When I first accepted Jesus as LORD of my life at 25, I was grateful for his merciful forgiveness. My walk was full of passionate glee at the fresh start! I was discipled by mature Christians to focus on the Cross of Christ and meditate on the Resurrection. In prayer, I stood among the crowd in front of Pilate until realizing that I was among those screaming, “Crucify him!” The terror of my selfish demand that the Author of Life die in my place was sickening. I had to get a closer look at Jesus.
As my prayers changed to remorse, I caught glimpses of Jesus carrying his cross and presumptuously offered myself in place of Simon of Cyrene. What personal folly that revealed! My own tragic immaturity and hunger for significance assaulted me. I was unworthy. Not only was I a master at concealing sin (even from myself), I discovered that I wasted much life actually NURTURING my offenses. Shame turned to shock when I realized Jesus was helping ME carry my own cross…
How many lifetimes have I lingered in the mud below the Cross of Christ? How often have I begged that His shed blood would cleanse me? My petty opinions and creative evils torment my soul. “Save me, Lord, from my corrupt mind and heart! Crucify me instead!”
Love for Jesus. Willingness to embrace the horror of the Cross. Acceptance of guilt and the overwhelming realization that Jesus completes all creation… Total forgiveness. Transforming joy.
Then the whisper, “Stand up, learn from me.”
Galatians is a cannonball shot over the bow, exclaiming Christian freedom. We face an epic battle against rulers, powers, increasing world darkness, and spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6). We must learn to stand. We will succeed in our struggle – if we fear God and repent of our sins.
Galatians 2:20 (NASB) I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you
will not grow weary and lose heart.
In 1535, Thomas More lost his head to King Henry VIII for refusing to budge on tyrannical heresy. Throughout western civilization, many saints have been tortured to death for standing by the articles of their Faith. Is it any surprise then, that today Christians are facing the same threat, repackaged and renamed by modern culture?! Therefore, prepare yourselves to stand and defend your faith in the Name of Jesus!
Hebrews 12:12-13 Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees! “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
One of the sources for the historical articles in The Founders’ Bible is Dr. Paul Jehle, the Executive Director of the Phymouth Rock Foundation (http://www.plymrock.org). While reading Leviticus last month, I learned from such a piece that one of the supporting foundations of our country is the Mayflower Compact (or Covenant), which is hardly heard of these days. (http://www.plymrock.org/novenews.php) It used to be on the calendar – before progressivism. Now, it is not taught or remembered in most American schools. We who have benefited from a legacy of self-government, completely disregard, out of ignorance or apathy, the very cornerstone of American civil affairs! How foolish have we become?!
If only a few would choose to remember – if only a remnant would keep the significance alive…
“You are the salt of the earth. It is not for your own sake, he says, but for the world’s sake that the word is entrusted to you. I am not sending you into two cities only or ten or twenty, not to a single nation, as I sent the prophets of old, but across land and sea, to the whole world. And that world is in a miserable state… he requires of these men those virtues which are especially useful and even necessary if they are to bear the burdens of many… they are to be teachers not simply for Palestines but for the whole world. Do not be surprised, then, he says, that I address you apart from the others and involve you in such a dangerous enterprise… the greater the undertakings put into your hands, the more zealous you must be. When they curse you and persecute you and accuse you over every evil, they may be afraid to come forward. Therefore he says: “Unless you are prepared for that sort of thing, it is in vain that I have chosen you. Curses shall necessarily be your lot but they shall not harm you and simply be a testimony to your constancy. If through fear, however, you fail to show the forcefulness your mission demands, your lot will be much worse.” “ —St. John Chrysostom, Liturgy of the Hours
Messianic Jewish Rabbi Jonathon Cahn, author of The Harbinger, calls America to repentance at Inaugural Prayer Breakfast. Well worth watching. Are there any other ministers out there who speak truth like this?
WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, MARCH 4, 1841, INAUGURAL:
“Limited as are the powers which have been granted, still enough have been granted to constitute a despotism if concentrated in…the Executive branch…
The tendency of power to increase itself, particularly when exercised by a single individual… would terminate in virtual monarchy…
The tendencies of… governments in their decline is to monarchy…
The spirit of faction… in times of great excitement imposes itself upon the people as the genuine spirit of freedom, and, like the false christs whose coming was foretold by the Savior… impose upon the true and most faithful disciples of liberty.
It is in periods like this that it behooves the people to be most watchful of those to whom they have intrusted power.”
SOME REFLECTIONS ON OUR TIMES AND OUR RESPONSES TO THEM
Source: Rev. Arthur J. Fox, Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Middletown, PA
I have been reading and thinking about the responses of brothers and sisters in Christ, on Facebook and in blogs, to the (re-) election and policies of the administration and members of congress. For a while I wondered why those responses troubled me. They appear to range from dismay and fear to a sense of impending doom and coming conflict (perhaps armed). What I have seen very little of, save from those who serve as pastors and theologians, is a realization of how all of this is spoken to by Scripture. As a result, much of what is written is emotional and of very little use at best. At worst it speaks of a lack of trust in what the Bible has to say to God’s people at this particular point in history.
In the HBO mini-series, Band of Brothers, there is a scene where the 101st Airborne is beginning to march into position in the forest of Bastogne. As they march someone warns then Captain Richard Winters that he and his men were about to be surrounded. His response was memorable: “We Are Paratroopers Lieutenant ….. We Are Supposed To Be Surrounded.” I believe this is the correct assessment of the Church in any age.
The world consists of two broad groups of men and women: those who are in Christ and those who are not. Those in Christ are supposed to be seeking first the Kingdom of God in all they do. They are in the world but not of it. Those outside of Christ hate, seek to oppose and even destroy the Kingdom of God (see Psalm 2:1). These two groups are in fact in a state of war with one another, as Genesis 3:15 said they would be. Christians are loyal to the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, while non-Christians are loyal to the Serpent. It has ever been thus and remains so to this day. Furthermore, those who do not believe in Christ outnumber those who do.
Why then do we find it surprising that we who live in the 21st Century are surrounded by unbelief and being affected by the policies of those who oppose Christ and his Kingdom? Why do we find it so surprising that laws seem more and more aimed at marginalizing the Church, limiting our ability to express our faith, and making us conform to the perverted lifestyles of those who hate Christ? It is called persecution, and we have brothers and sisters throughout the world who would give anything to have things only as bad as we have it right now!
It could be worse, and perhaps one day will be. For now, however, in America we are still free to worship on Sundays and pray and carry our Bibles with us wherever we go. We are free to appeal to our representatives to change laws we do not agree with or that we believe are threatening our constitutional rights. We are free to support businesses that are having their freedoms curtailed by legislation requiring them to do things they cannot in good conscience do and still call themselves Christians. But do we recognize that these rights are the gift of our God? That he is free to remove these from us for his own good purposes?
My point is simply this: We are Christians, we are supposed to be surrounded. Christ said we would be: “In this world you will have trouble.” As Christians who are feeling overwhelmed by the changes that have taken place in the last 4 years we need to stop and take a breath. We need to remember that God is still in heaven, that there is no authority except that which is set in place by God (Romans 13:1) and respond biblically to what we think they are doing wrong—and that means showing respect and honor to our leaders as we exercise our constitutional rights. Above all else we need to trust our Father in Heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the rule over Presidents, Congresses and Courts, to do what will bring them the most glory. In the end Jesus shall reign over all and destroy all of his and our enemies. It is way above our pay grade to try to do this for him!
In the meantime, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, stop, take a breath, pray more and whine less. Spend more time in your Bible and in books that teach you about Christ and how to follow him. Don’t post things that are disrespectful to those in authority, especially if it involves unedifying/foul language, don’t act as though Christ has vacated the throne, and stop being surprised when things are going against your wishes or you are placed outside your comfort zone. Remember what Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome the world.”
Your servant for Christ’s sake—Arthur J. Fox
Rev. Fox pastors Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Middletown, Pennsylvania.