Saturday, January 3, 2009

Breaking the Law

Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent.

                        Luke 14.2-3


Courtrooms across the US prominently display Justice as a classical Greek figure holding a balance. She’s blindfolded to signify voluntarily ignoring extraneous information and beliefs that might tip the scales unfairly. In essence, then, Justice relies on gravity—deciding what feels most important on a case-by-case basis—and legal arguments amount to amassing heavier rationale on one side or the other. Weighing priorities sets new precedents and strikes down old ones. We’re taught courts serve justice by upholding the law, when in fact the law’s purpose is to uphold justice. When the law confounds justice, it’s no longer useful and sacrosanct. In these situations, the law is already broken, incapable of functioning effectively, and irrelevant. Jesus demonstrates this in Luke 14.

The Sabbath Doctrine

He’s dining with a prominent Pharisee on the Sabbath, which is most irregular, as Jesus isn’t known to cozy up to the religious establishment. The host and his friends watch His every move for the slightest infraction of Sabbath protocol. Jesus, being wise to this, stays on His best behavior. Then He notices a man with dropsy—pronounced swelling secondary to a more serious disease, such as heart trouble. Christ’s power to remedy the man’s condition raises a legal issue. The law forbids work of any kind on the Sabbath. Jesus is a healer; healing the man breaks the law. Not healing the man is unconscionable, however. Rather than take the law into His hands, He drops it in His adversaries’ laps. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” He asks. But His underlying question really is, “Is it just for this man to suffer because I’m forced to conform to legal traditions?”

They don’t have a ready-made answer. What was black-and-white moments ago turns stubbornly gray. They feel the scales tip from precedent to principle and they have nothing to counter-balance the shift. Jesus heals the man and replaces the Sabbath law with a Sabbath doctrine. “If your son or ox falls into a well on the Sabbath, do you let him drown? No. You immediately pull him out.” Jesus substitutes flexible application that upholds justice for strict adherence that undermines it. He teaches this doctrine in context of the Sabbath, but it should govern our actions every day of the week.

An Appearance of Wisdom

Many of us have been in the sick man’s position: hurting inside, showing symptoms outside, and praying someone would take the liberty to bend the rules for our benefit. In a lot of cases, when that doesn’t happen, we became outlaws, disregarding Christ’s laws of love completely instead of separating man’s rigid dogma from His pliable principles. Once we grasp His law’s objectives—the justice it upholds—we apply it as befits each situation’s need. We weigh the priorities and decide what’s best. Christ gives us that freedom. Listen to Paul’s take on this:

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!'? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2.30-23)

Religious rules break on their own, particularly when tightly gripped by those who ignore purpose to focus on performance. They have an appearance of wisdom, but they lack value by reinforcing attitudes and prejudices Christ commands us to avoid. When someone tries to corner us with rules, or groups offer their hospitality in hopes of condemning us, we don’t have to fall into their traps. As Jesus demonstrated, obeying God sometimes means breaking the law.

Religious laws that value conformity over compassion don't uphold justice. We don't break them--they're already broken.

(Tomorrow: Beyond Knowledge)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Find Something to Do

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

                        Ecclesiastes 9.10

Taking Care of Business

Luke 2.41-50 tells a terrific story. Each year, Mary, Joseph, and their family join a caravan that travels to Jerusalem for Passover. On this particular occasion, Jesus is 12 and He spends long hours with the temple’s teachers, who are dumbfounded by His prodigious understanding. Passover ends, everyone packs up, and heads home. A day passes before Joseph and Mary realize Jesus isn’t with the rest of the group. They return to Jerusalem, spending three anxious days scouring the city to locate Him. They find Him in the temple—the last place one would expect an adolescent boy—and Mary scolds Him for the worry and inconvenience He’s caused. “Why did you seek me?” Jesus asks, alluding to the fact they should have known they’d find Him where He was. “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2.49; NKJV)

This was the first instance of what would become one of Jesus’s most telltale traits: He was constantly taking care of business. He remained engaged, making time to take time for others’ questions and needs. Although people didn’t always get what they came to Jesus for, He turned none of them away without hearing their requests and either meeting or challenging them. It was exhausting, time-consuming work. When Jesus felt overly taxed, He wisely pulled back to regain His energy and composure. Mark 6.31 tells us at one point things got so hectic He nor the disciples had time even to eat. Jesus says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Then, newly restored, they get back to work.

Job Placement

While people referred to Jesus as “Rabbi,” as far as we know from Scripture He had no training to certify His qualifications. He had no formal title and held no permanent position. He wasn’t placed in a job. Jobs were placed around Him. When something needed doing—feeding multitudes, communing with sinners, opposing injustice, consoling the bereaved, touching the sick, and so on—He didn’t acquiesce to others originally slated for those tasks. Any need that gained His attention meant someone else was either indifferent about or incapable of doing his/her job. Throwing up His hands in frustration over systemic and moral neglect wouldn’t help the problems at hand. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,” says Ecclesiastes. That’s what He did. Personal suffering was His immediate concern. Social and religious irresponsibility also concerned Him. Yet He reserved His comments on “bigger picture” issues for times when His audience consisted of leaders and officials charged with those duties. Jesus didn’t take up a “cause” and leave it at that. He took on the job of finding something to do and He got the job done.

The Day Shift

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work,” Jesus tells the disciples in John 9.4. Solomon finishes his admonition to handle jobs as we find them with a similar thought: “for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Followers of Christ work the day shift. We’re awake, alert, and able to see needs around us. They’re placed in our lives and field of view so we can meet them with love, compassion, and understanding. We can’t escape opportunities to help anyone’s immediate pain by reasoning the system is broken, others are better qualified, or it’s none of our business. His children’s welfare being God’s business makes it our business, too. Except for brief rests to reinvigorate our energy, we should be on the job, predictably seen in places and among people in need, doing the work of Him Who sends us. Let’s look around us. What do we see? A lonely neighbor. An outcast acquaintance. A hungry family. An ailing child. A misunderstood friend. There's no shortage of jobs that others have left undone. When we find something to do, let’s do it—and do it with all our might.

Needs at hand are reasons to reach.

(Tomorrow: Breaking the Law)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Year of the Lord's Favor

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

                        Matthew 4.18-19

A Changed Man

After Jesus’s decisive triumph over the Tempter, He wends His way home to from the desert, stopping off in various places to astound people with His teaching. News of His impromptu sermons precedes Him. Lifelong friends and neighbors pack Nazareth’s synagogue, expecting to be dazzled by their new local hero. As Jesus stands up, someone hands Him the scroll of Isaiah. He opens it to chapter 61, reads the first two verses, and sits down. All eyes fasten on Him and no one moves. Jesus breaks the silence: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” He continues, and the eloquence of His message enthralls the people, who ask one another, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

By every indication, in word and demeanor, Jesus returns to Nazareth a changed man. His wilderness experience and time abroad have given Him authority and assurance. The boldness of His text and audacity of His announcement surprise everyone—as does His comfort to speak such things without fear of reprisal or criticism. Indeed, He’s so confident of His words He breaks the silence in His listeners’ hearts. “I know what you’re thinking,” He says. “’Do some of the cool stuff we’ve heard about.’ But what if I did? You wouldn’t respect me any more than your ancestors did Elijah. Their disbelief tied his hands and though Israel was starving from famine, he could only help outsiders.” The congregation turned into a lynch mob. They herded Jesus out of town to throw Him off a cliff. “But,” Matthew writes, “he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” (v30)

No Time for Foolishness

Did they not hear what Jesus said? Did they not believe He meant it? He had just proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor, saying God had anointed Him for this time, to reach the poor, free those found guilty and unacceptable, enlighten those unable to see, and liberate those oppressed by social and legal taboos. There was a lot to do in this first year of ministry. He needed to act swiftly, taking full advantage of these early moments before fame and recognition triggered interference from critics and leaders. Jesus had no time for foolishness. That’s why He called His own people on their nonsensical desire to see a show rather than their willingness to support Him. (Note: other than His brothers Andrew and James, none of Jesus’s disciples hailed from Nazareth.) In their frenzy of indignation and confusion, they lost complete sight of Jesus. When they got their act together to dispense with Him once and for all, He was long gone.

Greater Things

“Yes,” we say to ourselves when reading this, “that’s so like Jesus to speak authoritatively and elude time-consuming, self-defeating controversy.” What we implicitly mean is, “He’s a special case. We can’t be expected to do everything He did like He did it.” We’re right in a sense, but our thinking is gravely wrong. We’re expected to do more. “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father,” Jesus tells us in John 14.12. Falling short of Christ’s example is inexcusable and merely replicating His accomplishments falls short. When we act on His promise, He guarantees our success. We will do more because He sees we can do more.

The authority and assurance He displayed in Nazareth is ours for the taking. We, too, can boldly declare the year of the Lord’s favor. And it seems there’s no better year for it than 2009. Poor people must be reached. Outcasts must be freed. Restored sight must come to blind victims of bigotry and fear. Oppression must end. God anoints each of us for these tasks. The home crowd will demand a show of some kind before believing the legitimacy of our call. We don’t have time for foolishness. Being under the radar gives us a prime opportunity to get things done now. We can’t get bogged down trying to justify our calling. Let those who doubt waste their time on controversy and backlashes. If they won’t hear us, many beyond their circle will. We need to find them and leave the others to look for us long after we’ve moved on. “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it,” 1 Thessalonians 5.24 reads. That’s how great things get greater.


May God bless us to make 2009 the Year of His Favor.

(Tomorrow: Find Something to Do

Postscript: New Inroads for the New Year

Two days ago, I got an email from James Hipps, the project manager for two prominent gay sites, and, asking permission to feature Straight-Friendly as a blog of note. Both sites are comprehensive, meaning they cover the entire spectrum of online gay culture, from sociopolitical topics to “mature content.” I couldn’t have been more pleased or honored by the invitation, and immediately accepted. The recognition is terrific. But more than that, the offer puts Straight-Friendly right where it needs to be—a place providing new inroads to a wider audience of GLBT people struggling with religious rejection. God be praised for this blessing (as well as earlier inclusion on a similar, Chicago-based site,, which already has generated considerable traffic here). And a hat-tip of gratitude goes out to James Hipps and lifelube’s editors for supporting gay spiritual health along with other concerns and interests.

Ironically, James’s note came on the heels of another I didn’t intend to share. But I must, simply as a testimony to God’s grace and His marvelous sense of timing. Last week, I submitted Straight-Friendly for link consideration at another Christian blog hub. I received a gracious note declining the application. “It’s what I think of as an issues blog,” the editor wrote. “Nothing wrong with that”—“Seinfeld” fans, you know what that means—“but it’s not something we normally work with.” I took it on the chin; in fact, after spending more time with some of the bloggers gathered there, I’d already decided to withdraw my application. But it stung, nonetheless. And then, the very next day, here comes God, opening a new door to a place far better suited to our focus and efforts. He truly is a Wonder!

When you pray, remember Straight-Friendly and ask our Father to guide those who open Best Gay Blogs, Gay Agenda, and lifelube in search of spiritual comfort and community our way. And join me in thanking Him for these outstanding resources and opportunities.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

At Midnight

At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

                        Acts 16.25 (KJV) 

Flattery We Don’t Need

Acts 16 finds Paul and his colleague, Silas, preaching in Philippi. Their early efforts yield terrific results. Lydia, a dye merchant from a nearby town, and her family are baptized and she offers to house the evangelists. But trouble soon follows from a young psychic whose masters exploit her for profit. She trails Paul and Silas, loudly declaring them “servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Paul immediately reasons, “This is flattery we don’t need.” Her occult powers belie her words and risk the public’s mistaking Paul and Silas as her associates. She keeps on until Paul finally rids her of the devious spirit behind her behavior. When it leaves, her gifts go with it. This infuriates her keepers, who drag the men before the town leaders, charging them as outsiders who’ve thrown the city into chaos. The Philippians—an insular, highly suspicious community of miners—join the attack. Paul and Silas are tossed in jail, where the jailer shackles them in an inner cell so they won’t escape. Then he goes home.

Not Allowed, Yet Aloud

Let’s overstate the obvious here. Paul and Silas do the young woman a great service in relieving her vexation. By silencing her disruptions and exposing the men who used her to bilk the town, they actually restore order. The injustice of her patrons’ accusations—and the locals’ ungrateful support—border on preposterous. The most Paul and Silas are guilty of is discerning the deceitful source of the psychic’s praise. But in places like Philippi—established and run on long-accepted conventions—change of any kind, even for the better, brought by outsiders isn’t allowed. It isn’t what they do. It’s who they are (or aren’t).

We see this. Paul and Silas feel it. Shoved into the darkest corner and forgot for the night, they’ve every right to complain and fear what tomorrow holds. Yet instead of bemoaning the town’s backwardness or shrinking into the shadows of fate, they grow bold. At midnight, they start praying and singing aloud so all the prisoners get the point their situation is beside the point. An earthquake shakes the jail, chains fall, cell doors fly open, prisoners walk out, and the jailer rushes to the scene. He’s so terrified the prisoners have fled and he’ll face negligence charges, he’s about to kill himself when Paul stops him. “We’re all here!” he says. The stunned jailer falls to his knees, asking, “What must I do to be saved?”

Universal Jurisdiction

The ignorance and antagonism leveled at Paul and Silas were so commonplace enduring hostility in return for kindness was a drumbeat in the apostles’ teaching and letters. The message is always the same: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3.9) Alas, things haven’t improved. When we follow Christ, it’s probable good we do will go unappreciated, our motives will be misunderstood, and powers that be will shove us into dark corners to forget about us. Sadly, many of us experience this most acutely from families, friends, and leaders also striving to follow Jesus. Like the Philippians, however, clinging to tradition and fear of outsiders goad them to conform to alarmists’ claims.

Paul and Silas teach us how to respond. They refrain from arguing their case in the court of public opinion. They know the local leaders’ authority is limited, while their Leader has universal jurisdiction. His final ruling supersedes all others and His ability to shake up earthly institutions can’t be counted out. We may not be allowed rights and considerations granted to the conformist majority, but neither can we allow ourselves the right to grumble about what we can’t control. When midnight comes, we disrupt darkness with prayer and praise. We ensure we’re heard. We make the point our present situation is beside the point. We serve a mighty big God. When He steps in, the ground rumbles, doors open, shackles loose, and people of every kind who’ve been buried from sight find they’re free.

Tonight, as we count down to midnight, let’s listen closely for the first tremors of groundbreaking change, fully expecting our God to move mightily in 2009.

Happy New Year!

At midnight, we disrupt darkness with prayer and praise.

(Tomorrow: The Year of the Lord’s Favor)

Postscript: A New Year’s Reflection

One of our regular readers, Rev. Harvey Carr, Interim Pastor of St. Luke’s Community Church—a vibrant, growing, inclusive congregation in Jacksonville, Florida—wrote the following reflection for his church’s weekly newsletter. It was just too good not to be shared.

Open Your Mind to God This New Year

 “…everything that does not come from faith is sin.” – Romans 14:23 (NKJV)

Each new year is an appointment to become an authentic optimist.

Each new day is justification for being enthusiastic about life again. Each dawning is God’s invitation to start over and build a new life, beginning with the present moment.

Each new week is an opportunity to make new and noble resolutions!  Every Monday morning you have a standing appointment to meet new opportunities!

What does it mean to have faith? Faith is opening your mind for God’s thoughts to flow in – “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).  And when God’s thoughts flow in, life will change, for you will have a dream.  You will see possibilities in the day – the week – the month – the year that is waiting to unfold.

Faith moves mountains.  The greatest power in the world is a positive idea.  And the most powerful positive idea is one that comes directly from God who created the world and broke sunshine through the black of night.

Today open your mind to think God’s thoughts.  Allow God to shape you into a new and different person – freed to experience positivity in your thinking.

Fill your mind with faith and positive ideas will follow.


Thank you, God, that I am being born again.  Your Holy Spirit is filling my mind with Your thoughts.  I am excited about today, and I’m excited about my future because of You! Amen.

Harvey, thanks so much for this. And God’s blessings on your life, church, and ministry in 2009 and years to come.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Abandoned? Never!

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

                        Psalm 37.25

No Good Thing

Here’s the deal. If we live righteously before God and man, good things follow. Hang on a second. That’s not altogether correct. If we live righteously, every good thing God has for us follows. He ensures nothing gets overlooked. Psalm 84.11 insists, “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Bad things happen to good people and good things to bad people. Only righteous people (not to be confused or categorized with self-righteous) receive every good thing, however. Bad things come their way, to be sure. Yet by virtue of their faith, the righteous can find goodness in the worst of their lot.

How is that? Romans 1.17 offers a succinct explanation: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Righteous people trust God’s word from first to last. They grapple with fears and emotions like everyone else. Yet they perceive them differently. Facts and feelings are immaterial; they prove nothing. As Hebrews 11.1 stresses, when we live righteously by faith, we find substance in hope and proof in unseen evidence. Ergo, no crisis is so severe it won’t yield benefits, no outcome so final it comes to naught. When we believe this, God rewards our faith, enabling us to discern every good thing concealed in what often looks and feels ineffably bad.

Never—Not Once

“I’ve been around a long time,” David writes in Psalm 37, “and never—not once—have I seen the righteous abandoned.” How ironic of him to say this, because his songs are riddled with “where’s God” moments. Psalm 22, for example, begins, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—the very words Jesus cries from the cross at his loneliest hour. Yet in the final analysis, David’s songs back up his claim. His feelings of dejection always give way to declarations of faith. So did Christ’s. His final utterance as a man is, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23.46) The situation is beyond His human ability to withstand and He places His entire trust in God. That’s why Paul says the gospel reveals righteousness by faith from first to last. And that’s why righteous people never find themselves truly abandoned: faith reaches God when no other options exist, when no mortal help can be found, when no one wants them around.

Children of Righteousness

David puts an intriguing addendum on his statement. Children of righteousness prosper. He strikes two chords in Psalm 37 that support his belief. The first immediately follows in verse 26: “They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.” Righteous people are givers. They know nothing they have came of their own doing and there’s always more where that came from. What they have may not be much, but as he says in verse 16, “Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked.” Faith taps into the endless supply of God’s blessings and believes no good thing will be withheld. But second, though often isolated, the righteous enjoy God’s protection. “The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.” (v11-12) Children of righteousness grow up in a healthy, secure environment. They’re blessed materially and emotionally.

Whether or not we have biological children, as people of faith, we all assume parental roles. We bear and rear children of righteousness, who learn from our example and listen closely to what we say. If we model belief and generosity to those who look up to us, they will follow suit. This is especially crucial for those of us in the GLBT community, which all too often exalts role models that promote cynicism and selfishness. We’ve been given an extraordinary opportunity to live righteously, to offer a better alternative to self-gratification and fear of rejection. We have experienced the joy of never being abandoned. We have seen the benefits of giving. We can’t abandon our own or withhold every good thing we can offer. Our Father does this for us. We must do it for them.

PFLAG's current "Stay Close" campaign speaks volumes to GLBT families and friends. It also carries a message to people of faith, reminding us to stay close to our "children."

(Tomorrow: At Midnight)

Monday, December 29, 2008

God's Calendar

But do not forget one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

                        2 Peter 3.8

The Days of Our Lives

Years ago, my father underwent heart surgery. During his three-month recovery, he got hooked on “The Days of Our Lives”, a soap opera that opened with an hourglass over which its star, McDonald Carey, intoned, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” Sometimes I’d watch it with Dad, who relished telling me all about Salem, a little town plagued by rare diseases and big scandals. My mind occasionally wanders back to those sweet hours together, pausing to listen again to the opening. At the time, I was too young to appreciate the gravity of the words. Now, with Dad in his late seventies and me pushing 50, they’re particularly poignant. Both our hourglasses are bottom-heavy. Every day is one less, not one more, meaning those we have left are truly dear.

Due Time

“The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength,” Moses says in Psalm 90.10. The period at the end of our sentence informs how we tell time, which totally differs from how God views it. Our calendar marches in regimented time—minutes, days, and years passing underfoot en route to a finite end. God’s infinite calendar flows in due time. It’s incredibly flexible and adjusted to each individual so its dates fall exactly when needed rather than expected. Since God’s time has no measure, it’s impossible to understand and often hard to accept. Watching the clock and counting days are futile when anticipating answers to prayer or divine intervention. After we turn things over to God, telling time becomes an act of faith. We align with His schedule, trusting Him to respond in due time—not a moment sooner or later.

Wait for It

Cries of urgency don’t move God. Habakkuk learns this after asking how long must Israel wait before He reveals His power against her foes. God replies, “The revelation awaits an appointed time... Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2.3) Awareness of our mortality spawns impatience, leading to worry that answers and guidance have been indefinitely postponed. God tells us what we ask of Him will come in due time. It’s already on the books and on the way. Though it linger, wait for it. In his second epistle, Peter counsels us not to forget God’s calendar. A day, a millennium—a year, a second—are one and the same to Him. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness,” he adds. (2 Peter 3.9) Procrastination to us is progress to Him, as every moment draws closer to the solution He’s placed in our future.

This time of year we get a little calendar crazed. We look at the previous 12 months to gauge our achievements and success. In some cases, we’re delighted by how far we’ve come. Others leave us crestfallen—this or that should have happened by now. Always remember our deadlines are artificial, the result of mortality. God’s calendar has no New Year’s Day and annual resolutions bear no relevance on His timing. We place far too much emphasis on dates and too little on faith. What we’ve asked for will certainly come and will not delay.

This means nothing to God, whose calendar flows in due time.

(Tomorrow: Abandoned? Never!)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Awaken the Dawn

I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.

                        Psalm 57.8-9

A New Morning

Day by day, I gain confidence we’re on the edge of a new morning in Church history and the life of God’s people. Believers of every stripe, from everywhere are coalescing into a committed, vocal movement for tolerance and acceptance of all Christians, straight or gay, left or right, male or female, etc. We’re reaching critical mass and I have no doubt we’ll soon become a force to be reckoned with. This is also true of society as a whole, which is unconsciously hewing to God’s will to exert pressure from without while we advocate change within. The beauty of this is equal push from both sides guarantees the Church’s walls will neither explode nor implode. They will stand in the end.

If the cliché about the darkest hour holds water—and I think it does—turmoil generated by pro-straight marriage initiatives very well could indicate a brighter sun hovers below the horizon. The outcry against such callous discrimination has commanded global attention and support from corners that ordinarily keep silent. While we revile the injustice of these propositions, we can’t give in to panic and alarm. God is in the works and He’s using the foolishness of men to confound their leaders. Situations like this are nothing new to Him. Time after time, He’s lifted His hand long enough for those alleging to speak and act in His name to go too far. And then He’s exposed their chicanery for what it was.

The Pits

David describes this in Psalm 57.6: “They spread a net for my feet—I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path—but they have fallen into it themselves.” He then adds a musical direction, “Selah,” which marks a pause for the congregation to consider what it’s just sung before going on. Here’s the thing about people who dig pits: they always make a big deal about what they’re doing. We can see what they’re up to from miles away and know to move around them when we get there. This typically frustrates them no end. Sooner or later infighting breaks out among them and they trip over their own snares. A former pastor of mine used to say, “If you dig one grave, you better dig two.”

A Coming-Out Party

Observing his tormentors’ self-destruction puts David in an exultant mood. “I will awaken the dawn,” he shouts. “I will praise God among the nations. I will sing among the people.” It’s a coming-out party and he’s hastening the day. Are we not seeing what David saw? The notoriety and disgust our adversaries intended to slather on us have affixed to them. We can stare from afar at the horizon for glimmers of sunrise. Or we can awaken the dawn by praising God openly and singing His glory among the people. We can come out of hiding to make our presence felt in houses of worship and communities of faith. Acts 2, often called the “birth chapter” of the Church, ends thusly: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Whether returning or coming in for the first time, we’re being added daily. It’s our time and responsibility to awaken the dawn.

A new day is breaking in the Church--let's awaken the dawn!

(Tomorrow: God’s Calendar)