Remember, you don’t give life to the root. The root gives life to you.

photo by BrittneyBush

“Some of the natural branches have been broken off. You are a wild olive branch. But you have been joined to the tree with the other branches. Now you enjoy the life-giving sap of the olive tree root. So don’t think you are better than the other branches. Remember, you don’t give life to the root. The root gives life to you. ” (Romans 11:17–18, NIrV)

I am often reminded of this verse when in the middle of the immigration debate – which is often (irrespective of SB1070).

The arrogance and assumptions made by both sides are disheartening.  Thorough analysis of a complicated situation that literally has lives and families hanging in the balance seems rare – replaced by angry mobs chanting the talking points of whichever political leaders/reformers have caught their ears.  It is a good reminder that no matter which branch you consider yourself, cultivated or wild, you are simply enjoying the benefit of the root which is supporting you – not the other way around.  Everything can change, and quite quickly.

“Then the Lord God sent a vine and made it grow up over Jonah. It gave him more shade for his head. It made him more comfortable. Jonah was very happy he had the vine. But before sunrise the next day, God sent a worm. It chewed the vine so much that it dried up. When the sun rose, God sent a burning east wind. The sun beat down on Jonah’s head. It made him very weak. He wanted to die. So he said, “I’d rather die than live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you have any right to be angry about what happened to the vine?” “I do,” he said. “In fact, I’m angry enough to die.” But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine. But you did not take care of it. You did not make it grow. It grew up in one night and died the next. Nineveh has more than 120,000 people. They can’t tell right from wrong. Nineveh also has a lot of cattle. So shouldn’t I show concern for that great city?” ” (Jonah 4:6–11, NIrV)

Just a hint – the worm is not the unauthorized immigrants to our country.

You are a recipient of grace and mercy.  You have been bestowed a tremendous privilege of living in the United States, the most prosperous nation in the world.  Remember where that life really comes from.  You aren’t it.  Ultimately our faith must not be in gov’ts, economies, reform movements, border protection, etc.   It must be in the grace and mercy freely poured out from the Father through Jesus Christ and subsequent transformation that comes from individual hearts set free.

Ultimately, followers of Christ should be more concerned about getting people into the Kingdom than in getting them out of the country.  They should do more searching of the Scriptures for guidance than scanning the channels.  The most disheartening part of these debates is how little of the former and how much of the latter is the norm for the body of Christ today.  May God have mercy on us.

The biggest challenge to our nation is an internal one and it is not immigrants.  We must have both revival and an awakening or we will not stand.  No amount of law enforcement nor border protection will change that fact.

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Where is the hope?

photo by KM&G-Morris

photo by KM&G-Morris

“Where is the hope? I meet millions of people who feel demoralized by the decay around us. The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that’s where our hope is in this country. And that’s where our hope is in life.” – Charles Colson

In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.” (Psalm 11, NIV)

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? This is a question that has not left my mind in sometime. With an all out assault being waged on the sanctity of life, the determination on the part of our government officials to become the indebted servants of China, and the recent judgement handed down by the Iowa Supreme Court redefining marriage, it is clear that the foundations are indeed being destroyed.  A big temptation is to respond in the flesh and seek political solutions to these political problems.  Satan would love for us to devote all of our energy and focus there in a futile attempt to bring about righteousness through political action.  But as a follower of Christ, I know that these are spiritual problems being expressed as political problems.  We mustn’t focus on symptoms, we must go deeper to the disease.  So what can the righteous do?   The best answer I know:

1. pray – pray that God’s people would radically align their lives to Jesus Christ and that God would turn the hearts of our leaders towards righteousness;

2. purify – no more ‘tolerance’ of sin in our own lives; we must search our own camps and cast out all idols – idolatry is as subtle as it is seductive and it has permeated even the church.  A genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, the creator and lover of our souls, and a radical alignment to His will is attractive to those His spirit has prepared.  We must focus less on being attractive to the world and more on a authentic following of the Christ.

3. proclaim truth and repentance – now more than ever we must have the courage to stand boldly and speak truthfully to all those around us, with everyone who will listen.  We must speak as those who know full well the fury of God’s wrath and also as those who know full well the fullness of His mercy.  What we are seeing now is both the hardening of hearts AND a failure of God’s people to make true disciples even within our own families.  There is no such thing as cheap grace as we will soon see.

As citizens of a free country, we do have civic responsibility to engage and seek just laws, that uphold human dignity and protect human life.  We should not neglect these duties, but our first priority must be to proclaim God’s truth with encouragement towards repentance and reconciliation with Jesus Christ.

When asking what can the righteous do – the quote from Charles Colson is excellent grounding.  If we want to restore the foundations, if we want real change, we must be God’s instruments to change hearts.  Church, it’s time to get praying, purifying, and proclaiming like never before!  It is true that “our hope is in God working through the hearts of people.”  Let’s give Him permission to move through our hearts to those of others.  And remember, no matter how ugly it gets, in the end…Jesus wins.

You have made known to me the path of life

A miktam of David. Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips. Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16, NIV)

May we Bless the Lord and choose the path of life for ourselves and those who cannot choose it for themselves.  Choose blessing and life today!