Mars Hill Offensive | Part 1: Wordly Wisdom

I’ve often heard over the years that God’s Word is the only thing we need to reach a lost world. If people are receptive to it, or would otherwise call themselves church goers or religious, I can see the appeal in that statement. What about those that don’t prescribe to a certain religion or to a philosophical view of God? Or how about those that see the Bible as irrelevant to them, just plain fake or created to control mankind?

The Apostle Paul ran into this exact issue when He visited Athens during His ministry. Greece has a long history of being the philosophical capital for the world, especially Athens and even under Roman rule, this was no different. While preaching in the markets to the Jews and the Gentiles, some philosophers approached him. These philosophers were Stoic and Epicurean (Acts 17:18) and had never heard of Jesus, the one true God, or the resurrection. You see both of those schools of philosophical thought are ironically extreme opposites looking for the same goal (which is probably why they were together, for discussion). 

Epicureanism is a sad ideology which has gripped the modern world. We can see it in our book stores, on television and in the types of businesses and events that are run. Epicureanism advocates that hedonism will save you from pain and anxiety and the needless fear of death and the gods. Basically they prescribe that pleasure is our salvation from all of the horrible things that happen to us and around us. Our current world tells us that we need to put “me first” and that we “need” to shop for things, we have bars filled with alcohol that encourage drunkenness, we have clubs that encourage promiscuity, and we have the internet that encourages everything else. 

Paul saw the danger of this ideology, and no doubt was slightly perturbed that it existed still, even 400 years after Epicurus (the founder) lived. However, there was another group that was with them and they were equally dangerous. Not that they encouraged blatant sin in order to cure the pains of this world, no, the Stoics advocated for much different; however, the Stoics had a lot of things right about the world as well and Paul used that to his advantage. 

Stoicism: A quick overview

Stoicism comes from the greek word Stoa, or painted porch where the founder of the philosophical school of thought, Zeno of Cyprus, would teach. True to the modern epithet of “Actions speak louder than words”, the Stoics believed that a person’s behavior in relation to external stimuli was more important than their words. On a physical plane, they held that everything that was real was material. On a metaphysical level, they taught there was a logos

If that word sounds familiar to you, it should. In John 1:1 we read “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The word “Word” is translated from the Greek word “logos”, meaning “reason”. This is extremely important to consider that not only are the stoics on the same page-ish as Christians, but God has allowed them to deduce through their worldly wisdom, that God exists and through Him everything was created. 

See, the Stoics were philosophical decendents of Socrates and Socrates was a student of Plato (supposedly, but that’s for a different discussion). Plato also had another famous student, Aristotle. (Now, you’re all getting upset because I’m bringing back high school geometry and this isn’t what you signed up for.) Aristotle wrote, in the 12th book of Metaphysics this quote, And life also belongs to God; for the actuality of thought is life, and God is that actuality; and God’s self-dependent actuality is life most good and eternal. We say therefore that God is a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God”

WOW, this is one of the most intelligent philosophers to ever live, and he understood that the pantheon is wrong, all the Greek myths were false and over it all proclaimed there is only one God and HE IS GOOD. 

So we know that these Stoics understood that A). There is a single God and B.) Not only is there a God but He is the active reason that created all of the material in the world. 

But why did I say their philosophy is equally as dangerous as the hedonistic Epicureans? They believed they didn’t need God and that they could overcome the pains of this life themselves. They believed all emotion was equally threatening to their existence and in the process of wanting peace they only relied on themselves.

Paul’s arrival to Mars Hill

Paul as a person, was well educated not only in human doctrine (such as the philosophies listed above), but also in the laws, prophets and history of the Jews. Not only had He searched the scriptures and seen that His Savior was Christ the Lord, but He was personally visited by the Lord a few times after His miraculous conversion. 

So when Paul arrived to this hill that had alters to all the gods, he stopped to look at one. It was interesting because it said “To the unknown god”. Paul siezed this opportunity to explain that this God, whom they didn’t know, was the only God. I find this especially ironic since the Stoics and Epicureans initially accused him of speaking of a “foreign god” (Acts 17:18), which they were in reality worshipping a foreign god all this time. 

Paul made sure he was well versed in their ideology before he spoke to these intelligent men. He knew of their teachers and understood what they were taught. As Christians, which this blog is aimed at, we need to make sure we are aware who our audience is, what they believe, and know how to counter it. Sometimes early on in the conversation that requires us to relay our knowledge of their beliefs before even bringing up the Bible. If we study not only the scriptures but other ideas that challenge what we believe, not only will that refine our faith but give us the tools to give the gospel effectively. 

Current Events | A Glorious Risposte

A little birdie has sent me this wonderful comment to the left made by a gentleman (it is not my job, nor my place to shame people so he will remain anonymous) and it’s unsurprising. I really wanted to be done after my last post before the holidays, but that unfortunately can’t happen. This is meant to be a post of encouragement and warning at the same time. Christ told us “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you” (Jn 15:18, ESV) There is coming a time, soon, where this man’s sentiments will be the prevailing zeitgeist against all professing, true Christians. Anyone who professes salvation in Christ, being led by the Spirit, will be persecuted.

Now, I have heard the issues you all are having in your respective organizations, and I hear your anxiety and frustrations. I am not here to tell you it is going to be easy. Our King, while incarnate on this earth even told us it wouldn’t be easy. There will be many that think they can speak for our King, they can’t. There are many more that think they know what we as Christians are supposed to do, say and how we are to act (as you all have seen). They DON’T know this. What then do we say in response? What is our riposte to their unbelief?

The Lord has put everyone with a religious exemption using their faith in the Spirit and salvation through Christ on a pedestal for persecution and humiliation. Let this be your ministry just as I write to you now. Peter told us “Have no fear of them or be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to ANYONE [HR, Supervisor, vile coworker included] who asks you for the reason for the hope that in in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect

So what answer do we give? What defense is our hope?

WE GIVE THE GOSPEL

I know some of you may feel pressured to lie or to finagle your way out of it. Stand firm on your foundations! Peter also told us “That those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” Likewise Paul said he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:16). We must realize we are coming to a point, and some of you are starting to feel the pressure, where we must stand for our King or the very mere mortal existence we have. Christ put it plainly that if we are ashamed of Him on Earth, He “will be ashamed of them when He comes in his father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

Like it or not, when you decided to use your credentials as a servant of Heaven as an excuse (while valid) not to take this vaccine, God had a plan for you. That plan did not involve lying about your vaccine status when solicited rather, that plan was for you to spread the Gospel of our King.

If people want to jest or act like they know our faith, let them; however, give them a taste of what our faith is, in love. It’s not faith in men, politicians, corporations or science, it’s faith in an eternal God and Lord of creation, who came as a man to sacrifice himself as the final payment for our fallibility, that that God could finally spend eternity with his Creation once again.

The world will treat you differently, as an outcast, that I will promise. However, our Savior said it best, “Take Heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33, ESV)

The time is near, stand for Heaven. Soli Deo Gloria.

Current Events | A Divine Direction

I sit here to write this and I firmly grasp the world has been thrown into turmoil. I know that we are in a different place than we were even a year ago, and while concerning to see how the world is moving at record breaking pace, we now know we cannot trust in man. As I explained in No Terrestrial Help, we cannot continue to look to religious leaders to provide anything. We have been entrusted by God to follow His word and His Spirit. While the Church at large is biblical, it has largely failed and the body of believers have chosen to follow men, men which we are told are fallible (Romans 3:23), liars (Num 23:19) and deceivers in their religious pomp (Jn 8:44).

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Current Events | A Transcendent Citizenship

This is where the church has failed at large. “Christians” don’t know or don’t understand these things, they don’t understand salvation and they don’t understand that God himself is the one we need to submit to. I’ve already made it clear that Christianity is tangible, it’s not spiritual and you have made a conscious decision to put your earthly citizenship as secondary to your heavenly one.

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Current Events | No Mortal Argument

Alright, everyone, this will be the end of the Religious Exemption articles (for now); however, I’ve had it with the constant revisions of questions these HR departments are putting out there. It would almost seem like they are purposefully trying to trap you all in a particular argument they think you’ll use. I’ll explain further down, but here is the deal, I have spent my last five years out of the military working my way up through corporate America; I have spoken to CEOs, CFOs, HR folks, and people at all levels. I understand how businesses function, and I will tell you something right now. Every person who will review your particular religious exemption is being trained, as we speak, on how to counter and trap you all in an argument that YOU CANNOT WIN. That’s right, you will not win it on the ground level or in court. Because not only are these people ready to deny your claim, they’ll make sure every mortal (not out of faith) argument you use is not only recorded but also dissected and ready to be turned over to a court to eviscerate you. 

Don’t blame them; as I quoted in the last post, our Adversary, the Devil, is like a roaring lion, and he is ready to pounce if you’re not prepared. God, rich in mercy, gave us a document with over 250,000 words and timeless Truth to prepare us for this moment. Take heart! For Christ has already overcome this obstacle. 

So everyone wants to know how to write the religious exemption. Well, below is the actual outline I’ve given to people to write their own, along with the answers to the questions presented on the form. I’ve tried to explain to the best of my ability in the prior two posts, but Christians are still scrambling to figure out how to make a solid argument based on science, philosophy, law, or politics. The problem here is, none of us are scientists or lawyers, or political analysts; however, I guarantee you that your companies have these people ready and waiting to rip apart your exemption if you use these arguments. A religious exemption is for your “Sincerely held beliefs” and your religious beliefs. Is Christianity about being pro-life? No. Are we pro-life? Yes. Our faith isn’t based on being anti-abortion. Is Christianity about governmental mandates? No. We may be against them because Christ has made us free, but it’s not about that.

Christianity is solely about Christ and the Gospel. As was written about in the second post, we have been given the Spirit to indwell us to perform the work God laid out for us both individually and His children and corporately as His church. Those arguments listed above are Mortal arguments. They are arguments on your company’s playing field; they can argue those easily and then chew you up and spit you out. Why not use an immortal argument? Something only we as Christians know how to defend, but at the same time, while upholding the faith, we can perform our primary calling of giving the world the Gospel. 

Below I will go over an ACTUAL form from a transportation company, and I will answer these, along with the process that should be used as a Christian when dealing with this. Remember first, do ALL things in prayer FIRST, and let your requests be made known unto God:

THE STATEMENT

First thing’s first, I recommend writing an exemption letter based on the following format. Even though I won’t offer a full-on template for this, I feel like this is the best way to present your faith and ideas. 

In the first paragraph, include your full name, employee ID (if applicable), and your position. Also have “I am exempt from this company’s vaccine mandate based on sincerely-held religious beliefs as codified in Section VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”

In the following paragraphs, detail your faith (It can be your church’s statement of faith, the apostlistic creed, etc.); just make sure it is what you actually believe. Like I said above, it’s better to not include ANYTHING about the vaccine itself, as these are human arguments meant to confound, confuse and defeat you. Make sure you have enough backup in these paragraphs to answer the exemption form in a holistic manner. 

In the last paragraph, refer back to the original statement of faith and give the answer, “Because of the direction and guidance of God through the Holy Spirit, I can not take this vaccine. This is my sincerely held religious belief on this manner.” It would help to include verses supporting these arguments; I will not give those out here because I want each of your exemptions to be unique. 

THE FORM

Alright, the magically changing form that we all know and love. How many times has this changed now? Three? Four times? Anyways, besides being a pain in my side, it’s no matter, they’re trying to trip you up on Human Arguments, and we’re not using those. So for anyone that thinks they can do this in their own knowledge and wisdom without God’s help, good luck, and may the odds forever be in your favor. 

Question 1: Please Identify your Sincerely-Held religious belief, practice, and/or observance that you believe conflicts company’s vaccination mandate. 

Your answer to this should be, “Please see attached file” or “Please see attachment 1”.

Question 2: Please state how your particular sincerely-held religious belief, practice, and/or observance specifically conflicts with the company’s vaccine mandate and describe the accommodation that you are requesting.

This is the only question that I cannot answer, nor will I try to point you to on this. I am not a lawyer and do not want to give out legal advice in any way. Please see appropriate counsel or other representatives to provide an answer to this question in the best way possible. 

Question 3: Have you received a religious exemption for any other vaccine requirements in the past three years?

This is funny, and this is what I mean. Someone who fills this outgoing off the handle trying to explain how this vaccine is different and using any type of conspiratorial ideas or reports they found online are going to lose. They WANT that to happen. Your answer here is simply “No.”

Question 4: Have you ever been approved for any other type of religious accommodation during your employment?

Have you? If not, put “No,” If you have, but “Yes” and explain in the simplest, concise manner as possible. DO NOT bring up any other arguments.

Question 5: Does the sincerely-held religious belief, practice, and/or observance identified in Question #1 prevent you from receiving other vaccines or just the Covid-19 Vaccine?

For those I’m assuming is just the Covid-19 vaccine, just put that in the drop-down, or answer accordingly. 

Question 5a: If your sincerely-held religious belief, practice, and/or observance prevents you from receiving only the COVID-19 vaccine, please explain why. 

Alright, so with this question, they’re already prepping you to answer this in a few ways (based on the following questions). If you continue down the road of “It’s an experimental vaccine” or “It contains fetal abortion cells” or “It’s my constitutional right,” I will reiterate, you will lose. They are prepared for this, and you nor I am a lawyer, a scientist, or a political analyst. What we are, are Christians, and they can’t argue with this information we’re giving. Give this answer “Per the statement of faith I provided in attachment 1, I am exempt from the COVID-19 Vaccine due to direction being lead by my God through His Spirit.” I can’t emphasize this enough, the LESS you talk, the BETTER. Always refer back to your statement that you uploaded; the whole point is to mount a defense if needed for court, don’t let them have that. 

Question 6: Are there other aspects of your sincerely-held religious belief, practice and/or observance related to receiving medical care?

I don’t know, are there? If yes, explain them there; if not, it’s of no consequence. 

Question 7: For how long have you had this religious belief, practice, and/or observance?

Put down how long you have been practicing your faith. 

Question 8: In preparing your requested exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement based on the above-referenced sincerely-held religious belief, practice, and/or observance, did you utilize a sample or template request provided by a third party (other than your regular place of worship), whether purchased or otherwise?

I love how they changed this question after my last blog post. They went from “did anyone help you” to “did you utilize a sample.” Like I said above, they’re really starting to irritate me. Listen, our job is to follow God’s commandments, and we should trust in Him in order to get through these things. If you did utilize a third party, IT’S OK; it happens. What their defense here is, they’re going to question why your clergy didn’t help you with it and therefore attempt to invalidate your argument based on what ANOTHER HUMAN DID and not what GOD IS TELLING YOU TO DO. 

Question 9: Since the age of 18, have you received any vaccinations. 

The whole idea of this one, and why they don’t want you to go into further detail is, they are waiting to see if you use the “Aborted fetal cell” argument. Since you’re here reading this, either you’ve anticipated it with me (You’re a smart cookie!), or you’re someone from HR going to change the form again (please go away).

This is also why they asked how long you’ve been practicing your faith above. They’re trying to measure you to perfection, which in the words of our Savior, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone…” (John 8:7, ESV). No one that has ever lived on this Earth is perfect, save one, and He is in heaven. It’s hypocritical, disingenuous, and slimy, and no one should have to go through that until they reach a judgement. 

Question 10: Since the age of 18, have you taken any pharmaceutical(s) (drugs), whether prescription or nonprescription (over the counter)?

Once again, guys, just say yes or no. If you were to use the “Aborted Fetal Tissue” argument, let them go through every single medication you’ve ever taken in 10/20/30 years. That will be fun to watch. 

However, we’re not answering based on Mortal arguments; as I’ve shown, they’re already prepared to give a defense for their mandate. Show them you’re prepared to give a defense for the hope you have in Christ. God speed to all.

For further comments, questions, or cease and desist letters, please contact me at michaelpircio2@mikepircio.com.

Current Events | No Terrestrial Help

A little birdie told me that after my last blog a few companies decided to change their religious exemption forms to add the phrase “Did anyone help you write this”, while I would be flattered and honored to be the answer given to this question, it is not my goal to be the reason for anything, for any reason given should always point back to Christ. I will say that it does perturb me a bit, as these people are actively trying to stop what we know is God giving discernment among His elect to choose not to follow along with these mandates, for whatever reason. We do know one thing, however, as the Apostle Peter 1 writes “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” It’s amazing how relevant this is, across the world are protests, riots, and unemployment sky-rocketing for the same reasons that I am writing this blog post right now. For some unknown reason (though many will try to grasp at mortal arguments for comfort) many are choosing to give up their lives for freedom. As Christians, we know particularly well that our freedom comes not from employers, nor from the government or our patriotic forefathers, but through Christ alone. As Moses told Israel 2, “The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.” So, the best bet, is at the end of the day give the only answer that will help you or me or anyone on this earth at any given moment, God. 

Now I know a lot of you who read this are looking for answers, and if you don’t want to read my reasoning then that’s fine, just scroll to the end; however, if you want to hear my reasoning both academic and theological please continue reading. In Genesis 12 we read about how Abraham and his wife Sarah were forced into Egypt by famine. While Abraham was very wealthy and was favored by God in his own land, traveling to a separate nation with a foreign king brought fear upon him (sound familiar?). As they were traveling through Egypt, Abraham told Sarah to lie to the Egyptians and say they were only siblings because if she told the truth they would kill Abraham. The Egyptian king ended up taking Sarah as a concubine.  If you recall in a previous chapter, God told Abraham that his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky and the sand by the sea, but by the Egyptian king taking Sarah as his concubine, this would break God’s plan. Man’s own intelligence, once again, was trusted instead of God. If God promised Abraham something like descendants, while he and his wife was barren, would God honestly allow him to die before that happened?

The answer is, of course not, later on in Genesis 12 (v. 19), we see that because of Abraham’s sin (Lying and not trusting in God), God had to plague the Egyptians in order for them to release Sarah back to Abraham. 

Now, while the story is compelling how does this help us with the mandate? How does this help us with the new updated forms? 

I’m not quite done yet, let’s continue on, shall we?

An article by ABC News published on September 17th decided to try and cut these religious exemptions off by the head. They went to many church leaders of many denominations and asked if they will support a religious exemption. Most major denominations said “no”. Here are the following quotes. 

Greek Orthodox: “pay heed to competent medical authorities and to avoid the false narratives utterly unfounded in science. No clergy are to issue such religious exemption letters.”

Evangelical Lutheran Church: “There is no evident basis for religious exemption.”

Roman Catholic Church: an exemption letter would be “acting in contradiction” to the Pope. 

Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Dallas: “There is no credible religious argument against the vaccines”

There is a large problem with all of these people saying this. They think they are speaking for God, they think at the end of the day by ignoring the millions of people around the globe that are refusing this vaccine for mostly unknown reasons that they are doing a service to the world. God told the prophet Jeremiah directly 3CURSED is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength.” The problem is these people have put themselves above God and have told us that we need to follow them in this matter! Heresy. These people have failed each and every one of you. They ignored the power of God and the Spirit and for that they will be judged. 

So what now? Where do we go from here. I have some good news, the Pope can’t save you, the president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church can’t save you, the bishops in the orthodox church can’t save you, and no pastor can save you. Christ can. 

We are futher told in the book of Hebrews 4 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Directly from the Bible, what these supposed church leaders say they believe in, it tells us OUR LEADER IS NOT HUMAN AND DIDN’T SIN. Our leader is on the right hand of God and gives us HELP in the time of need. 

Your denominations aren’t going to be asked when you enter Heaven, for there aren’t any Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, or Baptists in Heaven, only Christians. Our leader, our king, isn’t a man, it is God alone. Our help and the “author and finisher” 5 of our faith isn’t man, it is God alone.  Therefore, when you fill in that blank of “Did anyone help you write this”, much to their chagrin, put with peace in your heart “My God through the influence of the Holy Spirit.” As I’ve said before, the gospel is the most powerful answer to all of this. They have their rejections lined up for arguments of “My body is a temple” or “Aborted Fetal Cells” or “This is an experimental vaccine”, but what they can’t argue with is the Gospel or the Holy Spirit. Once again, God speed and may the God of Peace, the only God of Peace keep you in the days forward. 

Current Events | No Earthly Mandate

To vax or not to vax, this is the question surrounding Christians everywhere. I’ve kept largely silent on this issue in public. Privately I’ve made my opinion quite clear. Speaking to Christians, I am going to say this, the action itself doesn’t matter. Just like any action we take, we must be honest with ourselves and with God. As the late evangelist and minister Ron Hamilton once said, “There are two choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self.” This is the whole point of Christianity and the Christian life, we must wake up every morning and we must decide that we are going to do everything to please God or to please our flesh. 

So I will start here. Our primary command in life is to love God (Matt 22:37), and we love him by keeping His commandments (1 John 5:3). Before He left the Earth, Christ told us two things. The first was a promise, to send the Great Comforter (John 14:16), the Holy Spirit. Second, was a divine mandate, He commanded us to go out into all the world and preach the gospel to every living thing (Matt 28:16-20). 

What does this tell us? 

Well, first in the book of Isaiah, God tells Israel something we all should keep in the back of our minds constantly, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying ‘this is the way, walk in it’, when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”(Isa 30:21) So because of this, we know that God directs us in everything we do that we might do them for His glory. 

Second, we know from the Great Commission, God’s plan is to lead as many to salvation as He deems necessary. Therefore, we can assess that anything we are told to do by the spirit is through His will and is necessary for the furtherance of the gospel. My fencepost position on the vaccine itself is this, it is a decision made (hopefully) through soul searching and prayer in following what God wants specifically for you. The passport and other things associated with that will be discussed later on, right now I am focusing on helping the academically and theologically weak church. 

We are coming to a point not only in Western Culture but also in Christianity itself that will give us the privilege and opportunity to stand for our faith. Realistically though, how do we do that? How do we go to an employer or the government and tell them here is my conviction? What do we do when we lose everything over our conviction? 

Standing for something is scary, especially standing for something when one doesn’t know the possible outcome. God wants you to stand for Him, as stated above, the point of being a Christian is to spread the gospel, and if you lose every earthly possession in the process that is God’s will. Christ on this earth told us specifically that if we lose everything on earth, we will gain our soul in heaven (Mk 8:36). It is easy to profess to be a Christian, it is easy to speak what God wants you to say and to follow rules, read the Bible and go to church. It is something else entirely when your livelihood and life is threatened. 

So what do we do? Do we deny Christ and the Spirit leading us and therefore deny His saving power or do we follow and have faith in Him. That is the choice ahead, is money, wealth and even food our concern or is following the only true God in defense of His truth and our kingdom of Heaven. 

When you go before your employer with a religious exemption, do not use mortal arguments about stem cells, or conspiracies or whatever, use the power of the gospel of Christ Jesus. Tell them that the Spirit of God Himself has directed you not to take the vaccine and that He is the one that should be listened to, not man. If a mortal argument is used, they can deny that a lot easier, than denying the gospel. 

See, 60 percent of the U.S. Still identify in some sort of way as Christian. For them to deny that God could be ministering in your heart, then they will not only face an identity crisis of faith but spiritual judgment. We have been warned we will be delivered up to government and kings for our faith, however, our arguments will not stand, the only argument that will is the argument that is given by the Spirit (Matt 24:9). That specific argument by and through the Spirit will always end up being the gospel. 

The same power of creation is the power of the gospel itself. Your testimony, the Gospel, and the Spirit will get you through this. Once again, I will warn everyone if you’re actually doing this for selfish or non-spiritual reasons, please do not use your testimony. It will only bring pain and suffering as that is not the will of God. So please, when you are faced with a decision do it in prayer and thanksgiving so the will of God may be known in your life.  Remember, let your answers to questions about this be “yes” or “no” whether this is to your employer or to your government. To all who read this, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all even unto the end of the age. 

Meditations | The God of Peace

The world has gone crazy, hasn’t it? We have mandates for a vaccine to just be able to work, people are being banned from their own countries and the world is holding its breath as tensions rise across the globe resulting in rioting. Our relationships are failing due to a lack of communication, distrust, and misplaced morals. Our health is faltering since hospitals are understaffed, too few beds for patients, and stressed out medical professionals. Poverty. Destruction. Peril. Everywhere you look bad news is inbound. 

What are we to do? It makes you just want to stay under the covers in fear. 

In the first century A.D the ancient Christians were under the same type of assault. Caesar Nero made the case that all Christians were to be rounded up and executed for, at least publicly, burning down Rome. During their trials, however, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict them of arson, so what did he do? According to Tacitus, a Roman historian, Nero accused them of “hating humanity”. Then they were slaughtered. They were crucified, they were beheaded, exiled, or burned at the stake. Nero would use them as garden lights while having parties for dignitaries. 

Paul was very aware of what was going on, he was sent to prison himself for preaching the gospel, as a proud Roman citizen Paul appealed directly to Caesar and during that time Nero (most likely under God’s grace) allowed Paul to leave. Paul knew the trials ahead for the Christians and would often write to the churches in epistles. These epistles were not only there to reprimand the churches, but also to encourage them in this difficult time. 

Phillipians 4 has some fantastic encouragement for Christians as we see our current world falling down around us and the governmental order changing. Paul knows the persecution that these Christians will go through and are going through as he went through it himself. He starts off his message with this “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.”(Phil 4:4) This is marked insanity, these people are about to be KILLED and Paul is telling them to rejoice? Then in Philippians 4:5, Paul tells them to be reasonable, they’re about to be hung, crucified and beheaded, but they are to be reasonable? Right after he tells them what to do in these times and this is what I really want to examine. In Phillipians 4:6-7 he tells them: 

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So First of all he says, “The Lord is at hand”. He takes the words from the conversation between God and Jeremiah in Jeremiah 23 God asks Jeremiah a rhetorical question, “Am I only a God at hand and not a God far away?”(Jer 23:23), the God replies “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do I not fill the heavens and Earth?”(Jer 23:24). Paul tells us that the Lord is always here, he’s always with us. Christ never forsakes or leaves His own. As you read this right now, He is with you. 

So because He is always with us, what does Paul tell us? “Don’t be anxious about anything”! Christ, the God of creation is always with us, why would we be anxious? We have the ability to go to the very real Lord of this Earth in prayer to ask for ANYTHING. So he concludes this thought with “In Everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING make your requests be made known to God.” Paul has gone insane here, Not only does he tells us to stop being anxious, but he also tells us to be THANKFUL for whatever is making us anxious. 

I want to stop right here, why should we be thankful? Your spouse leaves you, your house burns down, whatever happens and what exactly in that very moment is there to be thankful for? You throw your fists up to the heavens and get angry. 

The very fact that you can still be angry should make you fall on your knees. God could have taken your life, He could have done a lot worse yet, He is in complete control. So even if you are angry, even if you are sad or depressed about life’s situation, you are still alive and you can thank God that He is still on His throne. 

And because you know He is there, because you know that He is on His throne, because you know whatever is causing you anxiety, is also reminding you that you are alive, as Christians, we have a blessed hope that God is always in control. That should put us in perfect peace. Indeed Paul writes that it is a peace that passes all understanding. 

See, the God of peace isn’t only the God of peace because that’s His attribute, He is the God of peace because He is always in control. He is a God at hand and far away, He always sees us and knows our hearts. And now because of our Savior in Heaven, we have a mediator who can relay our emotions in an earthly way to the Godhead. So our God can more personally affect each of our emotions differently to give us peace in our hearts and minds. 

Society’s Assumptions | But you don’t act like a Christian

I have a question for all those that may read this that aren’t Christians. Have you ever accused someone of “Not being a Christian”, because they didn’t measure up to your idea of what a Christian should be like? Our society today tends to have an idea of what a Christian may be in their heads. They think we should be meek, quiet, naive people without an opinion and if we have an opinion they stand at the ready to cross-check that with an out of context verse or two. We have fact checkers everywhere these days, and many times they have been wrong. 

But if I asked you personally, as a Christian, “what would a Christian look like”, would you have an answer?

Many don’t. Many think even after salvation that going to Church, reading their Bible and trying to be good is all that matters in Christianity. But do we honestly think that just because we have salvation that our earthly deeds matter more? Do you think they please God because we went to a soup kitchen, or fed the poor, or went out of our way to volunteer at an animal shelter?

No it doesn’t. Isaiah 64:6 tells us simply “We have all become like one who is unclean,

    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” The question then becomes: well if that’s the case why should anyone do anything “good”?

We all can do good but we have to do it in God’s time and what He wants us to do. Later down the chapter Isaiah goes into further detail concerning how we are to act with respect to how God wants us to act. Verse 8 has Isaiah replying to God “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” If we’re not moved by the Spirit to do something, everything else is in vain. Sure, we can do good things to have our testimony reach people, but if God doesn’t specifically instruct us to do it, it is through our own power and not His. 

Back to the original question, “What would a Christian look like?”. Isaiah made a point that will continue on for the rest of the post. In his reply to God, he tell Him that he is like clay and wants to be molded to fit God’s idea for his ministry and for his nation. As Christians, we should ask the same. And the Apostle Paul agrees while also giving us a list of things that should naturally come out of us if we are in fellowship with our Lord. 

This is generally known as the fruit of the spirit and these fruits are : love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness and self-control. We should all show these daily in every conversation and interaction. Even then, however, people will pick apart (especially online) everything we say or do. So what else are we to look at about how a Christian should act?

Paul also tells us a hallmark of a true Christian is the following: Love good, Love one another, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, constantly in prayer, bless everyone, do not repay evil with evil, do everything with honor, try to live peaceably with everyone to the best of our ability, and finally, leave all vengence to God. 

These are what we are commanded as Christians on how to live. There are no laws against the fruit of the spirit or the list Paul wrote above in Romans 12. Our way to following what God would have for us, is to be good and move through life with as little strife as possible. We are to seek peace, as our God is the God of peace. In the case we do find ourselves in strife (as we are fallible human beings), we are to act in a way that no one can fault us except our adversary. 

Finally, I’ll ask one more time, and I will give an answer no one will like. “What does a Christian look like?”.

A Hypocrite. 

Yes, a Christian looks like a hypocrite. As R.C. Sproul once said “We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.” Salvation doesn’t change any of that, salvation doesn’t make one perfect, it doesn’t stop anyone from being fallible. It simply gives us a hope and a relationship with our Creator. As much as we try to “be good”, or display the fruits of the spirit or attempt to follow Paul’s lead or love God and our neighbors, we are going to fail. 

THAT’S OK.

When we do, we know God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins (1 John 1:9). That is what salvation is for! Because we are imperfect. Jesus died so that we may one day attain perfection in Heaven. Christ didn’t die for perfect people -because honestly there aren’t any- He died for people who are going to screw up, who are going to make bad choices, who are going to come crawling back because they thought they could do something themselves. That doesn’t mean anything I said is “ok” or right, it just means I’m being realistic. 

So what now? Let the world just rip us apart? Yes, because they’ll hate us just as much as they hated Christ. They don’t know how a Christian should act, they simply tell us how they think a Christian should act. We, as Christians, follow a book that is ancient, that was given to us by an omnipotent and all-knowing God. I would rather follow what that guidebook has to say about how I should act versus what someone says they think I should act. At the end of my life, I will not be answering to them, but both of us will be answering to God. 

Society’s Assumptions | Christianity = Spiritualism?

I was sitting with a friend the other day, whom many may define as a good person.  He told me “You know Mike, I’m not sure I could have gone through what you’ve gone through without your Spirituality, It’s a good thing you have it.” This is interesting, simply because I don’t consider myself a spiritual person. I don’t consider Christianity, God, Christ, good or evil spiritual things. I consider them just as tangible as you or I. The reason I believe in God is the same reason I believe in trees, or water, or the sky, no I can’t touch him, but I can see His work. I can’t hear Him, yet I can read His words. I can’t see him, but He knows where I go. 

Likewise, Christ was a real man. He is still God. Many of historians from antiquity have written about Christ and the Christians or “followers of Christ”, so I know He isn’t just a myth. The same can be said for good and evil. Human beings, since the beginning of time, have considered whether there is good and evil, and what that looks like. They question such things as “Are humans substantially more evil than good?”, “Can people choose good without a benefit?”, or my favorite “Why is there evil if there is a benevolent, all-powerful, diety?”. 

Dictionary.com gives us more modern interpretations of words and how they are used colloquially or in other words, as common words in  conversation. The site defines “Spiritual” in definition 6 as “of or relating to the spirit as the seat of the moral or religious nature.” And I would have to agree in this use of the word, as many people, especially my age may define themselves as “Spiritual, but not religious”. As a Christian, I should be neither spiritual nor religious in my beliefs. If I define Christianity as a tangible faith, then how could either of those (religious or spiritual) bring me closer to my Creator? 

Neither of them can. Religion, is a system made of rituals and practices associated with worship. Christians should not practice religion. God doesn’t require us to sing or do anything except love him. As I went over in my love series, that means being the best ambassador of Heaven on Earth. We are to study about Him and read His word. We are to pray and talk to Him, just like any relationship, and we can embark on artistic ventures about Him if we want to, in order to worship him, such as music or artwork; however, if we aren’t talented like that, we should worship Him with diligence in doing “all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:13)

God doesn’t even require us to have corporate worship, we however are commanded to gather with likeminded believers as that encourages us in our faith, but that doesn’t mean we have to go to church. God requires a personal relationship with us first, and then by that relationship we will want to spend time worshipping and fellowshipping with other like minded individuals. 

So what’s the issue with someone calling us Spiritual? It seems harmless doesn’t it? It’s all about pluralism. Pluralism allows someone to serve two masters. It separates innate curiosity of the divine from the animalistic instincts that keep us from perfection. It allows us to follow man-made principles in satisfactory fashion allowing for our superficial concern over eternity to be quenched, but also allows for humanity to continue endulging in vices, questionable morals, and blatant rebellion without much consequence if any. People who are spiritual may believe in “God” as a higher power, but also subject themselves to eastern ideas such as Karma and Nirvana. They may even call themselves Christian, but when tasked with explaining their faith they can’t expound on it much more than being raised in a church. 

People who are Spiritual consider themselves good people, and they have a morality that they believe to be right; Christians on the other hand cannot consider themselves to be good people, because we know we aren’t deserving of the title as sinners.

The whole point of this blog is to pierce right through what the church has neglected in so many years. Churches have gotten hung up on being “Spiritual” focusing on music, worship teams, and nice messages about how being good will please God, and following God’s rules make you a good Christian. As Christians we really need to take a stand against what society thinks of us and correct them. We are not spiritual, we simply serve a very real being who cannot be seen because of His holiness, who cannot be touched but can change lives in a very real way, and cannot be heard but has written down His word in a guidebook for our lives. 

We are Christians, because we follow the Son of the being, known as God, who was sent to tell us exactly how His Father thinks, as He and the Father are one. We don’t follow Him because of His good ideas, or His compassion, or His Death. We follow Him because He is God. 

Out of all this, the takeaway is Christianity isn’t spiritual, it’s not religious, it’s faith; a faith that is very real based on personal experience with a divine being who reached out to choose us to love Him and follow His plan on this Earth. While other religions espouse that they received their words from angels or men, We and our Jewish brethren are the only ones who can say we’ve received word directly from God himself.