Monday, May 25, 2020

Respectfully Disagree


My freshman year in high school I was bullied by another guy, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. He would sarcastically make comments about me in mock praise, and at the time, I remember feeling so frustrated. I knew his words were insincere, but I couldn’t confront him directly or call him out on his attacks. I finally figured out that if I “praised” him with equal sarcasm, he would eventually stop. 

I feel that same frustration with what has now become an obvious attack against the things I believe. The words are smooth and nice, filled with empty platitudes that everyone should support, but the results and trends are destroying freedom, not just in America, but throughout the world. Sadly, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, was correct when he said that people will believe a lie if repeated often enough. I wonder how many people take the time to look at the facts, both what is known and unknown, and examine what people have to gain from their position. How many others examine the walk of policy-makers and journalists to see how it matches their talk and then consider the likely results? 

War is evil, but sometimes it is necessary to stop a greater evil. Every life is valuable, yet there are some things worth dying for. In other words: some things are more important than life. On this Memorial Day in the United States, we remember those who gave their lives so that we may live in freedom. Sadly, out of fear and complacent convenience we are incrementally relinquishing freedom. I want to fight for it like the heroes of the past, but I feel like that high school freshman again, confronted with pleasant-sounding lies that have become internalized by so many innocent people in our society. 

I am further saddened by the recent news of Ravi Zacharias, a man gifted with the ability to wage this war with words yet who has now completed his race and joined Christ in His heavenly kingdom. Ravi had a way of respectfully disagreeing with the lies he encountered, treating the questioner with respectful consideration. He would often respond to inquiries and challenges with powerful questions, seeking to understand his questioner so he could better understand their question, and his gentle technique would often help others to find truth. 

Jesus also used questions as He set people free from the lies they had come to believe, and He complemented this with stories to illustrate the truth, making it relevant to their lives and causing them to ponder. I on the other hand want to be direct, and I appreciate directness from others. Unfortunately, that is not very effective in helping people break away from the lies that have captured their minds and ensnared their souls. Being direct works for maybe 5% of us, and then only part of the time. 

So with one less Ravi in the world, who is willing to take up the sword of truth and wield it with precision, attacking the lies and not the person? In a society that is more concerned with pushing forward an agenda than with truth and love, I wonder. People are vilified and mocked for having a different opinion on social media, and they are silenced in the workplace by HR policies that reflect conventional wisdom, regardless of how foolish conventional wisdom has become. Who is bold enough to say, “The emperor has no clothes!” yet considerate in how they say it so as to not embarrass the emperor?

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Piercing the Illusion


The Lord promised me years ago that He would be my inheritance. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, and I’m still figuring it out. However, I do know that He put me in a position of dependency upon Him and has shown me consistently that He is faithful to provide for my every need. Despite this, I am continuously drawn to the illusions of peace and security. I have walked the dual path of expecting His imminent return while following the command to “build houses… plant gardens… get married…” (Jeremiah 29:5-7) and otherwise live in this world, believing that at some point in my lifetime, the harvest will reach fruition and this age will come to an end.

Walking a dual path without being double-minded is a struggle. I am little bit like John the Baptist, who started to doubt if Jesus was the Messiah. In his last days, John sent word to Jesus asking for reassurance. Because of the peril in John’s present circumstances and the gap between his expectations and reality, John needed to know that his life was spent wisely. (Luke 7:19-23) At times, I wonder if I am like the seed that was sown among thorn bushes: will the worries of life, the deceitful pleasures of riches, and the desires for other things take over? Will these distractions choke God’s word in me so that it can’t produce anything? (Mark 4:19

But then I see how my dependency upon God is all part of His plan for me so that I am not ensnared with the thorn bushes when the time comes to make a choice. It’s hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom (Matthew 19:23) because the more you own, the more it owns you. If I’m truly honest, what little I have will be hard to part with. If the Lord told me today in a clear and certain way to leave it all, would I obey with a sad heart or with a joyful expectation that He has something greater in mind? 

The illusion of peace and security, houses and retirement accounts, is one that will keep many from entering the Kingdom when forced to choose. Our global society has erected modern idols of wealth, technology and government to be our providers and protectors, and in the COVID-19 crisis, people are looking to their gods for an answer. They beseech their god of medical technology to provide a cure to this contagion, and they look to their governmental idol for provision. They trusted in their financial plans as a wall of protection, so what will happen when the wall crumbles? I have no doubt that the masses will embrace promises of a universal basic income when their wealth crumbles. Someday, we will discover how much of the world’s current crisis is manmade, but our current trajectory will subjugate us to the global, totalitarian system described in the Bible. In the end, we will get the leaders we deserve, forfeiting the hard-fought freedoms secured by previous generations for the promise of peace and security. When people ignore the truth, they get ensnared in the lies they’ve embraced.
God’s anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living. What can be known about God is clear to them because he has made it clear to them… While claiming to be wise, they became fools… For this reason God allowed their lusts to control them. As a result, they dishonor their bodies by sexual perversion with each other. These people have exchanged God’s truth for a lie. So they have become ungodly and serve what is created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen!

We like to think that people are basically good, and while we need to see and cultivate the good in everyone, the fact remains that man is a fallen and selfish creature. It is only the loving grace of God that lifts us up, and it is only in knowing His Truth that we are set free from pet sins that keep us from becoming who we were made to be. The truth shines light on our filth so it can be cleaned. But what happens when we refuse to embrace the truth? The first chapter of John tells us that the light came into the world, but men preferred darkness over light. Our real danger is a spiritual contagion that threatens eternal life, yet people live in denial, avoiding the light of truth that can set them free. 
“These people are rebellious and deceitful children,
children who refuse to listen to the Lord’s teachings.
They say to the seers, ‘Don’t see the future.’
They say to those who have visions,
‘Don’t have visions that tell us what is right.
Tell us what we want to hear. See illusions.
Get out of our way! Stop blocking our path!
Get the Holy One of Israel out of our sight.’”
Magic elixirs promising a cure for all ailments have been sold throughout the ages to gullible and desperate people. How anxious have people become in this global COVID crisis? In desperation and fear, will people grasp onto anything that offers them peace and security? When a man with a confident demeanor emerges with a plan to recover from the global crises, will he be embraced? Will people stop to consider the cost?
The man of sin will come with the power of Satan. He will use every kind of power, including miraculous and wonderful signs. But they will be lies. He will use everything that God disapproves of to deceive those who are dying, those who refused to love the truth that would save them. That’s why God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe a lie.
Healthy people acknowledge the issues; they don’t hide from the truth. I don’t know how close we are to seeing the end of this age, but the world has been staged for the antichrist to appear. Many will embrace a universal ID if it is a requirement for getting a COVID vaccination or universal basic income paycheck. The Book of Revelation predicted this, calling it the “mark of the beast”. Without this “mark” no one will be able to buy or sell in the global economy. The Greek word for this “mark” is “charagma”, which is translated as “an etching or a piercing”. It will become part of a person’s body, like a tattoo or perhaps like a subcutaneous chip that is inserted in animals for tracking them. 

The infrastructure exists to implement a global tracking system for everyone on the planet. The technology exists now for a universal ID to be implanted in everyone and for that ID to be used for security access and exchange of electronic currency. In this COVID crisis, people across the world are now shunning the germ-infested cash and using electronic money. Apple Pay and Google Pay on mobile phones even allow wireless transactions with a cashier. It is a small step to link transaction authorizations to a universal ID, but the Bible warns against accepting this mark of the beast.
Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” 
You may hear religious authorities disagree with me. You may hear religious authorities say we shouldn’t be concerned with end-time prophecies and just focus on living the Christian life. But they either knowingly or unknowingly disregard the introduction for the Book of Revelation: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3) Remember that it was the religious authority of Jesus’ day that arranged for his crucifixion, and Jesus warned His disciples about the Pharisees and Sadducees. So yes, live the Christian life: read the Bible, walk in the Spirit, embrace and extend the grace of God in this world. And do not ignore any truth of Scripture or be ignorant of how it applies to the time in which you live. Do not be desensitized from the truth because people mock it, whether they are within or outside of the Church. 

If anything in this blog has left you concerned or confused, ask God to show you in Scripture what He has said and ask Him to open your eyes more fully to His truth and love. And feel free to reach out to me directly through email: mitch at malloyclan.com. 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/) 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Inconsistent Christian

I've procrastinated writing this blog. It's uncomfortable for me to look at myself honestly, write about it and then publish it for the whole world to see. I'd rather portray some nice image of myself, a picture of who I want to be, someone who always gets it right. Historically, we put on our Sunday best image at church, playing the part of the perfect family for a couple hours each week, rather than being honest about our imperfections. And that's what we do on social media, right?

So you may be thinking: “Then why do it, Mitch? What’s the purpose? What’s the benefit and the cost?” Yes, my thoughts exactly. Why not portray an image of my best self? It only shows part of the truth. God wants each of us to be authentic and has prompted me to do this… insistently… for several months… with ever-increasing intensity. Yet just as Jonah took a ship in the opposite direction, I’ve set this topic aside repeatedly.
Consistently Inconsistent
I wrote before that the one thing consistent about me is my own inconsistency. I re-read that post and see where what I wrote fell short. I put a timeline on something, but 2015 was actually a pretty good year despite what I felt. I sometimes feel such a sense of urgency and importance in a message that I convey the message with that same sense of urgency. I hear the Lord say “soon” and assume it is soon by human standards, but “soon” is a relative term. What seems like an eternity to me is a blink of eye to our eternal God, and I need to remember that He is patient. God will extend the timing of His judgement as long as possible so that (1) no one is left behind and (2) no one is left with an excuse. Ultimately, I’m grateful that He is slow to pass judgement, because it means He is patient with me… patient with my half-hearted, and inconsistent walk with Him. 

His patience is a reflection of His saving grace. Because of His grace, I don’t need to be perfect in behavior, desire or thought; I only need to be perfect in choosing to trust Him. Yet as simple as that is, it's often a decision that I need to make repeatedly throughout the day: struggling, stumbling, repenting and repeating. It is a decision to hand the struggle over to Him and obey the one thing He has told me to do until He gives me the next step. I may not have a singleness of heart and mind at that particular moment, but fixing my eyes upon Him, the anxiety and passion for lesser things fades. Especially during times of inner struggle, I am more keenly aware than anyone else of my need for Christ, yet even then I’m not as aware as my God and Savior wants me to be. He is changing me over time from glory to glory, always becoming. (2 Corinthians 3:18) I have a vision for what I want to become that includes how I measure my growth and guardrails to keep me on the path, but in my selfishness, I jump over the guardrails into the wrong lane. As the Apostle wrote: “I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do.” 

My salvation does not depend upon my faithfulness, but it rests completely upon God being faithful. Still, there are consequences to being unfaithful. It is like a pebble thrown into a still pool of water, creating ripples. No one likes to talk about our failings, but we learn more from our failures than our successes. In other words: every failure is a learning opportunity. Every stumble is a step in our becoming who we were made to be. I heard long ago that a smart man learns from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. I can only hope to be smart in my failures, but you have the opportunity to be wise.
Publicly Inconsistent
My inconsistency has been both public and private. It's easy to see where my public inconsistency has hurt others. The world looks for believers to represent Christ; we are both ambassadors of His grace and recipients of His grace. When we don’t represent Him well, it has a ripple effect. We are rightly called hypocrites, sowing pain and doubt into the lives of those we should be encouraging and strengthening. 

Some of my greatest regrets involve not being consistent in front of my kids. On a family vacation, we decided to go horseback riding, and I lied about son’s age so he could ride along with us. It seemed so innocent in my mind. I easily justified it, but when my son discovered that I lied, it changed him in ways I don’t think he even realizes. On a different occasion, when one of my daughters was 12 years old, I flew into a rage, and even though I never touched her, I deliberately intimidated her to make her afraid of me. Sadly, it worked. My juvenile outburst both terrified her and created a wall between us.

I value kindness and consideration, yet what I did to my daughter was mean and manipulative. The truth is important to me, and there's nothing more detestable to me than a lie. Yet I lied. I can't live up to my own standards; how could I possibly live up to God's perfect Law? That is why God's grace is so important. It's my only hope.

I hate lies, yet I lie. Lies are at the foundation of all our depravity. Adam and Eve believed the lies of the serpent, which led to their fall. The illusion that wealth provides safety and security leads to greed. The perception that temporary pleasures will ease our painful situation leads to so many addictions and does nothing to resolve the root cause. Healing comes when we acknowledge and reject the lie, affirm the truth and resolve to live in truth. The most insidious lies are the half-truths, the ones that leave out that one important detail. We learn to use it as children: "He hit me first!" neglecting to say how much we provoked 'him' to hit me.
Privately Inconsistent
My private inconsistency is that kind of half-truth. Someone on the outside may wonder why I trust in a God who has allowed me to suffer, but they don't see all that is below the surface or understand how God disciplines the ones He loves because they failed to exercise self-discipline. I have privately been an inconsistent Christian, allowing myself to entertain wrong thought patterns that feed the old nature: lust, fear, pride, and laziness. It's God's discipline that dissolves the pride that would otherwise consume me.

My internal thought life can lead to wrong behaviors, yet I can often justify my secret sin as acceptable because "I won't follow through". In other words: “It’s okay to look at the menu so long as you don't order.” But I’ve learned that the internal thought life is where it all begins. It’s the battleground of the soul. While the struggle is only felt by me, the ripple effects pour over into the lives of others. It’s easy to see what we have done to hurt others, but what about what we’ve failed to do? When my thought life has been consumed by some “guilty pleasure”, how have I failed to spend time doing good that others desperately need? How have I failed to be there when my family, friends or neighbors needed someone like me? How have I lost the better thing that God had planned for me? The secret life creates ripples every bit as powerful even if it’s less visible. 

So, I try to be smart man, learning from my mistakes, and I strive to pass this wisdom on to a new generation. My key take-away is to seek a consistent walk with Christ, privately as well as publicly. I realize that I can’t do this perfectly, but as the proverb says: “A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again.” It doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful, and my Father in heaven cheers each step I take toward Him, no matter how many times I may stumble. 
Consistently Hopeful
I proclaimed decades ago that my only hope is in Christ. That remains true today. I was both amazed and excited when I discovered the meaning of Jesus's name: Yahweh Saves! His very name was a promise of what He has done for me! He has saved us, and He leads us to become what we were created to be.

I long to have the promised heart of flesh that replaces my stubborn and rebellious heart of stone, but until that day comes, I’ll remain in this state of becoming, struggling against the old nature that creates this inconsistent Christian walk. God and His promises are unchanging. We see His grace described in the Old Testament (e.g. - Ezekiel 18, Jonah), but it’s in the New Testament where Romans 6 -8 describes the victory of God’s grace over our struggles. It has become the cornerstone doctrine that distinguishes Christianity from other religions and that completes the law of Moses
However, not only creation groans. We, who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts, also groan inwardly. We groan as we eagerly wait for our adoption, the freeing of our bodies from sin. Romans 8:23
copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/) 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Easter vs Pandemic

Can you celebrate Easter in the midst of a global pandemic? Can you celebrate life and joy and worship an all-powerful, all-knowing, fully-good God when there is so much wrong in the world? How can someone even believe in such a God during the dark moments of life? 

It’s precisely these moments that often turn us toward God. Sadly, I remember reading a blog that read: “We returned to church after 9-11 only to remember why we left.” That saddens me on so many levels but mostly because it tells a story that God’s people did not represent Him well to the author of that blog. 

We are the salt of the world, and if we lose our saltiness then what happens to the world around us? Salt flavors and preserves, and those who bear His name are called to flavor this world with His truth and love. We are the light of world, but what happens to the world when we hide the light that burns within us? 

Easter is a celebration of Life and Joy in God’s Victory! Death has no sting for those who reside in Yahweh’s shadow. As Paul wrote: to live is Christ and to die is gain! In other words, we can represent Christ, be the salt and light for this world until we finally go home to be with Him. I long to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant!”, knowing that all my efforts and all my failings don’t factor into either His love or His promises for me. I can love because He first loved me; I know that love is a giving of myself and not just a feeling that is sometimes there and sometimes absent. Love is a decision that can burn through the darkest night, flavor a despairing world, and bring a hope that is based not upon our finite strength but upon the infinite power of a God Who has never let us down, a God Who continues to work all things together for good for those who love Him because He first loved us. 

So how can we be silent on this joyous day? Death has no victory for those who have been blessed with God’s grace! So long as there is life there is hope, and with eternal life comes eternal joy! So on Good Friday, God’s Passover Lamb was sacrificed and the blood covered us so that death could never have victory over us. And on the 3rd Day, Christ rose from the dead to demonstrate His victory over death. It’s not just figurative or theoretical. He has given us a tangible promise to save us from our enemies: death, disease (pandemics), poverty, etc. 

So rejoice and celebrate this Easter in whatever way you can think to glorify God! 

Hallelujah, Christ has risen! 
The Lord is risen indeed, Hallelujah! 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday 2020

I am thankful for our God: Who never abandons us, Who is always patient with us, Who is faithfully working in us to become the people He has called us to be. He reveals truth to His people and steadfastly brings it to fruition. We are impatient, expecting an immediate answer to our prayers, which He sometimes does but more often makes us wait. 

Why does God make us wait? I honestly don’t know. It could be because He knows that once we get a quick answer or a quick deliverance, we don’t appreciate it as much. Maybe it’s because He wants us to develop a habit, a lifestyle, of drawing close to Him. Maybe He likes to build the suspense to develop our character and help us to trust Him as He catches us… just in time… each and every time. 

Last weekend I suggested we pray. Last year I suggested we pray. 13 years ago I wrote an urgent message. 30 years ago, I said a prayer that changed everything for me. God has been patient and faithful, and He will do as He said He would. We can find shelter in Him in the midst of every storm. Draw close and hang on! 

The Lord says this to the family of Israel:
“Seek me so you can live!
Amos 5:4

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Worldwide Call to Prayer - Good Friday 2020

I’m going to suggest something, and if it makes sense to you, reach out to other believers and suggest the same, maybe posting a link to this blog on social media. I suggest that on Good Friday 10-APR-2020 everyone pray for one hour starting at noon local time wherever you may happen to be in the world. Pray for COVID-19 to disappear forever and for people around the world to recover from this blight. We can blanket our world in prayer for 24 hours as the noon day sun washes over our planet. I don’t know how God will answer our prayers, but He has done miraculous things in the past when His people prayed for deliverance. 

Take for example the North American Rocky Mountain Locust. In 1875, the largest locust swarm in history was recorded over the United States Midwest — 198,000 square miles. Compare that to the 163,696 square miles that make up present day California, or for people more familiar with the U.S. Northeast, the locust swarm covered the combined area of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. 1800 miles long and 110 miles wide, the swarm was a little larger than the country of Spain. Compare that to the current locust plague in Africa and the Middle East covering territories of about 37 miles. 

Now, consider this as well: North America and Antarctica are the only continents that do not have locusts. The once devastating Rocky Mountain Locust is now extinct. It disappeared as a result of prayer. Oh, you can find all sorts of theories as to how they went extinct. Some people will go to great lengths to explain that God and prayer aren’t responsible, but while God can work miraculously, He most often uses natural means to work out His will. God answers prayers. 

Consider this as well: God can bring a plague, He can dismiss a plague, and He can protect His people from a plague. I can only imagine how the Israelites felt as the plagues of Egypt passed them by. Did they feel confident of Yahweh’s protection or did they wonder with each successive plague if this time they would also be afflicted. As the first born were taken from the Egyptians, God’s people needed to mark their doorposts so the Angel of Death would pass them by. God was faithful on that first Passover celebration, and His people took shelter under His protection. 

It was at another Passover celebration that Jesus ate His famous last supper with His disciples, and after this dinner, He went to pray in the garden, asking the Father to remove the suffering He was about to endure. Ultimately Jesus surrendered His will to the Father’s, and we now celebrate Good Friday, not because Jesus was crucified but because His sacrifice bought our salvation. If the cost of sin is death, then Jesus paid the fine for all our transgressions on that Good Friday. 

Good Friday this year again occurs during the Jewish Passover Celebration. How will God answer our prayers? Will the Angel of Death pass us by, or will God strengthen us through prayer to endure the trials ahead? Will He cause COVID-19 to disappear and bless the world through the faithfulness of His people? 

Will anyone join with me in the call to pray? Will God’s people throughout the world pray for His love and power to be displayed? 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

What Now?

It’s easy to ask “What if…”, but that is meaningless and unhealthy. “What if…” is a scenario that never occurred. There’s a saying that hindsight is 20/20, but even then, no one has all the facts to accurately describe how life would be different. “What if…” is a way to criticize and fantasize about a reality that never materialized. I used to ask “What if…” and all it did was leave me wanting more than my current reality, regretting any actions that had contributed to it or resenting the absence of opportunity. “What if…” tears a person down and limits their vision to the possibilities that can emerge from today.

I’ve learned to ask healthier questions when I’m in in a hard situation: What have I learned? How should I respond? Where is God in my circumstances and how do I join Him in what He’s doing? I used to ask “What if…”, but I’ve learned to ask “What now?” 

Do I believe that God is working in the global COVID-19 situation? Yes. Absolutely. Do I believe that He is still Sovereign, in control of all things and is not surprised by this virus and the world’s response? I can sometimes give too much power to the giants in my life: a world-wide pandemic, economic crisis, biased reporting / propaganda, etc. These giants can seem too big to overcome, and in truth, they are beyond my ability. However, the question is not how do I compare to these giants. Rather, how does God compare to these things? 
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God — those whom He has called according to His plan. (Romans 8:28) 
Take a look at Romans 8:28 and ask yourself: Who is orchestrating everything? It’s God, of course. That does not mean that God is the source of all evil and pain, but He will use it to bring about good things for His people. Evil is the absence of good just as darkness is the absence of light or cold the absence of heat. The physics of the universe are a revelation about God. God did not create evil, but He did allow it to happen in order to bring about some greater good. 

Heat, Light and Goodness are substantial; we notice their absence and long for their return. Life flows from the heat and light of the sun, and good is sometimes seen most clearly in contrast to the wickedness when goodness is absent. The same can be said about Hope. It is something real, something substantial, and we are left empty and hopeless when it is gone. I learned that J.R.R. Tolkein defined Hope as refusing to despair. I believe this to be true, and I believe that the fuel for Hope is Faith. 
Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1) 
Do we truly believe that God is working all things together for good? That dying to enter His Kingdom is preferable to all that this world has to offer? That God has a plan for each of us and we can join Him in the good that He is doing despite how big and scary the giants in this world seem to be? 

God can wipe this virus off the face of the earth in an instant. He can heal the infected, and He can use a physical death to bring about a spiritual transformation and eternal life. Dying is not a bad thing, but dying without entering the Kingdom of God is horribly permanent. He has a plan in this. He can use medicine to heal a person, and He can use prayer. He can use medicine and prayer. We can choose to listen to how big the giants are, or we can choose to live without fear and seek to join Him in what He is doing. 

So in today’s reality, the question is not “What if…” but “What now?” There is an exciting and uncharted path ahead for those not paralyzed by fear or despair. What is God calling you to now? 
Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9) 
copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Power of Healing Prayer

Simple does not equal easy. I wrote last week that if we want to see healing in our land, then God’s people are called to four simple things:

  1. Humble ourselves
  2. Pray
  3. Seek God’s Face
  4. Turn from our wicked ways
Simple, right? Easy? Not so much. 


Humility


Each of us tends to have an unrealistic view of ourselves. In pride, we compare ourselves to others, patting ourselves on the back when feeling elevated and shamed when we don’t measure up. But a realistic view, a humble view, of ourselves acknowledges that we don’t measure up to the high standards of God’s righteousness. In humility, we remain grateful for His never-ending grace poured out in ever-lasting love. We are who we are, and by His grace we stumble less over time because we are changed in His Presence. It’s not because of our efforts, but because He gives us the strength to do what He has called us to do. 


Prayer


It is in that humility that we turn to God in prayer. It sometimes feels like you’re swimming upstream or speaking to an empty room, but make no mistake, there is power in prayer. In my life, I have seen sudden healing from prayer, and I’ve seen slow healing when persevering in prayer over time. It’s true, we don’t always get what we pray for, but that only makes sense when you consider that you are praying to the One True God and not calling upon some genie in a bottle. God is Sovereign, and we see Jesus modeling prayer in Gethsemane with the words “Thy will be done”. 

Still, in the past month I have prayed for 2 people with fever and upper respiratory sickness and they quickly recovered. I write this not in pride, but in gratitude and as an encouragement for all God’s people to boldly do the same! 

Whether in intercession or by actively reaching out to others, pray as God leads you. Wash your hands and wear a mask or pray across some electronic media. Just pray… because it’s not in helplessness that “all we can do is prayer”, it’s in the power of the Holy Spirit that we pray with authority as God’s Holy Ambassadors to this world. 


Seek God’s Face


You see, God wants you to spend time with Him, to find Him in the secret place, and to turn to Him as our Provider and our Protector. He wants to show us that He can be trusted, that He loves us and that He is very, very real. If God is for us, then who can be against us, right? (Romans 8:31

All this world’s terrors are washed away when we keep our eyes on Jesus. Honestly, I would rather live without fear than never truly live. Fear is crippling and destructive. It brings out the worst in people. Living without fear, represents a complete trust in Him. To live and represent Him well is anointed, and when we die, it is truly our gain. (Philippians 1:21


Turn from Wickedness


In pride, we may look at wickedness as something that other people do. We look at the arrow piercing the heart of a person and call that sin, but the arrow that missed the bullseye is a better illustration. It missed the mark, and anything that falls short of what God calls good is then not right, or unrighteous. So we must turn away from anything that doesn’t line up with God’s will. 

This includes fear. If we truly believe, why would we fear? Now feeling fear is one thing, and we all experience the emotion. But acting out of fear demonstrates that we don’t trust God, and it does not represent Him well. It indicates that we don’t believe in either His omniscience, omnipotence, or benevolence. So we calm our feelings of fear by reminding ourselves of the truth, boldly living in expectation of that truth made manifest. God will come through as He always does, and while it might involve some momentary suffering, it will work out better for us in the long-run. 

On the other end of the spectrum, masquerading as fearless, is being foolhardy. Testing God’s grace and disobeying the authority that God has put into place is rebellious and does not represent Him well. We were made for such a time as this and the authorities that He has placed over us are no accident either. Can we trust Him to work through us as well as the governments He has appointed? 

All the messaging around COVID-19 is scary, and the reality may be worse than the messaging. It may also be grossly exaggerated. Either way, our country is in need of healing. 

Do we really want to see that kind of healing in our country? Then four simple but not easy steps await us. 
However, if my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves, pray, search for me, and turn from their evil ways,
then I will hear their prayer from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their country.
2 Chronicles 7:14
copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

What is it Worth to You?

How badly do you want to see this COVID-19 coranavirus go away? Last week I wrote about how we reap what we sow. So what have we been sowing? Not just over the past month or past year. What have we been sowing over the past several decades? 

For some people, that seems like a long time, and there is so much that has changed over the past 30 years that I could almost agree. Last month, I celebrated an anniversary with my wife, traveling Orlando, FL for a long, wonderful weekend. We lived in Orlando 20 years ago, and it was amazing to see how much had changed. We drove to the Christian School where I had worked as well as the church the school was affiliated with. We found the apartment building where we lived when our first son was born, and the Backyard Burger that we frequented as a special treat with our oldest daughter. So much had changed: the streets, the buildings, the fields. What was once new construction had become weathered and was being replaced by the next generation… much like me. 

Life is a struggle, but I’m not ready to lay down my arms. I have experienced so much in my life, but there is so much I’ve yet to do. Like the song goes the musical Hamilton: there so many things I haven’t done; just you wait! Or maybe the lyrics from Les Miserables: there is strength within me yet; my race is not yet run! I’m inspired by music and stories more than any form of art, especially the stories of noble perseverance in doing what is right, finding a reward in the end. 

Ecclesiastes tells us that with much knowledge comes much sorrow, and I have learned a lot in my half-century. Among other things, I have learned that man is exceedingly selfish, yet God is wonderfully gracious. I walk through empty grocery store aisles and am reminded that greedy components will starve the system. Whether based in greed, like the man who bought massive quantities of hand sanitizer to sell at an exorbitant price on Amazon, or fear like the people who emptied the grocery store before it was emptied by other panicking mobs, our generation has revealed itself to be self-serving. 

And I have learned that Christians do not represent their God well. I write that an inconsistent Christian myself, who can give into his own desires rather than choosing the better thing. I don’t represent my God as He deserves to be represented. His people should be holy, which means to be set apart for Him completely and exclusively, but do we truly live that out? I know I don’t. I haven’t wanted it badly enough. I have to admit that I want to desire this more than I actually do. We need to want it badly enough to truly live it out without inconsistency or hidden hypocrisy. Like the DC Talk song goes: I’m still a man in need of a savior. 

I know I’m not alone in this. The apostle Paul wrote that he continued to do the wicked things that he didn’t want to do and he often failed to the good that he wanted. Like Paul, I am grateful for the grace of God that accepts me just as I am and yet works in me to become more like my God, to be an ambassador of His grace to this world as He continues to transform me into the man He has always desired that I become… the man I want to be and who I strive to be. But we need to want it badly enough to not let anything get in the way, even the things that would otherwise be considered good and healthy. 

So speaking of healthy, this brings us back to this global COVID-19 crisis. I’m not convinced that a large part of the problem wasn’t caused by man’s selfishness, but I am convinced that God will work this together for good for His people. That is what He does. Despite our hard hearts, He continues to work all things together for good for His people, the people who bear His name. That includes Christians throughout the world as well as Israel. We bear His Name, and we represent Him to this world. We are ambassadors that will either represent Him well or not, and we bear the responsibility to take action during this crisis that He promises will yield a benefit. 

He says that if His people, who are called by His name, will 1) humble themselves and 2) pray, and 3) seek His Face and 4) turn from their wicked ways, that He will A) hear from heaven B) forgive our transgressions and C) Heal our land. Four simple things that are not necessarily easy: 

  1. Humble ourselves 
  2. Pray 
  3. Seek God’s Face 
  4. Turn from our wicked ways 

God has promised us that (A) He is listening, waiting for us to turn to Him so He can (B) forgive our sins and (C) bring healing into our lives. If we do this, He will not just bring healing into our lives, but He will heal the land in which we are living. Four simple things we can do. Four action steps that as His people we should want to do, and He will fulfill three magnificent promises to each of us… for all of us. Regardless of where you are, this is a promise for all those called by His name. It is our responsibility to the world around us, our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Do you want it badly enough? 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Reap the Panic or the Prayer

You will reap what you sow. At least that’s what Galatians 6:7  says, and I have no doubt that it’s true. The media has been sowing panic about the Wuhan coronavirus, and we are seeing empty store shelves as people have panicked and stockpiled. And looking at this website, I’m reminded that people will be filled with the fruit of their schemes and ensnared by their wickedness. (Proverbs 1:31, 5:22) Isn’t that what’s happening in our world right now? 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraged a Depression-afflicted America that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, an affliction that is paralyzing the world right now and possibly leading to the same economic condition that Roosevelt was trying to address in his first inaugural speech. The scariest thing about the COVID-19 coronavirus is what we don’t know, which is a terrifying concept for a people that have come to depend on their technology and understanding. We have deified man, and we have worshiped our creation. All the experts have come together with their models for exercising extreme caution to this threat and sounded an alarm. 

I’m not convinced we are taking the appropriate action. Is there any action sufficient to protect us all completely? And at what point is the treatment worse than the disease? I’m sure someone will yell at me for not taking this seriously enough or for not being sensitive to the lives that will be lost if we don’t take these extreme measures. 

I don’t want to minimize the importance of heightened practices for good hygiene at this time or to suggest we ignore the warnings of our leaders. I also don’t mean to sound callous to all the concerns for the lives that could be lost, but death is part of being human. Peace and security are overrated. And let’s be honest: there is no true peace and security in this fallen world. 

But I’m reminded that we are told not to be anxious about anything and to present our requests with thanksgiving to God in prayer. (Philippians 4:6) The most appropriate decision I’ve seen in America to date is the President’s declaration to make Sunday March 15th a National Day of Prayer. Some people will scoff at this very important declaration, but they are fools. They have come to depend on the false gods of man and technology. They are afraid right now because their gods are failing them and they have no hope beyond this world. However, we who believe have a confidence beyond the visible world. 

I know I will live beyond this life, because I can trust the truth of Scripture. I can trust the Bible because God has given me unshakable proof through the prophecies already fulfilled throughout history. I will live forever, and I have no fear of what may come. 

Can you say the same? How does the reality of death impact your life? Do you know Christ as your Lord and Savior? Is that coming through in your actions? Every man dies, so how will you live? 

If you are a believer anywhere in the world, please join in America’s National Day of Prayer for all nations and all peoples. God has a promise that if we, His people, will humble ourselves, pray, seek His Face and turn from our wicked ways that He will forgive our sins and heal our land. (2 Chronicles 7:14). We should take Him up on that promise. 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Peace & Security

News sources traditionally focus on sensational topics because it draws people’s attention: war, pandemics, gun violence, elections, etc. This is true for both conservative and liberal news media. And it works.

If you’re like me, you’ve been reading about the latest sensation: the new coronavirus that was first observed in China that has spread to every continent except Antarctica. We are constantly reminded that there’s so much we don’t know about this new coronavirus but that it has the potential to kill large numbers of people.

Yes, we should take precautions and be more attentive to healthy behaviors: wash our hands often, refrain from touching our faces, disinfect doorknobs and counter tops, etc. I don’t want to see anyone die from this or any disease, but I don’t mean to be insensitive when I say I’m not overly concerned. It never helps to panic, and even if someone gets sick, there’s better than a 96% chance of full recovery. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take precautions, but at some point you need to let go of what you can’t control. 

In fact, there is only One in control, a Sovereign God, and He has promised to work all things together for the good of His people. That isn’t to say that we won’t have troubles in this world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. His people can expect all sorts of troubles, but He tells us to be encouraged because He has overcome the world. The hardships we go through in this world are temporary. If we look at the end-time prophecies of the Bible, the coronavirus threat is nothing by comparison and the news media won’t be able to keep up with the horrific tribulation the world goes through at that time.

Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. The people of Israel thought that a king would give them the peace and security they desired, rejecting God as their King. So God gave them Saul. God will often give us what we want to show us what we really need. We don’t need a human king or a bigger government; we just need God. He is the only source of the peace and security we desire. Anything else is a counterfeit. 

People look for answers everywhere but God. When it is bigger than we can handle, we look to our respective governments to protect us from this pestilence and blame them for not doing it perfectly. And when it’s too big for our government to resolve, we look for a bigger, more powerful coalition to save us from our troubles. Eventually, we will up with a single, worldwide government to discover that even a united coalition of nations will fail to save us. 

If I get sick, I’ll take more vitamin D and zinc, start a regimen of Echinacea and submit myself for testing to see if I’m infected with the virus for quarantine. But my trust is not in best practices for medicine, it is in my God and Savior. Someday, my body will fail. I’ll breathe my last breath in this frame, but that is not the end of my story. 

I have confidence in God and His promises, but you may wonder if God is real. I encourage you to ask Him yourself. He will answer any sincere question as the loving Father Who wants us to spend time with Him. He wants a relationship with us and longs to take us under His wings of protection. And He will bring healing if only His people do as He asks:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Is God Real?

Have you ever asked yourself this question: “Is God real?”. Be honest. I know I have. I can honestly say I’ve asked it more than once. I asked it as a youth, and I asked it as a college graduate. Although to be fully transparent, I asked it differently; I asked: “God if You are real, then…” 

I don’t know if that difference is important or not, but in my case, in both instances, I received an answer. It wasn’t just an intellectual curiosity, but a matter of importance for me. To be honest, someone who is simply intellectually curious does not deserve an answer. I don’t mean to be offensive, but consider this: there either is a God or there is not and that reality makes all the difference. 

Someone who is merely intellectually curious hasn’t stopped to consider the gravity of this question because the reality of God changes everything. First, we have to consider what is meant by the term “God”. Looking at last week’s blog, there are two possible “gods”, one of our own choosing or a for-real-all-powerful-all-knowing-creator-of-everything. I could have clarified last week that it doesn’t matter how much more powerful a being may be than man, if they don’t fit the criteria of my previous sentence, they are simply a more powerful being and not God. 

Now we encounter people more powerful than us and we naturally demonstrate a certain level of respect. Think about it: a parent, a teacher, a boss, a senior executive, a public official, a king, etc. Some people get all tongue-tied in the presence a just another person who is in a position of power over them, and some people go out of their way to make the best possible impression. And why wouldn’t they? 

So the question about the reality of God should impress us with a sense of awe and respect unlike any other. If God is real, then we need to consider how that changes everything. If there is no God, then we are a chance happening in the cosmos, a chemical computer that has evolved to the point of self-awareness with no real meaning or purpose other than what we choose for ourselves until our hardware fails or until we have found a way to transfer our consciousness into a more durable structure. 

But if an All-Knowing, All-Powerful Creator made the universe, then you are no accident; you were made for a purpose in a grand scheme by a Brilliant Dreamer, Who dreamed of you! The importance of that fact changes everything about your existence. It becomes the greatest sign of disrespect to only have a casual interest in the One who made you part of His Plan as the foundations of His universe were laid. Even the very nature of “purpose” changes significantly. It is no longer a question about what I want, but a challenge to be who you were made to be.

So the question of God’s existence is foundational to who we are! He is either real or not. Whether we can perceive Him is a different question, and to be honest, any philosophical discourse on the proof of His existence doesn't matter if He is not real. But if God is real, it demands a response, begging the question of “Why did He create me?”

So maybe that’s why when I asked Him if He was real that I got an answer. The first time it was with an inexpressible knowledge of His Presence, and the second time it flowed from the wisdom and truth of His Word, the Bible. He has shown Himself to me through both sense and reason, and He wasn’t offended that asked to know for sure.

If you aren’t a believer, I can’t argue or persuade you into His Kingdom. If I do, someone else can just as easily persuade otherwise. But if you are serious about knowing the answer to “Is God real?”, and if you are humble enough to allow the answer to change your life, then I challenge you to ask Him to prove Himself to you. I don’t know how He’ll answer you, and I guarantee He won’t bother with a mocking inquiry. But to those truly and humbly seek an answer, He will reply. 

Praying the greatest blessing in your life! I would love to hear how He answers you: send an email to mitch @malloyclan dot com (written out so I don’t get accidentally added to some spambot). 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

A Tale of Two Gods

I heard someone once say that from a philosophical perspective, the atheist has a greater challenge than the theist. He went to describe how the theist only needs to prove the existence of his god, but that the atheist has to disprove every possible god, of which there are multitude. But to be honest, I don’t believe there are really more than two gods: 1) a God Who is truly almighty and all-knowing and 2) the god of our own choosing. The god of our own choosing may be a collection of numerous gods that mutually rule over all reality or it may be the belief in a single ruler higher than all other beings. 

But wait… how does this differ from option 1? If the god of our choosing is a single, omnipotent ruler, isn’t that the same as the God of Judeo-Christian religion? Not necessarily. A person could chose to believe in a single, omnipotent being that is different in nature from the God Who Lives.

Meanwhile, the atheist would argue that there is no god who is truly real and that believers choose to believe in a god of their own choosing. They assume a priori that God isn’t real and therefore simply a fantasy of people’s choosing. So assuming that God isn’t real they choose a god for themselves that is made in their own image. Perhaps it’s not just their image but rather the image of a collective mankind or an evolutionary vision for what mankind can become. Nonetheless, they have chosen a god of their own image while refusing to acknowledge the possibility of God, wherein the reality of His existence is simply ignored.

Great philosophical minds have argued for the existence of God, but these modern free-thinkers choose intstead to believe in their god. So John Lennon would have us “Imagine” and the mainstream, global media encourage us to join in that re-imagining of reality. 

I realize that an atheist would accuse me of a similar circular argument that they make about His non-existence, but even they acknowledge that all reality reflects an intelligent design; the order of the universe could not have occurred by chance. One of my favorite arguments for the existence of God is that the design of the universe points to an intelligent designer, and while the atheist tries to explain away any deity from the designer, they also conveniently ignore the manifestation of God’s divine hand in countless recorded miracles as mere coincidence. They also ignore the many Biblical prophecies that have materialized and assume coincidence. 

Yet despite the overwhelming evidence for a divine creator and the logical inference of Prime Mover, Who initiated all creation because something cannot come from nothing, the free-thinking atheists have chosen a god of their own. Meanwhile the true believer seeks to understand the essence of who God is. 

I decided as a teenager so many years ago that even if God’s existence was not knowable, the benefit of choosing to believe far outweighed the consequences of choosing to live as if there was no God. But as I searched for answers, I discovered that it takes greater faith to believe in no God. In fact, the treatise for atheism resembles a rebellious child who closes eyes and covers ears rather than understand the reality of our Creator. 

From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse. They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. While claiming to be wise, they became fools.
Romans 1:20 -22

The so-called free-thinkers have chosen not to believe in God and been given over to a depraved mind. Sadly, they have out-smarted themselves.

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Best Prayer for Us

How do you pray, and by that question, what I'm asking is really: "How are you praying on a regular basis?"

Jesus gave us five things that we should pray on a regular basis. He lists these in Luke 11:2-4 in what we call the Lord's Prayer:
  1. Father, let Your Name be kept holy. 
  2. Let Your kingdom come. 
  3. Give us our bread day by day.
  4. Forgive us as we forgive everyone else. 
  5. Don't allow us to be tempted.
ONE

What does it mean to keep the Name of God the Father holy? It means we set it apart from all other names. It's in a class of it's own, and by our lives we should be glorifying it as the Name above all other Names. We honor the Father, when we praise the Son, glorifying Jesus' Name, which in Hebrew means: "Yahweh Saves!" And yet when we pray that God's Name be kept holy, we are praying for the culture around us to keep His Name holy, set apart. 

TWO

We pray for His Kingdom to come, a prayer for Jesus' triumphant return but also for the reign of His Kingdom in the here and now. When God rules in our lives, we change the world around us, influencing it in a supernatural way that brings it into alignment with God's good and perfect will for each of us and for those we encounter. 

THREE

We pray for His provision in our lives, both physically and spiritually. Jesus is the Bread of Life and the Fountain of Living Waters, We are eternally His with one taste, but like the air we breathe and the water we drink, we are dependent upon His continued presence in our lives. Our need for continued nourishment is a divine analogy to our need for a daily prayer time with Him. And yes, it literally means that He wants us to pray for our physical needs on a daily basis for continued dependency upon Him. (See Proverbs 30:7-9)

FOUR

I was so convicted of this as a child when I first realized that my forgiveness was somehow linked to my ability to forgive others, but as I grew in understanding, I came to realize that the ability to forgive others gives us confidence in God's forgiveness. I also came to understand that the only one I was truly hurting with unforgiveness was myself; the person who wronged me had moved on while I was stuck in the bitterness that held me back from experiencing God's love. 

FIVE

None of us are free from temptation and no sin is too great that any of us can't be tempted to take the plunge. Jesus understood this and gave us this reminder to pray for freedom from temptation.

I believe that temptation comes from inside each of us as a desire for something, but I also believe that we have an enemy who wants us to desire that which is not good for us. The Church fathers did as well, and so the Lord's Prayer often ends with "deliver us from evil". So I pray on a regular basis that God frees His people from all oppression: the oppression of the evil one and the oppression of man. 

And I also pray regularly for my family, friends, all believers, and countrymen that God close our ears to the words of the Enemy and restore us with His truth and love. The Enemy wants us to believe lies and half-truths that separate us from God and His perfect will for us. He wants us to forget all about God's love for us or to believe that God doesn't think about us. So I pray:
Jesus, close our ears to the words of the Enemy. Cleanse our minds, our hearts and our souls from the echoes of the Enemy, and fill us with Your truth and love. Remove the clouds that keep us from seeing Your face, knowing that You see us, love us, and that You are working all things together for good. 
Are you praying on a regular basis? If not, consider some of the things I've written above and ask God to lead you into a new and enriched prayer life, a time to spend with Him and getting to know Him better. 

"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Saturday, February 8, 2020

America: Who Will Stand in the Gap?

In last week's blog, I promised to come back with some follow-on thoughts.

In some ways, I believe God sees countries like He sees a person (Jer 2-3, Ez 16, Hos 1), and in some ways, I believe He looks at people like He does a country. Take Israel for example: Biblical Israel is a divine analogy for each of us as individuals. He lifts us from the pit, from the muck and mire, and sets our feet upon a firm foundation (Psalm 40). He builds us up, slowly from our perspective. God blesses our attempts to follow Him, and He fills in our gaps and our imperfections, of which there are many.

Looking back to America’s origins, we see an imperfect attempt to follow God’s ways. Yes, there were deists among the founding fathers, but there were also true Christians, and they had a profound influence in the formation of America. For example, take a look at Washington’s 1st Inaugural Address, where He consecrated this country to the Almighty God saying: 
it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe… that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States… we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained
Some have argued that Washington was catering to an overtly Christian culture in his repeated deference to God throughout this inaugural speech, purely for political reasons. I don’t believe that. He could have stopped with the supposed charade, but upon finishing this address, he immediately attended a service at St. Paul’s Church. Yet even if I were to cede to the fact that only God knows the intentions of any person’s heart, but there’s no question to the biblical, Christian influence behind these first official acts of our first president, reflecting a culture that sought after Him with earnest. 

Again, I can’t read a man’s heart, but if you read through the entire speech you’ll see a humility that I believe was far from pretentious. The courage of youth often comes from not fully understanding the enormous power that is set against us, but the courage of later years flows from trust in a power greater than ourselves. The humility of Washington’s address indicates a keen self-awareness for his own shortcomings as he entered the new office of this emergent country, so I choose to believe in the sincerity of both his statements and his corresponding actions. 

I also join with others who believe America’s consecration to God set it apart from most other nations. Like Israel, America was formed from humble beginnings with a great dependency upon God. Both rose to great power and affluence, and unfortunately both became haughty in their prosperity. 

I believe the blessings and curses associated with obedience to God as described in Deuteronomy 28 follow any country dedicated to Him. So, if God’s blessings came to America as a result of our obedience, what happens when we move away from Him and His ways? The United States has certainly seen the blessings of obedience, but in 1962, God was removed from schools and since that time we’ve seen a steady decline in our culture, including a growing divide between angry factions. 
But suppose a righteous person turns away from doing right and he does evil things. He does all the disgusting things that the wicked person did. Will he live? All the right things that he has done will not be remembered because of his unfaithfulness and because of his sin. He will die because of them. 
Ezekiel 18:24 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) 
There are two biblical approaches when facing opposition, and both take a great deal of moral courage and inner strength. The first is to turn the other cheek, to not take offense to either the insult or the insulter. The other is to oppose the evil that seeks to destroy that which is good. We need to remember that we do not struggle against flesh and blood but against principalities. These principalities can sometimes be so embedded within a person or a culture that the only way to resist the evil is to oppose it with physical force. For example, it was a moral imperative to wage a war against Nazi Germany. Although a country or person may say they seek peace, by observing their actions we can discern their sincerity. If their actions continue to belie their words, there will be a time to take up arms and fight for a greater good. 

America is close to a civil war, perhaps only one or two presidential elections away. We should be praying daily for this country and for our leaders. We should lovingly and respectfully oppose the cultural values that stand in opposition to Biblical truth with authentic example and articulate explanations that pull from facts and not just opinion. 

Some people and political factions appear to be beyond a loving confrontation with facts. However, as Augustine rightly pointed out, we don’t know who of those in the opposing camp will join the Kingdom and which of our allies will join the opposition. In truth, there are weeds sown amongst the crop of heaven and wolves in sheep’s clothing, but regardless, Our God is in control and His ways shall prevail. 

So, we struggle against principalities, prepared to fight the good fight through prayer, loving confrontation, divine discernment and physical force should it come to that. Yet we are mindful that physical force is always a last resort because once that line is crossed there is no turning back. A serious attempt to replace the Constitution or dismantle the Electoral College should give every patriot pause to decide where they stand and how they should respond. 

While the reconciliation of factions is well beyond any of us, God can bring healing through each of us. God fills in our gaps so that we can stand in the gap to defend this land from it’s enemies, both foreign and domestic. We exist, and God can use us despite our insufficiency. 
I looked for someone among you who could build walls or stand in front of me by the gaps in the walls to defend the land and keep it from being destroyed. But I couldn’t find anyone. 
Ezekiel 22:30 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) 

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Can You Repeat That?

This blog is not about the wickedness or virtues of America per se, but I believe America can be used for illustrative purposes. 

The America I’m living in is very different from the one I knew as a kid. As a society we valued truth and hated lies. While things were far from perfect, the adults I knew were more interested in personal integrity than advancing a collective agenda. It’s hard to find an unbiased report of Joe Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign, but I remember him as a top candidate who dropped out of the race because he lied. Back then, character mattered to the American people, and if someone lied, the America of 1988 wouldn’t accept them as viable presidential candidate. Things have changed significantly in 32 years.
But wait! Hasn’t America always been corrupt? For example: slavery and racial injustice were cornerstones of this country, right? It’s true that slavery existed in America from its very beginnings. It was a blight upon the British empire and a critical component of British agricultural colonies. After America found its independence, the institution of slavery continued. It lasted several decades past the abolition of slavery in Britain that was spearheaded by William Wilberforce. Although America had left the empire by the time Wilberforce formed the Anti-Slavery Society in 1787, Christians in America had been fighting against slavery since before the American Revolution. In fact, the State of Pennsylvania passed the first anti-slavery law in 1780, 8 years before the U.S. Constitution was even ratified and 7 years before Wilberforce founded his famous society. 

There are some people who want to criticize America and pick apart its flaws. However, I’d argue that if we look hard enough, we can find imperfections in any person. And if we can find flaws in anyone, then it’s even easier to find the failings in a group of people, including America’s Founding Fathers. So I suggest we take a different approach. What if we judged them not by their missteps, but by their aspirations and accomplishments? What if we instead looked to their willingness to change for the better? Could we view them with respect and admiration without naivete or idolization? 

God spoke to Ezekiel and explained how He sees a person:
But suppose a wicked person turns away from all the sins that he has done. He obeys all my laws and does what is fair and right. He will certainly live. He will not die. All the rebellious things that he did will not be remembered. He will live because of the right things that he did. I don’t want wicked people to die.” declares the Almighty Lord. “I want them to turn from their evil ways and live.
Ezekiel 18:21-23 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
Take a look at that again. God doesn’t want to destroy us for our wrong doings, He wants us to turn away from them and do what’s right. There’s a word for that: repentance. When I hear that word, my mind immediately goes to a street preacher or billboard that says something like: “Repent or you’ll burn in hell!” It sounds like an angry word or a self-righteous word, but all it means is: “Stop doing this awful stuff you’re doing! It’s hurting people, including yourself… you are on a path of self-destruction!” Do you see the difference? 

God is calling us to repent for our own sake. Sin doesn’t hurt God other than the fact that He loves us and wants the very best for us. When we love someone, it pains us to see them hurt, and it’s especially upsetting when we see someone we love harming somebody we also love. So God doesn’t want to destroy a person,  but He wishes they would change their ways and do what is right… before it’s too late.

Many of the people who are driven to criticize America have an agenda. Others are influenced by their poisonous words. America is far from perfect and we have had our fair share of bad leaders, but those leaders are reflection of our people, and if we are honest with ourselves, we need to repent.

Are we looking for flaws in others or seeking to build bridges? Hopefully, we are trying to build bridges, but there comes a time when we need to acknowledge a bridge cannot be built because the other side has determined otherwise. Yes, at some point there is nothing left to save but a diseased and rotting limb that spreads death, and at that point it is too late. 

More on that in next week’s blog.

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

How Do We Measure Spiritual Growth?

We live in a world governed by metrics: we measure our kids as they grow; we measure how well we’re progressing towards our goals; we measure our bank accounts as they grow and shrink, hoping they grow. So when we set spiritual goals, how do we measure our progress?

Churches will often count the people who attend, the number of people serving, or those who make a commitment to Christ. I’m not sure what I think about that. On one hand, it feels good to be part of something that is reaching out to the lost, and knowing the numbers makes it easy to tithe and invite other unbelievers in the hope that they will meet Jesus and come to know Him as Lord and Savior. On the other hand, I’m reminded of when King David took a census (2 Samuel 24).

When David took a census of Judah and Israel, he wanted to assess the nation’s strength. Perhaps he was assessing his power out of pride. Or maybe he was fearful and comparing his strength against the surrounding countries. Or then again, he may have reached a point where he was assessing the nation’s ability to be self-sufficient. In any case, it’s clear that he was not thinking about relying upon God. He was not considering that God whittled Gideon’s army down from over 32,000 to just 300 so it would be clear that God brought the victory (Judges 7). David was not considering how God used him to bring down a giant (1 Samuel 17) or how his friend Jonathan and one other defeated 20 soldiers and created such fear that that the entire enemy army was routed (1 Samuel 14). I’m convinced that part of the early bond between David and Jonathan was their trust in God that was demonstrated in bold action.

But experience and knowledge can create a fear in us, and when we focus on the obstacles instead of the One Who calls each of us into action, it becomes difficult to walk in faith. We ask if God will continue to be there for us (yes, He will!), and we wonder if we can take that step we think He is calling us to do. We may look to our bank account to see if it’s large enough for a day of trouble... or then again God could be telling you to save money just as He used Joseph to store up the abundance before the seven years of famine. It’s not WHAT we measure that matters, it is WHY. Do we trust God will be there for us or do we need to create a Plan B.

Well, we never need a Plan B with God, and He encourages us to take risks while exercising wisdom. I look at the physical warfare in Israel’s history and believe it is analogous to the spiritual warfare in our lives. I believe that Israel’s territory that was never fully conquered is like the spiritual ground that we don’t fight hard enough to claim, and we only capture a portion of the entire land promised to us.

I once asked a pastor about a conference he had attended. He was conflicted with what he experienced and wasn’t sure what he thought about it, so I asked him about the fruit from the conference. He immediately answered as someone used to measuring things in terms of baptisms and public commitments to Christ, citing this as the good fruit of the conference. However, the fruit I was asking about is difficult to measure and is usually only seen over a period of time: the Fruit of the Spirit.

But the spiritual nature produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There are no laws against things like that. ~ Galatians 5:22-23

If you want to measure spiritual growth in yourself, your family or your community, take a look at the Fruit of the Spirit. Looking at yourself first ask yourself:
  1. How frequently do I demonstrate love for others?
  2. Am I joyful?
  3. Is my inner-life filled with peace?
  4. Do I have the patience to work through a situation; do I have patience for others?
  5. Am I kind in my interactions with others?
  6. Can God’s goodness be seen in how I live my life?
  7. Is my faithfulness to God’s ways consistent?
  8. Do I treat others gently?
  9. Do I exercise self-control in private as well as in public?
Likewise, we can assess our community by asking if the culture reflects the Fruit of the Spirit:
Do we demonstrate love for each other?
  1. Are we joyful?
  2. Are our interactions peaceful or combative?
  3. Do we patiently work through issues together?
  4. Are we kind toward others?
  5. Is God’s goodness seen in our lives?
  6. Are we consistently faithful both toward each other and in pursuit of what is right?
  7. Do we demonstrate a gentle approach toward others, including when we disagree?
  8. Are we collectively able to control ourselves in ways that reflect the power of God working through us?
We may live in a time and place where the answers to the above questions are depressing and uniformly resound with: “no”. However, it starts with each of us individually deciding that we want to grow spiritually, acknowledging that we are incapable of changing ourselves, and tenaciously choosing to join God in the work He wants to do in each of us, laying claim to the inner land He has promised for those follow Him and trust in Him.

Remember: we are changed in His presence to be more like Him. How do we measure real spiritual growth? It is demonstrated by the Fruit in our lives. Be the change you want to see.

copyright ©2020 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)