Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tags & Labels

I am deeply disturbed by the tags and labels I see being bandied about by Christians toward one another and toward unbelievers. Some say I should be disturbed because Christians are being called the same. However, the fact is the unbeliever is not under the instruction of Christ, therefore I cannot expect them to not do or say things that Christians are doing/saying. The saddest part is that as Christians we're getting defensive when someone points out our failings to us. If we have to go on the defensive when someone brings up something, that should be a very large clue that we are not walking where we should be.

We have become a very judgmental, extremely hostile group of people. We're not showing the love of Christ to a lost and dying world, we're showing condemnation and judgment. We're heaping accusations and hatred on people. We exclude people and claim we're doing so in the name of Christ. We're justifying our actions instead of looking for ways to show compassion, love and God's grace and mercy to everyone around us. If you don't agree with the way someone else believes, you do not have the right to forbid them to believe. And you do not have the right to declare them unfit to be called a believer. And you most definitely do not have the right to say they are not saved. Only Jesus can judge. Period.

If you don't agree with how someone else believes, then pray for them; but also pray for yourself, at the same time: pray that both of you will receive God's wisdom and understanding. Yes, one of you is probably wrong, but you could be the one who is, and if you pray for both of you to receive God's enlightenment, then you've fulfilled your responsibility. But please do not judge that person as lost and condemn them, because then you have committed sin and missed the mark in your own life.

The only label or tag we should throw at anyone is "brother/sister" or "loved by God". Even in sin, each and every person is loved by God, just as we were before we accepted Christ as our savior. If you believe someone to be living in sin, pray for them. Deliver them over to God in your prayers, but do not ostracize, antagonize or exile them. How can they see the light and love of Christ if you do that?

In the last few days I've heard the word/label "intolerant" thrown at the church and by the church several times. Many Christians I know have angrily reacted to being called intolerant and have used some very hateful language in retaliation while throwing the accusation back at their accusers. The truth of the matter is, we have become intolerant. All we have to do is look at the facts to realize this. We are actively working to strip the rights of people who do not believe the way we do from them. That's the definition of intolerance. We want to prevent those who behave in ways we don't agree with from being able to speak or act or behave the way they choose because we don't believe their behaviors or words are acceptable because we're Christians. That's the definition of intolerance. Because we believe them to be living in sin does not give us the right to forbid them to live in sin. We cannot legislate their sin away. The Law of Moses tried that and it was an utter failure. Jesus came to give us a better way, so why are we now trying to go back to the old way? If you believe something is a sin, don't do it, but you cannot prevent someone else from doing it. That's intolerance.

We need to get back to that "better Way" that Christ came to establish. His truth, His grace, His mercy. He is the light and we must let that light shine, and we cannot do that by not tolerating the choices of others. They do have the free will to make that choice, just as you have the free will to make the choice you make to follow Him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Regarding Steve Jobs

I respect Steve Jobs for his vision and inventiveness; he brought many great technologies to the masses. He made the world a smaller place with his inventions. However, I'm befuddled by the near saint status that people are heaping on him. I've seen depictions of Steve standing at the gates of Heaven with God telling Moses that Steve would "update" the tablets of the 10 Commandments.

That's rich, considering Steve Jobs didn't believe in Heaven. Jobs was a Buddhist. He claimed using LSD was one of the 2 or 3 most important things he had done in his life. He refused to take responsibility for the daughter he had with his high school sweetheart. He was abrasive and rude to employees, and brutal to anyone who didn't agree with his philosophies and beliefs.

Steve Jobs was an intelligent man who overcame many hardships in his life and he deserves recognition for that, but he was no saint. And, according to my Bible, unless he repented and accepted Jesus as his Savior in the last days or hours of his life, he did not arrive at the gates of heaven after breathing his last. I do hope he is resting in peace, and I have no way of knowing whether he is or not, but honesty about the man and his life is required.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Christians & The State of America Today

I love the United States of America, deeply. I'm proud of my country. I served in the United States Air Force during the Cold War. I've fought to defend her freedoms and to ensure her standing in the world. But the United States of America is not my home.

I love my planet. I try to do what's right to ensure her continued survival. But Earth is not my home.

As I look at the state of America, today, I recognize the passing of many of the signs of the return of Christ. The United States was the first nation born on the principles of Christianity. The first country to guarantee its citizens the right to worship freely and according to their heart. Many of our laws are Biblical in nature. And it troubles me to see the direction she is heading. However, since I'm only a traveler in this land, and recognizing that these things must come to pass in order to bring about the return of Christ, I'm not alarmed. Not to sound treasonous, in the least, I actually welcome the things I see coming to pass in America. I know many Christians will be shocked to hear this confession.

But, I've had the opportunity to visit Heaven, and I am so ready to be there for eternity. It's not the beauty of Heaven that calls me. It's not the peace and tranquility and the physical feeling of love that I felt. It's not the streets of gold, the walls of jasper, the mansions that beckon me: it's the very palpable presence of God!

Jesus told us that in the last days we would be brought before councils and tribunals for our trust in His name. He told us we would suffer punishments and imprisonment for His name. Even yet today those things aren't really happening, yet, in the United States; but we are on the path for them to be a very real reality. We've entered a time when Christians in the United States are in fear of losing their jobs because of their faith. We've reached a time when we're not allowed to speak His name in any type of governmental setting. While many of my Christian brothers and sisters fight to prevent this, I welcome it. For over 200 years in this country, we did not face the same jeopardy that many Christians in this world have faced. While many have pointed to the martyrdoms that have taken place in other countries, those are not new. In many of the countries we point to martyrdom in, killing Christians has been the norm for centuries.

In the United States, which claims the highest per capita Christian population, the thought of someone being persecuted for being a Christian has been unheard of until the past few years. In order for Biblical prophecy to come to pass, things in the United States have to change. For one thing, the main deterrent to most of Israel's enemies attacking her is chiefly the United States; they know if they attack Israel they will face the full wrath and fury of the United States military. Not a single one of those nations has been willing to face that consequence.

As much as it pains me to see my country falter and fall, I know that it has to in order for the events prophesied by Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus and John to come to pass, the United States has to cease being a deterrent to Israel's enemies. I don't welcome the fall of my beloved country, but I do welcome the entering into the final phase of time before Christ's return. Unfortunately many Christians today feel the need to legislate the morality of those who don't believe the way they do. No laws passed by any government is going to deter people from sin. No law is going to convert anyone to Christianity. We, as Christians, have become like the Sadducees, believing the written law is the only way to govern the lives of our fellow man. We've also incorporated the oral beliefs of the Pharisees, believing the doctrines of men can bring about obedience.

No, I don't like the state of affairs that the United States of America is finding herself in, today, and the direction she's taking, but I also recognize that it must happen. We are not foremost citizens of the United States: we are foremost citizens of God's Kingdom. We're only visitors, here, just passing through. And the more I see of Biblical prophesy coming to pass, the more excited I am to see the coming of that Kingdom. I long to hear that trumpet sound and to see the eastern sky split wide open with Jesus coming in all His glory, surrounded by the heavenly host, to take His people HOME!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It Ain't Easy Being Me....

One of my favorite things to say to people is: "It ain't easy being me, but it's definitely never boring!" Looking back over my life, I realize that's been true for most of it, though there were times the trials and tribulations I was going through made me wish my life were boring. Recently, however, I've come to understand how God can use what I went through as a child and how I've had to learn to hand it over to Him in my adulthood.

My childhood was definitely not an easy one. It also wasn't the worst childhood ever lived through. But since I've been saved, I've asked that God would allow me to use what I experienced to help others. That somehow, at some point, some good could come from the pain and suffering I endured. I tend to not tell people what I lived with and through, and even those I do tell, it tends to take some time of knowing them before I feel comfortable to reveal some of it. There are few people whom I've told everything to; those being my closest friends. Even they don't get the whole story all at once, and I don't think I've shared every detail with anyone other than God. Even my brothers and sisters don't know it all.

But, just yesterday my neighbor was telling me about something that's going on in his family. He's troubled and very confused about how to move on from this point. He's a younger man than I, and he wasn't telling me for any other purpose than asking me to pray for him and his family as they go through this ordeal. My advice to him was to pray and to forgive the person who has brought this turmoil and hurt to his family. I also told him to not cut this young man out of his life. Exactly the opposite advice he's been given by others, he told me. I then explained a little, without giving details, about my childhood and what it took for me to work through it as an adult. I told him about the process I went through forgiving those in my life who had been responsible for what I survived. I didn't FEEL forgiveness for them when I would speak the words, daily, "I forgive them." And I prayed each and every day that God would give me the DESIRE to forgive them. It was several years later I realized one morning when I said, "I forgive X" that I had. There was no longer any feelings of hurt, anger, bitterness.

The forgiveness was not for those who did what they did. It was for me. Bitterness is a cancer in your body that will bring about all types of sickness, even death. God knew that if we held on to unforgiveness that it would harm not only our spirit, but our body, so He told us to forgive. But, if we hold unforgiveness in our heart, how can we expect forgiveness from God, or anyone that we've hurt?

I love how God is now using my experiences to help others. I'm not saying they were worthwhile, but since I went through them, at least they can accomplish something good, now. And, looking back, I wouldn't change a thing! I am who I am today because of those things. I'm more compassionate, more caring, more sensitive and more helpful to others because of my childhood. And I praise God it can be used to help others. Even if just a small bit.