Another bombing in a public place...
How did you react?
Horrorified or try not to think about it or somewhere in between?
Is this becoming too common?
As I numbing-ly pray for the families and friends who lost loved ones and who have loved ones suffering in critical condition, Jesus helps me awaken a little bit to this horror. The horror of shock and unbelief. Soon reality sinks in; this attack was real. Hurting real moms, dads, brothers and sisters. These people did not ask for this evil. They did not sign up to face this overwhelming pain and suffering.
Neither did the teenagers in Daniel. They did not sign up for an evil nation to conquer them, enslave them, and then seek to brain wash them in the Babylonian way of life. As they found themselves face to face with evil, an evil King, an evil nation, they did only what any of us can do. They called out to their God. They stayed focused on asking God for help. As they continued to ask God for help, they were breaking the evil King's law. The consequence was death...more evil.
How does anyone deal with this kind of evil? Why is this evil choosing some and not others? What if evil chooses us some day? What do we do? Where can we go? What can we count on?
As the three teenage boys from the nation of Israel were sentenced to death and thrown into the fiery furnace by pure evil, what happened? God showed up. Instead of three burned up bodies, there were four fully alive bodies in an unlivable environment of fire.
In the face of pure evil, Jesus shows up to be with us. The best possible gift to pure evil is the presence of Jesus. If you have received adoption into God's family, Jesus promises to be with us no matter what. His presence in the fiery furnace with three young sons of three enslaved families. Jesus is in Manchester England closely being present to those dealing with evil.
Jesus also has the power to bring good out of evil. Joseph's life story reminds us that evil, even from family members, can be turned around by God to bring about great things. Read about it to remind yourself. God also brings incredible good out of these three teens facing evil. He rescues them from death. He does not always do that. He also uses them to bring the message of the God of the Bible to them. Eventually, this evil King does bow his knee to the true God after years of consequences for his evil. The story in Manchester is not over. God is still moving, caring, healing, strengthening. It is only a matter of time to hear how Jesus showed up.
When we think evil has won, we must think again. Remember when evil must have declared victory over God when Jesus was nailed to the cross? The One who came to give life was brutally beaten, crucified and murdered. The One who came to bring forgiveness, love and true satisfaction, was hanging dead and buried. But, at that moment, when evil was celebrating victory, the curse on the world was fully absorbed by Jesus who took our place. Darkness seemed to reign for a day and then another. But, on that third day, darkness was snuffed out by Ultimate Light. Jesus busted forth from that grave. Death was defeated. Sin was paid for. Evil was destroyed. His death was wrong. He was killed by evil. It was evil, evil, evil. Yet, Jesus conquered evil. Jesus offers new life even from death. Jesus offers hope when there seems to be no hope. Jesus offers His presence even in the face of evil. Jesus promises eternal life in Him for those who respond to His invitation with a "Yes."
Thank you Jesus!
We are so grateful!
Praying for Jesus' presence and reality upon all who are facing evil,
Who are your mentors? Do you have any that are no longer living? What do you learn from them? Anything you pass on to others?
One of my mentors at different seasons of my life is someone who is no longer living. He is one of first great Theologians. I have been encouraged by his discoveries about prayer that I will pass on to you.
The most important discovery this mentor of mine wrestled with and helped others see the importance of this; how the heart, mind and soul is so disorderly. As we seek to walk with Jesus, we know that we should love God with all of who we are. But, do we? Jesus challenged the church in Ephesus, "You have abandoned your first love." (Rev 2:4) I will let this mentor ask you, is your heart truly and fully in love with God the Father, God and Son and God the Holy Spirit? Or do you love power, prominence, profit or something else?
The next discovery about prayer that this mentor passed on is to truly pray for what makes you happy. What? To discover this, you must pray. When you are conversing with God, He will show you how fleeting and temporary comforts, rewards, pleasures and successes truly are. The more you press into the conversation with God, the more you discover Ps 27:4 "One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple."
Next, this mentor discovered the life-giving experience of The Lord's Prayer. How it starts off with genuine worship of our Heavenly Father. Then moves to realign our disorderly lives around God's Kingdom and God's will not our own. Then it moves to petition, confession, thanksgiving and world changing. This mentor would say, "Think long and hard about this great model of prayer." I add, "Then dive in and pray it."
Another discovery according to this mentor is the bewildering prayers during the dark seasons of life. He would prepare others by saying, "Even the most godly Christian does not even know how to pray in regards to our tribulations." Do we pray for God to remove them? Do we pray for strength to get through them? This experience of prayer reminds us of Jesus' ultimate prayer in the garden, "Father, take this cup from me. But, not my will but thine will be done."
Who is this mentor? St Augustine.
How is your conversation with God going? How is God re-ordering your life? Are your prayers aligned with His prayers? Are your goals aligned with His goals? Is your daily agenda aligned with His?
Seeking to discover these things like Augustine together,
I have learned that one of the most challenging things about following Jesus is distractions. Distractions can capture our minds, can get our eyes off of Jesus, can slightly get us off the mission of serving a Not-Yet-Follower of Jesus, can pull us away from encouraging a struggling brother or sister in Christ, can turn our willing hearts and minds to hard hearts and busy minds.
Regularly, I need to take time to just sing about Jesus, to praise Jesus and to worship Jesus. The Psalmists remind us that singing about Jesus can recapture our distracted minds and get us to refocus our minds on Jesus and His great commandment and commission. "Come before the Lord, singing with joy." Ps 100:2
The Psalmists remind us that praising Jesus is where we unite together to celebrate what Jesus is doing in our midst. It is a uniting and uplifting spiritual discipline. "Enter His courts with praise." Ps 100:4
The Psalmists remind us that worshiping Jesus is where our souls and minds spiritual connect with Jesus personally. It is where we forget about all the distractions and busyness and fully connect with Jesus. "Worship the Lord with gladness." Ps 100:2
May the following passage grip you to the point you walk through the singing, praising and worshiping gifts. May you get lost in the beauty, brilliance and power of the Lord.
John wrote, "I turned and saw the voice.
I saw a gold menorah
with seven branches,
And in the center, the Son of Man,
in a robe and gold breastplate,
hair a blizzard of white,
Eyes pouring fire-blaze,
both feet furnace-fired bronze,
His voice a cataract,
right hand holding the Seven Stars,
His mouth a sharp-biting sword,
his face a perigee sun.
I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, his voice reassured me:
“Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever." Rev 1:12-20 (Msg)
Being found while being lost in the presence of Jesus,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.