When the artist’s two little boys first saw this painting, they ran from the room in stark terror. When a Bible college professor saw it, he was offended because the man seen kneeling in the grass was naked. When the artist’s wife saw the painting, she understood that these men had made their decisions. One was clothed in the righteousness of Christ alone, and the other had chosen the path of death.
But look deeper. Those are YOUR hands grasping the maw of the earth, holding on for just a moment longer before you go the way of all flesh. YOU are the person gazing upon this scene, and YOU have little time to choose your eternal destiny.
You may continue to seek the elusive treasures of this world, and lust after the things of this life, OR you may receive the gift of eternal life that God has provided through the sacrifice Christ made on your behalf.
Time is running out!
“The day of the LORD is near,” and you are in the valley of decision!
Multitudes, multitudesinthevalleyofdecision: for thedayoftheLORDisnearinthevalleyofdecision.” (Joel 5:14).
We tend to focus on the things that trouble us. We lose our perspective. We can no longer see the forest for the trees. Our problems loom in our minds and capture our every thought. We get tunnel vision. We lose the transcendent in our concentration on the immediate.
In other words, we get caught up in what Zig Ziglar called, “Stinkin’ thinkin.’
We often find ourselves snapping at friends and loved ones, as though they are responsible. We ignore important tasks because we are neutralized and weakened by a sense of fear and helplessness.
This becomes a serious problem when it impacts our relations with others and our effectiveness as Christians.
It is the case with many today who are coming to believe that America is doomed and that Christians are in the devil’s crosshairs. But haven’t we always been harassed by that demonic predator who, like a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he might devour?
Many feel overwhelmed and helpless to alter events and perhaps even survive.
In the parable of “the unjust judge,” Jesus taught us how to deal with such challenges.
He pictures a widow — the most helpless of all people in ancient Israel — seeking fair adjudication from an unjust judge. Read Luke’s account:
Then He (Jesus Christ) spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man,yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ”
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8; New King James Version)
I have been the victim of judges who actually opposed me, or those I represented, before any case was brought before them. Sometimes it was because of my political leanings, my belief in God, my opposition to certain life styles, etc. One judge rendered a fair judgment because he was an honest man. Others, because of their leanings and because they were aligned with and beholden to others, did everything they could to destroy me and the churches I was privileged to pastor.
And, unlike the lonely widow that Jesus speaks of, I had some influence. I had a few friends with money, or influence, but rarely enough.
Imagine this poor woman struggling to get a fair hearing.
Yet, what did the judge ultimately decide? He finally gave her justice from her adversary. Why? Because she was right? No! Because he was a good judge? No! He gave her justice because she annoyed him. She persisted in crying out for justice, and finally — in order to get rid of her — he found against her opponent and in her favor.
Jesus uses this parable to tell us that we ought always to pray, and not to faint in the face of adversity. This widow’s persistence was evidence of her stubborn faith.
Then the Lord goes on to tell his listeners that God is infinitely more understanding, loving, and fair than the unjust judge (or any earthly being), and that, unlike the unjust judge, God will answer speedily.
As Jesus continues his discourse, he seems to go off on a tangent, asking a very important question: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
As we draw deeper into the end times, the love of many waxes cold. At the same time, those who identify themselves as Christians seem to grow less persistent in prayer.
And when things seem to turn upside down around them, they look to their own devices to find a solution, or to the corporate body — the Church — rather than to God their Creator for resolution of their problems.
Consider this possibility: If we, the people of God, were to begin confessing and repenting our own sins (for it is necessary that judgment first begin in the Church), and if we begin together praying to our God and Savior for the answer to our nation’s needs, and if we persist in prayer, aren’t we more likely to receive a meaningful answer, rather than relying on our own devices?
Listen to Jesus’ words: “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?”
The Bible tells us to “Pray without ceasing,” to “Trust also in God, and lean not unto your own understanding, … and he shall bring it to pass.”
This wise woman wants to reason with the radicals. She might well agree with Isaiah’s words: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
The problem is that these radicals do not want to reason together! Some have been carried away because of the wrongs they have witnessed or experienced. BUT SOME are agents of radical groups that want to destroy America. And they are succeeding.
They murder innocent people—even babies—because they know it confuses and terrifies people. They burn down buildings and destroy enterprises that took a lifetime to build. They arbitrarily attack the innocent with those who might be guilty. They mix their evil deeds with high-sounding phrases, but they are simply terrorists!
The purpose of terror is to terrify! Many of these trouble makers are actually paid agents of the far left, and even of the Chinese Communists. They look for some excuse to light the flames of extremism, and ignore all rules of law and of decency.
They want to destabilize our nation, to set one group against another, to tear down our infrastructure, to destroy our economy, and to undermine our faith in one another, and in God.
We must not let this happen! __________________________________________________
During this pandemic, start a biblical house church!
(For the Biblical basis for the house church, read through “Acts” and your entire New Testament and read “The Depression Proof Church: The Biblical Answer to the Church in Crisis,” by Frank Becker.)
You should continue to support your local church, but you may certainly supplement what has sometimes become sterile worship with a dynamic small group meeting.
It’s simple! Just follow these steps:
First, pray over the idea with your family. When you are all satisfied that the Lord is with you, move ahead. Remember, Jesus said, “For where twoor three have gathered togetherinMyname, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).
Next, discuss it with close Christian friends. These should be godly people who are concerned about the pandemic and about the restraints on, and persecution of, the Christian Church. They should be people who will prayerfully exercise care in gathering for worship. To start with, invite one or two families to join you on Sunday mornings.
These should be people you know, and perhaps have fellowshipped with in Sunday School or even small group ministry.
Set aside a place in your home where you will meet, perhaps the back yard, the garage, a family room, or the living room. You’ll need to provide access to a bathroom as well, but since this is a major risk for spreading the disease, it would be best if everyone tried to avoid its use.
You’ll need conscientious individuals who will guard themselves as they clean all the furniture and any surfaces likely to be touched in the course of a meeting.
It would be courteous, and indicate that you are not testing God, if you all wore masks, and, if possible, gloves. Have hand cleaner at the door and in other places. You should certainly try to practice so-called “social distancing.”
And any family that suspects they may have an infected member should—for the love of Christ—stay home. Oh, this is one time in history when it would be best not to greet one another with a holy kiss.
It’s best if you can dedicate this room for this purpose, thus providing a place you can thoroughly clean between meetings, and in which you carefully arrange furniture. Make sure it is well ventilated, and that, if possible, you may carefully change air filters regularly.
You don’t need a preacher per se. You can always have your fellowship refer back to the message your own pastor preached, or you may encourage spiritual growth by having members of your group bring a lesson or a message each week.
It’s pretty simple. What you should be looking for is an opportunity to fellowship and express the love of Christ to one another, while taking care not to infect one another.
Plan to sing favorite songs or choruses. Encourage those who play instruments or sing to minister. Spend time in prayer for one another, for the Church, and for the nation.
If someone is in real need, consider receiving an offering. Perhaps you could support a missionary. Many have seen significant reductions in their income.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to sit across the room from someone, perhaps in a large circle, where you could actually see one another’s eyes and hear one another’s voices as you praise God together?
If you are thinking of tearing down a statue, breaking a store window, or attacking someone for their beliefs, consider these words:
“He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” Our forefathers weren’t perfect. But they risked and often sacrificed their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in order to bring forth the greatest nation in the history of the world.
Before you cast a stone, consider your own motives.
As a nation, we aren’t perfect, but we have come a long way. Let’s not destroy everything that those “less-than-perfect people” sacrificed in order to bring us this far!
Think carefully before becoming part of the “Cancel Culture!” It will ultimately cancel you!
In the flickering glare of the fanatic flames that threaten to consume the heart of our nation, Jeremy Stopford has submitted a sermon he preached many years ago. In it, he quotes a post-Civil War prayer made by Robert E. Lee:
“May God rescue us from the folly of our own acts, save us from selfishness, and teach us to love our neighbors as ourselves.”
In a sense, Lee’s prayer began to be answered before he asked, when his Army of Northern Virginia lost the last great battle of the Civil War. America began its ascent from the evils of slavery, and God helped us to start up what has become the long road to equality. But now people are sowing the dragon’s teeth of hatred and division. We must ask ourselves whether selfishness and hatred will keep us from ever attaining that goal?
In light of current events, and the attempts by some to erase the facts of history, we should ask ourselves whether we are now producing a climate where similar things can again occur.
The Jewish people wisely build Holocaust Museums because they do not want the evils that befell them and millions of others to be forgotten. George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” A word to the wise is sufficient.
The fact that he allows us to violate His will reveals not that he is double-minded, but that he is not a puppeteer or a dictator. We are not robots or puppets or stick men. God breathed life into Adam.
Adam was innocent, but not perfect, for a perfect man would not have fallen. The only perfect man is Jesus Christ. We are as free to fail or triumph as Adam was.
If we receive Christ as Savior, and make him Lord of our lives—then we have the provision to succeed where Adam failed. But if we fail, we have an advocate or attorney with the Father, who intercedes for us—our Lord Jesus.
But God is the perfect disciplinarian—as we see demonstrated throughout his infallible Word—from Genesis to Revelation. To often, our lives seem like a microcosm of the Book of Judges., where every man did what was right in his own eyes. Certainly that seems to be the description of most people today.
How dare we force a test on our Lord, or presume upon some doctrine of security!
We also have a contract—The New Covenant—”the law of love” and “the law of liberty,” and it remains to be seen whether we have entered into it with all our hearts.
It is not the durability of our own hearts, but the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit, Who will see us through the trials of penury and the tests of plenty. Lean not unto your own understanding, but trust in God!”
Everyone and his brother seems to have a “take” on this pandemic, and many of the “experts” seem to reverse themselves frequently. I respect these words of a relative of mine.. —Frank Becker
Endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights that are superior to the Constitution itself: life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
I love that business owners are re-opening, even in defiance of indeterminate decrees (which are themselves often in conflict with the 14th and 10th amendments, to say nothing of 1st and often 2nd amendments). Businesses without customers are not, so I’m also glad people are out there in force to patronize these businesses — everyone is doing what they wish, and, when everyone is looking out for their own interest first,this is how capitalism works best, even if I’m not one of those who has to or chooses to partake. (even though I want to see small restaurants survive, it’s not exactly like I’ve been sending $20 weekly to each of my favorite little restaurants, because I know no one else is, and so it would be a lost cause. Altruism doesn’t really work unless it’s backed up by faith.)
Little restaurants that are in all of our respective communities were on death row. Their margins were slim-to-nil to begin with, so an extended coastal-style shutdown would destroy a lot of little businesses — and, next year, I really want to be able to return to my favorite little restaurants and have a fresh, non-frozen pizza.
Americans are optimistic and we tend to build the future we want to see, or at least we do once we get over the initial shock of whatever the latest disaster is. (We also love to argue, and I love that we have the First Amendment to protect that essential liberty!)
So, I’m personally really excited about the future, even as it’s shown cracks (to me, and hopefully to most people!) in our personal and corporate supply chains. It’s shown where we need to create more resiliency and redundancy (waste isn’t always bad!) It’s shown that we all need to try to make more money to protect our families. It’s demonstrated that Americans really can rise to the moment.
The success of Trump’s blockades with China and EU has proven, not that he’s racist or evil, but — if anything — that he should have implemented those travel bans much sooner, and that America First is not just good military strategy, but good strategy as we interface with the world. That we should not rely on foreign powers for our survival.
And, if people want to get in their cars and drive to their nearest home supply store, more power to them, and I support their essential exercise of freedom! (And when eventually a sizeable percentage of those get sick and do not die, they are another brick in the wall protecting us all from getting sick!)
Good news, too: what happened in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic is NOT happening now. What happened then, and it’s conjectured that this is because of the unique way of dealing with diseases in WWI trenches, is that the most lethal strains survived and actually killed more people.
BUT, what appears to be happening NOW is that the most sick people with the worst strains are going to the hospital, and many of them are actually dying there. (40% of people sick enough to go to the hospital die.)
So, today, the most prevalent strains seem to actually be the less dangerous strains, and that the more lethal strains are actually fading out and are being crowded out by the weaker strains.
If this keeps going, it will still be far more contagious than the flu, but probably with a death rate (case fatality rate, or, eventually, morbidity rate once we have more data) that is eventually similar to the common flu. Still nothing to sneeze at (uh..) but this is great news any way you slice it.
Has the Covid-19 pandemic brought the Church full circle? Now that scientists are raising the specter of even more deadly viruses, are we now faced with finding a new way to fellowship—to evangelize the lost, and to edify the saints?
The churches in which we gathered last year were the result of 20 centuries of evolution. The early Church was very different from the Church that we experienced just a few months ago.
Have we come full circle? Is it time to return to the Church of the New Testament?
With leaders like Franklin Graham once declaring that “Our churches are dead,” is it time to look for an alternative? The former president of America’s largest conservative seminar thought so. Paige Patterson wrote:
“In a day of ‘how to’ manuals on church growth and effectiveness, to find a writer who tells the truth…is a breath of fresh air.” He went on to say, “Frank Becker, in this book, The Depression Proof Church: The Biblical Answer to a Church in Crisis, has clearly enunciated the one essential, namely, a return to the church of the New Testament.” And, finally, “We have to recover the New Testament pattern for churchmanship!”