The Totally Tolerant Turmoil (Thinking Challenge #5)


It’s all over the news.  No matter where you turn the “tolerant” are claiming intolerance for those with opposing views.  In recent days, the upper management of Chick-fil-A was explaining his view on marriage.  Suddenly, the torrents erupt, the hillsides crumble and everyone cries, “Intolerant fools!”  However,  what is tolerance how is it used today?

If we look in the dictionary, one of the definitions of tolerance is the following:

  • a sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.

Basically, it is a mutual respect to allow others to disagree with each other.  It is not about right or wrong but simply differing / opposing arguments.  Can this deal with right or wrong issues?  Absolutely.  So what’s with all the intolerance with our society?  In order to understand our current society, we must also see where “tolerance” is preached.

 

According to the Human Rights Campaign website, they state the following:

“HRC advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues.”

Did you see that?  They mobilize grassroots actions in diverse communities.  However, when Chick-fil-A made a statement about marriage, they were one of the first organizations to boycott the restaurant chain.  They claimed Chick-fil-A stated hateful words toward the LGBT agenda.  You mean they have an agenda?  Sure, it’s on their website.  It states that they “invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues”.

Their entire purpose is to ensure that elected officials are on their side and their cause.  Is that truly tolerant?  If the HRC would have actually read what the Chick-fil-A management said, they would have understood the true context of the statement.  

Here is a link to the actual article:

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38271

So, what was actually said?  According to the Baptist Press, Chick-fil-A started a college scholarship that encouraged people becoming winners in life.  It then “”That morphed into a marriage program in conjunction with national marriage ministries”.  When asked about their view on marriage, Dan Cathy stated his opinion that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Dan Cathy also stated that he was proud to live in a country where we can all express our views.  So I ask you, which organization sounds like one who is tolerant?  Which organization verbally attacked who?  Which organization is going out of their way to boycott another opposing view?

The LGBT agenda states to have a view of tolerance, but I think it is very clear that their tolerance is lacking.  They oppose anyone who states an opposing argument to theirs and goes out of the way to ensure that elected political figures see their point of view.  Any other view is considered hate speech.

In fact, several news agencies have publicly stated that politicians can block other openings of Chick-fil-A because of their view.  Now I ask, who is tolerant of who?

There is no such thing as tolerance in our society mainly because of the intolerance of organizations that promote hatred toward another’s beliefs.  Have some Christian organizations shown that in the past?  Sure, but they are few and far between.  However, no matter the LGBT organization, the instant someone says, “Marriage is between one man and one woman”, the dragon is let loose and fire is rained upon anyone who believes otherwise.

I suggest that ALL NEWS AGENCIES that report about Chick-fil-A, better have a solid, well-rounded article.  Otherwise it is they that are part of the intolerance and hatred toward Christianity.  May God have mercy on us all.

God bless and think today.

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Is Faith Blind? (Thinking Challenge #4)


So, is faith blind?  Is faith a matter of believing in something that we cannot see, hear, taste, touch or feel?  What is faith?  Is it some psychological state of mind that allows us to believe in something or someone that does not exist?  When someone says, “I have faith in God”, what does that really mean?

At a time in my life, I had to reconcile these questions.  Growing up in the church, I had heard the word faith over and over again, but the only definition given was Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

But what does that really mean?  It almost seems like a contradiction rather than a definition.  I mean, everyone else says that faith is hoping in something that you can’t see, feel, hear or touch.  Even the dictionary says faith is a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.  Now we have just encountered a problem.  The Hebrews 11 definition seems to contradict the dictionary.  Oh no, what ever shall we do?

Let me ask this, ‘If faith is a belief in something that cannot be proven’, then it would come to reason that the faith is a theoretical based system.  Let’s think about this for a moment. If something cannot be proven, but someone believes in it, it would then become a theory until completely proven, right?

In science, something cannot be considered a law of nature, physics or chemistry until there is solid evidence that the theory exists.  When a specific number of proofs are then seen, in a tangible way, it is only then called a law.  So what about evolution?  Why is it still called ‘the theory of evolution’ if everyone believes it to be true.  A lot of people have “faith” in our current scientific “discoveries” so should this theory be called ‘the law of evolution?’

So if faith in God is simply a belief that cannot be proven, then is God simply a theoretical mindset?  Or is there something else to this?  Is it possible that God really exists in a tangible and real way?  Do demons and angels really exist or was that postulated by some uneducated morons and imbeciles?  If these are just simply uneducated, then why do so many people, who are highly educated, still believe in God?

Here is what I believe about faith….

The real definition of faith is – ‘allegiance to duty or a person; fidelity (accurate) to one’s promises’.  This means that faith is not just something fly-by-night.  It is a commitment to God caused by believing in His very accurate promises.

The word fidelity means accurate to the extreme.  It is so accurate that it has to be true.  So, faith is a total commitment to God and believing in God’s promises, so how does this equate to the Hebrews  11 definition?  Here it is again, piece by piece…

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for….” – Knowing and completely trusting…(the original definition of hope is trust)

“…and certain of what we do not see.” – Knowing (with evidence) in a God we cannot physically see.

So faith is simply knowing and completely trusting in a God we cannot see but the evidence exists to allow him to be Truth and not theory.  So what evidence do we have?  This is where you come in.  Simply reply with what tangible evidence you have that God is alive and well.  If you feel God doesn’t exist, then reply with the tangible evidence you have.  Either way, I am looking for your input.  Remember, whatever evidence you bring must be tangible and not theoretical.  I’ll update this later on, depending on the responses.

Let’s see what you come up with.  God bless and think today.

Who Do You Hang Out With (Thinking Challenge #3)


Over the past week, God has challenged my thinking a bit.  He has allowed circumstances, people and timing to play a small part in allowing me to question some things.

The idea that comes to mind is ‘who do you hang out with’?  Have you ever thought about this before?  Did you ever evaluate whether or not your friends are really your friends or just people that like you while you are on the mountain top?

Growing up in New York City, you are conditioned to think differently for different types of people.  Here is what I mean.  When you enter a subway station, if you are not texting or reading a paper, look around.  What is the first impression of who you see?

If you see someone who is unshaven, has dirty baggy clothes, smells a bit like a sewer and has a paper bag with a drink in it.  You would probably come to the assumption that this person was probably homeless.

What if you saw someone who had a suit on and had a newspaper under his arm.  He carries a briefcase and stands straight.  Looking at him, you would think he is some important executive at a Wall Street firm.

Now ask yourself this question.  Based on the information your brain just obtained, which one would you most likely talk to?  Which one would you reach out to and strike up a conversation?  If you are born and raised in NYC, like I was, you would either stand there and not talk to anyone or you might start a conversation with the suited person.

Did you know that the painted assumptions in your mind would be wrong?  The first man, who looked homeless, was actually a construction worker coming home from work.  He makes almost $100,000 per year.  The drink in his bag is a Redbull because he wanted to make sure he had enough energy to see his daughters dance without falling asleep.

The second man I mentioned was actually a con-artist.  He has a specific set of clothes, hoping to ask for money for his “hungry children” because he lost his job and was declined on the interview he had that day.  This man was actually a drug addict wanting to get his next fix.  He wanted people to feel sorry for him so that they would give him enough money to feed his habit.  His wife and kids left him and was soon to be homeless because he didn’t have enough money to pay the rent.

Now ask yourself this question, “Who did Jesus hang out with?”  Who did Jesus spend His time with?  Who did Jesus feel was valuable (not good) enough that He desired to love them?

First, was a tax collector named Matthew.  His job was to collect taxes for Rome.  However, when he would try to collect the taxes, he would determine an increase and force people to pay.  He would then pay Rome what they wanted and kept the rest.  He had the backing of Roman soldiers, so his own people despised him.  They felt that not only was he ripping them off, but that he sided with Rome as well.  His profession was the most hated in his time.  Jesus hung out with a thief.

Next, was James and John.  Their nicknames were the sons of thunder.  Why?  Because they had major anger issues.  They were also highly competitive and their mother babied them to the point that even she asked Jesus a question for them.  Jesus hung out with the bad attitude, angry and highly competitive brothers.

Lastly, was Simon the Zealot.  In Jesus’ day, Rome had control over Israel, however, there was a temporary peace in the land due to an uprising that happened just before Jesus was born.  A group of people, called zealots, had gone out of their way to kill Roman soldiers in order to free Israel.  They felt that violence was the only way to free Israel and finally throw off the chains of Rome.  In essence, they were terrorists.  Jesus hung out with Simon, who was a terrorist.

Obviously, there were more like, the woman at the well, who had been married and divorced several times and was living with someone outside the covenant of marriage.  There was also those who were sick and dirty beggars who couldn’t provide for themselves.  In our day, they may be called homeless or welfare recipients.  Jesus even hung out with prostitutes and sinners!

No matter how you look at it, Jesus didn’t hang out with the ‘church’ crowd.  He didn’t hang out with the pastor, elders and the crowd that came to church every Sunday.  He didn’t hang out with the executives or the highly regarded.  Jesus wanted to hang out with those who needed Him, who needed to be loved.

Jesus has challenged my thinking this week.  Do I look at people as God’s creation or outcasts of society?  Do I look at people in love and feel their pain or do I silence the screams for help from their voice?

Today, I want you to evaluate who you hang out with and ask yourself this one question, “Would they be someone who Jesus hung out with, who needs to hear about Jesus’ love and sacrifice?”  If you can’t honestly answer this, I challenge you to think of someone who needs help that doesn’t look like you and I and needs to know about the love of Jesus.

God bless and think today.

Works or Faith Alone (Thinking Challenge #2)


This is the 2nd installment of the Thinking Challenge.  If you haven’t read the last post (the 1st in this series), I am challenging everyone to reconsider what they had been taught growing up.  This is a challenge to think a bit about what we believe and why.  If you have any opinion or dare to take this challenge, I will be doing this for the rest of this month and possibly next month, depending on responses.  READY for the next challenge?

James 2:14-26 talks about faith versus deeds (works).  James is asking a very critical question to those Jews who called themselves Christians.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?” (vs. 14)

Is James suggesting that deeds and faith make you a follower of Christ?  This would seem to contradict what Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”  So is there a contradiction here or is there some way we can clearly tell if both of these statements are correct?

Now look at 1 John 5:1-4, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.  And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Now ask yourself this…Are James and John right and Paul wrong or is there another way to rectify this potential problem?  Let’s look at what James says about believing in God, “You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” (James 2:19)

Oh boy, now it gets confusing.  First James says that you have to do deeds and have faith.  Then Paul says it is by faith alone in Jesus that saves us. Finally, James and John seem to disagree with each other as one says that everyone who believes in God is a child of God, while the other says that even demons believe in God and shudder.

Hmmm.  Sounds like a predicament awaits and some answers are needed.  How would you rectify this sticky situation if someone asked you these questions.  Respond and let me know how to satisfy both sides of this argument.

The reason for this one is mainly because some Evangelical Christians believe in faith alone, while others say that our works get us into heaven.  Yet other Protestant beliefs say that faith alone doesn’t get us into heaven, we must also do works to.

Again, the challenge is here….Let’s see if anyone is up to this challenge.  I can’t wait to see how you respond.

God Bless and Think Today…

A Challenge to Think (Just a Little)…


Once upon a time there was a prophet.  This prophet taught many things.  He taught the people to fear God.  He taught them to love each other.  Over many years of teaching, the people learned values and life lessons.  They learned about love, relationships, Jesus and even about sin.  They learned about the 2nd Coming of Jesus, the Trinity and the Apocalypse.

One day, the prophet died and the people mourned.  They cried and cried day after day.  As the people mourned, a child came up to an elder and asked, “What will happen now that the teacher is dead?”  The elder turned to the child and yelled, “How should I know?”  The child turned away with his head down.  Suddenly, the child stopped, turned around and asked the elder, “How do we do the things the teacher taught?”  Immediately, the crying stopped.  Not a soul could be heard mourning.  The child then asked again, “Sir, how do we do the things the teacher taught us?”  The elder looked around with a gaze of bewilderment.  He turned to the child, opened his arms and told the child, “Come here child.”  The child approached and hugged the elder.  Then as if a light went off in a dark room, the elder told the child, “I don’t know.”

In this story, the prophet taught every type of theology possible.  He had taught about love, life and eternity.  However, the prophet forgot to teach one thing, to think.  No one ever challenged him in his thinking.  No person asked questions while he taught.  It wasn’t until the prophet died, did a small child ask a simple, yet profound question, “How do we do the things the teacher taught us?”

In light of this, I want you to challenge what people teach.  I want you to challenge what I teach.  Over the course of July (and maybe August), I will be asking you to comment on various things that are currently being taught in the church or society.  Your mission, if you choose to accept it, will be to either prove me wrong or come up with questions that make everyone think.  So here is your first challenge….

In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Paul tells Timothy about “Godlessness in the Last Days”.  Paul starts off with, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.”

How would you interpret this?  Would you say this speaks of today or another time?  Did Paul speak about our future or our past?  Are churches today denying God’s power?  If so, should you have anything to do with them?  How would you handle someone who looks like a Christian but acts completely differently outside of church?  Does this include those who call themselves Christians but yell and scream at those who disagree with them?

This is now your challenge, to think.  So you have context, read 2 Timothy 3:1-9 for yourself prior to answering this challenge.  It is up to you.  Take this on so that we both may be challenged to think beyond what we’ve been taught.

God Bless and Think Today…

I Might Be Joyous, But I’m Not Happy!


In our culture today, many times we equate happiness with joy.  We have this tendency to think that if someone says they’re joyous, their also happy.  However, is this true or can someone be joyous and NOT be happy?

Personally, I have heard sermons where someone says, “I might be joyous, but I’m not happy!”  They explain that joy is a state of mind, while happiness is just a feeling.  Typically, you hear, “Jesus will give you joy, but He doesn’t promise happiness”.  This is one point that I strongly disagree.

The definition of joy is “a deep emotion of pleasure, gladness” and “a thing that causes delight”. So if joy is a deep emotion, does this mean it is equal to happiness?  Well, if we look at this definition, we must also look at the word emotion.

An emotion is “an intense mental feeling, as love or hate”. So what does this all mean?  Joy is something that is so intense and ingrained within us that it cannot be changed.  This deep emotion of pleasure and gladness is so deep and intense that it becomes part of who we are.  So then, what is happiness?

Happiness can be defined as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”.  To be happy means that you are showing a sense of pleasure or contentment.  It is like you are opening a birthday present as a child.  You jump up and down, rip open the box and find the one thing you always wanted.  You then react by saying, “Thank you” with a smile that goes from ear to ear.

So the question remains, can someone be joyous and not be happy?  Paul wrote the following to the Galatians (5:22-23 ESV):

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Paul told the Galatians that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is joy, but did you notice the progression?  First comes love.  Then joy.  Once you love, you then have joy.  Once you have joy, there is a peace that enters.  Once a peace enters then you become patient.  Once patience takes control, you become more kind.  When you become kind, you do good things.  When goodness takes over, then you become faithful.  Once faithfulness overtakes you, then you become gentle.  Once gentleness comes over you, you become self-controlled.  None of these can happen unless the Holy Spirit is in control in your life.  You don’t do this alone, but with the Spirit of God alone.

Logically, ask yourself this question.  If I love and have joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, then why wouldn’t I be happy?

On a number of occasions, I go through a state of “depression”, where I don’t look happy, don’t care what others think and go into “my own little cave”.  As I am there, I feel lonely, sad and helpless.  Usually, I don’t read or write, except that which I have to for work.  I don’t ask others how they are doing and don’t want others to ask me.  I slowly go down into the dark, deep cavern hoping that no one will find me.  However, it is also at those moments (or days) that God reaches down from heaven, stretches out His hands and asks for a hug.  Then as a father holds his hurting child, He hold me, whispering, “Life isn’t always good, but remember how much I have done for you”.

Although, I try to fight, He holds me tighter and tighter.  He continues to whisper how much he loves me.  He tells me that I am special and meant to do things no other human being can do.  He tells me that even though I am “feeling” horrible emotions, He still loves me and will never leave me.  It is in those moments, that my heart begins to race, my breath becomes short and tears shed from my eyes.  Sometimes, my body shakes because of the intense understanding that I am not worthy, but God still loves me.  I cry and cry because God sees me through the eyes of Jesus.

Once I mentally come to that realization, a feeling of contentment and inexpressible joy enter my heart and mind, which results in the expression of being happy.  You see, joy is not just a state of mind, but who we are in Christ.  If we are not happy with life, then we must ask ourselves, are we joyous?  If we are not joyous, then we must ask ourselves, do we love Christ?

Remember, we love Christ, because He first loved us.  When we love Christ, he gives us joy.  When we have joy, then we have the “peace that passes all understanding”.  Once peace enters, we become more patient with others.  When we become more patient, we are show our kindness to others.  When we express kindness, we understand that what God is doing is good.  Once we understand how good God is, we dedicate ourselves to Him, becoming faithful to His Kingdom, desiring for others to come along with us.  When we desire others to come into the Kingdom, we are gentle with others.  Finally, when we become gentle, we realize that God is doing something beyond what we can do, so we give ourselves to be controlled by God, allowing Him to continue His work in us.

So, when Christians are not gentle, kind or patient with others, then we must ask ourselves, “do we remember what God did for us?”  We must examine our lives and ask God to change us from the inside out.

In this century, the ‘bride of Christ’ can become the most influential body, this world has ever seen.  Cultures will change.  Countries will change.  People will desire to seek God, simply because we have allowed God to give us what we cannot do on our own.

We cannot be joyous and not be happy.  If we allow joy to enter our lives, then happiness is the expression of that joy.  Be joyful in the Lord and show others how much He loves them as well.

God bless and encourage someone today.