Saturday, May 18, 2019

21st Century Christians & The Law

Jesus says in Matthew 5:17 that He came to FULFILL the law. He did not destroy it, abolish it or otherwise disregard it, He FULFILLED it!

I've heard people say that to be a Christian, one must be "under the law;" but the fact is, Christians are not converted into Judaism, and God gave the law to the Jews, not the Gentiles. Being apart from Judaism, Christians of the gentile persuasion are not required to follow the law. But even Jews are "saved" from the law by being saved by Jesus and become Christians. The Law is not dead, it is merely FULFILLED by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. HE paid the penalty of our sins; HE was the sacrifice that ended all sacrifice. The law, therefore, being FULFILLED by Christ is no longer applied to us. We have been saved by grace, therefore we will not face the Judgment. We will pass on to our REWARD, not stand before Christ to be judged!

But there is something about the law that I want to discuss as regards the 21st century church: WHY, if we are saved from the law by the Grace of God are we trying to put others UNDER THE LAW to make them behave as if they are saved when we have JUDGED them to be unsaved? Peter said that even to require new converts to follow the law was not required: "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they." (Acts 15:10-11)

But today, we want to pass laws to FORCE those we call unbelievers to follow the rules we think they should follow as if they were Christians. How can we be so hypocritical as to declare how we were saved from the law by grace, yet turn around and force the unbeliever to behave as if they were a believer, then expect them to want to become a believer because we've forced them to behave that way by making them obey the law? Does that not sound utterly ridiculous when it's put into words?

You cannot expect those who are unsaved to behave as if they're saved! And you cannot win their hearts to Christ by FORCING them to behave the way we think they should behave. But how can we expect the UNbeliever to behave like a believer???? We have to win people over to Christ by showing them love, mercy, grace just as God showed it to us!!! He didn't send Jesus to force us to behave as a believer by implementing new laws or requiring the gentiles to follow the law of Moses; He came to FULFILL the law so that NO ONE has to be under that system anymore. He chose to pay our debt to the law Himself instead of requiring it of us. We should then show those who are unsaved the same love, grace and mercy. LOVE them into the kingdom, not try to FORCE them in by making them behave as the law proscribes.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

What Is My Purpose? Why Am I Here?

Each and every one of us ask these two questions throughout our lives: why am I here? what is my purpose for being here? As Christians our purpose is singular: help those around us. Yeah, yeah, I hear ya! The great commission is to go out and share the Good News of the Gospel of Christ and make disciples of unbelievers. Do you not think that helps them?

The second commandment Jesus gave us in Matthew 22 is "love thy neighbor as thyself." If we truly love each and every person on this planet the way we love ourselves, we're going to help them in any way we can. Whatever their need, if we have it in our power to help, we are commanded of God to do so! Of course, if we follow the old adage, "there's always someone who is worse off than me" that would ultimately mean there is one person on this planet who is absolutely THE worst off; there could be no one worse off than that one, unlucky, individual. But that is not the way God designed this life.

Sometimes the person who needs our help may appear in every way, form and fashion to have it all together. Maybe the only thing they need, the only way they are worse off than we are is they need to hear a single word of encouragement because they've suffered a loss or disappointment that has rattled their cage at that moment. Just a simple word of encouragement to them could shift their mood or their way of thinking in that moment and completely change the trajectory of the rest of their life. It's a small thing, and no one would ever dream that they are the catalyst that propelled that person to the greatest achievement of human life; yet, if that person had not offered that word of encouragement at that precise moment that person may not have made the decision that led them to discover the cure for some horrible disease.

Jesus also told us that we would ALWAY have the poor with us. I get so sick of hearing so-called successful Christians make comments that those who are less fortunate are somehow responsible for their situation and therefore the Christian is not going to help them. I don't care how many programs we have, no matter how many churches give, no matter how many government programs help, we will always have the poor among us. If you must ask why, I'll answer you: because God gives you an opportunity to be His hands, His feet, His arms, His heart by helping those who are less fortunate. The poor are our opportunity to do something to help someone besides ourselves and to fulfill that 2nd commandment of Christ: LOVE THY NEIGHBOR!

No, you're not going to win any prizes or receive any accolades for helping that blind man who is stranded in the middle of a busy intersection find their way to the safety of the sidewalk, but God knows you helped. And what is more important: receiving some sort of ribbon for being helpful or having God write it down in the Book of Life that you helped your neighbor? I can tell you that I, personally, couldn't give a hoot about the ribbon!!

So, the next time you find yourself asking the question: what is my purpose? why am I here? get yourself up and out there and find someone who needs your help; it may be a word of encouragement, it might be a gentle hug or it could be a bag of groceries to feed their family. Whatever it is, when you help someone in need, it not only benefits the recipient, it benefits the giver! God writes it the Book of His Memory and you get to feel like you've made a difference; that you've helped another human being.

There is no greater feeling on this planet than to know that you helped someone else. Trust me!!!

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Most Beautiful IS The Easiest, As Well

Why do we make the most simple things so difficult? Why are we so determined to make the easiest thing in the universe into one of the most difficult things a human brain can comprehend? And why do we want to make what we, ourselves, have so graciously received so difficult for others to have?

This world has hundreds, if not thousands, of religions. For those of use who profess to be Christian, we have the most wonderful, most beautiful "religion" there is. Of all the religions on this planet, in all but one, the adherents must work HARD to win their salvation from a god, or gods, that are often cruel, uncaring and/or downright mean. For Christians, it is very simple, our salvation is a free gift given unto us by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ who did all the work for us!! He paid the price for our redemption, and offered us our salvation simply by accepting it and believing in Him, in the fact that He lived, that He died and that He rose again; that He is, and was, and ever shall be the living Son of God! How easy is that?!?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear all the murmurings, now: what about all the rules you have to follow? WHAT RULES? Jesus told us in Matthew 22:36-40 the only 2 RULES we have to follow: 1- "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." 2- "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." BAM! If you follow just those 2 rules, you can't help but follow each and every other "rule" that might be laid out in scripture! And by the way, if you follow #2, you won't have a problem with making it difficult for others to receive the same salvation you've received, either.

So, like I said, we have not only the MOST beautiful, most wondrous, most precious "religion" it is also the EASIEST one known to mankind because all we have to do is accept it, believe it, receive it and share it! WOW! So, tell me, why do we think it's so hard to be a Christian?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why Do We Limit The Greatness of God?

I'm a huge fan of space; I've watched almost every incarnation of "Star Trek" and saw most of the first 4 or 5 of the "Star Wars" movies. Loved "Lost In Space" and "Battlestar Galactica;" I was DELIGHTED to find the NASA channel on Comcast's lineup, but my most favorite networks to watch are The Science Channel and Discovery.

One reason I love to watch things like "Secrets of the Universe" and others is the amount of laughter I get from watching the scientists change their theories completely, totally opposite of their previous theories, yet they pretend they don't remember the previous theories, or they claim their theories are just 'evolving' as they learn more about the universe. And I just hoot when they talk like their theories are absolute fact! They completely ignore their own definitions of fact and theory: if it cannot be reproduced or proven, it is a theory. Yet they act like their latest information, although contradictory to their previous theory, makes their theory concrete and absolutely true.

Their latest theory says the BIG BANG didn't happen, after all: this universe just popped out like a bubble from the "multiverse." And they know this because of the "space quakes" that happen when universes bump into one another. What I love even more, however, is when christians stand up and say, "no! There is only one universe! There is only one planet with life!" Really? Where in God's Word have they found any statement that says that? We want to automatically take the opposite stand from anything the scientists proclaim, simply because they don't believe in God, therefore anything they say is completely opposite of what truly is.

How dare we limit God? If He could create this universe, this galaxy, this solar system, this planet and all the life on it, why could He have not created life on another planet, or many other planets, in this galaxy or universe or even created billions of other universes? Jesus, Himself, told the apostles, "other children have I that you know not of." He wasn't speaking of others on this planet, because no one on this planet worshipped the living, Son of God. Some may have come close to knowing the truth that we have from Jesus and the New Testament, but only through those 12 apostles was the Word of God shared amongst the populations of this planet. In just over 2,000 years we have just now gotten close to telling every person on this planet about Jesus, and we have yet to find a single population that knew of Him before we told them The Good News of the Gospel!

Are there other intelligent beings in this galaxy, looking for us like we are them? Are there other beings spread across the universe who are living the way we are? Are there other universes out there, existing in the bubble of a multiverse? I don't know!! But, I refuse to say with any kind of conviction that it isn't true! The God I know could have created trillions upon trillions of universes. It wouldn't even be difficult for Him to do so: all He had to do to create this universe, this galaxy, this solar system, this planet and the others throughout our system was to open His mouth and speak!! The Bible says that everything He created He created through The Word! Wow!!! That's a powerful thing!!

So, the next time someone mentions "alien" life forms, don't say there are none; just say, "God could create anything He wants, and I'm not going to limit Him by saying He can't do something."

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Matthew 25:31-33, 41-46

31 When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: 32 And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 41 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not. 44 The shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athrist, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 The shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not unto Me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.

When was the last time one of us saw a homeless person and gave them food, or money for food? When was the last time we offered a homeless person a place to rest instead of sleeping on the street? When did we last give water to the thirsty, be they homeless or those working in the fields? When did we last give clothing to the needy? When did we last visit someone who was sick, and not a member of our immediate family? When have we visited those who are in prison? We always leave these things to the "ministries" within our local church or the ones in our local communities. Yes, we might give offerings to help those in these ministries be able to do these things, but that is not the same as doing what Christ commanded us! In fact, when was the last time we did anything but park ourselves in our "reserved" seat in the sanctuary on Sunday or Wednesday?

When was the last time we talked to someone on the street about Jesus? There are many sitting in the pews each week who have not brought someone to Jesus in years, if not decades! Yes, when they were newly saved they spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone they came into contact with! Even the checker at the grocery store got a mini-sermon from most of us during that first 6 months to a year of our Christian walk; but how many of us still regularly ask strangers the question, "do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?" or "Would you like to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, right now?" We don't do these things anymore because we're scared people will be offended. Some will be! Remember, Jesus told us, And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Even within our own local church, we don't visit the ones who are sick. How many people are sitting in the sanctuary with you on Sunday morning and they have no groceries in their cupboards? How many are struggling to pay their bills, and are on the verge of being evicted from their homes? And how many of them are you aware of, but you sit on your pew protecting your wallet from having to open it and help these people. We think of them as not following the Bible properly or they wouldn't be in that situation. Show me where it is written in the Bible that Christians won't face hard times? Show me in the scripture where God said everyone who follows Him, correctly, will be prosperous and have no need of help. Because I can show you in scripture where Jesus said, For ye have the poor always with you.

And there is no scripture where Jesus commanded us to send those poor who need help to the ministry at our local church for food or assistance. None where He commanded us to leave the visiting of the sick, the imprisoned, the lost or the needy to the "professionals" within the ministries of our local churches or communities. He commanded each and every one of us to be the help those in need receive. And this part of ministry is in addition to any special ministry He has called us to. Pastors, evangelists, singers, prophets, etc., are all required to do these things, as well. At all times!! Not a single one of us who are called Christian are exempt from feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, giving clothing to the naked, giving shelter to the stranger and giving water to the thirsty, as well as giving living water to those who thirst for Christ!

Each and every person on this planet is our brother and our sister. Each and every one of them is a child of God, whether they be saved or unsaved! God created us all, black, white, yellow and tan. And God gave each and every one of us the free will to make the choice to follow Him or not. Whether they follow Him or not does not exempt us from providing to the ones in need. Nowhere in scripture does it tell us to ask those in need, "are you a Christian?" before we fulfill their need. After filling their need, by all means ask them if they are saved; that way if they say no, you can offer them the best free gift ever conceived in all the universe: the gift of eternal life and salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ; give them the grace and mercy God has prepared for any who are willing to accept it and completely surrender to Him, to His love, His grace, His mercy and His everlasting life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Being ProLife, Christian and Hypocrite

I am pro-life: I am FOR life! But, what does that statement really mean?

To say that you are pro-life means that you are always for life. When I hear someone say they are pro-life and they support the death penalty, I grieve at their contradiction, which they do not seem to see or understand. It is impossible to be pro-life and support the death penalty!

Yes, I know, I have heard from friends that when they say they are pro-life they are only referring to the topic of abortion; but the very term itself tells you that it is not just about abortion, it is about LIFE!!

I do not agree with abortion; I believe only God has the right to determine if a child is born. Many question how I could not support the right to abortion in the case of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. In the case of protecting the life of the mother, I think that is something the mother, father and their doctor should discuss and come to agreement on. In the case of rape or incest, I think that is up to God, not man. I know there are many people who do not agree with my beliefs on this topic and there are others who will think I don't go far enough. But the fact that is most important is this: this is MY belief. Nothing more, nothing less.

Seeing that I am a man and cannot be pregnant, the issue of abortion personally affects me only if I father a child, and I do believe that the father of the child should have some say whether that child is born or not. If the father doesn't want children but the mother decides to have that child, the father is automatically responsible to pay child support, etc., even if he was never asked if he wanted to be a father. So, how then, can the state come along and say that if a man fathers a child and the mother decides she doesn't want to be a mother that she can terminate the life of that child without any input from the other creator of that life? Once again the contradictory nature of man rears its ugly head.

As for the death penalty part of this question, once again I believe only God holds the power of life and death; and seeing as I have been the recipient of God's grace and mercy, how can I not then pass on grace and mercy to others? Though I deserved death, God granted me mercy to escape that death penalty, so I choose to leave in His capable and almighty hands the power to give or take life.

Because of "man's" involvement, there are too many chances for mistakes; how many times have we already learned that someone was innocent AFTER the execution of that person who was convicted in a court of law? You cannot undo the death penalty. You cannot apologize to that wrongfully convicted and wrongfully executed person and restore their life to them. Therefore, man should never be allowed to put someone to death for a crime.

But even if the person is truly guilty, I do not believe that man should have the right to take that person's life. Due to my previously stated receipt of mercy from God, I truly believe that man should never require of someone else what they themselves have been pardoned from. Very simple example comes from the parable Jesus told about the ruler who forgave his servant a debt yet that servant refused to forgive his fellow servant's debt; when the ruler learned of his treachery, he restored the man's debt and threw him in prison until every penny was paid. How can I demand of others what I have been forgiven for?

Yet, to put this all into perspective, this is my belief. Once again, nothing more, nothing less. My belief has no place in determining what is right or wrong for another person. It seems in this country we have decided that as Christians, we are going to make those we believe to be sinners behave like Christians, even while we condemn them for being sinners. We are practicing the hypocrisy of the scribes, Pharisees and sadducees of Jesus' time. We have become the temple leaders of the first century by requiring those in our country to behave the way we say they should because of our understanding of judgment; yet we leave out the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that we ourselves want to receive from God, as well as others.

In reading the teachings of Jesus, I came to realize what hypocrisy I've been living because I want the love, forgiveness, grace, mercy and acceptance of God, yet I remained unwilling to pass that love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and acceptance on to others unless they believe and behave exactly as I do, or believe they should do. My understanding of His ways was, and is, extremely lacking. I want from Him what I'm unwilling to give to others. I want from Him what I don't want Him to give to others. Not unless they believe and act just the way I do or want them to do.

I'm tired of living like the very men who sought to get rid of Jesus! I no longer want to hold on to the justice and judgment of the Law while ignoring the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of God toward others. I refuse to continue judging my fellow man while defying anyone who wants to sit in judgment of me. That contradictory nature of man appears to keep raising his ugly head no matter how hard I try to get away from him.

The bottom line is this: I am commanded by God to love others as God has loved me and as I love myself. In order to love someone that way, that means I have to do as God has done and allow them their free will to make their own choices; after all, only they will have to answer for those choices on the day of judgment. I will only have to stand before Jesus on that day for my own life. And thankfully, since He has already paid for my sins for me, I won't have to stand before Him for judgment. My sentence has been commuted to life! Life eternal in the presence of my Savior, my King, my Father and all His heavenly host.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018

Well, we've made it to the end of another year. I sit here stunned at the speed which 2018 had to pass into history, presenting us with a brand new year, 2019, in about 9 hours.

The last 364 days have brought blessings, joy, happiness, exhiliration, excitement, hope and love; but it has also produced pain, loss, anxiety and almost brought in a little fear. So many things have happened and yet so little has changed, in so may ways. The year started off so wonderfully, and so blessed, with the arrival of my God-daughter, Rebecca, whom we call Becca, on 22 January, which just happened to be the 80th anniversary of my Mom's birth. While I spent that day with a sense of loss and sadness, it has now returned to a day of joy and happy memories.

The passing of my Mom's sister, Nell, in June again brought sadness and a major sense of loss, since she was the last person who could give me the answers I crave, and need, about 1967. There's only one living person who knows the truth and all the events that took place in Altus, Oklahoma that late summer day; unfortunately he cannot tell the truth, even if his very life depended on it. And even if he did tell the truth, I would never be able to trust that he told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

To make matters worse, I apparently drove through acid rain while on the trip to or from Altus for Aunt Nell's funeral, or it probably happened while I was actually there in Altus, as we did have a very light rain storm on the 2nd or 3rd day I was there. End result: the paint and the cloth top on my car were damaged to the tune of $4,200. That, by the way, is "total loss" category for insurance purposes.

My general health has remained good throughout 2018 with just a minor cold or two, one case of bronchitis and the occasional stomach upset due to my body's intolerance of lactose. But, it was worth the discomfort to enjoy the deliciousness of milk! ;-)

My spine, however, has continued to deteriorate and the pain has increased, though not massively all at once. Significantly enough that my pain management team has changed and increased medication to try to keep the pain from completely dismantling my ability to live a "somewhat" normal life. I, myself, continue to believe that my miracle is on its way, because I know that God will not abandon me nor forget me. He promised my healing, and even accomplished it, almost 2,000 years ago when Jesus took the stripes on His back. All I'm waiting for is the physical manifestation of that healing.

My prayer for 2019 remains a simple one: that all who do not know Him will choose to allow His mercy and grace to infuse their hearts, souls and lives; that those who do know Him and have strayed from His will and His commands will return to perfect obedience and regain their place within His will; that those who are walking in His way and performing His will shall continue to do so and grow.

I wish a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all; and I will continue to pray that His will be done and that somehow those of us who live on this planet can find our way back to treating one another as we want to be treated; to love one another as God loves us and to always maintain a character of honor and love while we treat others with the grace and mercy God has shown toward us.