Socialism – GOD’s Path or Man’s

“When JESUS heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” ” – Luke 18:22 ESV

By definition, “socialism (so·cial·ism) is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole:

  1. A policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.
  2. (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.

People have taken this passage in Luke (and others) to advocate socialism as a way of life for all Christians. I don’t believe that that is what JESUS is saying. This verse, as well as all of Scripture, must be read in context, because any action – any action – can be justified by taking a verse or two out of context. We have to be on guard about this! Using this case, I don’t see JESUS espousing socialism for the whole. He is speaking to one individual about his life. We don’t know why JESUS told the young man to sell everything and give it to the poor, just that in this instance, it was what the LORD required. He might require it for you or me, and He might not. Much good can be done with wealth (money or time), but wealth can also be a hindrance to our lives with CHRIST. As Christians, our concern should be to search the scriptures for the message to each of us as individuals. We can’t expect non-Christians to understand, because as Paul says:

“For the Word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of GOD.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

But for us, those of us who are coming to Christ and those who are already in Christ, the Word is where He shows His Will for us to follow. For unbelievers who are without GOD’s Love, the Word, when we share it, is like “a clanging gong:”

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1‭-‬3 ESV

We can try to reach the lost by creating a socialist society with everyone on the same financial footing, or we can glorify our GOD for the diverse talents He has given us, and give thanks for the different paths He has set us on. Our blessings don’t come from following a way of life set out for us by the enemy – and if it doesn’t come from GOD, it comes from the enemy! Whether the path GOD puts us onto is a life of missions, or selling everything and giving it to the poor, or serving in some capacity in His church; using wealth to help those in need; or being the best wife and mother – or husband and father – that we can be, as long as we are on GOD’s path and in His Love we will be overflowing with blessings.

“But You, O LORD , are a Shield about me, my Glory, and the Lifter of my head.” – Psalms 3:3 ESV

October 31, aka Halloween

In Psalm 11, David is lamenting on the crumbling of society around him. Despite his despair, or maybe because of his despair, he begins and ends this psalm with the LORD, his – and our – Refuge and our HOPE. As followers of JESUS, we can look at the state of our society and flee; run away from it, isolating ourselves into polar communities. Another option, and apparently the most popular choice, is to assimilate into the culture, becoming less visible as Christians, seemingly camouflaged from the enemy. Tolerance and acceptance of the things GOD hates are mostly easier than standing against the stampede of the Enemy’s forces.

Our final option is to infiltrate, but not to assimilate, into the culture around us. Infiltration means that like JESUS with the most despised of the Jews and Gentiles, the tax collectors, we are in the culture, while standing against sin. As our LORD counted tax collectors as friend, we should count the poor, the sick, the addict as friend, and show them JESUS in us. Spending time with the SAVIOUR showed the tax collectors where their salvation lay. JESUS didn’t sin, He showed sinners how to live in this life by His example, and to anticipate an eternity in Glory with Him. As flawed humans, we sin every day, and it is through our brokenness that we can let the LIGHT of the LORD shine into other’s lives. This is by far the most difficult option, and it requires daily foundation building with GOD. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 NRSV) Like JESUS, we are to “go into the world.” (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20)

Are we surviving the stampede, participating in the stampede, or being trampled in the stampede? To survive, we need to take heed of David’s words: “In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains; for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” ” – Psalms 11:1‭-‬3 NRSV

Being assimilated by society is easy. Infiltrating is difficult and dangerous. It is so easy to fall into the Enemy’s traps! Paul writes in Romans 1: “…. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge GOD, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, GOD-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know GOD’S decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.” (Romans 1:28‭-‬32 NRSV)

Sound familiar? We Christians need more agonizing and less anger. The world isn’t going to change until JESUS returns, but we can make changes for good, wherever we are, by shining the LIGHT of JESUS on the darkness. New morality celebrates everthing GOD hates – We have become a nation, a world, addicted to hate; we live in ugly, perilous times where Evil is mushrooming. BUT remember this: GOD is sovereign and His Throne is not empty. (Read Psalm 45:6; 15:3; 103:19)

What do we do in these times? How do we as Christians treat this pagan holiday? Are we decorating our houses and our bodies with ghouls, goblins, ghosts, skeletons and zombies? And how does this allow the Glory of the LORD shine for the lost?

“The LORD is in His Holy Temple; the LORD’s Throne is in Heaven. His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of MAN, His gaze examines humankind. The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, and His Soul hates the lover of violence. On the wicked He will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is Righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His Face.” – Psalms 11:4‭-‬7 NRSV

GOD is immovable, the Rock of Ages, the shelter for the righteous. He is the only One Who can make us Righteous through JESUS CHRIST; and GOD credits faith with righteousness.

“The Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10 NRSV

Stabilize your soul with the Sovereignty of GOD, and a solid foundation; find a fresh vision of GOD every day. We should be happy warriors, not sad or longfaced. We have Joy the world doesn’t have. GOD sees to us, He sees through us – His gaze examines us. WE are not the judge, GOD is the Judge, and His Judgement is coming. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? (Genesis 19:24)

Ultimately, whether we celebrate tomorrow with Halloween or with Harvest parties is up to each of us to decide. I personally have witnessed too much of the occult and satanic focused on October 31 to celebrate it as anything except another day to be alive and Praise the LORD. Honestly, I’m fearful of the Judgement of the LORD! We are in the midst of the battle, friends; this is WAR.

“I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth. calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the Face of the One seated on the Throne and from the Wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of Their Wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” – Revelation 6:8‭, ‬16‭-‬17 NRSV

I Stand At The Door And Knock

The LORD said to John: “I reprove and discipline those whom I Love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear My Voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with Me. …. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the SPIRIT is saying to the churches.” – Revelation 3:19‭-‬20, 22 NRSV

JESUS is a gentleman, unlike His/our enemy who will slither into our lives through the slightest opening – just like the cockroach he is! Here in these verses from Revelations, JESUS is inviting us to the greatest banquet of all time! There’s no entrance fee, no tickets to buy, no bribes to be paid; just walk in through the door He is knocking on, the door to our souls that He is anxiously waiting to hold open for you – for me. No tricks, no lies, no fooling. Those things belong strictly to the enemy, who constantly bombards us with them. Why should we enter with the LORD now, rather than waiting? We need to be prepared, because we have no way of predicting exactly when JESUS will return and shut the door forever. He tells us what will happen if we aren’t ready when He returns in Luke 13:25 (NRSV).

“When once the Owner of the House [JESUS] has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘LORD, open to us,’ then in reply He will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ ”

Are you willing to take the chance of being locked out; left behind? Satan is busy busy busy these days, filling our ears with the lies that there’s no hurry to give up our sins or to go to JESUS now; after all, He’s been promising to return “soon” for over 2000 years! If you listen to the father of lies, he will convince you that it’s fine to stick with whatever we are doing, however sinful GOD says it is, because we are here, and JESUS isn’t. Lies; Liar! I tell you the truth; I lived that way for years until I finally recognized the deceitfulness and ugliness of the enemy of GOD. When we open our hearts to the LIGHT, all of the lies are illuminated in all of their darkness, to be seen for what they are. Being human, we want to slam the door shut so we can hide the blackness within – but it doesn’t work that way. Once seen, we cannot “un-see” the ugliness, but we can ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. (I tried that way, too. Tried and failed.)

Part of our journey with our LORD is to be transparent with others and to let the LIGHT of JESUS, our Salvation, show through all of our cracks and brokenness. He puts us back together, but I believe He leaves those imperfections on purpose. How else could we serve Him effectively when we are reaching out to sinners like us? We have the opportunity to let His LIGHT shine – or we can throw a blanket over it to hide it. It is a beautiful sight when that covering we put over the Light catches on fire. Talk about the LIGHT of the LORD! Where are you in your life journey? It’s said that there are two types of people: those who are in recovery, and those who need recovery. Let that LIGHT Shine! Open the Door quickly, before it is too late.

Beautiful Saviour

This passage from John 1 is one of the most beautifully written passages in the entire Word of the LORD, the Bible we (should) rely on as instructions for our lives …. but, really, how many of us really read instructions, or actually listen when they are given to us? Confession: I have fought rules, any rules, most of my adult life, primarily out of sheer stubbornness. I adopted the motto “Why be normal” as soon as I heard it. After all, what is ‘normal’ anyway? I have learned that the so-called ‘normal’ of this world is not the ‘normal’ GOD wants for us!

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with GOD, and the WORD was GOD. He was in the beginning with GOD. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of all people. The LIGHT shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” – John 1:1‭-‬5 NRSV

Fanny Crosby wrote this song over 100 years ago, and the words transport me into GOD’s Presence every time I see them:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

The WORD became flesh for only one reason: to provide for us, once and for all, the ULTIMATE Sacrifice to wash away our sinfulness and make us presentable to the Living GOD. For we are all sinners in GOD’s eyes and we will all be judged by Him.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear GOD, and keep His Commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For GOD will bring every deed into the judgment on every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13‭-‬14 NRSV

Blessed assurance, Beautiful SAVIOUR, JESUS is mine! Can you claim it? Are you prepared to stand at the Feet of GOD as He sits on the Great White Throne, as He scrutinizes and judges your life, your every action and every thought? [Daniel 7:9, Revelations 4:4 Revelations 20:11] Do you dare face your creator without an advocate – the Advocate, JESUS CHRIST? Do you know, without a doubt where you will be spending eternity? JESUS is the answer to all of your uncertainties and fears. He has already forgiven you, so don’t you think it’s time – past time – to accept his forgiveness? Jesus said to the Pharisees (highly religious men and the His disciples:

“If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? Those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the Name of the ONLY SON of GOD.” – John 3:12‭, ‬18 NRSV

Listen to “The Way” by Pat Barrett, and “I Am the Way” by Mark Schultz.

Photo credit: Pastor Rick Warren, https://pastorrick.com

Greedy Little People

“Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” JESUS replied, “Friend, who made Me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then He said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” ” – Luke 12:13‭-‬15 NLT

It breaks my heart to see the families, the friendships, and the relationships that are damaged beyond repair because of greed. I suspect that most of us have witnessed this behaviour firsthand. I have experienced what greed can do in my personal life and in my extended family, and I have seen the consequences of greed in my own and in other’s lives. My Dad had four siblings, and came from a family that was, if not wealthy, certainly well off. When his mother passed, and when he was finally able to go to her house (he was the only sibling who didn’t live in the same city with the rest), he found it stripped of almost everything of value. No, no burglers, just certain family members who decided they would take whatever they wanted. A similar thing happened to my Mom when her mother passed on. I have seen it to a much smaller extent in my immediate family. I have also seen it in wealthy friends (really, multimillionaires – I don’t comprehend that level of wealth!), who were terrified that someone would take advantage of them or scam them to gain access to their money. Paranoia, distrust, bitterness in relationships were the result. Ironically, they were being taken advantage of by the people who were closest to them because of greed.

That kind of behaviour, i.e. greediness, causes hurt and division. People, nothing on this earth is important enough to lose family or friends because of greed. Whenever I die and pass into heaven, what good will it do for me to have all the best and brightest things? Absolutely no good, because nohing from this earth will go with me then. I am blessed to have some little things from my Dad and my grandparents; they have no monetary value, and I am fine with that. I like them for the memories they evoke. My response to greediness is to lable items with whomever I want to have them, to keep a list in my will, and to give things away now. I certainly won’t need any of it, but I especially don’t want to see any grasping greediness in those close to me!

“Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

You may be experiencing sadness, and you might be hurting and becoming bitter because you weren’t left what you wanted, expected, or thought you ‘deserved’. Sometimes it is accidental (not leaving a will or written directions for the survivors), and sometimes it is intentional, sadly. Read the parable of the rich man in Luke 12: 13-21, in fact, read the entire chapter.

“But GOD said to him [the greedy rich man], ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich Relationship with GOD.” – Luke 12:20‭-‬21 NLT

JESUS replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of GOD and put it into practice.” – Luke 11:28 NLT

I often feel like I don’t have much, and then I look around and see how absolutely Blessed I am with family and friends. I have an abundance of ‘things,’ including much of I don’t need. Downsizing is the topic du jour in social and print media, yet it seems that everywhere I turn there are bigger and fancier homes being built. It’s pretty obvious to me that our society is permeated by greed. As for me, I want to sell my (too large) house and get into a smaller one, closer to family…. my priorities have changed, and I attribute any good that has happened to my life to my LORD, JESUS. It is no longer ‘necessary’ to compete with the ‘Jones.’ Earthly weath no longer appeals so much to me. If I possessed monetary weath, I would do everything I could to help my family and friends, and my passions: my church, K-Love radio, the Salvation Army, the National Rifle Association. For me, I want my prayer to always be “Just enough, LORD, just enough,” and “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want” – with NO ‘BUTS’!

YES!!!

TRUST and OBEY

TRUST and OBEY. Difficult words. Trust defined: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Trust is faith, and faith, well, faith is tough when you have had (or have) pain and betrayal in your life. Then there’s ‘Obey’. The word leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you have no trust, no faith, in the person or persons you are supposed to obey. Parents, siblings, classmates, friends, bosses, the list of people who might require us to obey them is long and varied. I have been betrayed countless times, and I know I have betrayed trust that was placed in me. Betrayal doesn’t have to be deliberate, but the hurt runs deep, making it difficult to trust again. We become guarded in offering our trust and faith, and that impacts every aspect of our lives. Every person who has ever lived or will ever live on this earth – from the first man, Adam, to the newest baby born – will experience betrayal. Even GOD the FATHER, our CREATOR, and JESUS CHRIST, our LORD, have experienced it!

How do we get past it? I submit that there is only one way to escape the unending treadmill of no trust, and that is to look at the perfect record of our LORD. Throughout the recorded history of the thousands of years of earth’s and man’s existence, GOD has never betrayed us. Even in the worst betrayals of man against Him, the FATHER stood with those who chose Him (remember, He gave man Free Will when He created him). He stood beside us even when we persecuted and tortured and murdered His Son, and He allowed it as the Sacrifice to end all sacrifice. He has used the Blood of JESUS to cover and cleanse our sins… past, present, and future, of those who make that choice to Trust in the LORD.

It’s a choice. Making the choice is simple, and it can be difficult for many of us, but it’s still a choice! Whether we like it or not, the truth is that we have to choose between the one who currently rules world or the ONE Who CREATED of the world. The enemy makes the way of world look all glam and glittery and enticing and easy, but it’s all window dressing. Once he gets you and you begin to see how truly ugly it is, it’s really hard to escape from his grasp.

Here’s the GOOD NEWS! It’s never to late to escape! All we have to do is look up, away from the enemy, to see JESUS and realize He has been right there all along, just waiting for you to ask Him for help.

“The Lord is my Strength and my Shield; my heart trusts in Him,and He helps me. My heart leaps for Joy, and with my song I praise Him.” – Psalm 28:7 NIV

Have you looked at JESUS and chosen to trust HIM over the enemy? Listen to the words of the old hymn Trust and Obey, and the way Big Daddy Weave sings it. Verse 2 says:
But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
For the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey

Make the Plans

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the Purpose of the LORD that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21 ESV

As one of my pastors says, “Make the plans; don’t plan the results.” That’s really hard to do! Our plans lead to a conclusion, the ‘results’. How do we make plans without planning the results? It’s easy to say, but difficult to implement. We plan our lives: as children, we look at people around us, and plan how our lives are going to be. I was going to be a movie star cowboy and marry a prince. 😁 (In case you wonder, I’m not a movie star, but I love horses and have owned several. Does that make me a cowboy? As for the prince, well, no prince, but more the one TOAD…. )

in high school; we are asked to make a plan for our future. College, Vo-tech, or a job? In college or Vo-tech, we have to plan our majors and focus of study. To advance in our jobs, we need an action plan. We plan weddings and birthdays. It’s hard to live without making plans, and it’s good to plan. Planning helps us to see what direction we need to head; planning shows us where we are doing well and where we need improvement; and it shows us what we have accomplished. Planning is a good thing! We hit the wall, though, when we want our plans to turn out exactly the way we want them to, intead of leaving the plan in GOD’s Hands. Yes, I am speaking from experience! I want what I want when I want and how I want …. my plan, my results. Life is so much better when I make the plan, and then I take my hands away and let GOD do as He wills with my plan. Is it easy to do? Not at all! I don’t claim to be good at letting go of my planned results, because I’m not.

I still want what I want when I want it, and that’s not how GOD works. His timing, and His answers, are often out of sync with my timing and the answer I want, but I’m learning. Scriptures tell us over and over to wait on the LORD. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” and Isaiah 40:31 “…. but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint;” and many, many more. Wait. Wait. Wait; frustrated, anxious, wanting that answer, that thing, now. When I stop trying to control the results, they may not be what I want or when I want, but by letting GOD control the results I have peace. It’s absolutely amazing! We each have a choice. Let our controlling, OCD self rule our mind and body, or let the Almighty, our FATHER, do what He does best – take care of us and provide the best for us. It isn’t a one-time thing. Every day, every plan, every decision has to be given to Him, and it’s really easy to think GOD is too busy to deal with every little thing for us. Nothing is too small for our LORD! JESUS said “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:6‭-‬7 ESV

Photo credit leesbirds.com