The Disrespect of Our Disillusion

Tom sat with his head in his open, sweaty hands.  How could he have done this?  What prevailed inside his mind that would allow him to do such a heinous act?  He decided to pour a drink to calm his nerves.  He got up and opened the oldest bottle of scotch he could find.  As he poured himself a double shot, the bottle chattered against the glass.  His hands could not stay still.  His mind raced with thoughts of anger toward himself.  “How could you have done this”, he thought.  “What was it that brought you this far away from reality?”

In the other room, a young lady walked in with a smile on her face and his shirt on her torso.  She graced herself over, grabbed the glass from his hand and took a sip of the scotch.  A kiss from her was placed on his cheek with these words, “That was really special”.  He tried to muster a smile, but could not as he knew he betrayed his love, his wife and the woman before him wasn’t her.

Every decision we make, every word we speak and every thought we think, has a consequence.  Whether good or bad, every action, work or thought has a reaction, a consequence.  We may not see it at the time, but be rest assured, a consequence is there, ready to peak it’s head, like a viper when it is about to strike.

Recently, I have been an observer of social media and news agencies.  I have cautiously not opened myself to a specific political view, social movement or radical divide.  Day by day, I have seen many people, good people, begin the process of drawing a hypothetical line in the sand declaring where they stand and what they believe.  Whether it is about which political candidate you like or whomever lives matter, many of us are going out of our way to declare what we believe to be the truth.  We have been convinced of our reality no matter how disillusioned we are.

This disillusionment has caused us to become a divided nation.  A nation where all conflicting  testimonies are correct, truth has become irrelevant and division among people groups are growing at a rapid pace.  Conflict is on the rise while love is declining into extinction.  All over the news and social media we see the results of this lack of love and increase of hatred and rebellion.  Many have taken to the street to protest in ways that breaks out in violence, fist shaking and gnashing of our teeth.  So how did we get here?  What caused us to be in this global predicament?  Was it a specific people group, ideology or is it human nature to destroy oneself?

Both Christian and Atheist, Buddhist and Islamic, Jew and Greek, have bought into this disillusionment, making each other vulnerable to prejudice and exposure.  We all have allowed our society to fall into an illness that can be likened to terminal cancer.  If we do not turn away from what we have become, we will ultimately bring ourselves into the chasm of death and be buried in the annals of history lost.

Unfortunately, most will exclude this writing as nothing more than someone who is disgruntled or upset with others behaviors without looking at themselves.  Let me make this disclaimer.  What I am bringing up has nothing to do with you or someone else.  It has to do with us.  We are the problem.  All of us are feeding the beast of this culture.  We all are to blame.  No matter our background, no matter our skin color, no matter who we think we are, we are all to blame, including me.

History has shown that when a nation is divided, then that same nation falls at the hands of others not of the same mindset.  Our own history shows how divided we were but the declaration of United We Stand was the war cry for change.  Today that war cry has gone unheard and ignored.  We have become the nightmare of countries and the falsehood of hatred.   Change is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be negative.  A positive change can happen, but it cannot start with us.  It cannot start with any other person from any other nation.  It can only happen when we reserve ourselves to allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform our lives.

“…we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,[b] as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth…” – Colossians 1:4-6 (NKJV)

It is the Gospel that changes lives.  It is the Gospel that bears fruit in our lives.  Only the Gospel can change our hearts and minds to unity and progress.  Because we have forsaken the Gospel, we have forsaken our Creator.  Because we have forsaken the Gospel, our lives are deteriorating into the very pit of Hell.  We have allowed sin to overtake our lives and become our slave master.  We have forsaken the freedom of loving others the way Jesus Christ loves us.  So what is sin compared to salvation in Jesus Christ?

Sin is the chain maker.  Salvation is the chain breaker.  Sin binds us to things.  Salvation frees us.  Sin tells us we are worthless.  Salvation tells us we are worth more than we realize.  Sin leads to death.  Salvation leads to life eternal.

No matter how you feel about society, no matter how you feel about the current social, economic or political environment, sin is the reason we are where we are today.  It has been used by Satan to ensure that our lives are chained to the slavery and division.  Sin has placed in our hearts that some lives matter while others do not.  Sin has told us that one person is a liar and the other is a scam artist.  Sin informed us that one group of people are to blame for the ills of our society.  Let me make sure I am very clear.  Satan is using our sinful lives to bind us, destroy us and ultimately convince us to reject our Creator.

In the words of the famous theologian Francis Schaeffer “How then shall we live?”

“…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will [i]behave properly toward outsiders and [j]not be in any need.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

“19 [a]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” – Matthew 28:19-20

These two passages show us what our lives are really about.  These passages show us that our goal is to live a quiet life, mind our own business and work with our hands.  We are to be productive, kind, loving and ready to serve others.  We are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ by our testimony.  We are to make disciples, not division.  We are to do the work that has been commanded to us.  Did you notice that?  Both of these were commanded.  They were not suggestions.  These are things we are to do.

What I will say next is for those who claim to the servants of Jesus Christ….

WAKE UP CHURCH!  We are not doing what God has commanded us to do.  We do not love others when we bash our government leaders and others via social media.  We are not living how God commanded us to live when we shout from the mountain top about our rights and forget to love those who are lost.  We are living in sin if we do not do the things commanded us.

Our goal in this life is to spread the love of Jesus Christ and make disciples.  That’s it!  We may have the “American right” to speak our peace, but is that the way Jesus handled it?  He didn’t go after the political leaders, he went after those who claimed to be His.  He toppled the tables and drove the money changers away because they had no respect for where God’s people gathered.  He didn’t go after the Roman government or voice his discontent with Caesar.  He simply served others, drew people to Himself, showed them compassion and reprimanded the religious leaders who were enslaving their own people with rules and regulations.

The good news about all of this, is we still have time to turn to God.  We NEED to turn back to God and repent of our lack of love.  We NEED to repent of our sin of division and disrespect.  This country CANNOT change unless Jesus Christ is involved and this country CANNOT change unless WE (the Church) repent of our sin and change how we do things.

If we (the Church) do not change, our country will run the high risk of extinction.  The United States is not mentioned in Scripture nor is it implied.  The United States is not the center of this world but God has used us to further His Gospel all over the world.  His Gospel is the center of all creation, not us.

I hope you understand the tears I shed for us.  I pray that we all change our current travels on the wide path (which leads to destruction) and turn toward the narrow path (which leads to life eternal).  Only Jesus Christ and His Gospel will change us.  Please join me in repenting of our sin and making a positive difference by refraining from passionate division and disrespect.

May God have mercy and grace on us as we all seek to change the direction of this country toward Him.  God bless and encourage someone today.


My Take on Gun Violence and Regulations

Over the past number of months, we have heard about several unfortunate and tragic instances where gun violence took the lives of many.  The young children of Sandy Hook became victims to an extremely unstable individual who did not have the courage to face the penalty of his crimes.

Overshadowing all of this is the discussion on gun violence and gun regulations.  Some claim that our 2nd Amendment allows us the freedom to possess firearms.  Those who uphold to this standard claim that it is a right that was fought for and many others died ensuring that this freedom is not lost.

On the other side of the fence, are those who feel that no person (other than law enforcement or military) should be allowed to have firearms as most people don’t need them.  They feel the 2nd Amendment is outdated and irrelevant.

So with both sides voicing their opinion, I finally felt that I should weigh in.  The problem we face is not one of legal rights or moral rights, it is simply what does the law say and how are we to respond as Christians.  There is no evidence in Scripture that any of the disciples or followers of Christ has weapons when they preached.  There is also no evidence that they did not.

From a Western culture standpoint, we tend to think of Scripture as peaceful and loving.  We have been told that if we are not peaceful and loving that we are not following the direction Christ placed before us.  We tend to cite only those passages which show a timid, loving, turn the other cheek methodology.  Are we to take the abuse and not say something?  Are we not to try and protect ourselves and families from the horrific events of our world?  This is the struggle of the Christian and what we believe.

However, I must admit, that I personally do not believe that life is that simple.  Sickness, natural disasters and unfortunate violence have a tendency to take our lives and flip them upside down.  We tend to think that if there is violence and disaster that God must not love us or decided to take a break from organizing the universe or maybe He doesn’t exist at all in our minds.

In no way am I going to over simplify the debate, nor am I in any way minimizing the gut wrenching emotions and life altering events for those affected, but I would like to spell out a rounded view.

It is true that our 2nd Amendment gives us “the right to bear arms”.  However, there is more to it than just our enjoyment.  Here is what it actually says:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

First, there needs to be a well regulated militia.  Why?  For the security of a free state and doing so, we were given the right to bear arms.  Not only that but what is this “shall not be infringed”?  Basically, it means that this specific right shall not be outdated or violated.  This makes sense in the world in which it was written.

History tells us that during our early years, the British government was trying to infringe on the freedom our ancestors were fighting for.  They tried sanctions, taxes and other means to secure the “Queen’s” country.  In doing so, we were not allowed to do what we wanted for our families.  When the 2nd Amendment was written, it was a security check for keeping the freedoms we have today.  It was written, not as a gun club, but as protection against an oppressive government.  During that time, our forefathers wanted to be sure that no government could try and regulate our freedom.  It wasn’t an anarchical type of freedom, but one that was guided by the rule of law.

So does that mean we should be able to buy, sell or fire any type of weapon we want?  According to the Constitution, my answer would be yes.  However, we must also place common sense as well into this equation.  Are we to say that registration is a bad thing?  Are we to say that safety and understanding are an obstruction to our right?  Certainly not.

Personally, I believe that we need to mandate that all gun owners go through safety courses to protect them and others.  When we educate those on proper handling of firearms or other type of weapons, we allow citizens to exercise this right to bear arms, while protecting those who choose not to.

When you look at the Department of Justice statistics, you see that most violent crimes are not done with weapons, but without weapons.  And those that are weapon related have a small percentage of handguns and rifles.  In fact, there appears to be more violence with knives than with guns, yet we do not see “knife control” on the news today.  If you dig even deeper, most of the violent crimes that had guns involved were committed almost exclusively with illegal guns.  In fact, even the DOJ indicates that most young people who commit violent offenses do so with illegal guns.  Why?  Because it is easier to obtain illegal guns than legal ones!

So where does Christianity play into all of this?  Well, as I said earlier, we tend to think of Christianity as peaceful and loving.  Although this may be true to some regard, let me shed some light on something else.  Did you know that there will come a time (and probably is already here to some degree) that God will allow natural disasters to increase exponentially in order to show us that He is in control?  Did you also know that there will be a time when Jesus returns with a double-edged sword coming to free His people?

I want to be true to Scripture, so I will be as clear as I can.  Sometimes, Scripture can be rated “R” and is not all peaceful and loving.  The focus of Scripture is Jesus.  The message of Scripture (both Old and New Testaments) is God loves us and wants a relationship with us.  So how is it rated “R”?

Throughout Scripture, we see details that are violent, yet justified.  We also see unjustified violence and the horror that follows.  Think about this for a second.  King David was “a man after God’s own heart”, yet he murdered his lover’s husband.  We see a judge named Deborah who “sends a spike through the temple” of her oppressor.  In all of this, we see either God’s judgement or God’s calling to an individual.  To Deborah, it was to free Israel.  To King David, it was a sin that he was judged for.

Our job as Christians is to respect and obey the laws of the land.  Therefore, if the law says that our 2nd Amendment is outdated, we are allowed to speak up, but we ultimately must obey whatever laws are passed.  There is only one area where we are allowed to disobey the law of the land.  If our government tells us that we are not allowed to read Scripture, pray or share Scripture, we are given a clear command to disobey.  The disciples didn’t stop preaching even though they were beaten and warned.  Daniel kept praying three times a day, even though the laws of his land forbid him from doing so.

The ultimate law of all lands is to have a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.  Therefore, we are to do everything in our power to keep that relationship healthy and strong, no matter the cost.  In Hebrews we read about those who lost their lives and kept their faith.  History shows Rome oppressing the Christian Jews, sending them to the Colosseum to be killed by gladiators and lions.  They did not fight for their rights, they just obeyed God in His commandments.

As Americans, we have been given the right to stand for what our forefathers declared as law.  We have the right to voice our opinion and vote for those who stand for what is right.  As Christians, we have been given the freedom to pray and seek God for wisdom.  We have been set free from the oppression of sin and given the ultimate freedom that Christ fought for.

As an American, I believe that our government and news agencies are barking up the wrong tree.  As it is easier to obtain an illegal gun, then the regulations and laws need to be focused on that and not on the legal gun owners.  Legal gun owners have been given a background check and in most cases can’t pick up their weapon until they have been cleared with the federal agencies.  Therefore, the focus should not be on the legal weapons but the illegal ones.

As a Christian, I believe that even though we have the rights based on our Constitution, we do not have the right to disobey our leaders when it comes to these same laws.  We are only to disobey if it interrupts our relationship with God.

Even though I believe we have the right to bear arms legally, I also believe that God is in control and if He decides that our government is to be oppressive in order to fulfill his judgement then so be it.  My personal belief is that if we are losing our rights, then Christians need to stop living their current lifestyle, where no one knows who is a Christian and who is not.  We need to repent and change our lives in order to reflect a God who is drawing others to Himself.  We need to change our lives in order to show others that God isn’t a wimpy God, but a strong, loving, yet jealous God who cares about what and who we worship.

Let’s start by looking into our own lives, as Christians, and ask God to obliterate the sin that so easily entangles us.  Pray, read, study and memorize Scripture in order to do what Scripture says thereby changing our minds to be more Christ-like.

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.

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.