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A Supreme Urgency

There is a supreme urgency in knowing and accepting that God is at work today in your life. However, as you scan your own personal circumstances, you may perhaps be so inundated with messages to the contrary that you may not only doubt such a claim but even scorn it. Even from within your own heart, you may contend with such emotions of doubt, bitterness, and hopelessness that the very idea that God is working in your life has never occurred to you.

Nevertheless, it is urgent that you know and accept that God is at work today in your life. It is imperative that you understand that as the Awesome Architect laid out His plans for the Cosmos and perceived all that would be included in the great story of the world, you were on His mind and in His heart. Not only that, but as the Eternal Engineer harnessed all energies and ordered all matter that swirled through the inconceivably vast expanse of the universes, He already knew you by name and had secured for you a place of significance and unimaginable worth.

And so, as Jesus proclaims the eternally profound declaration that “My Father is working until now, and I am working…” (John 5:17 ESV), you would do well to reflect on what such a revelation may mean for you even as you read this.

Even if the discouraging fumes of the world’s cynicism were to waft in your nostrils right now and you scoffed, “He isn’t working in MY life,” you could not escape the fact that He has promised that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Though one might attempt to turn that promise aside as he laments that “it can’t possibly mean me; I haven’t really done much to show any love for God,” he cannot escape the fact that God sees him as a “work in progress”. “No,” God may say to him, “you’re not loving Me much… yet… but I have called you according to My purposes.”

And so He works behind the scenes in our lives, orchestrating not only external circumstances to place us in a position wherein we might hear and avail ourselves of His gift of salvation, but He works also on the inside of our lives, nurturing within us the characteristics necessary to come to truly place our faith in Him.

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44 ESV). Even as you understand right now perhaps the extent of God’s love for you and the need to allow Him to forgive and cleanse you of sin so that you might have eternal life, it is not your great intellect that has opened the Truth to you; it is the hand of God within you.

Such insights into the activity of God in your life carry a high responsibility. Just as surely as Jesus expected Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John in Mark 1:16-20 to simply leave everything behind and follow Him, He expects us to rise from our “nets” of mere preoccupation with day-to-day living and rise to the challenge of living beyond ourselves in the grand investment of trusting Him.

It is entirely possible that even as you read this, His truth makes sense to you and you perceive His invitation to give Him your heart and join Him in the great adventure He’s called you to discover. But don’t turn away from His appeal for you to follow Him. Like the “Rich, Young Ruler” in Matthew 19:16-22, we may turn away and end up swallowed by not only spiritual mediocrity but possibly even miss out entirely on His gift of salvation and hope. After all, one may not receive a treasure, priceless though it may be, if one’s hands are already full or have been thrust into one’s pockets.

Your life counts in the grand scheme of God’s great universe and you yourself matter to the One Who created it all. He came in human flesh and “in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:4-5, 9-13 ESV).

May we each now, as He works within us by opening our minds to perceive Him and our hearts to believe Him, choose to yield our lives to receive Him as Lord. As we open the door for His love, He will not fail to bring into our experience the sweet nectar of fellowship with Himself as well as the savory meats of joy, purpose, holiness and peace.

“Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him… the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23,24b ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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In the maelstrom of confusion resulting from our nation’s moral collapse, it can be overwhelming to think that for a child of God, nothing has really changed.  The Lord has never suggested that we were going to be in for an easy time of it here and has even spelled out clearly that we would find ourselves persecuted (see Matthew 5:10-11, Luke 21:12, John 15:20).  Why?  Because of our confidence in the uniqueness of Jesus as God’s Son as the only provision for the forgiveness of sin as well as our trust in His Word – by which I mean that we trust it and live our lives in accordance to it.

Even so, it is time right now to rally love and support in tangible ways those around us.  These troubling times should be a season in which God’s people, Christians, gather in force to mobilize resources to declare the reliability of the Bible while serving as instruments of grace in the lives of those around us.

This is a season of faithfully seeking to live holy, consecrated lives while we reach out with the love of Christ, that we might actively love people about us in various kinds of crises, whether from crushing financial burden, addiction, the consequences of immoral choices or the breakdown of families.  Doing so allows God to address also a person’s spiritual crisis – their need for salvation (forgiveness of sin and the assurance of eternal life).

The greatest crisis which we face, of course, and face immediately is that of the complacency of the Church in the face of human evil and the imminent judgment of God. There are mercifully some shining examples of God’s people giving tirelessly and selflessly to others and of enduring rejection and loss (even of life) for the sake of remaining faithful to the Savior Who endured the cross for us. There are also many horrific examples of men and women who clearly do not know Christ and seek to not only overthrow God’s authority for their own lives, but to utterly annihilate the prospect of faith in others.

What must we conclude about God’s perspective on the matter? As painful as it is to acknowledge it, we must observe the “judgment factor.”  Biblically speaking, does God or does He not judge sin? He does. Has He or has He not decreed judgment upon entire cities and nations for their sin? He has.

It would be a terrible mistake to assume that individuals that we know who are deeply suffering are singled out and are especially deserving of that judgment.  In our pride, we often assume that another’s suffering is the result of their own sin and fail to see that perhaps his or her pain has been brought on directly or indirectly by my sin.  But we are a foolish people indeed if we think that we can arbitrarily “thumb our noses” at God for years with impunity.  Indeed, calamity, sickness and other kinds of struggles are not directly the arbiters of judgment so much as an increase in disregard for authority, a decrease in valuing the sanctity of human life, and an embracing of immorality and impurity.

“…God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served  the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever!” (Romans 1:24-25 ESV).

Of all the judgments we envision for ourselves or cast upon the movie screen, the one we don’t understand is the “giving us over to our own lusts”.  Satan has convinced us that therein lies true freedom.  What it really has for us is only the horror of what we selfishly do to each other and, even worse, our choosing something less than the perfect glorious God Whose own Son was given for us.  In the end, the worst judgment of all is letting us have, in our rebellious condition, what we think we want:  the “freedom” to perish spiritually.

A person who has no view of God’s glory doesn’t get this.  He will say, “This isn’t fair!”  He will accuse, “God has no right!”.  He will ask, “Who does God think He is?”

“The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries and keeps His wrath for His enemies” (Nahum 1:2 ESV).

And what can we expect for our land if we fail to repent and continue to pursue the idols of selfishness, pride, luxury, oppression, and immorality?

“The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will execute judgment upon her images, and through all her land the wounded shall groan” (Jeremiah 51:52 ESV).

“Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes” (Joel 1:15 ESV).

But lest we think that others will be especially singled out and that we somehow are above judgment, be careful!

Jesus addressed a similar misconception during His earthly ministry when some people believed that judgment had befallen some Galileans who had been targeted.

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-5 ESV).

So how must we respond? My prayer is that we will hearken to Jesus’ warning and repent.

“‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, ‘Spare Your people, O LORD, and make not Your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’  Then the LORD will… (take) pity on His people” (Joel 2:12-18 ESV).

Though we are wise to fear God’s great wrath with a holy reverence and awe, we have His assurances that His mercy and goodness are available to us if we’ll just choose to receive them. This is especially true and relevant for those who place their hope in the Lord Jesus for their eternal salvation.

“…Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Acts 2:21 ESV).

Isn’t it good to know that “the LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7 ESV).

Copyright ©  Thom Mollohan

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A friend of mine, on reflecting upon the breathless rate things are moving along, said over lunch with me that we are in times of “white water change.” I doubt that anyone can really disagree with that observation, although people may disagree on how to respond to it.

Whether we like it or not, the world is changing so fast that we may feel hard-pressed to keep pace. And as the world around us changes, our churches are changing, too. As new church families (a.k.a. congregations) are being birthed, and as new generations emerge within the ranks of established churches, it is to be hoped that we see this as an era of a renewed sense of calling along with a renewed resolve to see God glorified and made known while we seek to experience Him working in our lives, our homes and our communities.

As Christians strive to keep up with all this change, it is very easy to feel as if we are being overwhelmed and that we are in danger of being swept away by circumstances that are beyond our control. The collapse of morality, the blitzkrieg of political cutthroats, and the disintegration of the family have become the characteristics of this new day and there is little hope that conventional ideals, logic and methodologies can be effective in restoring a semblance of sanity to our world.

White water

As we strive to keep up with change in our world, it is very easy to feel as if we are in danger of being swept away by circumstances that are beyond our control.

 

At times like these, Christians can be baited into taking sides against one another, battle lines can be drawn, and lives can be wounded.

Why does this sometimes happen? How is it possible that we, who are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, can react in such different ways to the same dynamics and then hurt each other as we begin to assume the worst in others’ motives?

Well, for one thing, change often brings loss (or at least a perception of it). We tend to find it difficult to “let go” of the cultural aspects of our Christianity that have brought us comfort and, more than that, it is natural to be reluctant to release those things for which we have spent our lives – even when we finally admit to ourselves and God that maybe we’ve spent ourselves on the wrong things.

On the other hand, there really is a need for change in the church today. The kind of change that is necessary is the kind that readily impacts the lives of those to whom God connects it.

Oh, by “change”, I do not mean a departure from the Scriptures as being the standard for living life and discerning truth. On the contrary, there must in fact be a renewed sense of the Scripture’s relevance to life, to its applicability to the soul’s search for meaning, and to the moral quagmire that has so ensnared our culture.

Because the Gospel is “Good News” for all people in all places for all time, it cannot be changed in its essence (and any attempt on our part to change its essence negates the validity of all the rest of the message we proclaim). Indeed, as this “Gospel” was in the mind of God before time began and will be perfectly unveiled and vindicated in every way when time has ended, it is an invincible column of rock that continually defeats the torrents of the river of time.

Still, each generation has its own voice in proclaiming His praises and in serving Him. And as God’s Spirit is always breathing new life, new inspiration, and new vision for how we may praise and serve our living God, each voice is continually being transformed even as we confront the evils of our day and defy the lies of our spiritual enemy, Satan.

Please understand that change has come, is coming, and will continue to come. If you welcome it, consider the perspective of those who do not welcome it and let your attitude and actions be seasoned with the same grace that God has shown you in Jesus Christ. Not only that, allow God to enlarge your understanding through the thoughts of others as He sheds the light of His wisdom on your race to embrace change. Think well on how God may have sent these persons to play a part in shaping you and your walk with Him. Even those things that can be difficult and painful can be used by God to change you as you seek to change the world.

And if you are of the “don’t like change; don’t want it” camp, take to heart God’s desire to accomplish new things in you, your family, your church and your community. An unimaginably powerful and infinitely loving God always has more to do and say to a people who will obediently walk with Him.

Change will come however you feel about it. Your part is to help it be the right kind of change: not the change of recklessness but also not the change that comes from the deterioration and decay of stagnation.

If you do not have a church family (local church congregation), seek out one that genuinely points to the Bible as having the answers to all of life’s questions and then allow God to bless them through you as He allows change to freshen and revive you and your home.

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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A few years ago the facilitator of a leadership conference for a large corporation asked the group “Who are the world’s most influential leaders?” After some discussion and thorough rethinking on the topic of leadership in light of the things that they had learned, the group unanimously announced that mothers are the most influential of leaders in the world with fathers following at a close second.

Insightful, don’t you think? Laws may be instituted in legislatures, but they’re only created and pursued when someone has conviction (or a marked lack of it) about something. Public policy may be shaped by polls and petitions, but these too are merely the fruit of someone’s sense of justice and fairness (or, at the other end of the spectrum, their selfishness).

So, if we might look out on spectacle of politics, where can we hope that genuine conviction is forged? If we are dismayed at the immoral and cowardly antics of those who would be our leaders, what hope do we have for tomorrow? Where will a true sense of justice and fairness be molded? Where will one’s sense of right and wrong or one’s drive and motivation get rooted though we may not see its fruit until its ripening and the time for harvest has come?

Motherhood

A mother has unparalleled opportunity in influencing a life in matters of faith, godliness, love and hope. God has appointed you, O mother, to partner with Him in the building of a soul.

 

It’s in the home. It’s in the cradle. It’s in the arms of the one by whom one’s impressions and earliest recollections are first laid and established. The thoughts and images that shape the personality and perspective of adults and secure for them a worldview that moves them onward and upward or leaves them wallowing in defeat are delivered first through this one called “mother.”

When our oldest son was still a baby, there were times when he needed his mother… not because he was hungry; not because he was cold; not for any reason other than he simply needed to hear her voice and feel her touch. A sweet elderly lady next door of the apartment we rented, upon observing the calming effect of my wife’s presence upon our boy, softly reflected, “There’s no place like mama’s arms, is there?” I could only agree as I watched his tears dry and heard his crying fade into the sounds of peaceful contentment.

We learn first about love and warmth, acceptance and belonging from godly mothers. Fathers may have the unique calling and role of radically shaping a child’s perspective of God (another subject for another time), but a person’s foundation for his or her take on life and his or her sense of worth begin with his or her mother.

This is not to say that other things don’t have the power to challenge that foundation. They do. How anguished is a mother’s sorrow when she has done “all the right things” only to find her child wandering into a wilderness of confusion or a pit of destruction?

Mothers, nonetheless, have the power to pour a footer of encouragement and acceptance for their children’s ultimate victories. It’s a lot easier to want to do what is right or persevere in hard times when one knows that there is someone who is rooting for him and believes in him no matter what the world thinks or does!

We may rejoice when we have experienced the blessing of godly mothers! Have a care to not take such a blessing for granted either! If that has been your experience, then God has granted you a precious treasure, the worth of which is “far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10b). Thank Him for that treasure and honor her this weekend!

Mothers may rejoice too in knowing that they have unparalleled opportunity to influence a life in matters of faith, godliness, love and hope. God has appointed you, if you’re a mother, to partner with Him in the building of a soul.

Also, we may grieve when, for one reason or another, we are deprived of such a blessing. Losing a mother is painful for anyone, but it is an anguish to see a young child lose his or her mother to death.

Even more tragic though is the loss of a mother to the world when she is swallowed up in busy-ness… or worse, abandons the child in order to pursue other “interests”. In the instances where I’ve observed this, my heart has broken to see the devastation that this has caused in people’s lives.

But this doesn’t have to be. May we see a renewal in our roles as parents and know that we shape the future when we give ourselves to the shaping of little hearts and minds. Mothers, you influence the world when you influence the lives of your children. God offers you an opportunity to be His means of challenging fear, hatred, and injustice in the world. One day soon our children will receive the mantle of stewardship of our communities, our town, our nation, and our world. While there will be problems (of that, we can be sure) how those problems are handled and whether or not our children will be slave to them is being decided right now.

When those days dawn, O mothers, may your “children arise and call (you) blessed” (Proverbs 31:28a) for you have loved them, you have accepted them unconditionally, you have prayed for them and you have done all to prepare them to meet life victoriously. Bear well the mantle of motherhood.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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