Dear Emperor of the East,
You have a choice in this moment. Choose wisely.
Your dynasty will perish by self-inflicted wounds of unlearned lessons from the past. You sit upon the limb of a great tree, yet you saw the branch on which you perch.
Do not make the mistakes of your predecessors. They demolished the foundation on which their empires stood. Understand, you will die a failure, in a failed state leaving a legacy of failure.
The ‘strong men’ of broken empires past and empires falling today are nothing but ‘foolish men’. The fool is marked by pride. His hubris crushes him in shame. Are you such a fool? Does wisdom not call to you from the streets of your empire? Ah, but you think it wise to suppress the voice of truth and ignore the cries of the helpless.
Look to the great north! There is a ‘strong man’ where an empire once stood. It’s economy is in shambles. The Czar’s castles crumble in self-delusion and a philosophy tried and left wanting. He is an autocrat cornered by his own pride. He is food for jackals and ravens.
The parable says, the foolish prince’s pride is his folly. He is deficient in wisdom and humility. He’s defiant of truth – even when empirical evidence points to the coming failed state. History is replete with examples of this futility of the mind and disjointed governance of peoples.
In 50 years, your empire has risen on the tide of the Christian worldview and ethic. The freedom and virtue of that ethic undergirds the very economic foundation on which you rest and enrich yourself. The entrepreneurial spirit does not arise from atheistic materialism, Confucianism or totalitarianism. In fact, the worldview you vainly espouse is rooted in envy.
Envy destroys everything.
Envy says, “If I can’t have what you have, I will destroy what you have and neither of us will have it!” Envy is therefore folly and leads to mass misery. Your worldview was born of envy and the will to power. All are folly and futility.
Your system is bifurcated. You benefit from economic flourishing and freedom but you attempt to crush the very spirit that brings them about. Are you so short-sighted? You can’t have it both ways. Your economic engine is stalling and falling. Your people and the heritage you claim to cherish are fading into the darkness (again). Your future is a failed state in the ashes of human history.
When you are alone, you indulge in the proclivities of your heart. Your thoughts are dark and you must crush the hope you cannot possess for yourself. Your will to power leaves you empty and power-less. You enslave others because you yourself are in bondage to darkness. Therefore, you attempt to snuff out the light to ensure ALL are forced to live in darkness.
Wisdom stands at the gates of your empire and mocks you. Folly is there too. Folly beckons you to follow the crooked path of darkness not knowing over that which you stumble. To see the world through your eyes is to see utter darkness.
“One child for one family” was your empire’s evil decree. Murder was rampant in your midst as little girls were sacrificed on the altar of your materialistic god. Today, your “god” has blessed you with too many males and too few females to replenish your land. You are a dying nation – a dying culture.
You lay siege on the church as you foolishly ignore history. Don’t you know the gates of your hell will not prevail against her? History proves that persecuting the church fuels the fire of its own growth. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” The old emperor of your land once proclaimed, “I have rid this empire of Christ and His church.” It begs the question; Who is dead? Is the church dead? Is it not your old emperor who is dead? The old dead emperor is rotting in his grave as the church is mighty in your empire. He was a fool thinking himself to be wise.
Don’t be so foolhardy to follow such empty ideas and crooked paths. They all lead to death. One day you will meet death. It will come upon you like thief in the night. Your body will cease functioning, you will soil yourself, draw your last and be heaped into a hole in the ground to rot and feed worms. You will have lived and died a fool. Is that what you want, sir?
If you heed the voice of wisdom, a new day will dawn for your empire – prosperous new day when the emperor understood that he is but a mist.
Don’t be deceived. Humility, not hubris is the mark of a true leader. The choice is yours. Choose wisely, for he who enables your heart to beat will not be mocked. There is a more dangerous emperor and judge waiting in your path. He can fell you with a word. Or he can redeem you and bring peace to your land.
An ancient king was struck down on his throne 2000 years ago “because he did not give God glory.” There is a more powerful and dangerous emperor who hears the cries of the poor. He has whetted his sword of justice and waiting for you. There is no escape. Will you meet him as friend or foe? The choice is yours.
Listen to wisdom this day while it remains today. There may not be a tomorrow for you. Early morning rains are the sweetest and most refreshing. A messenger has been sent to you with good news that you may not perish. Behold, even now, there is a knock at your door…
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The following was adapted from a talk delivered on January 20, 2019 at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Ft. Worth, TX. Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
Imagine a baby in the womb – warm and safe. It’s a little boy. He’s not aware of the outside world. He just knows he’s safe.
Meanwhile, his parent’s marriage is falling apart as brokenness and selfishness drive a wedge between his mother and father. The fighting intensifies into a crisis.
With the little boy in her womb, the mother goes to her doctor filled with hurt and fear. She asks physician to get rid of the little boy she is carrying. The doctor replies, “I will not do that.” He sends her away. The little boy doesn’t know how close he came to death that day.
As the fearful young mother leaves the doctor’s office alone, Something inside her changes…
She chooses to keep the child regardless of what happens with her marriage. She whispers to herself, “He is mine! He is my little boy. Come what may.”
And so the little boy is born into chaos and brokenness. His parents divorce but the fighting and turmoil will continue for years to come.
A few years pass by and the little boy begins first grade. The first weeks are a struggle because he gets out of school hours before his mother gets off work. She juggles work and picking him up from school. It’s not working out.
One day when the mom picks up the little boy at the church where the school bus drops off the children, she sees a little lady looking after the children on the playground. She is older, kindly and not quite 5 feet tall. The mother introduces herself and points out her little boy on the playground with the other children. She says to the little lady, “Do you see that little boy playing over there? He is mine.” The mother tells the little lady of her struggles picking up her little boy after school.
The mother asks, “Would you be willing to look after my little boy until I get off work?”
“Of course, I will look after him.” responds the little lady with a warm smile.
And God quietly sends a missionary into the lives of the little boy and his mother.
The little lady cares for him, prays for him and loves him. She shares Jesus with the little boy. In the midst of the chaos and struggles going on around him, the little boy has an anchor.
Years pass and the little lady encourages the little boy to make a decision about Christ and be baptized. He does and there is great joy – at least for a little while…
The little boy gets a little older and leaves home for boarding school far away. The little lady continues to pray and intercede for him. She sends him letters encouraging him and reminding him he is loved by God. He visits when he’s home sometimes.
However, time and distance grow between the boy and the little lady. She is growing old but she never ceases praying for him day and night.
The boy begins to wonder into the shadows and valleys becoming enchanted with darkness. Now, he is at college far from home. He becomes entangled in snares and brambles of sin. The boy meets a girl on his dark path. They have a relationship and she becomes pregnant with their own child.
BUT, THE BOY HAS CHANGED
He has grown selfish and filled with fear, shame and anger. He persuades the girl to kill the child in her womb. With the death of his child at his own hand – something inside of the boy dies too.
The little lady senses trouble. She launches salvos of prayer into the very halls of heaven. But, no answers come into the life of the boy.
Time passes as the void left in the boy’s life is flooded with more darkness, shame and destruction. The boy attempts to remain afloat pursuing worldly pleasures to sedate the pain, as he tumbles into the abyss.
And one day, the little lady who had prayed and prayed for the boy dies and goes to the Father in Heaven. Still, no answers in the boy’s life… Did the sustaining prayers die with the little lady?
Many years later, the boy has fallen into a deep pit in the valley of shadows – exhausted, ashamed and lost. He believes the only way out is to die by his own hand. After all, it is what he deserves.
THEN, SOMETHING CHANGES
In the boy’s darkest moment, mighty God shuts the mouth of the roaring lion. He stays the hand of the enemy and declares, “This one is mine!”
Into this dark valley of shadows, the good shepherd seeks and searches for the one that wondered off. Over the mountains and through the valleys and brambles he finds the one he is searching for. He stoops down and lifts up the lost sheep. And he returns it to the fold with the others.
Do you see that sheep laying torn, bloodied and exhausted so very close to the shepherd’s feet?
Do you see him resting there?
The good shepherd with wounded hands binds the wounds of this sheep. The shepherd looks into the tired and tearing eyes of the trembling sheep and whispers, “I have a plan and purpose for you. From the time you were in your mother’s womb, I watched over you and protected you. I love you more than you will ever know.”
A light dawns on the horizon of the boy’s life. And so the boy stumbles down a path toward God.
Now imagine a magnificent morning in heaven. Absolutely glorious. The little lady goes up to worship and praise the Father with the multitudes. The halls of heaven fill with God’s glory. An angel steps forward to announce that the little lady’s prayer for the little boy has come up for memorial before the Father – a prayer from decades ago – that God would bless, protect and use the little boy.
And so the Father in Heaven listens and sends forth a gentle rain of answered prayer into the life of the boy.
I am that boy.
I STAND before you today under that gentle rain of answered prayer – to bear witness to what God has done and proclaim the Gospel to the nations.
(Feel free to comment and share below)
Images of the Little Boy and the Little Lady
Note: I must note the imagry captured about the lost sheep was inspired by FW. Borhham’s “The Pasture Green a Journey Through Palsm 23”. The imagery of answered prayer as a “gentle rain” was inspired by O. Halesby’s book, “Prayer”. I highly recommend Boreham and O. Halesby to fellow pilgrims. They will enrich your life beyond measure.
This post was originally published December 22, 2017 on Christ Chapel Bible Church -Ology Blog.
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:15
“… but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”1 Peter 3:15
“Christ” (Christos) in Greek means “the anointed one” or “chosen one.” In Hebrew it is translated “Messiah” (Mashiach). In addition, “Christ” is not a name, but a title. “Jesus Christ” renders Jesus the chosen one/anointed one.
1 Peter 3:15 is not typically considered a Christmas verse per se. We find it in the context of suffering for Christ and leading up to Peter’s apologetic (apologia) for our faith in Jesus Christ. However, I think we can view this short passage through the lens of preparation for the incarnation of our Savior-King and Lord.
A few nights ago my daughter (6 years old) was frightened and could not fall asleep. She was scared and I know what that feels like. So, I joined her in her fear to validate her feelings and try to help her find a way out. I started talking about Jesus and His protection in times when I’ve been scared.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: Did you know that the Bible calls Jesus “the Lion of Judah”?
Me: He is. Jesus is like a mighty lion. Nobody messes with a lion, right?
Me: We are His children and He protects us like a lion. Did you know that Jesus has other nicknames?
Lilly: Yes, mommy plays a song called “The Lion And The Lamb.” What are His other nicknames?
Me: Yes, Jesus is also the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!”
Suddenly, fear left the room, the tears subsided and she began to relax and even smile a little.
We began to softly sing together the “King of kings, Lord of lords” portion of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.” It wasn’t pretty. However, I think I could hear the faint toe tap from the throne room of heaven. Lilly peacefully wandered off to sleep under the blanket of God’s protection with a mighty chorus echoing in her heart. My heart was full. We had set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts and fear fled the invading forces of peace.
The ancient prophet Isaiah said “A light has dawned…” (Isa. 9:2), I’m convinced he was seeing the incarnation, the coming Lord. “A child is born… a son is given”. Above all, we needed more than a child, we needed the Son. Only one son would do — a Savior. The Christ! From the annals of time, we hear the chorus, “King of kings, Lord of lords” like peals of thunder rolling through history.
In all matters of life, we should set apart Jesus Christ as Lord.
Our heart is our essence as moral creatures, as image-bearers and the seat of our will. It begins in our hearts. But, what does that look like at Christmastime?
When we set apart Christ in our hearts as Lord we are acknowledging His majesty and holiness. We are bending our knee and heart toward Him as a flower bends toward the sun. We are yielded to His lordship, His splendor and captivated by His power, beauty and love.
Christmas celebrated rightly with Christ set apart as Lord in our hearts should be a mighty procession that occurs every year. We wait and watch for its arrival. When Christmas arrives, we celebrate like no one else on earth. The rest of the world is in darkness, yet the light has in fact dawned. It is the perfect time to share the gospel of peace and invite others to come out of the darkness and join in the chorus acknowledging “Christ is the King of kings, Lord of lords!”
“Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere …” 2 Cor. 2:14
The procession has arrived. Have you set apart Christ as Lord in your heart? Have you made room for the Christ?
Finally, in Revelation 22, Jesus Christ says repeatedly, “I am coming soon.” He says, “Surely, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20). He did come, He is here and He will come again! Christmas is a time to reflect, a time to wonder and celebrate the magnificent Savior.
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I am the quiet voice of the homeless living in the camps within your cities.
I am the one you see on the sidewalk as you walk to work or take your kids to school. You are afraid to make eye contact with me because you think all I want is your money. So, you turn your gaze away. In doing so, your heart turns cold.
I see your cars with political stickers. I hear your conversations outside the coffee shop. You complain about this country. You rage against politicians. You rage and gossip and tear each other apart with words as sharp as knives. Yet, you look on me with disdain. Is my life not worthy of mention?
From the street, I see angry people raging against each other and setting the city ablaze.
Throngs of angry youth push past me and trample on my only possessions screaming about unfairness and equality. Am I not equal?
You don’t really care about people like me. Sure, you say you want to ‘end’ homelessness and other ‘social ills’… But, all you do is talk. You never actually sit with me and ask what its like to experience homelessness. No, you’d rather people like me be gathered up and removed from your sight. You’d rather I not exist! Do you disagree? Then, why do you act like I don’t exist?
Wisdom’s voice calls from the streets! I may be without a home but I am no fool. After your raging and rioting, you have homes to return to. You have families and friends to share life with.
Rage at what? What does your rage accomplish? How does your rage help people like me? My home is the streets and you have the audacity to leave your comfy dorms, houses and apartments to spill into my home on the streets and cause destruction? How dare you!
Do I storm your campus or property to rage against something I don’t agree with? No, I eat what you throw away and accept the turning of your gaze away. You can’t even look me in the eye. Am I not human? Am I not worth a smile and a kindly nod?
Perhaps you could repurpose your rage to take a step toward me? You have nothing to be afraid of. I was once a child who loved playing, just like you. I love ice cream and a beautiful sunset just like you. I have hopes and dreams just like you. Repurpose your rage and greet me in the streets with a kindly light. You will always have me among you.
I’m not looking for a handout, I’m looking for someone who cares more for me than a cause.
Author’s Note: This essay is a simple plea to my countrymen to pause for a moment and consider taking the energy expended against political opponents and applying that same energy to serving those experiencing homelessness. Please consider finding a local organization in your city to serve those experiencing homelessness. It will change you and improve our communities.
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“The tide—so faithful and so sure—offers every man, sooner or later, the chance of escaping from the tiny cove of the Here to the broad bosom of the Everywhere, from the little bay of Self, to the infinite sea of Service; and they are life’s most enviable voyagers who, when the sublime opportunity presents itself, are all alive and all alert, waiting, with oars in rollocks, to make the most of it. It is the hour of destiny. The kingdom of heaven pours its wealth into the heart of the man, who is ready when that hour strikes. He was waiting: but only waiting for the tide!”
-F.W. Boreham, ‘Waiting for the Tide’, The Nest of Spears (London: The Epworth Press, 1927), 48-57.
There are tides in life as there are in the sea. We need only to wait for them. One cannot rush the ocean’s tides, neither can rush the tides of life. I cannot face a beautiful sunrise, look at my watch and command the sun to hurry up. The sun doesn’t respond to such a foolish thing.
In all manner of life, there come opportunities. Whether in love, life or death; life has all manner of tides. When the tide comes in, there is abundant opportunity. However, in order to make the most of it, we must take our eyes off ourselves and place them on others. The farmer enjoys the harvest by waiting for the season to arrive as the fisherman waits for the tide.
True wealth is not found in the “little bay of Self”. The real treasure of life is discovered and enjoyed in the “infinite sea of Service.” Making the most of life is about being ready and waiting for the tide. We must be ready when the tide comes by taking our eyes off of ourselves and looking toward others. In serving, we find infinite possibilities to express love and kindness. Jesus said he came to serve. He opened the door and we can follow his lead into a universe of overwhelming need knowing we cannot meet the insurmountable need alone. Go to where there is need and serve. There is a voyage ahead for anyone willing. Are you ready?
This Empire will fall. All do and will. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. There is a beauty of a falling empire.
So, what are you afraid of? A beheading or losing 70% of your savings in a fortnight? I venture the former is less stressful than the latter. Your days are numbered. The holocaust has peaked. You murdered your future.
There is a point of no return and your ship called ‘Folly’ has passed it. You are adrift.
I am encouraged by your predicament because people are going to finally realize what matters in life as first world comforts are stripped away like a winter wind removes the last leaves of autumn. The entitlements vanish and we face the reality of life together.
Arm chair atheists and classroom relativists will find themselves searching for ultimate truth and meaning in reality as the prosperity preachers abandon their pulpits destined for the threshing floor. The free ride is over and as you exit the train, you’ll find out what you owe. Your wealth, power and status were illusions. You are beyond bankrupt. Control is an illusion.
The bar is closed, your dealer won’t answer your call and there are no vacancies in any hotel in town. The jester at the club gave you directions to a bogus after-party. The streets are empty. As the snow falls and chill sets in, you arrive at the destination of everything you thought was important to find it meaningless. Everything you thought was meaningless is held in honor.
The homeless man you ignored every day going to your office is at home with his family sitting by a fire and pondering his royal position. As you sink into the sands of a fallen empire, you ask the blind beggar on the corner, “Do you have any good news?” She replies, “I told you of the better country just over the horizon and you called me a fool. You mocked me because I am blind yet I see and I live without a home.”
As you search for answers, your Ivy League knowledge leads you to dead end streets with names like ‘Arrogance’ and ‘Futility’. There are no doors on any of the homes and the laughter of madmen loom from the shadows at night. Where is your friend, your brother? Even the prostitute on Wall Street has gone to an upper room where she has been adopted like a little child.
A cold wind blows and your eyes water. Your teeth grind.
You once saw a brilliant sunrise painted in the sky as a child and you knew then who painted it. It was warm, remember? It was perfect and beautiful. It was given to you to have and hold forever. But you decided to paint your own version and put it on display in your temple. You loved it more than the real thing. Even as your temple fell, you stared at it. Even as it burned, you believed it was there. Over a pile of ashes blown by the wind you stare into the darkness looking for the sunrise you painted for yourself. It was an illusion you admired.
“Do you have any good news?” you say.
“Why, yes I do indeed. But, it’s foolishness to you.” Replies the blind woman.
“Who are you?” you say.
“I am Wisdom.” she says. “You have have been walking around with your eyes shut as if blind. You loved darkness so, it was suited to you and formed for you. It’s devoid of light, glory and power.”
“Can I leave here?” you implore.
Wisdom responds, “Actually, you want to be here don’t you? This is where your path led. You chose it for yourself. The poor leper is cleansed in the place of honor and your loving father is waiting with open arms. Do you want directions?”