Exclusive: Greg Laurie says we’re not to ‘remain forever in spiritual kindergarten’
Have you ever heard one of those ominous-sounding announcements on the radio that says something like, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System. At the sound of the tone, you will be given instructions. We repeat, this is only a test.” The idea is that certain radio and television stations have been selected as the units to transmit information to tell the public what to do in case there were an emergency such as a nuclear war or a meltdown in a nuclear plant.
In reality, the message would probably go something along the lines of, “This is not a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System. This is the real thing. There is a nuclear meltdown in your area and you are worm food at this time. Have a nice day.” Those broadcasts are to remind us that the real thing could be coming.
God will give tests as well. He will bring tests into our lives to see whether we are learning the material he is seeking to teach us. Often we think that we know more than we really know. We think that we have certain areas down and don’t need any further instruction in them. We think that we have learned to walk by faith, that we have learned to trust God. But sometimes God will retest us, and we will be shocked to find that we don’t know as much as we thought we knew.
God bring tests in our lives so we will learn the lessons that He is trying to teach us and so we will advance spiritually and not remain forever in spiritual kindergarten.
It reminds me of how a mother eagle will teach her eaglets to fly. When it comes time for them to fly, the mother has an unorthodox method of encouraging it. She basically will kick the eaglets out of the nest. That is a long drop, because eagles tend to go to the highest branches and peaks to build their nests. After the mother kicks the eaglet out of the nest, she waits until it has dropped down about 90 feet or more before she swoops down and scoops up the little bird, puts it back into the nest, and then kicks it out again.
Sometimes something like that will happen to us. We are sitting comfortably in our little nest. Everything is going well. And all of the sudden, God will give us a little boot and we are in a free fall. We think it is all going to end. Then he swoops down and picks us up.
Why does God do that? He wants us to grow up spiritually. He wants us to learn how to fly. He wants us to learn that he is who he says he is. He wants us to trust him, even when we don’t understand him. He wants us to be patient with him, even when he doesn’t work on our schedules. He wants us to grow up and be strong spiritually.
The book of James gives us this little insight about tests and trials: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2–4 NTL).
When a trial comes, when hardship comes, when temptation comes, we tend to say, “Not this again!” Don’t we understand that it is an opportunity to grow? It is an opportunity to learn.
God doesn’t want fair-weather followers. He doesn’t want to be thought of as some celestial Big Buddy up in heaven. Nor does he want us to follow him because it makes us feel better about ourselves or because we need “a little religion” in our lives. He wants us to follow him because we love him and want to know him.
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, he knew that people were following him for the wrong reasons and with the wrong motives, and he intentionally did things and said things to thin out the ranks. That may come as a surprise to us, but it is true.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 NKJV, emphasis added). Notice that he did not say, “Give us this year our yearly bread,” or “Give us this month our monthly bread,” or even “Give us this week our weekly bread.” Rather, it is “Give us this day our daily bread.”
When Jesus taught us to pray that way, he was showing us that we need to be dependent on God. We need to be looking to the Lord to provide the things we need.
But before the petition for daily bread, Jesus said to first pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (verses 9–10). Before we offer a word of personal petition, we are to contemplate the greatness and awesomeness of God and let it sink in. And I suggest to you that after you do this, you may change what you are about to pray. As you think of God and his greatness, you will see your problem in perspective.
Many times we diminish God in our minds as to how great he is, and we blow our problems out of proportion, making them far worse than they are. What we need to do is get things in their proper perspective and see how great and powerful our God is. It will help us to see our problems for what they are: things that can be resolved by God.
So when God gives a test, when that trial comes your way, don’t treat it as an intruder, but welcome it as a friend. It is an opportunity for God to show his power in your life. It is an opportunity for you to learn things that you need to learn.
North Korea warns of nuke test, more rocket launches
www.xfinity.comcast.net – By HYUNG-JIN KIM, AP
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s top governing body warned Thursday that the regime will conduct its third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. punishment, and made clear that its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads aimed at striking the United States.
The National Defense Commission, headed by the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, denounced Tuesday’s U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s long-range rocket launch in December as a banned missile activity and expanding sanctions against the regime. The commission reaffirmed in its declaration that the launch was a peaceful bid to send a satellite into space, but also clearly indicated the country’s rocket launches have a military purpose: to strike and attack the United States.
While experts say North Korea doesn’t have the capability to hit the U.S. with its missiles, recent tests and rhetoric indicate the country is feverishly working toward that goal.
The commission pledged to keep launching satellites and rockets and to conduct a nuclear test as part of a “new phase” of combat with the United States, which it blames for leading the U.N. bid to punish Pyongyang. It said a nuclear test was part of “upcoming” action but did not say exactly when or where it would take place.
“We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the commission said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival,” the commission said.
It was a rare declaration by the powerful commission once led by late leader Kim Jong Il and now commanded by his son. The statement made clear Kim Jong Un’s commitment to continue developing the country’s nuclear and missile programs in defiance of the Security Council, even at risk of further international isolation.
North Korea’s allusion to a “higher level” nuclear test most likely refers to a device made from highly enriched uranium, which is easier to miniaturize than the plutonium bombs it tested in 2006 and 2009, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea. Experts say the North Koreans must conduct further tests of its atomic devices and master the technique for making them smaller before they can be mounted as nuclear warheads onto long-range missiles.
The U.S. State Department had no immediate response to Thursday’s statement. Shortly before the commission issued its declaration, U.S. envoy on North Korea Glyn Davies urged Pyongyang not to explode an atomic device.
“Whether North Korea tests or not, it’s up to North Korea. We hope they don’t do it. We call on them not to do it,” he told reporters in Seoul after meeting with South Korean officials. “It will be a mistake and a missed opportunity if they were to do it.”
Davies was in Seoul on a trip that includes his stops in China and Japan for talks on how to move forward on North Korea relations.
South Korea’s top official on relations with the North said Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development is a “cataclysm for the Korean people,” and poses a fundamental threat to regional and world peace. “The North Korean behavior is very disappointing,” Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a lecture in Seoul, according to his office.
North Korea claims the right to build nuclear weapons as a defense against the United States, its Korean War foe.
The bitter three-year war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by the world’s most heavily fortified demilitarized zone. The U.S. leads the U.N. Command that governs the truce and stations more than 28,000 troops in ally South Korea, a presence that North Korea cites as a key reason for its drive to build nuclear weapons.
For years, North Korea’s neighbors had been negotiating with Pyongyang on providing aid in return for disarmament. North Korea walked away from those talks in 2009 and on Wednesday reiterated that disarmament talks were out of the question.
North Korea is estimated to have stored up enough weaponized plutonium for four to eight bombs, according to scientist Siegfried Hecker, who visited the North’s Nyongbyon nuclear complex in 2010.
In 2009, Pyongyang declared that it would begin enriching uranium, which would give North Korea a second way to make atomic weapons.
North Korea carried out underground nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, both times just weeks after being punished with U.N. sanctions for launching long-range rockets.
In October, an unidentified spokesman at the National Defense Commission claimed that the U.S. mainland was within missile range. And at a military parade last April, North Korea showed off what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Satellite photos taken last month at a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, in far northeast North Korea, showed continued activity that suggested a state of readiness even in winter, according to analysis by 38 North, a North Korea website affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.
Another nuclear test would bring North Korea a step closer to being able to launch a long-range missile tipped with a nuclear warhead, said Daniel Pinkston, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.
“Their behavior indicates they want to acquire those capabilities,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to have a robust nuclear deterrent.”