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All Is Well Because Jesus Is Lord

Leadership Notes

August 2, 2023


I love our Adult Sunday School class – Summer Term. The teacher is kind of sketchy but the class discussion and participation are stellar. In our survey of all the books of the Bible, we’re up to Ezra/Nehemiah. Both of these are great narratives about a crucial time in the story of God’s salvation history.


One of the best things for me was learning about Artaxerxes I, King of the Achaemenid Empire {aka First Persian Empire} during the time of Ezra/Nehemiah. Artaxerxes, besides having a cool name, was an interesting pagan ruler. He was an unbeliever used by God in the pursuit of His sovereign will. It is a story worth doing some independent study on.


One of the inspiring gleanings was what a wise and effective ruler Artaxerxes was. In fact, as our next national election cycle approaches, his story makes me pine for the good old Achaemenid Empire days. Seriously, look him up. All things considered, we could use a guy like that. That’s why I toyed with the idea of a graphic T-shirt:


ARTAXERXES I – 2024


Think about the two major parties’ frontrunners {I apologize for being such a downer}:


* One an increasingly decrepit patriarch of a decades-old family

plutocracy.

* The other, a vulgar egotist who leaves a trail of brokenness for many

of those who enter his orbit.


It was once said of the latter that, as president, he was like every other politician and thought he could make everyone like him by spending all the money. Both guys love to spend other people’s money. And they both have supporters who makes excuses for them like enablers in a dysfunctional family when the holiday drama spins out of control. To quote Violet from A Charlie Brown Christmas, “We’re doomed!”


And then along comes Artaxerxes. In the Bible, God’s sovereign will worked through all kinds of people in all kinds of unexpected ways to fulfill His saving purpose. Ezra/Nehemiah lived in a time of poor leadership. But they trusted God. They did what they believed God was calling them to do to make their little corner of God’s world a better place, to the glory and honor of His name. We continue to live out of such hope and trust. God will overcome the buffoonery of our time.


I’m getting all this out of my system now. I don’t know, it just makes me feel better to unload all at once, and then move on. I thank God for the promises of His Word and a wonderful Sunday School class where we learn together. You’re welcomed to join at any time. We have two more Sundays, and then we’re off until the Sunday after Labor Day.


I’ll finish with a flourish of pithy odds-and-ends:


* Someone once asked, “Just curious…How many countries tax their

citizens so they can send money to the United States?”

*I believe it was 2022 when only roughly 25% of NATO countries

fulfilled their minimum financial obligations to the alliance. Guess who

did most of the heavy lifting?

*On a related note, the Federal government wasted $683 million per

day in 2022. That’s money lost, unaccounted for, frittered away. Like

a flea’s fart in the wind…it just disappeared. Which was enough to

buy about 500,000 houses every month.

*Believe it or not, hard left publication Rolling Stone Magazine ran a

story headlined, “The Trillion-Dollar Grift: Inside the Greatest

Scam of All Time,” about how the pandemic relief was the biggest

bailout in history, opening the door to widespread fraud the likes of

which hasn’t been seen in recent memory. Will we ever know, or care

to admit, how much damage was done?


I’m saving the best for last. Eric Voegelin was a German philosopher who escaped the Nazis in 1938, landing in America. Here is one of the most important things he taught us:


The common feature of all totalitarian systems is neither

concentration camps, nor secret police, nor mass surveillance…as

horrifying as all these are. The common feature of all totalitarian

systems is the prohibition of questions: every totalitarian regime

first monopolizes what counts as rationality and determines what

questions you are allowed to ask.


Again, read about Nehemiah and how Artaxerxes interacted with him. The Bible is full of stories of great leadership as well as God’s reproof of poor leadership and the role His followers play in all that. Most of us are simple people. We want what’s best for our families, our church, and our community. As God instructed the people when they were taken into captivity to Babylon, we are to live, thrive, and grow where we are planted. That’s what people living in a strange land are called to do. I think about these things when I stare into the abyss of 2024 national politics. How we choose to keep from falling in is between us and God, I suppose.


In the meantime, always remember what John Piper said:


God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.


No matter what winds of change or dynamics of national life swirl around us, we know that all is well because Jesus is Lord. Our names have been written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life, so we are always of good cheer.


And now, your Moment of Spurgeon,


“I HAVE FOUND THAT PRAYING ‘LORD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME’ HAS

BROUGHT GREATER RELIEF THAN ANYTHING THE MOST SKILLED

PHYSICIAN COULD PRESCRIBE.”


With Less Cynicism Than When I Began Writing This,


Richard

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