News From The Frontier

Are We Broken Yet?

A week ago, we began Lent. A year ago, we began a pandemic. In many ways, this past year has been like one, big Lenten period. During our sudden and unexpected isolation, we have been forced to look deep inside our own souls to determine what evil, idolatry, and sin might have found a home in our hearts. Isolation has a way of exposing everything. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. When daily distractions are taken away, all that remains is the bare truth of who we really are. The introspection of Lent is designed to help us become more aware of our fragilities, brokenness, and need for God; less proud and dependent on only ourselves. As you walk down this path of Lent and look forward to Easter, and as you look back on this last year, are you more contrite, broken, and ready for the healing power of the resurrection, or are you still waffling, even more strident than ever, convinced of your righteous ways?

It is counter intuitive to think we must be more broken to see more clearly the powerful presence of the Lord in our lives. The more we try to present our best selves to God, the less powerful and truthful we become. A power encounter can result. Either we continue moving forward in our own power, or in humility and prayer we depend instead on the power of God. It is our choice, but we cannot have it both ways. The days of having it both ways are now slipping away from us. We have seen the ugliness of what it looks like when we try to operate primarily on our own strength while waving our religious flags at the same time. We have reached a critical moment in time of either embracing true faith, or walking away from it once again. May we take full advantage of Lent as an opportunity to draw closer to God in meekness and truth.

Are We Broken Yet?

There is great pain in our own country right now much of it brought on by severe isolation. How much of that way of life, however, was already in motion even before the start of the pandemic? For too long, we have lusted after our own independence aided by our handheld devices and higher walls built around our houses. We have succumbed to the lie that we are the star of our own movies, social media events, or latest Tweets. We have come to believe that no one is quite as wise and intelligent as ourselves. We have wondered whether community gatherings, social events, fun neighborhood clubs might no longer be needed. I might have all I need when I am alone with my computer, nice couch, and a cup of coffee. Or have we learned in this past year that social isolation can kill us, or at the very least crush our souls? During this past year, homicides, suicides, severe emotional and mental challenges have caused counselors, psychiatrists, and therapists to be busier than at any other time in American history. We are now all craving and appreciating human contact, a hug, a friendly meal in a restaurant as never before. Hopefully, we have learned our lesson that being alone is not what we need, though it might appear to be what we want.

Are We Broken Yet?

Are we ready to stop making politics and government our idols? The United States of America was not designed to be a theocracy. There is a blessed separation of church and state which governs all that we do. Yes, Christianity heavily influenced the formation of our nation and its guiding principles, but not to the extent of declaring that we are an official Christian nation. Our founding fathers purposely avoided making that declaration. Of course, we want and hope that our governing officials and the laws they make are imbued with Christian ethics and principles, but we can never demand that our government do what only the Church is called to do, which is to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, call people to be active citizens of the kingdom of God, and to trust in a Savior who alone can redeem us and call us forth to a life eternal. We need to stop placing an undue burden on government officials to do the kind of work only the Church is called to do. Because of the blessed freedoms our Constitution guarantees us, we as Christians are free to be as active, vocal, and engaged in society as we would like. Only the Lord deserves our full devotion, not some political party or cause to be held above belief in God.

Are We Broken Yet?

We need to stop making deals with the Devil. The power of Christ’s kingdom is all we need. Earthly kingdoms should never capture and occupy our heart’s desires over and above our full devotion to Christ’s kingdom. Never did Jesus suggest that we need to work hard at making alliances with government officials to advance the cause of God. Rather, he said often that we should let what belongs to Caesar be Caesar’s and what belongs to God be God’s. Jesus saw a much bigger picture than what was taking place with his local politics and government, and so should we. All he cared about was truth, calling people to become members of God’s eternal kingdom, and to join him as fishers of men. Never did he say that it was wise to make an alliance with a politician who had trouble telling the truth or was prone to destroying the lives of people who disagreed with him. Rather, he said we should avoid such people because their ways will inevitably lead to destruction and death. The book of Proverbs, which Jesus undoubtedly read often, reminds us, “There are six things the Lord hates – no seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.” (Proverbs 3:12-15)

Are We Broken Yet?

We need to stop believing we can serve God and money at the same time. Jesus warned his followers that a heart divided in devotion between God and money will eventually be disappointed, defeated, and unfulfilled. He said, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Hopefully, the pandemic has taught us how fragile life can be; in an instant, we can lose everything we ever worked hard to obtain, and even watch the precious gift of life slip away from us. After all, what have we earned that God himself did not give us the ability to achieve? The Bible often reminds us that all we have is a gift from God. If we begin to hold onto our possessions too tightly or think we earned them with our own intelligence and power, we will eventually lose touch with God’s grace and often slip into an existence that espouses Christian beliefs in name only. Proverbs again reminds us, “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.” (Proverbs 18:11)

Are we broken yet? Have we learned valuable lessons about humility, love, and dependence on God, or will we go right back to our old ways once the pandemic begins to ease up? A year of isolating in a pandemic is a long time. Most people right now are utterly exhausted, physically beat up, and mentally drained. Due to the Coronavirus, 500,000 lives have been lost in the United States and the rates of deaths due to other causes have never been higher. During this Lenten period, and especially at the end of this incredibly long, arduous year, God is giving us a golden opportunity to become more humble and more dependent on him, more vulnerable and less haughty, and more sensitive to our neighbors and friends who might be hurting, too. May we say no to the ongoing enticement of excessive independence and a life surrounded by high walls, whether they be physical or emotional.

Numerous times, Jesus reminded us that it is okay to feel and be broken. In fact, it is what God wants us to be. Once we admit our brokenness, the Lord can begin to knit us back together again, but with the much stronger fabric of his love and grace active in our lives. We can begin to walk with God in a new way. As the book of Proverbs says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3) Or, as the book of James says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

Remember the power encounter. Which power do you prefer, yours or God’s? God’s power can move mountains, resurrect someone who has died, defeat the deceitful work of Satan, heal the sick, and make people whole. Our power alone pales in comparison. The only pathway to God’s power being active in our lives is through our own brokenness, humility, and faith. It is now time to claim that promise. The Apostle Paul did so when he wrote these words, “God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

My family and I wish you a Happy Easter season. May the concluding days of this most memorable year for you and your family be filled with God’s love, grace, and mercy.  


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