Daily Devotions

A Pain-in-the-Neck for Christ

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He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’" (Luke 18:2 & 3)

 

At first glance, God often seems uncaring, not unlike this unjust judge. So, like the widow pestering the judge for justice, we must be called to pester God in order to get some level of justice in this world.

 

I really don't like the view just described, because God is infinitely more powerful and compassionate than this cold-hearted, unjust judge. I believe what this parable is trying to express is that we are not to simply to sit on our hands and wait for a miracle. God's Spirit is still active in bringing justice and wholeness, but God's work is done through our actions. We need to be as persistent and pushy at caring for the marginalized, as the widow was in sticking up for herself.

 

A local organization, Joppa, is working to develop "tiny houses" for the homeless. The one they displayed on our church grounds was beautiful and could meet the needs of a single occupant. As a Joppa representative explained to me, the city has a rule that any neighborhood has the right to vote on the inclusion of these tiny homes. Seventy-one percent of neighborhood business owners have to vote in favor of the tiny homes for them to become a reality. Thus far no neighborhood has said, "Yes." There are fears of lower property values, increased illegal activity etc., with the homeless living in the tiny homes, in their neighborhood. While statistically inaccurate, these fears remain.

 

Change can only occur when, like the widow, we do not give up. We, too, need to be persistent, presenting truthful information and praying for the Holy Spirit to transform hearts and minds. There are a lot more homeless in our neighborhoods than we would like to admit. Right now there are tents all along the Des Moines River, running through many of our neighborhoods. People are living in their cars, throughout the greater metro. A tiny house would be a great alternative. Please be prayerful and persistent in your care for the less fortunate. Everyone deserves a roof over their heads!

Left Behind No More

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"I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left."

(Luke 17:34)

 

This passages has been the bane of my existence throughout my ministry. When I started in ministry it was Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Plant Earth. More recently, It was Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series. Bad theology can be frightening and dangerous. Sadly, in my Grandmother's Presbyterian Church I was shown a movie with people there one minute and gone the next. Traffic accidents, even an electric razor humming in a bathroom sink, showed the faithful zapped into heaven, while the evil sinners were "left behind." Raised in a Christian home where God was love, this disturbed me in my core, and it took a few years to trust in God's loving mercy again.

 

According to theologian, Miguel A. De La Torre, "Although the notion of rapture can be traced back to the eighteenth century, it was John Nelson Darby during the nineteenth century who popularized the concept. By the twentieth century the term was in wide circulation, thanks mainly to the Scofield Reference Bible. The imposition of this quite recent interpretation of rapture upon the biblical text has taken such a hold that it makes it difficult to read the text without reading into it some dispensationalist meaning." Go back to verse 21, "the kingdom is among you." It isn't the faithful being lifted into the air literally. Instead, it is poetic imagery describing "leaving behind" the old, evil ways, and bringing God's love, justice, and mercy, into the world.

 

God's kingdom is not limited to some otherworldly kingdom, but is already in the world we presently live. When we show compassion and justice for those in need, evil is "left behind," and God's kingdom is present. When we make worship and prayer a priority, evil is "left behind," and God's kingdom is present. Today, ask God to use you to make the kingdom present in the lives of those around you. The world is not something we leave to find God's kingdom. God's kingdom is all around us, we just need the faith and actions necessary for it be recognized. Let others see the kingdom of God in you!

 

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