MOUNTAIN HIGH – VALLELY LOW WOMEN’S RETREAT
Our World is Shaking”
(On the Mountain and in the Valley)
December 3-5, 2004
Oak Glen Conference Center, Yucaipa, CA
Psalm 46 – Selected verses
A 12-year-old girl kills her mother while she sleeps because she was not allowed to go out; Melee on the courts as a family watched basketball game turns into a free for all; Several Marines were killed this morning by a suicide bomber in Iraq; Iran is suspected of building a nuclear arsenal as well a Korea; terrorists threats within our boarders; A young man riding his bike was shot 16 times with no apparent motive and no gang connections; Churches allow openly gay men to be ordained and to lead a flock; Teacher convicted of molesting students; earthquake in unsuspected places; hurricanes wipe out cities; tornadoes destroy homes for miles around; flooding, fires; home prices booming; mad cow diseases; infected chickens; poison fish; distempered dogs; unsafe fruit and vegetables; toxic water.
These are but a few of recent headlines that made our news broadcasts. They serve to prove only one thing; the world is shaking. But then, there are things happening that don’t always make the headlines. Things that don’t matter or harbor the attention of the world: People called Christians are not discipling converts; People in church are focused on “getting” more than “giving”; Christians are looking to world systems to solve problems more than looking to God; families in churches are being split at higher percentages than families in the world; in fact, it is hard to distinguish the ills of the church from those of the world. Ladies, our world too, is shaking.
Suddenly, thinking about “the good ole days” takes on an entirely new meaning. They were really good. Days when we could leave our doors open all night; walk outside alone after dark; eat food without worry; prayer in school was a requirement; discipline our children without fear; have a good ole hair pulling, nail scratching fight without guns, those were really the “good ole days”.
Today however, is a different story. Today, we find our world shaken and shaking. It is not so much the physical land space that I refer to, but the people that inhabit the land. Ever so slowly, this world as a whole and our world, our nation, our state, our cities are becoming places void of God. Organizations are threatening and suing cities and governments business and private business over any image that would evoke thoughts to Jesus Christ; old symbols in flags and city emblems; words called The Ten Commandments hung in our court rooms that require us to lay hands on Bibles before testifying; crosses, stars; manger scenes, the pledge of allegiance penned by the forefathers of this nation, street names and billboard signs, all of these things and many others have been challenged, successfully, by men and women who are haters of Jesus Christ.
What shall we do? What are the response and the responsibility of Christian women today? How can we work, play, live out our Christian lives when the world around us is closing in and threatening to smother our witness? What are we to do when these things come closer to home?
We attempt to raise our children in the same manner that we were raised, but they are not turning out quite as we expected. They are in a school six hours a day, a school where God is not allowed. They are told that they do not have to obey parents and if parents touch them, that they have the power to have them arrested.
Our spouses sometimes do the same things that spouses of old did, they cheat. The difference is that now we not only have to contend with other women for our men, but with other men as well.
It’s a time when almost everything we eat is tainted. Chemicals are used to extreme measures to yield lightening fast growth of fruits and vegetables, chickens and cows. The results are that one in four women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer or give birth to sick babies. What are we to do? How are we to fight against this changing world?
The book of Psalm holds some answers for us. Turn with me to Psalm 46. I will refer to various verses, but just let me read a few for your hearing.
The first thing that we can gleam from this passage is that the earth will shake. Things are going to happen, but Jesus told us that nations would rise against nations and children against parents. So there should be no surprise at these hard times. Even in the “good ole days” there were hard times and shaking in the world. I think that the surprise is at the rate of increase of the shaking.
But God is reminding us in this Psalm of our heritage. We belong to Him and in Him is all that we need. What are we to do? Women, we are to stand still. Now, to the naked ear that may sound like we are to do nothing, but that is not what I am suggesting at all. Paul has said in Ephesians that “having done all to stand, to stand”. The word stand in the original language has several connotations but they all suggest action. To stand is not to be stagnant. To stand means to maintain; to uphold; to continue to be who you are; to remain firmly in your location; and to continue ones opinion.
Women, we need to continue being about The Father’s business. Whatever He has called or gifted you to do, that you should do. We have to continue to be who we are in Him. We have to be visible to the world and to those around us; Visible and transparent. We have to be intimately acquainted with God and His Word in order for the world to see it. Oh, they may erase the words from buildings; or they may take them out of the courtrooms; they may prohibit them from being spoken audibly in the classroom; they may not allow you to tell fellow workers about them but no one can stop them from being seen and read from the way you live your lives.
No one can make you dress like the world. No one can force you to talk like heathens. No one can decide for you where to spend your free time. No one can make you watch movies that would degrade God and His ways. No one can make you listen to music that degrades women. All you have to do is stand. But the important thing is what you are standing on.
Matthew 7:24-27 tells us that a wise man builds a house on the rock. The rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house. His world was shaking, yet it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock. The wise man is the one who hears the Words of Jesus and acts on them.
The unwise man hears the Words of Christ but he fails to act on them. This is a person who builds his house on the sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house too, and it fell, and great was the fall. The morrow was to enter the kingdom on God through the narrow gate, Jesus Christ, and there we will find all that we need to stand in the midst of a shaking world around us.
You see I have bad knees, so I can’t stand very long. I have an impingement in my shoulder, so my reach is short. All of us are limited in our natural abilities in some manner or another. But, when we stand in Jesus, our strength, our reach, or standing will endure.
God is our refuge and our strength. He provides shelter when danger is near or threatening. He is our strength, and he gives us courage in dangerous situations.
The world may be shaking, but we don’t have to fear because God sustains us. No matter what happens, He’s got our backs. We can stand in Him for an extended period of time. We can resist the enemy by standing firm with an inner strength that only come from God. We must take our place in a defensive fighting position, yielded ready for service to God our Master. Our appearance must exhibit His presence in our lives at all times. We must be mindful that we are in the presence of our Superior, God, and be of service to one another in these times. We have to commit ourselves by choosing a particular course of action and sticking with it to the end.
We no longer have to be in distress, in dread, in fear of the world and it’s shaking. We do not have to be dismayed or in confusion about the things that are happening around us and even in our homes. We don’t have to be in awe of the things the world is doing, until be break and shatter like glass. God is our refuge and our strength. He has our backs and He has the hosts with Him. All of the angles are with Him and He comes to our rescue. He is our stronghold. He is a high place and a safe place. Remember the song, He’s so high; you can’t get over Him, so wide you can’t get around Him. That’s our God. He has the ability to exert great force to do what is desired, what is intended and what is necessary.
God is a very present help. He is sufficient. He alone is enough for whatever we need. When we need to escape the attacks of the enemy, we can run into Him and find safety, and He is too high for the enemy to access.
What do we need to do in the face of a shaking world? We need to cease striving, we need to be still, and we need to hang limp. We need to go from our high, exalted positions to lower, servant positions in Christ. We need to excuse our muscles and lay down our human made swords. We need to stand firm in Christ.
When we stand firm in Him, then He will be exalted for the nations, the people, the lost, the world will see Him in us. Whenever we need Him, He will come with His hosts. All of the angels are at His disposal.
So, ladies, be still, even while the world is shaking because God is our refuge and our stronghold. Be still in Jesus. When you are asked how you are doing, just say, “I’m still in Jesus”. When people wonder how you keep going in the face of trials say, “I’m still in Jesus”. When you own household turns upside down, let it be known, “I’m still in Jesus”. No matter what happens, what doesn’t happen, what comes or what goes. No matter how green the valley or how high the mountains, just keep “still in Jesus”.