But I don’t feel privileged !!

I’m pushing a noisy old lawnmower around my backyard trying to avoid dog poo and sweating like a pig when the thought occurred to me – “I don’t feel privileged!”

Nearly two weeks after the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police there have been protests nationwide calling for reform. Reforms in the way the police department interact with people of color. Reforms in centuries old racism. Reforms in how we see ourselves and others.

White Silence! Silence is violence! White privilege!

These terms have been in the news as the nationwide mourning of George Floyd continues. Just to be clear I am referring to the peaceful protest that have swept the nation and even the globe. I am not referring to the opportunistic thugs that have looted, burned and assaulted our cities.

These terms which have been part of the discussion will have one of two effects among the white community. One reaction, sadly my first reaction, was to dismiss this as rhetorical and not at all relevant to me or anyone I know. This knee-jerk reaction, I have come to see, is an insult to a community different from mine and serves as a barrier to both any real conversation and lasting change. The other reaction to these terms and others like them used recently is self-evaluation. This is the reaction which hit me as I mowed my lawn yesterday.

But I don’t feel privileged !

I continued pushing that mower as I took a quick look over my life. Especially the early years. Born into a large family which struggled to survive at or just above the poverty line only to later be shattered by alcoholism and domestic violence we weren’t the typical white American family. Raised by elderly grandparents whose passing left me emancipated way too soon. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol as I made my way into adulthood I grew up angry and without any real direction.

Where in those years did I benefit from being a privileged white boy?

Later, as I grew, I enrolled in and dropped out of college, wandered from one construction job to another, in and out of relationships. The aimless wandering continued for years. Eventually I met someone, dated, married, looked into buying a home, etc. Still not feeling privileged my historical search continued.

Then it hit me! How can I know what I don’t know?

What I mean by that is how can I know what awful incidents that I have not suffered because I am white. I have been pulled over by police and sometimes been let go with a warning and others times received a ticket but nothing else. I have never been refused service or turned away because of my skin color. I have been hired for jobs that I applied for but never, until yesterday, considered if I would have been hired were I black.

Throughout all of my 60 plus years I was unaware of what difficulties I had not experienced simply by being white. In looking back I can see how my life got better over time because of the help I found along the way. I can easily say that had it not been for certain individuals at different times in my life I would not be where I am today. I have no way of knowing for certain but I do suspect that these opportunities may not have been made available to a person of color.

If this means that I am a privileged white man I can only say that I never asked for it.

I have never had a problem with color. I know many white people say that but I don’t. I’m more likely to judge you by your behavior, character or cleanliness but not color. Yes, I said I judge. We all do. Let’s not pretend we don’t. My sociology professor gave the class an amazing statistic years ago. He said that 90% of who we are is based on outward influences (the people and world around us as we grow) and that 10% is from our own personality within us. Nature versus Nurture may be a never-ending debate but for me I side with my professor. Racism is genetic. You get it from your parents.

I can’t say how or when we as a people will bring racism to an end but I do know what will not help to bring about change. The violence and retaliation we have seen these past two weeks will not bring about change. I know people are hurt, angry, fed up and frustrated but burning buildings and beating each other up will not work.

We have a heart problem! A type of heart disease that has only one cure!

Jesus!

Jesus is the answer to any and all of our problems.

Until a person gives their life and heart over to Jesus they will be unable to love, accept or understand how another person feels. In our own limited ability we will only thrash about in this pool we call life and never safely reach the shore. Bigotry, hatred, envy, racism, superiority, privilege are not from God. He Loves everyone equally and so should we.

This is my only thought. My only hope for the people around me in my community and for the nation or world wide. I apparently am a privileged white man even if I am stepping in dog poo as I push this mower around my yard. I didn’t ask for preferential treatment. I won’t apologize for it either because it is not what I wanted. What I will do is all that I can do – stand up for what is right. Speak out against hatred and bigotry. Pray for peace and an end to the inequality that has plagued our nation for far too long. I ask anyone and everyone who reads these words to do the same.

Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock got pulled over and it was very insightful. God has a way of getting His point across. In scripture when we see the same thing repeated several times it is God’s way of emphasizing that point. Last night after my revelation while mowing the lawn I watched an episode of Comedians in cars getting coffee. Near the end of the show Jerry Seinfeld is driving very fast in a sports car with his guest Chris Rock beside him. They get pulled over and Jerry thinks it’s the funniest thing considering he is filming a show but Chris Rock is nervous. Chris expresses his nervousness by instructing jerry on what he should do and says that his first thought is “where’s my license, even?” The situation exemplifies the difference between us. One man, white, and laughing at the situation and the other, black, and obviously worried about the possible outcome. It left me feeling sad.

It’s Time For Change!!

Seriously people it is time for things to change!

Is this really how you want to memorialize the tragic death of George Floyd? As of this morning (Sunday May 31, 2020) there are reportedly 111 major cities that have experienced riots, looting and firebombing. No I did not say protesting! I said rioting, looting and firebombing. People block the street and throw rocks at a police car so the driver plows through the group of people blocking his path. Two wrongs never equal one right. People are frustrated and angry. In their anger they loot and burn down businesses which are owned by minorities who have spent a lifetime building that business. Seriously people!!

Mr. George Floyd was needlessly killed while in handcuffs during a routine police call in Minneapolis for allegedly passing a bogus $20. He was unarmed and in police custody when several arresting officers held him down. One officer had Floyd pinned at the neck and ignored please that he could not breath. Officer Derek Chavin has since then been arrested and the other officers involved have been fired. There may be further charges filed against the officers as the investigation continues.

Injustice, racial tensions, bigotry, hypocrisy, profiling, and other instances of mans’ inhumanity to man have been and will likely be a part of our world as long as we walk this earth. That does not mean there can not be a change. But change can only come when someone is willing to act rather than react!

This world is seeing an unprecedented event because of the cover-19 pandemic. People have died. Resources are strained. Stress levels are high and patience is wearing thin everywhere. The straw that broke the camels back during this time is yet another senseless murder of a black man. Black Lives Matter is an organization whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities. BLM seeks to use resources already in place to speak out, stand up and shine a light on the racial imbalances that occurs far too often. This is one of the paths to change. The path to change can not be found in the ashes of burnt out buildings.

The rallying cry of “No Justice No Peace” isn’t a call for change but rather a threat of violence. Holding an entire city hostage to destruction in order to bring about a desired result is nothing short of kidnapping and terrorism. Likewise walking out of a looted Walmart with a shopping cart full of items will not bring about change. If anything it will fuel the fire of unrest as it exemplifies the mob mentality of opportunistic thugs.

Confusion, disillusion, fear and hopelessness are the cordwood foundations to this fire. The deluded “right” who feel they need to treat other people with disregard and disdain are just as wrong as those who set fire to a police car. Fear and hopelessness that exists in communities of color is a type of heart diseases. When a person has nothing to loose they can do anything. Being backed into a corner by the confusion and despair of poverty, inequality and violence will make a person lash out without restraint.

I recall the Rodney King riots in Los Angles in 1992. Rodney King led police on a high speed chase. When they eventually caught up to him they arrested the other two occupants of the vehicle and proceeded to brutally beat, tase, stomp on and kick Mr. King. In spite of a video tape of the event the officers were acquitted. What followed was days of rioting and unrest that left 63 people dead and 2,383 injured, 12,000 arrested and $1 Billion in property damage. What I recall most (other then the sight of the beating of Mr. King) was the beating of the truck driver (Reginald Denny) who was dragged from his cab at a stop light and beaten by and angry mob. Both of these events are seared into my mind and I feel both are equally horrific and senseless.

Los Angeles 1992.

Minneapolis 2020!

Where next?

Miami? Philadelphia? New York?

Your Town? Your Neighborhood?

When and where will it stop?

Mr. Rodney King asked the question – “Can’t we all just get along?” The resounding answer over these years has been a loud “NO!” apparently. But we must get along. Change must come.

Change Must Come. Change Can Come. Change will come when we look at ourselves in the mirror and look at others through the eyes of God. Jesus told us that we should love God with all our heart and LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS as we love ourselves.

LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS AS WE LOVE OURSELVES!

There is the key. I believe that many biases and bigotry and violence begins with of the the insecurity of the heart. Whether that insecurity leads to egotistical overcompensation and bullying or if it leads to violent anger against authority and property under the cover of darkness within a mob. It’s a matter of the heart.

Jesus said that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles a man. So we need to guard our hearts against hatred, bigotry, anger that leads to violence. We are told that out the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks so listen to your words and see what is in your heart. If your words are filled with hatred then your heart needs change. That is the only way that lasting change can and will come.

And Change must come.

Whose Report Do you Believe?!

Whose report will you believe

But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:

“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”

These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

John 12: 37-41(Isaiah 53:1 ) NKJV

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10: 16-17 NKJV

Faith is such a simply thing that it can easily be overlooked. We set an alarm before we go to sleep never doubting it will wake us. We say good night to loved ones without a worry that we (or they) will rise tomorrow to see them again. We turn on a faucet and expect the water to flow. So many things in our life we take for granted yet we have faith (assurance, trust, no doubt) that they will be there just as before. Even if we have no clear understanding as to how they work – microwaves, computers, plumbing or electrical infastructures, we believe that will be just the way they have always been when we need them.

Salvation is based on a very simply concept as well.

But what does it (the righteousness that is by faith) say?

“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:6-10 NIV

So, it is all about what we believe in our hearts. Whose Report will You Believe?? CNN? The CDC? The Word of God? The Lord Jesus Christ Himself? It is a very simple question you see because our beliefs shape our thoughts and our thoughts shape our actions and our actions have consequences.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;

Proverbs 3:5 & 1 Cor 3:19 NKJV

People who know me know that I am an emotional, passionate and maybe dramatic personality. I am an open book as the saying goes. I also can be trusting to the point of gullibility. Therefore the sensational and dramatic can catch my eye. With the pandemic upon us I have seen and read many websites promoting the theory that we are in the end times. Honestly, I can’t help but agree that these unprecedented events we see each day playing out are a cause to reflect, pray and appreciate what is truly important – but with a clear head.

To those of us who already believe in Jesus and have placed our lives into His Hands these events should act as a call to action. Now more than ever we believers must be the light He called us to be. A beacon of stability in a world being blown around by fear and sensationalism and uncertainty. Like Jesus Who slept in the boat (Matt 8:23-26) while the storm tossed it about we should be calm and undeterred by the events unfolding around us. As we stand strong during this crisis others will want to know why we aren’t worried as they are. This will be the opportunity for us to share the faith in and love of God with them.

In this uncertain time, as always, we must remember that God is on His throne. Jesus told us this is how it would be so we should not be surprised. the Bible talks about “great signs and wonders” as the end draws near.

I heard a great analogy of this scripture I’d like to share. When a traveler is in a foreign land and comes to a cross street. They look around and can not understand what they are reading because it’s in a language different from their own. But to the locals who live there it is a sign which gives directions that they clearly understand.

Likewise, these signs we see today (pandemic, hoards of locusts, earthquakes, cyclones, famine, sickness, volcanic eruptions, etc) tell us clearly that the end is near. They are a sign to us who believe because Jesus told us they would come and they they would be the birth pangs of the end. To those who do not believe these events are a wonderland a cause for concern and fear.

Having said all of that –

Whose Report Shall You Believe???

Good Morning

Good morning!

Today is Tuesday. Just another day during this new normal called the covid-19 shut down. I can look out my window and see the sun shining on the flowers in the yard. A breeze blows the branches on the trees and the flag waves in the sunlight. For all intents and purposes it is a good morning.

But that is the problem with superficialities. Things don’t always appear as they are. A duck floats along on a pond looking calm and at peace but below the surface its feet are franticly paddling! Likewise, outside my window the sun shines, birds sing, flowers grow and all appears to be well on my street.

But.

But within the walls of the brightly lit homes on my block are people who are locked down. Locked down, sheltered in place, quarantined, staying safe, flattening the curve, whatever you want to call it, they are not going about living life as usual. It is obviously the same almost everywhere around the world and maybe we can take solace in the fact that we are not the only ones suppressed by this.

And.

“And how are you holding up?”

“Well. We are doing well thanks, considering. It is an inconvenience but we will get through it. Together, of course.”

“Well, be safe and stay well. Please tell everyone at home I said hey!”

Platitudes. The things that we have come to learn are appropriate to say in ever circumstance. We know what to say when someone gets a promotion. What to say when someone looses a loved one. We know what to say to encourage each other when we face an unusual and stressful time such as this.

Why?

Why be superficial and just keep up appearances? Why speak in empty platitudes? Would being real really be so bad? Would it really be so bad if we said how we feel?

Fearful

Frustrated

Broke

Angry

Stressed

Worried

Tired

Hungry

Hot

Cold

Dirty

Defeated

Rejected

Lonely

Overwhelmed

Unemployed

What if we showed ourselves as we are? Drop the facade. Allowed ourselves to be real.

Yell. Cry. Rest. Take five. Take a nap. Call a friend. Hug someone. Ask for help.

Yes, ask for help! How many times have you been willing to help someone? Friend or stranger, have you been ready to help out without a seconds thought? Many people in our world can be so caring and giving. Yet, so many people will not ask for help. They hold it in. They “man-up” or “push through” or “press on” or whatever ridiculous thing they tell themselves just so they don’t have to swallow their pride and be real.

Jesus told us to ask. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 Take note of the words Jesus used – Ask, Seek, Knock – “A” “S” “K”!

The Word of God tells us the we have not because we do not ask. James 4:2

We are also commanded many times to help each other.

Love our neighbors as ourselves. Carry each others burdens. Look after the widows and the sick. Just to name a few. Mathew 22:39, Galatians 6:2, 1 Tim 5:3

But the point I wish to make here today is to be real! Superficialities and platitudes help no-one. Be Real! Be You. Let someone in during these difficult times and let yourself be refreshed by their love and support. After all wouldn’t you be loving and supportive of them if they needed it?

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.        John 4:23-24 NIV

If this scripture isn’t calling for us to let down our superficial ways of approaching God (and each other) then I know nothing and should stop writing. Don’t be locked into platitudes in life and especially not in your prayer life. Be real and be transparent. Love and encourage everyone but also allow yourself to be loved, encouraged, lifted up or even carried if that’s what you need.

I’ll stop now. I’ve obviously gotten carried away with this thought for today. Just be encouraged today and if you need help ask. Ask God. Ask a loved one. But ask. Because pretending you are ok when you are not will not help.

 

Be Blessed A&B

The End Is Near!!

The end is near! 

Haven’t we all heard that before? Maybe even seen a street evangelist touting a sign and shouting “Repent! The end is near.” Jesus Himself told His disciples that although He was leaving “in a little while He would be back.” John 16:16-20 NKJV 

The End Is Near!

But just how near? Will Jesus return in our lifetime? This decade perhaps? Maybe this year? How about this month? Could He come back tomorrow?  Or will He wait much longer before bringing this age to a close? 

The End Is Near!

Look around. Look at your community. How does it compare with the recent past? Compare the world around you today to the world your parents grew up in. Has the overall condition of the neighborhood improved or deteriorated over time? 

The Word of God tells us that in the end days it will be perilous times. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Tim 3:1-5 KNJV

Does this paint a picture of the world we live in or must society move further away from God and civility to fit this description? 

The End Is Near!

Look around. Broaden your vision and look at the world as it is today. Consider world history both recent and past. Compare the world today to the world your parents grew up in. Has the overall condition of the society, or for that matter our planet itself, improved or deteriorated over time? Are you witnessing the continuing evolution of mankind as the world would have you believe? Or are you clearly seeing what I like to call the de-evolution of this world.  

Paul puts it this way in discussing the state of the world – consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hopethat the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.                  Romans 8:18-21 NIV

The bondage of decay – This world is in bondage (helpless to stop or prevent) to a condition of decay. This is not a description of something evolving into a better condition than its previous state but rather a slow downward descent into a state of destruction.

Paul goes one to say that “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” and “even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:22 &23 KNJV

Jesus told us what the world would look like before His return. He said these things would be the beginnings f sorrows.

Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.  And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:4-14 NKJV

He told us that when we see things to look up because our redemption draws near.

Yes!! That’s right even Jesus said the end is near some 2000 years ago. Sooner or later it will be here! 

The End Is Near!!

Covid-19 has and will continue to change the world around us into a new norm. Social distancing, telecommuting, food shortages, schools closed, city streets turned into ghost towns. The world as we knew it just a short time ago may never be again. If you use any of your quarantine time searching the Internet you’ll find theories about this pandemic,  how it came to be what does it mean and when will it end. You’ll find conspiracy theories about the heralding in of a cashless society or the Mark of The Beast,  New World Order and the implementation of an authoritarian government. 

It’s a rabbit hole that’s not easy to get out of so avoid it and concentrate on a real and personnel relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is all you need. He is all anyone needs. 

The End Is Near! 

Frankly, whether Jesus returns to take His children home today, tomorrow or some distant day we need to be ready. Whether this pandemic or some other event, large scale or personally, takes our health away and brings the end we need to be ready.

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.  For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36 NKJV

 

Personal note – not that it matters but for the sake of full disclosure we do believe that the Lord’s return, as evident by the Rapture of the Church is closer than most may believe. Clearly our opinion isn’t of importance here. The only thing that’s important is establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ or strengthening that relationship  if you already know Him.

 The End Is Near!!

The Seven Deadly Sins – Conclusion

The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

   We are all aware of the Ten Commandments handed down to Moses by God on the mountain top. They are only a part of the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament) that all together make up 613 laws covering every aspect of life.

   We all also know how Jesus summed up all the Law and Commandments to just two Golden Rules. Love God and Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The seven deadly sins in their current form are not found in the Bible. However there are Biblical references that address each of them individually and we will look at each of them.

The seven deadly sins are also referred to as cardinal sins or capital sins and as such these names give the impression that there are degrees to sin. The idea that some are not so severe or problematic to the spiritual state of an individual in comparison to other sins. This, I believe, is a slippery slope and can lead people to believe that they are better then others simply by virtue of being considered less obviously sinful. Such as comparing a yourself  (and your easily overlooked short-comings) to someone whose sin is self evident and appalling.  Sin is sin and there is none that is greater or lesser than the other. Given the opportunity to repent and turn away from ones sins – no matter how great, how many or how shocking – all sins will be forgiven.

In previous posts we have looked at Pride and Greed in depth. Here today I will attempt to sum up the remaining five – lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. As insidious as sin in general can be I believe that some of these seven to be greater traps than others. Pride, greed, lust, envy and wrath are exaggerations of our natural emotions. Kind of like a highjacking of our emotions if you will.

After all we all feel good about doing well and accomplishments we have achieved but pride can be blinding if we fail to see our shortcomings or if we inflate ourselves above others around us. Jesus always pointed to The Father. He said He did the works of Him who sent Him. He humbled Himself as a servant and didn’t even respond to threats and accusations during His trial. Just as God the Father acknowledge Jesus, Jesus sparks of the Father and the Holy Spirit speaks of Jesus. Humility among the deity of the Trinity.

Likewise with greed we see our natural desire to have our basic needs met but when we begin to want more than reasonably necessary it a problem. This, I believe, could be said for the remainder of the seven. Natural instincts going too far even if we are helpless to the insidious spiral.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of GodRom 3:23 NKJV

All have sinned. Yes, all. That means me. That means you. That means everyone.

But what is sin? Who is to blame for the sin condition? Can’t we fix or stop it?

Sin – by definition is a transgression of divine law/ an act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principal. (1)

It has also been said that Sin is simply missing the mark. The “mark” obviously being the standard set by God.

Who is to blame can be a more contentious topic than what sin is. the Bible tells us that by one mans disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners. (2) This speaks to what is commonly referred to as original sin. What about the sins we accumulate in our lives? Adam can’t be blamed for my lying, stealing, lusting or hoarding – can he?

Paul talks about the human condition when he tells us that the flesh and the spirit are at odds. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Gal 5:17 NKJV This means that we have to put an effort into obeying or listening to the Spirit of God in order to have victory over the flesh/human condition to sin. So does this mean we are to blame for our sins? Yes! But only to a degree.

Paul also explains to us that there is an invisible battle going one around us. He explains that there are forces at work behind the scenes that influence behavior. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:12 NKJV

When Jesus met with people who were considered insane or suffering from seizures He cast demons out of them. When Peter told Jesus that he would protect Jesus from those that meant to harm Him Jesus rebuked the devil behind Peters words. Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is 2020 and you’re talking about demonic possession? I know you are probably thinking that we are past all that silly way of thinking. But are we? Pick up the paper. Turn on the news. Surf the internet and see the degree to which society has spoiled. Like a jug of milk left out in the hot sun we have spoiled and gone rancid in our decay. The degree of depravation of man against man is a testimony to the darkness that influences our world. The extreme cases exemplified by not only these seven deadly sins but all sin should be a wake up call to how far we have fallen and also how close we must be to the Lord’s return. Paul told us that this day would come – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  2 Tim 3:1-3 NKJV

Road rage, abortion, sexual immorality, the desensatation to blood, gore and death, the applauding of lifestyles and ideals that only a generation ago would have been shamefully looked down upon are only a few examples of just how far we have fallen and it shows the finger print of the one who is behind it. It is not all our own sinful fallen nature but also not all demonic. It is more closely a little of both.

After all, if we had it within us to be victorious over sin then Jesus didn’t need to die for our sins. That is unless you think He died for “Their sins” because you don’t have any or you have conquered those little sins that troubled you when you were young and foolish.

The biggest sin is the one we can not see. Jesus rebuked the religious people who pointed out the small sin in others lives while not clearly seeing the huge sin in their own lives. This brings us back to Pride. (3), (4)

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud,But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.*                                                                James 4:1-7NKJV

*I heard a great sermon years ago called ‘Formula for victory over sin!’ based on this scripture. the finer point of the teaching was how we need to use the entire formula and not just try to resist the devil. I need to be reminded of that sometimes. Be Blessed A&B

 

Earth Day @ 50!

50 Years ago the First Earth Day was celebrated! 50 years ago I was 12 and my classmates and I were tasked with cleaning up a huge corner lot which later became the new high school. ahhh the memories!

Earth Day, the Environmental movement and Mother Earth have been around for centuries. (1), (2), (3) The worship of the earth as a god or goddess (along with other celestial bodies; sun, moon stars and even animals) is not new. In current times we do not look at Earth Day as a worshipping of the earth but more as an acknowledgment of our impact upon the earth and our combined responsibility to try and preserve it. Reducing emissions, slowing the growth of greenhouse gasses, curbing pollution and various other acts are meant to lessen the impact of mankind to the environment.

What is or should be the Christians stand in all this? Do we appose these ideals because they may have their roots in Earth worship? Do we arrogantly site the Bible which clearly teaches us that this world will be transformed and renewed in some future whether near or distant? Do we comply with any and all mandates handed down by the authorities over us regardless of our religious beliefs? What if doing so violates our beliefs?

Now we all should know very well that our God is a jealous God and demands that we have no other gods before Him. (4) So worshipping the earth as a deity is out of the question. Currently, the earth day ceremonies don’t lean towards worship like they did centuries ago. Our understanding of the prophesies concerning the future of this planet and its condition is good for our own peace of mind and perhaps as a tool evangelism but doesn’t give us the right to be arrogant or irresponsible with the care of the planet/environment.

When questioned about whether or not Jews should pay taxes to the Roman emperor Jesus plainly explained that since Caesars face was on the money the people should give back to Caesar what was his but more importantly to give back to God what belonged to God (their hearts – implied). Other Bible verses tell us to live in peace with those around us and to obey the laws placed over us as long as to do so doesn’t violate our conscience or the laws of God. (5)

So, as long as using a cloth shopping bag rather then plastic or limiting the pesticides used on my lawn or recycling some portion of my garbage, isn’t grieving the Holy Spirit I see no harm. I am secure in the knowledge of the creator of this Earth and my relationship with Him is not in jeopardy by my compliance with local laws regarding environmental concerns.

Let us all remember that Jesus made this earth along with everything in it for us to live with and enjoy. Let us be good stewards of this garden He has given us while we are here. Like any other gift He has placed under our authority and care we want to act responsibly so that we will here Him say “Well done good and faithful servant” (6)

 

Be blessed A&B

Can I Get A Witness?!

Can I get a Witness?

Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!             1Chronicles 16:9 NKJV

O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.                                                                                                                   Psalms 71:17 NKJV

Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!                     Psalms 105:2 NKJV

Can I get a witness? Can you tell me what the Lord has done for you? Or, would that be bragging? In the sight of pain, confusion and stress around us would cheerfully telling people what the Lord has done for you come across as bragging? It shouldn’t!

In fact God commands it!

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven”.                                                                                  Matthew 10:32 NKJV 

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.                                     Mark 16:15 NKJV

And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”                                                                                                  Acts 1:7-8 NKJ

In the sight of pain, confusion and stress around us today would cheerfully telling people what the Lord has done for you come across as bragging? It shouldn’t!

At this time, more than ever, we need to spread hope and encouragement. What better why to do so then to recount the dark and hopeless place God saved you from. I, obviously don’t know you, but I am certain that if you believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as your Saviour and Lord, you went through something that only He could have saved you from.

Maybe it was the darkness of self doubt and confusion. Or perhaps some type of sickness or disease. Maybe you suffered from the hopelessness of addiction or the powerlessness of watching a loved one suffer. Perhaps you don’t consider what you went through very significant or great.

I am here to tell you that Did loves you and was with you through all the pain and hurt you experienced. He was there and He did what others could not. From His vantage point He held you up and saw you through even if you didn’t know it at the time. Where you are now is because of His love for you. Where you are now is a testimony of His love for you. Whatever it was that you went through it was meant to bring you back to Him and give glory to Him.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.                                          John 9: 1-3 NKJV

The 9th chapter of Johns’ Gospel gives us an example of how God intervened in the sufferings of one man and the result was glory to God. The man was born blind and was well known around the city. His parents, when they were questioned about his new found sight, said that he was of age so ask him yourself. This tells us that he was at least 21 years of age. So, this man was born blind and lived this way for 21 years (or more) so that God could be glorified through him. His years of suffering were ended in a moment and his eyes were opened to both natural sight and the truth of who Jesus was. He did not lament the years blind or the what-ifs that past him by for years. He does give a matter-of-fact testimony of what God had done for him. Was this bragging? I don’t think so.

It has always been my opinion that the answer to the eternal question – “why me!!!!”- is that you will not learn from other peoples experience. Admittedly, that a fairly cynical way of thinking. The Gospels show us that people can learn from the experiences of others. That only serves as further proof of the importance of witnessing. Whether you go door to door or stand on a street corner or just share your good news with your circle of friends and co-workers, tell someone what the Lord has done for you. Tell them that He is no respecter of persons (He does not discriminate or play favorites) and if He did it for you He will do it for them.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.                                     Mark 16:15 NKJV

 

Be Blessed A&B

HE’S ALIVE!

 He’s Alive! He’s Alive! He’s Alive and I am forgiven!

Here in lies our hope…..

  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.   1 Cor 15:17 NKJV

If Jesus Christ did not rise from the grave then He was not who he said He was. If He was not who He said he was then He was not the Lamb of God and did not die for our sins. If He did not die for our sins then we are still in our sins and doomed to be separated from God. For the Law and the shedding of the blood of lambs and goats can not wash away sin but only cover them up until something better (The Savior) came along. If He did not defeat sin and death then we are doomed…..

But He did rise and when He died the veil in the Temple was torn in half from top to bottom signifying that we can boldly go directly to God because of the life-changing work that Jesus did that day.

He is alive! No great mystery. No Doctrinal dissertation. No religious dogma. No rules and regulations. No fees to be paid or tolls to pass threw.

Just open up your heart and let Him Love You!

 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.  Rev 3:20 HSCB

 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Matthew 11:28 KJV

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.  John 1:23 NKJV

 As we all celebrate this Sunday in a new socially distanced safe way remember that our hope is in the Lord Jesus Who rose from the dead some two thousand years ago today – and if He be risen than we are free from our sins and will also rise again – and be with Him forever!!

Happy Resurrection Sunday

Take a moment to listen to Paul Harvey tell a story please. To those that never knew him Paul Harvey was a Radio personality and a wonderful story teller.

It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming

 

It’s Friday but Sunday is coming!

It’s Friday

Beat, bleeding, betrayed and berated Jesus is sentenced to death!

But Sunday is coming

It’s Friday

They nail Him to the cross and watch for Him to die as the sky turns black

But Sunday is coming

It’s Friday

The Son of God

Creator of All things

Takes the sin of the world

But Sunday is coming

It’s Friday

The punishment for my sins are laid on Him

God the Father turns away

The Son of God

Let’s out His last breath

But Sunday is coming

It’s Friday and the mourners cry

The apostles flee

The world is dark

Hope is dead

But Sunday is coming!!

Sunday is the day of Promise

The Day of Fulfillment and Joy

The Day that Death lost it’s sting

And the Grave lost it’s hold

Jesus, The Lord of All arose

And left the burial cloth behind

Jesus, The Risen Lamb that was slain

Lives so that we may live with Him

To those of us who believe

To those who call Him Lord

There will be troubles and trials

These will be our Friday’s

But if we believe

But if we call Him Lord

There will be victory

There will be Sunday

God Bless You on this Resurrection Sunday

John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Rev 1:4-8 nkjv

This is a reposting of something I wrote years ago but in light of the Cover-19 pandemic these words and the sentiment they convey are even more relevant now. Be encouraged. Trust in Jesus and Love one another.

Denial, Fear or Faith!!

Dear God help me please!!

If God had a social media presence His phone would be blowing up!!

Global Pandemic! The number of sick growing daily almost hourly! The dead being stored in refrigeration trailers because funeral homes can’t keep up!

Add to that the healthy people that are out of work. Businesses that can’t operate or operate in a limited fashion. Unemployment claims being placed by the millions in America alone. Families sheltering in place. The elderly isolated in nursing homes.

Where are you in this storm?

Whose side are you one? Are you trusting God or blaming Him?

What?! Whose side? What kind of question is that to ask at a time like this!?

Granted, it’s strange question. But the truth is that each of us are on a side. Maybe we have even changed sides a few times since this started. Maybe since you got up today.

What are the sides?

Team Denial! “Yea this is pretty bad but I’ll be ok and it’s gonna be over soon so why the fuss. Let’s play ball or have a party!”

That may sound like a crazy comment to imagine anyone saying given the current state of this situation. But, how many times since this began have you seen people ignoring the social distancing rule? How many times have you or someone you know ignored the stay at home order for something other than food/med shopping or going back and forth to work? Just how seriously are you taking this? Think about it? Either our appointed leaders are giving us the best possible advise concerning our health and well being or they are just playing a sick joke. I don’t think anyone is joking here.

Team Fear! “Oh my gosh! It’s the end of the world!! Hospitals and first responders won’t be able to keep up! The stores will run out of food and supplies! Rioting will break out as the infrastructure crumbles!”

This mentality is equally as destructive as the previous one. Blinded by fear is just that – Blinded! Fear never motivates a positive response just ask anyone that works saving lives of people drowning. They know that they are at risk of drownding by being climbed on by the very person they wish you save. The frantic fear filled person will never think rationally and their actions will reflect that irrational mindset. Going down a rabbit hole of fear and what if’s will drain your strength and destroy the spirit.

Team Faith! “God will provide! Don’t worry just pray and trust in the Lord. He will be glorified in this storm you wait and see!”

There’s a saying I heard many years ago (If you have been reading my posts you know that I have a bunch of these) that goes like this – Don’t be so heavenly-minded that you are no earthly good. I think this applies here. At face value the rallying cry of Team Faith is good. It’s scriptural. It’s a faith statement so to speak but it can be flippant and superficial if your level of Faith isn’t there. It can be alienating to others at a time when being supportive and compassionate is needed most.

The Gospels are full of examples of the level of faith people had and how it affected their lives. The woman with the issue of blood believed that she need only touch the hem of His garment to be healed. The Centurion beloved that Jesus could nearly speak the words and the servant would be healed. Juries believed that if Jesus touched his daughter she would live. In contrast, Jesus was unable to do many things in His home town because of their unbelief. See Luke 8:40-55,  Matthew 8:7-10, Matthew 9:26-29, Matthew 13:53-58

We should not expect anyone to have the level of faith that we have. Whether we have a small level or a huge level of faith in God it is ours and it is a reflection of the relationship we have with Him. Furthermore we should exercise our Faith in God responsibly. Ever see those people that play with snakes because the Word of God say that a believer shall be able to take up serpents? Their show of faith (I can’t judge) almost mocks the Word of God and creates a sideshow atmosphere.

Let’s not be blinded with naive denial or frantic with fear or superficially spiritual.

Let us, the Body of Christ, bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world around us by meeting them where they are. Paul said that he would be all things to all men for the sake of the Gospel. This does not mean that he was disingenuous. To the contrary. Paul was what we would call a “people person”. The kind of guy who could strike up a conversation in the line at the grocery store. Yea. That guy!

When Paul traveled to Greece to spread the Word of God there was a law in place that prohibited the preaching of new gods. Paul saw that there was an altar dedicated to “the unknown god”. Paul didn’t disregard the law of the land. He could have but he didn’t. Instead, he saw an opportunity to inform the people about this “Unknown god” they had but an altar for. He wasn’t disobedient to the law. He didn’t cower in fear and he wasn’t flippant or superficial. He seized a moment and shared the truth of just who this God was. He met them were they were.

With each passing day and ever news broadcast there are opportunities to be in denial or fear or faith. Be confident in the faith in God that lives within you. Share that Faith. Draw on your past experiences with God and tell people what God has done for you. They will get it if you tell it from the heart.

Be Blessed A&B

Passover – Never Forget!!

For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.  Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

Exodus 12:12-14 NKJV

As Christians we observe many holy days. We celebrate The Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as Passion week when He was betrayed and given over to be tried and crucified. We celebrate the last supper in the form of Communion most Sundays. Some denominations celebrate many other events or persons as they affirm their faith. Obviously we see other Faiths, such as the Jewish brethren, remember important events in history of their relationship with God.

Those of the jewish faith celebrate Passover this week. They remember that God called them out of bondage from Egypt. By the signs of many miracles God used Moses to stand against the pharaoh and speak God’s word. The last sign of Gods’ power was a reversal of a curse that the pharaoh spoke against the children of Israel. Death of the first born!

God prepared His children against this day and instructed them to slaughter a lamb and place the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes. “and when I see the blood, I will pass over you:”  

All those years ago God Almighty poured out His love on His people by saving them from the Angel of Death. He made it possible for them to be saved from what must have been a huge devastating event.

Many years later God made a way of saving His children again.

He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrificial Lamb Whose blood will wash away the sins of many and save them from eternal damnation.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

We who believe in Him have eternal life. Eternal Life, not here in this sinful decaying world, but in the world to come. So, as these difficult times of Covid-19 play out before us. As the days of Spring bring a rebirth of flowers and trees and gardens. Find courage and Peace because you are not called to death and darkness but to Life and everlasting light with Him.

This post was written in a bit of a hurray before I ran off to work but I think we as Christians should always remember that we have not replaced The Children of Israel in Gods eye but rather we have been grafted into the tree of that God planted many many years before us – His chosen ones – Israel.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.

Ps. 122:6 NKJV