Instant conclusions

In our society, we draw conclusions about everything and most of the time we do it immediately. Especially when it comes to violence in a public place. Writers for many publications are disavowing any responsibility when it comes to owning the reason for any crime which has a violent outcome. In spite of our collective ideas of terrorism, whether it is done by a person of color or not, we still tend toward segregation of blame.

If you are of a certain religion then you are radicalized. If you are African-American then you are angry, about what doesn’t seem to matter, but that is what the pundits on “news” programs label people as. But when the person is white, they are labeled as insane and a gun nut or even disturbed because of PTSD. Yet, many of them bought their weapons legally with background checks and apparently passed those checks multiple times.

Why do we or at least some in America make these snap judgments about each other and about people who buy firearms and use them. It is true that we only think these things when some person uses a firearm to take lives in a way that is inconsistent with society or its norms. But honestly, any life taken is one which was taken too soon! Murder is against the law of man and God as well! It doesn’t matter if you kill someone with a knife or a gun or a bomb, murder is still against God’s law!

What can make someone snap to the point of shooting at people just because they are convenient targets? I will never understand the kind of crazy that sounds like!

Was God there? Yes, in the first responders who came to the aid of those in danger. He was there with the police who stormed the hotel and found the killer who was taking lives like targets on a range. Yes, God was there and He is still there giving comfort and strength to families and friends and to those who are recovering! We all need to pray for the victims and for our country because there could be another person who may snap and begin to do this somewhere else.

Seek Him out in all things and look for God in every place where you are because He is there, sad though He may be because of our intent and because of the apathy that is in our society today.

 

Advertisements

Life is….

Why in the world would I write this post? Nobody is going to read it!

I hope that little prophecy doesn’t fulfill itself. God has given each of us a part to play in this world and we have to play it. In some way we usually do fulfill God’s will for our lives. We may not realize it at the time but since God is in control of everything in the universe, He can move people and circumstances around so that His purposes are done.

follow ChristWhy do I bring this up at this time? Because, we have pushed God and any mention of Him out of public life and education. We have turned away from religion and from being a Christian nation, not collectively but in general. For some reason our society still tries to identify as a Christian nation, but mostly the population wants nothing to do with God or Christianity.

Life is…funny that way. We like the idea of being Christian but in practice most of America wants very little involvement with it. We attend services when a family member or friend dies or some tragedy happens and we may pray when our life is going downhill fast, hoping that Someone will hear our prayer. If our life levels out a bit, we count ourselves lucky and move on. We don’t even consider that God may have fixed our problem in order to get our attention, but we don’t give it to Him.

God loves humanity in general and each person in particular and He does so at a depth that we can’t understand, yet most of us don’t want anything to do with the God we find in the Bible. We create a god which fits our lives. One which we are comfortable with in our minds and One which only requires us to do what we are comfortable with. When we do this we carry that god with us everywhere because he doesn’t ask much of us and we don’t have to do anything except praise him.

The problem is that our “god” is NOT God. We created him and we pray to him but this god is only a god in our mind. He doesn’t occupy a throne in Heaven and he didn’t create the Universe or anything in it. We fool ourselves into thinking that our god is the God of the Bible and that is why we are deceived in so many ways…until we really do confront Him in a church that preaches from the Bible and we find that our god isn’t God.

Don’t turn away from the True Creator and God! Learn more about Him. Seek Him out and find your place in His Kingdom because your god doesn’t have a kingdom. Your version of god is Satan, even though you don’t think so. God loves you more than you can imagine so don’t give up on your Creator because He has never given up on you!

Are you independent?

IndependantTogetherIn our society, especially American society, we are encouraged by movies and family many times from childhood to be independent. Don’t depend upon anyone. Do it yourself or learn how to do it yourself so you won’t depend on someone else. All of this is good advice up to a point. But what do you do when life throws a wrench into your life, like a death in the family or a disease that isn’t easy to cure or live with? Being independent and on your own doesn’t seem like such a good idea at this point, does it?

Depression is also one of those “monkey-wrenches” which can throw you for a real loop! Man or woman, married or not, military, police, or firefighter or just coming out of your teen years, depression doesn’t discriminate at all! In fact, peer pressure and job stress or stress from a death or dying family member just makes it more intense.

I just performed a graveside service for a good friend and family member recently. It was hard, but God provided the strength to get through it. My point in writing this today is not to recount that experience but to focus on how people, men specifically, handle their independence. We usually have friends while going through elementary and high school and while in college. But, when college is over we usually get down to the business of life. Jobs, maybe marriage and children, although sometimes not in that order, particularly in today’s so-called “modern” age.

The problem facing men today is that many of us grew up without a strong father figure in our lives. Some of us didn’t have a father around at all. Some of us only had a grandfather and he tried to do the best he could, but he was afraid of possibly running us away if he got too strict with our upbringing. Some people say that this isn’t really a problem, but if you look at the population of our prison systems and talk to many of them, I think you would find that most, if not all, had no true father figure in their lives.

Also being independent as we are taught to be tends to cause us to push through life without a close friend. We don’t make friends as men, we make acquaintances. People that we know at work, but not outside of work. I mean, do you know a friend’s phone number that you could call if you needed to talk? Would you actually call them if you do know their number?

This is the problem which men face in our world today. Women tend to make friends very easily by comparison. Scientists say that it is because of evolution. I say it is because women share the job of raising children all the way back to the time of Eve, when she had daughters to help her. Later, as the population grew, the women of the village would gather to keep up with the children and wash clothes and other chores which needed to be done. They got to know each other.

Men only gather when it is time to hunt or to defend the village from marauders, or some other “manly” job such as that. When the hunt is over or the fire is put out, we tend to break up and go our separate ways. Living life alone. If we don’t have a family, that can be deadly. Seek out friendships with other men. Start a Bible study at church or in your home with them men of the church. Have a breakfast or a BBQ with some friends. Get to know some of the men who live around you. Because…you never know when you might need their help or they might need yours.

There will be another post on this topic on thelivingmessage.com later so as they say on TV, stay tuned.

No one to talk to

men-and-depression-16-638I have no one to talk to. I am a preacher by calling but that’s not all. I am a father and a husband too.

The words which I preach come from the Bible but it seems to be the least interesting to those in attendance. The Bible just doesn’t hold people’s interest today, unless you can bring flashy performance and video into your sermon too. At least, that is what some churches do

Nobody cares to know how it feels. Some days after a sermon it feels like I have been beaten with a stick. Then there are some days it feels as if everything went right.

The only people who I can talk to about this is Jesus and my family, because nobody else cares, except I don’t want to burden them with my depression, my demons, my feelings.

I am not alone in this of course. Many pastors go through depression, sometimes very deep. C.H. Spurgeon experienced depression so deep that it laid him low for days at a time.

1 Peter 1:6: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” The heaviness which Peter spoke of was depression and heaviness of heart, during a time when the church was beginning to feel persecuted later in the first century. 

Sometimes people either don’t want to hear any truths from the Bible or they only want to hear good tidings which make them feel good about their lives. When you tell people the truth about their actions or anything that they don’t want to hear, then they turn away from you and your message. Many of God’s prophets in time past went through entire seasons, decades even, in which they were not heard or ignored because the people didn’t want to hear it.

In the world around us today, these same feelings are evident. From the government in Washington, DC to little towns all around the nation and all over the world it seems that much of what the people hear is nonsense. The news which is reported is about nit-picking and something which someone tweeted last week. If there were any true ground-breaking news, it seems to get swept under the heading of “other news” and not as a headline.

Seek out God and His Wisdom while it can be found because in the days and weeks and years to come, the governments may require that all of His Word be burnt and that Christianity be muzzled and fearfully spoken of.

 

Don’t legitimize….

You may wonder why I didn’t put a subject behind that but there is a reason. It is because we are giving legitimacy to many religions and beliefs when we shouldn’t be! There are too many subjects which would fit in that title. What are they? Dowsing, pyramid energy, mediums who claim to be using “angel cards”, ouija, etc.; all of these and more are part of the occult and people shouldn’t be consulting with them, but they are.

Giving these “optional” beliefs legitimate status doesn’t help us to get the message out into the world that Jesus is the way to salvation, not “alternate religions”. There are so many different beliefs in the world until it is hard to understand just why there are so many. Satan has been working very hard to give people an alternate viewpoint which can be molded into a new religion or faith. It seems that today it is so easy to put your faith in almost anything besides God and Jesus!

separatechurchesWe talk about religion and being religious as if that covers all of Christianity but you can be religious about anything. Just because someone seems to be religious doesn’t mean that they are a Christian. They could be religious about any one of the hundreds of different religions out there, you could even be a religious atheist! My point is this: don’t give religions other than Christianity a legitimate foothold!

I know, I am not being inclusive of all people and their beliefs and I will own that. What I am trying to get people to think about here is ETERNITY!! There is only one God and Jesus the Christ Who can grant you access to eternity, or at least one that you would enjoy living in! The Bible states it plainly that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, all other paths, even though they may be morally good, will lead you elsewhere for eternity.

Some faiths don’t believe in eternal punishment like the lake of fire foretold in Revelation. But, if God says that is where you will be and He doesn’t lie, then that is where your choices will take you! Seek out Jesus and His gospel, believe in Him and repent of your sinful ways and then follow Him, reading His Word and praying for strength each day because it is through Him that we are given eternal life and forgiveness.

 

Like a child

LetthechildrencometoMeHow many people do you know who think or act like a child? There are many I would guess in our society today and it seems to be getting worse. Many of them are in the news crying about what someone said hurting their feelings so much that they need a safe place. A safe place for what exactly? So many of them have their eyes glued to the screen of a phone until I don’t see how they even know what is happening around them!

Jesus told us to “believe like a child” not to act like one! Children believe and will do what their parent’s tell them, most of the time. Especially when they are young, at least up until this last generation was born. Twenty years or so in the past, this type of behavior wasn’t too bad. Now it seems to be rampant among college age kids who have no idea about life in the real world and how things are really happening around them. Many of them today are too busy with their games or their phones or both. Chasing Pokemon all over the place and getting into trouble or worse while doing it.

Could life be better in this world? Yes, but it would take a major revival of values in this country. Which would put so many people into shock and running for their safe places until many people would be trampled in the streets. Many of those who are against Christianity have said that our religion has caused all sorts of death and destruction in the name of Jesus. I know it has happened in the past, and I mean the distant past. The Crusades, the Inquisition, and some others in the Dark Ages, but come on, which church was actually doing this?

The so-called “mother” church, Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church had a lot of influence during this time. Not because they were the dominant church, which they were at the time for good reason. The common man wasn’t allowed to own or read a Bible. Much of the service was done in Latin and there were no Scriptures in the common language until the Geneva Bible and Tyndale and Wycliffe translated it and it was printed. Even then, many who were found to have possession of one of these English Bibles were burned at the stake because of it.

I am not bashing Catholic believers or their church, just look it up and you can find this information in history books like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and other historical documents. God loves each of us, regardless of the doctrine that your church may follow or teach. As long as your pastor/teacher is teaching from God’s Word and not changing it to suit his way of thinking!

Please, think about giving your life to Jesus and following Him on a daily basis because the alternative to Heaven is not worth eternity.

The breath of Life!

Do you consider breathing a chore or just something that you do? It is automatic, like walking or eating or even drinking water when you are thirsty. What if…you couldn’t do any of those things, then where would you be and how would you get by? If you were paralyzed and could not walk or feed yourself what then? Do you just give up and wait to die? It seems that some would do just that!

Why?? It is true that being paralyzed is a very tough life to live, but with determination it can be done.

It is the same with being a Christian in a world that hates Christianity. Nobody wants to listen to your so-called lies and no one tolerates any amount of prayer in public, so watch it when you bless your food! If you are a follower of Allah, then you can break out a prayer rug five times a day and nobody will say a word about it. Why? Because, if they did it is considered discrimination and they are afraid of legal and physical retaliation!

Christians can’t do any kind of public prayer or preaching because it is offensive. It was that way just a few months after Jesus’ death and it is still that way but worse. People get offended by the slightest mention of the name of Jesus or even by seeing a cross hanging on your neck because of Who it represents. Why? Because they know that God’s Word is true! They know it in their bones and in their hearts, yet in our PC world today, offense toward someone in any way can get you arrested!

One day, when Jesus comes back people will hate Him for coming back but He is coming regardless. He is not worrying about those He will offend or those who still hate Him because they are going to get their just rewards whether they like it or not! God loves all people, but He will not spare them from punishment if they refuse His Grace and offer of salvation through Jesus!

Seek Him out while there is time and don’t put it off because you don’t have a guarantee of tomorrow or next year. There is a reason for the hatred of Christians and their religion…it is because it is true! God placed the knowledge of Him into our hearts whether we know Him or not, but until you ask Jesus to come into your life and fix all the broken pieces and clean out the garbage that you placed there, you will not know Him as Lord and Savior! Knowledge about Jesus and knowing about the Bible from a few verses that you have heard now and again only gives you head knowledge, but until He lives in your heart and you have read His Word prayerfully and completely, knowledge is all that you have.

The Breath of Life comes from God through the Holy Spirit by way of His Grace when you believe in Jesus. It doesn’t come from the Koran or any other religious book or any amount of sacrifices or work that you do in this world! God is the only Creator and the Giver of Life, eternal life, and if you refuse that gift you are doomed to an eternity in hell with all of the others who have turned away from Jesus and chosen to follow their own ways. Eternal life in hell and separation from God and all that is good is the worst way to spend eternity. Don’t go there.

Barriers and walls

Many times in your life, whether you are a Christian or not, you will come up against walls. Some of them are built by pain, some of them are built by envy or jealousy, some of them are built by a disease which causes you pain in a very deep emotional way. We all have to scale these walls and barriers at some point, some of them are hard to climb because they are so big, but they can be torn down.

Oh, we can’t do this by ourselves though, regardless of what counselors and some doctors may tell you. Walls, whether built by emotions, disease, death, jealousy, racism, or hatred, can only be broken down by God’s work in your heart and in your life. Day by day, walking with Him and seeking His wisdom and strength by which we can take the walls down brick by brick is the only way.

It is not a quick process and it isn’t easy either, especially when you have been able to take care of yourself in other situations in your life. What makes this so difficult or any different? It’s because of what the walls and barriers are made from. The ones which are so difficult are made from emotions like fear, anger, resentment, racism, hate, envy and greed. There are others, but you get the point. These walls keep out those who care about you, whether it is God or friends and family!

Each of us feels the effect of these barriers in some way or another, sometimes the effect on us is that which causes a disease or pain. Emotions can do this and the ones which hurt the most usually do the most damage. It may take a little time before you feel the effects of it, but until it is resolved in some way, it will only get worse over time. In particular, anger and hatred which are unresolved or unforgiven will give you ulcers and possibly high blood pressure and they will make other conditions worse. Do the research yourself if you don’t believe me, but I am not pulling your leg.

Barriers and walls made from emotional bricks can cause more hurt and pain than many people realize. It doesn’t have to be anger or hatred which cause these walls, it can be envy, or any of a number of other emotions which I named earlier. All of them get in the way of relationships, especially your relationship with God. Seek His help in resolving these walls, breaking them down to the point where you can still have a relationship with Him daily. He can do it but He wants to do it with you!

I had these problems for a very long time, and at times they still pop up and blur my “spiritual vision” in a way. I usually sit down and talk with God about it as soon as I realize what is happening, and it soon resolves itself or God helps me to resolve it. Give it a try, ask God to help you because He is bigger than any problem or wall that may be in your life and He can help you bring it down.

What is coming?

Really, nobody knows. We do have some prophecies from the Bible which tell us some things which are coming in the next few years. How many years from now, nobody knows except for God Himself. The best thing that Christians can do is to pray and ask God to help them to become closer to Him.

Changes are coming in many different areas, and I am not speaking of our government here, around the world in the places where wars are being fought right now. Some new wars will be declared in other places along with weather patterns which may get worse.

We don’t know what or when but God is in charge and all of us need to turn to Him for our lives. I pray that this year will be the year that many people will come to salvation through Jesus.

A new year….a new beginning of sorts, make it eternal in the embrace of God.

Why worry?

It seems that the media is worried about all of us who live in “rural” areas of the country. Why? For most of our country’s history, those of us who live in the country, outside of city limits, were the one’s who fed the rest of the country. Now, all we want is to get away from most of the violence and other crime that seems to happen every day on the news.

I am not saying that crimes aren’t committed in the country because they are, but most of them involve stealing something easy to get away with. Very few murders, car jacking, or rape happen outside of city limits. I am sure that some of these do happen in other places, but they aren’t reported because it is a very local crime and limited in how many people were involved.

Am I saying that living in the country is completely safe? Absolutely not. I still lock the cars and the house and any storage area that we have. Thirty-five or so years ago, we didn’t lock our doors, but people have changed and so have the culture around us. Why worry about it?

I don’t really. I pray about our life and our home and ask God to give us protection from those who may do harm to our family and friends, then I hand the problem over to Him and leave it there. It is a learned skill and I have learned it over the past twenty or so years. It is not easy to let go of your anxiety and worries, but Jesus said that “today has enough trouble of its own”. Meaning that we shouldn’t worry about things which we cannot change and specifically about things which we have no control over at all!

God loves each of us, far more than we will ever know until we get to Heaven. We can’t understand His love and mercy toward us because His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts like ours. We can’t be perfect in all of our ways because we are human, but with the Holy Spirit living inside your heart, you can strive toward that calling of becoming more like Jesus. We will not be able to finish the course and be like Him until we stand in His Presence, but the race of life is the one we have to finish and trying to be like Him is the best that we can do.

Just as an old master Jedi once said, “Try not, do or do not there is no try”. Strive still toward the finish of your life when you will attain the goal of being like Jesus. Live as much like Him in this life as you can and let the rest fall to the side. That doesn’t mean that we have to be poor and penniless, it just means that we must walk through this life with our eyes turned toward Him daily. Not weekly or when its convenient, but from the moment you wake until night comes and you need rest for tomorrow. He will guide you on your path.