moral fiber of our nation are made on a continual basis. It is no surprise that this world is not a friend of righteousness and in fact many in the name of love have vehemently persecuted and sought to destroy those who stand by the truths of Scripture.

As we continue the series on the greatness of God shown through the small things, I was struck by a phrase in Esther 3:7, “They cast Pur, that is, the lot….” What is taking place in this passage?

The Empire’s second in command Haman in a revengeful act planned to eliminate the entire Jewish race, fortunebut his superstitious nature would not allow him to do it without the blessing from the pagan soothsayers. After the lot is cast, Haman is told that the best time to have the blessing of the gods is on the thirteenth of the last month of the year. Haman gets the blessing and edict of the king, and begins to wait nearly 11 months to destroy the Jews. And this is a very good thing.

How is that a good thing? At the outset, God’s chosen people would be destroyed by an irrevocable edict sealed-1240922from the king, but the Persian king’s edict is predicated by an even greater King’s edict. The Persian King Ahasuerus signed his edict with his signet ring, and commanded heralds to be sent throughout every province of his kingdom, the Heavenly king proclaimed His will with a little more subtlety, but with even more certainty.

Let’s take a quick look at the practice of the casting of the Pur. The word Pur is not Jewish, both times when the word is mentioned it is then explained as the Hebrew goral which refers to a rough object or pebble (Strong’s). Before the Jews even knew they were in trouble, Haman went to consult a bunch of rocks. The passage does not state the particulars, but it was common in ancient times especially amongst fortune tellers, to have a bag of different colored or shaped pebbles that when aligned or chosen could be interpreted by the priests.

“The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:33)

Even amidst the horrendous decree, God is in control before the decree hits the Persian courtroom floor. Haman who refused to be ruled by God and set himself up as the ultimate authority in his life is still being controlled by God. Haman is living out the oft forgotten principle that, “It’s kinda hard to outrun Omnipotence.”

If we were to step back from the immediate context and work through a few details, we can see the unwavering hand of God. Why wait 11 months to kill the Jews, because the red pebble says so. Where did pebbles-1388488the red pebble come from, Shanbenezzer picked it up by the river. Why did the river deposit the rock for Shanbenezzer, because of the late spring flood. Why the late spring flood, because of the barometric pressure in the western mountains. Why the western mountains, because that is the way God sculpted the world. Why the topography of the earth….Because God knew Shanbenezzer needed to find the red pebble for Haman, because He loves His people. God was thinking about Esther and His people for a long time. And God is thinking about whatever red pebble seemingly dictates your life and mine.

In fact, God is a master at redeeming horrendous circumstances and trials in order to show Himself strong. The Jews had nearly 3 months to seek God’s face, repent, and pray before God moved to officially change the Persian king’s edict (Esther 8:9). But the fact remains that God is big enough to use a vengeful man, pagan priests, and a little pebble, to ensure that His power is known, because after all, God’s edict never changed.

Why Ravens

What Could God Want with These Scavengers?

Have you ever wondered why God puts certain details in the Bible? God doesn’t waste ink. God’s Word has incredible riches sometimes laying out in the open, and then there are times when He has us dig a little. Today I want to ask you to roll up your sleeves and dig a little with me as we answer the question, “Why Ravens?”

In I Kings 17:1-6, Elijah has his debut and is introduced as a prophet of God. God commands the new prophet to go and deliver a message to the wicked king Ahab who has chosen to reject the God of the Bible and institute Baal worship. After Elijah tells the king that there will be a drought and Jehovah God is in control of the rain, he is told to run and hide. (Good idea after telling a king that he is a wicked pagan, and that his economy is going to tank.) Then we see in verse 4 that God in his faithfulness is going to provide for all of Elijah’s needs and that God will send his servants to feed Elijah in the wilderness.

Elijah trusted God. He trusted when it made sense vs. 2-3. He trusted God when it didn’t make sense vs. 4.  raven-1312094Imagine the prophet of God, “What’s the Word?”  “Talk to the king, run hide.” “So like you got robin Hood hiding out in Jordan forest? How am I going to eat?” “I am going to have my servants bring you the food.” “Wow, room service. I can do this prophesying thing.” I will send Ravens.” “What they are unclean, I can’t eat that.” “You won’t have to, they are the chiefs.” “What?” “Go.”

After God tells Elijah His plan, he obeys and Elijah gets to see God fulfill His promises (6). The Word of the Lord came to pass (6). The moment God spoke the words into existence it happened. God never forgets His promise. As extraordinary as this plan sounds, God promised it in verse 4, and we see it coming to pass in verse 6 and 7. There was no rain, and there were always birds. They came twice a day. Gbread-1329360od ensured that for hundreds and hundreds of flights, his servant was fed. God promised, and delivered.

Because of Elijah’s trust, God provides a lesson. First of all, God provided protection. The first specific mention of Ravens is in Genesis 8:7, “And he (Noah) sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.” God protected the Raven species through impossible odds. Think of it. There are only two ravens alive on the ark, one bird leaves without coming back. Assuming there was not a nest of baby crows in the rafters, somehow the raven mate finds the other raven after the most catastrophic disaster in history, build a nest, and survive long enough to have baby ravens in order to provide for God’s prophet close to 2,000 years in the future. God protected His servants in order to provide for His prophet. (We can all be thankful that God didn’t choose the Dodo bird as his messengers.)

God also protected through uncommon means. Leviticus 11:13-15 states that ravens were unclean animals and could not be eaten by the Jewish people. Sometimes God’s laws don’t seem to make sense, but He has a plan. Just work with me here. If the Raven could be eaten what do you suppose would have happened during a famine? They would have eaten God’s messengers. I am sure some of the Israelites disobeyed God and were eating ravens, but for hundreds of years the Israeli “DNR” had posted no hunting signs, in order to keep Elijah fed. Even with God’s amazing provision, Elijah learned that he had to trust God daily.

God delights in putting his people in positions that do not make sense, so that they will trust Him more.

     In this very short story, God showed that He was in control. A seemingly insignificant prophet stands up and obeys God. Who knows how many child sacrifices were stopped or souls are in heaven because of that one act of obedience. The ravens obeyed and allowed for God to be glorified and provided for the next phase of Elijah’s spectacular ministry.

If we stopped there, we would be able to gather many nuggets of truth and be comforted that a faithful God provided for faithful servants.  Even though that is true, if we dig a little deeper, the immensity of God’s power resounds through the story like a thunderbolt.

Why a drought? Why didn’t God answer quickly like He does in the next chapter with a ball of fire? Why ravens? God could certainly have used the 7,000 servants who had not bowed down to Baal for food and shelter. If we step back to I Kings 16:30-32, we would see that this story about the ravens is predicated by the official establishment of the Canaanite worship of Baal.330px-Baal_thunderbolt_Louvre_AO15775

In the pantheon of gods, Baal was the chief deity. His name actually means lord or master. Many ancient religions held to the idea that differing deities were in charge of various aspects of life. We see this idea in I Kings 20:23 when the Syrians attempt to conquer Israel in the plains because they believed Jehovah was only the god of the hills. Baal’s area of power centered on three specific areas. He was in charge of rain (he is often pictured with a thunderbolt), grain, and fertility especially the first born.(1)

So when God sends Elijah to make a proclamation of drought to the king, he is claiming ownership over Baal’s territory. This story is not simply about the faithfulness of a beginning prophet, or the fate of a nation. This is a territorial battle of the gods, because Jehovah struck directly at the center of Baal worship. If it rained, Baal was God, if it didn’t Jehovah deserved worship. Even in God’s judgment He is merciful. He gave the nation of Israel 3 ½ years to observe that He ruleth in the affairs of men.

Because the rains didn’t come, the grain failed. Once again God is “allowing” Baal to answer on enkihis home turf. Every morning as the men of Israel woke up from hunger pains and watched the dust blow across the plains, they had to admit that Jehovah had defeated Baal. To make the story even more intriguing, Canaanite worship revered ravens as the messengers of the gods.

After the brook dried up, Elijah then is commanded to go to Phoenicia the center of Baal worship. (2) While there he finds a starving widow, provides an endless amount of grain for her, and then through the power of God, raises a boy to life. All in Baal’s home court. It’s as if God stood up in the heavens stuffed Baal and proclaimed, “Not in my house!”

How have you seen God working in miraculous ways?  I would love to read about the way God has used “ravens” in your life.

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1). As Baal was worshiped and adopted by many pagan religions his name, and responsibilities did vary, but the three major areas were that of rain, grain, and life

2). F.C. Fensham, “A Few Observations on the Polarization between Yahweh and Baal in I Kings 17—19,” Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 92:2 (1980):234

3).  Also see Constable’s electronic notes on I Kings 17 soniclight.org

Spiritual Discernment

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 “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14

     Spiritual discernment is as vital to the health of a Christian as eating vegetables is to the human body. Without the use of discernment, through the proper application of God’s Word, we will never be able to know God more fully or grow in our relationship with Him. We will bandwagon with lies and live by what makes sense to our untrained minds and reckless emotions!

The spiritually undiscerning will often hide behind very powerful truths they misunderstand and misapply.

One example of this is the phrase: ‘God knows my heart.’  The implication is, ‘because God knows my heart, you can’t judge me!’ This is often used to defend one’s actions, particularly when confronted by another believer. While it is true that God does know our hearts . . . This should be cause for the individual to genuinely beg God for a revelation of their own heart instead of a complacent, apathetic, and or stubborn lack of searching and application of God’s Word.  James tells us in 3:17 that true wisdom will listen to admonition instead of denying error so change does not have to be considered. May we never forget that one of the chief reasons for a church is so that others may prod us out of our self-deceived complacency and remind us of who God is and what He requires (Hebrews 10:24-25).

The church as a whole has way too much trust in their own hearts which God says are, “deceitful above all else and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9.). We have very little trust for the Creator of our hearts. We are out of practice when it comes to a teachable spirit and a total dependence upon the Word of God to guide our lives. Conversely, we have perfected, to the point of incompetency, the misapplication of individual soul liberty and frivolous feeling driven doctrines.

Woe to anyone who would dare speak contrary to the passions and ideals of the heart. We throw verses at anyone who challenges our lifestyle. Like Satan, we twist Scripture from its original meaning and proudly proclaim, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Math 7:1) Or “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”   (I Samuel16:7)

The spiritually undiscerning Christian will take these and other verses out of context and pick and choose Scripture passages that meet their already achieved level of Christianity. However, they will neglect such verses as Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore  wrong-way-167535_1280such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” Matthew 18:15, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained a brother.” Titus 1:13, “. . . Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;”

The undiscerning Christian will not allow another individual to scrutinize their actions for several reasons: God knows the heart, the confronting Christian has faults, and they’ve prayed about it. This kind of individual will not take time to consider the possibility that they have erred.  Sadly, they are often more concerned with their current position in life being confirmed as right than wanting to be stretched and shown their sin.

This is not to say that every instance where a confrontation takes place will always be accurate or even done in the right spirit. Yet, the spiritually discerning individual will welcome Biblical confrontation.  “A wise man will hear and increase learning.” (Proverbs 1:5)  We cannot embrace some portions of Scripture and neglect other portions and present ourselves as those who are exercising or training unto godliness. (I Timothy 4:7, “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godlintruth-166853_1280ess.”) The Lord wants us to test the things we see and not mindlessly accept them. “He wants us to hold them up to the standard of Scripture and discern whether they line up with God’s plumb line.”(1)

Discernment is crucial to the body of Christ, and is played out by individual believers interacting with the Word of God. When God has clearly spoken our application is a priority that requires no hesitation. In other words, we don’t need to pray about what God has already outlined for us in Scripture. Discernment is played out by individuals recognizing their own faults through Scripture. We then apply God’s grace to our own sin, so that we are qualified to gently, caringly, firmly, and even sharply point other believers to the Savior (Mat 7:3-6). Those who are willing to mutilate Scripture for their own purposes will be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14), and will defend their unstable Christianity because it endangers their pride to do otherwise.

Lack of discernment can be due to lack of maturity (an element of youth in the LORD). This immaturity  is a natural process of the Christian life, however, one of the main characteristics of immaturity is an unawareness of one’s inability. This is why throughout Scripture, God commands His people to help each other along the pathway of holiness. The babes in Christ need to be nurtured and fed milk. There ought to be a time, however, when the baby moves on to solid food. If this does not occur, it is the responsibility and obligation of the mature Christian to confront and point out their sin, I Corinthians 3:1-3a, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: . . .”

Once believers have been made aware of an immaturity and refuse to submit to Scripture, the issue then is not a lack of maturity but rebellion. This rebellion results from a lack of discernment due to one’s own neglect to consistently meditate on and apply Scripture. This mentality has nothing to do with youth and everything to do with disobedience! Belief determines behavior; what do your actions reveal about your beliefs?

Written By Christa Mielke

Christa has served the Lord faithfully alongside her husband in full time ministry since 2007.  She has a passion to introduce people to the beauty of a Christ-Centered relationship. She holds a BA in Biblical Studies and Sacred Music and has written extensively on adult and young women’s issues.  Even as a full time mother of three and wife to (one) high maintenance and slightly deranged husband, she still finds time to grow her relationship with God through concentrated Bible and book studies.

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1) Kassion, DeMoss, True Woman 201, pg. 35.

What Happened to My Family at College?

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Summer break! A time to relax from the intense pressure of homework and the ever watchful eye of professors and hall monitors. A time to catch up with family in between work, church, and play. Summer break, a time to feel awkward about relationships…. Let’s be honest, relationships are messy and family relationships over summer break can sometimes be the messiest of them all.

The awkwardness of relationships often starts with parents. Chronologically they are the first relationships we all have and therefore have the most history. From day one, your parents had dreams and plans for you, many of which you do not have for yourself. This can cause some tension, but not nearly as much as the awkwardity of the transitional period of adulthood. This transitional period has many factors.

The first factor is that as a college student for nearly 9 months you were in control. You controlled your schedule, you controlled your entertainment, your study, your habits…. The person you reported to from homework to eating an extra pepperoni pizza @ 2:00 in the morning, was you. Now you are back in your little room with family members and parents who are not used to the way you have run your life. This combination is like miracle grow for tension. My suggestion is, talk it over with your parents. (Not while you are leaving the house and they ask, “Where are you going?”) Ask them about their summer schedule, and share with them some of the things you would like to do. A good rule of thumb, would be, treat your parents with the same respect you would your summer boss.

The second factor is the transition from teen to adult. If you remember back when you first hit puberty everything was different. Your desires and goals jumped from adult to kid and bounced around like a freshmen boy’s voice. That transition from kid to adult was difficult, and in a way that same transition is happening again on an emotional, and spiritual level. After experiencing life as an adult (in a dorm or apt), you feel ready to stretch your wings and fly, but the problem is, you are still in the nest. (For those of you who may be reading this at midnight, your parents are paying for the mortgage, mom is still preparing food, and you are diligently chirping for more freedom.)

When you kinda feel like an eagle being asked to go back into its shell, you have two options. You could sit your parents down and demand they show you some respect or else you are going to pack up all your things and camp out in your 1992 Corsica, or start proving to them you are an adult by showing them respect. Many times college students seem to view break as their time to relax. Realize that part of being an adult means that you don’t get time to relax. Explaining to your parents why you didn’t have time to clean your room, or pick up the Cheese Nip box in the TV room is not going to impress your Dad who puts in 50+ hours.

     If you want respect, you must give it out. Respect your parents by going the extra mile and showing them by your actions you are an adult. Look for ways to add to the family dynamic. If you know your mom is heading on a trip, fill up and vacuum out the car. Surprise your parents by finishing the dishes or making a meal and doing clean up. Volunteer to take the younger kids to swimming lessons or practice.

If you are not an asset, you are a liability.

Awkwardness can also result from sibling relations. While you were gone, it may seem like your younger brother must have taken Sarcasm 101 at night school, and what on earth made your younger sister decide to go all Goth? Obviously, it is up to you as the older, wiser, college student to unveil their stupidity and amaze them with your wisdom. Regarding younger siblings, there are a few things to remember.

First, remember that, “Only by pride cometh contention.” A soft answer will defuse tension before it  begins, but if you insist on showing your sibling how much wiser you have become during college, tension will explode and you may lose a valuable friend for life.

Second, remember that you have just come back into their territory. Your reign as older sibling matters about as much as the top 10 pop artists from the 70’s. You may be able to bully them into getting you your pop during a movie, or forcing them out of “your” chair, but you were never elected into your royal position.

Third, remember they have also gotten older. They may not look it with braces or a Mohawk, but they are many months closer to adulthood. Listen to their thoughts and ideas. Don’t cut them off mid-sentence or explain the ludicrousy of their ideas, for it is during those times that they are sharing their souls. Don’t let your pride cause you to put them in their place or cut them down. Determine to build them up and look for ways to genuinely compliment them.

Fourth, remember that they have had a life while you were gone. You may feel like everything is the same, but it is not. While you were away, your siblings won awards, performed in concerts, succeeded or failed in many areas. Ask them about their life. Nothing smacks of arrogance like the assumption that you know all about another person without asking.

Fifth, remember to spend time with them. You may not have many more opportunities to spend time with your younger siblings before you or they are out of the house. If they have the same interests as you, great, but make sure you invest time in doing things that they are good at and enjoy.

Sixth, remember that you are a huge influence. Younger siblings can be annoying, and who better to teach them how to grow up than their older siblings? As we discussed, this is not done mainly through words, but actions. Influence is not really an option, the direction, however, most definitely is.

I pray that you will be able to try out some of these suggestions. Let me know how they work, or share ways you may have invested in your family.

What Happened to My Church?

Awkward

Did you ever think you would feel awkward at church? Very few things surprise the college student more than leaving for college with dozens of cards and hundreds of dollars from church members, and then returning and feeling awkward at church. There are some easy ways to relieve that awkwardity at church.

First, engage. Get involved. Find a ministry that needs help and fill it. Ask the leadership about helping out in kids or youth ministries. Invest in the elderly. Purposely talk with them after services, and see if you could stop by and help or just visit some afternoon. Think of it, you just spent thousands of dollars to grow intellectually and spiritually at college, and many have never bothered tapping into 50-60 years of experience for free!

Second, interact. After 9 months at college things look the same, but they really have changed. Come to church prepared to ask questions. Ask about what God has been teaching them, ask about their joys/struggles. See if they have any special prayer requests or needs. Now is the greatest time to invest in people and get to know them on an adult level. Ask them how they met their spouse, or the steps they took when looking for a job or buying a house. After being gone, there will invariably be people at church who have never met you, go over and introduce yourself. Who knows if maybe you are one conversation away from making a lifetime friend?

Third, invest. Young people think college students are the bomb! (their word choice not mine) Do you remember how you felt as a junior higher when a college student took the time to talk with you? (If you never had that experience, then I am sorry the selfish, stuck up snobs robbed you of a very meaningful experience, don’t repeat their mistake.) You have an opportunity to shape moldable souls for eternity. You don’t have to teach a Sunday school class or do a weekly Bible study, to affect them eternally. Simply do what you do with a tag-along. If you are a race fan, kick out a few extra bucks and invite a younger kid to go with. If you like fishing, manicures, or whatever, invest in a young life. Remember, Paul’s admonition to be followers as he followed Christ. If you are a terrible role model, and an example of selfishness, then it is best that you stay selfish by yourself and not ruin a young soul for eternity.

Fourth, unveil. Church is meant to be a place where we share our burdens and take out our poky sticks and prompt each other to love and good works (Gal 6:1, Heb 10:24). When was the last time you helped someone carry a spiritual burden? When was the last time you agonized with someone else as they shared Scripture encouraging you to grow? Most people do not even realize that there is a spiritual battle raging in our souls. It is too dangerous to share and open up. The closest we may get to opening up is to share at prayer meeting, that we are struggling “with something”, or ask for an unspoken request. How many fellow warriors know about your battle with pornography? How many believers can raise their shields and help protect you from the assaults of depression, fear of failure, moral lapses, or the constant struggle with faithfulness? If I do not open up, church will become an archaic ritual, instead of a training ground for life.

Finally, pray. How often did you pray for your home church while you were away? HoMEDION DIGITAL CAMERAw often do you pray for your church right now? If I do not care enough about my church to pray for it, I have already left, and am just waiting for my body to catch up with my decision.

Awkwardity is a very good thing. It reminds us that there are some things that we need to change. If you are not engaging, interacting, unveiling, and or praying, then God’s gift to you at church will be the gift of awkwardity.

Waiting Alone…. Learning How to Date While You Wait

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Aloneness hurts. What single person after waiting on God hasn’t asked himself, “Now what?” I have talked to dozens of young people that have gone to church or Bible college, kept themselves pure, resisted the temptation to settle, who now find themselves alone every Friday surrounded by little brothers and sisters on family night. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun hanging out with family, eating pizza and playing monopoly, but not if you have no other option.

There is a story in the Bible that may mirror your life, and help give some perspective of what to do, while you wait. Before we jump into the story of our 40 year old single guy, I need to add a caveat. Not every story in the Bible is given for our emulation (i.e Samson, Jonah, Judas, etc.). The Scripture does, however, give us tangible examples of faith, so that we can see faith in action (Hebrews 11, I Cor 10:11). The story of Isaac and Rebekah is one of those great example passages of faithful people depending on an even more faithful God.

   “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.” (Genesis 24:63-64) This passage of scripture gives some great instruction on what men are to be doing while they wait. Keep in mind that even though this article is geared toward guys, every girl should be looking for a man with these qualities. If a man is not showing godly characteristics and actions while he is waiting, he will not be doing those things after he has won a girl’s heart. (Next week’s article will explore what a woman should be doing and what men should be looking for from the same passage.)

Godly men wait patiently. Isaac had waited a long time. Genesis 25:20 tells us that Isaac was 40 years old. (Apparently this was a cultural thing because his older brother Esau didn’t get the keys for the camel until he was forty, Genesis 36:34.) This is rather amazing as Isaac was the area’s most eligible bachelor. He was the son of a local millionaire, he was a wonder child, he had promises from God, he had good looking genetics (at least from his mom’s side) In short, he was popular, pretty, and stinking rich, yet with all of that, he wasn’t married. The Bible doesn’t tell us specifically, but he may have been waiting because he saw the pain that was caused by His dad, who didn’t wait in the area of relationships.

Godly men wait obediently. The context of this verse is encased in the entire passage. Earlier we see in Genesis 24:3 that Isaac was obeying God, by not seeking a bride that would not assist him in his pursuit of God. If your future spouse is not focused on God, you will have a love war, and become schizophrenic in your pursuits. Isaac was well aware of the fact that a godly woman may not be found on his timetable. For those who have waited a long time I would ask in invaluable question, “What do you want from a relationship?”

Remember, that a woman will never give more than God has already offered you, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19) It may help to remember that passage of Scripture was written by a man who at the time was in jail as a single man.

If you are not content with what God is giving you, you will never be content with what God might give you.

     Godly men wait worshipfully. Where is Isaac, he is out in the field thinking about the greatness of God. It seems from the text that he was bowed down in worship. When his “girlfriend” arrives what does she find him doing? What do you think went through Rebekah’s mind when she found out Isaac was praying on their first “date?” If you have never been caught worshiping, you may as well say goodbye to a quality, God centered worshiping spouse because they are off in a different field.

Worshipers have a great advantage when it comes to dating, they don’t have to change the object of their affections.

     I feel I must address the heresy that God is obligated to send you a spouse if you are worshiping Him. This is not at all what I am saying, I am simply giving a general principle that if you are already singing praise to your Savior, that a harmony line will fit nicely and you don’t have to change your tune in order to attract a spouse.

     Godly men wait thoughtfully.  The passage continues and describes their first meetincamles isaacg, Therefore Rebekah took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.” (Gen 24:65-66) Put yourself in his sandals. You have waited forty years for a wife, you trust your dad and friend to find you a wife, and the first thing you do is…. Talk to the old servant? I think this shows an incredible amount of maturity on the part of Isaac, as he voluntarily seeks wisdom before hormones. The passage says that the servant tells him everything. This is not the Hollywood, first date go to her apartment and see if she is a good kisser philosophy, this is a man whose heart is controlled by his head.

How about you, how many wise mentors do you seek advice from before or during your dating relationship? Far too many couples seem to start with an attraction, move to infatuation, and then when wise individuals offer advice, it is viewed as spiteful and uninformed. “What would old married fogies possible know about love anyway?”

     Godly men wait unselfishly. “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Gen 24:67)  Ever wonder why the word order is reversed? Marriage then love seems very strange to a culture that grew up on Disney love. Many couples test the waters to see if their feelings are strong enough to get them through. Love can result in an incredible feeling, but it is a result of a choice. If love is all about a feeling then when my feelings go away, I am justified in adultery. In reality love can be incredibly painful (ask the 85 year old couple whose wife has Alzheimer’s).

     My love is not about me. If I am hoping for a special someone to make me feel special, I will soon hate them for what they cannot give me. In reality, I am really more in love with myself. The commitment that Isaac gave was the perfect soil for the seed of love to grow.

I understand that Isaac lived in a different culture, yet he does give us a good model of how to wait and helps us answer the question, “Now what?”