Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Shakes Up Our Faith?

(picture from wwcconline.org)
How does an evil teach us to pray? Sunday morning Pastor Mark mentioned that while on his recent trip to Africa, a prominent African Christian leader told him that Idi Amin taught their people how to pray. Um, what? Well, no, he didn’t gather them together in an auditorium and share with them the wealth of power in prayer, or how to petition the Father of Life, or about the freedom found in praising God. No, he didn’t instruct them on the finer points of prayer at all.

But, he did force them into a corner, challenging their belief in God and the power and effectiveness of their prayers. And they responded, together and overwhelmingly. The tides are turning in their nation. We hear great reports from Africa regularly.

I looked for photos of the devastation under his regime. I couldn’t bring myself to share them here….

Is this what it will take for America to hit our knees? The rich outpouring of blessings from God has given us an entitlement mentality and has turned a great many of us from an attitude of gratitude to a gospel that simply promises financial prosperity and all the material wealth we seek after. The heart of the matter is fading in America. We don’t routinely hear of the miracles happening here on our soil that seem to be reported in abundance in the parts of the world where they don’t have “the privileges Americans enjoy….”

My depiction of an American bunny..... (picture from sustainableman.org)
Not that any of us wants to choose between a huge bank account and submitting our will to the Living God of the universe; surely we can have both. Can’t we? Well, can we?

I saw an article on the internet mocking American Christians in the south, living in some of the poorest counties in our nation. Yes, with toothless smiles, they praised God. Those who don’t share our faith in God laughed at them, saying, “You thank God – for what??”

Do I want to live in a shack or scrounge for my daily bread in a trash can? No. I admit it, I live quite comfortably and I like it. I’m not at all saying there’s anything wrong with abundance. Jesus said, “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10 (NKJV)

(picture from joyfulbusiness.org)
 But, does the man at the top of the mountain of Wall Street have peace with God?

I’m not saying he doesn’t, but which is more important to you? Wealth or peace? I’ve heard Rockefeller died in misery, despite his millions; what did they gain him? Material possessions he couldn’t take with him; possessions that perhaps brought him temporary pleasure?

I have a friend who shares her definition of a Christian as one who would answer the door when Jesus knocks and drop what she’s doing to go with Him; leaving behind everything and everyone. Ouch! Not my babies! Not my lover! Not my things!

Jesus doesn’t generally ask us to leave everyone and/or everything behind, but if He did put that challenge to you, could you run into His arms and trust Him to take care of everything and everyone else?

Gathering possessions is clearly what not what life is all about. Most of us consider Mother Theresa to have been a very holy and righteous woman. Of course, she never claimed to be righteous in and of herself, but through Christ. Yet, her material possessions were few.
(picture from loscuatroojos.com)
Am I judging the rich televangelists out there? No. I’ll leave the judging to God. My own heart is the one I need to contend with. I’m not responsible for what you or anyone else does with their heart.

But think about this: if devastation (such as what Idi Amin brought to his people) visited your life and all you were left with is your faith in God, would you be able to embrace it with your whole heart? Or would you then turn your back on God? Some say that faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’ve got to hang on to. Personally, I don’t ever want to be in that position. But, like Job, if I lost everything I can see with my eyes, I’d want to hang on to all that I have in my heart.

What we can see with our eyes is sooooo temporary.

(picture from sallyandsam.blogspot.com)
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” – Psalm 103:13-16 (NIV)

Yet, so many of us feel the need to accumulate “things” and consider them signs of success.

To quote an old Kansas song, “All we are is dust in the wind……” (Well, I guess dust does collect….)

(picture from sunsetevansville.com Lissy Elle)
Psalm 8:4 asks, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (NKJV)

God’s love for you is eternal; forever and ever and ever – and unconditional. Nothing you could ever think or do can cause Him to stop loving you. What kind of a love is that??

When He comes to your door – run to Him! Don’t wait for persecution to learn to pray. It may come. And sooner than we think.

How amazing - He calls ME friend!


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