Do We Clearly See?

Sun sets on the Hawaiian Islands, and the crowds stand along the shoreline with their cameras aimed westward while frothy surf tickles bare feet. Hundreds of eyes—young and old, round and almond-shaped, brown and blue—glued to the grandeur of a huge orb of fire, slipping serenely into an aqua sea. The sky is ablaze in hues of pink, lavender, and orange.

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I want to shout, “To God be the glory!”

But I’m a silent observer. My heart heavy with the weight of a world who pauses to experience a breathtaking sunset while often ignoring, if not denying, the Creator who made this very moment possible.

The people see, but can they hear the heaven’s declaring God’s glory?

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

I’m not passing judgement on a band of international tourists on holiday. Who knows what eternal thoughts (if any) came into their minds as they witnessed the daily miracle unfolding. Most people don’t wear a T-shirt proclaiming their faith. But imagine the eyebrows I might have raised, if I’d kneeled in the cool sand and raised my hands towards the sky, praising God’s name. Would anyone have joined me? Whispered, “Amen!”

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I’m not a bold witness when I’m alone among strangers. And yet, I’m convicted. How can I not proclaim the gospel that is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes in Christ Jesus?

A Japanese couple takes a selfie with the sun peeking over their shoulders. When they gaze at the sun, are they privately worshipping Amaterasu—the sun goddess—who is a major deity in the Shinto religion? According to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in Japanese mythology, the Emperors of Japan are considered to be direct descendants of Amaterasu.

Curious, I search the internet for “sun gods” and a long list of names from cultures around the world reveals mankind’s desire to define and worship the sun, or link the sun to a god or goddess. When the Apostle Paul wrote the Christians living in Rome, the culture worshipped the sun god, Apollo.

Does it matter what we call the god who created and controls the sun? Does it matter if there’s a god? 

According to Acts 17:23-31 . . . it matters very much.

That’s why Paul talked to the religious people of Athens about their statue to “an unknown god.” Paul stood in a crowd and assured them, they could know “the God who made the world—the Lord of heaven and earth.” He explained….

  • God does not live in temples built by hands.
  • God is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything because he gives all men life and breath.
  • God desires that men would seek him and reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

I wonder if Paul and the crowds paused that day to watch the sun set on Athens?

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What were they thinking when the sun seemed to brush the earth with a goodnight kiss? Did they credit Apollo with another sunset, dismissing Paul’s words as foolishness? Or, were their eyes opened to clearly see their Creator’s invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature so they could believe and worship the One, True God.

Something to consider even in this . . . glorious God-ordained sunset that happens everyday!

 

 

 

 

Feeling Salty?

Wearing frayed clothes, an old man with a scraggly beard approached the eclectic restaurant patio where I sat with my two grown sons. Shaded from the summer sun, we were the only customers out there on a Sunday afternoon.

My body stiffened. He’s going to ask for money.

The man shuffled past us, opened the screen door, and went inside. He returned with a coffee mug and sat down at the table next to us.

My body relaxed, but my mind remained on guard. He stared at us with red-rimmed, glassy eyes. Sometimes he mumbled beneath his breath.

I went inside and asked the young waitress if the man had ordered food.

“No, he only has three dollars.”

“Would you mind asking him if he’d like to order a meal? You can put it on my tab. I’d ask him, but I don’t want to embarrass or offend him.”

She smiled. “That’s nice of you.”

I wasn’t trying to be nice. I’m reluctant to share my story. Don’t want someone to think I’m patting myself on the back. Not the case.

I was being obedient.

How could I attend church that morning—hear God’s Word—and NOT reach out to someone in need? Someone within arm’s reach who had an empty belly; hunger in his soul.

The waitress brought a menu to the man and whispered in his ear.

He mumbled, “Missing teeth.”

She helped him choose something edible. Then brought him a plate of soft rolls to eat while he waited for his meal.

He guzzled his coffee; devoured the rolls.Then he took his mug inside and left the restaurant without glancing in our direction.

Within seconds, the waitress brought our food. Her right arm had a sleeve tattoo. “I offered to put his food in a to-go box, but he didn’t want to wait. So I canceled the order.”

“Perhaps the bread filled him up,” I said. “Or maybe I should have approached him myself so he didn’t feel awkward.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it. You tried.”

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Yes, I tried to do the right thing—be salt and light. To the man, and young woman too.

I wondered if either of them knew Jesus—the Bread of Life. The One who feeds our souls. 

If not, had they heard the gospel? How did they perceive Christians?

Oh, Lord, don’t let my salt lose its flavor. (Luke 14:34)

And yet, while my sons and I were eating, the topic of same-sex marriage came up. Immediately, my neck hairs bristled as I thought about “those people.”

Until the Spirit hit me with a two by four:

You have no trouble showing compassion to an indigent person whom you know nothing about. What if a gay couple sat near you? 

Would you still choose to be salt and light? 

If not, why not?

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“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13,14)

Who Can Fill the Hole?

Hot tears rolled down my cheeks during intermission.

“Do you want to leave the play?” my nineteen-year-old son asked.

“No, I’m going to see how this ends. Surely, there’s some value.”

People may not agree with me, but there was nothing redeemable about the musical, “The Book of Mormon.” I found it crude and offensive on multiple levels.

I’m not Mormon, and I rarely attend a play that I haven’t reviewed before hand. However, my son persuaded me while we were in London.

“It won a Tony Award. It’s been running for a long time.” My son later apologized for also going into this performance blind!

Really? This represents America’s best?

However, nothing is wasted.

I tend to live in a Christian cocoon.  Rubbing elbows with our post-modern culture is always an eye-opener.

What I found offensive—swearing and overt sexual language—entertained the audience. They lapped up the Jr. High bathroom humor like it was creme.

That didn’t grieve me as much as the actors who mocked God. Religion as a whole seemed like a joke.

If this grieves my heart, how does the Lord feel?

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Earlier that day, my son and I had gone to Westminster Abbey. Tourists, from around the world, paid to see the historical and majestic building where coronations are held, and royal weddings take place.

The tombs of kings and queens, and memorial plaques honoring famous people, were interesting. But the church seemed more like a museum than a place to worship. If ever there was a place to hear the Gospel message, why not here?

Watching The Book of Mormon that evening, only solidified my heavy heart for the misguided souls around me.

How can they believe in Christ if they do not hear? How can they hear, if we don’t tell them?

Soon thereafter, I heard the Rock song, Flaw, which includes these lyrics, “I have a hole in my soul. I can’t fill it. I can’t fill it. I have a hole in my soul. Can you fill it? Can you fill it?”

I don’t know the songwriter’s intent, but those words struck a chord in me.

We’re all born with a hole in our soul. And we can’t fill it with ourselves!

Neither can anything or anyone else on earth. Although looking at the carrots we chase, you’d think otherwise.

Only the Lord, God can fill the hole in our souls, and satisfy us. His Son, Jesus, has the holes in His hands to prove how much God loves us.

But God won’t force Himself on anyone.

He does, however, warn us, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it (Isaiah 30:15)

And the Winner Is?

I lay in bed, my mind in a fetal position.

Drugged by the words I’d read in an article: “Sex After Christianity” by Rod Dreher

Christians have lost the cultural war. What will Christianity look like in 40 years?   

Wars, terrorist’s bombings, sex trafficking, Dr. Gossner’s gruesome third-trimester abortions, the gun slaughter of children in their classrooms …and now I had to think about the demise of the Christian church?

How could I sleep knowing the enemy prowls this earth like a lion seeking to kill and destroy? And to the victor go the spoils: men’s unsaved souls.

When I awoke, my heart was an anchor dragging me through the day. My facial expression looked as though someone had died.

Then I remembered SOMEONE HAD DIED.

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)

Buoyed by truth, I listened to praise music. Instead of world news, I focused on the GOOD NEWS…the gospel of Christ, the only hope for humanity.

Battles are waged, but the war for righteousness was won centuries ago…by the Prince of Peace who came to earth to reconcile man to God.

But at the time, Jesus  didn’t look like the victor. Instead of wearing an olive wreath, he wore a crown of thorns.

Did Satan dance a jig, give his demons “a high five” when he watched Jesus shedding blood on the cross?

Did the smug, self-righteous religious leaders think they’d won by silencing the man who claimed to be the Son of God? A victory short-lived once they heard people claim Christ had risen from the grave.

Did Christ’s apostles taste victory as they died a martyr’s death?

Did the culture appear to win while Christians were thrown to the lions, impaled on stakes?

Even now the blood and the Voice of the Martyrs across this globe cry out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10)

Rest assured, Jesus says, “I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”(Revelation 22:12)

And knowing this, I laughed in the face of the enemy. You fooled me. For a second, I thought all was lost. But that’s not true….

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4, 5)