Time to Refocus on the Lord

06-12-2020NewsletterJeff Looker

Brothers and Sisters-

We are all struggling to make sense of the current news in our world with the pandemic, riots, and unrest. Evil is called good, and good is called evil. There is much deception, and sin is running rampant in our streets.

I recently watched a documentary on the history of medicines. One segment spoke about medical treatments derived from poisons, particularly from scorpions (one of my least favorite things in the universe). Some brain cancer tumors are difficult to treat since cancer and the healthy brain tissue look the same to the naked eye. Taking too much healthy tissue in surgery as an abundance of caution often results in a catastrophic disability for the patient. Being able to pinpoint only cancer in surgery is critical. The venom of a scorpion named "The Death Stalker' contains a substance that paralyzes and kills the animals it hunts for food. But in humans, scientists discovered that this ingredient instead has an attraction to cancer cells and, in fact, binds to cancer cells exclusively. The poison is not strong enough to kill the cancer cell, but instead, when mixed with a fluorescent dye, it highlights only the cancer cells allowing surgeons to avoid cutting out healthy brain tissue. With a special kind of lighting, the tumor is highly contrasted against healthy tissue allowing it's removal while minimizing damage to the healthy.

It seems to me this is a beautiful analogy for our current state of affairs in the world. We are all created in God's image, and therefore created good, except that we inherited a sin nature from the fall. Sin has been equated in scripture to leprosy or in our day, cancer. Sin is often hidden in plain sight in our lives, going unnoticed. Satan, coincidentally also known as "The Death Stalker," is the "thief" in John 10:10- he comes to steal, kill and destroy with his venom of hate anger and pride. But the Lord uses all things to the good ( Rom 8:28) and what the enemy meant for evil the Lord uses to highlight the sin and deception we have been complacent to, allowing his light of truth to highlight the sin that needs removal, while preserving his body for an eternal place with him. Brothers and sisters, this is Good News!

I am also reminded of the scripture Matthew 13:24:

Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

The word used for "weeds" in the Greek from this scripture is a plant called Darnell. It looks very similar to wheat in its stalk and grain but is empty and worthless. It is very tempting to want to argue and debate and "pull out" all of the errors and deception that are commonplace in our present age and to desire punishment those we disagree with. Of course, we are not supposed to sit idly by allowing the enemy free reign, and we need to do our part in spreading the truth in love. But ultimately, the master will separate the wheat from the weeds. If we are too quick to provide our solutions and clever ideas to solve the world's problems or use the tactics of the world to accomplish Kingdom goals, the wheat will be pulled with the weeds and unnecessary damage may be caused by our efforts, subverting the Lord's perfect will.

A final scripture that was on my heart this week:

"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him". (Romans 12:2-3, RSV-CE)

Recently Ralph Martin did a video unpacking a prophetic word he discovered from Fr Mike Scanlan from 1976. (See the video and prophecy in today's flocknote). One of the lines of the prophecy that struck me was:

"The structures are falling and changing—it is not for you to know the details now—but do not rely on them as you have been. I want you to make a deeper commitment to one another. I want you to trust one another, to build an interdependence that is based on my Spirit. It is an interdependence that is no luxury. It is an absolute necessity for those who will base their lives on me and not the structures from a pagan world."

Is the Lord using the unrest and confusion in our world to highlight our disordered reliance on ourselves and our "comfort zones'? Could this be a time to refocus on Him and one another in Covenant Community? Could this moment in history be a wakeup call to abandon the ways we have been “conformed by the world” and begin the work of being “transformed by the renewing our minds? "Trusting one another and building an interdependence based on my Spirit.." sounds a lot like building the Culture of the Holy Spirit that we highlight as the way of life of City of the Lord. I think this prophetic word, based on the overwhelming response I have observed by those in our community that have read it, has struck a chord of truth in our members. It is a reminder of who we are and why we exist.

Humanity's fallen nature has been targeted and highlighted by our enemy for all to see in this moment of history. But we are called to live in the light of eternal perspective, not living in a "Hyper-present tense" where all we see is the crisis of the moment, without the rest and confidence that comes from our true identity and the assurance of Jesus' ability to redeem the lost. We are called to co-labor with the mission of Redeemer in our mission as City of the Lord to bring an encounter with Jesus to the lost, so that all might live in Him.

"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:19-21, RSV-CE)"

Blessings, Jeff