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Friday, April 19, 2013

Bombs in Boston and the Judgment of God by Chris White



The bombing of the Boston Marathon has once again brought up the discussion among Christians as to whether America is under the judgment of God and whether we should declare a call to prayer and fasting as found in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles 7:14 “ if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  Such an idea was discussed recently in a column by Joseph Farah of World Net Daily and has been well received by many (read the article here: http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/day-of-prayer-earns-congressional-endorsement/?cat_orig=faith).  As a pastor and someone who preaches the Bible, I often struggle when this verse is rolled out in regards to America because it is definitely being used out of context and while the precept holds true, to the best of my knowledge our country does not have a covenant with God as Israel did and thus is not a promise.  In Chronicles there is only one time where the people actually did humble themselves and pray as prescribed here and God did relent in His judgment of them. But within a couple of generations the entire nation was taken into captivity by another nation (an ancient war technique in the near east) because God said the evil had gone too far and the repentance was too little.  So the very people with whom God directly made this promise were not spared the consequences of their actions at a certain point.

Despite my longstanding tradition of being a contrarian whenever I see an American flag and Cross get too close (it’s more of a knee-jerk reaction), I actually want to go on the record as endorsing a national day of prayer and fasting on 9/11/2013.  While I harbor no illusions or even wishes that America is God’s new chosen nation, there is no reason to believe God doesn’t specifically judge Gentile nations when they spin out of control with evil.  More important is that often God judges the real gods of these nations.  The great example of this is when God called the Ten Plagues on Egypt, each plague (flies, sores, frog, river turning to blood, darkened sun, etc) was actually a judgment on a different god in the Egyptian pantheon.

Our dear nation has too long abandoned the true God and has largely followed after the gods of Mars (war and power), Mammon (money), Mercury (merchandising), and Venus (beauty and sex).  What do we see before us in the headlines?  Our gods being destroyed by some unseen hand.  Despite the most advanced military we are bombed from within.  Our wealth is evaporating and can never keep up with our spending.  Even though we all have more stuff than we can ever use, we are all trained from childhood to consume to our full capacity and to be insatiable about it.  Personally, the very fact that Christmas decorations start appearing in stores right after 4th of July is a judgment all its own!  We have gone from permitting sodomy in the privacy of one’s bedroom (as if that was ever a virtue to begin with) to making it an issue of marriage equity and civil justice.  We may not be under God’s judgment in a cataclysmic sense with the proverbial lightning bolts and earthquakes, but if within every sin there is the seed of its own punishment, we have sown to the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind and who knows where this will end.  Do we need to repent, pray and turn from our wicked ways as a nation?  Absolutely.  Will I be praying on 9/11? Ditto.  Will God heal our land if we do?  I honestly can’t say.  But I would hope “we the people” would be open to praying more and often for our nation.  Perhaps if we did that, flying the flag at half-mast would be a little less common.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sometimes the Status Quo is the Way to Go by Chris White



" Do not move an ancient landmark
    or enter the fields of the fatherless"  --Proverbs 23:10

Proverbs 23:10 is a message for all of us.  In context it prescribes equity between neighbors and just treatment of the poor.  The old saying “people aren’t against you as much as they are for themselves” holds true here.  We all have a side to us that tends to want to arrange everything according to our own interests even if that means blurring the lines to do so.  In the ancient world, property was marked by boundary stones or landmarks.  These established normal property lines and determined what belonged to whom.  An incremental land theft could be made when a boundary marker was moved and in so doing the property owner on the receiving end of this was actually being robbed of their livelihood.  If the landowner is poor, their poverty is exacerbated.  A question worth asking here is why only ancient landmarks are mentioned and not new ones?  New ones still having living witnesses who can and will question any alterations in the lines.  Ancient ones, however, don’t have any living witnesses to defend them.  With no one alive who was part of the original decision and formulation, the present generation is easily tempted to take liberties according to their needs and desires now.  Obviously this moral value regarding real estate has a broader implication for any person or society.  Some things do need to be updated over time to fit current realities.  No one understands this better than pastors who are often torn between the pressure of staying current with a constantly changing society and the safety of “we’ve always done it that way”.  Both positions have their pluses and minuses.  But other boundaries need to be changed with extreme caution or not at all.  It seems especially true now where modern man is questioning the very foundations of human society such as marriage and family structure.  Behaviors which were once considered evil are being declared harmless, and that which was once aberrant is now normal.  Even now in America, matters that have long been constitutional rights are up for discussion and modification, while new rights are being ‘discovered’ that would have been utterly foreign to our nation’s founders.  What to do? Never question an ancient boundary?  Perish the thought!  The wisdom in this matter is to investigate why the boundary was set where it was long ago and who set it in the first place.  In some rare circumstances a change might be in order for antiquity alone is no guarantor of always being right.  But in most circumstances, if an honest inquiry is made without a particular bias for novelty or antiquity, good reasons will always be found for leaving the boundary marker right where we found it.