Canaans Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

A Blizzard or Winter

I recently read a very insightful article by Andy Crouch entitled, “Leading beyond the Blizzard: why every organization is now a startup.”  He and two others assume the following: “The novel coronavirus is not just something for leaders to ‘get through’ for a few days and weeks.  Instead, we need to treat COVID-19 as an economic and cultural blizzard, winter, and beginning of a ‘little ice age’ – once-in-a lifetime change that is likely to affect our lives and organizations for years.”

They write out of love for others and with humility in a time of considerable uncertainty.  “The creative potential for hope and vision is unparalleled right now” notes the article, “but paradoxically this creativity will only be fully available to us if we also make space for grief and lament.”  

The report ends with these  sobering words, “…… responsible leaders have no choice, today, but to assume that the winter is upon us, and an ice age of unknown duration is before us.  We are playing a game no one now living has ever played before.  We are, for reasons only God knows, on the front line, on the starting team.  Let us act boldly, today, to build as best we can, for the love of our neighbor and the glory of God.”

I am writing to men who have had their personal, family and professional lives radical altered in the last two months.  At present there is deep tension in our nation about how much longer the “lock-down” will last.  It very well could be that before we get to some new normal, we could see civil unrest.  Who will emerge with a plan for a new normal?  Men, we first of all need to look to God on how to rebuild.

My thoughts turn to the book of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah served as cupbearer to the powerful Persian king, Artaxerxes, who made him the governor of Jerusalem.  He lead the people in rebuilding the walls of the city.  Nearly a century after the  Jewish people had gone back to Jerusalem, Nehemiah learned of the deplorable condition of Jerusalem.  “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire” (Neh. 1:2).  The people were in deep distress.  

We can learn from Nehemiah.  It very well could be that we will need to “rebuild” after the virus.  There will be much left in the aftermath of  this pandemic that will need to either be repaired or built anew, in the social, political and economic areas of our life together as a nation.  The spiritual will especially need our attention.    “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations: you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings” (Is 58:12). 

Nehemiah was deeply moved by the deplorable condition of the city.  He looked to God in heartfelt prayer.  “Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying…….I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you.”  (1:6).

God gave Nehemiah favor.  After he had surveyed the condition of the city, he told the people, “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (2:17).  The people replied, “Let us start rebuilding” (2:18).  Then we are told “they began this good work” (2:18)   To those who opposed the work, Nehemiah said, “The God of heaven will give us success” (2:20).     

View this time as having been refined in the fire, allowing cracks to be exposed in your foundations.  But together we can rebuild our spiritual dwelling in the Lord.    

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

“Free as a bird”

“We’ve flown free from their fangs, free of their traps, free as a bird.  Their grip is broken; we’re free as a bird in flight” (Ps 124:7 – Message).  These words express  what I have been experiencing in my soul.  Something deep within  needs to be released, but seems trapped in the deep caverns of my soul. I have been learning to wait and be open in faith, even in the darkness and confusion. 

It has to do with knowing God’s love.  It is beyond my knowing and understanding.   Many years ago (mid 80’s) I read a book entitled “Christian Mysticism.”  In those days I was struggling with the newly found description of  the Christian as a contemplative. Following Jesus was more about being than doing.   Intimacy with Jesus was the focus rather than achievement or knowledge.

The author, William McNamara, described the mystical experience as, “not the fruit of a direct and systematic effort, but is a gratuitous gift of God.  The aim of mystical contemplation is love.”  Simply put – a mystic is someone who is in love with Jesus.  

McNamara went on to say, “Our human  predicament may be described as a mystical or spiritual crisis, a crisis in contemplation.  Man’s natural mystical powers are seriously atrophied and must be reactivated.  Activity without contemplation is blind. …..Our contemporary preoccupation with  knowledge as possession leaves us dying from lack of communion.”

During those days a quote from a catholic theologian,  Karl Rahner stayed with me, even though I didn’t fully grasp the meaning.  He foresaw, “the devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic’ one who has experienced ‘something’ or he will cease to be anything at all.”  Since those early days, I have come to understand a mystic, in biblical terms, as someone who loves Jesus.  My writing this blog is a way of saying, “the bird needs be set from within me” is a contemplative understanding of my journey with Jesus. 

I am prompted to write about the contemplative, because of an article by Dale Coulter in First Things, relating our present pandemic to what happened among Christians living through the Black plague, which struck Europe during the middle of the 14th century. The impact of that plague was seen as a warning to Europe of being under the judgment of God.  More than 30 percent of the total population of Europe was lost due to the plague.

“During and after this period [black plague]” notes Coulter, “Christianity saw a blossoming of an interior spirituality that had been forged in the reforms of the 12th century.  The crucified Christ, was seen as God’s entrance into human  suffering.  The pain of the ravaged soul turned many to interior prayer as they clung to Jesus,  who had been crucified.  While the church failed to lead, lay people turned to the simplicity of being a Christ follower.  Lay people began to meet in homes for prayer.” 

“Medieval writers” observed Coulter, “premised the turn to the interior life on a rejection of the external world.  This did not mean denying the goodness of creation ….. [But] as long as humans fixated on created goods, they would not make the ascent back to their true home……a constant outward gaze was simply a failure to reckon with who we are and where we are going.”  This turn to the interior life was seen as a movement “from meditation on the self to meditation on Christ and finally to meditation on God revealed in Christ.”

Could it be that in the days to come, men will discover “the contemplative” way with all the suffering, disinformation and hopelessness around us?   

 

 

 

   

 

 

Spiritual Junk Food

When I was a young pastor, in my zeal to preach biblical truth, I often referred to II Tim 4:3-4, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”  Today we have a lot of itching ears.

In those days I never had The Message as back-up to make the point sink in with the congregation.  “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy.  They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages.” Men, don’t be satisfied with “spiritual junk food.”

Recently Barna research group came out with this shocking data indicating how our nations is consuming “spiritual junk food.”  They found that just over half of Americans hold a biblically-informed view of God, a 22 % drop from 30 years ago.  The new report also showed that only 51% of Americans considered God to be “all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect and just creator of the universe who still rules the world today.”  In 1991, 73% of Americans believed that to be true. 

Even more shocking is the fact that only 52% believe “the Holy Spirit is not a living entity, but merely a symbol of God’s power, presence or purity,” while 56% believe that “Satan is not merely a symbol of evil but is a real spiritual being and influences human lives.”  Nearly half of those surveyed believed in a God who is an influential spiritual being but not full confident that He even exists. 

“The spiritual noise in our culture over the last few decades has confused and misled  hundreds of millions of people,” concluded Barna. “We can no longer assume that people have a solid grasp of even the most basic biblical principles.”  As a nation we have moved from upholding absolute moral truth to embracing “spiritual junk food.”  

Men, here is my counsel in light of these findings.  First, determine in your mind (thinking process) what you believe the bible to be.  It is the final authority in all matter of faith and practice.  It has to be the final word – period!  It’s a decision!

Secondly,  I plead with you to take at least 15 minutes a day to study, reflect and meditate on scripture.  It is solid food for our soul. Eugene Peterson reminds us, “Sound teaching is not junk food.  Nor it it comfort food.  It’s solid food.  Hearty and healthy and good for the soul.”  It’s a habit!

Thirdly, submit yourself to the instruction of the scripture.  Allow the truth of Scripture to form your world view.  Have the bible in one hand and the news report in the other.  It’s work!  

Fourthly, pay attention to the preachers and teachers who influence you.  Ask these two questions. First, do they submit to the authority of Scripture and secondly, does their lifestyle reflect an obedient heart.  Don’t be spiritually blind

Fifthly, let your family know, that God’s word is precious and true.  Do your best, by the grace of God and by his mercy in your life, to live according to the truth of Scripture.  Let your family see and know  how  the bible  orders your life. 

Sixth, one more thing.  Don’t expect others to teach your children the truth.  That is your duty as the head of your house.  Be their primary “bible-teacher.” 

Great Awakening

Recently, prominent political science scholar,Charles Murray, who happens to be an agnostic, gave an interview in which he speculated that America will unlikely survive without a revival of the religious values that the Founders depended on to undergird the American Experience.  

“The founders ……..were all nominally Christians,” observed Murray.  “But they were absolutely, emphatically agreed that you cannot have a free society with a constitution such as the one they had created unless you are trying to govern a religious people. If you do not have religion as the controlling force, then the kinds of laws we have could not possibly work.”

Without religion there is no “intrinsic motivation” for people of behave morally.   Murray goes so far as to hope for another “Great Awakening.”  He notes, “we’ve had three of them at least, maybe four – [which] had very good effects.  Those changed the behavior of the population in very positive ways. “

America, in Murray’s opinion, is “like the cartoon where the coyote is chasing the roadrunner and runs off the edge of the cliff and continues running without a problem for a while and then suddenly realizes where he is.  He goes crashing to the ground.  We have run off the edge of the cliff and we’re still running great.  It’s not going to last very long.  Decades.”

He give this exhortation that all Christian should hear and take to heart. “You can’t manufacture great people, male or female, just because you need it.  You can hope that the occasion give rise to them.  But it is hope, not a plan.”

These words should be like a trumpet sound to men.  “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill.  Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming.  It is close at hand” (Joel 2:1). The last words from Mr. Murray are a call for men to reproduce other men for the days ahead. 

I identify with Tony Evans and his call for “Kingdom men.”  They are men who consistently operate under the rule of God in their lives.  The invasion of the virus is, in Evans’ view, “an opportunity to call men back to what God wanted for men when He created them.” 

Evans is encouraging men who understand the true definition of manhood to mentor other men, teaching them to become who God created them to be.  He refers to Acts 3 where Peter and John healed a man who had been paralyzed since birth.  “If you’re a lame man, you need a couple of men in your life to pick you up,” he points out. “If you’re not a lame man, you need to be picking someone else up.” 

Many men today are not able by themselves to brake free from the shackles put on them by the whole notion of “toxic masculinity.”  They have lost there sense of identity as a man.  Evans call for the rising of kingdom men.  We need to come together. 

This blog site is a small sample of the trumpet being heard in the land.  Men are waking up.  There is an invasion of “invisible” enemy characterizes as the Father of lies (Satan) attempting to take men out.  “Satan is determined to undermine men,” cries Evans.  He wants to “destroy their God-given roles, and re-define the biblical definition of manhood because he wants to see the family unravel and society crumble.” 

Men, find others who are willing to stand with you. “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of his [boundless] might” (Eph. 5:10 -amp).

 

    

 

Shelter in Place

Who would have ever imagined that the whole nation would be under a “Shelter in place” mandate, which could last at least another month.  Only a month ago we were free to go about our business.  Now men reading this blog are confined to their “shelter.” 

It reminds me of Is. 26:20, “Go my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hid yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.”  We might not be facing the wrath of God, but we are being told to “shelter in place.” What can God be teaching us as we learn to stay home.

The Psalms repeatedly make reference to our shelter with the Lord.  Ps. 91:1 in the amplified reads, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].  In Ps. 61:4 we read, “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” In Ps. 27:5 the Palmist confidently declares, “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”

Each of these Psalms point to the Lord protecting those who are in his shelter.  The Palmist prays in confidence for the Lord to grant rest and security, providing a refuge and hiding place.  Men, that is what God wants to do for you and your family during this time of “exile” in our homes. Here are some thought about this time of being “sheltered in place.”

First, take responsibility for providing spiritual protection for your family. This means like myself, you are to cry out to the Lord in intercessory prayer on behalf of your family.  Maybe you have been lazy in this regard in the past. Remember God hears your prayers.  Please, for your family’s sake, don’t abandon your post. 

Secondly, the stay at home directive, will force your whole family to be together throughout the day.  This could very well expose some cracks in the foundation of your family’s spiritual and relational structure.  Accept this as a time to bring healing into your family.  Men, you don’t have to act like a saint – just be honest about your own faults and needs, asking the rest of the family to do their own self examination. 

Thirdly, with all the family together, new routines will be forming.  Take the lead in establishing some spiritual family habits that have gone by the way side because everyone is going in a different direction most of the time.  Now take time for family prayer, scripture reading and especially praying with and for each other.  Take the risk of leading such an effort with your family

Finally, you have time and extra energy.  This might be a good time to examine the priorities you have had as a family.  Ask the Lord as a family how you could best invest in the kingdom of God, hoping to see some new priorities to maintain when life gets back to normal

Most of all, continue to get praise and thanks to God for how good He has been. Hear these words from Habakkuk, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Hab. 3: 17-18).  

  

  

Violence at Home

One of the tragic consequences of the covid-19 worldwide pandemic is domestic violence.  United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on governments around the world to make addressing the issue of domestic violence a key part of their response to the pandemic.  

“Violence” he stated, “is not confined to the battlefield.”  What a sad and dreadful reality.  This clearly points to father and other males in the home.  “For many women and girls, the threat looms larger where they should be safest – in their own homes,” he said, appealing “for peace at home – and in homes – around the world.”

Guterrea noted, “Over the past weeks, as the economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying surge in domestic violence.”  He urged “all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plan to COVID-19.”

His urgent plea reminded me of Jesus’ words regarding the signs of the End of the Age.  “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child.  Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death” (Mark 13:12).  Jesus is referring to a brake up in the home.  It is sad, but a reality, when the UN makes an appeal for there to be peace in the home.  

Men, this is an indictment of men all around the world.  God lays the responsibility of establishing a safe and secure environment in the home, at the feet of men.  We provide the protective umbrella.  Watch for leaks in your god given umbrella.  The enemy is sure to get you distracted with all the fear and uncertain with this pandemic.

We have this reminder from Peter on how to treat our wives: “Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life.  If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard” (I Pet. 3:7 NLT).  Notice the emphasis of prayer.  No one else can provide the spiritual protection that you can.  Certainly not the government as the General Secretary assumes

Scripture is also very direct with fathers. “And now a word to you fathers.  Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them.  Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).  Children have only one father.  God has given him the responsibility to lead and protect them.      

Men, don’t beat yourself up if you are feeling trapped at home with your wife and kids. What has been in the spiritual atmosphere of your family life is now coming to the surface.  For some of you it might not look very pretty.  Hey, I have faced some of that with my wife of 54 years. Here are a few tips from a “old warrior.”

First, admit you have failed in your responsibility.  Be truly repentant with your wife and kids.  Your not the Lord; your simply a man facing responsibility.  Don’t run and hide.  You are stuck at home.

Second, your stuck at home so that the Lord can teach you know lessons about spiritual leadership. After being genuinely humbled before your family,  sincerely cry out God for mercy.  He will hear your cry for help  You might not like what he is asking of you, but you have no escape, except to blame and feel sorry for yourself.

Third, above all be thankful and assure your family that God is with you.  They need to know that you are on the same page as the Lord.   

 

Wake up from Your Sleep

These are words from Ephesians 5:14 (The Message).  “Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!”  Nothing in my lifetime has gotten the attention of Americans like the Covid-19 virus.  People are coming out of their spiritual coffins, asking “God” questions, wondering what is next for our nation.  We have no idea what the future has in store for us.  It most certainly is a wake up call.

Is interesting that Ross Douthat’s new book, “The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success” was published just before the outbreak. “Decadence” he maintains, “refers to economic stagnation, institutional decay, and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development.” 

Basically he sees our society slowly winding down with an uncertain future.  Albert Mohler in his review of the book notes Douthat’s belief, “that our culture just slowly winds down.  It does not blow up; it just loses energy….we are facing something of a slow melt.” 

Mohler quotes  poet W. H. Auden’s familiar description of Rome’s fall: “What fascinates and terrifies us about the Roman Empire is not that it finally went smash, [but that] it managed to last four centuries without creativity, warmth or hope.”  “That” says Mohler, “is the vision that haunts Douthat.

I would think that most sincere followers of Jesus would say that our nations has been going in the wrong direction for some time.  The virus has exposed a lot of cracks in the foundation. God is certainly using the present crisis to get our attention and the wake up the church.  Thus the words, “Wake up from your sleep”

In the next verse the Message reads, “So watch your step.  Use your head.  Make the most of every chance you get.  These are desperate times” (v 15).  Interestingly in the final page of his book, Douthat makes, unknowingly, this prophetic statement; “I’m not predicting the end of the world or the arrival of the millennium here…..I’m just saying that if this were the age in which some major divine intervention happened……there would be, in hindsight, a case that we should have seen it coming.” If you are living in New York city, I am sure, there is a sense that things might not ever be the same. 

As this pandemic continues, I sense greater uncertainty and fear about not only the duration of the pandemic, but  how we will function as a nation in the aftermath.  I personally, need to be discerning with what I read about the virus.  What information can I trust?  

As a follower of Jesus, I want to  avoid  the mistake of listening to the “bad report” similar to the one given to the people of Israel, by the spies, about going into the promised land.  The people said, “Our brothers have made us lose heart” (Deut. 1:28). 

Moses reassured them with these words, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your every eyes, and in the desert.  There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place” (Deut. 1:29-31). 

Men, we belong to the kingdom of God.  He will carry you and your loved ones like a father in the days to come.  We don’t have to fear.  He will see you to the end. Let’s stay awake and be “warrior of the light.”   

 

 

  

C.S. Lewis & Coronavirus

Here are some thoughts from C.S. Lewis.  Written 72 years ago, we simply need to replace “atomic bomb with “coronavirus.”  These words should be taken to heart by each of us, men in whatever leadership capacity we find ourselves.  This is especially true when with each passing day our normal routine of life are being disrupted.  It makes us very aware that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.  “How are we to live in an atomic age?”  I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, and age of paralysis, and age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation.  Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.  We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anesthetics; but we have that still.  It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.”

My wife and I live in a comfortable senior apartment that fits our lifestyle just fine.  But we are seniors, who are being told to take extra precautions.  Everybody else in our building is doing the same thing.

Judy and I have prayed together each morning for many years.  Our prays include deep gratitude for all the good years he has given to us (54 years), his protection over us, and our desire to be his witness in the here an now.

That means that we need to be prudent and wise in our lifestyle choices for the next month or so.  We take all the necessary precautions that are asked of us.  But we do not live in fear.  

Men, I encourage you to read the story of King Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles, when he was faced with a vast enemy army.  He prayed, “O our God, will you not judge them?  For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (ll Chron. 20:12) 

Men, may you lead your family by keeping your eyes on the Lord.  A prophet spoke to the King, declaring, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s…..Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” ( II Chron. 20:15,17).  

The next morning when the King went out with his army, he declared in confidence to the people, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem!  Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” (II Chron. 20:20). God gave them a mighty victory over their enemies

 

 

 

Yes, I am coming soon

These are the last words of Jesus in the book of Revelation. In our day with so much uncertainty due to the cornonavirus, the thoughts of many are turning to the last days and the book of Revelation.  Will Jesus be coming soon?

Ann Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, has suggested the new coronavirus might be a sign of the end times and stressed the importance of making “sure we are right with God so that we are ready to meet Him whenever the time comes.”  Max Lucado told The Christian post that the coronavirus “could be” a sign of the end times and encouraged Christians to “keep our Bibles and hearts open” more than ever before.

Revelation is like a drama in which we are taken behind the scenes of our present world, to get a glimpse of what God is doing.  Here are a few suggestions of what he might be saying to us, based on the book that claims to be, “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him [John] to show his servants what must soon take place” (Rev 1:1)    

First, Jesus is the beginning and the end.  “”Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead. and behold I am alive for ever and ever.  And I hold the keys of death and hades” (Rev 1:18).  Then again in Rev. 22:12-13, “Behold, I am coming soon!….I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the End.”  The time line of history is securely in the hands of Jesus.  He is sovereign over all that is happening: from the first to the last. 

Second, something all new is coming!  The old will pass away.  We are looking for something much better. So don’t lose hope. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea…. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:3).

Third, the best is yet to come. It will be better than the Garden of Eden. “And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street.  On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve  crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month.  Its leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.  No longer will anything be cursed.  For the throne of God and of the  Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.  And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.  And there will be no night there – no need or lamps or sun – for the Lord God will shine on them.  And they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 22:1-5 NLT).  

Fourth, we are told to be patient and endure.  Men, we will get through this time.  The best is yet to come. “Let this encourage God’s holy people to endure persecution patiently and remain firm to the end, obeying his commands and trusting Jesus (Rev 14:12 NLT).

 

The Coronavirus

While I have been studying and teaching the book of Revelation a world wide pandemic is being discussed in the media. Revelation portrays such events.  In Revelation 6:8 we read, “And I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green like a corpse.  And Death was the name of its rider, who was followed around by the Grave.  They were given authority over one fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword an famine and disease and wild animals.”

The implication is that God allows such things to happen on the earth.  They are meant to make us insecure and vulnerable, remind of our need for God, leading to repentance.   

The coronavirus could be an example of God allowing an extraordinary event in the world, to be a sober reminder that we are not in charge.  In Revelation, heaven declares the sovereignty of God over nature. “You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created  all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11). 

The folks over at Breakpoint remind us of Chuck Colson’s favorite Kuyper-ism quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'”  It is good for us to be reminded that Jesus is in control, even in the midst of a crisis.

But how does world-wide disease play out in history with all the suffering that has to be endured.   N. T. Wright has been helpful for me in gaining an over view of the suffering depicted in Revelation and God’s purposes for a new heaven and earth.  He writes, “Revelation is…….a cosmic version of the tough pastoral struggle over the deeply wounded soul.  The soul of the world is aware of immediate problems and pains; but unless we look deeper, to the ancient patterns of conquest violence, oppression, and death itself we shall not begin to understand what needs to be done if the world is to be healed, really healed rather than merely patched together for a few more years.”  

Revelation pull the curtain open so that we can see the impact the spiritual realm is having on earth.  Revelation is like a drama unfolding before us as follower of the Lamb, who is Lord of history.  We see God at work ultimately bringing our world to a final conclusion, in making all thing new. From the throne God says, “I am making everything new!”

My study of Revelation and the fragile condition of life among us, has produced several resolves in my heart, for the days ahead.  I encourage each reader of this blog to join me.

First, I surrender totally to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is Lord.  “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun the reign” (Rev 11:17).  I choose the follow the Lamb.

Secondly, I am aware that there is a mighty battle raging between the lamb and Satan.  Satan knows that his time is short and he is full of fury.  (Rev 12:13). I put myself under the Lordship of Jesus to be protected from the evil one

Thirdly, I am so thankful to know that in the end, the kingdom of God will be established on the earth. (Rev 11:15)  I pray daily for his kingdom to come.

Finally, I sincerely ask God for strength and grace to endure whatever suffering might occur for those who follow the Lamb in the days to come.

 

 

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