Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Christmas Celebration & Traditions

Many people do not believe in celebrating the Christmas Holiday the same way as others do. They say that certain holiday traditions originated in pagan times, and are pagan traditions. Therefore, as Christians we should not participate in these pagan rituals. But what is the truth, and what does the Bible say about this apparent problem? That is what I would like to look at in today's blog.

Christmas traditions that have pagan origins are the Christmas Tree; the celebration of Christmas in Winter (by the winter solstice); the Yule log; the giving of gifts; and I am sure there are more, but we will just deal with these for now.

The Christmas Tree, Yule log, and the winter solstice, are definitely related to the pagan traditions, but why did the Christian Church adopt them? When humanity was mired in the dark or middle ages, and pagans were converting to Christianity, they were used to celebrating and using these symbols to celebrate the winter solstice. Old habits die hard, and the Christians now found themselves in a quandry about what to do with this time of year. The Christian Church had already adopted the date of 25 December to celebrate Christmas, so that was not a problem, but how to get rid of the old pagan rituals? So the Christian Church changed the rituals into Christian rituals, by associating them with Christian ideas, concepts and Scripture.

For Example, the Christmas tree has a double meaning, both the evergreen, showing that Jesus brings eternal life, and as a forewarning of the Cross. For it was wood upon which He was crucified (in many places, the Scriptures prophesy "a tree").

Now, some people say we should not use a tree, as the pagans used one before Christians did for their rituals and celebrations. But what do the Scriptures say?

In Romans, 14 --
5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ro 14:5-8

This does not apply only to the celebration of a particular day, but if you take this passage (as one must always do) within the context of the chapter, and book, and indeed the entire Bible, you will see that the concept is that we should allow grace to others who believe slightly differently than ourselves. (However this does not mean all teachings, or beliefs are acceptable -- There are limits to orthodoxy.)

Most importantly, the Scriptures tell us to do all things for the Glory of God in Christ Jesus, and to do all things in LOVE. So, just because I do something, or do not do something, does not mean it is right, or wrong for someone else to do it. It depends on their faith journey with their Creator, and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. (see above Scripture again)

Let us all be tolerant of those who disagree with us, and give as much grace to them, as we would like to receive from them!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Race

The Poem "The Race" is about a young man who has difficulties, falls three times, yet gets up and finishes the race.

This poem epitomizes the struggle each of us goes thru in life. Even once we give our hearts and minds to Christ, we still struggle with the sins and habits we had before then. Yet, we have our own cheering section, the Lord Jesus Himself.

Several times in the Scriptures, we are instructed to run this race. Paul used the allegory several times, Romans 12:1 for example... "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Heb 12:1

Jesus, although God, became human so He could purchase us back from slavery to sin. Once we are born again, we are no longer slaves to sin. Even if we sin, we are owned by Christ, and He does not abandon us. Jesus is our advocate, and He intercedes for us at The Father's throne. He has purchased us, and by such a price!

So let us live in such a way as to bring glory to God, Our Father, and His Son Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 13, 2009

How then do I live?

Paul wrote in Colossians: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Col 2:8

So what are these human traditions, and basic principles that Paul was talking about...?

First, we must understand the time frame he was writing in, and to whom... Paul was writing to a greek church, in Colosse and the hollow and deceptive philosophy and traditions had to do with celebrating rituals, and Gnosticism (a form of secret wisdom, which also decried all things physical) see for more information on this heresy.

Second, The point that Paul made frequently in his writings, preaching, and life, is that just as he was not justified in God's sight when he was a zealot in his Judaism, no one can be, or is, justified by works, or by doing anything... We are justified in God's sight ONLY because and THRU Jesus' Suffering, Death on a cross and Resurrection. God has provided grace (unmerited [undeserved] favor) to all who would call out to Him, and admit that we cannot make it to Him, thru our works, efforts, or any other thing, except the substitutionary death of Christ.

No one understood this more than Paul, who as Saul (his name before becoming Christian) was a leader in the Jewish religion, and was responsible for the death of many Christians, because the Christians were preaching heresy (according to Judaism). Christianity was teaching that Jesus IS God, and that He was raised from the dead.

So, how does this relate to the theme of this blog, and what makes Christianity different from all other religions? Simple, all religions (except Christianity) have to do with man's efforts to reach and to worship some deity, or become divine. Christianity has to do with God's efforts to reach out to, and save humanity from our own sins, and restore His relationship with us. He created us, we rebelled (and still rebel) and yet God loves us, and sent His son, (Himself incarnate [the concept of the Trinity is too much for many people to handle]) to be the sacrifice required to pay the penalty for our sins, and restore fellowship with Him.

Therefore, when the Colossians were being led astray by these philosophies and traditions, Paul had to straighten them out by getting them focused again on Christ.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Prayers for death?

There was quite a bit of discussion recently about a "Christian" pastor, who said that he prays that President Obama dies, and dies of cancer, and goes to Hell.

So what is the REAL CHRISTIAN response to this? There are several. First, Jesus Christ, from Whom we get the name Christian (meaning Little Christ), was persecuted, even murdered by the Chief Priests, with the cooperation of Pontius Pilate, because Jesus said He is God.

Jesus was flogged, had his beard plucked, was spit upon, cursed at, had the robes ripped off his back after the blood congealed into it, carried an approximately 200 pound cross to His own crucifixion on the top of Golgotha, Was nailed to the cross, and mocked, scorned, ridiculed. His response, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Lk 23:34

Therefore, if we are to be "Little Christs," we need to pray for our enemies, not curse them. When one of the most wicked men of the 20th and beginning of 21st centuries (Saddam Hussein) was executed (Definitely deserved, as he was single handedly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his own people,) I found myself praying, and hoping that he had repented, and found Christ and forgiveness prior to his last breath, so not even he would spend eternity in Hell.

Although I do not pretend to be the best Christian in the world, I do have a pretty good handle on what a Christian should be and do. Jesus prayed for his persecutors, even at His death. A horrible, painful, lonely death. The lonely part is food for another post, but I digress. Paul, one of the main leaders (not of the Church per se, but of the movement -- called Christianity) said that he would almost rather be cursed himself, if his fellow Jews could be saved by his condemnation.

Therefore, a Christian response to this Christian preacher who said he wished, even prayed for the President's death by cancer and confinement to Hell for eternity, is to pray for him, that he may see the error of his ways, and repent of his evil attitude. I pray that our President will receive wisdom from God, and that he will make good decisions, and lead our country well. I also pray that he will repent of any sin in his life, or that he supports. May God be merciful to us all.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Christians and the Law (part 2)

Continuing our discussion on whether Christians must obey the law, I point out that there are many facets to this question...

First, Christianity is founded upon freedom. We are free to choose what to do and what not to do. However this freedom is not license to harm or walk on others. Paul wrote in Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ro 13:8-10). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Further, He wrote in another place, that if by eating meat, he offended his brother, he would never eat meat again... Therefore, although we have freedom to do what we want, we should always be considerate of others in what we actually do.

Second, we have the obligation to abide by the (civil) laws enacted by governments, except when they contradict God's Laws... for example, murdering an unborn baby is "Legal" but murder is specifically forbidden, and carries with it a hefty penalty.
Romans 13:1-5 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ro 13:1-5). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Third, the Law was written, not so that we could obey it, but to prove to fallen man that we cannot be good enough, obedient enough, to fix the relationship problem we have with God due to our sin. The Law was set up so we would know WE NEED A SAVIOR. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for ALL SIN once for all on the Cross, hence His words "It is finished." His work was to redeem fallen man so that we could be truly free.

So, a Christian does, and does not have to follow the Law. We are required to be obedient to God, and to live our lives in a way that glorifies Him. How each Christian works this out, is up to him, and those who love him. After all, we are called to community, and to holding each other accountable, see Galatians: Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ga 6:1-2). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Christians and the Law (To obey or not to obey, that is the question)

There is a lot of discussion today about Christians not obeying
(or saying they do not have to obey the Law)

So Let's look at the Rules, and what it means to be a Christian...

The Old Testament has 10 Commandments, and approximately 600 laws handed down from God, by Moses... Then there is the Talmud, a discussion on the points of the Law, by the learned Rabbi's (If any Jewish people read this, and I have made an error, please let me know).

Christians claim that they do not have to obey the Law, because Christ abolished it. Jesus was a Jew, and obeyed the Law, with a few exceptions. He went to church (synagogue) every sabbath, and then broke the law, by hangin' out with sinners. He touched a leper. Jesus did not chastise the woman with the bleeding problem, that touched him, and according to the Law, made Him unclean. Instead, He blessed her and said, "Woman, your faith has made you whole."

The New Testament has much to say on the Law, and a new concept, Grace. While Jesus walked the earth, He was constantly challenging the leaders of the temple and synagogue because they did not live their faith in such a way as to make life easier on the masses, they made it tougher on them...

Jesus said He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Yet when He died, the temple veil was torn in half, from top to bottom. Now, to understand this, you must realize that the veil was woven cloth, 12" thick... It was the wall of separation between God (a very Holy God) and fallen man. Only the high priest, once per year could go into the holiest of holies to offer incense to God, because of the sin in our lives. So when the temple veil was rent in half, it signified the end of the separation between God and man. All men now have access to God because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin once for all time.

A Hebrew zealot named Saul was persecuting the believers in Christ early in the Church history, because they followed Jesus, and believed He was God. Then Jesus knocked him off his horse, blinded him for 3 days, and Saul became Paul, one of the greatest leaders in early church history, and the writer (under divine leading) of 13 of our New Testament books. (See his story in Acts chapter 9). One of the books (It was a letter at the time, and is known as an Epistle) that the Holy Spirit wrote thru Paul, was Galatians. Written to the church in Galatia, Paul dealt with the issue of obedience to the Law. Gal 2:21 -- I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (NIV) He pointed out to them, that if you cannot obey ALL the Law, then you are in trouble if the Law is your yardstick. Christ satisfied the requirements of the Law, because His blood covers our sins. As it is written throughout the Scriptures, apart from the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb, and His blood shed once for all men for all time, attains us the opportunity to be right with God thru FAITH, not obedience to the Law.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Patriotism and Christianity

I am as patriotic as anyone, probably more than most. I love this country, and am proud to be an American. I served in the US Army for 24 years. I have heard it said that I could not be a Christian and serve in the Army, or be so patriotic. Some people think that Christians cannot be patriotic to America or any other country, or that those who are patriotic, cannot be Christians. These statements are not true. However, as a Christian, our first loyalty IS to GOD. Therefore, when there is a conflict between what a Christian believes or is required to do, and what is demanded of them, or is "Legal" to do as a member of a particular nation, the Christian should do what is required of them, as a Christian, not the conflicting thing. So what would be an example of this? In World War II, there were many Christians in Germany. It was required of German citizens to report Jews, and let the police know where they lived. Some Christians did give into this pressure. Other Christians did the right thing, and hid the Jews they knew, and even helped them escape the Nazis. Those who did this, when caught, were shot, or sent to concentration camps. Today, we have similar, albeit different, and less lethal conflicts.

There are those who say that Christians may not speak out on issues that they believe strongly about, or they will be fined for hate speech. In Canada, a preacher was fined because he said that the practice (not attraction, or temptation, but the practice) of homosexuality was sinful, and wrong. The Bible clearly states that the practice of homosexuality is an abomination to God. Therefore, a Christian can and should speak out about it. Just because the law says it is "legal" does not make it right, or acceptable.

But lets get back to the issue. Yesterday, we celebrated Independence Day. The day 233 years ago that citizens of a fledgling nation declared independence from England. This sparked a war that lasted 7 years. Many of the patriots that fought the British were Christians, fighting for their right to believe and practice their faith their way. They were tired of tyranny, unfair taxation, and opression because of what they believed. Today, we have soldiers providing support all over the world to people of other nations that are attempting to do similar things, and fighting terrorists, to help keep our borders more safe. So thank a soldier, airman, marine, or Navy or Coast Guard Seaman when you see them, and pray for their safety.

Bottom line, be patriotic, support our nation. It is still the best in the world, even with its problems. Stand tall, salute the flag, remember our history, and our foundational principles -- all based on Biblical principles by the way !!!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Do you HAVE to go to Church?

Many people say that they do not have to go to church to worship God, the question is whether or not a Christian needs to go to Church.

Today's sermon spoke about this topic, and the preacher, one of our Senior Pastor's brothers, made some very good points about how this question should be answered. !

The text was from 1 Kings 12
26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.

Some of the points made are as follows:
  • Jeroboam was king of the Northern Kingdom just after Solomon died
  • Solomon had strayed from the correct path and created idols and temples for worship to false gods
  • Jeroboam was worried that if the people from his kingdom went to Jerusalem to worship, he would lose their allegiance
  • Jeroboam decided to keep them from going to Jerusalem, he would build two duplicate altars (of the altar in Jerusalem) in the northern kingdom, along with golden calves for the people to worship.
  • Jeroboam led his people into sin, instead of making life more convenient
On top of these points, we should look to Jesus, and see what He did, and the commands of the early church fathers:
  • Jesus frequented the synagogue, as well as the temple on the sabbath
  • The writer of Hebrews commanded the early Christians to 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • The Apostles also pointed out that each of us is a member of the body of Christ. The hand cannot say to the foot, I don't need you.
The preacher pointed out that if the leg just chooses not to show up, then the body of Christ is crippled

Although Christians are not REQUIRED to attend Church, we NEED one another. We are called to community, not to isolation. If once we accept Christ as savior, we are not required to do anything else, not supposed to bring fellowship and love and support to one another, as well as lead others to Christ, then God would just bring us home immediately. We ARE CALLED to community, and to support one another, as well as lead others to Christ.

So the bottom line is Yes, we do need to go to church to Worship God, not because we are REQUIRED, but because it is good for us, and for our fellow man.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shepherd or Sheepdog

Ok, this is to relate the previous post to the role of Christianity, and what makes Christianity different from all other religions...

As I was sitting in church today, the following thoughts occurred to me, regarding the sheep, sheepdog, and wolf analogy...

As Christians, we are not the shepherds, we are called to be sheepdogs, however. We do not lead the sheep, we herd them in the direction that The Shepherd (Jesus is the good Shepherd) would like us to go. We assist the shepherd in protecting the sheep, but the ultimate protection is His responsibility. As He stated, "I Am the Good Shepherd, the Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep." Even pastors, who are referred to as shepherds of the flock, really are sheepdogs. They only lead the flock as Jesus leads them. If they do anything other than that, they are false christs. It is the responsibility of the sheepdog to listen to the Shepherd, and follow His direction. We do, fight the wolves of this world, but again, the ultimate protection is done by, and in the authority of the Shepherd. We have no authority on our own, but only under Him.

Sheep, Sheepdog, or Wolf

Recently this was forwarded to me by my son, who is serving our nation, and the nation of Iraq in the Army National Guard...
Hat tip to Tom (Walter) Jennings for this…

This letter was written by Charles Grennel and his comrades who are veterans of the Global War On Terror. Grennel is an Army Reservist who spent two years in Iraq and was a principal in putting together the first Iraq elections in January of 2005. It was written to Jill Edwards, a student at the University of Washington , who did not want to honor Medal of Honor winner USMC Colonel Greg Boyington. Ms. Edwards and other students (and faculty) do not think those who serve in the U.S. armed services are good role models.

To: Edwards, Jill (student, UW)
Subject: Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs

Miss Edwards,
I read of your “student activity” regarding the proposed memorial to Col. Greg Boyington, USMC and a Medal of Honor winner. I suspect you will receive a bellyful of angry e-mails from conservative folks like me. You may be too young to appreciate fully the sacrifices of generations of servicemen and servicewomen on whose shoulders you and your fellow students stand. I forgive you for the untutored ways of youth and your naivete.
It may be that you are, simply, a sheep. There’s no dishonor in being a sheep - as long as you know and accept what you are.
William J. Bennett, in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy on November 24, 1997 said: “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” We may well be in the most violent times in history but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You’d better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
Then there are sheepdogs and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf. If you have no capacity for violence, then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep.
If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog - a warrior - someone who is walking the uncharted path - someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen - which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms, and fire exits throughout their kids’ schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kids school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep’s only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard and so they choose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf; he has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot, and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way - at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go “Baa.” Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students and, under ordinary circumstances, they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them.
This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America , more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be.
Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: he is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser but they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones.
Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come but the sheepdog lives for that day.
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep - that is, most citizens in America - said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.” You want to be able to make a difference. There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage - only one - and that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.
There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders, and the killing of law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior, and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself. Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs.
But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs. Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury , New Jersey . Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator at United Airlines about the hijacking. When they learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd and the other passengers confronted the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people, and parents - from sheep to sheepdogs and, together, they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.
“There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.” ~ Edmund Burke.
Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature, the sheep - real sheep - are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice.
But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust, or love.
But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip, and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.
This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand sheep and, on the other end, is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11, almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously.
It’s okay to be a sheep but do not kick the sheepdog. Indeed, the sheepdog may just run a little harder, strive to protect a little better, and be fully prepared to pay an ultimate price in battle and spirit - with the sheep moving from “baa” to “thanks.”
We do not call for gifts or freedoms beyond our lot. We just need a small pat on the head, a smile, and a thank you to fill the emotional tank which is drained protecting the sheep. And when our number is called by the Almighty and day retreats into night, a small prayer before the heavens just may be in order to say thanks for letting you continue to be a sheep. And be grateful for the thousands - millions - of American sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Avoid EVEN the Appearance of Evil

The Word of God - more commonly known as The Bible, (1 Thessalonians 5:22) tells Christians to Avoid every kind of evil, in fact, the Greek actually says to abstain even from evil appearances. But why? A recent situation at one of my jobs, should illustrate this nicely...

I work at the Spokane Veteran's Memorial Arena, with a company that has a contract to clean up after events, as one of my many jobs. One night recently, after cleaning up, there were several bottles of water, soda pop, bags of chips, fruit, etc left over from a group that had used the Arena. These items were purchased / provided by an outside caterer, and did not belong to the arena, so the boss said they must go away... Now alcohol, regardless of source, is not allowed to be removed from the Arena, by anyone in the company... Anyway, the people still working, split up the loot, and one person grabbed a cardboard box (happened to be a beer box) to put stuff in and as we were carrying it out, an employee (of the arena) saw this box, apparently of beer, leaving the arena in one of our arms. Well, he knew nothing of the situation, and as a regular employee, it probably looked to him like we were doing something wrong. So he reported it to his supervisor, who brought the situation to the leadership of our group, and lotsa nonsense erupted. Did we do anything wrong? Now the Scriptures also teach us, as Christians that there are specific steps to take when we have a problem with someone else or think that they are doing wrong... Remember the point of this blog is to point out the difference that separates Christianity from all other religions... The Bible lets us know that if we have a problem with someone, or what they are doing, we are to do the following:
1. we are to go to them, one on one, and bring it to their attention.
2. If they do not listen, take one or two others with you.
3. If they still do not listen, take it to the elders of the church.
4. If they still do not listen, (if it is something requiring it,) cast them out of the body of believers, so that they do not poison others with their sin.
Now obviously, the steps do not have to go this far in all cases, but only the extreme ones...

The point of this story is that, had this individual simply asked about what he thought was something wrong, he would have found that there was not anything wrong going on, and no one would have had to suffer the scrutiny of security tapes having been viewed, and people running the risk of losing their jobs over something which really was nothing.

Now the Bible also says not to muzzle the ox which threshes your grain, and I will be relating this verse to the same issue in another post. so stay tuned...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Church or Relationship

Once again, people are harping on Christians for the lack of perfection of Churches... The uniqueness of being a Christian is, however, not being perfect, but rather that even though we are not perfect, our God loved us, and came here to save us from our sins... (John 3:16 states that God so loved the world that He sent His only son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life) And He did this, because we messed up in the beginning. He does require us to live our lives as a living sacrifice, dedicated to Him, and serving our fellow man. Yet, our salvation is dependent only on Him. We are not judged on what we do, but rather on whether or not we are His. We can never be good enough to EARN His love, or even forgiveness. The difference between Christianity and all other religions, is that other religions are about man seeking God(s), or trying to earn his(their) love, and Christianity is about Him (The creator, giver of life, author and finisher of our faith) seeking us. Jesus came to earth, setting His attributes of Godhood aside, and became man, so He could live with and like us, but without sin, so that He could pay for our sins. He willingly went to His death, a death on the cross, that God's justice [In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Heb 9:22] could be satisfied. So the question remains... What do YOU do WITH JESUS -- Do you accept His gift of forgiveness, and spend eternity? Or do you reject Him, and die in your sins?
Email me and let me know if you Accept His gift...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Super bowl Sunday

As the 2009 Superbowl aproaches, I pause to remember that what matters is not which team wins, or loses, but is it a good game? Is the game one sided, or was it a good contest. I do not particularly care which team will win. What does matter, though, is whether or not we are on the winning team for all eternity. Jesus and Lucifer are in a constant battle for our souls. Jesus has already won the battle of all eternity, but Lucifer (Satan) refuses to admit defeat, even though he knows his time is short. He knows his end is in defeat, but still acts as a spoiler, trying to fool, and lead away as many of God's children as he can. God's Word, the Bible, says that the devil is prowling the world, like a lion looking for souls to devour, because he knows his time is short. Jesus paid for our debt, yes our debt, as all sin separates us from God. Since He was sinless, He died for us. He is the quarterback of God's winning team. The team that wins for all eternity. So repent of your sin, and join the winning team. Say yes to Jesus, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins.