Terror Chains

My life was spent on a ship.  For as long as I could remember, the life on this ship was hard, very hard.  The requirements of our lives encompassed continuous movement.  Constantly moving.  Never stopping.  Every moment of our lives was spent rowing the ship.  No matter how tired we may have been or how sick we felt, rowing the ship was the orders given by the captain.

No one had ever seen the captain.  We had heard he was a ruthless fellow, beating those who question and killing those who rebelled.  Rumors had been spread that the captain was once good and pure.  The story surrounding the captain was mysterious and questionable.  How could this man once be good and pure and yet be so evil.  No one knew for sure, except that if we didn’t continue to row, the whip would make our back bleed.

Every moment of every day, the faceless beings walked up and down, cracking their whips crying, “Row you meaningless dogs!  Row!”  Those who were too weak were beaten until unconscious.  Others who refused to do their task, were first beaten and then placed into the brig, where blood curdling screams could be heard.  We heard rumors about that as well.  Death was assumed, torture guaranteed.  Some would eventually return to their task of rowing with us, while others were never to be heard from again.  Only those who had been there knew, but no one ever spoke about what they experienced down their in the chambers of death.

Those with me were family.  My father was to my right, my mother to my left.  Father was hunched over his section of the oar handle, sick and exhausted.  Mother and I continued to row hoping the faceless crew didn’t notice.  Suddenly the air behind me snapped with authority.  “Row, you meaningless dogs”, exclaimed the faceless beast.  I could then feel the air suddenly retract and then snap with the same authority.  “I said row!  What is this a sleeper?  If you don’t row, I’ll make an example out of you!” shouted the faceless beast.

Each member of the crew was faceless.  No one ever knew how they spoke or how they breathed.  No nose, no mouth, no eyes, yet they saw our every move.  Their body was that of a man, but their voice was lower pitched, raspy and toned with evil, like a serpent that could speak mans native languages.  Their whip was always drawn, their hatred always present.  They stood about seven feet tall.  They wore a simple vest and torn shorts.  Never did they wear shoes for that was a sign of inferiority.

“Father, wake up”, I whispered.

“Silence, you little puppy!  Let your father speak for himself”, exclaimed the faceless beast.

Father didn’t respond, nor did he move.  All that could be seen was a beaten man, hunched over lightly breathing.  “Father, wake up”, I screamed shaking his shoulder.

A slap was heard across the ship, but I felt the impact.  The faceless beast drew his closed hand and struck me on the back of the head.  All I could hear were the muffled cries of my mother as she screamed for help.  A ringing had interrupted all other sound and my sight was blurry and faded.  A few moments later I came to.

“Are you alright honey?” my mother asked with tear filled eyes.

I nodded acknowledging my mother’s question and subsiding here fears.  looked to my right to see where my father was.  Father was still there.  Barely rowing, sweat dripped down his body.  His clothes were drenched in sweat and blood.  He had mustered all of the strength he could find in order to stay out of the brig.  Father had been there once, but like the others, he never spoke about it.  Knowing he was here relieved my fears and nightmares.  I wanted to reach over and give him a hug but could not due to the chains we all bore.

Every slave on the ship had rusted shackles on their wrists and ankles.  Each one was connected to the other.  As I looked down, I could see my feet dirtied with soot, blood and slime.  My wrists were swollen from the incessant rowing.  No matter how much they hurt, I knew I could never stop.

Suddenly, my shackles fell.  What just happened?  I looked around and others had shackles that had fallen.  The chains that held us to the ship had fallen off and no one understood how or why. What if the faceless crew noticed the shackles had fallen?  Would we end up in the brig, the chamber of death?  Questions arose in my mind, but no answer could be held.

“Get up and leave”, whispered the voice inside my head.  Was I to move?  “Get up and leave”, the voice said a second time.  I leaned over to my father and noticed his shackles had fallen off as well.  My mother whispered, “Did you just hear that?  I was just told to get up and leave.”  She had heard the same inner voice that I just experienced.

In an instant, my father regained his strength and grabbed my shoulder.  “Let’s go”, he said to my mother and I.  We stopped rowing and stood up.  The faceless beasts continued to whip the others around us, but seemed to leave us alone.  As we left the benches we were previously chained to, a few observances came to mind.  First, there was darkness all around us.  Never had the daylight breached the thickness of night.  No stars were in the sky, no water beneath the ship.  How were we floating?  Where were we rowing to?  Nothingness appeared to be everywhere.  Hopelessness, despair, fear and trembling surrounded those still chained to the oars.

“Come toward me”, whispered the voice.  All of us looked at each other.  We all had heard it.  Where was it coming from?  “Come toward me.”

As I looked around, I saw a distant beam of white.  It was like a black canvas that had a single bead of white paint.  “There!  The voice is coming from there!” I shouted to the others.  Many others whose chains had fallen began to walk toward the white dot.  I just stood there observing my surroundings, wondering what was happening.

“If you want to live, then come to me”, exclaimed the soft voice.

What did it mean?  Of course I wanted to live.  Life was the very thing that kept me alive for so long.  Each moment that I rowed, I thought of what the possibilities were had I not been on the ship.  I desired to run with other boys my age.  I longed for a time where my mother and father smiled as I played in the park, happy and free.  Life was the very thing that kept me alive.

“If you want to live, come toward me and never look back”, said the voice.

I began to walk with my father and mother toward the dot and then realized we had left the ship.  Desiring for others to join us, I decided to turn back and see if others could be freed.  As I turned my shoulders, my father grabbed me and said, “You heard the voice, son.  Never look back.”

It was then I remembered a story that my father had told me when I was younger.  It was a story about a man and his wife who were told to leave the City of Sin.  The city had been so evil that destruction had crept toward them.  In order for them to survive, they needed to leave.  Unfortunately, the wife desired to return to the City of Sin.  She turned back and took one step when she froze into a pillar of salt.  I knew that I didn’t want to end up like that.  I acknowledged my father’s words and turned toward the white dot.

It had grown into a brilliant light, that was more beautiful than anything I had ever seen.  Peace and joy exuded from the light.  I then noticed that we no longer wore the torn, bloody clothes we had left the ship with.  We now wore robes of white, brilliant white with clean cushioned sandals.

As we walked forward, I could hear the screams of torture and death.  My curiosity desired to see what was happening, but my desire to live outweighed that option.  As the blood curdling screams continued, we entered the light until the screams could no longer be heard.  Now the brilliance, peace and joy surrounded our very being.  Finally, we had entered the promised land, happy and free.

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,and broke away their chains.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” – Psalm 107:13-15 (NIV)


A Boy, a Coat and a Valuable Lesson (Starting Off Life Right – Pt.2)

Have you ever had a sibling that felt it was necessary to rat you out constantly?  What about a kid in school?  Has a co-worker ever told your boss things that makes you look bad?  Well, if so, then you will be able to relate to our next “Life Starter”, Joseph.

A bit of background first….

Joseph was one of twelve sons of Jacob.  He was the 2nd youngest, which means that Jacob was older when Joseph was born.  Eventually, all the sons of Jacob would one day be the “tribes of Israel”.  One day they would be the fulfillment of Abraham’s promise from God.  Unfortunately, Joseph needed to go through some things that seemed difficult.

As I was reading over the story of Joseph, there were a few things that came to mind.  First, Joseph is introduced to us as a “tattle-tale”.  We see that Joseph had ‘spoken badly about his brothers to his father’.  There is no reference as to why, so what I am about to say is strictly ‘opinion’.  I personally believe Joseph was not only immature, but felt that he could go further in life by telling on his brothers.  If not, he was at least not “street smart”.  Obviously, this would make his brothers angry.

Next, we see that Jacob favored Joseph over all his brothers.  In fact, Jacob made a special garment for Joseph.  It was the most beautiful of garments in that day.  No where does it say that Joseph didn’t want it or didn’t wear it.  Later in the story we see that Joseph wore the garment regularly.

Lastly, we see Joseph telling his brothers about two dreams he had.  He had told his brothers that they would one day bow down to him.  But we do not see where God told him to inform his brothers of this.  It was as if Joseph, having these dreams, understood what they were, but because of his immaturity, he decided to brag about them.

So what did his brothers eventually do?  Well, if you hated your sibling that much, what would you have done?  If you are like me, you would not talk with them, cut off all communication with them and regard them as non-existent.  However, Joseph’s brothers wanted to do more than that.  They wanted to kill Joseph.  If it wasn’t for the youngest brother, Benjamin, they would have.  However, Benjamin convinced them to fake Joseph’s death and sell him into slavery.

One day while Joseph was doing his chores, his father asked him to report what his brothers were doing.  Notice it doesn’t say rat out or talk badly, it was simply to be an update.  When Joseph arrived, the brothers jumped him, tore the garment that his father had made and threw Joseph into a pit.  They slaughtered a lamb, dipped the garment into the blood and sold Joseph to an Egyptian.  This is where I personally believe that Joseph started to understand what he had done.

Growing up in a church, I was always told that Joseph was simply being obedient to his father.  However, after reading this story more and more, I am convinced that Joseph didn’t start out life that great.  I also believe that it wasn’t until he was sold into slavery, that Joseph started to understand why all this “bad” stuff had happened.

Despite his rough beginning, Joseph ended his life on the right track.  While he was still young, he worked for a high Egyptian officer.  The officer’s wife wanted to commit adultery but Joseph wouldn’t have it.  Joseph understood that to commit adultery was not just a sin against himself and his boss, but it was a sin against God.  Unfortunately, Joseph ended up in prison because of lies the officer’s wife told.

While in prison, he was regarded highly by the guards and was put in charge of the inmates.  There were two other inmates that were there and were about to be released.  Joseph asked them to do him a favor and mention what had happened to him to the king.  But these two men forgot about Joseph.  It wasn’t until the king had a dream he couldn’t explain that one of them spoke up.

Over time, Joseph was released from prison and became the highest ranking officer (besides the king), in Egypt.  During Joseph’s reign, he was able to bring all of Egypt and his family through a famine. He also confronted his brothers and all was worked out between them.

Now think about this for a moment.  How many times do we go through horrific events only to ask, “God, why is this happening to me?”  I know I’ve asked that question.  What would happen if ‘bad things’ that happen to us were God’s way of preparing us for greater things in the future?  What if the bad was to be turned to good?  Isn’t that one of the promises of God.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (NIV)

If ‘in all things’ means good or bad, then we see here that whether we face good times or bad times, God will work so that it will all turn out good and it will be because of His purpose, not ours.

We may start out life badly or make bad decisions, but God is able to take those bad situations and turn them around to profit the Kingdom.  When we see the kingdom growing because of our bad circumstances, we will be joyous through our trials.

Back in April, I watched a good friend of mine enter the Kingdom of God.  Prior to his death, we would pray with another friend of ours.  It was amazing to see my friend, who was in process of dying, turn to us and say, “It is okay for me to suffer now.  So long as others see Christ in it.”  He was only a Christian for a few years, but learned a lesson that most of us ‘older’ Christians haven’t learned…to trust Christ withe everything.

It was through my friend’s suffering that more people heard about Christ.  Until the day before he died, the visiting nurse had just started and in his pain he asked the nurse, “Do you know who Jesus is?”  She responded, “I’ve heard.”  His response was, “Then we need to talk.  We are going to have many discussions on Jesus.”

Until his last breath, he wanted others to know about Jesus.  This same nurse was there with us when he died.  As I cried as my friends feet, telling him that he did a great job and to let go, she sobbed not understanding what had just happened.  It was right after he took his last breath that I was able to share with her about the love of Christ.  In fact, at least 2 others asked about Christ because they saw something that was strange to them.  Even though we were saddened, we understood that one day we would see each other face to face, rejoicing in what God had done in our lives.

One day, I hope my life ends just as good as my friend’s and Joseph’s.  Our lives may not start out the way we want them to, but remember, it is not about us but about the Kingdom of God.  Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.

God bless and encourage someone today.

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.

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:


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.

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.

The Day Religion Was Abolished…

It’s been a week or so since I last blogged.  Partially because I had what some call “writer’s block” and partially because of pure laziness.  However, as I have been thinking about what to write over the past few days, I thought it might be nice to imagine what some may consider the near future.

In a story I began to write, called Serpula, the main character, Dr. Jordon Ronnel, had to deal with many mentally ill patients who thought they could speak to plants and animals.  He was an educated man, who knew what was best for his patients.  His story begins with his remembering his childhood.  His father was an abusive alcoholic and his mother believed that she could talk with animals and plants.

Over the years, he had to deal with this fact, his mother must have been mentally ill.  He learned that this belief in speaking with animals and plants was a notion that came from an ancient religion called “Fatherism”.  Unlike the other world religions, this one taught that, another character, Father, made everything seen and unseen.  The followers of Father were called Children.  Allegedly, Father gave his children the ability to understand things that no one else could understand.  They could read and see things that others could not see or understand.  So society called then mentally insane.

During the course of time, Dr. Jordon Ronnel, starts to hear the same things his mother had spoken.  As Dr. Ronnel tries to understand this mental illness, he is confronted with one fact that no one else understands.  Why was religion abolished?

In this story religion had been abolished because of the conflict that different religions had caused.  One religious belief conflicted with another so those societies decided to go to war.  Others felt that they were made to believe their religion, but the government decided not abolish all religion.

So the question of the day is, “What would you do if religion was abolished?”

In the Bible, Daniel had to deal with this problem.  Daniel was known for his wisdom and knowledge.  He was known for doing the right thing, all the time.  Unfortunately, there were some in his day that believed Daniel was incorrect and wanted him dead.

“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss.  Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.” – Daniel 6:1-5 (ESV)

So what did these men do?  They convinced the King to make a law that said “If anyone prays to any god other than the king, they would be sent to the lion’s den”.  AMAZING!  But Daniel decided to continue his time of prayer…

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” – Daniel 6:10 (ESV)

Daniel decided that it was more important to do what God said rather than listen to men.  His decision did cost him.  Daniel was caught praying and thrown into the lion’s den.  There God closed the mouths of the lions (which if you study history is a miracle of itself as those lions were starved purposefully) and Daniel just sat there.

Ultimately, Daniel was released and his accusers were thrown into the same lion’s den where they did not have the same fate as Daniel.

Again, I ask the question, ‘What would you do if religion was abolished?”  It sounds like a far fetched question, but the realization is that it is possible.  It has happened before and probably will happen again.  So what would you do?  Would you give in and never worship again?  Would you defy the law and continue what you know to be right and true?

These questions are the type of questions I ask myself on a regular basis.  They help keep me strong both mentally and emotionally.  They also allow me to take a “gut check” on what I really believe.  I hope that sometime today, you will take the time to ask yourself the tough questions.  This way, if someone ever asks you, “What do you believe”, you can say with strength, “I know this is true…”

God Bless and encourage someone today.