Thursday, June 11, 2020

How It Ends- The Rock Speaks Vol. 2 (7)

The Day of the Lord Will Come

[1] This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, [2] that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, [3] knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. [4] They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” [5] For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, [6] and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. [7] But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

[8] But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [9] The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 

[10] But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

[11] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, [12] waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! [13] But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

[14] Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. [15] And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, [16] as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. [17] You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. [18] But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3 ESV)

It is ironic that I am finishing up this series with threats of anarchy in the air.... I do feel the chill of a contentious Fall season.... maybe like nothing we have ever seen!

Peter is not surprised... nor should we ever be!

I have read and pondered this section of Scripture for decades.... man oh man, is it loaded!

God is not slow in keeping His promises.... He is patient.

But there will be a DAY
When the Lord will SAY
NO MORE DELAY!

The images we see of cities burning are nothing like the cosmic force of God's Holy wrath... HIS SETTLED, UNSWERVING, judgement on all sin.

And when we see Him, no one will  be able to cry 'injustice'.... there will be a universal bowing of every knee and every tongue will confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, for too many.... it will be too late.

Who are those?

It is right here in the passage:
scoffers
people who follow their own sinful desires with no regard for God
those who deliberately deny the truth
those who have no fear of eternity or the God who owns the keys
the ignorant
the unstable
the lawless
those carried away by the children of destruction


AND who will be saved?
those who pay attention to the Word of God
those who repent
those who desire to live and grow toward holiness and godliness
those who wait and hasten the coming of Jesus
those found without spot and blemish by the washing of the atoning blood of Jesus through faith
those growing in the grace and knowledge of God.

No one is perfect.... but which list characterizes the trend of your life?

If you are worried.... that is actually a good thing!

If you sneer and mock.... I tremble for you when He returns.

The time for repentance is now.

God has been so good to wait for you.... what are you waiting for?

Which camp are you willing to stand in?

So here is how I am closing... it is time for me to finally write out some of what is happening around us right now.

I have written, posted, edited, and eventually retracted this post a number of times.

A blog is a tough place to write about some of these complex things, because I often find that my point isn't clear enough, and I promote divisiveness when my goal is gospel unity.

But now our nation has had tragedy after tragedy... and still has potentially more tinder for a fire that not only ravages the citizens of the city- it has national implications as well.

but the bottom line is this... the George Floyd tragedy is a microcosm of real problems. And we are not helped to try and work through these problems in a world of social media and 24 hour news for profit.

One of the dangers in today’s society is screen manipulation or deception.

In his mesmerizing book, Future Crimes (2015/Doubleday), Marc Goodman devotes an entire chapter to this phenomenon. It is Chapter 8, “In Screens We Trust”


He uses an attention getting quote to begin the process:
“The world isn’t run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It’s run by ones and zeros—little bits of data. It’s all electrons. There’s a war out there, a world war. It’s not about who has the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information—what we see and hear, how we work, what we think. It’s all about information.
AS STATED BY COSMO (BEN KINGSLEY),THE VILLAIN IN SNEAKERS”
Excerpt From: Marc Goodman. “Future Crimes.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/Bv_F2.l (emphasis mine)


This chapter is another example about our vulnerability when it comes to bad guys and technology. Malicious hackers can cause great destruction by having ordinary people just follow what their screen tells them to do.


We see this honestly when we follow the GPS directions in google maps without any concern that the sweet girl’s voice coming out of the device may be dead wrong. Before we know it we are heading to Paducah, KY instead of Kentucky Avenue. Any alert person would recognize that they needed to travel 25 minutes and not 5 hours! But many of us will follow her voice way beyond the alarms in our brain going off and saying to us that ‘this ain’t right’ !


Goodman’s examples are way cooler than mine. Did you know that the virus (or more precise the computer ‘worm’) that damaged the Iranian Nuclear facilities messed up centrifuges, but kept faulty information on the sensors? The engineers were blindly believing their screens that all systems were ‘green’, when the real data should have shown them that everything was red lining. We have to understand that the screens may not be telling us the truth!


Every screen we read…. whether it is airport flight information or our latest bank statement look so smart...great optics….colors, bars, pictures...but the screens are dumb. They are only as good as the information is accurate.


How fake is our online world? Here is what Goodman uncovers:

“According to Facebook’s own 2014 annual report, up to 11.2 percent of its accounts are fake. Considering the world’s largest social media company has 1.3 billion users, that means up to 140 million Facebook accounts are fraudulent and these users simply don’t exist. With 140 million inhabitants, fake Facebook-land would be the tenth-largest country in the world. Just as Nielsen ratings on television sets determine different advertising rates for The Walking Dead versus the Super Bowl, online ad sales are determined by how many eyeballs a Web site or social media service can command—if only the data could be believed.
Want 4,000 followers on Twitter? They can be yours for $5. Want 100,000 fans on Facebook? No problem, you can buy them on SocialMediaCorp.​org for a mere $1,500. Have even more cash to burn? How about a million new friends on Instagram? “For you we make special deal,” only $3,700. Whether you want favorites, Likes, retweets, up votes, or page views, all are for sale on Web sites like Swenzy, Fiverr, and Craigslist. These fraudulent social media accounts are then used to falsely endorse a product, service, or company, for a small fee of course[…]”


Excerpt From: Marc Goodman. “Future Crimes.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/Bv_F2.l

What impact does all this make?

Sadly, the culmination of the speed of information, the amount of information,  the erosion of critical thinking and non-political education, the trend of resisting an authorized Truth and having no consensus of values is killing our country.


Of all the screens, which one is the MOST deceptive?

The cable news screen.

America… we have a problem, and a study of our current civil unrest is a clinical on the cancer.

THE POWER OF PRESUPPOSITIONS

I still can’t believe I am writing this… because I feel like Nietzche’s madman…  how can I articulate something so complex when I too suffer the symptoms? And how can I do it without being misunderstood?

I am haunted by a quote by Ravi Zacharias everytime I speak and write:

How do you reach a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings?

But here is my question..my attempt…

Are ANY of us willing to challenge our preconceived and settled judgments AND be willing to change those as the evidence directs?

The human condition doesn’t give us much hope to believe this to be so.

How many times in your life have you presented solid arguments and facts to try and persuade someone to alter a view only to find that you did almost nothing in altering that view?

But at the same time, how many people have ever swayed your opinion?

We all believe that facts should shape our perception, but the reality is that most of the time we collect only the facts that bolster our perceptions.


YIELDED AND STILL


Let me preach and then I will move to my point.
We used to sing a hymn many years ago…(remember hymns?).


  • Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
  • Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
  • Mold me and make me after Thy will,
  • While I am waiting, yielded and still.
  • Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
  • Search me and try me, Master, today!
  • Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
  • As in Thy presence humbly I bow.
  • Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
  • Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
  • Power, all power, surely is Thine!
  • Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.
  • Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
  • Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
  • Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
  • Christ only, always, living in me.

  • (Words: Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907. Pollard believed God wanted her in Africa as a missionary, but she was unable to raise funds to go. In an uncertain state of mind, she attended a prayer meeting, where she heard an elderly woman pray, It’s all right, Lord. It doesn’t matter what You bring into our lives, just have Your own way with us. At home that night, much encouraged, she wrote this hymn.
  • Music: Adelaide George C. Stebbins, Northfield Hymnal with Alexander’s Supplement1907-source: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/h/t/h/hthineow.htm )


AMERICAN RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM AND CHRIST

American rugged individualism and Christ followers have always been at odds and yet Alexis de Tocqueville has been one of the few who saw the tension as paramount in the success, prosperity, and continuation of the American experiment.



“As I see it, only God can be all-powerful without danger, because his wisdom and justice are always equal to his power. Thus there is no authority on earth so inherently worthy of respect, or invested with a right so sacred, that I would want to let it act without oversight or rule without impediment.” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (p. 290)


Our only hope as a nation is that we would temper our personal freedom by a willingness to acknowledge a higher cause to yield to. America proved the world right that no human king is worthy of that power. American democracy is a compliance to be governed by a consent of the governed. The power is in the people, but if the people are polarized and not unified, there is no power to progress.

When America submits to Jesus (not 100%, but a large %) as their spiritual king, there is a consensus of value and these values, if they are true Biblical values are NOT in any way a threat to those who do not agree with those values. Because humans are involved, it is never a perfect and uniform obedience, the Bible celebrates diversity. Unity does not mean uniformity.

But even we lose our moorings. Our desire to spread ‘freedom’ to the middle east and other places seems benevolent, but is misguided. In a final analysis, ‘Liberty’ is not a high enough virtue. Freedom without virtue and self submission is ultimately selfishness.
Capitalism without virtue is greed. America without virtue is chaos.

Political freedom without a self submission to an outside absolute is a recipe for disaster.
I have quoted the last line of the Book of Judges too many times… but the broken record sounds the same:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

(Judges 21:25 ESV)

I fully believe in the existence of God and the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But even if I did not… that is the One world view that I would want to dominate any culture without fear. It is a call to die to self and live for others.
The problem is that a nation does not fare well in a theocracy… because ultimately men have to rule.
Again, understanding I may be misunderstood-

What I am advocating is a full endorsement of the American constitution. It has a wise self correcting mechanism built within the separation of powers.


But without self governance of individuals, even the American constitution is corrupted.
There has to be an ideal bigger that the Constitution… our founders understood that.

The Declaration of Independence lays it out… read it again for yourself:


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.


The only way for our nation to last is a willingness for people to be ruled under submission to their Creator, then they give consent to be governed. But when ANY form of government becomes destructive to those ends (not ‘light and transient causes’ i.e. all humans suffer) there has to be change.
Again… Life, Freedom, and Happiness are not in a vacuum… they are in the context of a Creator. Self rule is governed by Him, and that gives men the ability to submit.

And whether Deist or Calvinist.. the founders view of the Creator was the God of the Bible- the Judeo-Christian God… love, justice, peace, and moral law.

MUTUAL SUBMISSION IS A HIGH STAKES AFFAIR

Any hope of human reconciliation must begin with a healthy self suspicion and a willingness to say, “I was wrong… I am sorry...please forgive me.”

Can a marriage be saved by looking at a spouse and saying, “You are wrong..but if you confess, I will consider it”? This attitude is a quick trip to the divorce court.

All human reconciliation begins with a willingness to lay down my rights for the sake of others.

I also think it takes a relationship to truly understand the complexity of FREEDOM. Freedom is not "I get to do all that I want to when I want to"- actually that turns into a bondage without love.

Freedom is only true freedom when one is willing to lay it aside for the sake of another and the other person is willing to do the same. Freedom is not doing what I want... Freedom is ultimately a freedom to serve someone else out of love and not compulsion. And God has demonstrated that Love.


Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)


And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

(2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV)


I personally believe that this type of love is not possible apart from the beautiful example and message of Jesus.


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.

(Romans 5:6-8 ESV)


FINALLY- Let's get to Racism and Social Justice

In many ways, in our current situation, goes back to the story of the shooting of Michael Brown (Aug. 9, 2014), the media coverage, the public outcry, the criminal investigation, and the DOJ investigation was and continues to be a microcosm of all we are suffering from as a nation.


And we have had far too many incidents where law enforcement has not acted in a decent and humane way. Yes, I believe the majority of our men and women in blue are good, working in a very difficult environment.... but we MUST come down hard on those who violate the code of conduct.






On March 4, 2015 the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division released their report of the Ferguson Police Department. You remember that case right? Leaving Baltimore burning?

This report is one of many facets, or factors that need to be weighed.

What a perfect storm! And we are not improving!


The Floyd killing (a tragedy and a disgrace) is a combination of these SAME factors (along with the problem of presuppositions and factors I tried to flesh out).
  • Socio-economic issues. Poverty rate is very high
  • Law Enforcement Patterns of Concern. Policing for profit. Read the report!
  • Widening gap between the rich and the poor. Fractured homes and ineffective education.
  • Media hype. Media for profit sensationalizes. If it bleeds it leads.
  • American pastime of opinions/perceptions devoid of facts.
  • Leaders with agendas. A good leader will correct and counter for good of all.
  • Victim mentality- we have been hurt so we can hurt and destroy without consequence.
  • Abuse of authority. If you question me I will make you miserable.
  • Finger pointing instead of personal responsibility.
  • Liberals and conservatives distrust and blame one another.
  • Race baiting and excuse making on both sides.
  • Talking heads… all problems and positions… no remedies.
  • The agenda is to win my viewpoint… not find healing.
  • T.V. is deceptive… it over hypes and ultimately trivializes real problems.
  • No perseverance… we left Ferguson to  be consumed by Baltimore.. and soon we will ponder flood victims in Texas. Who stays to help improve and change?
  • The circus came to town and piles of debris a left in its wake.
In the end, a lot of  the opinions that come out during these times are wrong. Sadly, we jump on any salacious  tidbit to prove our presuppositions about what really happened. We need to wait and respond to solid facts- the police officers have been charged and there will be a court to consider the case! However, some refuse to budge on their positions even in the light of real facts. EVERYONE needs to alter their narrative based on these truths. Shame on the leaders, shame on TV news organizations, but shame on us as well.... we have to be better than this.

We have some severe issues in our nation, and polarization squashes any momentum to find progress and healing.


IS THERE A ROUTE OUT?
Yes…
Here is how it works…. EVERYONE MUST AGREE TO BE HARD ON SELF AND UNDERSTANDING OF OTHERS.

and we cannot resort to anarchy.... it must be done through law and order.... and it must be done person to person.... no institution can help us here.

This is not a 50/50 deal… it is you bring your 100% and it doesn’t matter if nothing comes in return.


Everyday, I must wake up and say:


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20 ESV)


and then I need to live each day with an earnest, energetic, and honest quest to serve and love others under the direction of God’s Spirit.


Do I encourage people? Do I give to those who are hurting or needy? Have I been faithful to my family? Can I speak and live to promote unity.. racial healing… hopeful and not pessimistic? Do I speak words of life or death? Do I honor authority? Do I pray for my leaders? Do I work hard as unto the Lord? Do I always have to get my way? Am I willing to consider I am wrong? Do I initiate reconciliation? Do I forgive? Do I judge without looking at myself? Am I willing to die for my belief in the Bible and the good news of Jesus? And am I willing to suffer for standing on truth?

And the big problem is... the answer to those questions show me how much of a sinner I am. I can ONLY say yes to those questions if I have God's Spirit in me.


At the end of every day, because I failed, and fell short I pray this prayer:


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

(Romans 8:1 ESV)


As Peter has said....I do believe there will be a judgement day and a new heaven and earth… but that doesn’t mean I don’t work to make this world a better place today. It is our calling… to be salt and light… not divisive and cruel.


Finally,


This does not mean that I withhold speaking Biblical truth. Not everyone will like or accept that truth.

There will be those who will want to silence me because the world view I ascribe to. Often because the message means we have a responsibility to God, we are accountable to Him. Men know God is there… but they, naturally, do not love that view.

But even then, it is not my job to be ‘dead right’ or to kill others with truth.

God loves me even though I am unlovely.

Shouldn’t I be willing to do the same toward others?

Jesus said it best… what good is it if you love those that love you?

“You have heard that it 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 his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

(Matthew 5:43-47 ESV)

I am concerned about where this is going... we must pray and stand.... there are too many out there trying to pull power plays and exploit others...

The gospel is our only hope.



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