How Did Hitler Happen?

Adolf Hitler

Pre-Hitler Germany was a tenuous republic struggling with staggering debt, high inflation, and ideological and racial division. President Hindenburg was elderly and in cognitive decline.

Although Adolf Hitler’s 1923 violent coup should have permanently removed him from public life, he served only 9 months of a five-year sentence for treason, using that time to write Mein Kampf.

Upon his release, Germany was prospering, and the message of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) was diminished. Nevertheless, Hitler was patient and diligent. He slowly and meticulously expanded his influence. His SA (also known as the Brown Shirts) used fear, intimidation, and violence to disrupt political opponents, clash with police, organize mass protests, shut down debate, and demand political change. The government failed to deal with them due to fear, political calculations, and the weakened state of law enforcement.

When the New York Stock Market crash of 1929 reversed Germany’s short-lived prosperity, Hitler was ready to take advantage of the crisis. Like a chess master, Hitler maneuvered like-minded party members into the legislature, helping them gain power. When he was given citizenship through a back-channel deal it qualified him to run for President- he did.

Although he lost by a wide margin, he siphoned enough votes to demonstrate the power of the Nazi Party and convinced Hindenburg to name him Chancellor. A short time later the legislature was burned and Hitler reigned supreme. What he had failed to accomplish with his violent coup, Hitler now accomplish through the constitutional process.

Can Worship Be Too Emotional?

Worship Concert

A criticism I have heard about the current happenings at Asbury University is that it may simply be emotionalism. Is that fair?

When a couple “falls in love”, we often hear people say things like, “Isn’t that precious” or “Aren’t they sweet together“. In the early stages of a relationship, we seldom consider that the relationship may not be cerebral enough. We also know from our own experience that there will be times when the couple offends each other, purely by accident, as they do not yet know all the expectations of the other.

An important part of courtship is getting to know one another. Most relationships do not begin with a completed dossier. Real and deep love that transcends emotion comes with time as we commit to someone because of, and despite the other person’s opinions, personality, and behaviors.

Some teach that a genuine relationship with God is not about how we feel, but how we conform to God’s commands. There is much truth in this, but it is not complete. Conversely, some teach that how we feel is important to God. This is also true. Jesus was beaten so we could have peace. (Isaiah 53:5). But to engage fully with God, we need the one without discarding the other. In both the first and second covenants of the Bible, we are commanded to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all our soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30).

If we love God with all our hearts, we are going to “feel” it. If we love Him with all our souls, we are going to want to “know” Him better. And, if we love Him with all our strength, we are going to “act” on what we know are His desires in a spirit of love.

But wait, here’s another shocker. Our relationship with God does not simply evolve from emotional love through cognitive understanding to religious activism. Instead, like any good long-lasting marriage, one feeds the other. We love Him, so we want to know Him more. As we know Him more we want to serve and obey Him to show how much we love Him. Feeling and knowing his joyful and loving acceptance of the gifts we give Him, through obedience, time, and service, causes us to love him more and consequently, we desire to know and do more. We fall in love over and over again as we learn and serve. Like David, we seek after His heart, and we become people “after His own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14).

God cares deeply about how we feel, but our feelings are not the most important thing on His mind. Like a child, we sometimes desire things He does not want us to have. Because He loves us He forbids or keeps things from us. He knows much more than we do about where the path we seek will lead. Too often that path is away from Him.

In the letter to the Ephesians (Revelation 2:1-7), Jesus celebrated the church for what they knew of God’s Word and the actions they took to keep the church doctrinally pure. Despite this, He said he had something against them; they had abandoned their first love. He admonished them to “Repent and perform the deeds they did at first.” He warned them that despite their theological correctness, they would lose their place in His kingdom if they didn’t return to that first love.

I get it. I’ve seen far too many people who love the idea of love more than they are committed to a lifetime of love. It’s easy to wonder where the initial emotional stage is going to lead. Too many are standing back judging the movement instead of praying for the individuals who make up the movement. For some, it is jealousy that God may pour Himself out on someone else and not on them.

Is God at work at Asbury? Absolutely! He is ALWAYS at work. Will some of these people look back on this time as a catalyst for their life? I’d bet on it. Are some going to walk away unchanged? Yep!

Many criticized Jesus’ earthly ministry. Some thought it would merely fade away. For Judas, it did, but for the other disciples, it set the courses of their lives. Other’s thought it was the beginning of a new kingdom. It was, but not yet, and not in the way they expected.

Instead of cheering or booing from the stands we should take this opportunity to examine our own lives and relationships. Do we love God with our whole being? Are we taking every opportunity to get to know Him better? Are we acting like we love and know Him? This is not an opportunity to judge others, it is an opportunity to judge ourselves and to pray He pours out His Spirit on all of us.

Shalom!

Jesus Loves Us Too Much to Not Speak Truth

I Am the Truth

Many muse about what Jesus would preach and support if he walked with us as He did the early disciples. Arguments rise from both the secular community, who want Jesus to be a mascot for their preferred lifestyles, and by church leaders who believe they can bring people to their church through positive marketing and theological spin.

But Jesus has always refused to fit into man-made molds. In Luke 4, Jesus overcame the temptation to yield to Satan’s lies and supposed short-cuts to His destiny and purpose.  He then returned to Galilee, “in the power of the Spirit”, where he taught in the synagogues and “was praised by all.” News spread, and he increased in popularity and favor.

When he came to Nazareth, where he grew up, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood to read. Turning to Isaiah, he read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because he anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind…” It was an encouraging message to those who felt oppressed and discarded. The listeners were thrilled and spoke well of Jesus, yet they expressed surprise that these gracious words came from the mouth of one of their own.

Jesus could have taken the opportunity to bask in the praises of those he grew up with; instead, He looked past the excitement on their faces and peered deep into their hearts. He knew their real priorities included wanting to ride the coattails of his popularity, and having their needs and selfish desires met. They weren’t looking for the Lord, they were looking for affirmation.

Jesus admonished the crowd for having the same attitudes as their forefathers who lacked faith and were therefore overlooked by God as He poured out blessings on the widow of Zarephath and Naaman of Syria.

The mood changed quickly. Those who considered Jesus a voice from God only moments before now considered Him their enemy because He had dared to hold up a spiritual mirror to reveal their true nature. They were “filled with rage,” and they drove Him outside the city and attempted to throw Him down a cliff. As it was not yet His time, he easily passed through the crowd and moved on to the next town.

The people of Nazareth could have examined their lives, repented, and joined the King of Glory in the greatest story of human history. Instead, they held onto their mindsets and missed the Kingdom of God.

When God puts the mirror in front of us today, how do we respond? Do we fall on our knees in repentance, find favor in the loving arms of God, and become transformed more into His likeness, or do we get angry and search out a message that affirms who we already are?

Selah

National Prayer Breakfast 2020: Was Trump Acting Christian? Part 2

In my last blog, I addressed some of President Trump’s less-than-Christian remarks at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. It amazes me how the press, who often disdain everything Christian, quickly judges the worthiness of those who refer to themselves as a believer.

While I agree with the President’s critics that he failed to live up to the high standards called for by Scripture, I also pointed out that all of us fall short of these aspirations. Trump himself acknowledged that he often makes things difficult for believers who support him. The audience laughed with understanding. God is still working on all of us. Thankfully, He doesn’t disown us every time we fail.

Continue reading “National Prayer Breakfast 2020: Was Trump Acting Christian? Part 2”

National Prayer Breakfast 2020: Was Trump Acting Christian? Part 1

When I saw the headlines in my newsfeed last evening, I sighed. President Trump’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast were the talk of the airways, and they were not ideal. Less than two days after what was arguably his most presidential speech yet, the president was jumping back in the mud. While the State of the Union Address was controversial, it was missing the petty digs and character assassinations that all too often emerge from Trump’s twitter feeds and off-the-cuff remarks. The Prayer Breakfast seemed to return to business as usual–or so the headlines implied.

Continue reading “National Prayer Breakfast 2020: Was Trump Acting Christian? Part 1”

Finding Peace in a World at War

Recently, there has been much buzz over the President’s State of the Union Address as well as the associated protestations of his detractors. Opinions abound. Numerous comments, in both professional and personal media, sadly reinforce already well-established biases. Often, today’s commentators abandon critical reasoning, and instead, resort to spinning every societal happening into confirmation bias.

Linguistic yoga has reached a new level as polarized pundits witness the same event and then mutilate the facts in such a way as to advance their own pre-determined agendas. These pontificators of cultural righteousness see nothing wrong with their side and everything wrong with the other.

Continue reading “Finding Peace in a World at War”

The Power of Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is my sincere hope that you are giving this important day every bit of the attention God deserves. Put down those Black Friday sales papers (or mobile device) for a little while. Focus more on your family than you do on television. Take plenty of time to count your blessings. Thank God for all He has done for you. Continue reading “The Power of Thanksgiving”

Stuck in a Rut?

Sometimes it feels like our life is stuck in a rut. We keep seeing the same scenery – the same results – over and over again. During these times, it is very easy to get frustrated and disheartened.
The Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible illustrates these feelings poignantly:
 
“Hope that is deferred afflicteth the soul…” Proverbs 13:12

Continue reading “Stuck in a Rut?”

Fast Forward 2018 – Jesus Judo Part 7: Humility & Pride

FFp4With the arrival of the last installment in the Jesus Judo series, we come to Humility and Pride. In case you have missed any along the way, all of the parts of this series along with hundreds of other teachings are on my website at www.restorethepaths.com. To make sure you don’t miss any future blogs, please sign-up here.

In this series we have already looked at the first six of the ancient seven deadly sins and the corresponding seven Christian virtues: Chastity / Lust, Temperance / Gluttony, Charity / Greed, Diligence / Sloth, Patience / Wrath and Envy / Kindness. We also provided an Introduction to Jesus Judo and the Law of Opposite Actions at the very beginning. Today we finish up. Continue reading “Fast Forward 2018 – Jesus Judo Part 7: Humility & Pride”