Weeping for Dictators

Weeping for Dictators

weeping for dictatorsIt was one of those memorable conversations…

I was sitting in my whale-size 15 passenger van in a busy parking lot having a phone conversation with a pastor about a host of thorny issues. At one point we waxed political. (I told you it was thorny!) He asked, “Did you watch when they hung Saddam Hussein?” Before I could answer he said, “I was sitting in front of the T.V. watching the last moments of his life—weeping…”

A torrent of emotion swept over him as he retold the experience. I didn’t need to see him; his tears and stuttering voice were vivid evidence of his sincerity. Not knowing this brother as an emotional type I was a little shocked that he was weeping but far more that he was weeping for a man whose dastardly deeds were well-known to the world. A man about whom reasonable people would say without reservation, “he’s getting what he deserves!” But this brother’s heart was deeply concerned for Hussein’s soul as he watched him transition into what he feared was a Christ-less eternity.

This brief clip in our marathon conversation impacted me greatly. In these politically perverted times, it is easy to comment with contempt and derision on our politicians, dubious leaders of other nations, reporters, and the CEOs of well-known companies. As I watch, the darkness; the blindness is stark.

My brother’s surprising response served as a reminder.

First, I am no better.

We are all debtors to grace. Jesus had to die for the “little” sins as well as the “big” ones. In a sense, little or big are of no consequence because each required the death of Jesus. When we see ourselves and our sin that way, we are cut down to size. We are humbled. We are given the wonderful opportunity to be reminded of our own debt to grace that we easily forget when indignantly focused on the “larger” misdeeds of others.

Second, I need to pray for the salvation of my enemies.

It is good to weep for dictators and those whose actions are clearly criminal and/or a complete mystery to us. It is hard to hate someone you are sincerely praying for. Our weeping can take the form of fervent prayers with our families around the dinner table. These people desperately need the grace of God (just like us). They need grace for the sake of their own souls and for the sake of the many, many people who suffer under their rule or influence.

Third, I need to remember where my real citizenship lies.

We are citizens of heaven. Everything of lasting value is there. Clearly, we in the West have lived through an unprecedented season of freedom and prosperity. A mind focused on this world, would look at my pastor friend and not understand the weeping. But his weeping shows a heart properly aligned with the values of his true citizenship.

Optimism in Depressing Times

I am optimistic about the times ahead. Not because I think life is going to get easier. I wish it would, but it will likely get harder and many of us will probably suffer. But God is no stranger to dispensing unmeasured grace and mercy in the harshest of circumstances.

My optimism is instead based upon my confidence that our Sovereign God is working through every detail to build his Church. He is making us more like who we already are in Jesus and he is using us to do eternally rewarding work—dispensing true hope and joy to those who are being swallowed up by the darkness of our times.

God has a plan that will not be thwarted by any human or principality. His plan operates on a different set of rules. And we who are in Christ have already benefitted beyond measure. We are ambassadors of hope and joy to people who need it, including ourselves. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to share this good news, see righteousness pierce darkness and witness an abundant harvest for King Jesus.

Spring Scripture Printable

Spring Scripture Printable

Spring Printable

 

​From our family to yours, print this file on cardstock, cut out and be creative! We chose scriptures for our spring printable that both encourage and inspire. Identity statements to fill our minds with truth as we face uncertain times. Hang them on the refrigerator or bathroom, carry them in your pocket, the options are limitless!

Three Ways to Live Joyfully in Life’s Tensions

Three Ways to Live Joyfully in Life’s Tensions

tensionWhy can’t life be a relaxing, sunny day at the beach? 

Home life has a way of arousing tensions, doesn’t it?  From granular tensions such as whose day is it to clean the kitchen, to who gets to go the store with Mom, or which movie to watch; to moderate tensions such as which car to buy, or how to get through a disagreement with a spouse; to the most serious tensions job choice, whether or not to get married, or what house to buy.  Ironically, I think we struggle more from the daily granular tensions than we do from the serious ones.  Someone; a spouse, a child, a mother-in-law: people could be or will be upset with whatever we decide to do which makes any choice seem unacceptable leaving us indecisive.

Almost every decision we face places us in the crosshairs of complex and conflicting forces which raise tension, stress, and the wry if not resigned reflection, “Why can’t this be easier? Why does life have to be so hard!”

Inner and relational tensions come from living in a fallen world.  But there are three positive sides to life’s tensions that I want to encourage you with today.

  1. Tension provides an opportunity to look at life from a godly perspective so that we can have joy. If we’re honest, we struggle to always remember God in our decisions, especially the most granular.  Life happen so fast and we easily succumb to habit, whim, or someone else’s “wishes” er hmm, demands.  If everything went the way we wanted, then we would have no need for God.

As Christians, we are sojourners, exiles, aliens because our real home is in heaven.  Our primary allegiance to God is always challenged.  If we’re living right, there’s a sense in which we should always feel tension on some level.  Tension is a reminder that we need to look at situations from God’s perspective. As the Author of Life, he alone can tell us how to live joyfully in a sinful world.

  1. God is showing how dependent we are on him so that we can rest. As created beings, we all need outside help: God’s “help”.  As The Creator and sustainer of life, we absolutely need God’s wisdom, understanding and guidance in all things. The rugged individualism that we prize in America exalts independence and self-reliance. In proper context and balance, there is value in these qualities. However, our flesh seeks to make these qualities ultimate and we easily carry these qualities over into other parts of our lives such as our spiritual walk and relationships often with devastating consequences.

All spheres of life require ultimate dependence upon God and his word. Tension is an accountability tool that calls us to examine what or who we are depending on.  We can rejoice that God is a rewarder of those who seek, and hence depend, on him. When we depend on him, we can rest, even in distressing situations.

  1. God wants us to exercise our faith to apply his promises. In some cases, especially major decisions, we might cry out, “I want to do God’s will!”  While commendable, God’s will is often not an easy decision that is made with complete clarity on all the factors involved—or the certainty of an ideal outcome.  Seeking to make the right decision can also be a reflection of our own idolatry.  We do not know the future, only God does.

Romans 8:29 tells us what the will of God is: conformity to the image of his son, Jesus Christ.  Previously in verse 28, we read that God uses “all things” which includes good and bad, to accomplish his will.  Life seems to teach us that we learn more from the situations that run the gamut from unpleasant to misery.  They are opportunities to exercise our faith without which it is impossible to please God and to access the precious promises he gives us for life that carry us through tension.

Not every day can be a day at the beach.  I’ve heard it said, “Live joyfully in the tension.”  We can do that when we look at tensions from a godly perspective, accept that each tension reminds us our place a dependent creatures, and that each tension is an opportunity to exercise our faith.

Doing those three things may not make yours a day at the beach, but it will help you navigate the seas of life with resilient hope and the unwavering confidence that gives us peace and draws us closer to God.

ID from A-Z

Identity in Christ from A-Z

 

This document was given out at a real hope for your homerecent Men’s retreat. Print and keep it with your bible to meditate on during your devotions. Chose one truth to focus on per week as a family. Pull it out during discouraging times and refresh your soul. The uses are many!