What if Your Rights Were Suddenly Taken Away

“What if your rights were taken away” is a question that draws so many emotions.  Some might say, “I would fight to get them back”, while others may say, “I’ll try to live with it.”  No matter what end of the spectrum you come from, our response to that question may tell us what drives us and what we believe.

The word belief can be described as “conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence.”  This means that there is a level of understanding and knowledge that is founded on factual evidence.  However, it also implies that we actively study to get that level of conviction.  Either way you look at it, our beliefs will actively affect how we feel about certain questions.

Paul, the apostle who wrote most of the New Testament, had very specific convictions and beliefs.  When he wrote the letter to the Philippian church, he expressed these convictions with evidence that could not be reputed.

Paul starts off his letter with expressions of gratitude and thankfulness.  He was grateful to Christ for sustaining the Philippian church.  He was thankful for their expression of love for Him by continuing on the mission of Jesus Christ, to proclaim that He is risen and lives with the Father.  However, Paul also includes some ideology that was happening during his time.  He mentions about people sharing the Gospel for both monetary gain as well as for purity.  He talks about convictions that made no sense and were determined to be false doctrine.  He also explains what God is looking for in life, but what struck me was not just the positive message, but the attitude of Paul’s letter.

In Philippians 1:12-14 Paul writes the following:

“ I want you to know, brothers,that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guardand to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the wordwithout fear.” (NASB)

Did you notice the problems?  Paul was in prison.  Other people who were proclaiming Christ were also in prison.  Think about this for a moment.  What would happen to you and I if we found out people we personally knew were being placed in prison for simply sharing their faith in Christ?  What would our reaction be?  Would we proudly stand up or cower in the corner?  These questions we need to wrestle with.  Why?  Because as Americans we are slowly losing the battle for the rights given to us by our forefathers.  More and more, there are fronts to silence the testimony of the church.  One front is if someone comes to you during your lunch break and asks you about your beliefs, there is a chance you could lose your job because it may be against company policy.  Another area is when churches want to gather for a worship service, they are being denied access to places that other organizations are allowed to access.  This is what is currently happening in New York City.

Did you also notice the attitude towards Paul’s circumstances?  Paul was happy and proud to write that their imprisonment was causing others to stand up and speak without fear.  Was this natural or from an outside source, that is still a debate, but in my experience, I believe (with conviction) that this lack of fear to proclaim the Gospel was from God.  Why do I feel that way?  Look around today.  Most Christians do not speak up about their beliefs.  In fact, most have decided to simply live quiet lives, never really expressing what they believe and why they believe it.  Unfortunately, this has happened in the past with unprecedented and unfortunate results.

In the 1920’s, Germany was experiencing an economical downturn that other countries (like the United States) had experienced.  There was limited food, limited jobs and limited everything else.  People were starving and suffering like never before.  In the 1930’s, a young man started to speak up.  He proclaimed a future of prosperity, a future that would end hunger for his people.  Treaties were made with Great Britain and other Eastern European countries that appeared to be good for their society.  Everyone thought the future was bright.  There were celebrations in many nations, but a small group of people saw something different.  They expressed that this man was deceptive and had other intentions.  They claimed that no matter what peace he promised, he would never keep his promises.  His alleged prosperity would turn to poverty once again.  However, no one listened.

The name of this man was Adolph Hitler.  He promised many positive things.  He promised prosperity.  He promised peace.  He promised he would never attack any other countries to further his country’s causes.  All his promises were for naught.  As we all know, Hitler was one of the worst murderers of our time.  However, what most people don’t know was that the church at that time also saw the signs but decided to ignore them.  They ignored the typical signs of a horrible leader.  History has taught us that if someone promises prosperity and peace, the likelihood of that actually happening is extremely slim if at all.  When a leader starts to talk against a specific group of people that has done nothing to instigate that criticism, the likelihood of that leader taking steps to suppress that people is very great.  The church of the 1930’s saw what was happening, they never spoke up.  It wasn’t until Hitler also killed Christians alongside the Jews that they started to notice.

From both this passage in Philippians and history, we must learn that we may lose our rights one day.  We may experience suffering and jail time.  No matter what we will face, we must all take Paul’s attitude.  If we end up in jail for Christ, then so be it.  Maybe if that starts to happen, others may take up the cause of Christ and spread the Gospel once again with fervor and zeal.  Rather than wait for persecution to occur, let’s take up our crosses daily and follow Christ in His mission, to save the lost.

God bless and encourage someone today.


Would You Give Up Your Rights?

This month, I have been focusing on the United States Constitution, our rights and politics. Today, I want to ask you this question, “Would you give up your rights?”  Think about this for a moment.  Would you give up your right to “freedom of speech”?  Would you give up your right to gather in an orderly fashion?  Would you give up your right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  Would you give up these or any rights?

Hopefully, the answer to these questions is a resounding ‘NO”.  However, what if I told you that you give up your rights daily?  What if you willingly gave up your rights for a single night of pleasure?  What if you were willing to give up your rights for just the right “high”?  What if I told you we do this almost everyday, without realizing it?

As Christians, we have been set free.  Free from sin.  Free from this world’s thinking.  Free from loneliness, bitterness and anger.  We have been set free, but we also bind ourselves to the “sin that so easily entangles us.”  How do I state this so confidently?  Because I also willingly give up my freedom for simple sinful pleasures.

On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  He didn’t say, “It is somewhat finished” or “I’ll finish this at a later time.”  Jesus was very clear, “It is finished”.  But what was finished at the cross?  What did Jesus mean by this simple statement?

In Luke 4, Jesus is explaining that Isaiah the prophet spoke about Him.


Jesus stated he was here to ”set free those who are oppressed” and to “proclaim release to the captives”.  Was he talking with prisoners in jail?  Was he speaking to those on trial, waiting for judgement?  No, he was actually teaching people from Scripture.  He was teaching about an aspect of life we rarely talk about.  We are all (or were) slaves to something and occasionally, we willingly become slaves again to our old nature.

Think of it this way.  Someone has been talking to you about Christ.  They explain where they came from, what they used to do and how Christ has changed them.  They, with excitement, tell you how free they feel.  You recognize that there is something wrong in your life and accept Christ as your Savior.  Immediately, you feel this sense of freedom.  You feel this unexplained joy, not deserved love that you never felt before.  You know beyond any shadow of doubt, you have been set free from your old self.  Then life gets in the way.

You find yourself going back to your old habits.  Maybe it was anger.  Maybe it was lust.  Maybe it was selfish pride.  Suddenly, you sense that you don’t have the joy you once had. You no longer feel that you are in God’s perfect and pleasing will.  You stop reading and praying for weeks on end.  You start to feel depressed and saddened.  You feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  You no longer feel free.

This is what happens when we disobey God and His Word.  We feel like slaves once again.  We feel like we have no control.  In essence, we are chained, once again, to the old nature, allowing it to take over and do with us as it pleases.  However, life does not have to be this way.

When we willingly sin and go back to our old self, we place the chains on ourselves and say to God, “I know I am sinning and want to be a slave to sin.”  We no longer express our joy for what Christ has done.  We no longer feel the excitement of sharing Christ with others.  Again, life doesn’t have to be this way.

Scripture says, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”  We, as Christians, need to set our mind on the Kingdom rather than the affairs of this world.  This world and it’s system will one day die, but God’ Kingdom will live forever.  We must always remember, just because we have been set free, doesn’t mean that we are exercising our freedom.

In the United States, we have freedoms most countries do not have.  However, when we do not exercise that freedom we say to our ancestors, “What you did, did not matter.”  Would you tell George Washington, “You fought for nothing?”  Probably not, but that is exactly what we tell God when we do not exercise our spiritual rights.  We tell him that the work Christ did on the cross does not matter.

We must all realize that as Christians, we choose to sin and to obey.  We don’t just fall into sin.  We willingly sin.  We willingly disobey.  This is a much greater concern that those who do not know they are sinning.  We must examine our own lives and ask ourselves, “Am I exercising the rights given to me?”  We must all look into the center of our lives and commit to exercise the rights Christ gave to us.

When we commit our lives to Christ, we are set free and become willing servants of Christ.  Don’t allow your sin to creep back in and silence your freedom.  Exercise your right to say no to sin.  God bless and encourage someone today.

The Reality of Our Faith

In this current series, I have been sharing ideas regarding our current rights as Americans and the faith we hold dear.  The Constitutions foundation and the fact that Jesus came to “seek and save those that are lost” are the foundations we live by in this country.  Today, I will share with you a story that is common outside of the United States, but is becoming more and more evident in the days to come.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has recently been convicted of sharing his faith in Iran.  According to several news sources, the Iranian government has given Pastor Nadarkhani the death sentence for his alleged crimes against Islam.  Pastor Nadarkhani is an example of a peaceful living man, sharing his faith with friends and family only to be killed for his faith.

During the recent trials of Pastor Nadarkhani, he was asked to renounce his faith in Christ.  His response was simple yet profound.  I don’t know the entire quote, but I believe it went something like this, “How can I renounce the truth that I know?”  The judges told him, “Because it is the faith of your fathers.”  Pastor Nadarkhani’s response was gentle and true.  He told the judges that he cannot renounce what he knows to be true.

We don’t hear of these stories often in the news, but it shows us some simple explanations of how the Christian faith is viewed around the world.  According to Jesus, he said, “All men will hate you because of me.” (Luke 21:17 NIV1984)  The reality of our world is that most people will hate Christians just because they believe in Jesus.  Jesus clearly stated that we are to be “light” and “salt” to the earth.  What does this mean?

To be light is to expose what is hidden in the dark.  In recent days, I have found that the people who owned my house before me did things that were kept hidden in the dark.  I found old concrete, moldy sheetrock, old copper pipes and much other trash that was hidden behind walls.  It was only found because I exposed the wall, and placed a light onto it.  I have found walls that needed to be secured and incorrectly installed electric.  In this scenario, I was a light unto my own house.  The same holds true of Christians.  When we enter a room and start a relationship, the very nature of our being exposes what others have been trying to hide.  Jesus shines through us in order to expose the sin and bring that person to Himself.

At the same time we are to be salt.  Except for the excessive use of salt, salt is used to enhance the flavor of what it is being added to.  It is to bring delight and excitement, but it is also to bring thirst.  We are to make others thirsty for Christ so that He can quench that thirst.  We are to be delightful and exciting, not boring and angry.  Our lives are to reflect a sense of interest and curiosity for the sole purpose of leading them to Christ.

The result of our living peaceful, delightful, light exposing lives is hatred.  People don’t want to see what is in their lives.  I know I don’t’.  Pastor Nadarkhani is doing just that.  From what we know of him, he is delightful, respectful and peaceful.  He is fulfilling for his life the life Christ has for him.  Is this about Pastor Nadarkhani?  Do a degree, but it is more of an alarm going off to wake us up to this reality.  Most people don’t love Jesus, they only love what they can hide.

Pastor Nadarkhani is not hiding, nor is he hiding the love of Christ from others.  When confronted by the religious leaders of his nation, he told them the truth of his faith.  If you want to share how you feel about this situation, there are various places you can go to in order to help.  You can visit www. aclj.org and sign a petition that will allow them to assist freeing Pastor Nadarkhani.  You can also write to your Senator or Congressperson to let them know you stand by Pastor Nadarkhani and would like to see him freed.

You can also pray for either the Iranian government to change their minds or to allow the chains to fall off of Pastor Nadarkhani like the disciples experienced.  God can do anything He chooses.  If He allows this Pastor to face death, then God will take care of his family.  If He is freed, then the Word of God can continue to go out into the entire world.  Whatever the outcome, God is in control.

Remember, just because we live in a free society doesn’t mean that we too won’t face this one day.  Pray and support Pastor Nadarkhani and pray that our country doesn’t go down this same path.  God bless and encourage someone today.

Jesus Never Led a Political Protest

Have you ever asked yourself, “How many people march against or for something?”  Maybe you have marched in a protest against or for something.  Are they bad?  Do they have a place?  When should we march for something?  These questions have plagued my mind for quite some time.  I think the answer to these questions are not simple but easy.  The answers may complicate things, but they clear up the vision of perspective.

My pastor once asked, “Did Jesus ever lead a political protest?”  As we look at the life of Christ, we must ask ourselves what are we to do with political protests?  One story that comes to mind was just before Jesus was arrested.  Jesus had told His disciples that He was going to die and be betrayed by someone they all knew.  All of them would scatter and leave Him as He was tried and killed.

Judas approached Jesus, kissed him and stepped aside for Jesus to be arrested.  At that moment, Peter drew his sword and cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear.  Jesus’ response was so calming yet profound.  He said, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.  Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

Think for a moment what Jesus was saying.  First, Jesus sets the perspective for Peter.  He tells him that people who use weapons to make their point will die by the same weapon.  How many people have lived like this?  How many have committed suicide for the sake of what they believe?  How many people think they can force Biblical knowledge to those who don’t want to hear it?  When we use force to proclaim the Gospel, we do exactly as Peter did.  We become angry.  We become obstinate.  We become violent.

This is one reason Christianity gets such bad press.  Many people think it’s okay to protest by becoming violent.  Remember the crusades in Europe?  Christianity was forced upon everyone and those who did not bow the knee were put to death.  Remember the abortion clinic attacks?  Many so-called Christians attacked doctors and clinics thinking they were doing the right thing.  Today, we have churches that protest everything from funerals to Afghanistan.  They are putting Christianity in a bad light.  We are not called to forcefully protest.  Why?  Jesus answers this in His next statement.

Jesus then says, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”  Did you ever ask yourself, how many are a legion?  In the Roman army, a legion comprised of 3000 to 6000 soldiers.  In a practical sense, Jesus said, “Don’t you think I can ask for 36,000 to 72,000 angels to come by my side?”  According to Scripture a single angel can kill thousands of troops with a singe swipe of their sword.  But that was not the real point that Jesus was trying to state.  Jesus was relaying that if He felt it was the right direction, He could ask His Father and His Father would rescue Him.  That’s it.  Jesus completely relied on God the Father.  Whether in life or death, Jesus never doubted what His mission really was.  He knew He was meant to die.  He told His disciples this very message, yet one of them started a protest.

Finally, Jesus said that Scriptures said it must happen in this way.  Jesus was simply teaching that the Scriptures were true and right.  It is a reliable source of truth.  It was infallible.  It was perfect just as He was perfect.  Scripture is not just a book of stories.  It is a composition of books that tell what happened, what will happen and how to handle life correctly.  Jesus’ last words to His disciples was “Listen to my word.  Know my word and you’ll know me.”  How sad that today, we rely on technology to give to us what we think we need.  We think we need to stand up for everything.  We think that listening to others teach is more important than reading the Scripture’s ourselves.

Did Jesus ever lead a political protest?  No.  Jesus spoke against leading the protest.  Jesus commanded us to stand up for what is right and just, but He also said to lead quite and peaceful lives.  How do we do that?  How can we balance what to stand up for and what to be quiet about.  Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.  Each one of us needs to be able to answer that question individually.  For me, I will speak up about things simply because I have been given the right to do so.  I have been given the right to speak out against certain sinful acts.  However, I have not been given the right to be mean or ugly about it.  I have not been given the right to be angry about what the rest of the world does.  Jesus commanded all Christians to love our enemies.  He never taught to hate.  We are to love others just as Jesus loves them.

By loving others as Christ loves them, the Gospel is preached through our words and actions.  By loving those who hate us, we show the world we are different.  In light of this series, I felt compelled to share that Jesus never led a political party, but he lead sheep into the greatest pasture of all time, His kingdom.  Now we need to be the shephard helpers that lead other sheep to Him.  When we love people that is what we do.

Remember, we may have rights given to us by our government, but the greatest freedom of all is being the slave to Christ.  God bless and encourage someone today.

The Constitution Forgotten

Do you know what the preamble of the United States Constitution says?  I thought it was different than what I read.  Here it is for reference:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Pretty amazing, right?  Well to understand it we need to break it down a bit.  “We the People of the United States…”  Our forefathers believed that the people made the decisions.  The people had the power.  They had come from a government that oppressed people.  They weren’t allowed to tell their officials how they felt.  So, in good and sound mind, they felt the people should make the decisions.

Today, we live in an country where the government makes you think you have the rights but do not.  Although we have the right to vote, it appears we no longer have the right to voice our opinions regarding political agendas.  In recent days, there has been an outcry for the recognition of homosexual marriage and the forceful behavior of our Executive Branch to force private insurance companies to insure things some people believe to be wrong.  Here is an example:

When asked about homosexual marriage, the majority of the people (in various polls), state that it shouldn’t be recognized as a natural union.  They believe that the union between one man and one woman is the right way to be.  However, in various states, although the people have voiced this, the government has chosen a different path.  The rogues of our political society have recklessly approved something the people have voiced they don’t want.  Does that sound like Democracy at work?  It sure doesn’t sound like our current leaders have the Constitution in mind, where the people have the right to vote about it.

Let’s look at why the Constitution was written:

  • to form a more perfect Union
  • establish Justice
  • insure domestic Tranquility
  • provide for the common defence
  • promote the general Welfare
  • secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

First, our forefathers wanted to form a union that was “more perfect”.  They knew it wasn’t going to be perfect, they just wanted it to be better than what they had.  Next, the wanted to establish justice.  When you define justice it is defined as “the quality of being just, impartial or fair”.  This certainly doesn’t sound like our society today.  Although our founders knew that this one was hard to achieve, they understood the importance of impartiality.  Someone who is serving the people needs to be impartial and hear out the people.  Then they can properly voice what the people want and vote as the people have cried out.  We see today, many elected officials acting on behalf of corporations, organizations and their own desires.  We no longer see the impartiality in the news when they speak.  We no longer see the impartiality of the votes during sessions of Congress and we certainly do not see the elected officials speaking on impartiality when it comes to their state.  We only see their agendas and desires being met.

Next, we see to insure domestic Tranquility.  Our founders wanted peace, especially domestic peace.  But how do you get domestic peace?  Not by telling everyone that the other party is the bad guy.  We can only have domestic peace if we work together.  This was the main idea in this.  They wanted every citizen to work together for the good of the country.

“Provide for the common defence” is a term used to describe the  security of the nation.  We all have one thing in common in the United States.  We live in the same country and if we are citizens are to look out for our nation.  Many times we see agendas that have nothing to do with bettering the country, just things to fulfill one’s evil desires.

To “promote the general welfare” is to encourage others to become citizens, join the cause of the country and live as you desire.  This does not mean the right to do whatever, whenever.  It means that in accordance with the law, to live peaceful lives giving yourself to others in order to have a society where others want to be a part of it.  Sound familiar?  It should.  If you are a Christian, Jesus said the same thing.  We are to live Godly, peaceful lives, serving others for the betterment of the Kingdom.  Huh!?!  It sounds like our forefathers had Scripture in mind.  Now that goes against the grain of our current elected officials.

Finally, to secure the liberties for themselves and posterity.  What does all that mean?  Simply put, it means that they wanted to provide secure rights for all of their current society as well as for future generations.  They did not have just themselves in mind, they had all of us in mind as well.  They knew that society could not properly continue if you only think of yourself.  We all need to think of others.  We all need to serve others.  We all need to understand that once our lives are completed, the next generation has to deal with the garbage or goodness that we placed in their laps.

As I study our Constitution, I am discovering that our current government forgot what they were supposed to do.  They have forgotten the reasons our country wrote the Constitution.  We need to remind them of what our forefathers meant.  This is not an interpretation problem, it is simply a pride problem. However, we also need to pray for our elected officials as well.  We know from Scripture that our elected officials are there because God allowed them to be there.  Lastly, we need to pray that others, who have the gift of impartiality, are able to stand up and cry out for those who need it most, the people.  We need other God fearing, Jesus loving, evangelical Christians to stand up and say, “Enough is enough!  You have strayed from our forefathers vision and we are here to take it back.”  So this November remember your vote counts.

There is more to come, but for now, God bless and encourage someone today.

One Final Success Story

In the last few blogs, I shared success (and failure) stories that have happened in my life.  The final blog in this series is not about personal success or failure but that of how success (and failure) affect the nation.

Over the past number of years, I have spoken with people regarding the United States.  I have spoken with people from various countries and asked them about our country.  The thoughts vary from “arrogant” to “I wish I was there”.  No matter where I turn, there are many opinions regarding this country, whether positive or negative. Today, I will share how success and failure affect our nation.

In recent days, we hear the news regarding terrorism, sexual misconduct and immorality.  Rarely are the stories of greatness and positive behavior.  Why is that?  Why do we concentrate on the negative of our society and not the positive?  Why do we buy into the fallacies of negative behavior and disregard the “righteous acts” of positive behavior?  Let me surmise that when Christians act negatively toward others and reject the Word of God,  we allow our country to enter a state of darkness and despair.

I just finished the book of Isaiah and have entered the realm of Jeremiah.  In both books, these men (one of which was very young) was told to give a message to the nation of Israel.  Although both hesitated, both finally realized that doing the work of God was better than pleasing their peers.  These men were not the most popular but they spoke the truth. They were hated and hunted, but God protected them from the evils of their society.  You may feel the same about me as well.  No matter.  Just keep reading.

In Isaiah, he goes back and forth with positive and negative messages.  Why?  It was to prepare the Israelites for exile to Babylon and beyond.  It was to correct bad behavior so that they would repent from their ways.  Unfortunately, this did not happen.  Why was there so much warning about what was about to happen?  God states through Isaiah, “You have left me.”

It wasn’t because God deserted them.  It wasn’t because other nations did things that they couldn’t be blamed for.  It was simply because they forgot God.  The book of Jeremiah starts the same way.  This young man was told to speak about what was to happen and God says again, “You have left me.”  The same message for the same people.  In both instances we discover the fact that God doesn’t deal with the evil in this world first.  He deals with His people first and then the evil surrounding His people.  When the children of God obey and worship, God acts on their behalf.  The same holds true to this day.  Unfortunately, this success story is really a failure story.

In the past, our country has gone through periods of growth, blessings and protection as well as times of trials and tribulations.  If you follow the pattern of successes and failures, we will discover the behaviors of God’s people.  Did you know that just before the Civil War began, there was a revival of prayer?  Men, women and children felt God tell them to pray for their nation because of what was about to occur.  They faithfully prayed and continued throughout the war.  Over time the war ended, our country united and the healing process began.  When Christians pray through the trials, wars are shortened.

Another time was just before the Great Depression.  Men were called to pray on Wall Street for unknown future events.  As they prayed, they repented of sin and this small gathering pulled our nation through a dark time.  As the Great Depression continued, this small gathering turned into a large congregation of prayer warriors which turned into people repenting and turning toward Christ.  A success among the failure.

Today, our country is going through what I call the Darkest Hour of Freedom.  Our country praises the immorality and sinful behavior but despises the righteous and good behavior.  How do we know this?  Here is an example.

In the Bible, it states that homosexuality and adultery are sinful behaviors.  In our society we parade down the street praising this sin.  We flaunt our sin.  We project our sin onto others and we wonder why there is so much bad news.  The divorce rate in the church s equal to that of the rest of the world.  It is because of this that our government abuses their rights and demands that Christians “change their behavior” and “get with the times”.

To add to this problem, today’s Christians have mastered the art of shooting themselves and their own for the sake of argument and pride.  I have personally experienced people call me a heretic because I don’t believe what they say and when I ask for them to prove their point, they can’t!  I believe that we should be able to know why we believe and where to find it.

We fight over silly things like the color of the carpet or traditions that have no affect on sharing the Gospel.  We spend our time blasting our officials for allowing sinful atrocities, while stealing money from God.  No matter how you look at it, the Christian church today, is a complete failure.  But it doesn’t have to be or stay that way.

No matter what denomination you are from, no matter the color of your skin or where you live, if you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, then you and I are related.  So if you believe people can speak in tongues, good.  If you believe in the Rapture will not occur, that’s okay too.  As long as you believe that Christ is the only way to heaven and that He will one day return for His people, then all other arguable areas should not matter.

If we want to see our nation change, first we must change.  We must understand that being holy is just being set apart.  Jesus said, “Be holy as I am holy.”  What He meant was for us to live lives that are separate from the world system.  We are to stand out not just stand up.  We should love all people regardless of our own preconceived notions.  We are to love those who practice sin (even those who practice homosexuality or abortions).  We are to see them as Christ sees them.  You and I must remember that even though we were sinful and while we were still sinning, Christ died for us.  So instead of marching the streets with hateful signs and angry looks, let’s try loving those who we feel don’t deserve it.  If we focus on the sin, then we focus on our own pride.  When we focus on the sin we say to ourselves, “I am better than that person”, even though we are not.  Christ didn’t concentrate on the sin but on behaviors and attitudes that change lives.  If it was good enough for Christ, then it should be good enough for us.

Currently, our nation needs Christians to unite and stand as one.  Our nation needs prayer and repentance.  Our nation’s leaders needs Christians to stand in the gap and pray for God to intervene.  Our Christian community needs to unite as one, pray as one, purpose for the One who died for us.  When we stop concentrating on the negative sinful behavior, we allow God to turn our current failure into a success story.

Over the next number of blogs, I will share how we can unite, why we should unite and what unification can do for our country and it’s future.  Join me on this journey to the center of our darkest hour for the sole purpose of allowing God to turn our failures into His success.

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Failed Opportunity

Over the past few blogs, I have shared about success.  This time I would like to share about failure.  Failure is the essential building block of success.  Without failure, success would not exist.  Think about it.  How would we be able to measure success if there was no failure?  This analogy can be compared to a ruler without numbers.  If you had a wooden ruler that had some markings, but did not know what the markings meant, what worth would that piece of wood have?  It wouldn’t.  It couldn’t measure anything.  It couldn’t have any meaning, therefore, it couldn’t logically be called a ruler.  Failure and success are the same way.  Success is the numbers on the ruler, while failure is the ruler itself.  Therefore, success cannot be logically measured unless failure is involved.

When Thomas Edison was asked why he didn’t just give up when discovering the light bulb, he stated that he never gave up, he just found what was needed one time.  He never viewed his failures as negatives but as a positive.  Without the failures he had, he would have never discovered the filament that was necessary.  Without failure, we would still be lighting a candle in our homes and lighting fires to keep us warm.

If failure never occurred, how would we learn?  How would we know what is right and what is wrong?  How would we understand that we shouldn’t touch the electrical outlet as a child or else we may be shocked?  How would we know that fire can burn unless something got burned?  Without failure, we cannot understand the basics of life.  Unfortunately, most people don’t accept failure and view it as a negative.

How many times have you heard someone cheer when the failed?  Never.  How many times did you hear someone cry when they fail?  Maybe sometimes.  How do you feel when you fail?  What goes on in your mind when you fail?  I know in my mind, I get frustrated, aggravated and angry when I fail.  I don’t like failure especially when it comes to work.  I hate the times when I can’t fix a machine.  Yet there are times the reality is that there is no solution, therefore, I (and others) view it as a failure.

How about our relationships?  Are they successes or failures?  I consider my marriage to be a success.  My wife and I have been married 16 years and have had many ups and downs.  One day, my wife asked my son to rate our marriage between 1 and 10.  1 being the uh-oh and 10 being it is perfect.  He gave our marriage an 8.  Why only and 8?  He stated that it was because he sees times when we argue over little things, therefore it can’t be perfect.  However, he also admitted he sees our love as well.  Interesting isn’t it?  Our son sees the imperfection in our marriage but recognizes the love we have for each other.  I consider that a great success.

Unfortunately, I have also encountered some failed opportunities.  These are not the times in which I decided not to do something and should have or times when I didn’t take an action when I should have.  This failed opportunity was actually a success in my life.  It was a time when I was taking every opportunity to share the love of Christ with some of my customers.

Almost 15 years ago, I had a customer that I would see very often.  He would call to have his copiers fixed and I was there to help.  We enjoyed talking about our marriages and joked around about everything from sports (he loved baseball) to work related areas.  On many occasions we would sit in his office, after the machine was fixed, and talk.  He shared how his marriage was failing but how his favorite baseball team was doing.  Over time, I started to ask him questions about his beliefs.  He stated he grew up Jewish but no longer believed that God existed.  He believed in science and logic.

One afternoon, I had fixed his machine and we sat and talked.  I asked him if I could share something with him regarding my beliefs.  He stated, “I already know that you believe in God.  I don’t believe He exists.”  I asked again to talk with him.  He said he would talk but he would never believe because he didn’t see the logic.  I explained, “Here is what I will tell you.  You will admit to me one of two things.  Either you will admit that God exists and you want to have a relationship with Him or you will tell me that you refuse to believe because you don’t want to.”  With a cautious smile, he took on that challenge.  He was either going to admit he didn’t want to believe or he was going to believe.

We spent hours talking about historical evidences regarding Christ, logical views regarding Creation and simplistic approaches to other scientific areas.  I am not the most learned man, but he noticed I was able to hold my own.  After 3 hours of discussion, he turned to me without a smile and said, “You were right.  I am ready to admit one of the two things you said.”  My heart pounded with anticipation.  I had hoped for this day, when someone would turn to Christ because it seemed the most logical step.  He continued, “I refuse to believe.  I know what you are saying is true, I just simply refuse to believe it.”  Devastation filled my heart and soul.   How could someone admit that God did exist but they wanted nothing to do with Him?  Then I thought of Adam and Eve.  Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden, had discussions with God, yet rebelled anyway.  He knew God existed but refused to listen.

So why was this a success for me?  Simply, I did what I had been called to do.  I simply shared the love of Christ with someone, which Christ Himself commanded us to do.  He never said, “Go therefore into the world and convince people I exist.”  He actually said, “Go therefore and make disciples…”  In order to make disciples you have to have people who believe.  It is God’s responsibility to convince people that He exists, not ours.  We don’t need to hound people with the Gospel, we just need to share it.  Let God do the rest.  Then once someone accepts, make them a disciple.  Teach them, share with them and live life together.

The greatest failed opportunity someone will ever have is when they die without Christ.  They then have no recourse to change their minds.  They will enter eternity without Christ wishing they could have another chance.  This particular failed opportunity showed me that to be successful in Christ, all I need to do is share His Word and message.  I don’t need to defend or convince anyone. All I need to do is share.  Then one day after I have shared Christ with someone, for the last time on this earth, God will call me home and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.  Come and enter into My rest.”  Those are the only words I need to hear to know how successful I was.  Go and share the message of Christ with someone.

God Bless and encourage someone today.