More Laws?

More laws will not fix a heart condition.

Although the times have changed since the bible days, the spirit of the culture in this generation is very similar in the display of depraved behavior.  An unregenerate heart always acts out in lawlessness regardless of a generation or its culture.  Biblical history is a stark reminder that something more powerful than rules and laws are needed to change people from the inside out. (Ref. Jeremiah 17:9, 31:33)

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Power: How important is it, after the storm, Part 2

Photo By SHANNON STAPLETON/Reuters

After the storm, I pray that all will have hope and grab hold of the visible and colorful reminder that God keeps His promise.  Like many of you, I watched the news and read about the destruction and devastation caused by Super storm Sandy throughout the eastern coast, which impacted some twenty-three states.  Sandy has been classified as an unprecedented storm by those who have covered storms in the past and weather related news for many years.

As I watched and prayed, I was saddened because many will write it off as “Mother Nature” doing her thing…it’s just something that happens.   I am certainly thankful for man’s giftedness to provide a scientific explanation of how storms are formed, to track them, and give warning to prepare and evacuate, if necessary. However, I believe preparation should go beyond the physical.  When the warning to prepare is given, it’s the perfect time to prepare spiritually— where are you in your relationship with God? Pray. Repent. Ask for forgiveness. Do you even believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? What if there’s a real heaven and hell, where do you want to spend eternity if you die in the storm? Are you ready to go, if you must? Ask God to save you, rescue your life to fulfill your life purpose if you know your heart is wicked and evil. This is the essence of spiritual preparation.

While systems are in place to track and trace a storm, no man can stop it! No one can change the course of its winds powerful enough to uproot huge trees, or stop the fifty-foot waves and floodwaters from breaking through dams and levees.  Storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes should help us put life and power in perspective.  Only God can speak to the winds and waves and they obey His voice. Psalm 107:29, “He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.” Mark 4:35-41, records this unprecedented power that Jesus demonstrated, which gripped the attention of the disciples.

Knowing this is reason enough to give greater consideration to how important is man’s power and authority in comparison to God as being all-powerful and all-knowing.  It’s something about being vulnerable or in a life or death situation that raises our awareness to what matters most.  Usually it is in times of disaster and tragedies that we personally and as a nation realize pain is not prejudice, and death does not discriminate.

Consequently, my prayer is always that people ponder and give deeper thought to the spiritual implications or supernatural aspect of storms that sends a message about power and authority. A storm reminds us of our human frailty, our vulnerability, and speaks to the power and authority that’s totally out of man’s control.   Storms should get our attention. They should make us to search within, change our actions and attitudes, look at life differently—its sacredness. After the storm, we should seize the opportunity to regroup and reevaluate our priorities.  Those greatly impacted by a storm should forever look at life differently; it should never be taken for granted, if you survived the storm or even if you lost loved ones in the storm.

Kurt Wilberding, a fashion and street photographer, snapped this Instagram photo in lower Manhattan, after Superstorm Sandy made its way through New York City.

The destruction and devastation our fellow Americans are experiencing as a result of Sandy should remind us all of what matters most—love for one another, promote justice for all, and to walk humbly with our God.

Once again, disaster reminds us that division is the greatest downfall of a nation that “supposedly” believes in democracy.  But,, even after the storm, there is hope.  The LORD God always keeps His promise amid the destruction, devastation and sorrow for the lives lost.  After the storm, I pray that all will make the decision to have hope and grab hold of the visible and colorful reminder that God keeps His promise. You are not alone.

Praying for peace after the storm,

Make the Light Prevail

Darkness

Darkness (Photo credit: Roberto F.)

Sometimes the darkness that surrounds us brings dread and doubtful thoughts of never seeing the light of day. And unfortunately, many give in to the hopelessness that pierces their soul.  Then they are held hostage, caught in the mental crossfire between optimism and pessimism.

Felix Adler says it like this:

An optimist is a person who sees only the lights in the picture, whereas a pessimist sees only the shadows.  An idealist, however, is one who sees the light and the shadows, but in addition sees something else: the possibilities of changing the picture, of making the lights prevail over the shadows.

But may I encourage you? As a Christian believer of Jesus Christ, know this: Not only should you be an idealist seeing the possibilities of changing the picture, of making the lights prevail over the shadows, you have been given the authority to command the change through the powerful energy the Light radiates through your life (John 1:9; 8:12).

Living by Faith: Easy?

Living by faith is not as easy as many would have you to think. When we read and study the Bible, we find that it was not easy for Abraham until he had an undeniable experience that proved to him that God keeps His promises.  It was not easy for David. He penned his way through the troubles of life.  He wrote over and over in powerful poems of praise and worship, some of the most beautiful ever written.  In some he asked the real life questions, experienced the real life struggles, voiced his disappointment and expressed his discouragement.  It was not easy for the disciples.  They were called by the Master but afterward uncertain of their decision to give up everything to follow him. After his death, they felt alone and afraid not knowing what to expect even after Jesus had tried to prepare them.  As a matter of fact, it was not easy for Jesus.  He had his share of troubles. His family didn’t believe in him. He was under constant attack from the religious leaders. He was even betraying by those closest to him.  He was tempted in his humanity, and relied totally on his Father to strengthen him through prayer and obedience.  

However, the most important thing noteworthy in these “faith walking characters is consistency. They were consistent their belief that no matter how great the struggle, or the trouble, the Father’s will and purpose were more important, and that He would bring His purpose to pass.  In the case of the disciples, Jesus himself set an example of being consistent in looking to the Father, and doing what the Father told him to do and say (John 14:24). 

If living by faith was so easy, there would be no need for us to put our “trust” in the Lord.  Truth is there’s no magical formula to make our troubles disappear, even after long nights of crying out to the Lord.  Although He promises never to leave us or forsake us; and that He will deliver us out of all our troubles and afflictions, the truth is that He does it according to His set time.  Therefore, until His purposes for allowing the trouble, or until His working all things out in the background, according to His good pleasure,  is complete, we have to live through it, “believing” that He will come through…things will work together for the good…And until then we must say as David: “In you O LORD, I have taken refuge…; be my rock of refuge. In you O Lord do I put my trust.” Until then we must continue saying as Jesus did, “Nevertheless, not my will but yours.”  This equates to living by faith, confident that no matter what life brings, the purposes of God shall prevail and I must make the decision to trust Him at all cost. And as He reveals His character in the midst of our experiences, we are empowered to trust Him more and more.

He understands that in our frailty, living by faith is not easy. Yet, it is through our confidence and trust in His power that He commands us to do so. “For without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Consequently, my confidence in Him and wanting to please Him, I yield myself, which is the hardest part, so that living by faith is easy.

Day of Accountability

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.                     —II Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)

Life is so designed that at some interval an individual must make a personal decision to accept or not accept responsibility. Unfortunately, everyone capable of making rational decisions does not choose to be responsible. Consequently, we live in a volcanic society erupting from immature, irresponsibleness and irrational behavior.

An identifiable trait of a responsible person is his ability to deal with the consequences of his decisions and actions. He does not blame others for his failures, misfortunes, mistakes and the challenging experiences he faces in life. He fulfills his obligations with the understanding that he is accountable for his own actions.

The irresponsible individual is just the opposite. His constant need to blame conditions and circumstances blind him to his predicament. He feels justified in blaming others and making excuses for not being responsible. Therefore, he continues to live haphazardly, as though he is accountable to no one.

The increase in lawlessness and unrestrained behavior in society is alarming. More disturbing is its dominance among youth. While all of society, directly or indirectly, suffers the consequences caused by the irresponsibleness of others, it is our children who will suffer the most if they are not taught the importance of being responsible. Therefore, it is a matter of great concern!

This matter should be of even greater concern to parents and the Church of Jesus Christ. The family unit and the Church have the God-given responsibility of making a positive difference in the lives of individuals. They have the power to mold and shape character, save lives and build up communities. The major responsibility of parents and guardians is to ensure the natural and spiritual development of their children, as well as other children in the community. Of course, this is not a popular belief in the twenty-first century. Responsible parents teach their children to be responsible. But what is more noteworthy is that children learn best by observing their parents and guardians, and often times mimic the actions of parents and other adults they see as role models.

The local church should assist families in fulfilling their responsibilities.  A strong and stable family makes a strong and stable church. The Great Commission for the Church is to ‘make disciples…and teach them to observe all things…”  This should include being responsible. It is the responsibility of the Church to minister to the whole man. However, if parents are irresponsible and Christians within the local church are immature and undisciplined, where does this leave the children? A question that should make us examine ourselves, wouldn’t you say?

The future of American youth depends on responsible role models today! Youth ministry within the local church cannot be casual and mediocre.  Our youth are a central part of God’s plan for revival and kingdom building in the twenty-first century.

The first step to a brighter future in this country is realizing that God is the Source and Sustainer of life.  We are to live according to His expectations, plans and purposes. Therefore, we are all accountable to Him. When this is comprehended and taken seriously, parents will stop trading places with their children—leaving them to raise themselves. Christians will stop conforming to the world and start reforming—seeking souls for Christ. Unbelievers will stop seeking self-gratification and realize their spiritual dilemma without a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
It is urgent that Christians start doing what we are supposed to be doing! The day of accountability is rapidly approaching for us as it did for Adam and Eve, and the Noahic society. Life was intended to be a “Garden of Eden” experience. However, the tainted and deceptive influence of Satan infected the nature of the human race. This was the beginning of irresponsibility.

When the day came for Adam to answer to God for his disobedience, he did not take responsibility for his actions.  Instead, he blamed Eve. And Eve did not accept responsibility for her action, but blamed the serpent. Although the serpent was the initiator, it was their decision to eat the forbidden fruit. They chose to disobey God.  And the Bible does not record either one saying, “I sinned. It was my decision.” They chose to be irresponsible by their disobedience and passing the blame. Until this day, we are suffering the consequences caused by their decision.
Now each of us must make the same decision; we have a choice: obey or disobey. This decision must be made by children in regards to obeying their parents, and adults in regards to obeying God. Our greatest sense of responsibility is demonstrated by our obedience to God’s Word. Let’s take it a step farther. A personal sense of responsibility can be determined at this moment by honestly answering the following questions: Am I doing what God has commissioned me to do?  Am I living according to His standards?  Am I seeking God’s purpose for my life?  Do I know my purpose in life?  Am I doing what’s right even if others are not?
On the day of accountability there will be no one or ‘no-thing’ to blame. Jesus Christ already took the blame for us at Calvary! No excuse will justify an individual’s choice to be irresponsible.

How will you answer…? How will you give account for the good or bad things that you have done in your earthly body?  (II Corinthians 5:10) It’s your call! Ultimately, it will be your choice.

©Queen E. F. Phillips