Thursday, December 24, 2015

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord"

Merry Christmas, everyone!  This time of year can be one of such joy and also one of such sorrow. Missing loved ones who or are gone or away from us, feeling lonely or alone, being reminded of pain in our lives, all of this can be magnified at this time of year.

As a Christian who spends a lot of time in prayer and loves God more than I ever thought possible, I think I'm beginning to understand why this time of year, especially, can be so dicey.  You see, God, and by extension Christians, have one giant enemy.  Satan has so much hate for anything of God.  Satan's number one goal is to destroy everything God loves.  To take away everything and everyone from God.  It has become so apparent in everything that is happening in this world, and most notably in this country, how influential Satan is.  This time of year must be especially hard on him, after all we are celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world!

The birth of Jesus Christ is the biggest thing that has ever happened because it brought us the Man who would sacrifice His life thereby assuring all those who believe a place in Heaven.  The birth of Jesus effectively means, for Believers, that Satan cannot have us.  Ever.  No wonder he gets so mad this time of year and unleashes so much fear, anger, and sorrow on so many, trying to tear them away from God and make them forget the reason for Christmas.

Please don't forget the reason we celebrate Christmas.  Please don't forget that you are a child of God. Please don’t forget or doubt that He loves you and through the birth and death of His Son Jesus has reserved a place in Heaven for you. Please remember that your suffering here on this earth is not endless; that even though life on this planet can be hard, so hard sometimes you aren't sure how you will make it, you do not have to suffer alone OR forever. Suffering is a by-product of sin; of a fallen world.  It is not a product of God, and, if you will accept Him, God will walk with you through it all until such day that He calls you home. It is because of Jesus that no matter what you go through here on earth, if you have faith and commitment to the Lord, He WILL call you to a glorious home reserved just for you where there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, and no more Satan who is the real cause of all that pain and suffering.  Stay faithful, pray, and lean on other Believers who love you and know God.  Hebrews 3:14 “For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.”

I’ll leave you with what I consider to be one of the greatest readings of the greatest news in the Bible.
Luke 2:8-14 “….for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord….”

Merry Christmas, friends!  May God's love FILL you with the Holy Spirit this Christmas and in 2016 and beyond!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

God help this nation.... again

San Bernardino. Another tragic example of rampant evil and the loss of human life as a result of it. Another tragedy that could not be arrested or prevented because no one in that building was armed and able to defend himself or herself. Not one. Why? Because lawmakers in this country, and seemingly more and more of our citizens, would rather lay down for evil than fight it.

People crying out for gun control in response to the violence in the United States are starting in the middle of the story. They are starting from the place where violence happens. That is far too late in the story to be problem solving and coming up with solutions.  Gun control is a misguided, middle of the story solution.

What ever happened to looking at the root cause of a problem? Our current administration and the blind sheep that are following them would like us to believe that guns are the root cause of this problem. Less guns, less deadly violence. Really? So the evil that has grown unchecked for the last multiple decades as morality has gone the way of modest clothing and following the Ten Commandments could somehow be thwarted, abated or even destroyed if guns were removed from the picture? Or, is that not the real reason they are crying for our guns?

I do not trust our federal government and more specifically our current President.  I have not seen an example of their commitment to what is important to me, my family and many people I know since I started paying attention. All I see is big government getting bigger, taxing us and taking more than 50% of the money we work hard to earn, creating more and more dependence while less and less people seem to be better off because of it.  Now they want to take away our God given right to defend ourselves using false flags and taking advantage of the epidemic of ignorance that plagues this country to blind us with fear driving rhetoric about "gun violence".  Nothing that is happening in this country has anything to do with the availability of guns, but with the mainstream media in their pockets (or beds, whichever you prefer), you wouldn't know it. History has shown us over and over again that when a government takes away its citizens' right to bear arms oppression, unchecked government control over its people, and genocide is not far behind. Don't roll your eyes, it HAS happened, over and over in history, which means it CAN and likely WILL happen again.

To be fair, God did warn us of all this. Matthew 24:1-14 gives us a pretty clear picture of some of the things to come before Jesus returns to us. He warns us that there will be many false prophets and messiahs. Check. Just look at the proliferation of Christian preachers who want us to believe that the only thing we have to care about in the Bible is loving one another and absolutely nothing more.  He warned that there will be an increase in wars and rumors of war, with nations rising against nations. Check. Where have our efforts to bring peace to this world gotten us? The United Nations is a disaster; war in the Far East, Middle East, Africa, South and Central America have continued and increased. What about the War on Terror? Seems to me terrorism is on a huge upswing and even affects the United States on our own shores. How about war on our own streets (race wars and people warring against our police to name just two)? You can argue that the 24 hour media cycle just brings more attention to things that have always been there, but I believe those who really believe that are simply ignorant or blind to reality.  Yes, we learn about things quicker to be sure, but to say that evil in this world has not increased is ludicrous.  Here is why:
  • NBC news reported in June on a State Department report that there had been a 35% increase in terrorist attacks worldwide and an 81% increase in total fatalities since 2013
  • The Guardian reported that there has been a 5-fold increase in terrorism fatalities since 9/11
  • The Global Terrorism Index recorded almost 18,000 deaths related to terrorism last year, a jump of about 60% over the previous year
  • ABC news out of Australia reported just last month that global terrorism is on the rise
Now, contrast that with the trends of gun homicide here in the United States.  Gun homicide rates have decreased SHARPLY since their rise from the 1970's-1990's, despite a sharp INCREASE in population. Pew Research data: 
  • In 1981 there 6.6 gun homicides per 1000 in the US
  • In 1993 this number peaked at 7.0 per 1000
  • There was a steady decline over the next decade and a half, with 2010 showing 3.6 gun homicides per 1000 people- 49% lower than it's peak less than 20 years prior!!!
Even CNN- traditionally fairly liberal, reported on this, stating: 
"The new study found U.S. firearm homicides peaked in 1993 at 7.0 deaths per 100,000 people. But by 2010, the rate was 49% lower, and firearm-related violence -- assaults, robberies, sex crimes -- was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993, the study found...  In fact, gun-related homicide rates in the late 2000s were "equal to those not seen since the early 1960s," the study found."
As for mass shootings, which have taken on an urgency and increased concern over the last few years, well, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics review, homicides that claimed at least three lives accounted for less than 1% of all homicide deaths from 1980 to 2008. These homicides, most of which are shootings, increased as a share of all homicides from 0.5% in 1980 to 0.8% in 2008, according to the bureau’s data. A Congressional Research Service report, using a definition of four deaths or more, counted 547 deaths from mass shootings in the U.S. from 1983 to 2012.

82% of Americans don't even know this, saying that homicides have either increased (56%) or stayed the same (26%).  Why is this?  Could it be that there is a certain NARRATIVE driven by the government to help drive an AGENDA to disarm honest Americans?  To be fair, there is much debate and little agreement as to WHY this is. While the why is helpful information, it doesn't change the fact that the narrative being fed us by the media sure doesn't match up with the facts stated above.

Now, take that information and think about how this relates to you and me in the United States.  President Obama and many in his administration would like us to believe that "gun violence" is the biggest problem we face in this country (next to "climate change").  If you listen to this, then you might lean toward agreeing with him that we need to either take all guns away from people, or put in place such restrictive requirements that most people won't be able to get them.  BUT- if you use the brain God gave you, and a little common sense, you would see those statistics and realize that it isn't guns we need to fear at all.  While there is a need to protect yourself from the common thug or criminal with guns in this country, I would like to argue that much greater than that is the need to protect our COUNTRY from the terrorists who seek to destroy us the first chance they get and OURSELVES from a government that is out of control with power. This shouldn't come as a surprise.  After all, Scripture warns us often of what will happen to us when we follow God.  
Matthew 24:9 "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me."
Additionally, in verse 6 Jesus says that we are not to be alarmed because such things must happen, but the end is still to come. The end is still to come. While we know and believe that Jesus is definitely coming, we are charged with living for Him now, following His commands of us, and living His truth through our lives today. Even though we know how all this ends, that doesn't give us permission to stop fighting for His people who are here with us now.

Until God comes again there will always be evil. That is the sad truth of living in a fallen world. It appears that Satan is getting more and more anxious. Could it be because he knows that God is coming sooner rather than later? Possibly. As a new Christian I am suddenly seeing things through eyes changed by God that I never considered before. I wrote a post about America being a modern day Babylon recently because of this newly acquired vision. We have often been referred to as a Christian nation, but I am having a harder and harder time seeing the truth in that description. Our pop culture is more often than not extremely anti-Christian and blatantly sacrilegious (case in point, multiple new network and cable TV shows coming out glorifying Satan ("Lucifer"), fallen angels, wayward preachers... or just subjects that glorify sin. Our laws and many churches continue a quick downward ascent toward sanctifying things that are the exact opposite of what God commands us to do in His word and law. Things are not heading in the right direction for a supposed Christian nation, and God help us for that.

What does all this have to do with San Bernardino? Well, first of all, I do not think it is any secret that I am very pro second amendment. After all, I did write this and this. I am also completely committed to Jesus Christ and want to spread His message and live my life in accordance with His desire for His believers without exception. I have spent a lot of time reading and praying about a Christian's responsibility to protect himself and fellow citizens. From everything I have read on both sides of the argument, I do not believe for one second that Christians are called to simply lay down for evil and let it have us.

To take away good people's ability to protect themselves from evil is the absolute essence of evil. It is Satan's work. Satan wants to destroy good people. Satan would love nothing more than to see Christians completely wiped out, and we cannot bow down to that. Some have tried to paint Jesus' death on the cross as an example of what he calls us to do- to sacrifice ourselves and our lives for God.  I would like to submit that this is not what the Bible teaches us.  Jesus died because he needed to die. The only way we were ever going to get to Heaven was if someone paid for our sins. Face it, you are a sinner. I am a sinner. WE are sinners.  It is who we are because of Adam and Eve's choice to disobey God.  We can no more control this truth or change it than we can control the weather. Jesus did not die for any other reason than to save our sinful selves and open the door to salvation. For us to throw our lives away needlessly and refuse to defend ourselves and others against evil men and women would be not only wasteful but irresponsible. It would not be honoring the sacrifice Jesus made in order to save us. We may be called to be martyrs for our faith, but that doesn't mean we make it easy for those who would kill us.

To take it one step further, I believe that the United States of America exists because of God's plan for Christianity. There is no other plausible explanation for how the people who fought the Revolutionary War against the greatest army in the world could have ever succeeded without God's divine intervention. None. Untrained, unprepared, without proper weapons, supplies, or clothing against thousands and thousands more of the best trained, prepared and outfitted soldiers in the world?  It would not be the first time God would step in and help His people win battles against all odds.

Look, I know this stuff is tough to hear. For those of us who have believed that being passive, non-violent, non-confrontational and full of love was what we are called to be, this is especially difficult. Think about it, though. Why would the Bible say things to us like Matthew 10:22 "And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved" if God didn't call us to be a bit tough and confrontational?  What would there be to hate of people who sit quietly and passively in the corner loving everyone and standing up to no one?  Yes, we are called to love, but love can take many forms. I do not believe that burying our heads in the sand and never sharing the true gospel, God's true laws, or never fighting against the evil that threatens us, our families and our fellow man is true love. Do not let people trick you into believing that taking away your ability to protect yourself against evil will make evil go away.  Evil isn't going away.  Men who would kill us at the first opportunity are not going away.

I know this is a scary world.  I know that every time you hear about a shooting on TV you wonder if maybe guns really are the problem.  Given the narrative of the media, our President and your fearful American citizens that is not exactly a tough leap to make.  But please do not let yourself be blinded by fear. Something very sinister is taking place that is trying to convince us to put our trust in a government that has not behaved in a trustworthy manner. If they were so prepared to protect us, where were they when San Bernardino happened?  Where were they when any of the other mass shooting events in recent history took place? Where were they on 9/11? Don't you ever ask yourself why all these shootings happen in places where guns are prohibited?  Don't you ever for one second ask yourself why the times when honest armed citizens thwart the bad guys because of their guns and training don't make the front page news as well? Don't these omissions and discrepancies seem fishy to you?

God gave us many unalienable natural rights when he created us. He gave us the right to free will, to make our own decisions whether they be for our good or not.  He also gave us the right to self-defense.  You see it in the animal kingdom, and you see it in the human world.  It is a natural right because it was created to keep order in nature. The greatest property we have is our own life.  It is a great gift from God and as such we must defend and protect it.  If those who would take our lives have guns then it only follows that those who would protect their lives should, too.

"The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
- Thomas Jefferson, Commonplace Book

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Guns and Rifles 101

THIS VIDEO is a great example of what to do, and also HOW DUMB our media and many of our general public are when it comes to firearms.

My first response to watching this was YES!!

EXCEPT, this was NOT an assault rifle! Geez, why do people keep using this incorrect terminology?

Educate yourself please so you don't sound so ignorant. What she used was a Hi Point rifle. These are great home defense weapons because they are reliable, reasonably priced and easy to use- easier in fact than a handgun (and also more intimidating, which may mean you won't actually have to use it because a criminal might see you holding it and turn tail and run). They also use standard ammo like 9mm or .45ACP which is widely available. More info here:…/hi-point-firearms-and-th…/

PS: also, don't ever call an AR-15 an assault rifle either. Just don't be that dumb. K? Quick Tutorial so you no longer have to be part of the misinformed masses:

The AR in AR-15 does not stand for Assault Rifle- nor does it stand for Automatic Rifle. AR actually stands for ArmaLite rifle, which is the company that first developed it in the 1950’s.

An assault rifle is often a term used to describe a battlefield military rifle which can fire automatically (one trigger pull will fire the gun until either the trigger is released or the magazine is empty). None of the above are that. The Hi Point described above and the AR-15 are semi-automatic. Even a regular handgun is semi-automatic.... all that means is that it fires just one round (bullet) each time the trigger is pulled no matter how long you hold that trigger down. You must pull the trigger each time in order to fire the weapon. The only thing “automatic” about it is that when you pull and release the trigger, another round (bullet) moves into the chamber so you can fire again without racking the slide. Mass media and the movie industry have done wonders to give these things a bad name, but now you know so you don't have to be one of the ignorant masses anymore.

Moral of this story- arm yourselves! Take a class, learn how to use handguns and rifles by learning and practicing. I pray everyday I will never need to use one, but, make no bones about it, I am not ever going to let fear dictate my own OR my family's safety and security against thugs and criminals like this.

Oh, and promise me that you will never ever call one of these rifles an assault rifle again. Thank you.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Last thoughts on helping refugees....maybe

Ok- I think I need to say this. I have posted a few things about the Syrian Refugee crisis here and on Facebook, and I think I may have been misunderstood (or have not written clearly). Please do not get me wrong, I am not in any way saying that we should not take any refugees or help people from other countries anymore. As a Christian if I were to make a blanket statement like that then you can and should call BS on me. I do think that anytime we can we should help others. I do have a problem with many of the METHODS that are being used to "help" not only refugees, but ALL public welfare as it exists today.

I have a problem with the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT running these programs because:

#1 I do not have faith in the federal government's ability to run programs like these (pretty poor track record)

#2 I do not believe it is in the SCOPE of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S responsibility to manage social welfare programs (based on the Constitution)

Just because there are people out there that need help both locally and abroad does not give the federal government or anyone, for that matter, the right to tell ME how to help them. That is up to me and God will ultimately judge me for my actions on this earth. You may think that everyone should help everyone, and that I make more than you and so therefore I should give more than you, and that we should open up our borders to everyone because we are only here because of our immigrant ancestors and whatever else you want to think and that is fine. You can think all those things. That STILL doesn't give the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT the right to make those decisions for me (and you either). Most of the money they collect for these programs doesn't even make it to the people it is intended for anyway. We have increased our spending on welfare, social programs, etc. every year for DECADES and the problems keep getting worse. Why is that? Could it be that these programs are being mismanaged somehow? Could it be that asking a huge bureaucracy such as the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to manage this is simply bad practice?

At the end of the day I want to help people who are suffering, but I want to choose. If I want to give my money away to people in my own city or my own state or another country, that should be MY CHOICE. Right now, I am not given any choice in the matter. I have less to give to help others in my community because our Federal Government has decided it knows better than me (note I have said FEDERAL government here.... there may be a place for some of this in state government, but that is a different topic).

Furthermore- I want the time, talent and resources I spend to go toward actually helping people. I do not believe it is very Christian to blindly WASTE all of those things on people who are not actually being helped, either because they refuse to actually be helped or because some bureaucracy mismanages these things. With Trillions in debt, thousands of homeless, civil unrest, etc. I question whether bringing more people who need help here is a very loving thing to do. So we will add more people to an already stressed system (not to mention the cultural implications)? Look at it this way- if you opened up your home to me because I was downtrodden and needed help, but then you told me that you could not feed me because you already had enough mouths to feed and actually, I needed to sleep outside because you didn't really have any room for me because you had taken in too many others already, I would question how charitable you really are and probably be a little upset. How did you actually help me? OR maybe you put all that assistance you gave me on credit cards and then filed for bankruptcy....placing your mismanagement of resources on the backs of others (trillions in debt anyone? )

This is what I meant in an earlier post when I said that we are reacting far too much on EMOTION and not enough on LOGIC. We all have finite resources. The government has NO RESOURCES without us. If we do not start to become discerning about what is happening with those resources (be it money, time, housing, jobs, or anything else), they will be gone and then no one will be helped.

Let's PAUSE and ASSESS people.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Selfish or Smart- Closing our borders as an act of love?

I've been struggling with the topic of immigration and more recently the Syrian Refugee crisis for a while now. I am a very emotional person and my first response to almost anything is emotional.  Logic and reason are things I have had to work very hard to develop.  Early on in my marriage one of the biggest challenges Chad and I faced was how differently we reacted to everything. He is all about logic and data, and I am all about emotion and how something makes me feel. We butted heads A LOT because of this!  I've learned over the years to find some balance; to consider the facts as well as how I feel, always considering how my walk with Christ directs me to respond in light of those things.

I'll be honest. Our government's response to immigration and refugees and their lack of attention to our national security OR our our own financial, homeless and racial crisis has me extremely worried.   The emotional part of me wants desperately to help everyone who is afraid and hurting.  Pictures of children and families who are desperately trying to escape war and violence tug at my heart.  Knowing that the United States began as a country of immigrants confuses the issue in my head as well.  When I stop to really think reasonably and logically, though, I believe there is something very, very wrong with the direction we are going in this country when we don't place a primary importance on taking care of our own citizens and our own problems.

I believe that there is a huge imbalance in this country between the emotional thinkers and the logical thinkers, with the emotional thinkers taking over virtually all decision/policy making in this country. Because of this I believe we are being taken advantage of and lied to when it comes to the Syrian Refugee situation. 

In the best case scenario, if these really are innocent women, children and families who are trying to escape war and violence, how in the world can we afford to keep doing this as a country?  We are already drowning in debt, and have so many people already on some type of government assistance that we are about to collapse under the weight of it all.  Sure we want to help the needy, but at what point have we used up our ability to do so?

In the worst case scenario these are not really innocent women, children and families but rather they are people bent on destroying others who don’t subscribe to their way of life (especially Americans and Christians).  As emotional people who want everyone to love one another I know we don’t want to believe that, but are you really willing to risk the safety of your family by completely ignoring some fairly compelling evidence that this describes at least some of them?

This is more than just a security issue, though, it is also an issue of available resources and a financial issue for this country.

What is wrong with taking a PAUSE in order to truly assess this situation?  In my job (Human Resources) that is often my response to a potentially risky situation.  Instead of pressing to make a hasty quick decision, sometimes we have to pause and figure out what is going on and what all our options are BEFORE we act. Sometimes the action we end up taking isn’t what we WISH we had to do, but it is what we MUST do based on the evidence.  I have been involved in many employee terminations over the years.  I’ll be honest, there have been some that were pretty easy for me.  There have been some, though, that were difficult and that wish I didn’t have to do, but based on the evidence it was the right thing to do.  That is the way the world works, sometimes we like what we have to do, and sometimes we don’t, but we have to find a balance between our heads and our hearts.

I want to challenge all Christians especially to stop for a second and think about how we are truly called to behave. When Hebrews 13:16 says "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”… you can’t ignore the words “what you have”…. God calls us to share what we have to share, not what we don’t have.  Bringing more people to America who need assistance when we don’t have it to give is wrong.  We are TRILLIONS in debt already, where are all these resources coming from?  Ecclesiastes 5:5 says “It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay” and Psalm 37:21 says: “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives.”  Clearly God says that borrowing more than you can repay is wrong.  How are we going to pay what we owe already?  Promising more assistance to people who need it when we have to borrow that assistance is wrong- regardless of their situation.  Haven’t you ever heard the saying “robbing Peter to pay Paul”?  That is just ONE problem I have with all of this.

As a Christian I know we are called to help others.  For those Christians out there that are touting the love one another route over all else, I have a question for you.  When was the last time you brought a homeless person (or family) home with you to have a hot meal and a warm place to sleep?  How much of your personal time and resources do you give to the homeless, refugee, foster, elderly communities in your own city/state/country?  If you are one of the very few who spend a lot of time doing these things and HAVE brought people into your own home then you can talk about showing love and giving everything to others as much as you want.  The rest of us need to check out own behavior before calling out others (ME included).

Anyway- that is a long winded lead up to sharing the below article. It covers a lot of the questions and concerns I have, written in a thoughtful way.  Hopefully you’ll take a look and then raise your voice based on actual facts rather than simple emotion.
As We Allow Syrian Refugees in the U.S., There's Something Many Have Overlooked

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Christian gun owner- oxymoron or legit?

It's been a few years now since I shot my first firearm.  Thanks to my husband, I've gotten more and more proficient with this form of protection, and continue to hone my skill should I ever, God forbid, need to use one to protect myself or a member of my family.

Prior to taking my concealed carry class or purchasing my first gun, I had a good long talk with God and many sessions with my Bible.  Being new to true Christianity I am cautious of being tripped up when it comes to God's will for me as a believer.  I wanted to be sure if I went down this path that it would be with Biblical support and not against it.

As you can imagine, I was able to find lots of information and "facts" about what God says regarding the use of weapons for self-defense on both sides of the argument.  I'd like to take a minute to talk about what I found in my research and what led me to conclude that God calls us to protect ourselves and others.  This is not meant to be an expository about fighting gun control, laws restricting who should have guns and what type, what our founding fathers meant by the 2nd ammendment, or any arguments such as these. I'm sure I will get into that at some point as I do feel VERY VERY strongly about these things and think they are important to talk about.  For now, though, I'd like to discuss the very simple matter of whether or not the Bible supports Christians arming themselves with weapons and then using them in self-defense or the defense of others.

First Point: anti-gun anti/violence proponents often claim that the 6th commandment denounces all killing.
Those who believe guns are evil and go against Christian values often cite the 6th commandment as proof of this.  Depending on where you look this commandment can read either "you shall not kill" or "you shall not murder".  Whether the word is kill or murder is not simply a matter of semantics, but actually changes the meaning of this commandment and therefore is of primary importance.

So which one is correct?  It appears that this commandment is one of the most commonly mistranslated of them all.  The Hebrew version of this commandment is Lo tirtzach which, translated, means "Do not murder".  I found example after example that this is indeed the correct translation of the Hebrew and therefore will go with "Thou Shall Not Murder" as the correct translation of the 6th commandment.

Now- what exactly is the difference between murder and killing?  Don't these words mean the same thing? The Hebrew word for “murder” literally means “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice.”  So, intentionality is really what we are looking at when determining whether someone has killed vs. murdered. Even under common law (law originating from custom and court decisions rather than statutes), murder was an intentional killing that was unlawful (in other words, not legally justified), and committed with "malice aforethought."

So, those who would argue that God prohibits killing in all circumstances would not be able to cite the 6th commandment as proof of that statement.  God says you may not MURDER... but there is a such thing as justified killing.

Second Point: God calls us to turn the other cheek
Anti-gun/Anti-Violence people have often quoted passages in the Bible that advocate turning the other cheek, suffering instead of causing suffering, and loving your enemies.  Once again, anytime the Bible is quoted and interpreted for meaning, CONTEXT is critical.

Turning the other cheek as quoted in Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29 is not referring to mortal harm, but rather insult.  The Bible is very clear that you are not to retaliate against insult or other personal offenses that do not put your physical life in danger.  Back in the day being slapped via a backhand was a common way to describe an insult.  The Sermon on the Mount, where many people go to cite examples that Jesus calls us to be pacifists, really had nothing whatsoever to do with that.  Jesus was actually clearing up confusion about personal conduct around revenge or taking the law into your own hands. God is very clear throughout the Bible that individual retaliation toward others is not OK, but rather, rests in the hands of the government or "the law".  Killing as a form of retaliation is very different than killing in self-defense, and the Bible makes that very clear in both the New and the Old Testament.  Killing in retaliation becomes murder because of the pre-meditation and malicious intent involved.

Third Point: God calls us to protect ourselves and others from mortal harm
There are very clear directives and examples given in both the New and the Old Testament about our freedom AND obligation to protect ourselves and loved ones from those who would seek to do us physical harm, both individually and as groups.  Exodus 22: 2-3 says that if someone breaks into a home at night when their intent can't be easily determined (it's dark, you have been awoken from sleep and are disoriented), the homeowner has a right to kill in self-defense with no repercussion.  It goes on to say if the same person were to break in during daylight where it was obvious they were there only to steal, then killing would not be justified.  Why? Because, again, killing another must be used as a last resort to protect yourself or another from being killed. Killing to protect your stuff; not on the same level.  Of course, you have to know FOR SURE that you are not in mortal harm, and I would argue that if someone breaks into your house while you are there, there isn't a lot of opportunity to discern intent and to err on the side of caution and protection is always wise.  God knows what you know, so if you are truly fearful for your life, God says you may take the bad guy out.

I'd like to take this a step further, though, and point out that there are many passages that show that not only does God condone using lethal force in self-defense, but that He actually commands us to protect ourselves and others.
"Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:4
"... But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand." Ezekiel 33 
Another example from the Old Testament. When Lot and his people were captured, Abram had no problem rescuing them with force (Genesis 14:13-16). How about Nehemiah?
"Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows."  Nehemiah 4:13
God calls us to fight for His kingdom.  If Nehemiah did not have his men arm themselves while they worked to rebuild the walls, they would have been killed and failed.  The same thing happened when David fought the Philistines and when Moses and the Israelites fought the Amalekites and many other examples in the Bible where deadly weapons were used to defeat God's enemies who were bent on killing them. With God's direction and support men were led to arm themselves over and over again.  "A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well" Proverbs 25:26.... we have no right to hand over our life, which is a gift from God, to the unrighteous. 

What about the New Testament?  Didn't Jesus scold Peter for using a sword to fight off the guards that were taking Him away (John 18:10-11)?  Doesn't that show that Jesus was against using a weapon in defense? Again, context is critical.  Jesus condemned Peter's action not because of his intent to defend Christ, but because Peter was getting in the way of God's plan for the guards to take Jesus.  Note that He didn't rebuke him for having the sword (a gun in today's world), but rather only for using it at that time.  Later on in Luke 22:36 Jesus advises his Apostles not only to arm themselves, but to sell their coats if necessary to do so. That's a pretty strong recommendation considering that the Apostles were going to be traveling and spending a lot of time sleeping outside where a coat would have been pretty important.

To sum up:
  • The 6th Commandment states that you should not murder, and the definition of murder is intentionality, along with premeditation or malice- Exodus 20:13...
  • Some 50 verses later God calls us to protect ourselves from physical harm using lethal force if necessary- 22:2-3 supporting the fact that killing is different from murder
  • Multiple examples of God commanding His people to arm themselves in both the Old and New Testament to protect from physical harm and to protect others from deadly intentions as well
  • Multiple examples of God commanding us NOT to retaliate with physical harm to insults and character attacks- further distinguishing how serious the situation must be to justify using deadly force against another
Killing becomes murder when (and only when) it is not properly justified.  Scripture is clear regarding the justification: you can use whatever force necessary to protect your own life from a hostile aggressor, or to save the life of an innocent from such imminent, life-threatening danger. Do not take the responsibility of arming yourself lightly.  We will all stand before God and answer for our actions in this life.  If you neglect your responsibility to yourself and others, there will be consequences just the same as if you neglect to follow God's commands and use the right to self-defense foolishly and without justification.

"Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight" Psalm 144:1 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Bible? Naw, there's a video for that...

My husband and I attended a Marriage seminar a few weekends ago, and the first speaker of the day was Alistair Begg. This was the first time I had ever heard him speak, and I was so enthralled by his message and his speaking style that I decided I had to seek out more by him. That is when I came across the Truth for Life Bible teaching ministry. You can check this out online, and they also have both an Android App and a iPhone App, making it really easy to find and engage with this incredible ministry.

A few days ago I wrote a post called What is a Christian and How Can I Recognize One Out In The Wild? If you read that post you would know what my take is on the definition of a Christian. As indicated in the above post, I believe we have to get serious about God's truth and God's word if we are going to confess to being a Christian. It is one thing to SAY you are a Christian, it is another thing entirely to actually BE a Christian. Being a Christian is not a passive activity, and that post explains why.

Back to Alistair.... I was checking out his Truth for Life ministry when I stumbled upon a sermon that blew me away. I found it to be so compelling and CONVICTING that I actually listened to it twice in two days and then listened to it again as I wrote this post. It is called The Apostles' Teachings and when you have about 40 minutes you really should listen to it. It gets really good at about the 18 minute mark and forward (the first two times I listened it was in the Android app and I didn't realize I was listening to part 2 which is the last 20-25 minutes or so of the audio linked above and is really the best part of the whole thing).

Essentially, this sermon teaches about how important Biblical doctrine is to the Christian heart. Without a solid and continually deepening knowledge of Scripture we are in big trouble trying to live a Christ-centered life. Getting this right and spending time in The Word is the precursor to getting everything else in life right.... because how we live our lives in ALL aspects of our lives comes from God in Scripture. We have to get serious about God's word if we are to be truly Christian.

This is not something I understood at all until very recently, but it makes total sense if you think about it. There is so much sin and temptation in the world. In our culture what is classified as sinful behavior in the Bible is actually glorified and looked at as a normal part of life (sex before marriage, abortions, living a gay lifestyle, selfishness and pride). Besides all that, there are so many BAD preachers out there; people who teach false doctrine, who turn scripture around to fit a non-Christian narrative, who share only a part of God's word out of context and then skew it some more. It's no wonder we can become easily confused and tripped up.

An example of this are those who try to say that all lifestyles should be welcomed and embraced because Jesus was inclusive and embraced everyone (cue examples like the 'woman at the well' which you can find in John 4). There are even entire churches and church leading pastors who are preaching "inclusiveness" and saying that Jesus only stood for loving everyone and nothing more. Without a solid knowledge of Biblical doctrine you would be at risk of believing these things because this teaching is EVERYWHERE, including in some of our churches. If you simply trusted man to tell you what God says, then you would be at the mercy of lady luck that you get the right man teaching the right stuff. Spending your own time in the Bible and learning what God actually says is your only defense against calling yourself a Christian but not actually being one because you are following the wrong christ.

My point is this: I lived 40 years of my life apart from Jesus. I went to Catholic school from K-12 and yet somehow knew nothing whatsoever about God's word and lived like I didn't. I "knew" how I should behave from years of going to church and Catholic school- but that never translated into changed behavior on my part. I was very susceptible to others' opinions on what God says we should do and made a lot of mistakes as a result. Now, as a saved child of God and a truly born again Christian, I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to understanding God's word- and this catching up involves a lot of reading and studying the Bible. Without doing that myself I would still be susceptible to false teaching.

The examples I have given above are not meant to call you to judge others who are living contrary to God's word. They are merely meant to be real life examples of how we can get confused. I'm sure you have good friends and close family who cause you to question or doubt what is true. I know I do. I have friends and family who fall on the sword over the "love" debate. The problem is, God's word is not that shallow or narrow. Yes, Jesus did love everyone, including sinners. I do not believe this is up for debate by anyone. His hope, though, is that all sinners will open their hearts to Him and repent, turn away from sin, and be saved. He loves them, but there are still standards to meet and laws to obey.

The path we are called to take is not necessarily the popular path and definitely not the common path. But.... God does not call us to take the popular or common path. He calls us to take His path, and we can only know what that path truly is by reading about it in the Bible. We must fact check what others tell us by going to the only place we can trust to be the true and authoritative source on the matter. Scripture.

As Christians we can live our lives as examples of what being filled with the Holy Spirit really looks like. Through the truth of Scripture, and a love for others rooted in Biblical honesty, we can help more sinners get into the Kingdom with us. We can do this ONLY through intentional study of the Word so we are leading others down the right path to salvation.

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many that enter through it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Saturday, October 24, 2015

What is a Christian and how can I recognize one out in the wild?

My main inspiration to tackle the definition of Christian was this blog post by Matt Walsh.  My favorite quote from his post: "it’s the only real difference between Christians and “progressive Christians.” Both groups are sinful, both groups are weak, both groups need Christ desperately, but one wants — though they may so often fail — to go Christ’s way, and the other wants Christ to go theirs."

He is right- there seems to be different types of Christians running around promoting different agendas. Some promote God's agenda as detailed in the Bible, and others seem to be promoting different versions and interpretations of God's Word; some so far away from what is in the Bible that it is incredible anyone is even listening to them.
2 Timothy 4:3 "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,"
Why is this important?  I think it is extremely important because there are a lot of "false Christians" out there promoting a non-Godly agenda but clothing it in Christianity. For someone new to Christianity, or who is considering Christianity, this can be DEADLY.  You could easily go down the wrong path and miss out on salvation if you do not discern the source of the information and understand if it is from a true Christian and thus from God or not. ETERNITY rides on this- that's why it is important.

First of all, how do you become a Christian?  You can't EARN your way into Heaven.  You can't just try to live a good life and do some good deeds and think that at the end God will say, " great job, come on in!". Why not?  Because no matter how hard we try, and some of us try REALLY hard, we are all sinners and will always be sinners as long as we are on this earth.  Many many Bible passages state this, but for the sake of brevity, and because there is a lot more to say in this post, I will quote Romans 3:23 "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard."

God hates sin, and because we can't help but sin, he sent his son Jesus Christ to take all our sin and make a way for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  John 14:6 "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." So, to become a Christian we have to accept that we are sinners and turn to Jesus as our Savior and our one and only key to Heaven.

If you understand that you are a sinner, and you sincerely desire to repent from your sins and obey ALL the commands given by God in order to sin no more; If you truly believe that Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for all your sins by dying on the cross; And, as stated in John 14:6, if you truly believe that Jesus Christ was, is and forever will be fully God and the only way through which you can enter Heaven, then, and only then are you saved.  That is how you become a Christian.

So, how do you know if someone truly is a Christian? I mean, it is one thing to know YOU are a Christian because you know your heart and know if you have accepted all of the above.  What about everyone else? How can you tell?

In Philippians 3:3 Paul says: "For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh".

So, Paul gives us 3 characteristics of a Christian that might be visible to others:
  1. Worships the Spirit of God
  2. Glories in Christ
  3. Puts no confidence in the flesh (does not go to man alone for all the answers or validation)
Paul isn't the only person who gives us guidance on this topic.  Let's look at Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you who practice lawlessness!"

Essentially, this passage is saying, anyone can talk a great game.  Jesus is saying that He is more concerned about our WALK, something others should also be able to see. What matters here MORE than the words we say, is that we have a personal saving relationship with Christ.  There are many people out there who claim to be Christian and proclaim what the Bible tells us to do and how to live, but not all of them truly have accepted Jesus as their Savior nor have they committed their will and obedience to Him. Just claiming something is from God does not make it so.  If someone is full of words, but you can't see it through their actions, you should question it.  A note on the last sentence. Some translations say this sentence as: "continue to practice engaging in teaching spiritual deception as though it is truth but isn't!" Enough said. When you read something claiming to be based on God's authority, fact check it for yourself and go to your Bible.

Yet another Apostle weighs in on this topic... James 1:22 says "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves".  In fact, over and over again in Scripture Christians are called to be doers, which again are things that we can all see:
  • to love one another (John 13:34)
  • to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • that our faith should be accompanied by action (James 2:17, 26) 
  • to declare his praises (1 Peter 2:9)
  • to do the Father's will (Romans 8:9)
  • to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8)
What about not being able to earn your way into Heaven as stated earlier in this post?  A lot of the above seems to speak of what a Christian DOES. Please don't misunderstand me, the 6th paragraph is what gets you salvation and assures your place in Heaven, the rest is a RESULT of your being saved.  Once saved, you should be able to recognize a true Christian because of what happens in him through the Holy Spirit because of the saving relationship with Jesus, and then becomes visible to everyone else.  If you cannot see these things in someone claiming to be Christian and sharing the word of God under that guise, be very very wary.
1 Corinthians 11:1-2 "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

An American Babylon?

What would our lives be like if we ceased to care what humans thought of us and instead sought to glorify God in all we do and say? What if we stood up against people and governments that create rules and laws that blatantly go against God's word?  What if we stopped being afraid of what others might say or do to us and stood up for TRUTH and MORALITY and JESUS CHRIST instead?

I've been thinking a lot about the story of Babylon lately. I can't help but wonder if we are living in a modern day Babylon right now. Do you know the story? The city of Babylon was the capital of the ancient land of Babylonia in southern Mesopotamia. It was situated on the Euphrates River about 50 miles south of modern Baghdad, just north of what is now the modern Iraqi town of al-Hillah. It was thought to be Biblical myth until its foundations were unearthed and its riches substantiated during the 19th century.

The Bible reveals that all false systems of religion began in the land of Babylon. The influence of Babylon on Israel and world history is profound. King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon's king, was a very prideful man, and after having his pride hurt, conquered Judah and thousands of Jewish people were taken from their homes and forced to live in Babylon. There, the Jews were indoctrinated into Babylonian culture in order to transform them into loyal servants of their new king.

Most Jewish exiles fell in line with this indoctrination.  Why?  Well, King Nebuchadnezzar was one of the most powerful tyrants that had ever lived.  No one had ever been equal in authority, and there were no restraints whatsoever on anything he wanted to do.  He was an expert on torture, and everyone knew what he was capable of.  He also promised great things and made it seem like a benefit to follow his ways.  How do you stand up against that?  They had every reason in the world to fall in line and not stand up for their faith, and that's what almost all of them did.  "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", right?

But- there was one TEENAGER and three of his friends who were able to stand strong against all the temptation that was in Babylon: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.  Daniel was a faithful servant of God.  He never waivered in his faith or commitment to the Lord.  He stayed faithful, even in the midst of a culture that despised such faith.  He stayed faithful without having to quit his job or hide out to do it.  He and his friends felt the pressure; you know they did.  But because of their faithfulness God honored them and gave them the grace to stand strong despite the pressure.  The story of this pressure goes on throughout the book, it wasn't over quickly or early.  For 70 years Daniel served in one of the highest roles in the Babylonian government, and he did so without EVER compromising his relationship with and commitment to God.  When he was expected to eat the food and drink provided by the king, food and drink that was against God's law,  he devised a way to have other food brought to him and did not submit.  When he was forced to worship the statue of the king- he did not.  When he was commanded not to pray for 30 days, he got down on his knees each day and prayed in full view of his window.  I'm sure his three friends did the same.  I'm sure they weren't popular with the other Babylonians. I'm sure they were probably excluded from many of the the social groups and even ridiculed. It could not have always been easy.  For these things and others they faced the fiery furnace, the lions den, and who knows what else over the course of that 70 years, but they never waiver in their commitment to the Lord and the Lord never failed them, saving them from death each time it was ordered upon them.  

How is any of this this different from today- at least fundamentally?

How we are to live our lives as Believers is very clear.  God's word in the Bible is there for all to read.  He has given us a manual for living, all you have to do is study and follow it.  Sound easy?  Not so fast.  Our culture and non-believers will try to trip you up at every turn.

There are those out there that will try to use the Bible against you.  They will quote Romans 13:1 "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities..." and claim that even the Bible tells us to obey the government.

Don't be fooled- there is important CONTEXT needed here.  Acts 5:29 goes on to say: "We must obey God rather than men."  Contradiction?  No way- God is telling us that we are to follow the law of the land UNLESS or UNTIL it violates scripture.

Can't quite get there?  Then let's talk about something that may make this a little clearer.  In Exodus we are given the 10 commandments.  Commandment #5 says "honor your father and mother.  Commandment #6 says "thou shall not murder".  So, if you are following commandment #5 by honoring your father and mother and they tell you to commit murder, should you follow their command?  The answer, of course, is NO! Why?  Because obedience to your parents is only appropriate unless doing so would go against scripture. Man is fallen which means that man is subject to weakness and sin.  We are never to follow man, but to follow God.  Therefore, following governmental systems is only appropriate when it is consistent with scripture.

How about a real life present example?  Consider Kim Davis- the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage.  For those who say that she should either do her job or quit I ask you- when did we stray from providing religious accommodation to Christians?  We provide accommodation to others following their religious beliefs, why not here?  How about students who cannot even say the words "Merry Christmas" in public schools anymore?  Or Seniors being prohibited from praying before meals in a Senior Center?  Or college students being docked on a grade because the paper was religious in nature?  When did Christianity cease to be eligible for religious accommodation?

What does Babylon have to do with any of this? Well, Babylon is mentioned 260 times in Scripture, and is a city second in importance only to Jerusalem.  I believe that God speaks about it so often as a warning and example to us of what is going to happen to selfish, greedy, unbelieving countries when He returns.  Reading about and understanding Babylon's story will help us open our eyes to what is around us and avoid falling into the trap, which is a very real risk for Christians living in such a culture.

What about our culture is in line with Babylonian culture?  Well, to name a few examples:
  • Glorifying sex outside of wedlock (the sexual revolution) in movies, music, and through the prevalence of birth control available to everyone INCLUDING to teenagers without their parents' consent (thus eliminating sexual responsibility and the need for abstinence)
  • Abortion glorification (it is touted as a VICTORY for women)- example: even in the face of evidence that Planned Parenthood has tricked many into them AND is selling aborted fetuses for profit, even sometimes being harvested from live babies, people are still standing by them and taxpayers' money is funding them. Christians are often vilified for being against this.
  • The definition of marriage as created by God has been rewritten to include marriage by same sex couples which is against God's law- and Christians are called intolerant or worse for speaking out against this
  • There is no longer only the two genders created by God: man and woman.... there are now "other" genders, and God's perfect creation in Adam and Eve has been perverted by man.
  • We glorify physical beauty above all else- who can trust ANY of the pictures we see on TV or in magazines or in front of clothing stores in the mall these days? They have been photo-shopped beyond recognition to enhance only the physical beauty that has somehow been deemed desirable
Are you at risk of falling victim to our culture- pulling you further and further from God?  The answer is YES. We are all at RISK of falling into the ways of our culture.  It is a part of our human nature; we are fallen and cannot follow God fully without His help.  If serving God and following Him completely is not your strongest desire, you are at risk.  Heck, I love God with all my heart and I AM AT RISK. One of my greatest weaknesses is coveting what others have. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I spend time reading about and/or am I even a little bit infatuated with the wealth and power of movie stars, sports celebrities, political figures or other powerful people (be honest, do you grab that People magazine or the Enquirer or US or any of the dozens of other magazines as you stand in the checkout line just to check out the story on the cover or read the latest gossip)?  
  2. Do I ever covet or crave wealth, power, prestige or connections that would enhance my comfort, popularity or influence (even just a little)?
  3. Do I take steps to protect myself from exposure to the things of this world that would tempt me away from the life God wants me to live?  Do these steps involve avoiding any or all of the above?  Do these steps involve praying to God for his help?
Friends- now more than ever we need Jesus Christ to help us stay strong in the face of very difficult and dangerous attacks on our faith. Our culture is hunting us down one by one and trying to destroy Christianity. That sounds so alarmist I know, but it needs to be!  The alarm is sounding, Christians.  It is blaring at full volume.  There are landmines everywhere you look that compromise your ability to stay faithful to our Lord and His word.

You must not try to do this on your own though, and you must not rely solely on your fellow Christian to help you through, either (even the most Godly person in the world is still a flawed human in need of the Holy Spirit).

Stand up for God and His word.  Even now that there is real risk to doing so don't back down, but call on the power of the Holy Spirit to help you stand strong.  God will never forsake you. He will always forgive you. He sent His son Jesus to die for you so that the doors of Heaven will be open to you no matter how many times you fall down.  All you have to do is repent and accept this gift of salvation, and God will do the rest in you!  With a God like this on your side you don't need to worry what the crowd is doing. Our God is able to carry you through and to work the situation out no matter how impossible it looks.

God is ruler over all. The outcome of this war against Satan (which is really what this is all about) is already known. God is in charge, and you are either on His side or on Satan's side.  There is no neutral ground here, and the Babylonian culture, the American culture of today, is NOT on the right side.  Where do you stand?

"Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever, for wisdom and might are his. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and secret things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him." (Daniel 2:20-22)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Put on the FULL armor of God and STAND UP!

If you read the news today, all you see are examples of how much our secular culture has started to take over and blot out or even crush those who would follow their Christian beliefs.  It is sickening to see how much followers of Jesus Christ are starting to suffer for their beliefs here in the United States, all in the name of what?  Freedom?  For whom?  Fairness?  To whom?

What exactly am I referring to?

How about Kim Davis, the Kentucky Clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses since the Supreme Court saw fit to change the definition of marriage?  For following her sincerely held beliefs in God and His word she is now facing fines and jail time.  She didn't just stop offering marriage licenses to gay people but to everyone, making sure to NOT discriminate against any one group. Instead of just losing her job, she is being prosecuted, or should I say PERSECUTED?  Instead of giving freedom and fairness to her based on her beliefs, she is being attacked and sued.  Her past mistakes are being dredged up for all to see and judge and she is being called a hypocrite for not always following the Bible.  Hmmmm, I recall a few Bible passes that address that... how about "He that is without sin among you let him cast the first stone" John 8:7 or how about "as it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one" Romans 3:10.  Even Christians are sinners, but that doesn't diminish the truth of the Bible or our attempts to follow it, even in our weakened human state.

How about Villa Rica High School in Georgia?  Just recently the Villa Rica First Baptist Church conducted a mass baptism before football practice.  Video shows some football players and a coach being baptised on school grounds before practice, prompting the group Freedom from Religion Foundation to demand an investigation.  What about the Freedom FOR religion?  This story is too new to have much more detail than that, but for me this situation coupled with the slew of others that are coming forward each week begs the question: how did it come to be that when someone's right to BELIEVE clashes with another's right NOT to believe, it is the person who chooses NOT to believe that comes out on top with the law?  Over the course of time Believers have lost more and more rights and opportunities to profess their faith publicly and now, even LIVE IT OUT publicly.  So I ask again... freedom for whom?

Enough is enough.

Christians- do not bury your head in the sand any longer thinking that this is not your fight.  This IS your fight!  This is OUR fight.  Stand up for faith and what is right, even though it may cost you greatly. Don't listen to those who will tell you that faith and God belong only behind closed doors. Don't listen when the world seems to think that God is optional at best or non-existent at worst.  Don't listen to this secular culture that continues to work toward quashing your right to live your Christian beliefs through the passage of laws that require you to choose between those closely held beliefs and what non-believers say is right.  Stand Up!  Fight!  Do not compromise.  Jesus did NOT compromise for you- Jesus sacrificed ALL for you, against the worst torture and pain and injustice.  He did this all for you without any guarantee that you would ever care.  What will you do now to show our God that you do care, and that you will not turn your back on Him even now when it is becoming harder and harder to follow?

The Lord says:  "And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved"
Matthew 10:22-24

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints"
Ephesians 6:10-18

Friends, now is our time. God has called us to be His. He has worked in your life for such a time as this. Don't be weak and afraid, but put on the full armor of God and stand up. We were not put here to live for man, but to live for our God who loves us and has a place for us in Heaven, our true home. "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man then I would not be a servant of Christ".  Galatians 1:10

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sin turned into Glory?

First of all, I really hate that I've become so jaded that I am so skeptical about everything I read (not just skeptical, but SO skeptical). I suppose that's better than being naive or overly trusting in this world today, but it also takes a bit of the joy out of some things, too. Anyway, I'm going to assume this is a true story and with that assumption say this: Wow.

If you didn't click on the link yet- here is a very quick summary: it is the story of a man addicted to sex. He seeks it wherever he can. Then, he finds God and is saved, but still struggles with it. After confessing about an episode with a prostitute during one of his "slips", his Pastor encourages him to apologize to the prostititute. What results is a perfect example of God using our sin-nature to bring Glory to His kingdom. It's not a long story, you really should read it.

What an amazing testimony of the power of our God to redeem and forgive. What an amazing example of our God using weakness and sinfulness to showcase His glory.

How many of us have felt we are beyond saving? How many of us have felt trapped in our weakness and sin and totally separate from God because of it? How many of us have underestimated or, worse, not even considered how God could work through that very sin and weakness to show His love to us and others?

God is longing to forgive, redeem, and use all of us. Don't let Satan mess with you by allowing that doubt to block your relationship with our Lord.

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst."
1 Timothy 1:15

If you are already saved and have a relationship with God- take heart! We are always going to struggle with sin as long as we live on this earth. It is our reality being sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.  The Bible makes that clear- very very clear, so don't fret and beat yourself up about it:

"For all of sinned and fall short of the glory of God"  Romans 3:23

"Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins" Ecclesiastes 7:20

"For as by one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so that by one man's obedience the many will be made righteous" Romans 5:19

God does not expect us to be perfect.  How do we know that?  Because He sent his son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for us in order that we may be saved and enter His kingdom DESPITE our sinful and wicked ways.  It is a gift from a Lord who loves us deeply.  Accept this give with open arms and open hearts and repent.  THEN- use it to help others enter the kingdom with you.  

If you are not already saved or are skeptical about God- take heart!!  God loves you, too, and as long as there is breath in your lungs it is never ever too late!  God forgives us all, no matter what our sin, and no matter what our age.  I was 41 years old when I accepted Jesus into my heart, I mean REALLY accepted him (I'm the queen of surface level Christians).  I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive that I didn't die before I had a chance at salvation because let me tell you, the things I have done in my life would most definitely land me deep in the pit of hell without it.  

Don't just skate through your life letting "fate" or the power of your own will dictate eternity for you. Consider that God is a real, living God who loves you and pursues you.  How do you know?  You are reading this post, aren't you?  GOD works through people like me, I could never do this on my own power! 

Keep reading about God, keep thinking about God, keep asking the questions that are in your heart.  God will answer, and eventually (hopefully not before it is too late) you will see the truth like I saw the truth, and your life will be CHANGED and will never be the same again.  Thank GOD for that!  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

What comes first with God?

A friend of mine shared a blog post on Facebook titled: For Years I Pleaded with God to Make Me Straight, So Why Did My Prayers Go Unanswered?

This blog post is about way more than homosexuality. It is about our hearts. It is about getting our hearts right and being in relationship with God. This is what must come first, before anything else in our lives will start to turn around. If we are living in sin, or struggling with sin; if we are unhappy because what we WANT to do goes against what the Bible tells us to do (if we want to have sex before marriage, if we want to be in a gay relationship, if we want to skip praying for others in favor of everything else that seems more fun, if we want out of our marriage to find a better marriage, etc.) then we need to look at our true relationship with God and what we are giving TO God before we can question why He is not answering our prayers. God does answer prayers, but He expects us to give up EVERYTHING to Him as well. If you are praying for things to change while still living a sinful life, the consequences and results are on you, not God.  It is one thing to stumble and sin (which we ALL do), it is quite another to keep commiting the same sins over and over.  Sex out of wedlock and living in a gay relationship are continuous ongoing sin that you cannot just apologize for and call it good, you must CHANGE your life and STOP the sin.

Galatians 2:20- I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Luke 9:23- And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

1 Peter 4:1-2 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

It took me almost 41 years to get this stuff through my thick skull.  It would be such a great gift if you didn't have to suffer that long.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cecil vs the unborn child

So many who follow me on Facebook have posted outrage about Cecil the Lion, but yet I've never seen a post from these same people about Planned Parenthood and what has recently come out about the selling of baby parts, as well abortion in general- why is this?

If you become pregnant with a child you WANT and miscarry that baby, would you just shrug your shoulders and go, "meh, we'll try again next month, no biggie" or would you feel either some of A LOT of sadness and loss? IT IS A BABY with a soul!

While the killing of Cecil the Lion is sad, especially the way it went down (so far as we know)- it is not anywhere near on par with abortion. There are some seriously perverted priorities out there, and I am so sad that Satan has taken root in so many hearts. You cannot turn a blind eye to abortion and believe that God is pleased with you.

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."

If you are reading this and HAVE spoken out about abortion- thank you. Christians who speak out against what seems OK in popular culture today may be fearful about losing friends or worse by speaking out against what everyone else seems to be ignoring (or worse, supporting), but never forget that while we are in this world we most definitely are not OF this world.

Galatians 1:10 "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."

1 John 4:4 "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them. Because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

Check out this post:
If Cecil were a human baby

Friday, July 10, 2015

When did parents lose their right to parent/choose/raise their children?

Children are a gift from God.  Actually, no, that's not quite accurate.  They are a tremendous LOAN from God.  We all ultimately belong to God, even our children.  He simply entrusts them to us while they are here on earth, with the hopes that we will remember our job and raise them up so they will one day return to Him in Heaven.

There are things happening in this world making our job as Christian parents harder and harder to do well.  People thumbing their noses at God by passing laws that go against His commands and purpose for creation is one thing.  NOW though, well now these people who think God and His laws are a big joke are taking their disdain for His directives and bringing them to our schools so that our children will start to believe, or rather, NOT believe just like them.  There have been a few stories in the past week that have come to my attention that leave me extremely worried about our future in this nation.
The first story is about a school district in Seattle, Washington.  This school district is allowing students as young as 13-years-old to consent to having an IUD implanted for the purposes of birth control WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT.  What?  What?  Since when were 13-year-old children able to make a decision like that on their own?  Since when did parents lose control over the healthcare decisions of their children?  As a Christian parent this involves so much more than just a healthcare decision to me, but at the very least, someone who doesn't believe as I do can see that this is a big decision to make without our input or even KNOWLEDGE as parents. You can find the story I read here:  IUD's in children.

Oh come on, I am not naive enough to think that some children aren't having sex at that age, but that is beside the point.  The point is, we are responsible for raising our children and helping them to make decisions that are not only in their best interest, but that fall in line with the values we are trying to instill in them.  This is crazy!  And before you go and tell me that this is a biased story that skews the truth I'm one step ahead of you.  I searched many sites to see if this was a bit exaggerated and wasn't able to find anything to assuage my outrage.  As a matter of fact, when I landed on Snopes I learned something else I didn't know.  Snopes was quick to point out that some of the "facts" in the story may not be quite so factual- as in, "IUD's... can act as an abortifacient by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg", which is debatable but again not the point. The point of the story- that this can happen without parental knowledge- is totally true.  Additionally, Snopes pointed out that 26 states and the District of Columbia allow minors (12 and over) to consent to contraceptive services without parental knowledge or consent.  Unreal.

The second story has to do with teaching our children about gay marriage as well as oral and anal sex in school.  Much of this curriculum may be structured in such a way that parents cannot chose to opt their children out if this does not fit the values that those parents are trying to instill.  Here is a video that talks about this: new curriculum for the times.  Again, whether this is actually happening yet or not is BESIDE THE POINT!  Why are these things even being considered?!?!

Now, for those of you who feel that including same-sex couples in curriculum about marriage, or that somehow discussions about being transgendered and gender non-conforming identity is a positive and long overdue step in our schools, LISTEN UP.  God is VERY VERY clear about these things being against Him and his intent for us. If my children are going to be exposed to a conversation about these things it will be on MY terms with MY Christian faith as the basis for those discussions, and NOT under any circumstances by someone who does not share my faith or belief in God.  Period. This isn't math, people!  This stuff is changing the very fabric of our society and moving it away from what God intended, and as a Christian my children will not be taught that this is OK because with God is it absolutely not OK.  I realize I will be very unpopular and likely vilified because of these statements, but what popular culture dictates or what man thinks of me holds no sway over what God commands of me.

"If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God. If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers. “  1 Samuel 12:14-15

"Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them." Numbers 14:9

"The fear of man lays a snare; but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe."  Proverbs 29:25

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

Look, I love you, I really do.  I believe that God calls Christians to love EVERYONE. Judging a person's behavior and choices is God's job, not mine.  Mine is to reflect the love and grace that God gave me with the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ through my interactions with the world. My purpose is to praise His name and share the Gospel with everyone in the hopes those who don't believe will have an opportunity to reconsider and be saved.  This is not a commentary on how you choose to live YOUR life.

That said, I will not allow anyone to teach my child in a setting that is supposed to be educational about something that is not based in facts according to God's truth.  When a child learns something in school, that child believes what he or she learned is the truth.  It is fact.  It can be trusted, otherwise why would the school, a place we willingly send him or her, teach it?  A child does not have the ability to discern the way an adult does.  When we decide to change or spin the "facts" to fit an agenda, we are harming our children tremendously.

At the end of the day, even if you are A-OK with all this because it falls in line with your personal beliefs on the matters of gay marriage and gender confusion, I have to ask you a question.  Why in the world are you OK with our children being taught things or exposed to things without parental consent?  You may be OK with this stuff because it falls in line with your beliefs, but what about when something doesn't fall in line with your beliefs?

If you aren't a Believer then you probably aren't OK with God "stuff" being taught to you children, right?  Well, what if positions were reversed and you were being told that schools will start teaching the Bible and you couldn't do anything about it.  You'd be mighty pissed, right?  Oh, wait.... you already won that battle and the Bible can't be taught in public schools. Heck, you won that battle so handily that we can't even say Merry Christmas in schools anymore.  So you must understand what I'm saying.  Parents should be allowed to raise their children based on their values and beliefs.  ALL parents, even ones that disagree with you.  As long as those beliefs don't involve teaching children to hurt others, themselves, or commit crimes, then it should be up to the parents.  Why, then, is this OK with some people?  I just don't understand, and it's things like this that have me so worried about the future of our nation.  Just watch, it will start here, but once the government is given such mighty power over us, it will turn on even those who are in support of all this power.

Don't give up our rights as parents to raise our children, even if that means some parents will raise their children differently than you will.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Good News

Jesus. What a man. What an incredible Man. What incredibly good fortune for me and you that this amazing, holy Man lived, suffered, and died in roughly 33AD. SUFFERED and died. Suffered horribly. Suffered torture and unimaginable pain both physical AND emotional, and on top of it suffered terrible humiliation. Think about that. Stop and let it sink in for a minute.

I want it to sink in, because, for me, finally getting that through my thick skull has made all the difference in the world to my faith and my love for Jesus Christ. For 40 years I believed Jesus died, but it was just a story of something that happened long ago. A story, without much detail. A story I believed happened, but that I never thought too much about. I have never seen The Passion of the Christ partly because I didn't want anything to tamper with my rosy view of Christ's sacrifice. I didn't want any real images to disrupt my ability to continue to deny that Christ's death on the cross was really anything more than a story told to Christians to explain that Heaven is a place we can go to when we die.

Then, lightening struck. God finally and forever took hold of my being, my soul, my heart, my mind, and my life, and I have never been and never will be the same. The story of Christ's sacrifice now became the ultimate testament of God's love for us. Jesus Christ became a REAL man to me, and as a REAL human His sacrifice became almost too much for this wreck of a human to bear. When I first started to truly believe, I really was a wreck. I cried during every church service I attended for the first two months. I started listening to Christian music, and often was reduced to tears during certain songs.

To this day- when we sing Forever in church, I cry. Every single time. Christ's sacrifice is that powerful, and deserves that much emotion, in my opinion.

Why do I share all this? What is my point? Here it is- God sent his son Jesus to live on earth as a man. To experience what we experience as humans, and then to suffer and die so that we could have a place in Heaven. So that we, as sinners, who would never ever have been able to earn a place in Heaven on our own, wouldn't have to. If you do not believe or cannot see the magnitude of what Jesus did for us, then you will struggle with everything else that has to do with fully believing in God and believing His word.

God is love. True story. God loves us so much, so much. God sent His only Son for us. God wants a relationship with us, and to prove it, as long as we are alive God will never abandon us. God forgives us when we ask Him over and over and over. We never run out of chances with God- as long as we are alive. The Bible tells us this many times:

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord

Daniel 9:9
The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him

Colossians 1: 13-14
For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Micah 7:18-19
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

God, though, is also a judge. God created us to be in relationship with Him. He made us; we are His. BUT- He wants us to CHOOSE Him. He gave us free will because the ones He wants in Heaven with Him for all eternity are the ones that CHOOSE to be with Him. Now I understand, you may not like this part of God. You may not want to accept that God put us here on this earth in order that we may prove our love for Him. The wrathful, vengeful, jealous side of God may not fit your vision of a God that you want to follow. A God that is only about love and goodness. The blessing and the curse here is- you may feel however you choose about it. You do get to choose.

We are all equals here. You, me, Paul the Apostle.... it doesn't matter who we are. We are all humans in God's eyes, all sinners, all have the potential to go one of two places- Heaven or Hell. God has done everything short of taking away our free will to help us get to Heaven. He gave us his Word in the Bible. He gave us His Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we wouldn't have to pay the price for them ourselves. He pursues us every single day. You can choose to ignore all of this, or you can choose to open your mind to the possibility that through my words, God is reaching out to you right now.

Look- I am no better than anyone. I am no better than you. I have sinned; man have I sinned. I have even stopped believing for a time. I deserve Heaven no more than anyone else. I truly mean that. I deserve punishment for my sins; for my weak, cowardly behavior. But God will not let me suffer because I have taken the one step that I needed to take to be saved. I believe. I believe with all my heart. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that I am a sinner and that I need to repent. I have asked God for forgiveness, and I do so again and again, whenever I fall short. I do not fill my life with good works. As a matter of fact, I wish I could say that I give lots of time, talent and treasure, but the truth of the matter is, I don't. God loves me anyway. And God loves you no matter where you happen to be in your journey today. You can scream and rail against God all you want to. He still loves you and will still love you even if you go against Him.

Friend, if you are reading these words right now, you still have time. You still have a chance at salvation all you have to do is put your trust and belief in God. Don't be too proud or too smart to see that God is reaching out to you. You are sitting right here right now for a reason. Open your heart and your mind to the possibility that God is speaking to you on this page. Not Denise. I could never write these words without God. Never. Heck, I couldn't even say the name Jesus out loud 3 years ago. I was so far away from a relationship with God that it is truly a miracle I am here right now typing these things. Anyone who knows me knows it is true. Look at my Facebook page pre-2013, you will not find writing like this anywhere on my page. Now look at how I've changed. GOD HAS DONE THIS. GOD. Not me.

I can still say I haven't seen The Passion of the Christ, but now the reason is that, as a new Believer, I don't think I could take it yet. I will see it, though, because I believe that Jesus deserves to have his entire story told and the tremendous sacrifice he made understood. He has earned our commitment to face what he did for us head on, no matter how uncomfortable it is. I promise I'm working my way up to it.

What inspired me to write all this today? Well, today a friend of mine posted a video that just tore through me and made me stop in my tracks. For those of you who are inspired by the spoken word of others I encourage you to take less than 9 minutes to watch this video. If you are a believer, this will reinforce what you already know to be true. If you are a non-believer watch it anyway. What do you have to lose? Don't let your pride over being a non-believer prevent you from at least considering that there is another way to look at things.

Heaven. Hell. You