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God’s Stump Speech? (Ps. 147)

10341948_1136209249753147_2020847579845022647_n.jpgI saw this picture posted on Facebook today. At first blush, I felt awkward about it.

I am a believer in God. I would say that the following labels apply to me, for the most part: Evangelical. Conservative. Bible-believing. And there are many, many people in the United States that share these convictions. But sometimes the ways people communicate these convictions embarrasses me.

Take the picture. “America” – I’m guessing you mean North America, and specifically the United States of America? “Great” – what is greatness, Biblically speaking? An incredibly strong economy that has us aggressively accumulating a disproportionate share of the worlds goods? A massive military that can exert influence on others countries, whether they want our influence or not? Freedom that has, especially in the media, proven to breed licentiousness and immorality?

Some people who say they want to make America great also think that they, themselves, are pretty great. If that’s greatness, I’ve got to say … I don’t want that kind of “greatness” for America.

So, to say God can make us great, we need a refined vision of greatness.

My Bible reading today has me in Psalm 147. I don’t want this to sound sacrilegious, but it almost reads like God’s “stump speech.” It’s pretty great.

Urban development: The Lord builds up [the city] … He blesses your people within you.

Social Services: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds … He sustains the humble.

Homeland Security: He casts the wicked to the ground. He strengthens the bars of your gates.

Immigration: He gathers the exiles. 

Foreign Policy: He grants peace to your borders.

Climate and Environment: He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call … He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes … He stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

Economy: He satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

Priority of the Military: His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior.

Religion: He has revealed his word … the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

God. At times He seems like what we might call a bleeding-heart liberal. At others, a hawkish, economically motivated conservative. I doubt if He could secure the nomination of either party.

But, I do believe, life under His rule would be great. If that is what the marquee sign is promoting, I’m all in.

Oh … and by the way … it will be great. That rule is coming. Probably not in November. But maybe before! And soon.

– EO

   

 

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It’s Not the Economy, Stupid.

Read Amos 6:1-10

It’s election campaign season. And what are the two most important issues in the mind of most voters? The economy, and security. We want the prosperity of the “American dream” to be accessible, and we don’t want to have to worry about any threats to that good life from the outside.

I grew up thinking that the U.S. is far away the best country in the world. Why? Because the U.S. has experienced unparalleled success in both its economy and its military. For the most
part, we feel like we can advance ourselves if we choose to, aconfidence of americansnd that our borders are safe. Members of the upper class, with their aristocratic networks and endowments, feel particularly confident.

The Israelites of Amos’ day felt the same. But God wants them to watch out. “Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria, the notables of the first of the nations.” (6:1). The “first of nations”? God calls this into question: “Cross over to Calneh…to Hamath…to Gath…Are you better than these kingdoms?” And, in case they think their riches will save them, God points out that their expensive furnishings, lavish diets, extensive wine cellars, fancy cosmetics, and hip music scene are all at risk because of one thing…

They’re not grieved over their internal decay. They are unaware of the heart and standards of God, and how disappointing their lifestyles are to Him.They don’t even see their actions for what they are.

But the LORD does. God abhors their pride, and hates the all the military strength that the people are putting their hope in. “I will deliver up the city and all that is in it” (v.8).

During Advent, we should be grieved over our sin, and do something about it. Perhaps it’s an addiction to worldly stuff. Maybe it’s an overconfidence in anything besides God Himself. Whatever our sin is, God wants us to be aware of it, feel godly sorrow about it, and repent of it. That would be an appropriate preparation for His coming. Instead, I fear that too many of us treat the holidays as a time to throw conviction to the wind. We indulge ourselves, knowing that the new year is right around the corner. We can wait until then to make some resolutions to live better (though we know that seldom bears any fruit).

Lord, heal us of that which truly ruins us. Forgive us for our addiction to material things, and our over-confidence in our national security. You hate those things. By Your Spirit, help us to hate them, too. Let us be found being humble, generous and full of faith when You return. Amen.

– EO

 

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