Adopt a Revolutionary Motto for Your Life

mottoIn the early formation of our nation George Washington had the opportunity to become king of the burgeoning nation. But given the young nation’s experience with England and because he had a robust prayer life he knew there was only one King, so he declined the offer.

King Jesus

The people of the land apparently knew the same. “In a 1774 report to King George, the Governor of Boston noted: ”If you ask an American, who is his master? He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ.” The prewar Colonial Committees of Correspondence soon made this the American motto: “No King but King Jesus.”

The story of God’s chosen people might have gone very differently had they chanted the same motto. Instead, they wanted a king. Over the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah there were thirty-eight kings. Only five of them were good. Of the others a refrain heard throughout the Old Testament goes like this: “They did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

I Am The Lord

Prophets appeared exhorting the people to turn back to God. God spoke through one prophet—Isaiah— to tell the people of Judah that they would be captured and deported to Babylon but afterward he would bring them back home. The purpose? “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed. Then the whole human race will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isaiah 49:23).

In Isaiah 53 the prophet depicts the coming Messiah. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53: 2, 3). God did not want the people to miss him. But they did. And still do.

God On The Throne

Our nation would have gone a much different route had Washington agreed to be king. But he seemed to know what many others didn’t. When we displace God on the throne of our lives, the outcome will go horribly wrong. But when we put God on the throne in our lives, we put ourselves in the best possible position for godly success.

Maybe our American ancestors knew the best way to start a revolution. Adopt the motto “No King but King Jesus” in your life. See what changes that ignites in your life.

Fasting From Spending For A Year

buy buyAfter much thought, discussion, soul-searching and prayer my wife, Sharon, and I have decided to take a fast from spending for twelve months. As daunting and impossible as it might seem we are committed to shutting off the spending flow and sticking with it no matter what the urge, temptation or challenge might be.

EXPECTED REACTIONS

For some this might seem to be an insane decision. Such ones cannot even fathom the remote possibility of denying yourself the luci surprisedprivilege of spending for an entire year. Who would ever want to do something like that and why, why, why? We live in a culture of affluence. I mean, spending is what you do in America. Americans are the biggest spenders in the world. To fast from spending for an entire year is not only insane, it is just UN-American.

THE REASON: FOCUS SHIFT

So why in the world, or at least in America, the land of buying more, are we embarking on an adventure of fasting from spending? To begin with, this is going to provide an extended time of taking our focus off of stuff. It seems that most of life revolves around stuff and material possessions. From the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we go to bed at night, much of our time is devoted to stuff. And much of that time is all about getting more of it. So our decision to go an entire year without getting any more of it gives us a whole new focus, at least for that year. Who knows where it might lead from there.

Materialism is the acquisition of stuff. It is get, get, get. It has been described as get all you can, can the rest and then sit on the can. What better way to break the grip of materialism then to take an extended time of not participating in the insanity of it all?

MORE IMPORTANT THINGS

Taking our focus off of buying and stuff will then enable us to focus on more important things. We can have a transfer of focus from buying to, most importantly, God. Fasting is for the purpose of turning our attention from one thing to another. In the case of eating it is to take our attention from food in order to place it on God. In the case of stuff, spending and buying, it is for the purpose of taking our attention off of these things and placing it on God for an extended period. It lowers the importance of stuff so we can draw close to him. It is a time to hunger and thirst for him rather than more of whatever.

no spendingTaking our focus off of stuff and spending also leaves us with more time to devote to other things that are far more important, like relationships. Instead of spending we can be serving. Instead of buying stuff we can to be devoting that time to being a better husband, better wife, better parents, better neighbors, and better friends. Buying is time-consuming. Not buying leaves us with more time to invest in others.

Then fasting from spending and buying will leave us with more resources to use in loving God and loving others. According to Jesus nothing in life is more important than loving God and loving others. And one of the most significant and practical ways we can express that love is through the resources we have acquired. A spending fast will provide resources that can be used to bless others and meet their needs. We serve others by transferring some of what we would spend on ourselves to meeting their needs.

And finally, fasting from spending will immediately leave us with more resources to give to God, his church and his mission in the world. Wow, what an eternal difference that will make for so many.

THE INVITATION

So, I would like to invite you to consider a similar fast, whenever the time might be appropriate for you. It might be for these reasons or for your own. This could be the most awesome and transforming year of your life. This could be the breakaway you have been needing.

Sharon and I went away for a few days and worked out some *guidelines that we will follow for our fast in order for both of us to be on the same page. I would love to share them with you, if interested.

The Power of Model

One more thing to consider. If you have kids still at home or even ones that have moved out of the house, imagine how much your model could communicate to them in a year about what is most important in life. Instead if it being stuff, spending and materialism they would see self-denial, self-sacrifice, generosity and service to God and others. This is one teaching opportunity they will never forget.

*As our personal guidelines will reveal, our fast is from new spending. Providing for upkeep and necessities is permitted, but only as detailed in the guidelines and agreed upon by both parties.

Put government in its place.

governmentDay by day and moment by moment we witness governmental activities, decisions and more than anything else dysfunction. We get to the point where we have had about all of it we can take. We want to contact our elected officials and tell them off. Or we want to turn it all off completely. I would suggest that instead, we just put government in its place. Possibly in your mind you have already given meaning to that statement. Here’s the way I intend it. Give government the status it deserves. When you do, this is the larger reality.

God is still on the throne. He is still in charge. He continues to call the shots of the world and universe. Psalms 196:10 says, “The Lord reigns forever.” Forever in this verse means forever. Reigns means he has power over government. He has power over everything. Everything begins and ends with him, not government. “He was before all else began and it is his power that holds everything together.” (Col 1:17 TLB)

Place your trust in God. Those who trust in government will forever be disappointed. Those who trust in God will never be disappointed. We are disappointed only when we place our trust in the wrong place or in our agenda above God’s agenda. Our hope is in the Lord. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3:5-6)

Help and pray for those affected by governmental decisions. Not everyone is directly acquainted with someone affected by the current shutdown of the government. But those who are, should be looking for ways to reach out and offer support and resources when needed and possible. All of us can pray for those who are hurt by governmental decisions or lack of as well as for our government leaders who are making the decisions.  “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)

Keep the perspective. It is all about eternity. Focus on the goal line instead of the obstacles along the way. How can we use these circumstances to congresschange perspectives and bring about eternal differences in people’s lives? If current issues are resolved without any thought of life change and eternal success what have we gained? “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18)

So the best thing we can do, in the midst of current climate, challenges and conflict is put government in its place and get on with what’s most important, trusting in God rather than government and devoting our lives to making eternal differences in the lives of those who we are blessed to do life together with. That, my friend, is one thing government can never grant to us nor take from us.

A simple answer to all the violence.

violence 2

I look at all that is going on in our country and the world. Shootings and violence seem to be escalating daily. In some cases it just seems to be worse due to expanded media coverage that amplifies the picture. However, no one can deny the expansion of outright disregard for the lives of others and the determination to take life in violent ways.

As I study the scene the question comes to my mind, is there a simple explanation for it all? Are we making it more difficult than it really is? Are we looking for answers in all the wrong places? Are we attempting to make it something that it really isn’t? Are we exploiting the violence for personal agendas? Are we habitually or ignorantly ignoring the primary reason for it all?

At the risk of oversimplifying, could the reason for the escalation of killings and cold-blooded violence be traced back to a country and a world that insist on turning farther and farther away from God, Jehovah God,? Instead, the world, out of arrogance and self directed ambition, has turned more and more to its own ways. Over the last few decades, especially in America, there has been an intentional, by government and individuals, movement to turn from a belief in and an adherence to God. As a result, the downward spiral in our country has escalated.

So is it too naïve to just say that the reason for what we see, more than anything else, is the result of turning away from God and the truth of Scripture? Every man and womanhatred has chosen their own way. And when God is eliminated from the picture what we are experiencing is inevitable. We are left with no moral or spiritual code and every person becomes their own god and the value of life goes down exponentially.

Having stated that, I fear the future more than the past or the present. As America and Americans, as well as the rest of the world, moves farther away from Jehovah God and Scripture the violence picture will most certainly escalate.

We can look to gun control or mental health solutions or a number of other plans to stop violence. But none will provide any long term improvement. My observation is that our only hope is for the people of America and the world to turn back to God, Jehovah God rather than no god or some other god that advocates violent killing of innocent people.

So where are you with God?

Making the most of the election results– one week later

It’s hard to believe that it was just seven days ago that our nation was shocked by the results of the 2012 presidential election. Few people, who believe in a conservative, moral, principled approach to life and government expected our county to choose the direction it did. But she did. Shocked may even be an understatement for what many, many people felt.

Since then, there has been an endless stream of commentaries, articles, interviews, posts, tweets and discussions in an attempt to determine exactly what happened and why the election turned out the way it did. Processing has been on overload for a solid week now.

For me, I have intentionally avoided the temptation to try and understand all the reasoning behind the results. Though, I must admit, I have given into the temptation a time or two. For me it has been more a thought process of, now that we have this “result” what do we do with it. How do we respond? How do we react? How do we go on from here and move forward?

I have come to the conclusion that for a follower of Jesus the answer is really the same no matter who ended up as the election winner. I believe our future direction is really not determined by who occupies the White House. It is determined by the God we serve. So this is how it all shakes down for me. This is my game plan for dealing with the results of this election and the next and next and next.

Pray Unceasingly: The first and foremost action is to saturate my life with prayer. I intend on declaring my absolute dependence on God every day, not politicians, programs or pundits. I will seek Him for my wisdom and direction as well as security. In His Word I will find my instructions for life decisions. When worry threatens me I will cry out to the Lord. When life is going well still I will cry out to the Lord.

Trust Completely: since I am going to turn to God at all times I am going to trust that He will hear and answer my prayers. Sometimes I find it hard to believe some of the things I see as being His answers, but I will trust that it is because He is God and I am not. For example, on the night before election day I claimed and posted the words of Paul in Gal 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows,” believing that it was time for a change at the top. Since then I have come to believe that God just might have answered that prayer by not making a change. In so doing, He might be saying to our President, “You are mostly responsible for creating this mess, now you have to deal with it. I’m not letting you off the hook.” I am trusting that God’s ways are much better than mine.

Serve Diligently: people are still hurting, needs are still everywhere, emotional issues still need a caring ear and arms, physical crisis still happen and I can have a real and lasting part in meeting some of them. Jesus, our courageous leader, came to this earth to serve, not be served. He calls me to the same and it doesn’t matter which political party is in the majority, I will still be devoted to serving the needs of others.

Love Unconditionally: this is a tough one especially when you are highly disturbed with the direction of our country and you just don’t want to extend love, especially to certain people. But I am reminded that is what love is. Love is doing what is best for others even when you don’t feel like it. Love is allowing your obedience to direct you rather than your feelings. That’s exactly what Jesus did on the cross. Did he want to die such a cruel and painful death? No! He actually asked God if he had another way, but did what was necessary, in spite of His feelings to the contrary. I am going to resist allowing my feelings to dictate my actions and instead be obedience motivated.

Plan Accordingly: learn a lesson from the ant. “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Prov 6:6,8 The ant, as small and insignificant as it seems to be, is wise enough to plan for the future. One of the biggest mistakes that can be made it to ignore the inevitable.

Life as we know it will not continue over the next few years and perhaps never again in America. Almost everything will cost you more. The projection is that fuel costs will rise 20-40% over the next four years along with everything else that depends on fuel. You will see changes in the health care field that will challenge your faith and patience. Plan accordingly.

I do not intend on looking back in four years and asking, “What happened?” I know, to a large extent, what is going to happen and am planning accordingly. For example, as a result of the redistribution of wealth plan, from the top down in government,  and the cost of everything going up, my wife and I are seriously looking at downsizing our house. We are planning accordingly by developing and implementing a strategy that best fits us.

Shine Brightly: believe it or not, with all the disappointing news that we anticipate in the future we have been handed an unprecedented opportunity, as followers of Jesus, to shine brightly. We live in a dark, dark world that is going to get darker and darker at an accelerated rate.

But here’s the silver lining or the bright spot, where there is darkness the light shines even brighter. In fact, the darker the darkness the brighter the light shines. God said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” (2 Cor 4:6-10) Our call, as well as mandate, is to shine brightly in the midst of all the darkness.

The passage in 2 Corinthians goes on to describe what seems to be our day, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Be sure, it is going to get worse, however, no matter how dark it gets, light always penetrates darkness with amazing results.

So you say, “How can this be in our culture when the future seems to be so hopeless?” The answer is, by praying unceasingly, trusting completely, serving diligently, loving unconditionally, and planning accordingly. Then, and only then, will we shine brightly. Don’t wait for another four years in hopes that things will get better. They might not. Seize the moment now.

 

I cannot be silent or trickle down death!

I can’t remember an election where I was so engaged. I have political signs in my front yard, have attended two candidate rallies, written several blog posts on political issues, provided a voter registration table at church on Sundays, followed the daily political direction on news broad casts and engaged in countless political conversations/debates. I am pumped about this election.

I just believe the direction of our country is headed toward devastation and now is the time to stop the train wreck. And I do not say that as an alarmist, scare tactic. I believe it with all my heart. If we don’t do something now we may never know America as we know it nor as she was in her days of greatness. I believe there are wheels in motion to remake America in ways that we cannot even imagine.

In my blog post dated August 15, 2012 I detailed my reasons for why now is the time to turn this country around and why it is more critical than ever. Here is the link to that post: https://stevethornton.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/i-declare-my-support-election-2012/.

However, the reason for my activism in this political season is influenced by one reason above all others. Let me tell you why. My #1 reason why I cannot be silent and must speak up is this; the sanctity of human life. What do the candidates believe about human life, all human life? What do they stand for and support when it comes to all life and especially the life of INNOCENT unborn children.

This is so crucial because what a person believes about the sanctity of life affects everything he does and every decision he makes. It determines whether or not people are respected and valued for their specialness or are simply used to carry on personal or party agendas. The “value of life” issue influences everything.

Now, when it comes to our two presidential candidates, President Obama, according to Planned Parenthood of Illinois, supported abortion caused 100% of the time while a member of the Illinois senate. He then carried his support for the termination of unwanted children over into his brief stint in the US Senate and then to the White House. He not only supports abortion during any point in pregnancy but has been an outspoken advocate of partial birth abortions, one of the most inhumane acts that can ever be perpetrated on a human being. He has gone so far as to support the termination of babies that might “accidentally” survive the abortion procedure and are birthed alive. There has never been a sitting president who was so pro-abortion.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand was quoted as saying, in the The Boston Globe on July 26, 2005 “I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view.” Romney promises during this current campaign to nominate Supreme Court justices who would help overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing states to individually decide on the legality of abortion. His website states that he would “nominate judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the law.”

There could not be a clearer difference in the two presidential candidates when it comes to the crucial issue of the sanctity of human life. It is a clear cut decision of choosing life or choosing death.

I ask you, is there any wonder that we have such a high disregard for life in America? Almost daily we hear of another shooting where innocent life has been taken. But how can we be so shocked when we have been taking the life of innocent humans in America for almost forty years now, dating back to the legalization of Roe vs. Wade in 1973. Since that time we have “terminated” thousands daily and hundreds of thousands yearly in America. Over 80 million abortions have been performed in America since the legalization of abortion in 1973. The holocaust of Europe is minor compared to what goes on every day in America.

I fear that what we are seeing might be call “trickle down death.” Take the life of innocent babies, when they are not “convenient” or “economically feasible,” abort unwanted human life long enough and it is inevitable that the disregard for life will trickle down to the very core of our country. I am afraid that we will see more and more taking of innocent life all around us in shocking proportion. I am deeply concerned that what we are seeing is merely the beginning and that it will only get worse from here.

I know what I have just stated could be an overstatement, that the wholesale abortion of unwanted babies for the last forty years has led to an environment of death and killing in America. But we cannot ignore, and we must own up to the fact, that when you legalize the killing of the most innocent people in our society, it only goes downhill from there. What started with Roe vs. wade in 1973 has deeply affected our country’s mindset on the value of life every since.

It is time to turn things around. I don’t have all the answers but I do know that the next president will possibly have the responsibility of appointing one or two new justices to the Supreme Court. That is country changing. That is life saving. That is monumental.

It is time to speak up for the sanctity of human life with our vote on November 6. It is time to do what we can do NOW to stop trickle down death in the greatest country on the face of this earth.

Ramp it up!

A couple weeks ago I issued a call and challenge for you to join me in committing to 40 days of prayer for America leading up to the presidential election of 2012 on November 6. (Link to the original post: https://stevethornton.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/40-days-of-prayer-for-america/) Many, at that time, started to pray. Others have been somewhat hit and miss at it. Still others planned to pray but haven’t gotten into the routine of it yet.

Whatever your pattern has been or failed to be up to this point, I want to STRONGLY encourage you to DON’T STOP PRAYING. Or if you haven’t started praying for a new direction for America and think it is no use to start now, you are seriously wrong. It is NEVER too late to begin praying for our country and the direction she will take on November 6. So don’t stop praying now and if you haven’t started, please join me and the others who are praying. It is time to pick up the praying pace. It is time to ramp it up. It is time to take it to the next level as the election moves ever closer and closer.

Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows that the tide has begun to turn and that turn started right at about the 40 day period when more and more people across this country began to pray. The debate on October 3 took place and that was a game changer unlike any debate in presidential debate history. More and more people in America are beginning to acknowledge that the direction our country is going is devastating and now is the time to redirect.

You can look at any number of factors to explain the shift in voter preference that has taken place over the last ten days but I believe the unseen and most powerful factor has been the prayer of people of faith who believe God not only has the answer but is the answer and are turning to Him to lead in redirecting out great country.

So, I say it again, don’t stop praying. Join us if you haven’t been. Encourage others to do the same. Ramp it up. Every time you think about the election, say a prayer for America.

We need to realize that the Evil One will do everything he can to keep this country moving down its current road away from a solid foundation of strong morals, godly principles and faith in the divine creator as the ultimate authority.

Prayer is our greatest game changer at this time. It is not our only obligation. It will not take the place of showing up at the poles and voting, but the power of God cannot be underestimated when it comes to changing hearts.

Let’s not leave prayer to our last resort. Let’s make it our first line of defense and change. Ramp it up!