Archive for July, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a king.

The king ruled a land where His subjects felt unsafe … so he searched for another land where they could live.

He found a land nearby and proclaimed himself king.  Shortly afterwards, he built a castle.

Many people enjoyed visiting the castle and listening to the king’s wisdom.

But after many years, the king was getting old.  He looked around for a prince who could succeed him as king.

Many paraded themselves before the king, but he rejected them all.

The king finally chose a prince from another land, who brought along his wife, a princess.  They moved into the castle with the king and queen.

The families of the king and prince got along, and the people rejoiced.

One day, the king said goodbye, and left for another land.  The prince became the new king … his wife the new queen.

The new king loved the people, and they loved him.  Life was good.

But some citizens missed the old king.  They began sending him messages, complaining about the new king … who was not exactly like the old king.

The old king told the new king about these messages, which the new king appreciated because he wanted to be friends with everyone.

As the years passed, some citizens continued to complain to the old king … but this time, the old king did not tell the king about these complaints.

The kingdom grew, and the old castle felt confining, so the king built a new castle, which made the citizens happy.

Because the kingdom continued to expand, the king invited a prince from another land to help run things.  The king and the prince served together well, and the kingdom continued to prosper.

The king convened meetings of the knights of the round table, who provided advice on kingdom matters.  Everybody got along well.

But one day, due to a scarcity of resources, the knights began making decisions without the king’s knowledge.  Life in the kingdom became tense.  The king became frustrated.

The king and queen went on a journey to help people in another land.  When they returned, the knights took the queen and locked her in the dungeon, claiming she had broken kingdom laws.

The knights told the king that the queen must abdicate or they would abdicate instead.

The king was caught in the middle.  While he loved his queen, he also loved the kingdom.  The queen did not believe she had broken any laws and chose not to abdicate.

Meanwhile, friends of the king asked the knights if they could meet to discuss the situation.  The knights said yes …  then no … then yes … then no.

And then one night, the prince left the kingdom, riding off into the night for another land.

The king asked a counselor from a distant land to advise him.  During this time, the queen became very ill, worrying the king greatly.

After threatening to leave several times, the knights finally departed, causing the king to weep.  He loved the knights and could not understand why they put the queen in the dungeon.

Since the king now lacked knights, he asked several citizens to serve as temporary knights and give him counsel.  The king also asked the counselor to come to the castle and give him advice.  The counselor agreed.

The king called a meeting to tell the citizens that the prince and knights had left the kingdom.  When the king made his announcement, he was shocked by the reaction of the people … some of whom now wanted the king banished.

The king stayed in the kingdom, but was asked not to come near the castle so the temporary knights could choose permanent ones.

While the king waited, he and the queen heard rumors that were untrue and hurt them deeply.  Some of the rumors persist to this day.

The rumors were ultimately started by a dragon known for deceit and destruction who had also harmed other castles in the region.

The king decided to leave the kingdom … because he loved his wife and wanted her healthy … and because he loved the kingdom and wanted its citizens to be joyful and prosperous.

The king gave a final speech to the people in the castle.  The king and queen then said goodbye to the people they loved … and still love … very much.

The king and queen journeyed to a distant land to live … and learned more about why they were driven from the kingdom.

They learned that the queen was put in the dungeon so the king would leave the kingdom.

They learned that the charges against the queen were untrue.

They learned that the old king had been working with the knights and prince to banish the king from the kingdom.

They learned that this kind of tragedy happens to other kings in other kingdoms.

So they decided to do something about it.

The king decided to tell his story … consulting with experts … so the knights and citizens of other kingdoms would know what to do whenever parties conspired to banish a king from their kingdom.

The king and queen gained wisdom and strength from their experience.  They made plans to help other kings and knights and kingdoms so they do not have to go through similiar heartaches.

And they hope that everyone in a kingdom will unite to fight the dragon instead of each other.

They ask for your prayers and encouragement in this new endeavor.

And if a similar situation happens in your kingdom, they pray that the knights and citizens follow the constitution of the kingdom rather than make up their own rules.

May your king and kingdom be abundantly blessed until the real King returns.

(Since this is my 200th blog post, I thought I’d do something a little creative.  Thanks for reading!  On to 300 …)

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How old are you spiritually?

While many people aren’t sure … it’s something I’ve always known.

As a kid, I constantly heard two themes repeated over and over:

*We’re all sinners

*Jesus died on the cross for sinners

Even at the age of 6, I knew I was imperfect and in spiritual trouble … but all the songs and lessons and sermons I heard told me that God loved me and that Jesus died for me.

One Saturday, our family went to the Broadway Shopping Center in Anaheim.  On our way home, I asked my parents if I could receive Jesus into my life … and they said I could.

My parents never pressured me into inviting Jesus into my life.  It was a decision that I made myself.

At 7:00 that night, my father and I knelt beside my bed, and he led me to faith in Christ.  After we prayed, I sensed a flutter in the region of my heart … and told my parents that I felt Jesus coming into my life.

The following year, my pastor/father baptized me.  I think I received a Bible with my name imprinted on it after my baptism.

There was a section between the Old and New Testaments for people to write down important events in their family’s life.  Since my parents told me to write down the date of my conversion, I decided to record it in my Bible … and wrote that:

“Jimmy Meyer and the Lord Jesus Christ were united in holy matrimony on July 6, 1960.”

When I finally learned what “holy matrimony” was years later, I felt a little stupid … but in retrospect, the term seems to fit both theologically and experientially.

Spiritual conversion is a mysterious and wonderful thing.

About half the people who receive Jesus can’t remember the date when they received Him … and about half can remember.

I’ve always remembered, although I’m not always sure how to celebrate the occasion.

My conversion to Jesus Christ has lasted for 52 years.  I’m more than half a century old in the Lord.

But I take no credit for my salvation.  The glory and honor all goes to Jesus Christ.

There is still a lot of controversy in theological circles about Calvinism and Arminianism.

How much of a part does God play in conversion?  How big a part do we as humans play?

I’ve always leaned more toward God’s part but understand why others feel differently.

But I hope we can all agree with these three lines from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

“I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.”

That’s exactly how I feel … today and every day.

I am grateful to God that He gave me parents who loved Him and shared Christ with me.

I am thankful for churches that preached the gospel so I could grasp it, even at a young age.

I am indebted to many believers who modeled Christlikeness for me and taught me His Word.

But above and beyond all human intervention, I am glad for the grace of God in my life.

These lines – from “At the Cross,” my favorite hymn – perfectly encapsulate my feelings today:

But drops of grief can ne’er repay

The debt of love I owe

Here Lord, I give myself away

‘Tis all that I can do

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We’re in a period right now in our country where everybody is thinking about the government.

Last week, the Supreme Court made a momentous decision about health care … and this Wednesday is Independence Day for Americans … and we all know about the election in November.

While journalists write their editorials and radio talk-show hosts offer analysis, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in political coverage that we throw our Christian faith out the window.

Regardless of your political affiliation, if you’re a follower of Jesus, I’d like to encourage you to think about the following four questions:

First, who do you worship and serve: Jesus Christ or an earthly candidate?

Jesus once asked His hearers in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Once a person comes to Jesus for salvation, Jesus isn’t just their Savior from sin … He also becomes the Lord/Director of their life.

By definition, a Christian is a person who loves and follows Jesus.  Jesus is first in the lives of His followers.

We sing to Him … and pray in His name … and worship Him with His people … and tell unbelievers about Him.

But at election time, it’s easy for Christians to lose their heads politically and give their allegiance to candidates who are not in line with Jesus’ values.

I trust very few politicians.  If we really knew what happens behind closed doors, we might not trust any of them.

This is why I become alarmed when I see professing Christians express more excitement about a political candidate than about their Savior.

No politician will ever bring the kingdom of God to earth … whether it’s called Camelot or a Shining City on a Hill.

Only Jesus will do that … and He won’t need the help of any earthly politician to pull that off.

Think about it.

Second, do you follow candidates based on biblical principles or partisanship?

There are various ways to assess candidates before we vote for them … but the most common way is to vote for candidates who represent our political party.

Millions of Americans will vote this way in November.  They won’t even pay attention to any ads, debates, or positions.

Just look for the candidates from your party on the ballot and make your mark next to their name.

But this approach should bother all of us who believe we should use the brain that God gave us.

During the primary season … when there were 9 candidates running for the Republican nomination … I took a little test online.  The test asked for my opinion on a variety of issues … and at the end, it told me which candidate best represented my positions.

I was shocked.

Too many people support a candidate who seems likeable … or is good-looking … or can speak well … but do you ever ask yourself:

How consistent with Scripture are their positions on the issues?

I’d rather support an unbeliever who holds biblical values than a believer who doesn’t.

How about you?

Third, how important is telling the truth to you?

If you’ve read this far, some of you aren’t going to like what I’m about to say … but I’m going to say it anyway.

Most politicians are liars … because they would rather win an election and/or defeat their opponents than tell the truth.

Politics is all about winning.

When he was still alive, Jesse Helms – long-time Senator from North Carolina – found himself in a tough political fight.  He ran some despicable ads attacking his opponent … and barely won the election.

The Republicans cheered.  Their man had prevailed!

But truth was the biggest casualty.

I’ve already seen political ads with distortions and exaggerations this political season … and they don’t work on me.  (I refuse to pay attention to them because they are designed to be manipulative.)  I hit “mute” or change the channel much of the time.

Jesus always told the truth to His followers.  He never, ever lied … even if it made Him unpopular.

Listen to the wisdom of 1 Peter 2:21-23:

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.  ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Politics is full of sin, deceit, insults, retaliation, and threats.

The way of Jesus is the exact opposite.  Jesus was righteous, honest, compassionate, forgiving, and loving.

Act that way and you’ll lose an election … but build a kingdom that will outlast them all.

Finally, which kingdom do you want to spread and grow?

Christians are citizens of two kingdoms: heaven and earth.  Jesus told the Pharisees to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

But if the two kingdoms clash … and this is increasingly happening in our country … Jesus’ followers have to support His kingdom … even if that means disobeying the government.

In Acts 5:29, after being ordered by the Jewish Supreme Court not to speak anymore in Jesus’ name, Peter answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:33 says about the Sanhedrin, “When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.”

My friends, believers all over the world are standing up to the kingdoms of men … and being imprisoned … or losing their lives.  Just yesterday, believers in Kenya were gunned down while they were worshiping the Lord at their church.

That could never happen here, could it?

Our religious freedoms are gradually being eroded in this country … and we have to be vigilant and make sure we’re not indirectly harming our spiritual brothers and sisters by supporting candidates whose policies strip back those freedoms.

Many churches have two flags in their worship center: an American flag, and a Christian flag.

Christian theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer used to ask, “If you have two flags, which flag is higher than the other?”

If it’s the American flag … as much as it means to many of us … then it’s possible we’ve identified our country with the kingdom of God.

If they’re both on the same level … then we’re trying to serve two kingdoms simultaneously … which can make one schizophrenic.

But if the Christian flag is higher … it means we endeavor to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

This political season, I’ll read about the candidates … and watch them be interviewed on TV … and listen to the opinions of pundits about their campaigns … and then vote in November.

But I refuse to let my politics influence my faith.  Instead, I make sure that my faith informs my politics.

Because I do not serve or worship Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Ronald Reagan or JFK.

I trust that you don’t either … if you’re a follower of Jesus.

We serve and worship our King, Jesus Christ, and pray that His kingdom spreads.

King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and He shall reign forever and ever.

Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

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