Archive for November, 2014

With centuries upon centuries of human history behind us, one would tend to think that if we could collectively “get our act together”, we certainly would have by now. After all, people living today are collectively the most highly educated to have ever lived on this planet and enjoy astronomical benefits from technology, medicine and communication that would have seemed “miraculous” to those living even two hundred years ago, let alone two thousand years.

Still, what was characteristic of human nature over 2000 years ago continues to be true today. Human evil has not been cancelled out by what some believe is the innate goodness of mankind. It has not disappeared nor are we watching its demise today. On the contrary, there are people who hate and hurt others for no reason other than it gratifies their savage impulses and gives them a sense of power. People often kill people not because they defend themselves and not even because they are exacting some sort of sick revenge but only because they simply want to see others suffer and die. Despair and discouragement afflict millions today as it becomes clearer and clearer that material things cannot satisfy our deepest needs and desires.

Let’s not tolerate any illusions here: humanity, at its core, is far from the peaceful and noble creature we’d like to imagine. Sin is undeniably a reality and its pervasive influence runs rampant around the world. If we were to look only at things from a human perspective, we would never find any peace.

On the other hand, the eternally steady hand of God has not ceased to work in human history, ill-content as He is with human will heading off on its own into self-destruction. Love and holiness moved the heart of God which then moved the hand of God.

“Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He (Jesus) grew up before Him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:1-2 ESV).

The story of Christmas is simply the account of how God, perceiving us as we truly are, was moved by an infinite mercy and grace. He willingly and lovingly laid aside His own glory, and became like us in order to be what we could not be for ourselves: a sinless and perfect sacrifice.

Though Jesus “was in the form of God, (He) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8 ESV).

Jesus entered our world in order to grab our sin by the horns and throw it to the ground. In our place, He took into Himself the goring of the awful horn of sin’s power by suffering at the hands of human hate.

Jesus entered our world in order to grab our sin by the horns and throw it to the ground. In our place, He took into Himself the goring of the awful horn of sin’s power by suffering at the hands of human hate.

In a great Cosmic “rodeo”, He humbly entered His broken creation in order to grab our sin by the horns and throw it to the ground. Doing so meant that He would take into Himself the goring of the awful horn of sin’s power by suffering at the hands of hateful humanity and then the horn of sin’s penalty, as He gave Himself in death for us as a perfect sacrifice, sufficient for all the world for all time… sufficient for the peace for which we so earnestly yearn.

“Hark! The herald angels sing! ‘Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled!’” (words by Charles Wesley; melody by Felix Mendelssohn).

Peace is a marvelous and wonderful effect of becoming a child of God. First, we are no longer “at war” with Him because we are no longer willfully living for ourselves (having surrendered the matter of our sin to His atoning work on the Cross of Christ). “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 ESV).

Secondly, we no longer need to dwell under the oppressive guilt and shame with which the condemnation of our sin blankets us. When we trust Christ as our savior, we are forgiven, cleansed, healed, and set free forever.

Finally, as God’s goodness begins to conquer our character in the shaping of our values and our moral choices, we respond to evil enacted upon us with good and so begin to break the world’s cycle of wickedness. As I am hurt or have been offended, I can nevertheless choose to “respond” with the grace of Jesus and to not “react” by exacting revenge. When we respond as Christ would have us respond, mercy is introduced to the lives of those who’ve not personally experienced mercy; goodness is injected into a situation where “good” was nowhere to be found; peace flows out of our very being into each of our “little corners of the world”.

The world is hungry for real peace. Only One can supply that peace… for the world and for you and me. Can you not hear the echo of the angels’ song today? Does your heart even now resound with their wondrous anthem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14)? Would you even now, in this Christmas season, surrender your will and your way to this Son of God, this Prince of Peace?

“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan


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Living, as we do, in the “Information Age”, it sadly becomes all too clear that obeying the call to abide in Christ is impossible without God’s help partly because we are beset by overwhelming demands on our time, energies, and resources. And let’s face it, not all of the “information” that constantly bombards us is accurate and reliable anyway… there is a whole lot of “static” attempting to drown out the lovely story of redemption and victory that the Gospel of God paints us in the Bible.

Consider, if you will, that despite how technologically savvy we are, frequent users of the internet are universally acquainted with something called “spam”. Spam, as I am sure you know, is the junk mail of our cybernetic world. Once you get an email address, it’s only a matter a time before it gets onto the lists of all sorts of businesses (some of which are legitimate perhaps, but most are not) making you the unhappy recipient of a plague of annoying emails and phone calls that promise anything you have ever thought of and many things you haven’t.

You’re also under a constant onslaught of a spiritual sort of spam in the pressures you face to keep up with others’ possessions, their ambitious social schedules, and their expectations on what it means to be successful. All of these things are constantly distorting the very things most deserving of your attention, time, and even passion. The things that are temporary, time and time again, steal the investment of our best from those things that will last forever.

Another electronic predation, similar in some ways to spam, makes a lot of phony promises, highly emotional appeals, or heavy-handed threats in order to provoke you to some sort of action that betrays your personal information (so that a bad guy, who is very likely in some other country, can charge up your credit card or empty your bank account into his or her own coffers). This method, called “phishing”, often even uses the names of legitimate banking or commercial institutions to pull the wool over people’s eyes. It works. People fall prey to it every day.

Recently, and perhaps more insidious than the previously described plots, is something called “spoofing” in which someone calls you, your caller ID identifies them as a bank or business with whom you do business (or perhaps a governmental agency like the IRS), and tells you that your account has been compromised or that you’re in default and legal action is shortly forthcoming. The caller then tells you that the only way to correct the situation is to provide them your account information (in order to “verify” your accounts – wink, wink). A startled victim might then give the “spoofer” the requested information or call the callback number and supply it… only to later find that the caller was a criminal who uses that information to steal from his or her account, or to set up a phony account in the victim’s name and use it to buy lots of things. Just so you know, such “spoofers” are often not even in our country but are from somewhere else in the world where it is hard to catch or prosecute them.

Misleading messages in the world today, are “phishing” for your attention, your support, and ultimately your soul.

Misleading messages in the world today, are “phishing” for your attention, your support, and ultimately your soul.

But even more sinister than this spoofing (as sinister as it is), and far more deadly, is the spiritual spoofing taking place around the world. False teachings and false teachers have for time out of mind deceitfully enticed people away from the truth of Christ. Even today, pop culture flamboyantly thrusts misleading messages in front of us. Pseudo theologians and phony philosophers, masquerading as messengers of truth and light, perpetually bombard us with deceits that attempt to substitute themselves for truth only to place us in bondage to either sensual urges or legalistic hatemongering.

Of course, these things aren’t new at all but have been slyly perpetuated throughout history, even in the earliest days of the church. And as early Christian leaders wisely noted, such teachings distort the simple message of receiving God’s grace by faith, the forgiveness of sin and the promise of atonement, as well as the abiding work of the Holy Spirit.

Such misleading messages in the world today, are “phishing” for your attention, your support, and ultimately your soul, “spoofing” you with false claims. “…There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV).

I grieve somewhat over the fact that many are snared in the confusion wrought by such counterfeits. On the other hand, I smile when I think of the power of the true Gospel of Jesus. Nothing can really stand up against the “good news” of God’s love triumphing over human sin. Nor can anything really resist the reality of God’s truth housed in Jesus’ flesh as He confronted and conquered subtle snares of deceit. And certainly nothing can cover or deny the shining glory of God as revealed in Christ as He conquered the dreadful specter of death.

The peace and joy we celebrate as God’s children comes from our having genuinely placed our hope and faith in Christ Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. They come from knowing that God has bridged a gap that we couldn’t and that death has no power over us.

“…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…. Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a Man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 20-22 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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What wonder and awe is there in the miraculous promise given us in 2 Corinthians 5:17! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!” We are not only cleansed and forgiven of our sin, but are also transformed in our spiritual essence (see 2 Peter 1:4)! Furthermore, as we are invited to join God as instruments in His hand in transforming the world, there is bestowed upon us divine purpose and meaning!

How awesome is His mercy towards the children of humanity that although we have collectively departed from our Creator, those who trust in Him are given the promise of hope in Christ Jesus! “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His (resurrected) life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:10-11 ESV).

The modern era of politics has been one long saga of division and enmity between Americans. Now that we’ve turned another page and come to the end of yet another chapter (and the start of another), many speak of a desire to somehow see the chasm between the two sides bridged. A truly admirable goal. But while I too hope and pray for such a reconciliation, let us not overlook a far deeper and immeasurably wider gap that separates men and women all over our planet and all through our community from a genuine relationship with God. Nor can we overlook the unthinkable price that the Lord Himself paid in bridging that gap.

“But (God) shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ESV).

“All this is from God, Who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 ESV).

We are therefore agents of reconciliation, provided that we ourselves have been reconciled to God through faith in Christ Jesus. Being transformed on the inside (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:2) and united with Him as His presence in us takes root and bears fruit (John 15:5), we boldly lay down our grudges, lest they return to haunt us. We swallow our pride lest it overpowers what loving words our tongues might have spoken. With our own hands we reach out to others though they may have turned their backs on us in the past, before they slip from our reach and restoration is forever lost.

 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” - 2 Corinthians 5:20

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” – 2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV

We go in the love that moved Jesus Himself to leave Heaven’s glory in the first place (see Philippians 2:6-8) that people like you and me may be set free from sin and self into a loving relationship with God and that we might forever enjoy an eternal fellowship with each other.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV).

There is only one thing that can set the stage for peace in the hearts of Americans. It is peace with God and thereby receiving the peace of God’s loving presence within our hearts. Such magnification and exaltation of Christ in the heart of a Believer prepares the way for humility and graciousness to bubble up in our hearts, overcoming the fear, bitterness and resentment of those on whom they’re lavished.

Do you want to conquer an enemy? Love him or her to Christ Jesus. Are you yourself tired of being captive to anger, hurt and resentment? Do you yourself need to be set free and made new? Then turn to Christ. “Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 ESV).


Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Several years ago, I accompanied a friend of mine who frequently led pastor conferences in different parts of the world on one of his trips to western Africa. We co-led conferences over the course of a week in various places and met a great many people, several of whom were deeply hungry for more of God in their lives.

While working for awhile at one pastor training site, my friend and I met a young woman named Halimar. Even though the conference we led was technically for pastors, Halimar wanted very much to attend and listen since what we were teaching largely revolved around the urgency of cultivating one’s relationship with God.

After we had been there a few days, we both noted Halimar’s deep love for the things of God and so we asked the site director about her history. He shared with us that Halimar had come from a wealthy Muslim family in a “Muslim only” part of the city. One night, after a friend of hers had shared with her about Jesus, Halimar chose to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

When her husband heard about what she had done, he literally threw her out of the house (not even allowing her two small daughters to say goodbye). Not knowing what else could be done, Halimar went to her parents’ house. Her parents, particularly her father, were outraged. When her husband came to see if he could talk her out of “being a Christian”, her father met the man outside and, audible through an open window, said to him, “You know that you must now kill her.” “Kill her?” her husband asked. “Yes, you must kill my daughter.” And Halimar’s father let the man enter the house.

Here was a woman who grasped, at least in part, the treasure that relationship with God through Jesus truly is!

Here was a woman who grasped, at least in part, the treasure that relationship with God through Jesus truly is!

Although her husband only shouted at her to reject this “Christian way” and then stormed out without harming her physically, she felt that she was not safe in staying at her parents’ home. She left the next morning to go stay with a Christian friend on the other side of the city.

Over the next several weeks she attempted to return home, but her husband would not speak to her nor allow her to see the children. Weeks became months and, as of our visit, those months amounted to a year and a half. She continued to be denied visits with her children and was not given any form of support for her own material needs.

Nevertheless, during our short stay in her city, she sang joyfully from her heart her praise and thanksgiving for God’s love and goodness. In our brief conversations with her we noted her faithfulness even in the face of such severe rejection. I thought that it seemed rare to find such true devotion and love for God even when there was so much less to lose.

Halimar was now a pauper, having to work very difficult and menial jobs to earn what little she could for food. Though clearly a refined and intelligent lady, she was now an embarrassment for her parents. Though very much in love with her husband and desperately aching to see her children, she was an outcast from her family, utterly rejected by those called her family.

I naturally considered the extent of my own love for Him and wondered how profoundly am I convinced that God is not only the “Supreme Blesser” but is Himself the “Supreme Blessing.” I wondered if I could truly echo Psalm 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I appreciated the power in this woman’s genuine devotion to God and sensed that she indeed grasped, at least in part, the treasure that relationship with God through Jesus truly is. Now I wonder if we as Christians in more privileged places in the world are truly grasping it. If so, what joy and peace must be filling our experience!

If we are not grasping it, then let us consider how truly wonderful is God’s love for us. Let us allow Him to wash us in that love, prying from our fingers if necessary those cheap counterfeits and imposters that have promised to bring us joy and peace but have utterly failed. Let us realize only He can grant us true joy and peace.

“The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.  He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!” (Psalm 111:7-9 ESV).


Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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