Saturday, January 15, 2011

When a Nation Grieves.

Came across this blog by Jonathan Falwell speaking to how we as Christians should respond to a crisis such as the shooting in Arizona.  He is right on in his thoughts. 

Certainly no one in our nation has been left untouched by last week’s dreadful shootings in Tucson that left six dead and 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wounded.

During times such as these, our hearts cry out for those whose lives were cut short, for those whose lives have been forever altered, and for the families affected by the senseless tragedy.

As Christians, we mourn because it is a natural thing to do.

R.C. Sproul, writing in “The Dark Night of the Soul,” stated, “We are told that it is perfectly legitimate for believers to suffer grief. Our Lord Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Though grief may reach to the roots of our souls, it must not result in bitterness. Grief is a legitimate emotion, at times even a virtue, but there must be no place in the soul for bitterness.”

We have seen some bitter words in the media and on the Internet following the Arizona shooting. People tend to want to blame those with whom they disagree politically or socially for being a root cause of the violence. But as R. C. Sproul notes, Christians have no business operating in resentment.

So then, what is to replace any bitter thoughts that may creep into our hearts?

Quite simply: prayer.

But what can we pray for at a time like this?

There are several things on which we can focus our prayers. Let’s take a look at some of them.

1. Pray for godly comfort to those who have needlessly suffered in Tucson. If anyone knows about suffering, it is Jesus. We need to pray that the comfort of heaven will touch those who continue to hurt.

2. Pray that many people in our nation will see their need for Almighty God in their lives because of this tragedy. During wars, natural disasters and even pointless shootings, people tend to think about their own mortality and what lies beyond this life. Christians should pray that God provides them genuine opportunities to speak for Him to those who have been troubled by the Tucson killing spree.

3. Pray that our nation will collectively see its need for God. During the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and in other historic times of calamity, people in our nation understood the need for America to be on its knees before God. Sadly, our culture has become much more secularized in the past half-century. That’s why it behooves God’s people to be constant adherents of II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (NKJV).

4. Finally, pray for wisdom. With attacks flying left and right, Christians need to reflect the wisdom of their Savior at all times. As I noted, people often seek answers at times like these. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, cannot afford to be immersed in hypocrisy, anger or blame-throwing which leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths. I urge all of my readers to constantly seek God in your life so that you are a walking testament to what God can do in the life of one who follows Him.

Please join me in prayer regarding these four important items. God is perpetually calling out to His people to offer His hope to a hurting world. As we continue to live out the maxim, “Not I, but Christ,” we must be ever vigilant, ever prepared to obediently speak out for Jesus Christ to those who are searching for answers.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

10 Spiritual Goals for 2011

At the beginning of a new year many people make resolutions in hopes to change or improve something about their lives.  Most people will make resolutions concerning finances (I want to get out of debt) or health (I want to lose 20 pounds).  But what about spiritual goals?  How many people take time to think through how they want to grow spiritually in the year?  Here are some good spiritual goals to consider for 2011.

1. Desire Christ Above All Else.
1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are those who... seek him with their whole heart.”

2. Commitment to Christ Above All Else.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

3. Be a People Person
Matthew 20:28 “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

4. Be a Bible Person.
Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the man [whose] ... delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

5. Be a Prayer Person
1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

6. Attend Worship Regularly
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”

Ps 29:2 “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

Ps 132:7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”

7. Be a Blessing to your Pastor and Church Staff
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”

8. Find a Place of Ministry
1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

9. Seek Opportunities to Witness to Others
Acts 1:8 “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

10. Faithfully Tithe Trusting God to Provide for You.
Malachi 3:10 “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Revised from “New Year, New goals: 12 Spiritual Goals to Make 2011 Best Year Yet” by Judy Woodward, The Alabama Baptist, Dec 23, 2010.