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