Memo: As Culture Declines, Remember Elijah

If shell-shock is starting to set it from the endless bombardment on traditional values, then a brief newsreel from 1 Kings 19 may be helpful.

Elijah the Prophet was on the run. After a spectacular victory on Mt. Carmel against the prophets of Baal, Elijah found himself fleeing the wrath of King Ahab & Queen Jezebel. As he hid in a cave, a conversation takes place between him and God. Let’s zoom in and listen:

The LORD: “What are you doing here Elijah?”

Elijah: “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Next: Powerful moments of strong wind, a mighty earthquake, and fire. After that…”a still small voice” repeating the question…

The LORD: “What are you doing here Elijah?”

Elijah: “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Next: The LORD gave Elijah instructions concerning his successor Elisha, then identifies Israel’s new king-Jehu, and finishes with these encouraging words…

The LORD: “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Reminder: When the cultural tide feels like a vortex, be encouraged:

  • There are other followers of Christ who feel the weight of what’s happening, are committed to truth and are praying.
  • God is fully aware of current events and the motives of those involved.
  • Appearance of victory by those who mock God shouldn’t weaken our trust in His sovereignty.
  • Time and circumstances never diminish the strength of God’s promises.
  • Jesus still changes lives EVERY day and it’s an honor to be asked by Him to carry that powerful message to a world that desperately needs it.

Action steps: Walk out of the cave, sense the awesome presence of God, listen for the “still small voice” and carry-on!

How about “Man-up Day” instead of “Father’s Day”?

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Real Men

While contemplating “Father’s Day” this year, I’ve been reflecting on what constitutes a “real man”…and sadly they’re becoming rare qualities. Today the media norm seems to be examples of “testosterone-deprived-pansies”, “crude-sexist-thugs”, or “bumbling-idiotic-slobs”; all of which reflect the image of something less than what God intended. So this year, I want to issue a challenge for us Dad’s to consider five basic qualities. Yeah there are more, but for 2013, how about we start with these:

  • Hard Work-In our role as family leader, it’s important to model an attitude of doing things “heartily, as to the Lord and not men.” (Col. 3:23). God designed us to work and have purpose (even before Adam sinned-Gen. 2:15). Our children need to know that we’re thankful for the chance to be productive. Naturally, there needs to be balance between work and family, but instilling a proper work ethic is part of our job (and hitting that “honey-do” list is good too).
  • Keeping Promises-We should be men of our word. A man’s commitment to something should carry weight and the small things matter. Be careful about over-committing (that takes guts sometimes), but when you do, dig your teeth in like a hungry bulldog and don’t let go.
  • Taking Responsibility-This one spills over into pride and can be tough. Words like “I’m sorry about…” or “I’m the one that…” taste terrible, but usually produce healthy results down the road. As the leader, it’s up to me to show a pattern of holding myself accountable for my own actions before I take someone else to task for theirs.
  • Speaking Truth-Speaking the truth will often have a cost attached. It may be a monetary cost or personal, but in the end a real man should always speak truth. When compromise is calling, listen closely for the still small voice of truth and stand on it.
  • Showing Love-As a Dad, I need to not only tell my family I love them, I need to demonstrate it too. There is nothing like a firm hug from Dad. As a grown man, I still appreciate a hug from mine and I hope my kids will always feel the same way too.

So what do you think? This year, let’s mark the day with a new commitment to be the men God has designed us to be. Yes, there will be days when we mess up, but if our trust is in Christ we have the truth of Phil. 4:13 to empower us:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Let’s do this thing…let’s man-up and be the men our families need us to be and show the world what a real man looks like…

Great Stuff to Pray for your Children and Others you Love

Ever worry about your kids or someone you’ve invested in spiritually? Maybe you’ve experienced the nagging feeling of nervousness about their decision-making and choices? I have (and to be honest, will continue to wrestle with it as our kids get older), but I noticed something in scripture today that encouraged me and thought worth passing along.

In Paul’s letter to the Christians who lived in Ephesus, we have a model of something that’s both personal and powerful. He reminds them of awesome benefits they already had in Christ (1:3-14); followed by a heart-felt desire for them to receive in Christ (17-23). It’s like truth on a hinge, pivoting during verses 15-16 as he moves to what he’s praying on their behalf.

To be clear, our first priority is praying for them to trust Christ as Savior. Once they’ve made that decision, we should continue to pray daily for their maturity. As we do, here are the points Paul makes and some things we can breathe in prayer for those we love:

In Christ, he reminded them they were:

  • Recipients of every spiritual blessing (v.3)
  • Foreknown by Christ (v.4)
  • Adopted according to His will (v.5)
  • Accepted in Christ (v.6)
  • Redeemed (v.7)
  • Forgiven (v.7)
  • Rich in His grace (v.7)
  • Guaranteed an inheritance (v.11 & 14)
  • Sealed by the Holy Spirit (v.13)

In Christ, he gave thanks and prayed for them:

  • To receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation (v.17)
  • To receive an enlightened understanding to know the hope of His calling (v.18)
  • To know the riches of His inheritance (v.18)
  • To know the exceeding greatness of His power toward them (v.19)
  • To be mindful of Christ’s authority over all things (v.22)
  • To remember Christ’s headship over the church (v.23)

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thess. 5:16-18

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