Archive for July, 2008

Handling Hard Times–Does God Really Care?

Awhile back, I visited a friend’s blog, where she was considering the Bible verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10) and how it related to a very difficult situation in which she is finding herself. It got me thinking… (and this post is, in part, how I responded to her)

I used to approach God like I viewed the school principal when we found ourselves in a crisis–someone in charge, but more concerned about the big picture, who probably didn’t care very much about me personally.

I know I’m not alone in this. Our minds wander as we consider our problem, thinking, “if God cared about me, how would He allow this situation to continue?” That mindset ultimately causes many, many people who are already hurting to then feel like God, who they wish they could count on, either doesn’t care about their situation or isn’t powerful enough do anything about it.

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Seeing God as indifferent or impotent is bound to put a little distance us and Him. And it’s not God that moves away. It’s us, as we start searching elsewhere for answers.

Well-meaning Christian friends and parents and pastors and teachers might actually compound the problem, answering earnest questions about your situation by telling you to “just have faith” or explaining that this is one of the great mysteries of life and warning that you’d better not disrespect God by asking about it.

So at this point you’ve got pain over the very real event in your life, no answers based on your understanding of God’s nature (“If God is so loving and so powerful, than why doesn’t He do something about this?!! Hmm. Maybe He isn’t…”) Your problem is still there, but now you’re wondering if God even cares, and when you ask people you think should know, they tell you (ever so politely) to shut your yap and stop asking such insolent questions. Now you’re feeling offended and hurt by the church-people, isolated, misunderstood and even more confused, or possibly a bit guilty for ever daring to bring it to God in the first place.

And you still have your problem. You’re still stuck in your circumstances. So you keep seeking. And this is the point where people become so, so vulnerable to false teaching, false hope, false doctrine.

God gave you your brain and your heart for a reason. It’s perfectly fine to search for answers to your problems. He expects you to. But consider saving yourself some time and heartache and going to Him first, rather than when you’ve exhausted all other options and sought all other opinions!

Please also remember, if you are going through a tough or confusing or lonely time, as you move through this season of your life that God has written every moment of it in His book. Your name is engraved in the palm of His hand. We were created for relationship with the Almighty. He deserves and loves our honor, but He does not need it. Our honor can’t add one thing to God. Yet, we who are in Christ, honor Him out of obedience and even more out of wonder at His amazing love for us.

The Bible is the world’s greatest love letter. This letter from the King of Kings to his precious children is His roadmap, His battle plan, His blue print, His love letter, all designed to draw His precious creation back to right relationship with Him.

And relationship with God is the purpose for which we were created. We messed it up and He made a way for us to get back to Him. Amazing. It’s what God wants from us more than anything, and what He will not take without our permission and participation. It’s what we experience more and more of as we grow with Him.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords knows your heart. When your cup is full, He wants you to pour it out to Him. He is not disappointed when you share your grief and even your anger with Him. Yes, maintain your awe and reverence, but if you’re furious, stamp your foot and throw a fit—He knows that’s how you’re feeling anyway.

The Psalms are also full of places where David, called by God Himself as a man after His own heart, cried out in despair and anger to the Lord. Where he pleaded for vengeance, retribution, justice, answers, resolution. (Psalm 13, for example).

We are called to engage with people in this world differently as Christians, and we can do that by placing our desires for justice and righteousness in His capable hands, telling Him honestly, transparently how we feel, then trusting Him completely with the outcome.

If the Almighty God did not expect us to cry out in our agony (to Him—not whining, gossiping, sniping, dissension-mongering, etc.), He would not have given us the Psalms that expressed His children’s anguish. He would not have given us the book of Job. He would not have let us hear about Hannah’s anguish. Moreover, He would not have rewarded these people with such honor.

Your King is also your Daddy. He’s a good Daddy—Abba Father—who, while expecting and deserving reverence and awe, also desires that you crawl up in His lap, pour out your heart to Him, and let Him put His arms around you and comfort you like no earthly parent ever could. For those of us with a rough parental upbringing, this is a pretty hard concept to wrap our mind around. But His ways are not our ways, as you well know.

Beloved, the Lord who gave us Psalm 46, designed to fill you with courage in the face of terror, also gave us Psalm 131:1-2.
My heart is not proud, O Lord, My eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters Or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child with its mother, Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

And every mother knows that before a child is weaned and still and quiet sitting next to her mama, safe and trusting and peaceful, there have been lots of screaming, sleepless nights while that child learns that she can trust that parent completely, for all sustenance and love.

When we face something gut-wrenching or terrifying or challenging—when we are alone and trying to figure it all out, we are like the infant, still learning to trust the Lord in this season, this situation, this challenge. Still learning to understand His provision, to be quieted by His love.

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When you have exhausted your expression of confusion and grief, you’ll find you’re still on His amazing lap, you remain in His loving embrace, and you still have his complete unmerited acceptance. There, you’ll find yourself still. Quiet. Safe. At peace. And so near to your King—exactly where He wants you to be.

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The State of Things

As promised, here’s the (lengthy) list of state preambles and their references to God therein. Lest we forget our humble beginnings…

Alabama 1901, Preamble
We the people of the State of Alabama, Invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution.

Alaska 1956, Preamble
We, the people of Alaska, Grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.

Arizona 1911, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Arizona, Grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution…

Arkansas 1874, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Arkansas, Grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government…

California 1879, Preamble
We, the People of the State of California, Grateful to Almighty God for our freedom…

Colorado 1876, Preamble
We, the people of Colorado, With profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe…

Connecticut 1818, Preamble.
The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy.

Delaware 1897, Preamble
Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences.

Florida 1885, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution…

Georgia 1777, Preamble
We, the people of Georgia, Relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution…

Hawaii 1959, Preamble
We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance … Establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings.

Illinois 1870, Preamble
We, the people of the state of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble
We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble
We, the People of the State of Iowa, Grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution.

Kansas 1859, Preamble
We, the people of Kansas, Grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble.
We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties…

Louisiana 1921, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble
We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity. And imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble
We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty…

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble
We…the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction.

Michigan 1908, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Michigan, Grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom establish this Constitution.

Minnesota, 1857, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Minnesota, Grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings:

Mississippi 1890, Preamble
We, the people of Mississippi In convention assembled, grateful to Al mighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble
We, the people of Missouri, With profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness. Establish this Constitution…

Montana 1889, Preamble.
We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the Blessings of liberty establish this Constitution.

Nebraska 1875, Preamble
We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom. Establish this Constitution.

Nevada 1864, Preamble
We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution…

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V
Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble
We, the people of the state of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

New Mexico 1911, Preamble
We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty.

New York 1846, Preamble
We, the people of the State of New York, Grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble
We the people of the state of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those..

North Dakota 1889, Preamble
We, the people of North Dakota, Grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain…

Ohio 1852, Preamble
We the people of the state of Ohio, Grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common…

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble
Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2.
All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble
We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance…

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble.
We the People of the state of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing…

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble
We, the people of he State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble
We, the people of South Dakota, Grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties. Tennessee 1796, Art. XI.III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience…

Texas 1845, Preamble
We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God. Utah 1896, Preamble Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution.

Vermont 1777, Preamble
Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man.

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI
Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other

Washington 1889, Preamble
We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution

West Virginia 1872, Preamble
Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia Reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God …

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble
We, the people of Wisconsin, Grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility…

Wyoming 1890, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Wyoming, Grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. Psalm 33:12

God bless America. For real.

One Nation Under God

With the national elections we’re facing, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the role of God in politics. As a nation, we’ve lost some important connections to our history as we’ve raced toward our future. We talk about the separation of church and state as if the language is part of our constitution (which of course, it isn’t).

We seem to have forgotten that our country was founded by people who had been persecuted for their Christian beliefs, who risked everything to be able to live in a land where they were free to practice their faith without fear. The framers of our constitution didn’t require that the Christian faith be the religion of our nation, because they intended that others should be free from persecution for disagreeing with their tenets.

These brave people would be just sick about the way that we, as a nation, have twisted their ideals. Now, rather than protecting religion from government, we somehow are being sold the story that the government should be protected from religion. This was never, never the intent of our founding fathers and mothers, neither in the letter of our historic documents, nor in the spirit of them.

The framers of our constitution anticipated many changes, in their effort to make our founding written principles capable of standing the test of time. But they did miss something. They did not anticipate that the Christian church would become apathetic, taking our freedoms for granted, failing to bring a voice to their beliefs, and sitting back on their laurels, in spite of the fact that our very existence as a nation was bought with the blood of people who died for those freedoms.

The reason that these Christian people didn’t put the term “Christian” in their documents was not that they thought it was unimportant. Indeed, their faith was the key to their risking and sacrificing everything for this country. Our freedoms were penned with the underlying presumption that the Christians in this country would continue to stand for their principles, not becoming lazy or complacent or adverse to responsibility.

God is an integral part of this nation on every level, from federal to state. Not just any god–the God of the Bible. The Christian God. Just because this statement isn’t politically correct doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Biographies of most of the founding fathers, in addition to the federal and even state documents as well, offer ample evidence of this fact.

If you’re a Christian, I urge you to find your voice and start speaking the Truth, as found in the Bible. It’s the Truth our country was founded upon, whether we’ve forgotten that or not. Our forefathers didn’t spill their blood for us to sit around now shrugging our shoulders as religious freedom, the impetus for this great country, is stripped from us. In fact, they depended upon us to (at minimum) speak up. Any other notion was not even fathomable to them.

God is well able to keep what has been committed to Him. He does not let anyone go, but He does allow people to leave. It is beyond comprehension that we should expect God to shed his grace, mercy, love and blessings on us as a nation if we reject Him as a nation.

A Christian’s responsibility goes beyond praying, wishing or even voting. The Bible tells us, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” Our zipped lips have led to tremendous deception and erroneous thinking about the foundation of this country. Our founding fathers paid too high a price for us to tacitly endorse this deception by our collective silence.

It’s time for the church to speak up. Our forefathers had the right to expect it. And if you are a Christian, the Bible commands it.

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***[Edit] Incidentally, I received in my email recently a list of each one of our 50 states’ preambles. Each and every one refers to God. While I haven’t personally researched each state constitution to ensure the wording and accuracy of every preamble in the email, I thought it worthy to pass it along as sent to me. Look for it in my next blog post.