Political High Places?

When I was a new Christian back in the 1970’s, the term ‘Jesus freak’ became associated with those who were excited about Jesus. According to one of the definitions on vocabulary.com, a freak is “a not-so-nice noun that refers to a person who expresses such an intense obsession with something that it resembles addiction”. Obsession is defined as something about which one is constantly thinking about or concerned. So although Jesus freak was meant to be derogatory, I along with many others embraced it because it described our obsession with our God.

Today I am becoming increasingly disturbed with an obsession in our country that has nothing to do with God. When I listen to press conferences, news reports, and commentaries, no matter what’s being discussed, it seems Trump is pulled into it, giving him credit or blame depending on which side of the Trump-fence the speaker is on. It seems the whole country, even the world, shares this obsession. Maybe this is normal and temporary as everyone adjusts to the new president, but there are indications that it might not be going away anytime soon.

Other people have noticed the same and I’ve heard lots of name calling on both sides. I think it would be fair, at least in this blog (since it’s mine and I can say what I want), to call them all Trump freaks. Trump freaks who support him, wanting him to return to power and save our country. Trump freaks who hate him to the point fearing even the possibility of his return. Both groups seem to spend an equally amount of time talking about him.

Being a Trump freak might be fine, if that’s what you want to be. Everyone has the right to obsess over whatever they desire, as long as their obsession doesn’t include harming others.

However, being a Trump freak might not be okay if you call yourself a Christian. By definition, there’s room for only one thing in an obsession, and God makes it clear that the “one thing” should be Him.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:5-9)

Think of it this way. God wants to be the sun in our hearts, minds, and life. He wants everything we do and think to revolve around Him. He wants His light to shine on every part of our life. The result would be that we’d be constantly talking about God, interacting with God and relating life in terms of God.

An obsession on something other than God replaces Him as the sun in our hearts, minds, and life. Everything we do and think revolves around what we’re obsessed with. It penetrates every part of our life. We constantly talk about our obsession, interact with what relates to our obsession, and relate life in terms of our obsession.

Another word for this is idolatry.

It’s easy to see the idolatry of Trump-worship in the scores of people who are glorifying him beyond normal support. The media loves to show how crazy and irrational some of these people are. What’s not so easy to see is the idolatry in those who worship the idea of taking down Trump, everything he did, and everyone connected with him. They are consumed by thoughts of saving the country from his influence and proving how terrible a person he is. The media ignores how crazy and irrational some of these people are.

As I was thinking about all this, I thought about the high places that are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. They were areas set apart, usually on a hill or mountain, to worship and sacrifice to pagan gods. God hated those places and warned the Israelites to destroy them. Instead, the Israelites used them to worship God along with the pagan gods they adopted from the nations around them. God called this practice an abomination, and made it clear He didn’t want to share the worship due to Him.

While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. (Ezekiel 43:6-8)

In the United States today, what is higher than the presidency? Could it be that presidential politics is the western culture’s high place?

We need to make sure we are not involved in idolatry on high political places. We need to make sure we have not replaced God with Trump, or equate the two. We need to make sure God is the only sun in our lives, and that everything we do and say revolves around Him and His ways. And that includes any thoughts about Trump – whether they be thoughts of love or of hate. We don’t want what happened to Israel to happen to us.

For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols. When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel. (Ps 78:58-59)

And lest we think He was talking only to Israel…

Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the LORD God be a witness against you, the LORD from his holy temple. For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place. (Micah 1:2-4)

If, when we examine our hearts, we find an obsession has taken up residence there, we can take it down just as the Israelites were told to do to the high places they found. To not do so would to disobey God, which is evil.

“For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10-12)

Seeking peace does not always mean being a pacifist, and doing good might involve standing up for what we believe in, so removing a political obsession doesn’t necessarily mean removing politics from our lives. It means we don’t put our political activism alongside God in our hearts. It means we spend more time praying than we do reading and commenting on social media platforms. It means seeking God’s truth instead of repeating lies. It means keeping our tongues from returning insults or condemning people Jesus died for. It means we listen to God for our marching orders rather than jump on anyone’s bandwagon. God may say jump, or He may have something different for us do, which may or may not be what we think we should be doing. Only He can see the big picture. Only He can see through all the deception permeating both sides. Only He knows the future and how one action will impact another down the road. Only He can coordinate everyone for maximum effectiveness. And He will only empower and equip us to do what He calls us to do, not what others call us to do. Otherwise we will be working in our own strength, and possibly in the same manner of those we call enemies, which won’t do much good and may even backfire on us. Joshua learned about following God’s directions when facing Jericho.

As Joshua was sizing up the city of Jericho, a man appeared with a drawn sword. Joshua strode over to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Lord’s army,” he replied. Joshua fell to the ground before him and worshiped him and said, “Give me your commands.” “Take off your shoes,” the Commander told him, “for this is holy ground.” And Joshua did. The gates of Jericho were kept tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelis; no one was allowed to go in or out. But the Lord said to Joshua, “Jericho and its king and all its mighty warriors are already defeated, for I have given them to you! Your entire army is to walk around the city once a day for six days, followed by seven priests walking ahead of the Ark, each carrying a trumpet made from a ram’s horn. On the seventh day, you are to walk around the city seven times, with the priests blowing their trumpets. Then, when they give one long, loud blast, all the people are to give a mighty shout, and the walls of the city will fall down; then move in upon the city from every direction.” (Joshua 5:13-15; 6:1-5)

I believe only God can heal our country. Let’s tear down our high places and give God our whole hearts.  Let’s turn from following our own ways and accept Him as our Commander-in-Chief. Let’s do things His way which will allow Him to answer our prayers. Let’s watch Him do what only He can do.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet live, godly and dignified in every way. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. (1 Tim 2:1-3)

You have heard that is was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. (Matt 5:43-45)

For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:6-8)

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)

Do you be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 15:5-6)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom 15:13)

Who Do You Choose?

Who Do You Choose?

She looked at him, confused by his reaction. She had worked hard on these vows. “Something wrong?” she asked.

“Well, there are a few things… what did you mean by this line?” He pointed to the first line on the print out.  “I love you, and choose you above all other men. Even when I flirt and play with other men, know that it’s you I choose.”

“What do you mean what do I mean? I mean I choose you to be my husband.”

“But what about the “other men” part? Are you saying you’re going to have relationships with other men?”

“Of course. Other men are all around. It would be crazy to think I would refuse to accept them. That would make me snobbish, wouldn’t it?”

“But I want your whole devotion.”

“Aww.. you sound jealous.”

“That’s because I am. I want you to set yourself apart for me. To love me more than anyone else. To be totally committed to me. To be faithful to me, just as I am with you.”

“I do. I am. Even though I love others too, I love you the most. What’s wrong with that?”

“If you go after other men, you’re not being faithful to me.”

“That’s a matter of opinion. I think I would still be faithful to you because I would be married to you. I wouldn’t marry anyone else. If I did, THEN I wouldn’t be faithful.”

“You’d be sharing your affection with other men. I want to be special to you. I want you to have all your affection focused on me.”

“So you’re saying I can’t love anyone else?”

“Not with your whole heart. I don’t want to be just one of the people you love.”

“I already said I loved you the most. What else do you want?

He sighed. “Let’s drop that for now. What about this other line?” He read aloud, “I promise to honor your values when I’m with you.”

“Oh, that means that I promise to do what’s important to you, to look at things your way.”

“That part is great. But what about the “when I’m with you” part?”

“Because I want to make you happy when we’re together.”

“And what about when you’re not with me?”

“Why would you care what I do when I’m not around you? You won’t be there to see it.”

“That’s not the point. I thought you agreed with my values.”

“I do, most of the time. But sometimes things aren’t so clear. And values in other places are different than yours. If I stuck to your values in those places, it would create problems. People would feel I was being biased or prejudices or critical or something. There wouldn’t be any peace. And you love peace. So by adopting their values when I’m with them, I’m actually living out one of your values.”

He shook his head. “I think you might be confused.”

“No, I just know what’s important.”

“It would also make you hypercritical. You should live by the same values wherever you are.”

“I do. I live by my values.”

Shaking his head again, he pointed to the paper.  “I promise to spend as much time with you as I can.” “As I can?” he quoted.

“Well, sure. I can’t spend all my time with you, can I? That wouldn’t be healthy. I need to spend time getting to know other people, other ideas, other personalities, other beliefs, other…”

“I get it. So how much time would you give me?”

“Oh, at least an hour every day, and maybe a couple of hours on the weekend.”

“That’s all?”

“There’s a lot of stuff to think about. I don’t think I could give you more time. But I promise to think about you more than any one other thing.”

He put the paper down. “So far you have promised to love me as long as you get to love other men too. And you promised to live by my values but only when you are with me. And you promised to spend a small part of each day with me, fitting me in around all your other pursuits. Do I have that right?”

She frowned and pouted her lips. “You make it sound so bad. It’s not really. It’s all about you. I love you. I choose you. Nothing else I do should matter.”

“But it does. I want you to love me with your whole heart, to desire me above all things, to keep me the center of your life, to set yourself apart for me, and to live by my values.”

“That sounds more extreme than it needs to be.”

“My love for you is extreme. My love for you is so much deeper than you can imagine. I long to be with you all day, every day. I long to give you riches beyond your understanding. And I desire for you to return my love. However I’m not going to force you. You can choose to walk away if you want. But if you choose to stay, then loving me with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength is what I require.”

“Require? That’s kind of strong, don’t you think?”

“Yes, require. It comes down to what you want: life with me, or death of our relationship. I love you, and want to give you all I have. I want us to be together forever. But I am not going to force you to choose life with me. It’s important to me that whatever you to choose is of your own free will. ”

She shook her head.  She knew he intensely loved her and that he owned a lot that he promised to give her. And she had to admit no one could love her the way he did, or fill her with such a deep and satisfying joy. She did return his love, at least as much as she was able, but did she love him enough to choose him over her own wants? Was she willing to give up the world for him?

Finally she asked, “Why can’t I have both? You and your world, and me and mine? It’s not so hard to compromise on where we differ.”

“No. You either want me – all of me – or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways. You need to make a decision, and now is a good time. Who do you choose?”

We have each been asked this question by our Maker, who calls us to be His bride.

Who do YOU chose?


Mark 12:29-30  Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One, and you shall love the LORD your god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

1 John 2:15-16  Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not from the Father but from the world.

James 4:4 You adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever chooses to be a friend of the world renders himself an enemy of God.

Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Ephesians 3:17-19  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God….

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Exodus 34:14  for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Hebrews 4:7 again he appoints a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Joshua 24:15 and if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

You Call That Help? (from a dream – totally symbolic)

Was it a cavity? Did she need to have a tooth pulled? Braces? She didn’t know. She just knew there was something wrong with her teeth. They didn’t hurt, but she could feel something was off.

She had tried everything she could. Brushing, flossing, rinsing – nothing seemed to help. So she decided to take the next step and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Worldlee. Dr. W was considered the best around for his expertise and patient care. Surely he would be able to fix the problem.

The next week she was nervously sitting in the chair, white napkin clipped around her neck, waiting for Dr. W to arrive. A glance around the room revealed an assortment of posters advertising treatments for different tooth problems. She had had to bring her baby when the babysitter cancelled at the last minute and could hear him through the open doorway, babbling with the receptionist.

“Good morning!” Dr. W said cheerfully as he walked through that doorway. “How are you today?”

“I’ll be a lot better,” she smiled. “as soon as this is over.”

“Relax. It’s going to be OK. You’re in good hands,” he said as he glanced at the x-ray on the computer monitor. “Hmmm….”

“Hmmm?” she asked, her eyes getting big. Hmmm’s are never good.

“Oh, not to worry. It seems your x-ray shows something is off, but not in enough detail enough to show me what it is. But I know what will give me that information.” He opened a cabinet door and pulled out a dark jar. The label was too small for her to read so she watched carefully as he opened it. He reached inside and wiggled his hand a little. When he pulled his hand back out, there were several brown bug-looking things crawling on it. He plucked one off, then shook the rest of them back into the jar, replace the cover, and returned the jar to the cabinet. With the bug still grasped with his fingers, he approached her.

“Open up,” he said. “This will give me more information.”0226190724 (2)

Clamping her mouth shut, she shook her head. She had heard of this “treatment”. After swallowing it, that little bug would burrow itself inside her in order to provide more information which would be displayed on the dentist’s computer. But she had also heard that that wasn’t the only information the bug provided, and that once a bug was inside a person, it frequently led to more complications which sometimes became life threatening.

“Don’t worry, it doesn’t bite,” he reassured her. “You probably won’t even feel it.”

She shook her head again. “No, thanks.”

“You really need to,” he said, a bit more seriously. “Everyone does, sooner or later.”

“Not me.”

She tried to get out of the chair, but the dentist pushed her back down as he motioned to someone outside the room. She knew he was recruiting help. One way or another, by cajoling or by force, she knew he was going to get that bug in her mouth if she stayed in that chair. But how could she escape?

“Wait!” she cried out, keeping her teeth clenched together. “I’ll do it. “But.. But…” She tried desperately to come up with a logical reason to leave the room. “But I need to go get some water first.” She motioned to the water fountain behind a large lady making her way towards them.

“You don’t need water. This will just glide down your throat.”

“Yes I do. I have a very strong gag reflex. I have to have water to swallow anything or else I will just throw it back up. It will just take a minute.”

“I’ll get you some water from this sink.”

“No! I mean no, I need the water to be cold. Like the fountain water in the waiting room.”

He looked suspiciously at her but agreed to let her get up. She walked to the fountain, pulled out a cup, and began filling it. As she did, she glanced at the front desk to check on her baby and gasped. He wasn’t there! Where was he? What did they do with him? Then she heard his cry. It was coming from the little room she had just exited. She threw the cup down and ran back into the little room in time to see the dentist attempting to put something in her son’s mouth. She knocked it from his hand, grabbed her son from the receptionist’s arms, and ran from the room. She made it all the way to the front door sighing with relief as she reached out to push the door open. But before it opened, the large lady grabbed her and began pulling her back towards the little room.

“It’s OK,” Dr. W said as he walked up. “We can do it here.”

She shook her head, keeping her mouth tightly closed, knowing if she didn’t, he would take advantage of any opening he saw. She looked around for help from the other people in the room, but they were pretty much ignoring her. Those that watched seemed more interested in watching the drama than in helping her.

All of a sudden, her baby let out a scream. Startled, she turned her head just in time to see the large lady’s hand move away from the baby’s arm and the dentist slip a bug in his mouth. She quickly stuck her finger in the baby’s mouth, pried the bug out, slung it to the floor, and stomped on it. Picking up her foot, she saw the bug still moving so she picked up a nearby statue – a really heavy one – and smashed it down on the bug. Then she raced for the door, got it open, and escaped into the fresh air outside.

The last thing she heard before the door closed behind her was, “That won’t hurt it. You can’t get rid of it that way.”

She ran to her car and tried to unlock the door but the baby was struggling to get down and she dropped the keys.

“I’m sorry. Let me help.”

She jumped. It was Dr W! He had followed her outside. She tried to back away but he apologized again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I was just trying to help. Here, let me hold your son so you can get the keys and unlock the door.”

He wasn’t holding anything and sounded so sincere that she agreed and handed her baby to him. She bent down to retrieve her keys, inserted one into the lock, and turned it. As she heard the click of the door unlocking, she turned back to the dentist and her son just in time to see Dr. W hold a syringe full of a brownish liquid above the baby’s eyes. As quickly as she could, she knocked the syringe from his hands, but not before he was able to hit the plunger. The baby wailed as the brownish liquid filled his eyes.

She grabbed him from the dentist and ran back inside to the water fountain and began filling and emptying cups of water into the baby’s eyes. After a few minutes, the baby calmed and she stopped splashing to look at it. His eyes were red and swollen.

She walked back outside where the dentist was still standing near her car. She yelled, “Now I’m going to sue you! Just wait until you hear from my Lawyer!”

He answered softly, “I don’t understand your resistance. I was just trying to help.”

“Yeah, right,” she said angrily. “You call that help? Your kind of help just makes everything worse. I’m going to the One who can really help. A real Healer.”

After securing her son in his car seat, she got into the driver’s seat and turned on the car engine. She had to get to the Doctor as soon as possible. No telling what damage had been done to her son’s eyes. But she knew if she got there soon enough, the Doctor would know how to heal it.

This Doctor knew how to heal anything. And no need to make an appointment. He was always available.

She smiled. Yes, the Doctor would know what to do. If only she had gone to Him first. So much distress could have been avoided. Well, next time, she vowed, she would.

 

 

 

Dear Miss Guzzler, (From Someone Who Loves You series)

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Dear Miss Guzzler,

“Oh no, not again.”  You hate it when the milk quits flowing.  It feels so good as that yummy milk fills your mouth and tummy. I know how much you were enjoying it by how fast you guzzled it down. At least the amount I let you guzzle down. Do you know that I’m the one controlling that bottle?  If I let you have as much as you want as fast as you want it, you will regret it later. So, you see, my limiting your feeding is out of love, to keep you from future distress. It may be hard to believe, but I really do know what’s best for you.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

Hebrews 12:11  11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Isaiah 55:8  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.