Nov 152015

war against evilThe world watched in shock Friday at the bloodshed and carnage that changed the face of Paris. As the casualty count grew, world leaders chimed in with their support, some heartfelt, some anemic. This is the third time in a hundred years that Paris has been touched by war. Yes, I said war.

It’s a war between good and evil. I know that it is common now to explain away terrorism, excusing their behavior, assigning noble purposes to their actions, but make no mistake, evil is evil. When a terrorist act, which by definition is for the purpose of creating fear and not to punish guilty individuals, is perpetrated, that is evil, pure and simple.

As a Christian, I believe that this world is indeed in the middle of a war, a war between good and evil. A war to determine whether God’s law of love will prevail against Satan’s kingdom of hate and destruction. Evil acts, whether performed by terrorist groups, nation-states, or individuals, all have one thing in common- men and women choosing wrong over right.

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV.

Evil will continue until Jesus comes to take His children home. What should we do in the mean time? Grieve for those in great suffering. Reach out to help. Call evil by it’s right name, and yes that means not only in Paris, but Beirut and elsewhere. Support justice and punishment for evildoers. And yes, pray. Pray for the evil doers that they will come to their senses and recognize their evil. Pray for the victims maimed and lost. Pray for the families left behind. Pray for those on the front lines fighting to protect us.

As we move closer to Thanksgiving, I pray that we are thankful for the simplicity of a plain red coffee cup rather than searching to find evil in the wrong corners. Instead, that we remove our heads from the sand, recognize the war and  true evil for what it is, and choose to fight it.

Nov 082015

unconditional surrenderUnconditional. Absolute. Complete. Also maybe harsh, inflexible, intolerant. Unconditional surrender. What was required of the Axis powers by the Allies at the end of World War II. What was NOT required of General Lee at the close of the Civil war. Confederate soldiers were permitted to keep their sidearms and their personal horses, one small right act before federal policies and practices continued the devastation of an already crushed South.

Unconditional. A word that refuses forgiveness and opposes redemption.  We even have idiomatic expressions for this [and no, I don’t use that “i’ word very much]. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. A more obscure one- Don’t throw out the champagne with the cork. The idea of going to extremes, such extremes that we discard good along with the bad. We do this all the time. We evaluate an action or decision by a person and write them off completely for that one thing. Unconditional.

Have you ever noticed that the truth about God is often opposite, inverse, antonymic (is that a word?) of and to the truth about us and the sin in our world? God takes that same word, unconditional, and applies it to the way He loves us. Yes, absolute, complete, yes inflexible. And maybe this is why we just don’t get it. When we think unconditional, all we can think of is negative. We can’t seem to let love be in the same sentence with that word!

And yet God continues to force those two words together. Unconditional. Love. In a way that boggles and confounds us.

I am a thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
It’s like nothing in life that I’ve ever known
Yes, You love me anyway
Oh, Lord, how You love me.
-Sidewalk Prophets

We pull away from God because we… just…. can’t… believe that anyone could love us with no strings, no conditions, no if’s.

I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.  -Isaiah 43:4 The Message

There it is. The message is clear. He would give…anything…everything… to get you back. That is the measure of His love for you. When that doesn’t make sense to me, it is when I am measuring love from my view, through my eyes. I try to limit God to what I can do, how I can love. This takes me down a path of rejection and denial. No! Not Him rejecting me, but me rejecting a love that makes no sense to my narrow, limited, conditional mind.

I enjoyed the sound of the rain in the predawn darkness this morning. That gentle, uniform, unconditional sharing of life-giving water that blessed our entire valley. I am reminded yet again that God loves me with a love that won’t stop, a love with no strings.


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