Infamous Days

It’s been 76 years since the “day that will live in infamy”. It’s important that we remember days like this one, days where tragedies altered history’s course. But we must not simply remember because of the tragedy, that would be defeating and defaming the lives lost in Hawaii all those years ago.
 
We remember to honor the men and women who stood in the gap to protect freedom. We also remember because they fought, bled and died to secure something better for the future, and we live in that future today.
 
In the moment, on that day, with anger burning towards the enemy that attacked our nation, there was no love for the Japanese people. Decades later Japan grew into our strongest ally in the region. Our cultures are still markedly different, but now we respect and support one another.
 
And if that isn’t the end goal of any horrid war, then what is? As God’s people we should seek peace whenever possible, and while we remember the lives lost and the sacrifices made on December 7, 1941, we must also say a prayer of thanksgiving that the war ended and our enemies became our friends.
So thank you to those who came before and laid themselves down so I could write this today. Thank you, also, to our former enemies who realized their errors and even helped us see some of our own. Peace is our goal and we have, for now, achieved it. May it last and may we have peace on earth and goodwill to men from now on.

Tick…Tock

Time is like a river they say.

Drifting at times, at others calm and steady,

Sometimes rushing headlong, rocks ahead, threatening,

Yet always moving at the same pace. Tick…tick…tick…

Moments caught up in white, foamy torrents lapping the banks of life,

And we are left remembering.

Looking back we may miss the next turn,

But looking forward we cannot see beyond the horizon…if that far.

Even on glassy waters inexorably forward we go, always toward something.

But what?

Tick…tick…tick…

Answer the question. Where are you going?

Only God knows tomorrow and He isn’t always forthcoming with information.

Clear sailing, destination known, stirs the heart and whips up joy,

Yet often we peer ahead seeing only high cliffs and unending water.

Peace arrives in the middle.

Tick…tick…tick…

Because a tock is coming. One last tock of the clock. One last second to breathe out.

One last breath.

Peace dwells in the ellipses.

In the in-between.

In the solace of faith in something beyond.

In the knowing that time is merely a construct, a means to an end,

Necessary water we fish must breathe until our wings sprout and we fly.

Tick…tick…tick…

I fear you not.

Peace like a river flows with me.

Whatever, whenever, my tock comes…however it comes…it leads on…

To greater things.

 

Why God?

Yesterday, as of this writing, a lone gunman fired on a church in a little town near San Antonio, Texas killing twenty-seven people. It’s the worst shooting in Texas state history. When we read about horrible, tragic events like this we inevitably come back to one question: Why, God…why? When we examine the history of our universe and read about its origins, we will find our answer.

In the beginning God created everything, including humans. He gave us planet earth as our home and began instructing us on how to properly care for it. But one day humans decided that was not good enough. We decided we wanted to be God ourselves, to be the same as Him, so we defied His one restriction. In that moment the creation broke as evil flooded into our universe.

Today we are living with the consequences of that fateful decision. We live in a broken world with broken people, and broken people often commit unspeakable acts. This is the result of sin and evil in the world, and God is not to blame. We must accept our responsibility for what happened and blame ourselves for the death and destruction we see around us every day.

However, if we left the story there it would be pitiful and tragic. But that is not the end. God did not simply leave us to our own devices, allowing us to rot away in our disobedience and evil. Instead, He began a centuries long plan and one day brought forth His son into the earth to reconnect Heaven with earth. Now that Jesus has completed His work, all of humanity has access back to the Father and we can overcome evil and sin through Christ.

I have heard people say, “Why would you take a tragedy and turn it into an evangelistic push?” My response is simple: because Jesus is the only answer for our questions.

We look at this tragic shooting and we ask, “Why, God…why?” His response every time is to show us Jesus. Because in Jesus we have freedom from tragedy. In Jesus we have a pathway out of the darkness. In Jesus we have peace even in the midst of heartbreak. And in Jesus we have a solution, an answer, to present to the atheists of the world that can finally answer their questions and bring them peace.

Why do horrible tragic things happen on earth? Because humans broke it, and because humans are broken. What is God’s role in all of this? He has provided a solution, a fix, a way back to Him through Jesus Christ.

And that’s the pattern for all of eternity. There is no other. We misstep, we mess up, we sin, and God’s overwhelming love offers a way to redemption. All we need to is accept and walk in that way. That’s the answer to the question, “Why, God, why?”, and it always will be.

Alignment with God

In the beginning God created mankind to dwell with Him on earth. We were made to live in daily relationship with God and His creation. Our free will was meant to align with God’s will so we would live in harmony with all things. This is alignment with God.

James 4:1–8 says:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come near to God and he will come near to you. 

Alignment with God is submission to God. Being aligned with God means we have surrendered our free will to Him so we can reflect His attributes in our daily lives. When we are in proper alignment our desires will be righteous because they will come from God, and we can ask God for fulfillment because we are properly aligned.

WORLDLY DESIRES

James says that our desires battle within us and we reach out to get what we want. When we do, we enter into conflict with others because their desires are at cross purposes with our own. Selfish striving always leads to disharmony, anger, and chaos. When our desires are directed by our relationship with the world we cannot live in peace. This is why we must align ourselves with God.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Our desires are not necessarily evil. In fact, many of our desires were placed within us by God because they are tied to our purpose and destiny. The key is our relationship with Jesus. If we are in alignment with Christ, in relationship with Him, we will be given the desires of our heart because our heart will be shaped like His.

MOTIVATIONS

James continues and tells us we do not receive what we desire because we ask with wrong, selfish motives. When we are influenced primarily by the world, when we are “friends with the world” as James says, we will be driven by selfish motives. Proud people will live in disharmony and chaos because of their proud motives. God opposes the proud.

But He gives grace to the humble. Humility is required to be in alignment with God. We must understand that humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less as C.S. Lewis said. God lifts up the humble because they recognize their place in the universe and God’s ultimate authority. When we are properly aligned with God our motivations will be righteous because we will reflect His heart.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Submission is key, but we have responsibilities as believers. We submit to God but we must also resist the devil. We also must ask God for our desires. James says we do not have because we do not ask. It is not enough to simply accept God, we are responsible to walk in the new life we have been given.

As we come into alignment with God we will begin to change. Some changes will be more radical than others, but we will change. My former pastor was fond of saying, “Change is change until it’s change.” God will bring change to us as we align with Him, but we are responsible for carrying out that change and implementing it in our daily lives.

ALIGNMENT

How do we align ourselves with God? Verse eight provides the answer, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Prayer, meditation, and study will bring us near to God and then God will come near to us. This process aligns us with Him and brings His thoughts into our minds and spirits so we can be like Him.

Spend time with God in prayer. Meditate on Him and His Word. Study the Bible and learn what it teaches us. Let Holy Spirit guide your life and you will come into alignment with Jesus. When you do, the desires of your heart with be His and you will discover peace and harmony.