Tuesday, November 17, 2015


                The recent attacks on Paris have rekindled much of the anxiety, confusion and anger we all felt after 9/11. Our first response is one of retaliation and retribution. France has responded in just such a fashion. God has placed the sword in the hand of the State to exercise justice. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:4)
                But as followers of Christ, how are we to respond? Should we be taking matters into our own hands to protect ourselves from these threats? The answer we get from the Bible is a resounding no! There are several key principles that need to guide us in times like this.

                First, remember that we are in a spiritual battle that is acted out in our temporal world. Paul tells us, in Ephesians 6, that our enemy is not other people, but evil forces that are directing them. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) These terrorists have been deceived by Satan. They are blind to the truth and are following a destructive lie. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4) They are responsible for their actions, but they are also victims of  Satan’s deceit.

                As followers of Christ, we need to take a radically different path from the world. We need to leave justice in God’s hands and seek to “capture” as many of Satan’s troops as possible.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21) It is our responsibility to demonstrate, in tangible ways, the truth of the Gospel; the only truly effective weapon against all forms of terrorism.  

                We cannot change the course of nations or terrorist movements on our own. But we can change the course of individual lives. Every person that we rescue from the Kingdom of Darkness is one less terrorist in the world. Our greatest and most powerful weapon is God’s truth.  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) We cannot change people with force from the outside. Genuine change comes only through a transformed heart and mind.

                The major tactic of terrorists is to control through fear. If we give in to fear, Satan wins. The major tactic of Christ is to conquer through love. If we will reach out in love, to one person at a time, Christ will win. The global situation is complicated and will continue to involve military power. The local situation is simple: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


                I have multiple pairs of inexpensive reading glasses that I have scattered throughout my office and my home. There is a pair next to my computer and next to my Bible and devotional books in my office. There is a pair on my night stand and on the end table next to the recliner in my living room. In addition, I have extra pairs stashed in a couple of draws and my briefcase. Whenever I want to read, there is a pair close at hand.

                Because these reading glasses remain undisturbed for periods of time, they tend to get dusty, and (somehow) develop smudges. Often, when I put on a pair to read, things are a little fuzzy. At that point I realize that I have to clean the lenses so that I can see clearly again. It is amazing what a difference a clean lens can make.

                Our world view is like the lenses in my reading glasses.  The purpose of our worldview is to help us to see life clearly. It is to help us to interpret what we are experiencing and make sense out of it. But, our worldview often sits around unexamined for periods of time. Like the lenses on my reading glasses, our worldview can become obscured. Instead of seeing life clearly, our perspective becomes fuzzy. It is important that we clean the lens of our worldview  on a regular basis.

                Everyone has a worldview. Most people do not give much thought to it. Therefore, their worldview is controlled and often distorted by the prevailing culture. Our worldview is based on a set of presuppositions that become the filter through which we interpret life. These presuppositions operate in the background of our mind. It is not that we are unaware of them, but we often do not consciously think them through. Most people’s presuppositions have never been truly tested. They have been handed down from generation to generation, without much careful scrutiny.

                As followers of Christ, it is essential that we not only know the foundations of our worldview, but that we are regularly cleaning our lenses and sharpening our focus. There are at least three major presuppositions that we need to keep before us, if we are going to be secure in our worldview. They are that God exists, that God is for us, and that God is in control. These are foundational to our understanding of life and the world around us.

                Hebrews stresses the first two of these foundational pillars. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) The starting place for our worldview is the reality that God is real and that He is the author of all we know. “In the beginning, God…” But God is not some distant, uncaring entity that has lost interest in the world He created. He is actively interacting with our world because He cares about us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

                It is also important that we remember that God has always been, and still is, in control. Nothing happens in this world that God is unaware of. Nothing happens in this world that God has not either directed or allowed. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

                There are many other things that go into making up our worldview, but these three are pivotal. Even as we affirm these foundational truths, it is possible for our worldview to get smudged and cloudy. The realities of life constantly challenge our faith and cloud our perspective. So we need to regularly clean the lens of our heart to be able to stay focused.

                There are at least two things we can do the accomplish this. First, we need to stay focused on Christ and not circumstances. It is a little like crossing one of those hanging bridges over a deep ravine. In order to get to the other side, you have to stay focused on the end of the bridge. Don’t look down!  In the same way, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and not the circumstances around us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

                The second thing we can do to keep our lens clean is be wise about what we allow into our hearts and minds. The things we allow to dominate our thinking shape us more than we realize. By focusing on the negative things of this world, our spiritual lens becomes dull and cloudy. We yield to the discouragement and despair of the world. Instead, we should constantly be filling our minds with the things that will lift us above the circumstances of life. Paul makes this clear in Philippians 4:4-8.
    Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

                As I write these word, I realize that there is a smudge on my glasses. It is time to clean my lenses again. I keep a small, cleaning kit in my desk drawer for that specific purpose. Learning to daily clean our spiritual lenses is a discipline that will pay benefits both now and for all of eternity.