To Testify Or Not To Testify

When writers share their thoughts on page and screen we can usually get some insight into as to who they are and how they think. But we really never get to know the writer unless there is an biography written about them or they write an autobiography to tell their story. The Christian faith has a type of biography. This is called a testimony. They share this to testify how God has worked in their life. How God brought them from one place and into another. To illustrate this, I will offer some insights into my life for you here.

As a Christian, I am a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and my Savior. And most Christians have a testimony that share similarities. It is usually the story of a life away from God, doing their own thing, then a preacher or witness comes and shares the Gospel message of the saving grace of Jesus. There is usually some type of invitation to receive Christ as personal Savior, and then begins rebirth into newness of life! Always an exciting story and celebrated by countless numbers of people throughout the generations since the New Testament times!

My story doesn’t quite go that way. In fact, as linear as the testimony is to most people, my testimony looks more like a spirograph. Or maybe like the crayon drawing of a two year old. There’s really nothing linear about me and my walk with God through Christ!

But to begin, I must put in a disclaimer: I am not an ordained minister or pastor of any particular church/denomination. I do not hold a degree in any religious studies from a higher institution. Everything and anything that I talk about only comes from my own studies and leadings from the Holy Spirit…of which I have been a most difficult student to Him above. This is why the need to constantly preach to myself all these things that He, God, shows me and lays on my heart, that He reveals through His Word. You may have differing views or opinions regarding topics that I share on here. I make mistakes, misunderstand, and often take a long while to grasp concepts from the Bible. God knows I’m a work in progress.

Testimony appears in various usages and forms in both the old and new testaments. In the Old Testament, Hebrew words such a yaad, ud, and anah are used. They were used by prophets testifying against Israel or by certain visible evidences that point to God. Remember Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments and glowing? That can be considered one of his testimonies.

In the New Testament, the Greek word marturia appears throughout and it can mean testimony, witness or evidence. It’s also referenced as a defense, such as the way the Apostles would give a defense from the accusations made against them. A good example of a testimony, a defense, would be Paul appearing before King Agrippa and making his defense in Acts 26.

To be true, the entire Bible is one complete testimony…not only the testimony of the saints from the old to the New Testament, but a complete testimony of God Himself.

The testimony is a very important thing for the believer, as mentioned in Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” The power of the word of our testimony will come into play in the end times. It is our stance against the devil and the world when it comes against the truth of God. The testimony is a powerful ally along with the Bible and other evidences in Christian apologetics.

Our testimony is essentially our story of the workings and reality of God Himself in our lives. How God has shown His power through us in our lives as a witness to others. Even the fruit of the Spirit can be considered a testimony unto God.

So, what about me, my “testimony”? As I mentioned before, I don’t have a rags to riches linear story of sinner brought to God and saved from hell unto heaven. I alluded to my on again/off again salvation story in episode one in which I prayed the ol’ sinner’s prayer numerous times over many years thinking that the salvation process didn’t work for me since I didn’t have a lightning and thunder total change of heart in an instant moment every time I begged God into my life.

I didn’t have any one particular moment in time that I can say with certainty when I was saved. Some folks I know, and others I have heard, such as the great theologian RC Sproul, can name the date, time and circumstances surrounding the moment they first received salvation and how they changed in an instant. My cousin had a “come-to-Jesus” moment while living on the streets, getting high on drugs. After hearing the Gospel message from some street evangelists, he prayed for salvation and has since then walked with God. Even committing his life to evangelism on the streets and around the world.

My story is a mix of self salvation and going through the motions. One minute on fire for a moment or season but then growing cold and shutting down. It’s been up and down and all around. I can say with certainty though that God has been constantly tugging and pulling at me most of my life, but I never recognized it being of God.

As much as I have tried to venture down the path that leads to destruction, God has always pulled me back from the edge…without my knowing or understanding.

Even though I grew up attending the Lutheran church, going through confirmation classes, I still had no knowledge of God, Jesus, or the Bible. It didn’t matter to me then.

I recall being in the Air Force over in Germany…being filled with drunken debauchery, living for self and self-gratification. As naive as I was to the ways of life, I easily fell under the spells of the world and all it’s lusts and desires. Yet, out of the blue one day at a military store, I had this “need” to buy a bible. Why? Don’t know. I just knew I needed one. Did I read it? No, not then…

Years later, after starting a family and struggling to make ends meet, I remember watching a Billy Graham special. At the end, I participated in the call to “pray to receive salvation”. I remember saying the prayer with the expectation of thunder, lightning, angels singing, and a complementary “well done good and faithful servant” from God himself. Well, that was a let down. The one positive in my approach to the salvation response was that I started to read the Bible. I actually bought a little New Testament and carried it with me, reading it during down times. I didn’t actually know what I was reading, but I read it just the same.

I didn’t have any zeal for sharing the Gospel, possibly because I didn’t know the Gospel.

I did attend and join churches, gathering head knowledge over the years as I struggled with the salvation process. I became active in a church worship team for years, enjoying fellowship and learning more and more. But, with my life still crumbling down around me, I found myself always pushing away from God, church, and the pursuit of holiness.

During these years, I often found myself doubting salvation, praying again the “prayer” to save me, in hopes of changing and becoming like so many people I have seen in the church…pious and happy, filled with the Holy Spirit. Actually, I was jealous and wanted that! But, I didn’t get it.

Instead, despair and hopelessness filled my life.

There were some moments of light that would break through from time to time. Probably the most encouraging time was I went to see a pastor at a local Baptist church and asked him if I wasn’t feeling saved because I committed the unpardonable sin…grieved the Holy Spirit.

His answer would soon spark some revival within me when the shadows of doubt would permeate my heart. He said if I am worried about my salvation and being right with God, that’s the Holy Spirit working within me, convicting me, prompting me, moving me toward a path of righteousness instead of prodigalism. He shared that people who will not, or can not get right with God, those elect by the Spirit, won’t pursue God and His ways. They don’t think or worry about whether or not God is in their life. They don’t want to read the Bible or go to church.

That answer re-ignited hope within me.

Is this to say that my walk afterwards was that of a pious man? A man after God’s own heart? That the Word filled me with a righteousness? Unfortunately no. As hopeful as I was that there was a glimmer of hope, my hope lasted for just a season and I was back to the hot/cold/lukewarm battles.

As you can see up to this point, my testimony is one of wandering comparable to the Israelites in the desert for 40 years!

Even to this day, the battles rage on. What’s different about nowadays versus the many decades ago is that during the years wandering in the desert, I learned a lot about God. More than just that, I learned about theology. The study of God. I learned not only about the history of the church after the Apostolic period, but also about how man managed to interject himself into biblical interpretations and really skew the Word of God to fit certain narratives.

Not that this is some new means of attack on the Word of God and God’s true church…no…that has been going on since the beginning of time. Questioning God’s Word has been a scheme of the devil since before humanity came onto the seen. As explained in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, Lucifer was an angel of light, most beautiful in the heavens. Since he (and the other angels) are created beings, they are not perfect like God. He became full of himself and thought he should be glorified as God also. Pride. That very nature we all possess without having to be taught!

Lucifer brought a third of the angels with when cast out of heaven for his rebellion toward God. He convinced a third! Smooth talker and smart! He knows God’s words better than any human can. And because of that and his work to thwart God’s will…he manipulates those who study the Word of God, the Bible. So you can see how there are often differing views and opinions when interpreting Scripture. That is a history I don’t have time to get into today, but let’s just say that it is rampant in today’s churches!

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit helps guide people to read, interpret, understand, and use the Word of God correctly. After the reformation, many great men of God came out proclaiming the Word of God instead of man made rules and laws. Thankfully, this proper teaching of the whole Word inspired multitudes to walk away from false-teaching preachers and theologians and truly study the Word themselves. I thank God that I have a questioning spirit sometimes, because I find myself asking questions when listening or reading preachers and teachers. I constantly ask “where in the Bible does it say that?” And “what is the context of those words?” When you cast aside interpretations of men and read for yourselves, prayerfully and thoroughly, you discover God’s Words directly.

This is not to say that many teachers and preachers are bad. On the contrary, I have found great helps from the writings and teachings of good and solid reformers and theologians. But, we must take each with a grain of salt and, like the Bereans in Acts, test everything through the Scriptures! Thus, many of the social, cultural, and prosperity preachers and teachers are being exposed as false and heretical because people are using the Scriptures to examine their ways!

So many other aspects to my testimony, but as impatient as I am, wanting to be walking in the glory and light of God every minute of every hour of every day, I had to learn to be patient. God’s timing for things are not ours to alter. The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the wilderness because they were a “stiff-necked” peoples. God has to send each of us through different trials and paths to get us prepared for the Celestial City. Some come to faith easier than others. I have struggled long and hard. But, it has to be God’s timing. And most of all, I have to learn to trust in His timing! That….that is a difficult thing to do! We are a people of instant gratification. And having to wait through the sanctification process is hard…specially when we have an enemy that uses that time to trip us, hinder us, cause us to question God and His Word and His promises. Thus…all the more important to know the Word, the Scriptures!!!! I cannot stress this enough!

Had I taken time early on in my walk with God to study the Scriptures, I know that there would have been a stronger walk. But, God uses our faults and failings despite ourselves! This is why my testimony is all over the board. The prodigal son went out from his father for a season and came back. I’ve made so many trips away from God’s calling that I probably have enough frequent flyer miles to circle the heavens a thousand times!

Look, just saying a prayer and making some verbal commitment at a church service or event doesn’t save you. God saves you by changing your heart where you are…at the right time. God calls you from the depths of our depravities. Jesus paid the penalties for our sins on the cross as an atonement. The Holy Spirit works in you, continually, not just once in a while or at the time of our rebirth. Receiving Christ as our Savior is really us surrendering our ways for His ways. The process may be instant, or it may take decades. Either way, salvation is of God alone through Jesus Christ alone by the power of the Holy Spirit alone and explained in the Scriptures alone. To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.

No matter how your path toward Heaven goes, we all need to continually refill ourselves with that first love, that moment we realized we need God in our lives. We revisit that by filling our hearts and minds with his instruction book…the Bible. Without it, we are wandering the desert aimlessly. But during our journey, we need to pay close attention to the wild beasts that seek to devour us and lead us astray from the narrow path God has laid out for us. The only way to defeat the enemies during this journey, the only way to stay focused on the prize is to know where we are going and use the road map given to us…His Words!

Your testimony is your story of God bringing you into His fold, saving you from eternal hell. We all have a story, and the central point is God’s grace toward us, to call us to Himself. We must never lose that story, as it is powerful! To take a sinner, a heathen rebel, such as myself and allow me access to eternal glory and happiness and peace in Heaven…well, that’s a story of salvation! Whether I deserve it or not by man’s standards, that will not have any say…because God thought enough of me to give me the ultimate gift….a testimony!

It’s All About Me Me Me

This is a minor departure from things I preach to myself about. Though this can be a preaching topic, it’s more of something that we all complain about from time to time. We observe this, yet can also find ourselves guilty of the very issue.

As we make our day-to-day travels, whether to the local store or to work, we are out and about sharing the highways and byways with our fellow humans. Because two solid objects cannot share the same place at the same time, we attempt to skillfully whisk by each other…sometimes at a “personal space” distance, sometimes too close for comfort. Either way, we try to respect the other person’s space.

But, as mankind has evolved over the centuries, we have become smarter, wiser, stronger, and more advanced exponentially. I believe this has created a greater egocentric mentality. Though not unique in human history, man seems to have grown even more ‘wise in his own eyes’ and became a chronic narcissistic in personality, even though since the beginning of time, self-exultation has been the norm.

Because of this self-adulation, people put themselves first over those around them. As a king would wave a hand to move commoners away, many have become so self-absorbed that putting others first is almost a chore, if done at all.selfish-leader-power-motive-900x400From as early as the accounts in Genesis through the final period in Revelation, the Bible has recounted stories of man’s arrogance. Not just toward God, as in man’s sin nature, but also toward each other. Many triggers are explained as to what causes men to act the way he does. From self-righteousness, greed, desire, and pride, humankind has an innate desire to ‘pat himself on the back’ and raise himself up as ‘the best’.

 

casting_the_first_stoneAll of this self-driven behavior though has caused more problems than anything else. Cain killed Able because he felt slighted by God. As in the days of Noah, everyone was wiped out except Noah’s family because of the wickedness of men…rambunctious for self-gratification. Many kings and leaders rose to power, grew egotistical, and created wars and atrocities…including their own demise…over people. Even in the end times recorded in the Bible, it’s the pinnacle of selfish pride that brings the final days of man.

Where has all this come from? If we are called to give, love, share, and ‘do unto others’, why, then, is there such a gross level of ‘me, me, me’ going on?

From the highest levels of world leaders and business greed to the simplest of people who think they have to park in three spots or cut off others in traffic because it’s all about ‘them’, humans have steadily become so selfish that even the daily commute or simple shopping trip creates such bitterness, anger, hostility, and anxiety. We all experience it, we all struggle with others and their self attitudes.

So what does all this say? It says that we need to buckle up, put on our patience-pants, learn to keep moving and stay focused! Why? Because this has been going on since time beginning and is going to continue till time ends. Absolutely nothing that you or I can say or do is going to stop the insanity of the inconsiderate egos who try to make life on this planet all about them.

You may vent until your heart’s content, but people are people, blinded by the god of this world, thinking that the more they glorify themselves, the better they will feel. They boast and puff themselves up in the hopes of gaining respect, admiration, and glory. This is exactly what the devil has been doing since the Garden of Eden. “If you…then you will be like God”. Mankind has striven for that since.

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The quickest and clearest example is: Hollywood. If ever there was a cloister of people who try to exalt themselves over everyone, it’s the ego maniacal minions of that entertainment world. They poise themselves above everyone else. They have to be first, have the best, have the most, be the biggest, be the most glamoured, be be be…me me me!

And that very mentality and existence doesn’t end there. The infection is as close as your backyard. Your neighbor, your co-worker, your children, the people we meet each and every day on those highways and byways I mentioned before.

Nothing you can do. Just be patient, love, pray, set examples, be humble, and stay focused the best you can.

Believe it or not, we all have that disease of self. With some, it shows more abundantly. But, we all have it. And until our self is quenched, we battle it inside and out every day. To overcome that problem through God, we’re taught to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (as stated in Ephesians 4:22-24).

But with so many who don’t seek God’s Word of redemption, the world continues to show the rampant display of selfishness, as is stated in 2 Timothy chapter 3;

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (underline of verse 2 mine for emphasis)

We see that in every direction we look these days. Through the help of God, we can put off our old self, and walk in newness with love, peace, joy, humility, and unselfishness. Though we might not be able to fix others, we can certainly start with ourselves! Amen

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Big you, bigger God

The UniverseWhen we look into the vastness of space, gaze at the billions of stars, and reflect on just how big the universe really is, we tend to feel very small…insignificant almost.  This feeling can be quite overwhelming to some as we wonder how we can measure up when compared to the complexities of the grand universe.  Because most of us will never achieve even world fame and fortune, we might think that we don’t matter…that we are just a cosmic speck in the grand scheme of things.

And then to look at our planet and all of creation around us, I think “how it is that God can see little me in all this?”  He’s the God of the universe! He created all things! So how do I fit within the expanse of time and space in God’s creation? Does God even see me? You may not feel like you are special, but I have some news for you!

Let’s think about Zacchaeus from the Bible story in the Gospel of Luke. He was a Jewish man, very short in stature (Bible’s words, not mine), who worked for the Roman government collecting taxes from his fellow Jews. Not only was he good at his job, he was the chief collector in the city of Jericho. This is not a very popular man!  Most of the collectors back then were cheats and often collected more than they should to pocket the overage for themselves. By society standards, they were frowned upon and even shunned.

And though Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, he was also reported to be a very honest and Godly man. (Yes, there can be honest, Godly people that do unfavorable jobs!)  I imagine that outside of family though, he was a lonely individual. We know that he followed God’s rules, lead an honest life, and that God knew him, but he wasn’t looked up to or admired.

Palestine_Jericho3_tango7174But God knew him so well, that long before Zacchaeus was even born, a sycamore-fig tree seed was planted in a particular spot. Then, God watered and took care of that seed until it grew to be a full-size tree. All because one day, in the future of that planting, that man named Zacchaeus would have an encounter with Jesus, the Son of God!  God knew that Zacchaeus would be so eager to see Jesus coming that he would climb the tree God placed years ago to get a glimpse of the Messiah. That event lead to Jesus calling to Zacchaeus and having a blessed dinner with him and his family!

The same thing applies to us, individually! God knows us personally and intimately. Luke 12 states that God knows us so well that even our hairs are numbered. He knows even the smallest of creatures like sparrows.

One of my favorite songs is from singer Betty McDaniel, a treasured Gospel singer out of Canada. It is titled “He looked across the years”.  The song reflects what I am trying to convey here: that God looked across the vastness of time and space in His creation and saw you!  He not only knows us, but also made a way to remedy the sin in our lives that separates us from Him.  Jesus looked across the years from the cross so that we can be restored to a right relationship with God through Jesus!

God is so big!

The question I have is this: if God is so awesome and powerful to create everything into existence, and yet personal enough to know each of us individually…then why are we so complacent in our relationship with Him? Why do we ignore His sovereignty? Why do we treat Him like a cosmic vending machine wanting only blessings and fortunes and such, yet don’t submit to His will and ways?

This is truly a much deeper topic than what can be covered here now, but as I explore this in my life, I look back at all the little things God has, in His infinite wisdom, done for me. He has directed my paths much differently than I would have walked on my own. God’s ways are not our ways. But I’m pretty sure that He knows what’s best for me better than I know myself!

As He looked across the years at Zacchaeus, as He looked across the years at me, as He looked across the years at you…He set up everything in advance because He loves us and knows us and wants us to acknowledge Him with fellowship and love! The old Puritan catechism question is this:  What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and to enjoy Him forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

May we acknowledge the sovereignty of God in our daily lives. Amen

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Things I preach to myself-Hypocrisy pt2

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The knowledge that the world gains daily has grown exponentially over the last several decades. This has been clearly seen just by looking at the progressive growth of electronics and computers! Incredible intelligence continues to multiply as man builds better and smarter devices! Look at the evolution of the phone! Whew!

Yet, as I have tried to convey over the many years here, we may be getting smarter, but the one thing that hasn’t grown…Common Sense!

I recently re-read a piece of Scripture that puts our current plight into perspective: Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

We may think ourselves wise because we are smart, but it is pretty clear that we are not. It’s clear that God has ‘confounded the wise’ of this world because they don’t seek His wisdom.  Having information locked into the brain doesn’t guarantee that we are capable of utilizing it in a productive manner! To say “yeah, I know” and not apply it wisely just makes us a fool.  And to claim ourselves wise and not follow God’s wisdom just shows that we are chasing our own tail for no end purpose! We can sit on the mountain top doling out wise sayings, but does that really garner the inner peace that our souls seek and strive for?

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Before you go and accuse me of being judgmental, remember what the title of this blog is!  I have traipsed around this world, gathering knowledge and various insights of many things, and have garnered some wisdom in my experiences, and yet I find myself unwise when it comes to my day-to-day life. The Lord knows that I have tried to be “wise in my own eyes” most of my adult life. It’s truly a wonder that I’m alive at all! But, wisdom (and common sense) just doesn’t come overnight! And even when you have some wisdom and knowledge, if you don’t apply it, what value is there in it?

There are many wise ways, but are they of value to your life and eternal life? And with knowledge and wisdom, even if it is from God above, if its not applied in your day-to-day life, doesn’t mean a thing!  I can spout off all sorts of facts and wise sayings all day long, but will be seen as nothing less than a hypocrite if I don’t “walk the talk”!

It comes down to two main points that the Bible teaches. First, let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.  Arguably simple in its meaning.  Who am I to judge when I am yet a sinner? Many live the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality that I wrote about in my previous blog.

Secondly is how can I talk about the speck in my brother’s eye when there is a plank in my own? We get so focused trying to correct others by showing that we know better, that we are wiser and smarter than they are.  But, in reality, we are just being a hypocrite.  We need to literally practice what we preach!

Thus, why I share these things I preach to myself about!!! I am in a constant state of learning to acknowledge that I have faults and failings and falter in life. But, with God’s leading and teaching, through His Word and the Holy Spirit, I strive to become a better man of God and a better man to those in my life!

I am a work in progress…we all are! But, if we are not able to identify, admit, correct, and grow through our shortcomings, what’s the point? God is clear that he wants us all to learn and grow! But, we must first admit that we need His guiding hand to get us through! For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No one is smarter, wiser than anyone else!

We all come into this world the same way, we all leave this world the same way.  It now comes down to what we do between those two points in our lives! As for me and my household, we will worship the Lord! Amen.

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Things I Preach To Myself About…

The old statement of ‘when you point your finger at someone, three are pointing back at you’ is such a good reminder!  One of the great lessons taught in the Bible asks ‘how can you talk about the speck in your brother’s eye when there is a plank in your own’.  As much as I understand that concept, I have to remind my brain and heart of this often when I am inwardly judging people based on their actions, attitudes, attributes, and asinine behaviors!

That being said, I thought it would be a good (and hopefully helpful) idea to share with you some of the (many) things that I learn and preach to myself along this path in life!  I’d like to let you peak into my walk, see how my mind and heart are processing things, and share my insights (whether right or wrong) into how God is working in the life of this wretched and often-faltering man!

I say “preach to myself” because I find that all the wonderful gems and lessons I learn from the Bible, as well as the many great preachers and teachers, are things that I need to hear and apply…daily!  I have often come across people who quickly become judgmental of others in regards to new things they’ve learned.  This falls right along the lines of the pharisees in Biblical times.  They were a group of educated teachers of the Scriptures (old Testament stuff) who were quick to tell others “do as I say, not as I do”!  (Though Jesus was quick to point out their hypocrisy!)

I don’t want to be a hypocrite, at least no more that I’m sure I am!

So, after a quick introduction, I would like to start with something that is seemingly simple on the outside, but a deep well of study that is too much for this humble blog.

First and foremost: I am not a formally educated preacher/teacher/theologian/scholar! I do love researching and studying everything and anything, but the contents of my ramblings are simply my learning, understanding, and interpretation of what has most recently slapped me in the face! I don’t stand on any particular platform or denomination.  For myself, I am basing things strictly on the Bible and what the Word has to say!

That being said, there is no doubt that people will disagree with my understanding of things. And, that is something that I am perfectly at peace with. I am not here to dissect the deeper, theological treatises and philosophical camps. I’m just here to say; “This happened, this is what I learned, this is how I see it, and this is where I’m at!”

The starting point in anything is always the root…the very beginning. My start has been hot, cold, and lukewarm for many decades. Thankfully, God’s beginning for everything is right on point every moment of every day! Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God…”

If you stop right there and ponder that often gleaned-over piece of scripture, there is a volume of awe! Before anything and everything, there was God! Wow! When I think deeper about that, and then think about how lackadaisical I am in my attitude toward God regarding having reverence and respect…it’s a wonder I am still breathing on this planet!

But, thanks be to God for his amazing love! He loves us! He loves me! And, though I don’t understand all the why’s and how come’s and such, it is enough to know that as God looked across the years, he planned me, he knew me, loved me, and did amazing miracles to get me to this point! I’ll just leave that right there and relish the thought of the creator of the universe knowing me!

Getting a grasp on the sovereignty and grandness and holiness of God should be humbling and awe-inspiring to us. Unfortunately, though, we tend to treat God like a cosmic vending machine. We pray/ask for this blessing and that all the time, and then when we’re done, put him back into some out-of-sight/out-of-mind bottle and shelve him until the next time we need something. Sad, and wrong!

If you think about that, we treat everyday people a hundred-fold better than we treat the God who created and sustains everything in the universe!  We worship the created instead of the Creator! I don’t know about you, but this revelation hit me like a ton of bricks and almost made me sick!

Don’t get me wrong, though. I didn’t grasp this truth and then suddenly walk around with a glow of reverential fortitude in my day to day life! The knowledge was humbling and caused me to stop and re-think many things, but, I still have that selfish, go-about-my-business mentality most days…something I am still working on daily!

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I am a work in progress. Clay that needs to be more submissive and flexible for the Creator to create! He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it! I just need to open my mind and heart more and receive! The process is slow in some, faster in others, but the sanctification process is just that…a process (meaning that it is moving and happening!)  I just wish most days that the process worked faster in me!

But…God’s timing! After all…He is the Creator of the Universe and definitely knows better how things (and myself) should work! Amen and Amen!

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Race Among The Ruins

confused-meme

Inundated and overwhelmed  by the barrage of mixed messages that are filling my brain (and heart)!  That is where I have been at for the last several years.  This is from the pattern that has built up within me over the years.  Conflicting messages that seep, beg, demand, and suggest multiple ways that I am supposed to think, act, and behave.

From the sweeping changes of the 1960’s race equality movements to the violent segregation mentality of today, the war of unity/separation of humans has been a roller coaster of chaos that has created and divided relationships in such a way that I am sitting here with my hands over my ears and screaming “stop the world, I want to get off!”

With a push for equality among humans in the 60’s from the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., growth and maturity had seemed to bring people together in such a way that almost made the 70’s and 80’s look like a time of peace among the people. But, as I reflect back in comparison to todays’ events…I confess a deep confusion.  It seems that the messages of anti-segregation in the 60’s have turned into a strong segregationist movement.

Before you start raising pitchforks and burning torches to me, let me explain.

In a sneak-up-on-you kind of way, many of the groups that fought for equality have created a very separatist ideology. Examples include:  NAACP, BLM, NOW, and various other groups. But, not only these formalized organizations, but the demands of political and religious leaders such as Farrakhan, Jackson, and most recently, Maxine Waters.

Waters, a politician from the state of California, has recently declared that there should be a “black-only” political party. I’ll wait. Let you gather your senses a bit before going on.

As much as I am all for equality of the races…I stand absolutely dumbfounded by such a remark from a woman who, for all intents and purposes, was very much alive and active during the 60’s and 70’s racial movements.  And, to declare such a segregationist goal has me scratching my head as to what happened!  Where did the universe take a U-turn?

I have recently looked back over the past several years to see from where and why this momentum been gathering steam, and I have to conclude that the key perpetrators of this anti-equality movement are the very people that demanded equality in the first place! Call it whatever you want to, but to place such an emphasis demanding special treatment to one people group is the very thing that MLK and others fought against.

So, I will go on record here and now, declare them, (those who demand this segregational and special treatment), racists! The very people who get upset and call others racist are, in fact, the ones who are being such!

In 1927, Leon Trotsky, a Jewish Bolshevik Marxist revolutionary, used the term racist to browbeat dissenters of the communist ideology.  Prior to him, though, was Richard Henry Pratt. His use of the term was related to the issues of white men and Indians in early America. He said “Segregating any class or race of people apart from the rest of the people kills the progress of the segregated people or hinders their growth. Association of races and classes is necessary to destroy racism and classism.”

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Hmmmm…….that mentality goes against the grain of today’s segregating movements!  And, it seems to parallel the ideology that blacks and other proponents pushed for in the 60’s and 70’s.  So, it stands to reason that the Maxine’s and Sharpton’s of today are trying to recede back in time…..(or is there something else? I am not here to start conspiracy theories!)

No matter where you stand on the issue…be it with BLM or KKK or CAIR or whatever alphabet organization you want to associate with, the bottom line is that this country has taken two steps forward, but now working on three steps back!

Extremism has cost lives, trust, rational thinking, and most importantly…Common Sense!!!!!

Sadly, people have this demand that it’s “all about” them.  They want special and preferential treatment.  They want everything handed to them. Well, I’m here to tell you…it doesn’t matter what your color, race, religion, ethnic, or gender background is: if you want respect and a place in this civilized society…you have to earn it! Just because you are this or that doesn’t give you a standing any different than anybody else!

The greatest line I’ve heard from some very respectable people over the years is “they put their pants on the same as everyone else…one leg at a time!”

And guess what folks…..you are no better or worse than me or anyone else! Call me what you will, but in the end, we all end up in the dirt.  So, get off your high horse, your mightier-than-thou attitudes, and get common sense!!!

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Ichabod: Where did the Glory go?

The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.    -C. S. Lewis

conceptual sign post with, danger slippery slope

As many permit themselves comfort from the woes of this world, there exists a jagged edge that they drift dangerously close to, careless to the reality of the fall that awaits them.  As gloomy as this sounds, I must persist in casting some reality toward you in the hopes of jarring your slumber!

In ancient biblical times, wars existed between the factions of believers in God and believers of everything else. Though the spiritual realm has its casualties, there was also an effect to the physical as well.  Death tolls in these wars, per the accounts of history and Bible, were in the 10’s of thousands! The followers of God, the Israelites, had won a fair share of battles, but also suffered great defeats as well.  In most cases, the stories relayed the importance of God and his following his commandments.

In one particular situation, Israel was facing one of their great foes, the Philistines. In 1 Samuel chapter 4, the Israelites had taken a beating and decided to bring up the Ark of the Covenant to the battle front. This represented God’s presence more than anything.  The wild cheers of elation rallied the troops and even the Philistines feared God showing up.  But…to no avail.  Israel got their butt kicked and the enemy ran off with the Ark.

The high priest and judge of Israel, Eli, lost two of his sons in the battle. That information, along with the Ark being taken, literally killed the poor guy.  His daughter-in-law was so despondent about the losses that she gave birth and died.  The midwife names the boy Ichabod, meaning ‘the glory of the Lord has departed’.  Great start to life! (Sarcasm intended!)

It seems historically that when a people decide on their own volition of self first, it isn’t too long afterward that their demise hits. The United States of America was essentially founded on a basis of the Bible as the core moral and spiritual compass. The founding fathers forged our first governing documents on the whole of scripture, keeping that, with God, all things are possible. But, as with any great nation, corruption seeps in…slowly, assuredly, and with a purpose of demise. Even the learned institutions, such as Harvard and Yale, started out as seminary schools teaching the Bible! Yet, now, you would be fortunate to find scripture anywhere within the walls of the university. We are on the safest road to hell!

So, how did this happen?  How did we get to this drowning point? The primary place to point out the failing is our own ‘churches’.  Now, I am not going to get all denominational or call out particular names.  That is not the intent of this.  But, I will shake a fist to any and all who claim Christianity as their faith, yet deny the Bible as the word of God.  Without the Bible, we do not have the compass of direction. Without the Bible, we do not have instructions. Without the Bible, we do not have a reference point to keep ourselves on the correct path!

All that said, when we cast aside His Words to us, we begin to wander aimlessly.  We become “I Chabod”….without the Glory. When we are travelling and feel uncertain about our direction, we consult a map. Now days, we are constantly looking to our smart phones for information and direction. Well, the Bible is our map. The Bible is our smart phone that has all the answers we need.  And without it…well, we rely on our own understanding. Our own views. Our own mess!

The father of lies, the great deceiver, has crept into the fabric of God-fearing churches and cast doubts, dissensions, and destruction from within.  And since pushing aside the Bible as the beacon of truth, these churches have turned into social clubs and feel-good parties…with no truth being taught! Whitewashed Tombs! Pretty on the outside, empty and dead on the inside!

Mark 7:9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!”

The churches today (not all) have essentially rejected the Bible as the Word and have, instead, decided that soft, gentle talks regarding social issues are more important than knowing God and His Word!  And with the disregard of God’s Word as authoritative and commanding, man has put himself in God’s place and now determines what is and what isn’t sin! What was once revered as Gospel has since become edited so as not to offend anyone! Sins are acceptable and they just avoid talking about His Words and commands!

The Glory has departed! And with His departing, so has His hand which has held back the enemies of God’s people!

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One of the greatest preachers of all time, Jonathan Edwards, in 1741 preached a sermon that shook the very core of believers and unbelievers alike. That sermon, titled “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” was filled with fire and brimstone that convicted people to remedy, or assure, that their relationship with God was of utmost importance!  We have fallen so far from that reverence, passion, and belief in the God of the Bible, creator of all things, through his Son, by which we have forgiveness and restored fellowship.

There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.  – Edwards

So, I ask: Why?  Why has the Word of God been rejected by the very people who claim to believe in God? Why have we allowed His Glory to depart from us? Are we so delusional as to think that God would never cast anyone into hell? Because, if we are sitting at such a comfort level, in disbelief of God’s wrath, as to think that…I really suggest you reconsider what His Words really do say!  There is no free rides to Heaven! The Bible is very clear on that! His own people, the Israelites, were destroyed in a battle because of their own complacency and denial of His Supremacy!  YOU are no different. The church is no different.

God has never promised to save us from Hell, except for those contained in Christ through the covenant of Grace.  – Edwards

The churches have rejected God’s Word.  The Glory has departed.  Man stands alone on a wayward path leading toward destruction of soul:  hell.

I guess I challenge anyone to look at their ‘churches’ and ask the question:  Do they fully accept God’s words as complete revelation from God, or are they picking and choosing what they want to keep and what they don’t?  It literally is an “all or nothing” situation.  You either believe in the Bible or you don’t. And, as Edwards based his sermon from in scripture, ‘their foot shall slip in due time’ (Deut 32:35), there isn’t a middle ground with God.  You (and the church) are either hot or cold. Lukewarm is the path that leads to destruction.

 

 

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Who am I today…?

Label-Maker

Label:  A word or phrase that describes someone or something.

One of the many definitions of the word ‘Label’.  A word that is cast about in our society today with a variety of intent. People like labels, people hate labels, people feel the need to label, people want labels removed.  This word has become the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” trigger.

Any given day, at any given time, you can hear and see labels being tossed around with such complacency…yet as quickly as used, are being cause to charged emotional reactions.

There are simple labels cast upon people, individuals, such as ‘black’ or ‘white’ to denote skin color. The popular labels used to designate affiliations such as ‘democrat’ or ‘republican’.  The newer generational labels to describe, such as ‘gay’ or ‘straight’.  All these types are scrutinized to see if they are using the label as a means of identification to good or if it is a tool to castigate someone ‘different’.

The funny part about labels is how they show the hypocrisy of people.  Humanity is so quick to charge themselves as this or thus, but when labeled by others, they anger at the thought of being pigeon-holed!  Really?  I’m confused!  You want to be labeled, but get upset when you are?  Huh?

So, that being said, our world has taken things to such an extreme of stupidity now regarding labels. People want to be labeled as non-labeled.  The “I identify as…” generation has promoted the label of ‘ambiguous’.

am·big·u·ous
amˈbiɡyo͞oəs/
adjective: ambiguous
  1.  open to more than one interpretation; having a double meaning.
    • unclear or inexact because a choice between alternatives has not been made.

Ok. I get that you don’t want to be labeled with a political affiliation or a particular religion or even an ethnic background. It doesn’t change who you are! With or without a label, you are who you are inside and out and people are going to identify you one way or another.

I’m gonna draw the line at a point though. Gender.

So, you are trying to push on me that you are neither male or female? This is where my Common-Sense-Meter is jumping off the scales! I don’t care how flaky and extreme you are, but, the facts are facts. You have a penis, you are a male. You have a vagina, you are a female. You can lop it off or add one on all you want, but the fact of the matter still remains: You ARE what you were born with!

I use this Bradley Manning person that is in the news as an example.  Aside from him (yes, I am using the proper pronoun to describe this human) being a traitor to the country; aside from our government allowing him to be associated with our army; aside from him whining and demanding that he wants to play dress up in girls clothes…aside from all that, he is still MALE.

You pee standing up, you use the men’s room. Putting on a dress doesn’t make you any more a woman than putting lipstick on a pig changes the animal. The label doesn’t change who or what you are!

“But, I was born with the wrong parts.”  “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body.” “I identify as a….”

Sorry.  Not gonna buy into that game. You want to play dress up and act a certain way because you have ‘feelings’ for the same-sex, go right ahead.  But, don’t you drag me into accepting this. Not my circus, not my monkeys!  I don’t have to accept you playing gender games anymore than you have to accept me as a good writer.  We all play pretend from time to time, but I will not be forced into accepting every and any label people want to attach to themselves!

Today, I am this…tomorrow, I think I’ll be that!

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The issue here, folks, is not that you have to believe the same way as everyone else, the issue comes down to how your beliefs or claims or labels are pushed on others.  I believe in the Bible as the inerrant word of God…but that doesn’t mean you better make concessions for me in all ways because of this!  Think about the common sense level we are talking about here! There has to be a point where the spiral is stopped! Everything is getting pushed so far to the extremes that the free-for-all of lunacy is a blurred and borderless line!  Where does it stop?

I’m going to leave that to moral judgement.  I have my line…and it is a pretty fair line at that. Considering all of the labels that people love/hate out there, I figure that common sense and a moral base need to be used to filter reality from the label-land of make-believe!

1 Cor 13:11 says “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

Good advice.

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Paint Me Some Common Sense!

It has been a very long time since I have been on here to post my words about the lack of common sense in our world today and the craziness that has replaced said common sense.  I apologize to my readers for this large gap in writing. My only defense has been that the overwhelming amount of chaos, frivolity, and just-plain-stupidity that has been rampant throughout the world lately has overloaded my thought process!

Our mission of Thinking-Before-Reacting and Use-Common-Sense has been pushed aside in favor of time travel back to the Land That People Forgot. That place where crazy reigned supreme, people were filled with disrespect for one another, and lack of reasoning was prevalent. You all are aware of my huge plea to “learn from history”! We have a colorful past of mistakes and errors to show us what doesn’t work! Let’s use it! But, sadly, no. It appears to be just the opposite. Instead of learning from the past, let’s just take our whole mentality and re-create that era. Let’s just live daily the things that we fought so hard to change for the better.

A painter starts with small brush strokes, outlines the various parts of the canvas, details in the colors to bring out the images they strive for. But before the brush touches the paint, the finished product is pictured in the mind.  In order to make that picture become reality, the artist must know what the finished product will look like. So, too, we need to have that “big picture” view. See the whole before we can understand the parts.  When we plant our focus on a small portion, make a judgement of the big picture just based on that small portion…well, often our view is incomplete, inaccurate, and inadequate.

What creates such dissension in this world is that the narcissism of so many has narrowed their view to just a portion of reality. Since they are so convinced that the world is all about them, they conclude things based on that narrow viewpoint.  Now multiply that narrow-mindedness to millions and millions, put it on television and internet, and you have successfully destroyed common sense.  Take out rational thinking and you have nullified respect. Eliminate caring and you have the world as it is today.

I don’t want to be the downer, the negative, the bringer of bad news. My intent is not to depress you, dear reader! The intent is to recharge you! The intent is to revitalize you into pushing for changes in this blinded world we live in! We have had so many paintings presented to us from the past…big pictures that show our bad, that from it we can do good.  But we cannot just focus on a small part of those pictures….no! We need to step back, see the painting as a whole, and learn from what it says!

Opening up the narrow and seeing the whole allows us to make rational decisions, use common sense when addressing issues, and, most of all, care! It takes us away from the mistakes of our past and allows us the opportunity to be respectable people.  I haven’t written for some time, partly out of overload, but partly out of confusion.  There are so many decent people in this world, and yet the media fronts the rotten tomatoes.

One of my favorite quotes from the movies is Donald Sutherland’s character in Kelly’s Heroes. He would always tell Gavin MacLeod’s character to “stop with all the negative waves”.

Very applicable, I’d say!  How about some “positive waves”!

 

A Traditional Way, or In The Way…?

“Because that’s the way it has always been done!” That’s the answer for tradition. If you do the same thing time and time again…it’s tradition. The family gatherings during the holiday, the placement of an item ceremoniously, following a well-travelled path…all traditions. There are many wonderful things to be said about tradition. It can be used as a means of preserving family memories. It demonstrates respect for the past. It also teaches and motivates the young to remember. Tradition can build a strong bond of unity!

There can be down-sides to traditions though. Often, doing something just because of tradition makes it robotic and the true meaning to its purpose is lost over time. People will go through the motions “just because” and get stuck in the rut. Traditions can keep you trapped, missing out on something that can be new and exciting. “Because that’s the way it has always been done!”

I did that once. Absolutely refused to purchase compact disks for the longest time because I felt my tradition of records and cassettes were being infringed upon. Don’t tell me I have to change my media! I’ve always listened to my music this way!

With some traditions though, I have to shake my head and wonder why.  One such tradition is using Roman numerals for the year or to denote a quantitative measure of events. Prime example: the Superbowl. This 2012, Superbowl XLVI was played. Not 46, but XLVI. It is important to note that!  But why use Roman numerals? Doesn’t our numbering symbols work? Does a game or event become more exciting if antiquated symbols are used?

If you put in the question “why does the Superbowl use Roman numerals” in Google search, you get about a thousand pages of every type trying to give you an answer. And you know what? None of them do. Well, maybe they do, but I’m not going to scroll through every one to see!  But, the common thread seems to be tradition. Plain and simple. It’s the novelty of doing it because, well…just because.  Tradition. 1966 saw the first game played, billed as Superbowl I, and has continued tradition ever since.  They are not the only ones using Roman numerals though. Check out the very end of the credits on television shows. Copyright MCMVXXIII (just made up a random number). Tradition? Yep….tradition.

Let’s face it…the way of the Roman numbering symbols is a thing of the past, but to strike tradition, we continue to use it in various applications. The same can be said of many traditions. Archaic as some things may seem, we still push for some aspect of yester-yore.  Is it a bad thing? No. Something like Roman numerals will not decimate the rise of technology. But if we held fast to a Roman numeral-only mentality, then hinderance of progression may occur!

Standing in traditions that disallow progress have also proven to be damaging. In many cultures or religions, some traditions have proven harmful to certain genders or races. Women have suffered throughout history under religious or political oppressions. Having a belief other than the status quo could often be cause for punishment or death to people because tradition would not move…it’s the way it has always been and it will not be challenged!  These types of situations still happen in this modern-day and age! Archaic thinking creates a separation.

I’m not going to start in on specifics. That usually just leads to arguments. I’m not here for that.  I just feel that it is important to keep a mind open, evaluate all aspects, and be respectful to other’s. Disclaimer: driving like a selfish idiot during rush hour is NOT considered tradition! Just saying….but I digress!

Anyway, I just find it interesting some of the various traditions that people, communities, cultures, religions, and even nations will hold near and dear to their hearts. Look around your world this week and note the various traditions that people engage in. You will find some odd, like Roman numerals. You will find some touching, like visits to a grave. You may find some that need a change. You might find a situation to create one. Sometimes you have to break tradition to create a new tradition!

No matter the tradition, it is something that is a part of the life around us. I hold out for hope in a planet steeped in traditions that a sprinkling of common sense exists within!  Change can be good for some traditions. I know…I ended up buying a CD player and learned to really enjoy that technology!

Now, what is this MP3 stuff I’m hearing about….?

MP3 Player?