Hang on!

hang on

Luke 19:48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

Verse 47 just before this tells us that the leaders were seeking to destroy Christ. That force is still active today seeking to destroy Christianity; that is, the essence of Christ in people.

How will Christianity be preserved? Can Christian culture prevail? What’s the strategy to combat the current anti-Christ influence?

Unfortunately, Christians are often duped into fighting in the flesh, getting lost in a frenzy of madness against ideologies, political institutions, gays, Hollywood, and the list goes on.

Where are you directing your attention? Is it on Christ or is it on those trying to destroy Him?

I just read an article that some scientists will soon attempt a true meteor deviation. They will intercept it in an attempt to change its course.  Do you remember the movie Armageddon?  Try to imagine that really happening. A meteor is on its way to earth and the only hope to avoid destruction is a single attempt successful NASA deviation. It’s the talk all over the news. Every coffee shop and bar across the world is buzzing with topic. Families are huddled together in living rooms trying to get the most out of what might be the last few days together.  Every industry and business has closed its doors for what will be a once in a lifetime vacation or simply for the last time never to be opened again.  Thousands of people are bunkering in everything from caves and tornado shelters to high-tech underground facilities that were prepared for such a day. And then that single sound comes over every device that receives any sort of airborne signal. The emergency broadcast is about to happen. The US president with the chief of operations at NASA is breaking in to make an announcement.  The words he’ll share will, to a great extent, determine how you will live. The speech will be one of life or death.  Every human is tuned in, hanging on his every word.

As strange as it may seem, the words of Christ demand even more attention. As Peter proclaimed to Jesus in John 6: “You have the words of eternal life!”

What are you hanging on to? The news? Your retirement? Satellite TV? Or are you hanging on His words?

Imagine a free-style rock climber hanging from a cleft just wide enough for his fingers. He may be evaluating his environment for the next hold or just taking in the scene for a moment. Whatever that climber is doing, his life hinges on one very real truth: He can’t let go.

And just as the climber had to find that next lip along the rock-face to grab, so you and I must critically and prayerfully evaluate the Word in search of God’s truth for us personally. That revelation knowledge is our cleft to hang on to. It is not only how we climb. It’s how we stay alive.

It goes beyond you and me, though. It effects the whole of our culture. Consider the unlikely cause-effect illuminated in our key verse.

The enemy of Christ was rendered impotent because the people were hanging on His words.

There’s something about our full attention being on Christ and His words! When our focus is there, the enemy’s lies carry no weight; his words are powerless. The religious leaders were looking to skewer Him that day, but what chance did they have to sway the people then? They were hanging on the words of Truth!

Lies are impotent when attention is on the truth.

Is your daily attention on the Truth? Are you hanging on His words? Would you notice if you were being swayed?

Anti-Christ culture has gained a foothold in everything from mainstream media to our school text books. If society is not hanging on the words of Truth, then lies are free to propagate in Its place.

Now more than ever, hang on.

Troubling Prayer

under wave

Luke 18:5 ‘yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’

I used to love to play in the ocean. At one point in my life, I lived on Pensacola Beach, the surf only a block away. It was a thrill for me to get in the biggest waves I could find, to feel it pull my feet through the sand as it crested and then to either plow through its surge or body-surf it to the shore. But more than a few times I’ve been buried under waves forceful enough to push me to the sand floor like a rag doll. In those moments of feeling disoriented and out of control, I would open my eyes to look for sunlight. I knew one thing for sure. I’d have to swim toward the sun to find my next breath.

At the mission, I meet many people buried under waves of discouragement, that kind of depressing deflation that feels like the wind’s been punched out, disoriented and unable to find the next breath. What do you do? It may seem too simple an answer, but Jesus says to pray.

It’s the reason He taught this Persistent Widow parable. He didn’t want his disciples to be discouraged. Rather, He said, “men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

But let’s qualify that a bit. Pray how? The parable says the widow “troubled” the judge for justice until she received it from him.

Feeling discouraged? Trouble the Judge for justice. Trouble Him with prayer.

Some versions read that the widow “bothered” “persisted” or “pestered” the judge until she received justice. But the word “troubled” seems most fitting.

The Greek is κόπος (kópos). It means to beat, wail or grieve beating the chest.

He wants you to do more than just lick your own wounds or  wish you were in a different situation or numb your pain with some superficial pleasure.

He wants you to trouble Him.

Beat against heaven’s door. Wail for the repair of your soul. Pound His chest for justice. He can take it.

One night in my teenage years, I was at a friend’s house. We were in the living room goofing around when we saw car lights followed by a knock at the door. My friend’s mother opened the door to an officer and a priest charged with communicating the devastating news. Her 19 year old daughter had just died in a car wreck. I’ll never forget how she wailed, how she beat against the officer as she collapsed under a wave of grief that for most is unimaginable.

She got buried under the wave.

I just learned of a lady who’s been buried under one after her son, addicted to K2, shot himself. She admits sometimes she wanders aimlessly.  This happened in a store recently before she collapsed on one of their display beds and wept until she was helped out the door.

She’s buried under the wave, too, disoriented and breathless. When you’re there like her, there’s only one way to keep from drowning.

Trouble God in prayer like you’d swim to the surface for air. He’s your next breath.

Do you believe it?

Jesus concludes with that very question, wondering if He will find such faith on earth when He returns (v. 8). Faith to trouble Him? Yes, like everything depends on it and no one else has it.

Don’t miss it. He’s connecting your deliverance from discouragement to your kópos-prayer and that prayer to your faith.

Why else would a person beat and wail in troubling prayer but out of an unwavering belief that He alone has your next breath waiting on top of the water?