Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Faith, without works, is dead.

October 2, 2017

 HurricaneMaria

Hurricane survivors receive food and water being given out by volunteers and municipal police as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 28, 2017 in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-26New King James Version (NKJV)

I’m a huge proponent of prayer. Not as a last resort, but as a first offense. Growing up, whenever we were faced with a major obstacle, the first thing my mom would do is have us pray. Then we got to work. Now people seem to want to substitute prayer for work.

I’ve said before that scripture, God’s Word, has POWER. It can give you wisdom and insight when you need it. It will raise hopes, bring comfort, and give one the courage and strength to persevere in hard times. However, Christians render it powerless when we utter it as simple platitudes, using it to absolve oneself from taking action to help another or to allow evil to flourish unchallenged. By using it as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card – putting the focus and responsibility for action and change on the prayer, rather than ourselves – we rob God’s Word of its power, and bring no real comfort to those who need it.

This past month, we have seen three major hurricanes, and today a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Millions have lost their homes, their way of life. Entire cities have been flooded. The island of Puerto Rico been leveled. The US Virgin Islands and other islands are also devastated. Lives have been lost. American lives. Beneath this we have the undercurrent of social unrest: NFL protests and counter protests around the killings of unarmed and often innocent black Americans, and the attempt to deflect from and obscure this issue by using the military, the American flag and our National Anthem as coded euphemisms to tell black folks to stay in their place. We also have the perception that Puerto Rico and other places are not getting aid faster or to the degree of other storm ravaged areas, because they are populated by POC.

I understand that there are some who are not in a position to do much in a hands-on fashion. They can’t travel to devastated areas to personally help. They donate, if they can. They bring awareness, offer prayers, sympathy, positive thoughts. These are good things. I know things take time. Life isn’t a TV show where get a resolution to a problem in 60 minutes, minus commercials. However, from my elected officials, I expect MORE than prayers and positive thoughts. I expect solutions, action, accountability – and the ability to show their work.

We have men and women, on our payroll, who are in a position to fund aid, spur recovery efforts, and save lives. They can enact, abolish or change laws to this end. They can make sure that the people they are approving for appointments to cabinet and other positions are knowledgeable and will be capable of doing their jobs. They can ensure that Americans can exercise their second amendment rights, AND take steps to keep the public safe. If they have the will do it.

Instead we repeatedly get responses like this:

 

Empty platitudes.

 

If the President would rather play golf than staff government agencies, congress and their staffers can recommend people. It’s not like the President knows or cares about the details. He will sign off on whomever they put before him. I don’t want to hear how government doesn’t work, when there is no one in place to run it.

I was raised to believe that part of America’s greatness is based on her being a “Christian Nation”. That the reason we made so much progress and were the leaders in innovation was because we had wisdom from the mind of Christ and adhered to biblical principles. In recent years it seems to me that Christians, at least the vocal ones getting all the attention, are more in love with the idea of Christianity and it’s ideals, than actually being a participant in the life. Life. Not lifestyle.

So, when there are children who are hungry, sick people who cannot get medical care, hurricane victims homeless and starving, and victims of gun violence lying injured and dying, I expect more than prayers and well wishes from our leadership. Leaders, who have the power to make things better, but are choosing or refusing to exercise it. What actions are being taken on behalf of the people they were elected to serve? Prayers are needed and welcomed, but what “works” are there to support the prayers?

The bible teaches us that faith, without works, is dead. As a “Christian Nation”, our actions should attest to our commitment to the principles and ideals we hold dear. Even secular people recognize that actions speak louder than words. If America were a person, and someone accused her of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to prove it?

 

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Pregnancy from “Legitimate” rape: God’s will? My two cents…

October 25, 2012

By now you’ve probably heard the latest ruckus over another GOP hack presuming to know what is best for every woman in America, possibly the world. Back in August, it was Todd Akin with his “legitimate rape”  comment, where he asserted that women have the innate ability to prevent unwanted pregnancy if they are actually, really, truly, LEGITIMATELY being raped.  Thousands of years on the planet, billions of rapes since the inception of mankind who knew that all this time women held the key to preventing unwanted pregnancies?  Got raped and got pregnant? Well you ENJOYED it, you slut you. So not only are women being held responsible for the rape (wrong place, wrong time,  inappropriate clothing, no male chaperone, you didn’t say “No!” like you REALLY meant it, or you did but you didn’t MEAN it) but now we also responsible for not being able to control our biology. I’ve yet to learn if a man rapes a woman and he WANTS her to become pregnant, if his biology overrules her biology, you know with the menfolk being superior and the ultimate authority and all, but I digress.

After Akin I thought I’d heard it all, but this week Richard Mourdock took it one step further. To add to the concept that if a pregnancy results from a rape, it was not “legitimate”, come to find out  it’s God’s will, too.  Mourdock said, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

As a Christian,  and a woman, I’ve also struggled over the desire to please God and be a “good” Christian, and the desire to control my own destiny, my own body and apply biblical principles to modern issues. It’s has not always been easy. Even if I’ve not been able to live it fully,  I was  taught, and I believe,  1Corinthians 6:19-20:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

That passage deals with sexual immorality, but the principle has been used and applied to other facets of the Christian life.  Then there is Jeremiah 1:5:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

And let us not forget Psalm 139:13-16:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Now to be fair, I believe Mourdock when he later said that he meant the pregnancy was God’s will, not the rape. We are taught, and I believe,  that God, though not the source of evil,  will use evil done to us for our benefit and can take the bitterness out of a situation. As Roman 8:28 states:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  I’ll get back to that in a moment, but first I’d like  submit to you a few things for your consideration:

First, if we go by biblical standards, death of a child before it was fully formed and able to survive on it’s own was not considered murder.  In Exodus 21:22 When men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage, but no further injury, the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman’s husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges. If a fetus dies before being fully formed and able to live outside a woman’s body, it was a fine, not a capital offense such as murder would have required. So according to scripture, abortion would not be murder. (Note: not everyone agrees that this is the proper interpretation of this scripture) I think the partial birth abortions qualify, but not the standard ones that are performed. Since the bible says the life is in the blood there has been some saying that life begins when blood forms in the fetus, but that was never the traditional view for Jews or Christians. Traditionally life began with the first breath. In Gen 2:7 man was fully formed, but didn’t become alive until the breath of God entered. …then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. According to scripture you are not a living human being until you draw your first breath and your soul enters. Now people say, “well that was then, now we have modern technology and we know when the heart starts beating, ” and so on and so forth. Either the bible is infallible or it’s not.  God created man. Our biology is not new to Him. He didn’t need ultrasounds to be created to figure out when the heart starts beating.  You mean to tell me He didn’t know how what He put together worked? Any other time science is opposed to God, but now they want to use technology. I’m not saying I agree or disagree, I just wish they’d be consistent.

Second, God is not powerless. God, we are taught,  is all-powerful and  “all knowing”.  He has seen the end from the beginning. Though He allows us free will, He knows what we are going to do before we know we are going to do it. He knows who will live and when, and who will die. If it is meant for someone to live, they WILL live, against all odds: Moses had a purpose. When Pharoh ordered all newborn Hebrew sons killed, not only was Moses spared, he was raised in Pharoh’s household.  Jesus had a purpose. When King Herod ordered all the male children in Bethlehem to be killed, God warned Joseph in a dream, warned the wise men via an angel, and got Jesus to safety.  Man cannot thwart the divine will of God. If you have any fear regarding this, you underestimate God.

Now,  I do believe that God can turn any bad situation around.  I believe all things work together for good. If ever in any situation I have cause to give council, it will be on the side of life. I’m pro-choice not pro-abortion.  Religious upbringing aside,  if there is anyway possible to have the birth brought to term, then that is my preference.  There is adoption, and other family members who will often step up and provide a home. I’m not naive enough to believe though that another woman is mentally stable and  has the support and/or resources to make that choice. Nor do I believe that if she makes the choice to end a pregnancy that it could be done lightly under ANY circumstances, let alone after having been raped.

First, there is the trauma and anger over the rape. Assuming the woman reported it and was believed (and not blamed), she may not have a support network who can help, or the ability and resources to seek counseling. She not only often has to deal with the unfounded shame of the rape (the meme it was her fault),  but then have the additional trauma of a daily reminder as her body changes and she is forced to carry with her a part of her rapist,   and the shame (though not as prevalent today) of an out of wedlock pregnancy. If she was married and someone raped her, she has to deal with all of this and try to keep her marriage together.  I’ve yet to hear men speak of how they would deal if their wives were raped and became pregnant, how they would feel about keeping and raising the child.  Often the ones the most vocal about restricting a woman’s rights, are the most hypocritical when they are in a situation where an abortion is to their benefit. You abuse it, but when it is their wife, their daughter, their sister, their mistress, then it is necessary.

Second, there is the economic impact. Gone are the days where Doc Johnson stopped by to make the delivery and then the stay-at-home-wife’s mother and friends helped with the care until she could get back on her feet tending house. It cost’s thousands to have a child. Married couples with good planning and insurance struggle with the expense. And contrary to popular belief, a woman doesn’t get get raped and then hop up and go on about her merry way as though it is an everyday occurrence.  So assuming the rape victim doesn’t get fired for missing days as a result of her trauma, and has good health insurance since the GOP wants to end medicaid and Obamacare , and even the contraception that could have possibly prevented the pregnancy, she and therefore the child, could end up in poverty. Also since the GOP also wants to end programs that can help women get out of poverty, such has food stamps, headstart, pell grants etc.,  they will most likely STAY in poverty. Wealthy women have always had a few more options.  Whether it is being sent/going away to give birth, or traveling where medical procedures are legal, they have the resources to minimize  negative outcomes  of unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.  (Side note: If you actually think there is a majority of women using abortion as birth control after the fact, make sure actual birth control is available. I know religious folks hate anyone getting freaky outside of marriage but newsflash, this behavior is not new and not everyone is Christian where they should be held to biblical standards in the first place.)

It is not my intention to give anyone a “free pass” for any behavior. However I realize that every situation is different and none of them are as cut and dried as men trying to dictate reproductive  policy seem to think they are.  I’ve not even touched on situations where there is incest or the rape victim is a minor. I can’t say whether it is right or wrong for someone to end their pregnancy. If she doesn’t will the child grow up abused, unloved, poor or on a path to prison? Even two parent homes have this outcome. Will they be they discover the cure for cancer or be the next Barack Obama? Who knows. All I know is that it is a personal decision.  One between a woman, her doctor and God.  I respect the views of Mourdock and others who wish to preserve life.  I agree with the need to do so, though I believe this is better served with preventing the “need” for an abortion. (Education, contraceptives, family planning, programs to help once a child is born) I just don’t respect the way they go about it, forcing others to share their views, when they have no clear authority, moral or otherwise, to do so. God gives free will, I don’t know why the GOP is hell bent on trying to legislate it away.

There is no “war” against women

April 11, 2012

War by definition is an open conflict between two or more parties. One may have more and better resources or be more strategic, but  everyone generally  has a good idea of what’s going on, knows they’re in a war and acts or reacts accordingly. Most women are just now being made aware of some of the awful legislation being passed during the last 2-3 years, and are still not aware that it is part of a concerted effort across the 50 states.  A better analogy when it comes to this onslaught against women’s rights would be shooting fish in a barrel. The fish being our basic rights and freedoms and the shooters being politicians seeking to push more of a religious ideal, rather than acting on a political mandate to meet the desires of a majority of their constituents. Oh, and instead of using ammo, they’re using dynamite and blowing our democracy all to hell.

Most of the rights under fire are in relation to our health and reproductive choices. There is the bid to redefine rape. Some want to make it legal to kill doctors who provide abortions.  Others want hospitals to let  women die rather than provide an abortion that would save their life.  Not to mention allowing doctors to lie to women about their health and the health of their unborn child if they think it would prevent a woman from choosing to abort.  Media Matters has a list of more, but I don’t think it is a comprehensive list. I was somewhat taken aback when a t.v. pundit referred to some of these actions as treating women like “second class citizens”, as I’ve always associated that term with treatment toward racial groups,  but after Wisconsin got rid of their equal pay law, I think it might be appropriate.

The Catholic Church says contraception is against God’s will, but viagra is not. Rick Santorum says contraception is a license to get buck wild outside of marriage. I guess no married couples hold off having kids to when they can be responsible and afford to take care of them properly. Man cannot thwart the will of God. If you are meant to be born, you will be.  I’ll take Rick, the rest of the GOP and the Catholic Church seriously when they propose restricting viagra. I call on the republican members of congress to propose an amendment to the ACA and modify their own healthcare insurance polices so that viagra is covered only for married men who have not  had a vasectomy and whose wives are of child bearing age, uterus intact and no known infertility conditions and likewise for the Catholic Church to only cover viagra for married couples that meet that criteria.

I’m getting REALLY tired of men trying to regulate my and the rest of womankind’s “naughty” parts. It just brings to mind all the ways that women are supposed to be the sultry seductress causing “righteous” men to stumble.  They are never responsible for their own actions. The devil made them do it. Like they need any help from us or him. I’m tired of all the language around all these bills implying women are vapid, devious, can’t make their own (sound) decisions, are willing to call rape at the drop of a hat and desire to use abortion as a form of birth control. We can and have the right to make our own decisions to decide and provide for our futures. At least for the time being.  My question is: If God gives free will, why are men trying to take it away?

Dear Christian Fox News Viewers…

January 11, 2011

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…

Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people

This is an open letter to my fellow Christians. I’ve had most of this on my mind for a while, but the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and 18 others this week, finally made me sit down and compose my thoughts.  Most of this is random so forgive me if I ramble.

You may or may not identify as conservative, you may or may not be a Fox News viewer. Fox News isn’t the issue so much as how we consume, digest, and react to current events in the world, and whether or not it lines up biblically as to what is expected of us as Christians. I use Fox News as an example mostly because they are seen as the news outlet for the “religious right”.  Much of the  anger I hear about tends to stem from stories they put forth with the notion that Christians and our nation are under siege via a concerted effort on the part of the present administration to put other faiths above Christians, or an effort to turn us away from being a “Christian Nation”.  Also because, in my opinion, they have been the source of much of the chaos, confusion and disinformation floating around in the political arena and spilling over into our daily lives.  What I’m about to say applies to all sources of information, not just Fox.

Now, you may already be put off. I’ve noticed a habit of automatically going on the defensive when it comes to discussing Fox News, however Fox News is not sacred. What they say is not gospel. We must be careful not to be deceived.  Not everyone who uses a Christian cause, or calls to rally Christians to a cause, has good intentions. If we are instructed to test and try the things of God (Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1, Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:14) then certainly it is not unreasonable to vet that which is of the world. It is our responsibility to use wisdom to discern truth.

The first thing I’d like to do is make a distinction between news and commentary.  As commentary can be used to manipulate us, it is important to make this distinction. I consider news to be “just the facts ma’am”:  Who, what, where, when, why and how. Just straight reporting. Commentary digests (hopefully) the facts, and then explains or interprets and basically puts out an opinion on those facts and can include thoughts as to what that means, opinions on motives or how you should react. Commentary can advance a personal agenda, issue a call for action, among other things, for good or for ill.  There is nothing wrong with commentary in and of itself. There are several news personalities who are also commentators whom I enjoy.  In the case of Fox News, the station is labeled “news” but much of what is said is commentary. The problem comes in when we cease to think for ourselves. I think we have gotten mentally lazy. I think sometimes we are so over worked and overwhelmed that we want someone to tell us what happened and what to think about it. There is no harm in getting counsel to form opinions and make good judgements. The danger lies in allowing others to think for us, therefore controlling our minds and actions, taking away our free will.

The next thing I’d like to do is cover some basics as to how we are to walk in the world.

First, we are to fear not.  The God we serve is not a God of fear. In the bible we are told over and over to “fear not”. (There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18; The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1)

God is not the source of fear. We are not to live under a spirit of fear, which is a form of bondage. Jesus died to free us from bondage. Therefore, if anyone is using fear to get results, this is manipulation, some might say Satanic manipulation. This is not to say there are not things to have concern or even alarm over, this is not to say we should be passive in the face of evil or true threats. It is to say we need to think clearly and rationally, which a fearful mind cannot do. Our nation is so ginned up on fear, that it is being burnt out. By the time something shows up that we should truly be alarmed about, we will either be too numb or over saturated with fear about other things to discern it.

We are to be known for the love we have for one another. ( We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1 John 3:14; If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20;  A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34)

The God we serve is a God of Abundance. He created all things, He is the Source of all things. He is the source of the blessings in our lives.  He delights in blessing us. (The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10; Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17;  Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:5; For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11) We do not need to fear lack, or have fear of someone depriving us of the good God has for us.

We are expected to do good for others. We are expected to look after the poor.  We are expected to be kind to strangers/foreigners. (This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3;  if there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. Deuteronomy 15:7; You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land. Deuteronomy 15:10,11)

We are to seek wisdom and knowledge.  We are to value learning, study and be curious about the world around us. (Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7; The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace. Proverbs 3:35;  He that gets wisdom loves his own soul: he that keeps understanding shall find good. Proverbs 19:8;  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children. Hosea 4:6 this refers to knowledge of God but the principle applies to all things. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20; Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1; An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge Proverbs 18:15)

One thing that has been disturbing to me lately is the apparent embrace of  ignorance by Christians. There seems to be an almost concerted effort to keep us fearful, ignorant, and anti-science. I’ve seen people say we should be distrustful of anyone who speaks a foreign language. Schools in some states are eliminating “ethnic studies”. There has been an attack on science, as though it is in conflict with Gods word. I wasn’t raised this way. I don’t know where this meme came from or when it originated, but it is so main-stream that even non-Christians have taken note. Let me first say, there is nothing in the creation that will disprove the Creator. If you fear this, see my earlier take on fear, and examine your faith. The bible says that nature declares the glory of God. My mom always told me that science was man’s way of discovering what God had already created. God is a God of order. He is the Creator of both spiritual and physical laws. Being a God of order, it only makes sense that there are laws that can be observed, patterns that can discerned. As God is constant, His laws are constant. Actions and reactions can be studied, and reproduced. (science).   God had given the Jews many laws and rituals, some were cleanliness rituals that included the washing of hands in running water. I read once that in the 14th century when the plague was prevalent, the Jews were not as greatly affected because of the laws that they followed regarding cleanliness. As we advanced, through science, we learned about germs, bacteria and viruses that are naked to the human eye, but which can cause illness and often be avoided by basic hygiene.  Science saves lives. Science does not negate the benefit of God’s wisdom. It can even allow us to understand it, and through this understanding, all can benefit, Christian and non-Christian alike. God is a Creator. We are children of God in His image. We have the mind of Christ. How can we not be creative, build and discover new things? Christians, if no one else, should be able to observe and break down the structure of the world to it’s smallest molecule and explain to the rest of the world the marvelous order of God.

The great commission that we have is to go out into all the world and preach the gospel of Christ.  How do you do that if you cannot communicate? Do we wait until others learn our language? Americans in general can be very arrogant. We expect to be catered to, we expect to have a level of comfort and acceptance. I’m guilty of this, too. Most missionaries go out and live among a people. They learn their ways, earn their trust. Let their character be revealed, do good, (including bringing lifesaving science and medical help) and share God.  Even Paul did this back in his day.  (As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9) Stop fearing people. We can’t share God if we don’t get to learn and  know one another, we can’t get to know one another if we separate ourselves.

We are to pray for our leaders. (I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness 1 Timothy 2:1-2) One of the most hateful things I had seen was the call for Christians to pray “for” President Obama using Psalm 109:8. (May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.)  I’ve yet to see someone explain how this represented the love of God, or was in line with the meaning of the original scripture.  One of the most idiotic things I’ve seen was the call for Christians to pray for Obama, a self-professed Christian, to give up his Muslim ways and convert to Christianity. Actually, that is tied with Obama having to be stopped because he is the anti-christ.  Let me start by saying that NO ONE IS BORN CHRISTIAN. Christian is not a race or nationality. Your parents Christianity will not grant you salvation by birth. Being born American does not equate to being born Christian. We all must accept Christ on our own. That said, there is no stamp on the forehead that identifies one as a Christian. We know each other by our fruits, but the only thing you have is someone’s word that they have accepted Christ. President Obama says he is Christian. He may not be “Christian enough” for your satisfaction, but that is your problem not his. Running around with a cross pin, bible in hand and a fish sticker on your car does not make one Christian.  I do pray for President Obama. I pray that he and his family are protected. I pray that he is given and heeds Godly wisdom, and that decisions that are made come out to be the best for our country and in God’s will, even if I cannot at first see the wisdom or logic in them myself.  Now for years every bible prophecy expert worth their salt has said the anti-christ will emerge from the European union.  Suddenly Obama shows up and he’s the anti-christ. Ok. Let’s assume he is. Now, tell me what we as Christians are supposed to do about it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

If  he is the anti-christ, we can’t destroy him. There is a bunch of ugliness that is foretold which cannot be changed, the coming of the anti-christ is one of those things. If you truly believe he is the anti-christ, that means you should be doubling down on your efforts to bring the word of God to the world. This is not to mean we are not to resist evil in the world, we should always work for good, but fearing the anti-christ, like fear in general,  is another one of those things that should not be on our agenda.

We are to spread the gospel of Christ to help others be reconciled to God and represent the love of God to others. (And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:15,16) One thing I don’t think many Christians recognize is the amount of harm that has been done to people in the name of Christianity. Whether or not the perpetrators were “true Christians” can be argued until the end of time, but the fact remains, there are people who have been scarred for life because of experiences at the hands of Christians or other representatives of our faith. Whether it is the molestation of children by priests, psychological scars from a legalistic guardian that didn’t understand the love of Christ, someone who had the word “beaten” into to them, punished for not learning scripture or any other number other reasons, for some the church equals pain. It takes time to get past this, sadly some never will. You have your own experience that may be glorious. They also have theirs which may be the stuff of nightmares.  How many homosexuals see the bumper sticker “GOD HATES FAGGOTS” or hear “kill the gays”? God doesn’t hate “faggots” or anyone else. This is against scripture. (For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16;  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8)  He hates SIN.  Sin keeps us separated from and out of fellowship with God. What incentive does one have to seek God if they already think up front that He won’t accept them? There is not one sin greater than another. You are not less sinful if you are cheating with someone of the same sex vs “bumping uglies” man to man.   “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Stop acting like there are degrees of sin. Either you miss the mark or you don’t.   You are not helping bring the lost to Christ so stop. Just stop. That goes triple for Westboro Church.

Words have power. We can also know a persons character by the words they use. (You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34; The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45;  The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 12:23,24; Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21; There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18; Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29; I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37)  I saved this for last but it is really what is uppermost in my mind at the moment. Over the past 2-3 years I have seen an onslaught of lies, hatred, bigotry, racism, etc. spewing from our national discourse, with Christians leading the chorus. Most of the outcry was based on outright lies and distortions, lies and distortions that could have easily been rebuked with a 30 second google search, or the viewing of an actual news report sans commentary. I’ve seen calls for “second amendment remedies”, “the ballot or the bullet”, calls to water the tree of liberty with the blood of our elected representatives. We’ve seen the emergence of a “tea party” who say they are modeled on the original tea party (no taxation without representation) against higher taxes. Well, if we are in fact paying fewer taxes than at anytime ever before, and have elected representation, they  may have legitimate reasons to organize, but it can’t be for that reason.  I have to take breaks from the news at time, and I don’t watch the shows that would bombard me 24/7 with hatred and fear.  We’ve been asked not to “politicize” the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, but she was a political target and as the majority of this hate is rooted and being spread in a political arena, to gain political advantage, I don’t think we can or even should separate it. There is a saying:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

We know that the repetition of affirmations work. We know that reading the bible renews our mind. We have come out against rap music and violent video games because being exposed over and over can have an effect on our mindsets. Why is the hatred and calls to violence uttered by commentators on Fox News and other right ring radio stations day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, any different? You know someone by the fruit they bear. (Love, joy, peach, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) Well Satan (the accuser of the brethren) has traits too.  (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8; The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy John 10:10) Use your minds. Are you listening to a news report, or a list of criminal charges?

Extra Random:

~We are stewards of the earth. Yes, God said he would not destroy the world by flood again, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have the free will to make it virtually uninhabitable in the mean time. I’m not against oil drilling, but if we don’t drill responsibly we will destroy the food supply. Bee’s are dying. Birds are dropping out of the sky. The nature we have been entrusted to protect (not worship) is being destroyed. Whole towns have poisoned drinking water,  yet we want to be against epa and other  regulations that would keep us safe.  The oil is not going to last forever. Most agree that every dollar we spend is helping terrorists who want to destroy us, yet we are against green energy. Why would we reasonably be against something that would create jobs,  meet our needs without damaging the earth, and keep us independent so that we can actually remain sovereign since we profess to value sovereignty so much? God gave us other resources: wind, water, sun. Why not use them?

~Jobs are scarce. When this happens people blame other people. We become cliquish. God is abundant, He can supply our needs, and I truly believe if He has a blessing for me no one can block it.  That said we also need to be conscious of what is going on in our country. The jobs are leaving our country, and every effort to correct this is being opposed by (mostly GOP) congress members. The 9/11 bill for first responders was not passed before because it closed a tax loop hole for corporations that send jobs overseas.  It only passed after they found another way to pay for it. We need know why our representatives are looking out for the welfare of other countries but not our own. Well, we already know, it’s about money. We have a problem and blaming the average fellow American is not going to work. Our representatives aren’t working on our behalf to make our lives better.

~Our representatives are elected by the entire USA, not just the Christian electorate. They are there to serve all of us. There are some agendas they are pushing toward that I don’t agree with. There are some things going forward that I do think could cause spiritual repercussions for our country, however it is not our place to subject non-Christians to a code of conduct of a God they don’t serve. This does not mean we should not fight for our values, or fight to keep a moral conduct, or raise our children to think that anything goes,  but we need to realize that we aren’t the only faith being served by our government. We need to stay out of people’s bed rooms. Their sins, like our sin, is no one’s business but God.

~We also need to get a grip on some of the freedoms we have let get stripped away as a result of the terrorist attacks on our country.

I’m sure I’ll have other thoughts later, but I want to stress to you to examine what is presented to you. Even trusted sources get it wrong once in a while.  No man is perfect. Pastors fall into sin. Even those with good intentions can use scripture to their own ends. Weigh what you see and what you hear against the word of God, be mindful of what you expose yourself to. If your thoughts are fearful, you don’t just stop thinking them. Replace the fear with the word of God so that you may see and hear clearly. I strongly suggest a study of Galatians: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.


Eddie Long Pt 2: We Are To Worship God, Not Man

September 25, 2010

As I was saying earlier, there is a rock star mentality in the Church now days, where church leaders are almost like celebrities. Jesus is the Rock Star, however you would not know that to go to many of the churches today. Often the pastor is the object of all the adoration. I have much respect and reverence for men and women of God. I like nothing more than to sit at the foot of someone who can dispense Godly wisdom. However we are to worship God, not the pastor. We always brag about our religion. We aren’t like the others, we don’t worship wooden or golden idols, we have a LIVING God. It sounds good, but human nature is human nature. We like to have an object of focus, so often the pastor has become the idol. God will not share His Glory, so it will never last long, but this is a common occurrence.

To the saints:  this is yet ANOTHER wake up call. Worship God not man. Do not go into despair, do not say to yourselves, “if a man as great as Bishop Long cannot follow the precepts of God, what hope is there for me?” This isn’t about Bishop Long’s relationship to God, it is about your own. If your spiritual stability is dependent on the spiritually stability of anyone but you and God, then you have problems. Men cannot solve these problems, seek God.

Likewise, do not be proudhearted and look down on Bishop Long. Just because you do not have a problem in a certain area, does not mean you do not have other strongholds. ANYONE can sin. In fact, it’s just a matter of when and under what circumstances. You do not know anyone else’s history, or weaknesses or how they were tempted.

Now, this is the part where I get hate mail and accused of blasphemy.

Yes, I believe homosexuality is a sin. However, I do not believe it is any greater or lesser than any other sin. Do you lie, cheat on your spouse, have sex outside of marriage? Well, congratulations! Sin-wise you’re in the same boat as homosexuals.

While I do not believe a homosexual lifestyle should be encouraged or promoted, I also do not believe that those individuals should be singled out, discriminated against, marched against, violently attacked, stoned, or kicked out the church, etc.. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but politically I can support civil unions. I don’t discount their love for one another. I’m not going to belittle them and tell them what they feel isn’t “real” because it isn’t love for someone of the opposite sex. I understand the reasoning that love is love, regardless of gender. I understand the confusion, despair and desire for approval when people ask, “If God is a God of love, how can He be against this?”  The bible says, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to destruction.” I don’t know the reason it is sin, but it is, and I trust God enough to believe that it is sin for my benefit and not to keep me from experiencing something really good.

I think that the Church’s answer to homosexuality is to shame the individual. To get them to renounce what they see as a natural part of themselves, and if they can’t do that, then they ostracize them. After all, if they TRULY believed in God, REALLY had a heart after God, then they could put that part of themselves away, right? All they have to do is read the right scriptures, say the right prayers. If they can’t overcome it, then they are weak, it is THEIR fault. They just aren’t trying hard enough. How come the Church can understand, and often even condone, other forms of sin, but not the sin of homosexuality?  Easy: its not their weakness, not their poison.

Now, here is where the blasphemy comes in, or the calls for a padded room, depending on if you are a believer or not. I believe I had a revelation though, so I’m going to share it. I have no scriptural basis for this, just my own thoughts/opinion/personal revelation.

The first time I ever heard God speak, actually the second but the first time I realized Who it was, was several years ago. I was going through a very hard time. I had lost my job. I was depressed. I was preparing to leave the next day to go to Switzerland, as my sister had sent for me to get me out the States for a month or so. I was very emotional, and stopped at the store for a few things. Browsing the books I came across God.com by James Alexander Lanteaux. I read the cover liner and started crying. Driving home, God spoke a promise and a blessing to me. My first thought was, “Where did THAT come from? It wasn’t my thought, it was transposed over my thoughts. In my mind, but not my mind. Once I realized Who it was, my spirits lifted and gave me encouragement. I couldn’t stop smiling. I finally understood what the bible meant by the “still, small voice”. I really needed that word to keep me going. It did and still does encourage me.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the book was about James’ relationship with God, hearing God speak and obeying God.  Had I not had that experience of hearing from God at the time I bought the book, I would have dismissed it. You always hear people say, “God told me this, God told me that”.  Not having experienced it, I would always be like yeah…um…ok…as I back away a little, or if I believed them, I just couldn’t relate. I just figured I wasn’t spiritual enough. It hasn’t happened since, but it made my heart open to hearing and receiving the message of the book on a level I would not have appreciated otherwise.

Anyway, James was gay, and the book is about his struggle with obeying God and coming to terms with his sexuality. At one point in the book, he basically says, Jesus was tempted in all ways, so he knows Jesus will be with him. If the bible says He was tempted in all ways, then it was ALL ways. That stopped me right there. Did I believe that or not? I mean I’ve quoted the scripture before, but did I BELIEVE that Jesus understood MY temptations, let alone someone’s else’s homosexual ones? Also, I’m not a bible scholar by any means, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t heard about Jesus and the apostles getting extra cozy. I expected Him to be tempted sexually by women, after all he hung out with prostitutes, but tempted by men? I pondered this over and over again, trying to figure out where in the bible it says that Jesus was tempted by a man. I couldn’t get past that part of the book. So after a while, I pulled out the bible, and sat down, opened up the book, and my eyes fell on the passage: “John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I kid you not when I say the passage was practically highlighted.

Then things clicked.

I had heard a teaching from Joyce Meyer before about Peter and John, and Peter’s temper and how he angrily questioned Jesus about John when Jesus had foretold Peter about his (Peter’s) future death.  “Lord, but what of him?’ (meaning John)  Jesus replied: “If I want him to wait until I come, what is that to you? Your business is to follow me” (John 21:17-23) Peter’s question and his anger now made sense to me,  if in fact John was a temptation to Jesus. Now, I’m not saying that Jesus was a closet homosexual, and obviously Jesus DID NOT SIN with John or anyone else, otherwise he would not have been the perfect sacrifice for our sins. I understand how people in close working relationships can get into a emotional muddle, especially when spiritual things are involved and if people could understand that JESUS UNDERSTANDS the temptation, then that can make a huge difference to people struggling with homosexuality and other sins. Instead of hiding from Him, they would seek Him out.

The problem with the Church and homosexuality is that the CHURCH does not “understand” this temptation. For most, its not their weakness, not their poison. When it does come to light, in cases such as the catholic church and other prominent leaders, instead of shedding light on the situation, cleansing wounds, we go into denial and act like it doesn’t exist. Shame and sin continues to fester in the darkness. I don’t know the answer for how to resolve this. I do know there are many people hurting, rejected, condemned because of the treatment they have received at the hands of the CHURCH, the place they are supposed to get healed, not condemned and destroyed. We need to stop doing further damage to the people we are supposed to save. We can still embrace them as brothers and sisters in Christ while God works with them to bring about any changes needed in their lives, changes to be honest which may never happen, or at least be evident to outsiders. Salvation is the main thing, but keep in mind issues people are struggling with do not magically go away once they get saved. We do, however, now have help in dealing with and working through them. I had Issues of sexual sin that God did not address right away when I started taking my faith seriously. Eventually though, the situation became uncomfortable to the point I ended the relationship, but this was a decision between me and God, not me and whomever wanted to condemn my actions. I’m a strong advocate of minding your own business and not speaking to people’s person sin when you have no personal relationship and trust between you to earn that privilege. Even then, our job is to love and support people, and point them toward the love of God, not condemn their actions and take on the mantle of Holy Ghost Jr.. Stay in your lane. God can handle this. Jesus brings freedom, not condemnation.

Bishop Eddie Long – My two cents

September 25, 2010

Edit: This was written as the story was breaking.  As more information has become available it would be hard to come to any conclusion other than some type of misconduct was performed on the part of Bishop Long toward those entrusted to his mentorship.

Whether or not Eddie Long is guilty of sexual misconduct and abuse of power, my prayer for the situation is that the truth comes out, any wronged parties receive justice, that the congregation and/or followers of Bishop Long do not get spiritually destroyed, and that the Church itself can learn some lessons and move on.

Time after time we see church “leaders” fall into sin. There is a huge outcry and backlash against the Church, saints are disillusioned, and there is great weeping and gnashing of teeth, rending of clothes, etc.

The Church becomes divided. One side says there should be forgiveness. One side says there should be legal action and punishment. I believe there is cause for both.

Eddie Long is a man. He is subject to sin just as you and I. If he sins and asks God for forgiveness, He will forgive him. As Christians we are taught to forgive, so should he be found guilty, many, if not all, in the church will also forgive him, and eventually welcome him back to the fold.

We are also instructed to “follow the laws of the land”. If he has been found to have violated the laws of the land, then he is subject to whatever consequences the courts deem appropriate. Forgiveness does not necessarily negate the consequences of sin.

King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. He then tried to cover up her pregnancy, and failing that, he had her husband Uriah the Hittite killed. While King David was forgiven for his sins, he still paid the price, including the death of their son together, a direct result of his actions. David was still described as having a heart after God. He was still “Christian” throughout his sin, still a believer. So don’t say “How can anyone be a TRUE Christian and do, x, y or z…”. Christians are not perfect. There is forgiveness of sin WHEN we sin, and it is almost a given that we will, even though we have accepted Christ. I don’t know Bishop Long’s heart but, as King David has shown, being sinful and Christian are not mutually exclusive. One can have a heart after God, and still not have control over sin.

There is a portion of the Church that believes that no one should ever dare utter a word against a man of God. “Touch not mine anointed” is quoted over and over again, almost threateningly, meant to instill fear should you even think to question the church authority.  This was actually an admonishment during biblical times to Kings and others who might think to do physical harm to God’s prophets. While I do subscribe to the general rule of not speaking negatively against men of the cloth, and I do believe that God is not powerless and can therefore discipline his own, the bible does not condone or encourage ignorance, or contrary to popular rhetoric, BLIND FAITH. Where faith is involved, it is to be in God, not man. We are told to test God and the prophets.

Since the allegations have been made, it is the duty of the Church to investigate this for two main reasons.  One, the congregation needs to have confidence in their leaders and more importantly, in God’s Word. As long as the stigma of any wrong doing is hanging over the head of  Bishop Long, he will not be able to minister effectively. It casts a shadow over the integrity of the gospel he preaches.  If the pastor is in unrepentant sin, he is out of fellowship with God and therefore cannot hear from God to lead the church spiritually.  Also we are taught that if we are not in fellowship, our prayers are not heard. He cannot intercede on behalf of his congregation if his prayers are not heard.  Two, as guardians over the children and shepherds over the congregation, there is a responsibility to see to their safety and well-being. If the Church does not investigate this and a crime has taken place,  then we are responsible for the damage done to those children and are just as guilty.

Sometimes when one does not heed God, He makes one’s private sins public. (I’m not saying that is what happened here.) Regardless of what happens in court, men of God are held to a higher standard. Should these accusations be true, I would not want to be in the shoes of Bishop Long. The Bible does not take lightly teachers of the Word leading their flock astray. Bishop Long isn’t the main thing on my mind, though.

What is on my heart to discuss is the rockstar mentality that follows many preachers and teachers of the Word and handling of homosexuality in the Church.  Stay tuned for part  two.


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