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 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. 

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. 

Meditations | Independent Toddlers

No, I’m not starting a #Dadblog. I’m definitely not one of those types. So don’t worry your little heart, but I am going to talk about being a whiny, bratty, rotten toddler. And I’m going to accuse you of being that too. You have anxiety, you cry, you throw tantrums. You’re probably nothing more than a grown toddler.

Now think of that toward perfection, think of that toward our Father in Heaven. It’s funny because when we’re little-and I’ve mentioned this before-we look up to our parents for everything, including how to act. We instantly become embarrassed as a toddler when we see other children acting up or screaming in a store because that’s how we act sometimes. Now think about it like this, we’re in a stressful situation and maybe no one is helping. Our advice from our friends suck, our hypothetical partner isn’t helping and we’re a sobbing, angry, anxious mess.

Now, as a parent looking at a toddler doing this, we’re instantly annoyed to no end. Why can’t they just quit and realize it’s not that bad! Why can’t they just know this is for the best? Why….we ask. God asks the same thing, he wonders why we’re not listening, why we’ve blocked Him out in all of our anxiety and urge for control. He doesn’t understand why we can’t just give in and stop sobbing.

In the Bible we are told either by angels, by prophets or by God himself to “Fear not”. 365 times in the King James Version of the Bible is this phrase used or something like it.

In Genesis 15:1, God comes to Abram and tells him “Fear not, for I am your shield; your reward shall be very great”. Why would a non-personal, inauthentic, creator care so much about one man? Even though God chose him as his patriarch for a civilization, why would he care that much to reassure him of anything?

After the Israelites are established as a nomadic nation, God comes to Joshua, the chosen leader of the people and tells him multiple times to “not fear” within the same conversation! Joshua 1:9 starts off with “Have I not commanded you?”

Finally, we get to the most quoted part of scripture that we can look at concerning this, and at this point I think it’s amazing. Over thousands of years God told whoever He was speaking to, “Don’t be afraid”. It reminds me of helping a toddler on the monkey bars. We tell them don’t be afraid! I’ve got you! Just put your hand over hand on the bars and you’ll make it through. We even make feeble attempts to show them. No matter what we do, they still look at us in sheer terror. “Mom/Dad, I’m afraid”, “Mom/Dad, I can’t do this”, “Mom/Dad, will you hold me?”

In Isaiah 41:10 God tells the coastlands through Isaiah the prophet, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will Strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous righthand.” But this time, after thousands of years of saying this, He says something else in Isaiah 41: “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand…” Thats the kicker isn’t it?

We go and tell them on the monkey bars what to do, how to do it and we reassure them we aren’t going to let them fall. More often than not, what happens? We end up holding them across. God finally said, “you’re incapable of trusting in me as I want, so I’m going to make sure you know I’m there. I will walk with you and hold your hand through it.”

We as adults are nothing more than independent toddlers. We make the wrong choices, we disagree with what God explicitly tells us to do, and just like the Israelites we go after every shiny thing that comes along. What happens when bad things happen then? What happens when God chastises us? What happens when everything falls apart? We run to Him. We tell Him we’ve been bad, we tell Him we’ve screwed up, we tell Him the horrible rotten things about us, because He’s the only one that can make them stop.

As I’ve said before in prior posts, God always gives us an exodus. Even if we have to pay for our bad choices we know he is “Faithful and Just to forgive us of our sins”, it may not be that moment and it may not be a year later, but God will always make sure He holds our hands through it. Because you and I are far short of glorified adulthood in the eyes of God.

Meditations | A Light Burden

Today I thought we would do something a little different than we usually do. I thought we would perform a commentary on a certain aspect of scripture, almost like an expository sermon. I feel like we as Christians need to hear this message specifically, not because we don’t know it, but because we don’t actually practice it.

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Meditations | Forgiveness

Ah, the hardest part of our charge as Christians toward the world. It’s even harder than loving the world, even though these two go hand in hand. This thing, this forgiveness, is something that is often misunderstood and almost as misunderstood in Christianity as the word “love”. These two terms have taken a whole other meaning in our modern lexicon. 

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7. What is Love // The Application of the extraordinary

So we have finally arrived at our final lesson. You all have read 6 posts and over 7000 words on the analysis of what love should mean to a Christian, but even if we can explain to everyone that love is a choice and the emotions we feel as humans are simply an incomplete echo of the divine: how do we show that choice in our lives? What exactly do we need to do daily to show that we choose to love? 

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