Over this past Christmas Karen and I were passing by a new assisted living apartment complex that is going up behind the gated villa community in Florida where my mother-in-law has a home. Each time we came in and out during our stay we had plenty of opportunity to observe the progress of construction. At the time they were at the stage where they were boxing in a form for the header at the top of the cement block walls. Once that form is in place they tie off the steel reinforcing rods to form a web that literally ties the header to the wall. They'll then pour concrete to cover the tied steel rods. The pour will bring the header up to a perfect level so that when the concrete is dry and the forms are removed the top of the wall will be prepared to hold the weight of the roof or second story.
Stay with me a moment…
Quite a few years ago, I had occasion to service a washing machine in the garage of a Florida home. As is typical of much of the building in S. Florida this one was also a CBS or Concrete Block Structure.
More often than not both the exterior and interior surfaces of the walls would be finished. In this particular case the inside of the garage had been left unfinished and you could easily see the block and mortar lines.
While waiting for the washer to run through a diagnostic cycle there was a point at which I began looking up and around taking particular note of the wall to my left. I was a bit taken back by what I saw. Somehow a couple of courses of blocks up from the foundation the block masons had apparently lost site of the level (story) lines they were to follow. By midway up a long wave took shape which continued in the successive courses until it was engulfed in the header.
Were they drunk? What unseen issue so affected assembly that the blocks were set off course?
What was so interesting to me was how they overcame the problem. They simply formed the header so that the final pour of concrete perfectly leveled the wall. The header tied it together and made the otherwise incurably crooked wall level.
There are many things in life I don't have the ability to control. Sometimes, even when I think I am doing the best I can things don't turn out so well under review. Then too I have been known to be downright belligerent, insisting on my own way.
At the heart of the story we call the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this fourfold truth: Our hearts are crooked; God loves us; Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and Heaven is populated by crooked saints leveled by the pouring out of God's grace into our lives.
What's your story; sunken footers, crooked courses, facing a failed inspection?
Take careful note here. We cannot take an irresponsible view of the Gospel and say that it doesn't matter how we live because we can get it all leveled out by the grace of God in the end of it.
No, not at all!
In life there are very real consequences to crooked courses and life is so very much more complicated than a simple block wall. What the illustration does serve to say, and say well, is that when a life is turned over to God through trust in Jesus Christ, He will pour in His Spirit, make course corrections and warranty His work for final inspection.
Let God pour Himself into you and let His words have their way. Tell Him that's what you want, then trust Him to do it…
I Corinthians 3:9b,13a by way of personal application, "We are God's building...[And] every builder's work will be plainly seen because it will be revealed..."
Grace today y'all!
In every election cycle the debate amongst well-meaning saints resurfaces. Should Christians vote?
Here are a few ideas to include in our thinking…
1. The privilege to participate in our government
Given that we currently have the privilege to affect government policy through our vote, should we not take advantage of it?
Jesus’ well-known beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers” supplies a directive for human participation in the divine value of interpersonal peace. How far should we take such directives? Could it be that in the case of systems of government that provide for voter participation we should use our power to vote the politics of peace?
2. The priority of love
In the enduring words of Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?”
Not love for a favorite candidate but for God and our neighbors.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself…Do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28 [ESV]
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 [ESV]
The great commandments have now since Christ become a trinity of directive. “Love God with all your person;” then, as a priority for His students the Savior inserted, “Love your brothers and sisters – fellow believers –as I have loved you;” and to fill out the love trinity, “love your neighbor – any fellow person, even a personal enemy – as yourself.” Love compels me to support that which glorifies God, the well-being of my Christian family and that of our neighbors in general. Casting an informed vote may help.
3. Lifting policy over preference of persons
If we can get both a holy person and great policies all the better.
Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, is rumored to have become famous for two things. First, that he lived in a bathtub and took it with him wherever he went, and second, that he possessed a lamp. It was said that with his lamp he went throughout Athens looking for a man who was honest. Legend says that before he could attain success his lamp went out. His search ended in futility.
Our favored leaders may be nice, well-spoken, charismatic and our favorite color but immoral in policy.
A believer knows it is the Spirit of God and not government policy that bears the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Wherever love exists, even in its weakest expression, God is the reason.
However, on the other side of that coin we are instructed to pray for our ‘king’ for the sake of a continuing atmosphere conducive to living peaceably and the freedom to share Christ (I Timothy 2:1-5). To pray for what we want, yet to do nothing to advance a policy that would support the answer may be considered irresponsible.
4. The prompting of conscience
“How can we expect people to “vote their values” when they can’t even define what those values are, and they struggle to articulate what they believe and why they believe it?” Ruth Malhotra, Public Relations Manager at RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Mission)
“We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions.” Dr. Al Mohler, “Aftermath: Lessons from the 2012 Election” (November 7, 2012)
Our consciences resonate according to what we value morally. For example: Do we care about abortions and infanticide, or that our freedom to define perversions (wrong behavior) according to our own understanding of the will of God is at risk? At risk is our freedom to teach those definitions in our assemblies, and our freedom to deny participation to those that refuse to comply. Others are eager to band together to take your freedom away by voting for leaders and policy makers that support their viewpoint – what about us?
Oz Guinness warns us that "in the end the ultimate threat to the American republic will be Americans. The problem is not wolves at the door but termites in the floor. The future of the republic depends on whether Americans will rise to the challenge of living up to America's unfulfilled potential for freedom, both for itself and for the world.”
Oz Guinness, A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future, InterVarsity Press, 2012
5. The practice of faith
We know perhaps most clearly from the Apostle Paul that the Lord is the originator of governments as inherent to our existence. The very idea of authorities and policies that govern us is from Him - so are the outcomes of coups, revolutions, conquests and elections. Most of us are unable to predict them, but we know from many places in Scripture that the Lord is the one who ultimately decides. The Queen of Sheba knew this about Solomon (I Kings 10:9), Daniel knew this about Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:32) and Solomon wrote it in proverb form saying, “The lot is tossed into the lap, but their every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33
We also know that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 18). All living faith is recognizable by the behavior that acts it out. So, when the Christian votes they vote by faith, trusting the hand of the Lord to lead them, and entrusting the outcomes to Him.
Grace today y’all!