Where Real Life is Lived-


How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you
– Psalm 31:19 NIV

My Dad died over the holidays. 

Death is never pleasant or easy. The Bible teaches death is not something human beings were created to experience (Genesis 2:16-17). Therefore, every death is grim, traumatic and depressing on some level. All that being said, as far death goes, his was less terrible than many. My Dad died quietly and peacefully in our home two days after Christmas. He didn’t linger on the edge of death for weeks or months as some do, nor was he terribly uncomfortable as he neared the end as some are. 

We were fortunate to have all four of our children with us the night he passed. Each shared something they loved about my Dad or a fond memory they had about him then we all prayed for him. A few minutes after we were done praying he breathed his last breath and that was it.

He was gone. 

The next day I gave information so his death certificate could be filed with the state. The woman filling out the paper work asked all manner of questions about my Dad’s life. Among other things, she wanted to know: where was he born?  What kind of career did he have? How many years was he married? How many children did he have? What level of education did he receive?  

On paper my Dad’s life looked pretty good.  

He graduated from college. He remained married to the same woman for forty-two years. He had a rewarding career in entomology. He travelled extensively and lived in a number of interesting places.  He fathered six children: four boys and two girls. At the end of the conversation the woman gathering the information commented that it sounded as if my Dad had lived a full and happy life. The reality of his existence was a bit different. My Dad was not a horrible man. He wasn’t evil and I doubt it was ever his intention to cause harm.  

However.

My Father did live a life that was unaltered in any conspicuous way by the restorative and redeeming work of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying my Dad was an unbeliever. I honestly do not know if he was or he wasn’t. His spiritual state was a bit of a mystery. I do know he and I talked at length about a commitment he made to Jesus shortly after my Mother died. I also know that over the last few years my husband and I and many other Christians attempted to have a number of spiritual conversations with him. However, in his later years’ dementia became an ever-increasing issue in his life so it was hard to know exactly where he stood spiritually. I do know after his “conversion experience” he never really grew spiritually or allowed his attitudes and behaviors to be transformed by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:5-16, 2nd).  Like so many people in this world who commit their lives to Jesus my Father remained exactly what and who he had been all of my life. In his case this meant he was a hard man with a bad temper and a whole slew of bad habits, who judged others with a measuring stick he refused to use on himself.  Sadly, he had few friends as he neared the end of his life. He died estranged from four of his six children and his two brothers. 

Sigh.

For the sake of my own sanity I choose to believe the best about my Dad’s eternal state. The mercy of God is great and the word of God never returns void (Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 55:11). Therefore, I am choosing to believe I will see my Dad again someday. He will be an entirely new man and we will have the relationship we were always meant to have (2nd Corinthians 5:17)  

That being said.

In my more navel-gazy moments of grief and loss I wonder what my Dad would say now that he is firmly on the other side of the great divide that exists between the living and the dead (Luke 16:26).  

If he could I believe my Dad would say that a life lived for self is ultimately a wasted life. He would advise the living to mend fences and build bridges with the people we love while we have the opportunity to do so because there will come a day for all of us when those opportunities will be gone forever. He would likely have a lot to say about the importance of avoiding bitterness and not sinning in fits of anger (Ephesians 4:26, Hebrews 12:15, Ephesians 4:31. Most significantly, I believe with all of my heart and soul my Dad would tell us all to take any commitment we have made to Jesus seriously. He would advise us to do the things the New Testament tells us to do so we will grow into the people God designed us to be.  Because then—and only then—we get the full and abundant life Jesus promises those who believe enough to put God’s words into action. 

Because that is ultimately where real life is lived. 

The Folly of Looking to Politics for Hope-

For you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings– Malachi 4:2 ESV

Hardly a day goes by without our culture acquiescing to and even celebrating the “new normal”.

Behaviors and viewpoints that would have been considered unthinkable a few decades ago have become so ordinary we are hardly shocked by them. Following are a few highlights:

Biological boys are routinely transformed into girls and vice-versa. Men dressed flamboyantly as women oftentimes have the run of story hour at public libraries in large metropolitan areas. The American Medical Association has recommended that the sexual designation be removed from all birth certificates.  Nearly one-third of all children are born to unmarried women.  Record numbers of drug overdoses were reported last year. Nonetheless, due to decriminalization efforts drugs including some “hard drugs” are for all intents and purposes, now legal.  Material that was once considered hardcore pornography and therefore completely unacceptable is now mainstream and available to any third-grader with a smartphone. Perhaps, most shocking there is an active push to normalize and legalize pedophilia. 

Sadly, the above list barely scratches the surface of the social and moral changes that have taken place in our society over the course of the last three decades.  

Sigh. 

This moral sea change has had a hardening influence on society in general. Individuals routinely say things about and to others that would have been considered unimaginable just a few years ago. People are becoming more violent as individuals become less self-controlled and less concerned with the well-being of others. This trend has resulted in a sharp uptick of violent crime. Riots, school shootings, hate crimes and road rage have all become disturbingly ordinary events in many parts of Western civilization.  

Sigh. 

Most conservatives find all this quite troubling. Especially Christian conservatives. We understand a civilization will not continue to function as a legit society for long if the majority chooses to embrace moral and social anarchy. 

Most Christians are searching frantically for a clear path out of the encroaching madness.   Our go-to to achieve this end tends to be political. Most Christians are hoping and praying for a political figure or party to step into the fray. We want a wise human who will make some laws that will save us from our sorry selves before we go the way of the Romans or the Babylonians and sin ourselves into extinction. There are all sorts of problems and issues with this mindset, following are four of the most troubling: 

When we look to politics for escape from our problems we ignore history- 

Americans, including many Christians have voted for a lot of losers from both parties over the course of the last century. That being said, our culture did not become the dumpster fire it is today because Americans elected the wrong people. Americans, including many Christians elected the wrong people because they believed the wrong things about God, life and what really matters in life. The wrong beliefs our culture adopted created the moral vacuum that got us the political leaders we have today. We must never forget: in a democracy politics always follow the moral choices of the people doing the voting. 

It denies the warnings of Scripture-  

Scripture teaches that as a general principal, humans tend to reap what they sow (Job 4:8, Proverbs 22:8, Hosea 8:7, Hosea 10:12, 2nd Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:7). It is very rare that bad leadership erupts from out of nowhere. This is even more true in a society where people get to elect their leaders. It is simply a pattern throughout Scripture that societies tend to get the leaders they deserve due to the choices of their citizens.   

It is a form of idolatry- 

Anytime we humans look to another flawed human to do things that only God can do it becomes a dangerous form of idolatry. This particular form of idolatry almost always leads to people being ruled over by a tyrant (1st Samuel 8:10-18).   

It keeps us from seeking the only things that can make a difference-  

Christians are commanded by Jesus to be a preserving, protecting and illuminating presence in whatever society they live in (Matthew 5;13-16).  This means modeling for the culture what healthy living looks like in every sphere of life. Anytime Christians seek human leadership as their primary source of help and hope they stop seeking the things that have the power to bring about transformation in a culture.  The cultural moment we find ourselves in demands Christians model repentance and dependence on God in our culture in hopes of ushering revival into the greater culture. Without heart-felt repentance on a massive scale culture as we know it is done for at least for a season. 

Cultural transformation is possible but our hope has to come from the Lord. Transformation will occur when God’s people make the choice to live in a truly counterculture way. We do that by seeking God with our whole hearts. We have to ask Him for help and wisdom. We need to commit to living according to His commands in all situations no matter how weird that makes us to the surrounding culture. If Christians do those two things consistently revival will come (2nd Chronicles 7:14). Revival will bring the cultural changes we all want and our culture needs. 

Some Hard Truth for all of us-

No man repented of his wickedness, Saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turned to his own course, As the horse rushes into the battle- Jeremiah 8:6 NKJV

A couple of things: 

First of all, Dear Reader,

 I really do appreciate you. The fact that anyone would read what I write is an honor and privilege that never ceases to blow my mind. Second, many Christians are, for obvious reasons, leaving social media sites. If you are considering making an exit from the social media site where you found A Wise Life, please considering subscribing. All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of the page and type in your email address. A Wise Life will be delivered to your in-box every week for as long as the Lord allows me to continue this ministry or until you unsubscribe. I promise to never sell or give your email address to any other business, blog or ministry.

Lisa

Now, this week’s post:

I have had innumerable conversations over the course of the last couple years with all sorts of people that have all gone in exactly the same direction and ended in exactly the same way. These conversations have accelerated in recent months, sadly they are become a reoccurring theme in life. 

It typically begins with me and another person complaining about the brokenness of our political system and culture. We whine about what a flaming-hot mess everything is right now and marvel at how quickly it got this way. We grouse about big government, big business, and the creepy relationship that’s evolving between the two. We debate where we think all this is going and it never lands anywhere positive or encouraging.  We moan about the collapse of our republic and bellyache about how our leaders have taken to using the Constitution as toilet paper (metaphorically speaking of course). We discuss marriage, family, children, gender, education and the general lack of interest most people have in God, repentance or the church. We marvel at the idiotic lies our culture believes about just about everything. Then just as we come to the point of exhausting these issues one or the other of us will inevitably say:

“I sure wish someone would standup and fight all this craziness”. 

It hit me out of nowhere (as truth usually does) the other night that there are people fighting. There is chorus of good, godly, positive voices fighting the foolishness and evil that has stubbornly taken root in our culture. Moreover, good people have been fighting this crap for decades. For as long as I can remember there has been a plethora of organizations and ministries one-hundred-percent dedicated to fighting myriad of social and political evils of our time. Furthermore, most conservatives I know routinely contact their legislative representatives about bills related to political and social issues. Those same people also regularly vote, sign petitions and donate money to political and social organizations that fight for conservative values and biblical truth. 

Then it hit me out of nowhere (as truth usually does) that all our do-gooding, generosity and battling for righteousness has had zero, zilch, nada impact on our politics and culture. The people who need to listen aren’t listening and those who need to change aren’t changing (Matthew 3:8). The people who need to know truth just don’t care and it’s not due to a lack of effort or money spent. 

As I was processing through all that, I was struck with an even harder truth: This is happening because the people who do know truth aren’t repenting of their sins or seeking to make changes God has told them to make. The truth is our culture is rotting from within because those in the church have wanted everyone else to change while choosing to stay exactly the same.

At this point my mind was flooded with questions. Like: 

Maybe, things are the way they are because we moaned about all the filth and depravity in the world while we watched all the same movies and television shows other people do? Maybe children are embracing the lies our culture is feeding them because we didn’t take the time to teach our own children truth? Perhaps, taking our kids to church once or twice a month, as is the habit of most “serious” Christians, is not enough to protect them from all the deception in the world; let alone make them the missionaries the world needs right now?  Maybe, our political leaders are sellouts and moral weaklings because we are? Maybe, our culture has embraced the folly of identity politics because the church has not done a good enough job walking out racial unity, reconciliation and fairness?  Maybe, God isn’t answering our prayers because we aren’t praying? Or maybe we have just been praying for all the wrong things?  Then it occurred to me that maybe, things would be different if churches had more prayer meetings and fewer planning meetings? 

I don’t know for sure. I’m just spit-balling here. 

 That said, one thing I do know for absolute certain is that many Christians (including myself) have longed for a political leader or group of political leaders who would step in and change laws so we wouldn’t have to do the hard work of changing people’s hearts so they believe and do the right things.  I know that many Christians have depended on the courts and the constitution to do things only God Himself can do and will do only with our cooperation, like keep our country Christian.  I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s time for Christians to repent of the sin of looking for anyone or anything except Jesus to be our savior. Instead we need to take a hard look at our own lives and our own choices. Then we need to start begging God to change us and our churches so we can be the difference makers we were called to be in this world.