Islam, Freedom and the Christian Reaction…

The recent, yet unfortunate, current events overseas has allowed the topic of freedom to become the forefront of conversation and publicity.  It also fits into the topic on which I am writing today…Freedom of Speech.

In my last blog, I mentioned that I would go through the Constitution of the United States and one of my first writings was supposed to be on this topic of our 1st Amendment Right, the right to free speech.

At the same time, I would also like to be sensitive to whomever is reading this so before I begin, I would like to make this my preface.  First, I do not agree with the producer and maker of a film that ridicules others religion, race or creed.  Second, I also do not agree with the current response the people of various countries have been showing because they were offended.  Third, I hope that anyone who reads this will understand (but not necessarily accept) how our system works in the United States.

Our forefathers created several documents that make a baseline for how our country is supposed to be run.  The first document that comes to mind was the Declaration of Independence.  The second is the Constitution of the United States of America.  The prior details what our forefathers felt were rights for every human being.  The later shows how we can run our government and separates the rights of the people in view of the structure of government.

The 1st Amendment of our Constitution says the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the  free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right
of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

If you take this at face value you would see a number of items concerning how religion is to be viewed.  First, our lawmakers are NOT allowed to make any laws regarding religion, how it is expressed, discussed or practiced.  Second, lawmakers are not allowed to stop marches or protests as long as they are peaceable.

So what does this mean for us today, especially as Christians who live in the United States?  We may think that it is our right to speak on anything and everything we desire and this amendment may be interpreted that way, but we must remember the circumstances of that day.  Our forefathers came from a society and time, when England felt that if anyone spoke against the King or his kingdom, they immediately were to be killed.  Our forefathers wanted a country that allowed the people of that country to speak what they believed, regarding religion, and didn’t have to suffer governmental consequences.  So how should we apply this for today?

First, our government is not allowed to tell those who have religious beliefs that they cannot express them, even if it offends others.  Can the Christian speak about Christ?  Yes.  Can the Islamic speak about Allah?  Yes.  Can the Hindu speak about their various gods?  Yes.  Can the Atheist speak about they don’t believe in any higher being?  Yes.  Regardless of who you are or what you believe, the United States is supposed to be a place where you can talk, debate and argue religious beliefs without worrying about the repercussions of the involvement of government officials.

Second, the government cannot stop anyone who wants to pray in public, read their Scriptures in public or share their faith in public, even if it offends others.  In an age where political correctness is spoken about, our country should not concern themselves in pleasing everyone.  A brick to our foundation is the concept of this freedom of speech.  We should not apologize about our rights, nor should the government make any comments regarding what individuals say regarding religion, no matter how they feel personally.

When our government makes statements regarding the stance of the United States in areas of protest from other countries, our leaders should never apologize for one person’s incompetencies, ideologies or view of a religious nature.  This would include blasphemy against all religions and beliefs.  The person or people who made this controversial video should now realize the consequences of their actions and do their best to make things right, but our leaders should never apologize for one person’s actions.

I am very saddened to hear about those who have been losing their lives across the world because of one groups stupidity.  My heart and prayers goes out to those families who have lost their loved ones, who represented our country in their jobs, representing the United States of America.

The next portion is addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  I heard your speech and am proud to hear how you stated our country’s 1st Amendment right.  However, I am very concerned regarding how you view this “small group of people” who have been violently protesting due to the idiotic behavior of a small time film-maker.  Mrs. Clinton, if you view the live footage of each of the protests, you will see hundreds and thousands of people marching in the street, setting American businesses on fire, attacking our Embassies and burning our flag.  This “small group” is making a statement that should cause a “red flag” to shine brightly in your mind and should be clear to your eyes.  Religious war is on the horizon.  Today, I have read about violent protests in Sudan and Tel Aviv.  This “small group” of people are not small and make up the majority of many mid-East nations.  The leaders of Iran have clearly stated that the United States and Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth.  The current president of Egypt is trying to show the Muslim Brotherhood that he stands for Islam and not freedom.  The Iraqi Prime Minister has asked that those who made the video be segregated so that they won’t spread their hate filled thoughts and ideas.  Does this sound like a minority of people to you?  Please reconsider what a “small group” of people really means and open the eyes of clarity, as you stated, to see that these people mean harm to U.S. citizens.

With all that said, I feel it necessary to address the Christians as well.  As I am an Evangelical Christian, I know that there are people who ridicule what we believe.  They try to stop us from sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  However, we must consider the following.  Our primary goal is to spread the love of Jesus to others through our testimony of changed lives.  We need not stand against sin as we ourselves come from sin and are sinful to this day.  However, we need to show the love of Christ by serving others.  Does not Revelation show us the warning signs of speaking and not acting?  Does not Revelation show that others questioned God by asking for God to prove that they didn’t serve Him?  What was God’s reaction?  Because they did not feed the poor, cloth the homeless or take care of those in need, they could not be a servant of the King.

Did not the disciples continue to share the Gospel even after being beaten and warned?  Did not the disciples rejoice in their suffering?  Did not Jesus say that when people rejected Him, they will certainly reject us as well?  Were we not warned about suffering trials and tribulations because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Our goal is clear and our sight is focused.  We are to spread the message of life with Jesus Christ to others.  We are not to concern ourselves with the affairs of this world, but the affairs of the Kingdom of God.  I have personally struggled to find a medium between the rights of my citizenship to the United States as well as my responsibility as a citizen of God’s Kingdom.  However, I also find myself realizing the truth needs to be said.

As I am a citizen of these United States of America, I will continue to use my freedom of speech to spread peace-filled messages of hope in Jesus Christ.  I will also continue to stand up for my rights as stated in our Constitution.  However, when my government decide to try and limit my rights toward spreading the Gospel, I will disobey my government.  My heart, soul and mind belong to God and His message of hope and salvation.

Lastly, I must also try to agree both points in this blog.  I do not agree that Freedom of Speech means hate filled words or threatening words.  In fact, I believe it is the opposite.  Our Freedom of Speech needs to come out of our faith in God to develop a world of peace, even though they hate Jesus.  Our Freedom of Speech needs to be filled with love and compassion for those who deny the power of God and the message of Jesus Christ.  Our Freedom of Speech must never dictate the sharing of the Gospel but is a temporary availability given to us by our government so that we can speak, debate and argue our religious beliefs.

Don’t react to what I say negatively.  Just ask yourself this question…Who in the world is spreading a message of peace?  Who in this world is showing the world that it is okay to disagree with your neighbor and not worry about the government getting involved?  Where do you see the love of God in changed lives?  It is only because of Jesus Christ that we can truly say, “I love you” to our enemies.

“Pray for those who persecute you.” – Jesus Christ.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – Jesus Christ.

God Bless and encourage someone today.

30 Million Give Up Their Rights???

I read an article a few days ago and took time to process the scary statistic contained within the article.  The article said that “approximately 30 million evangelical Christians didn’t show up to vote” in the last Presidential Election.  This stirred within me feelings that were very un-Christian yet I also felt compelled to get those feelings in check so that I could write this blog.

In the United States, we have been given the right to vote.  If you were born or are a naturalized citizen of this great country, you are given the right to vote for those in power.  However, when I ask those who tell me they don’t even go out and vote the response I get is the usual one…”I don’t vote because it doesn’t make a difference”.

This is an odd but understandable thought process.  When I inquire further, about their reasoning, they felt that since they voted the last time and their candidate lost, it was obvious that the government chose the leaders.  However, this is simply not the case.

Have there been times where questions arise as to the validity of voters?  Yes.  Has there been a time or two where voting machines have miscounted?  Sure.  But no matter how you view the one or two occasions, voting is an extremely important right that we all need to exercise.

In Scripture, Christians are commanded to obey the leaders over them otherwise we are sinning against God.  (See 1 Peter 2 for context).  Does this mean we have to agree with their stances?  No.  In fact, the disciples showed where disobeying the leaders was okay with God.

In Acts, we see the disciples preaching the Gospel at various places.  When they are brought before the leaders of their day, they are told to stop.  They were beaten and put into prison, yet they left praising God for “they were counted worthy” to suffer for the Gospel.  The only time, we are to disobey our government is when speaking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So how does this coincide with voting?  (What I am about to tell you is a personal belief and is subject to change at any time.)  When Christians decide not to vote and give up their rights, they basically give a “slap in the face” for all who serve our country and disobey God in exercising those rights.

Why would I say that not voting is disobeying God?  Because we are told to submit to the authorities over us.  This doesn’t mean to simply stand and do what they tell us.  However, the word submit has the essence of service.  A similar passage in Ephesians gives us a better understanding.

In Ephesians 5, when the Bible says for “wives to submit to their husbands”, it simply means “wives follow your husband’s lead”.  This does not mean you have to take everything he says and follow it.  But what it does mean is that if the direction he wants to take the family is within the guidelines of Scripture, help and support him in that endeavor.  Can you disagree with him?  Yes.  Can you still give your opinion?  Absolutely.  Can you say that you feel differently and guide him to seek God further before making the decision? Sure.  We, men, need our wives to do these things.  Many times God speaks to us through our wives because we are to hard-headed and deaf to listen to God’s voice.

The same holds true for our leaders in government.  We are to submit to their direction unless it falls outside the scope of God’s Word.  We are to pray for our leaders.  We are to advise our leaders.  We are to let our leaders know we are behind them.  This is the true act of “submission”.  Just as we, men, are sometimes hard-headed and deaf to what God is saying, so are our leaders at times.  (Unfortunately, I think it is more so now than ever, but yet again, that is my opinion.)

This November, we are being given yet another chance to exercise our right to vote.  We are being given an opportunity to obey God and tell our military personnel that we are behind what they are doing.  No matter, who you decide to vote for, just go out and vote.

With this in mind, over the next few blogs, I will be going over the Constitution of the United States and the Amendments in order to show how our society and leaders have sorely fallen away from the original intent of the writers.  There will not be any hate language or “high blood pressure” intentions.  Simply put, it will be a fact driven understanding of what our forefathers intended them to represent, a way for a group of people to be free.

You may or may not agree with what I say in the next few blogs.  That is okay.  You have that right.  However, unlike what our society has been saying recently, I also have the right to write my opinions as well.

This November, don’t give up the rights that many have fought and died for, but go out there and show our leaders that you care about this country and the freedom it represents.  God bless and exercise your freedom today.

If You Don’t Think Your Loved….Read This

Have you ever felt you weren’t loved?  Did you ever have the feeling that the world was against you?  Was there a time in your life you doubted anyone could understand what you were going through?

Many people go through life feeling like no one understands their problems or circumstances.  They think God has some sick plan to torture their life while blessing others.  Depending on our circumstances, maybe we feel lost, lonely and afraid.  Well in this blog, I will show you how much your loved.

The Bible starts out with a book called Genesis, which basically means “the beginning”.  It the start of a series of books that have stories spanning thousands of years.  What became interesting to me was that during the first chapter we see God not only creating the entire universe and life contained within that universe, but we also see God desiring to make human life.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

He had just created all the stars, planets, galaxies, birds, fish and beasts.  Instead of having his own little zoo, he creates people.  Why would He do that?  As we read we find out that God created a man He called Adam.  As God brings the animals to Adam to name, he also observes how Adam interacts with them.  This is when Scripture shows us some insight.

“But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” – Genesis 2:20b

God noted that Adam needed someone and not something.  He saw how Adam interacted with His creation but decided that Adam having no suitable helper was not a good thing.  So God puts Adam to sleep and creates a woman out of Adam’s rib.

Now we have all probably heard this story before, but you may be asking how this shows love toward you or how someone else understands your circumstances?  Well, God saw that Adam needed a helper, not wanted but needed.  There was an unmet need in Adam’s life, a need for a relationship.  Adam desired to be loved.  He desired to have someone else respond to his love toward them.  So the only suitable helper for him was a woman.

Why would God decide to go down this road, especially this way?  Later on, we find Adam and Eve being tempted by a serpent.  After both Adam and Eve sin they hide and cover their nakedness.  Then the Bible says this…

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” – Genesis 3:8

Did you see that?  Both Adam and Eve knew the sound of the Lord.  They knew what God sounded like.  Although not stated, it is a logical conclusion to understand that God, Adam and Eve must have spent some time together.  They knew what His steps sounded like.  For a short time, Adam, Eve and God had a relationship that was right and perfect.  Once Adam and Eve sinned, that relationship was tarnished.

We see more examples of this in Scripture.  We see God calling Abraham into a relationship with Him.  We see God calling a group of people as His own, the Israelites.  We see God spending time guiding His people for forty years in the desert.

In Ezekiel, God gives Ezekiel a mission, to be a watchman for Israel and Judah.  He was told to warn them about their sin.  He tells Ezekiel to be in a relationship with God’s people and take care of them.

Why would God want to create a universe, where one planet has creatures made in His image that rebelled against Him, yet at the same time seeks them out to have a relationship with Him?  Simply, because He loves YOU!

He loves us so much that He sends Jesus to live with us, eat with us and discover life with us.  He loves us so much that Jesus made a conscience decision to live a servants life knowing He would one day have to die a horrible death.  He loves us so much that on the cross, Jesus cries out to God and says, “Father forgive them, because  they don’t understand what they are doing.”  Jesus actually cries out to God to forgive those who tortured Him.

After Jesus died and rose again, he told His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit.  Once the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, they were commanded to leave and tell others about Jesus.  Jesus felt it was so important to have a relationship with us that He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us, discipline us and talk with us.

In fact, Scripture says that Jesus suffered all of what we experience so that we would not be alone in our suffering.  The New Testament commands Christians to be in a relationship with others, telling them about Jesus.

When we look at Scripture as a ‘one story at a time’ view, we miss the actual picture, God seeks to have a relationship with us.  When we look at our circumstances as “one story at a time”, we fail to see how those bad circumstances can be used for a much larger purpose than us.

This past year, I lost a close friend of mine to cancer.  Until his very last breath, he always smiled, praised God and asked everyone who saw him if they knew Jesus.  This was a testimony of God’s love toward mankind.

In the past month, another friend of mine ended up doing things that landed him in prison.  Time after time, people talked with him about the love of God, yet he chose the opposite path.  A day or so ago, his mother told me that he is now reading the Bible, seeking God and “testing the waters” to see how much God loves him.

Two very different stories, with different outcomes, yet one purpose.  To tell the love of God toward mankind.  No matter how bad things get in this world, whether sickness, poverty and even death, God loves us.  He allows each of us to suffer in unique ways for the purpose of sharing His love toward mankind.

Don’t ever give up!  Don’t ever think you are alone.  You are not alone.  Someone out there is going through the same type of suffering as you are.  Just ask God to bring them into your life and show you how much God loves you.

God Bless and encourage someone today.