a Tapestry with angels

When Judah was in great distress from an invading country, Judah’s king, Hezekiah, sent a plea to the prophet Isaiah. Here’s a snippet of king Hezekiah’s request: Isaiah, 37:4, “therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.

The world has been fractured since this pandemic hit. In America we have become a collection of remnants. Remnants of churches, of employers, of social services, of humble hearts, of human love.

Almighty God is a defender of remnants. There are so many accounts in the Bible of remnants that it’s apparent that there is a purpose in the heart of God for remnants. Consider this: In the English Standard Version of the Bible, there are 84 references to the word “remnants.” And if we search for remnants in the King James Version, we find 91 references.

God’s Word is Full of Remnants

Here are just a few passages about remnants that I’ve pulled from the ESV:

Genesis 45:7 And God sent me (Joseph) before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.

2 Kings 19:30, And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.

Isaiah 10:21, A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God

Amos 5:15, Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Acts 15:17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things

Romans 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant , chosen by grace.

God Specializes in Remnants

So, you get the idea; God works with remnants. Don’t become downhearted if just a remnant of your local church remains, or a remnant of your ministry remains, or a remnant of your family remains. God will still use and bless these remnants and prosper them.

Through the work of the Apostle Peter, Syria was one of the first regions to receive Christianity. Today, in Syria, only a remnant of Christians remain. As Christians, we need to lift our prayers for our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria, for they are in great distress.

Pray for Syria, pray for your remnants, pray for our nation’s remnants, pray in faith, believing in the steadfast love and power of God. Pray in the name of the Father’s beloved Son, Jesus. Together, through prayer and through Holy Spirit-directed action, we will see God use His remnants, sewn together to create a beautiful tapestry which glorifies God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Photo credit: PHOTOPHANATIC1 on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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Watching God’s Creation Dance

I spend most of my time at home, which is fine. I have a great view of our backyard where I watch birds and squirrels, and all manner of Gods creation. Still, for me, outside in wide open spaces is where I see God’s creation dance.

If we look back to the time of Adam, many believe they lived a nomadic life. A life outside, in God’s creation. An experience not unlike that of Adam’s descendants, Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.

But, when we visit Adam, we also should visit Cain. You see, Adam’s son Cain was the first person to build a house or city. Why? Because of fear, and that fear birthed a need for self-sufficiency rather than trusting God. For Cain, he seems to only trust himself.

Genesis, Chapter Four

Genesis 4: (ESV)
8 …Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 

13-17 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden…Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.

[Cain’s Enoch not the Enoch that God took]

Keep in mind that Cain was the first murderer (v.8). Still, one of Cain’s biggest fears, when confronted by God was, “and from your face I shall be hidden.” (v14) So, even while Abel’s blood is crying out to God (v.10), Cain desired God and God’s heart of mercy is present in His judgment of Cain.

Out of God’s mercy and desire to remove Cain’s fear, God places a mark on Cain so everyone would understand that if you mess with Cain, then you were messing with God. (v15). We don’t know what the “mark” was, and it doesn’t matter.

Now, Cain wanders (i.e., Nod) towards the east (v.16). He finds a lovely place, he builds a family, and unlike all of his relatives, Cain builds a city (v.17). Why? God has given Cain a “mark” to protect him but he still doesn’t seem to trust God.

Seth Gets Cain’s Inheritance

It is worthwhile for us to know that all the chosen people by God are from the lineage of Seth. Seth was the son God gave Adam and Eve after the death of Able (v.25).

All of the great things God has done through humanity should have traced back to Cain, the first-born son of Adam and Eve, but because of Cain’s anger, he lost it all. Uncontrolled anger is a drug more damaging than any chemical we can abuse.

Perhaps, the next time you walk outside, you can take a moment to thank God for His marvelous creation. And, in your heart, determine not to put your trust in a house or a city and don’t allow your anger to cost you and your descendants everything God desires for you and them.

In your heart live free, live unencumbered by this world, live joyfully; live a Christian sojourner’s life, and watch God’s creation dance.

Photo by Jyotirmoy Gupta on Unsplash

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I’ve worked for many good leaders but I once had the privilege of working for an exceptional leader. He was excellent because he had woven into his leadership style some non-negotiable values. For example, as president of the company, he would regularly go into the factory and work with the temporary “temp” workers for an hour or two, and he required his leadership team to do the same.

He was consistent in his decisions and required anyone that came to him with a problem to also bring with them a recommended solution. He placed a strong emphasis on himself and all his leadership team to continually learn and apply techniques that would be good for everyone. I saw him “tear up” in front of the whole company because we had to lay off a group of people.

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 (NIV) says, “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests.  It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left.”

God made sure His kings understood their leadership mandate was from God and under the auspices of God. Therefore kings had no reason to think more highly of themselves than they ought (Ro 12:3). This principle also holds for any leadership position right down to those in charge of the men’s fellowship breakfast or the cookie sale.

Leadership is a tough job full of temptations to think of yourself as unique, to exempt yourself from burdens you place on others, to avoid the details and focus on concepts and to compromise instead of working to build a consensus.

The underlying wisdom here reminds us that leaders need to build into their lives accountability, to be committed to managing core principles and to not delegate those to others. Also, leaders need to write down a copy of those core principles (really) and continually reference them, so they are sure they remember them and to communicate that those core principles are non-negotiable.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

The seriousness of the allegation…

A conversation with my son plus a “hit piece” in the media about a minor political figure prompted me to address, again, the dangers of hateful rhetoric. 

My son has become exceptionally well educated in history and politics, and is a true source of joy, especially during our lively debates. However, during our recent conversation, I became aware by the casualness with which he passed judgment on public figures, verbally attacking them instead of disagreeing with their ideology.

I’ve tried for many decades to convince people to keep their complaints and their debates centered upon ideas and actions and to never demean or demonize a person. After all, we are all made in the image of God so we should tread lightly when we venture from the world of ideas into the world judging people.

Certainly, there are people that have said and done things so egregious as to justify their excommunication from society. Nevertheless, it’s a rare thing for God to show us His plans for that person so we can, in good conscience, elevate ourselves above them to pass judgment over them.

As a society, we have been duped by sound bites such as, “Due to the seriousness of the allegation…” I’ve had more than one attorney tell me that I can sue anybody for anything at any time. Allegations are just that, an assertion by a person or a group of people. The person(s) making the allegation is rarely, if ever held responsible if their assertion is found to be incorrect or misplaced.

A challenge for us is to, in humility, apply justice and mercy if we are called upon to judge a person. Let’s look at what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-3,5 (NIV): “1) Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2) For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?…5) You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

The heart of Christ’s command is not a wholesale prohibition of judgment (see v.5), but rather to humbly seek the truth in a matter with fear and trembling. Condemning a person’s faults may be a failure by us to forgive, for God’s Word says in Micah 6:8: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

In closing, please again consider the commentary on Matthew 7:1-5, from Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:

  • Judge no man unless it is your duty to do so.
  • As far as may be, judge the offense, and not the offender.
  • Confine your judgment to the earthly side of faults, and leave their relation to God, to Him who sees the heart.
  • Never judge at all without remembering your own sinfulness, and the ignorance and infirmities which may extenuate [make more forgivable] the sinfulness of others.

These are the concepts I communicated to my son, and now to you. I hope that all people heed this message, especially myself.

Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

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