A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Social Commentary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Commentary. Show all posts

August 9, 2022

Is Satan "Beguiling" Our Children?


I hope that you will take the title of this post seriously, and continue to read what I have to say. Before I get to my point about our children, I want to take a little detour. I need to explain why I deliberately used the word beguiled in the title of this post. It is the word that Eve used to describe to God what the serpent did to her when she sinned in the Garden. According to Strong's Concordance, that word means either "to mentally delude" or "[morally] to seduce". Now, if you grew up going to Sunday School, you know the story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and you were most likely taught that the serpent tempted Eve to eat the apple off the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I am not denying that there was temptation going on, but I do not believe it was about eating an apple.

What if the temptation was of a sexual nature? What if "the fruit" was a pregnancy resulting in the birth of Cain [who would have been the fruit of Eve's womb]? Remember, the punishment from God was that the serpent would be cursed and "crawl on his belly and eat dust all the days of his life"; that there would "be enmity between the serpent's seed and the woman's seed" [again suggesting sex]; that Eve would suffer pain during childbirth [as a direct result of her specific sin]; and that Adam would be kicked out of the Garden where everything was provided for him, and would now endure painful toil, by the sweat of his brow, to produce the food he would eat... 

This interpretation is so far off base of normal Christian understanding, but when you do a deep dive study, it's not out of the realm of possibility. And in consideration of this alternative understanding, I want to now explain why I think Satan is beguiling our children. Here in Texas, I personally know of two separate counties where Christian citizens are standing up and protesting children's books that are in their local libraries; books of a highly sexual nature. In fact, their protest before their town's County Commissioner's Court has become a lightning rod for people who view the challenge to the books as an attempt to indiscriminately ban books. The outcry has been loud and has surprisingly brought factions of the community together that are usually politically divided. And all it took was for the media to highlight the words "censorship" and "banning books", and the flames were fanned for misinformation.

But here is what I want you to understand, because I have no doubt that the same concerns that parents and members of the community have here in Texas about our public libraries, is the same issue you should be investigating in your own community. The concerned citizens are not targeting books that represent a different opinion about lifestyles, but rather the sexually explicit and pornographic material in the books that is not suitable for the age groups the books are targeting. If we, as adults, don't protect the innocence of our children, we are going to have to answer to God for failing to safeguard them against suggestive material that makes them more available to pedophiles, perverts, and ungodly behavior.

When this debate surfaced here locally, I had to carefully explain to mothers who are strong Christian women, that their fears about undue censorship were being distorted and unfounded. Some expressed worry about where the line would be drawn. After all, classic books like Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird have been on "banned books" lists. And allowing any governmental body to decide what books can be allowed in a public library might even one day lead to the Bible being removed. I understand those fears and I agree -- it is a tightrope that we walk. But there are controversial books like "Black Flamingo" by Dean Atta, a coming-of-age novel about a mixed-race gay teen who becomes a drag artist. This wouldn't be my suggestion for a middle school-aged child, or early teens. And it is the concern of those who protested that there are openly pornographic books aimed at under-age children, in an attempt to indoctrinate them into various sexual lifestyles before they are mature enough to decide for themselves. These books are entirely inappropriate for the Juvenile section of the library (ages 7 to 10), nor the Young Adult Fiction section (ages 12 and up). Not to mention the fact that they would not be approved by God.

I want to give you a link where you can check it out for yourself. I'll give you a couple of examples of the books that the concerned parents felt would be robbing children of their innocence, and I warn you... they are salacious and suggestive. You can go to http://booklooks.org and look up the title Red Hood. It was rated 4 out of 5 for its obscene sexual activities, violence, and profanity. Yet the book appeared in the Young Adult Fiction (ages 12 and up) section. I know I grew up in a different era, but there is no redeeming value for a 12-year-old to be allowed to read a book which is so sexually graphic. To say that this book is rated R, is an understatement. Then there's Sex is A Funny Word, which was found in the Juvenile section of the library (ages 7-10) which was so obviously written to mold and instruct children in sexuality and alternate gender ideologies; containing graphic illustrations involving sexual nudity and sexual activities. 

The book includes many illustrations of exposed male and female genitalia, along with "how to" illustrations regarding masturbation. And then there is this bit of encouragement: "But having a penis isn't what makes you a boy. Having a vulva isn't what makes you a girl. The truth is much more interesting than that! When we are born, a doctor or midwife calls us boy or girl because of what we look like on the outside. They choose a word or label (usually boy or girl, or male or female) to describe our bodies. But that's based on our outside, our cover, or who they think we are. What about our whole body, inside and out? What about who we think we are?" 

Can you imagine how confusing or scary that would be for a 7 year-old? I'm all for different opinions, and adults have free will to do or think whatever they want [and there are consequences for those decisions], but our children should not be subjected to such deceptive and duplicitous methods of indoctrination. Reading books was one of the great joys of my childhood; a time when my innocent mind could imagine myself in the stories I was reading. And I learned what it looked like to be courageous and overcome challenges; to travel to interesting places; the thrill of solving mysteries and the joys of new discoveries. But it is the sad state of this world that we must now stand guard over our children's minds and their innocence. Just as Satan beguiled Eve to sin and transgress God's commandments, so is the devil trying to lead our children down paths that God does not approve of and which they are not equipped to travel. Jesus is not far from returning to deal with the evil in this world, and we know what He has in store for those who would harm children. 

So, this is what we are dealing with here in Texas. I suggest you make a point of finding out what books are in your local libraries. Because if these books are not on your shelves yet, they are coming to a library near you soon.

Matthew 18:6      Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin [by leading him away from My teaching], it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone [as large as one turned by a donkey] hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

November 20, 2021

Moral Neutrality Is Not An Option In The Midst of Societal Chaos

The title of this post is something that my spirit has become increasingly troubled with in the last couple of years. I sense Christian Americans wrestling with how to respond in the midst of personal and national crises, especially from a moral standpoint. Of course, at a Kingdom level, it should be obvious .. Micah 6:8 asks the following questions, and then gives us God's answer: What can we bring to the Lord? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Goodness ... righteousness ... virtue ... they are all words that describe Biblical morality; and all are essential qualities in the exercise of faith. In other words, as Christians, moral neutrality in the midst of societal chaos cannot be up for discussion. We must remain committed to godliness and fruitfulness in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, in recent years -- actually, in recent decades -- we have seen our religious communities falter in this commitment, and I am reminded of what the Prophet Isaiah says in Chapter 59, verse 9: Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We can't just "hope" for the light of God to permeate our country; we must overtake the darkness with our moral and just decisions. We cannot just sit on the sidelines and wait for God to make things right.

At the foundational level, this conflict is simply a question of Good vs Evil. It is as old as time; ever since the Garden of Eden, God has made His desire known for our obedience to His ideals and principles. Yet, centuries later, men and women, cultures and societies, still struggle to do what is right in the midst of upheaval and lawlessness. But why? Certainly, we can't expect to believe that "good Christians" were confused as to whether Good or Evil was occurring, can we? I refuse to believe that our consciousness has deteriorated so far that we are unable to distinguish the moral choice. But, yet, Christians looked the other way in WW II, as their Jewish neighbors disappeared. Through our silence, abortion laws were passed in 1973 that have resulted in the deaths of over 62 million babies. According to the website, liberatechildren.org, human trafficking has surpassed the illegal sale of arms, and is expected to surpass the sale of drugs in the coming years -- and in 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases in the U.S. involved only children! And on a more individual level, just a few weeks ago, there was a story in the news of a woman raped on a subway in Philadelphia while onlookers reportedly recorded the rape with their cellphones, while no one called 911, or tried to intervene. As is quite obvious, the consequences of taking a neutral stance in any of these events resulted in horrific costs to humanity. 

Why is it so important to acknowledge this phenomena in our societal disintegration? If you will allow me to give you a rather simple analogy, consider this: in the operation of a vehicle, NEUTRAL is a disengaged position of gears in which the engine is disconnected from the driven parts. Let's translate that to our spiritual relationship with our Creator... If we, as God's Heavenly Kingdom representatives on earth, remain neutral in situations or questions of morality, we are [in effect] disengaging ourselves from our positions as His children and co-heirs [of His Kingdom] with Christ. If we are disconnected from God, who is the engine [or power] that drives us to do good works for His sake, then the result is a society that morally disintegrates into chaos and lawlessness. 

I know this is nothing new in the history of man, but it is deeply disturbing to me in the history of my lifetime. I fervently believe in the goodness that is inherent in every human being, but my spirit also knows that Evil is looking for any open door that allows it to influence another human's heart. Have we become so conditioned to questioning our own moral meters, for fear of being criticized as biased, prejudiced, or exclusive? We must have the courage to stand up for Godly principles and moral laws! God is not impartial when it comes to fence-sitters! Remember, Jesus says in Revelation 3, that He would prefer Christians to be either hot or cold; lukewarm is not a state that gains us favor! 

So, I applaud my fellow Christians for having the courage to stand for justice and good and what's right in the eyes of God -- despite the criticism from those who bow down to political, social, or peer pressure. If we call ourselves Christians, then it is incumbent upon each of us to stand against immoral tyranny. For any form of tyranny is not conducive to the moral integrity God demands of a just society. Parents have a right to be involved in their children's education; truly righteous people need to stand against lawless mobs; and our children [and unborn] need to be protected from those who would prey upon their innocence -- all accomplished within the laws of this great land, of course. If the laws are no longer moral or righteous, then it is up to us to change them in a righteous, moral, and legal manner. I am heartened as I see the Body of Christ coming together in recognition that now is our time to consecrate ourselves to God's purposes on this earth; to be imitators of His holiness and righteousness, no matter the cost. 

Remaining neutral is no longer an option. As moral Christians, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in our actions. Refusal to make a choice, or choosing to sit on the sidelines in the midst of a moral conflict, IS a choice that is not desired by the Lord. When it comes to morality, we MUST be biased in favor of pleasing the Lord. Anything less is moral compromise, and we can no longer afford to be lukewarm. In the words of German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man I greatly admire, in his book The Cost of Discipleship, "The price we are having to pay today in the shape of the collapse of the organized church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost. We gave away the Word and sacraments wholesale; we baptized, confirmed, and absolved a whole nation without condition. Our humanitarian sentiment made us give that which was holy to the scornful and unbelieving ... But the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way was hardly ever heard". Jesus followed a narrow, moral, disciplined, and righteous path in the midst of societal chaos. He never took a neutral position. May we imitate His life in the way we live ours; and may we defeat hate, darkness, in His Mighty Name!

Isaiah 59:21   And as for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord: "My Spirit that is upon you, and My words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring," says the Lord, "from this time forth and forevermore."



August 18, 2020

How Social Media Undermines God and Our True Identities


     I don't know how you feel about Social Media, but for me, I can sum it up with the condensed version of Genesis 50:20... "What Satan meant for evil, God can use for His good". I may sound unsophisticated but, for all intents and purposes, I think the developers of Social Media platforms have been deceived by the devil and ultimately serve his agenda. Yet, I will allow that I have the opportunity to use those digital creations to write this blog to you. And I thank the Lord for that!

    So, let me explain what I'm seeing in this digital/technological age and why I'm concerned that it is effecting not only our relationships with each other, but with our connection to our Creator. First of all, Social Media allows people to hide behind an invisible wall of respectability and often gives them a fake sense of courage and invincibility. People will express their opinions on everything from politics to religion to devil worship; writing from a safe distance where they feel confident to forego civility and respect and good manners, in favor of being right and projecting a position of moral superiority. 

     But nothing replaces that personal face-to-face conversation to achieve real truth and integrity. I don't think I've ever seen such ugliness, anger and vitriol. But the devil has convinced those with wounded and hard hearts that no one can see them so they can say what they want without any fear. And then when you try to engage with them, they are suddenly offended that you dare to disagree or question them. Somehow, we've lost that personal interaction and the experience of really knowing each other.

     And all I can think of is how much God is concerned about how Social Media is influencing the way we communicate with each other and how we practice our faith. Before the Covid nightmare began, more and more people chose to stay in the comfort of their home and watch sermons and Church services online and at their leisure. There was no human interaction with like-minded Believers; you tuned into God whenever it was convenient. After all, the internet is full of archived podcasts, sermons, and videos. And since March, when our nation entered a new reality of masks and isolation, it has become difficult to even make those alternative forms of faith available. So, now people just go to their favorite Religious app and get their God moment there. 

     So, I have a question ... if we are moving farther away from real human contact to having "virtual friends" that we may never look in the eye, shake their hand, or experience a hug from --- how "real" can those relationships be? And if there is no authentic relationship between humans on the same planet, how much farther will we move from a genuine experiential relationship with God? And, in the end, how does it affect us in relating to each other as the children of God?

     Here are some of what I think are very real concerns... Through Social Media the Anti-Christ spirit (which is any spirit that denies or does not confess Jesus in their life) attempts to divide and conquer us through our perceptions of who people are by the way they communicate online. It is very easy for the devil to manipulate people in his subtle and crafty ways to see people only as labels. 

     Take the issues of wearing masks or taking a vaccine. If you are a Christian, your spirit should be sensitive to these two tools to manipulate the masses and move them closer to a Mark of the Beast scenario. But if you're a humanist, or just the average Joe who gets his identity on Facebook or Twitter, then you can be manipulated in any number of ways. The Enemy whispers messages of Personal or Economic freedom and people post messages in support of those ideals. They will look something like this: Covid-19 is limiting our freedom (and so is the government), so by working together to get enough people vaccinated, we, as a society can preserve those freedoms. Or, it can sound something like this: People are out of work and financially hurting. We just all need to get vaccinated and we can go back to work. There are other reasons to get vaccinated: they will try to instill guilt; if you don't get vaccinated, you are endangering others. And they can take it one step further: those who refuse to agree with mandatory vaccinations of the population are putting the health of their community at risk. Then you become the enemy, responsible for the deaths of others. Get the picture?

     And whether you comment or disagree, it is very easy to get labeled as Selfish, Traitorous, Uncaring, or downright Evil -- all without ever actually meeting a person! That is not God's design for the human race! We are made in His image and He is all about relationship and wants us to love each other as He loves us. We are worth something to Him because His Son chose to die for us. In fact, that is one of His commandments ... Love one another as I have loved you. But, sadly, I see how Social Media is destroying that message.

     But don't count Satan out just yet! He still has some tricks up his sleeve. I ran across an article entitled 25 Reasons Why Twitter is Spiritual. Are you ready for some of them? Here goes: Twitter prompts us to focus on the present moment and in doing so we realize all we need is right here, right now. Twitter prods us to find the divine energy of joy in our daily lives and to share it with others. Twitter draws out our playfulness and celebrates, in a variety of ways, the holiness of savoring pleasure and the lightness of being. (Can you believe that one?) Twitter shows us why we need to cherish all parts of creation from ants to wolves to the Grand Canyon. Twitter elicits our wonder as we see the world moving toward us with a deluge of epiphanies. And here's my favorite: Twitter allows us to probe on a daily basis the significance of what we are feeling and thinking: it makes meaning makers of us all. In other words, it's all about us!

     I'm sorry, but using words like "divine energy of joy", "holiness and lightness" and "epiphanies" does not make this Social Media platform spiritual. Being spiritual is connecting to the Spirit of God; the Holy Spirit. It's having a personal relationship with all of whom God is... not concentrating on making ourselves the happiest we can be in our Godless lives. 

     In summary, I don't see Social Media going away anytime soon, and I only see it as further perverting God's intentions for His children. I celebrate the ways in which I can represent Him through this blog, but I know that Enemy is very aware that me, and others like me, who do not advance his agenda to separate us from each other and the Most High God. I will do my part to represent my Lord and King for as long as I can, and as long as you're willing to read what I'm inspired to write. Use me, Lord, for Your Good, and lead us not into the temptations of Social Media, but deliver us from its evil ways. Amen!

Galatians 1:10    For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.





September 28, 2017

It's A Page Out Of Satan's Playbook

     I know this will be a controversial subject, but how many of you are tired of hearing about the battle between the President and the NFL?  I am not here to judge the pros and cons, or the decisions of those who chose to kneel, or to stand with their hand on their heart, or to lock arms, or to stay off the field all together.  We live in a country where freedom of speech and expression are still a birthright. But those in the midst of this controversy [who profess to be Christian] need to recognize that their birthright as Sons of God takes precedence over their identities as members of a football team.
     I don't even really see this as a matter of supporting the troops or racial inequality or police brutality or crime in black communities.  All I see is Satan spreading deception, discord, and chaos. Are all those issues a reality in our culture?  Yes, they are. Are they insurmountable? Not if we quit listening to the lies of the Father of Lies. As I see it, this entire situation has been orchestrated by the devil.  Does he have his human partners in this state of affairs? Absolutely! But it is time Christians take the lead in these circumstances and shut down the Enemy's scheme to use man's pride as his tool to sow evil.
     It is the devil's delight to destroy ... whether it be your peace, your marriage, your health, or our national dialogue.  He loves to kill relationships, and cause anger and conflict.  And his signature is all over this NFL controversy.  He started it with a snide comment and tweet, and then he escalated it with wounded pride, and whispers in the ears of both sides, "You don't have to take it!  Who does he/they think they are? Strike back! I'll show them! We need to stand for what is right!"  And then he caps off his scheme by stealing the camaraderie and joy between the players and the fans, which in turn, causes another layer of discord and disharmony.
     I wish just one faithful person would stand up and say, "Guys, look at what Satan is doing to us!"  I mean these players are trained to size up their opponent's strategy and be ready to adjust their game plan when they find themselves losing.  And there is nothing about this situation that says anyone is winning.  I see the devil's strategy as plain as day ... As I wrote a couple of years ago in a post titled The Four D's Of The Enemy's Battle Plan, I am seeing that this battle between the President and the NFL is shaping up to be a tactical salvo in the devil's spiritual war against this nation.
     The devil is using Deception to convince both sides that they can win this argument. Whatever immediate satisfaction they might gain from making their point will be lost in the escalated animosity that will spill over into all of our society.  He is promising that righteous indignation will win the day, but dramatization and exaggeration will diminish the message.  And if that's not enough to destroy any goodwill that might be left, the Enemy will employ the news and social media and the world of entertainment to fan the flames and sow more seeds of deception through bitter and malicious comments.
     Division is the next tool Satan is using to implement his scheme ... division between races, between players and fans, between political and social agendas, and between those who play a game for millions of dollars and those who die on the battlefield to defend their right to say and do what their conscience tells them.  He uses man's arrogance, pride, resentments, fear, and misunderstandings  to keep us from finding a better way to communicate our differences and experiences.  He seeks to divide us among ourselves, so that we do not recognize him as our common Enemy who is out to kill and destroy us all.
     And it seems so clear to me that this whole mess is nothing but a Diversion that keeps us from looking at our real problems ... a lack of relationship with Jesus Christ, first and foremost; lack of love and respect for our fellow man; and lack of personal responsibility for the ills of this nation.  Is this controversy really worthy of such national conflict?  Whether one stands for the National Anthem is a statement on how we feel about our citizenship in this country.  But where is our statement about our superior citizenship in Heaven (Philippians 3:20)? Satan has us so caught up in this lesser dispute, that we have abdicated our identities as ambassadors of our Father's Kingdom.
     And lastly, the devil is using a strategy of Discouragement to make us feel that we will never achieve unity in this nation or world. Whether it is the NFL or North Korea, he is painting a bleak picture of our future.  He convinces us that we are headed down a path of no return, and that we will never settle our differences.  We find ourselves tired and apathetic that change will ever be accomplished, and so we don't turn to the One who could be the instrument of our revival.
     There are voices of reason and faith among members of the NFL, but their voices are small in number.  Let us pray that more Christians among them will walk out their faith in leadership roles, pointing to a higher calling in these circumstances.  And let each of us pray that men of principle will recognize the devil's strategy and refuse to play by his rules.  Nothing is impossible when we put our faith and trust in Jesus, and lock arms in unity with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. That is where we are all equal in our worth to the Father. Let it be on earth, as it is in Heaven...

2 Corinthians 2:10-11   ".... if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes". 

July 15, 2016

It's All About Our Hearts

     I have been so impressed with some of the interviews I have seen following the horrific events of last week.  The shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas, have rocked this nation.  I am saddened by the continuing vitriol, but I am also very hopeful at what I am beginning to see happening.  I think you will agree, as you read these interviews that each of the conversations came from the heart, which is the part of us where our emotions dwell.  I think we can all agree that as humans, we are flesh, soul, and spirit.  The soul is comprised of our mind, our emotions, and our will.  But while the heart would seem to be a part of the soul (because our emotions and desires dwell there), I actually believe that there is a spiritual component to our hearts.  I want to explore this further, but first, I want to share why the statements by these individuals moved me so much.
     To begin, all three people just happen to be Black.  But it wasn't their skin color that spoke to my spirit; it was what emanated from their hearts.   I think Benjamin Watson, the tight end for the Baltimore Ravens has given one of the most impressive interviews I've seen.  On NFL Access, he stated that the number one issue to tackle in our nation's attempt to heal from racial division is honesty.  "It's about stepping into someone else's shoes... and sometimes it hurts.  There's pain; there's tears that need to be shed; there's repentance that needs to happen, and forgiveness that needs to happen on all sides.  Healing comes when people's hearts are open to the truth; when they are open and honest and willing to get uncomfortable.  Racism is uncomfortable!  It's not easy to sit here and talk about this issue, but if this nation is going to get to a better place, then we have to realize it is a heart issue; something inside us and not necessarily something effecting us from the outside... We have to respect each other, and see people how God would see them."  On Fox News's The Kelly File, Watson said, "[We have to solve our race problem] through Truth, Justice, and Righteousness."  This man gets it!
     The other two interviews were held with Shetamia Taylor, a shooting victim from Dallas, and a surgeon who treated the officers that were killed, Dr. Brian Williams.  I highly urge you to click on both links, and watch them express their experiences that day.  I dare you not to shed a tear!  When discussing the current state of race relations, Ms. Taylor said, "It's disheartening. I'm angry and I'm frustrated because, of course, we want action, but you have to think first before taking that action. I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm not going to stop. I want my community to be unified, I want my people to be unified, I want all of us to come together."  Dr. Williams stated, “I understand the anger and the frustration and distrust of law enforcement, but they are not the problem,” he said, his voice choking up. “The problem is open discussions about the impact of race relations in this country. And I think about it every day, that I was unable to save those cops when they came here that night. It weighs on my mind constantly.” And then here is the honest and uncomfortable part of the discussion that Benjamin Watson encouraged all of us to have ... Dr. Williams continued, “And I want the Dallas police to also see me, a black man, and understand that I support you, I will defend you and I will care for you. That doesn’t mean that I do not fear you. That doesn’t mean if you approach me, I will not immediately have a visceral reaction and start worrying for my personal safety.”
     Can you see the expression of the heart in each of these individuals?  And why is that so important, and what part does it play in spiritual warfare?  The term "heart" refers to the inner person, and it is central and vital to our spiritual existence.  It is very important, in the context of spiritual warfare and our spiritual life, to understand that God is deeply concerned about the inner man or the condition of the heart.  In fact, He make this point clear in 1 Samuel 16:7:  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  Could that pertain any more to our what our nation is experiencing?
     It is obvious from this passage that God searches the heart.  Why?  He plainly tells us that Where your treasure is, there will be your heart, also (Matthew 6:21).  Everything about our lives -- how we act, our works, our desires and pursuits -- stem from our heart.  If our heart is sick with sin, then it produces sickness on the outside.  That's why God promises those who will follow Him that He will give them a new heart, and take away their "heart of stone".
     The website Bible.org sums it up precisely:  Since the heart is so important to what we think, say, and do, we each need to regularly do open heart surgery with the scalpel of the Word under the guiding hand of the great physician, the Lord Jesus. We accomplish this through the teaching, guiding, convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Like a sharp two-edged sword, the Word divides the inner man asunder to reveal the true condition and needs of our hearts, because this will truly reveal if they belong to Him.
     Do you remember the blog post I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the verse Mark 4:13 and the Parable of the Sower?  I invite you to go back and revisit it.  But here is a summary that ties into what we're talking about today:  "Three out of four of the types of ground, or soil, received the seed; they were saved.  But not all experienced the same thing over the long haul.  It had to do with the state of the ground upon which the seed fell.  So what does the ground represent?  Remember, when asked by the disciples what the parable meant, He told them the mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to those who have teachable hearts ...  The Kingdom of God (where God resides and governs from) works with our human hearts (our belief system and depth of our faith).  But when the world challenges us through its problems -- bills that are due, family issues, health threats -- we choose fear instead of faith."
     If those types of ground, or soil, represent the condition of our hearts, and the seed represents the Word sowed into our hearts, can you see the schemes of the devil to keep that seed from being firmly implanted?  Can you see that preparing the soil of our hearts to become fertile ground for the Word of God is an important weapon in our spiritual warfare arsenal?  The Enemy may disrupt your planting season with his lies, or with unfortunate happenstances that destroy the condition of your heart.  Or, as in the case of last week, he might send agents to kill and murder, sending a fiery dart of hate, causing the condition of your heart to be like barren ground.
     When I wrote my commentary on the Parable of the Sower a little over two weeks ago, the challenges brought about by the shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas had not happened.  Can you now apply what the Bible says about the state of the heart to Benjamin Watson's point that how we react to these tragedies is "a heart issue"?  That we need to repent and forgive in our hearts -- possible only through the conviction and presence of the Holy Spirit -- before healing can begin?
     If we allow satan any access to our heart, he will take advantage of our fleshly emotions and desires and sow his rocks, weeds, and thorns; reaping hate, division, and rebellion in our hearts.  That is why part of our spiritual armor is the breastplate of righteousness which protects our hearts and allows the Word to germinate, thrive, and produce much fruit.  That is the righteousness that Benjamin Watson says we must seek as we examine our hearts.  He's right, you know.  Unless we seriously deal with our heart issues -- fertilizing our hearts with the Word and rooting out the weeds that choke the spirit out of us -- and then allowing ourselves to be uncomfortably honest, and seeing each other as Jesus sees us, His healing balm can not mend our broken hearts.
     I may be an eternal optimist, but my faith gives me hope, and I see hope in the conversations these three remarkable people were willing to have.  There was honesty, which leads to Truth and the readiness to begin to forgive ... and those are powerful weapons against an enemy that seeks to enter our hearts and make them "deceitful and desperately wicked".   We would be wise to listen to the following words of Solomon ....

Proverbs 4:23       "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."

July 11, 2016

"On Earth, As It Is In Heaven"

      I would like to think I am an optimist.  And my spirit is desperately crying out for a shred of hope.  It is apparent that our nation is at a time of great testing.  There is a fear that hangs over our collective consciousness ... How do we stop a race war?  Is there any way to dispel the distrust and hatred?  How do we forgive, rebuild, and restore human decency to each other?
     The one thing I can say is that at this moment in time, I am extremely proud of my state, and especially the city of Dallas.  From the Governor, to the Mayor of Dallas, to the Police Chief, to the citizen in the street (both black and white), there is a sense of "we've had enough".  There is some kind of innate discernment among all groups involved that, yes, there is a war being provoked ... but we're not going to participate in it.  And whether or not the public understands that the war is spiritual, I believe that the righteous of this nation are combining their voices in powerful and effective prayer, holding the spirits of chaos and disorder at bay.
     Let me put it another way ... my spirit is sensing that not only is there a war in the streets of America, but there is a war against America in the heavenly realms.  And in the early hours before dawn this morning, I lay awake in bed, trying to figure it all out.  I asked God to show me what that looks like, hoping for some clear download from His Throne Room; for a voice or a vision to make it all clear to me.  Nothing came; no supernatural revelation or unveiling of a divine mystery ... just a sense that there is something big happening.
     Then you are probably going to think I'm crazy, but I found my mind wandering, and all of a sudden I pictured that scene in one of the installments of the classic movie series, Aliens; the scene where Ripley wanders into a vast cave-like room and finds the Queen of the alien monster/demons and her nursery of unborn demon pods.  Maybe I just have an active imagination, but in that moment, I got a picture of what the battle against America might look like.
     First, let me tell you that this past weekend, my husband and I participated in an advanced spiritual warfare conference, and I will tell you that my mind was greatly challenged.  One of the important things I learned was that within the second heaven, or what is commonly referred to as the spiritual realm, there actually reside many realms .... realms within the realm, if you will.  And within each of those realms, the Enemy has placed a throne on which sits one of the high-ranking commanders within his evil army.  (Remember when Paul refers to the rulers, the powers, the world forces of this [present] darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places?  This is what he is talking about).
     Well, that image from Aliens gave me a picture of what might be satan's battle plan.  Each of those pods is a ruler our adversary has placed over some area of our national experience.  Think of it as a commander controlling abortion; a general over race relations; a king in charge of sexual perversion; a prince covering the Church.  And the Queen Mother of the Aliens is the Prince of the United States, much like the Prince of Greece and the Prince of Persia mentioned in the Bible.  I don't know the name of this Prince of America -- the principality of satan that claims authority over our country -- but I do know that he is trying to gain authority over every domain of this nation.  But I also know that he is no match for the host of heaven that the praying saints can call down to destroy his schemes.
      I have heard numerous stories of people on both sides of the issue that has consumed our nation for the last several days, vowing to not let the madness lead them down the road to further mistrust and hatred; pledging not to turn against each other.  They are rising above the rhetoric of politicians and agitators, to extend the hand of mercy to another human being.  And believe me, that is not what the Enemy wants.  He doesn't want us to reach out to those who may not be of our clan, our tribe, our race, or our nationality.  He wants us to sow the seeds of blame and judgment instead of showing compassion to each other.  And most assuredly, he does not want us to experience healing.
      And that's when my picture from the movie, Aliens, comes back into view.  I see Ripley taking that flamethrower and destroying those alien/demon pods, and I see the prayers of the righteous within our nation ascending to the throne room of God.  He uses them like a holy fire to scorch and incinerate the spirit of hatred that the enemy is so desperately trying to sow.
     Then this verse of Scripture comes clearly into view: "But the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much", and I believe that is exactly what is happening today.  The word "availeth" has such a powerful meaning.  According to Strong's Concordance, it means "to be strong, to have efficacy (effectiveness), force or value; this word denotes strength, to prevail, and indicates a more forceful strength or ability than dunamai, or what we can accomplish on our own".  In other words, I believe that the calm we see in Dallas and among other communities can be effected by our prayers which can call down heavenly fire and armies of angels to do battle on our behalf among these spiritual realms.
     Don't get me wrong, the war is being fought with deadly power in the second heaven.  There is an assigned ruler over Baton Rouge, and one over Atlanta, and one over every major city where we are seeing protests and violence.  And we will continue to see small victories by the Enemy's agents, but I am going to keep on believing that our prayers can and will have a mighty and binding impact upon the spiritual forces determined to take control of this nation.
     The Enemy and his wicked forces have tried to make us a culture of sin and death, and to divide us by the color of our skin.  They are trying to sow seeds of wickedness, violence, chaos and division, and the people of this nation are suffering from the fruits of the Enemy's strife and discord. But I believe that impassioned prayer can soften a hard heart, and I know the hearts of this nation are tender and broken right now.  But we can endure and survive.  Our prayers can strengthen the fabric of this nation and allow God to rebuild us and restore us.  As we pray, we need to repent, and confess our sins, and ask our Father in Heaven to redeem us and heal our land.  So, keep praying, and trust God to hear your prayers -- even if we see continued strife and hatred.  Just picture your prayers igniting His holy fire and destroying all the plans of the Enemy and his operatives; those in the heavenly realms and those here on earth.  And remember ... His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

So, you may be wondering how to specifically pray to God and into the spiritual realms to defeat these strongholds that are trying to destroy our nation.  Stay tuned on Wednesday for suggested prayer, and let's partner with the hosts of heaven!   

James 5:16    "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect."

May 2, 2016

From Boredom to The Beast

     Can you contemplate the possibility that with all the distractions we have in this Age of Technology, that we could actually find ourselves "bored" in our day-to-day lives?  By bored, I mean that we have become so over-stimulated by Facebook and all the other social media avenues, that if we are not constantly hooked up to it, then we feel we are missing something.  By bored, I mean that our brains are so aroused by the highly visible special effects in action movies, or the explicit and graphic sex scenes in R-rated movies and TV, that our normal everyday existence can seem unexciting and discouraging.
     Basically, the more we are entertained, or stimulated, or engaged in sharing our every waking moment, the more we need of whatever triggers a sense of excitement in our lives.  In other words, we don't want to tolerate the average; we want more of the sensational.  That's why people are bored at their jobs ... sitting in meetings, or writing reports becomes intolerable and tedious.  Listening to a professor lecture, or studying for exams becomes monotonous and uninspiring.  Changing diapers, doing laundry, or preparing meals for your family becomes repetitive and mind-numbing.  We have become so accustomed to the instant gratification of our technology, and so reliant on it to take us outside our normal existence, that we cannot appreciate our "real" life.
     Dr. Sandi Mann, Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, writes, "Our attention spans are now thought to be less than that of a goldfish (eight seconds). We are hard-wired to seek novelty, which produces a hit of dopamine, that feel-good chemical, in our brains. As soon as a new stimulus is noticed, however, it is no longer new, and after a while it bores us. To get that same pleasurable dopamine hit we seek fresh sources of distraction ... Does any of this matter? Research suggests that chronic boredom is responsible for a profusion of negative outcomes such as overeating, gambling, truancy, antisocial behaviour, drug use, accidents, risk taking and much more. We need less, not more, stimulation and novelty."
     Of course, all of these negative side effects of boredom are alarming, especially when they result in keeping us from reaching our full potential.  But let me tell you about another side effect that secular psychologists like Dr. Mann may not consider. As a member of the pre-Millennial generations, it is pretty easy for us to see the consequences of our rapidly increasing technology -- in effect, we can measure it from a "before and after" perspective.  It is easier for me to see the negative ramifications of too much technology in my life because I have reference points ... I remember what it was like to actually engage in a face-to-face conversation, or at least telephone conversations with friends or loved ones.  So when I find myself avoiding that personal interaction in favor of non-verbal phone texts, I can recognize that I need to disengage from technology and make that human connection.
     Or, I can remember when the entertainment I chose to watch was more wholesome and respectful of human relationships and the family, so when I see something in a movie or TV show that transcends those older moral values, I can recognize that it is probably not something that I need to expose myself to.  But the Millennial generation has only known the continuous, highly suggestive version of the most creative minds in the technology and entertainment industries.  And here is the area in which I am most concerned ... when those two businesses combined forces, this generation of kids and young adults have been inundated with a steady diet of ever-increasing supernatural concepts.  They receive it in their video games, in online movies, in their music, on TV, and even in books (if they can take the time to read one).
     Harry Potter books, to Katy Perry's songs, to The Twilight movie series, to The History Channel, to The Terminator, Transformers, Aliens, Star Wars and Star Trek; all of which have spanned a couple of generations in successful movie franchises.  There is even a video game called Supernatural!  Our kids have been shown so much of the supernatural in movies, books, and music that they want to see a demonstration of it in their everyday lives.  It's become such a part of their psychological makeup that they instinctively know it is real, but it's never talked about.
     Think about it ... witches, and aliens, and demons abound in all those sources of entertainment that I just mentioned.  The Supernatural has been featured in everything from the
     Their parents don't know how to explain it; the Church can't address it, because it has nearly lost the supernatural sense of its own Bible and the God it serves.  So, out of boredom, or restlessness, or dissatisfaction, or just the sense that life has become too slow and dull, they begin looking for further stimulation, and sadly it often leads to the dark side.  I'm afraid that we have failed to recognize this in our youth.
     It can be something as evident as a young man or woman, who was raised in the Church, and begins to question the validity of God, and ask all the questions that are natural in our human frailty ... Why would God let a young child die tragically? Or, Is there really life after death?  But sadly, technology is expanding those questions and doubt.  They now begin to think thoughts such as This God I've been told about all my life is too restrictive, and following Him is not very exciting.  The internet is showing me that I can astral project and actually leave my body and experience supernatural trips.  I want to experience what's beyond this realm NOW! Maybe there's more out there than what God is offering me here. 
     During a trip to minister to our wounded warriors at The Fisher House at Fort Sam Houston, one of the chaplains shared with our ministry group that he was having a difficult time getting the young soldiers in the Army to attend Bible study classes he taught.  When he questioned a few of them, they said that Christianity was too boring; they preferred attending classes taught by the Wiccans or the Muslims because they were more exciting and stimulated their imagination.  We have gone so wrong in the Church by refusing to recognize, embrace, and teach that the Bible is a supernatural book about our Supernatural God!
     But the Enemy has not been so shy.  He has taken advantage of our reticence and twisted the supernatural aspects of our faith, and exploited it for his own benefit.  So our kids instinctively know that the supernatural exists, but they've only been shown the dark side's version, and with the help of technology, they have been convinced that this version is not simply the only version of the supernatural, but it is more real and true for their lives than the staid and conservative paradigm of their parent's theology.
     Those of us who see clearly what the Lord wants us to know for this time and age, are aware that the supernatural is about to collide with this realm.  And it is imperative that we strengthen our younger generations with the Truth of just what a Supernatural God we serve.  We cannot let the boredom that this generation perceives be used to lead them away from the most exhilarating and intoxicating and enthralling relationship they will ever have, this side of Heaven.  We cannot refuse to see the supernatural in our Bible and we must share the truth that Jesus constantly interacted with the natural realm supernaturally.  We can to, through the power of the Holy Spirit!  And that's anything but boring!

Acts 9:11-12    "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them."

January 7, 2016

Our Nation Is In Danger

     It seems that most of the people I know sense that 2016 is going to be a watershed year; a turning point towards massive change.  The question is... will it be a change that will better our lives, or changes that finally drive us over the cliff?
Graham on his "Decision America 2016" tour
     I must say that I have to agree with the sentiments that I am hearing from Franklin Graham, the 63-year-old son of Billy Graham, the most renowned Christian evangelical preacher of the last seven decades.  As Graham says, we all instinctively know that our country is "in big-time trouble".  He says, "We’re in trouble spiritually. We’re in trouble economically. We’re in trouble racially."  Who can deny that?  Even if you are an American who agrees with our cultural swing towards abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism, you cannot deny that the racial divide in this country is snowballing and the job prospects for the next generation(s) are not looking good.  As a nation, we are becoming fractured and are in danger of splitting beyond repair.
     Unfortunately, the answer to our troubles will not be found in politics, and specifically in neither major political party.  We have a spiritual problem, whether anyone wants to admit it or not.  In fact, just as Graham expressed at a recent rally, "The moral and political walls of our country are crumbling... Our educators and our politicians and our churches seem, many times, to be more concerned about political correctness than God’s Truth and Righteousness."
     Graham points to Godlessness as the culprit.  He points out that our nation was built on Biblical principles, and we have strayed from them -- and he especially identifies the time period after WW II and the successful battle to defeat the threat of Communism.  But I believe the spirit of Godlessness began far earlier than that.  And if you ask my husband, he will tell you that he believes that from the beginning, the Founders didn't do enough to establish this as a God-fearing nation; allowing Freemasonry to co-exist alongside Christian values in shaping the foundation and direction of our country.
     This is a different topic for a different day -- actually tomorrow, I will attempt to examine this paradox further.  But let me just wrap up this point by saying my personal view is that God intended for this nation to be dedicated to Him; and those who first settled here believed that they were doing so as part of a covenantal relationship with God, and with clear intentions to glorify Him in the advancement of the Christian faith.  The fact that it quickly got off track does not negate the original plan.  But more on that tomorrow... back to the appropriateness of Franklin Graham's call to action.
     He asserts that it is time Christians get in the game; to run for office, to vote, to pray for our country, and to get involved in our education system, and every avenue of society.  “Our job as Christians is to make the impact of Christ felt in every phase of life—religious, social, economic, and political,” Graham continued.  I agree!  Where are the Christians who are willing to declare and live their faith as mayors, city council members, county commissioners, judges, school board presidents?
     In fact, in an attempt to overcome the growing secular mindset of this nation, Graham has gone so far as to prevail upon all Americans to take a pledge honoring God at home (by living biblical principles through marriage), in public (by standing for biblical principles and serving those in need), and with their vote (by supporting candidates who uphold biblical principles).  He also asks Christian Americans to pray fervently and faithfully for America, agreeing to register to vote and to prayerfully consider running for office.
     While I agree that if every Christian in America was faithful to fulfill all the aspects of this pledge, we would begin to see a difference in the cultural and political spheres of our nation, I believe that our commission from the Lord goes beyond these measures.
     At a recent discussion in the awesome Ladies Bible Study that I attend, the subject came up of discipling Christians; that, as the Church, we Christians don't do enough to guide and counsel new members of the faith in the way of Godly living --- which, I think we would all agree, would greatly strengthen the Church.  But I would to add to that my fervent belief that we need to not only educate, encourage, and strengthen the Church; but we need to introduce those outside the Church  -- those "of the world" -- about Godly living and their need for a Savior.  THAT is how we change and revive our nation!  I contend that it is precisely because we Christians have tended to concentrate our efforts inside the four walls of the Church that our nation and the world has gotten into such a big mess.
     My husband and I have been meeting and talking with several people in our home who are like-minded about the state of the world, and have expressed their innate sense that they need to get right with God in the midst of this chaos.  But they would never have been comfortable in approaching a church; nor would the church have had any viable way of coming into contact with them... the two groups were on isolated and parallel paths, and were never going to intersect.
     If we are going to truly avert the dangerous course this nation is set upon, we Christians must engage with the world.  We must leave our comfort zones and "church bubbles", as a good friend of mine describes it, and be bold in sharing our faith in every circumstance and to every person, in order to attract those who "sitting the fence" and who are capable of making a decision for God.  We all know that there are those who have committed their lives to evil or whose spirit is just dead within them; they have no desire for God.
     But I promise you there are millions who long for Him, but just don't know how to go about it, or who feel they might be embarrassed in a "formal" Church setting, so they never pursue it on their own.  It is up to us to pursue them!  We are all spirit beings, and as we grow closer in our spirits to the Lord, we will be able to discern those whose spirits are in need of Him, and we will be drawn to them.  Just think ... if every Christian made it his pledge to God to seek after one lost sheep to bring them into the fold ... can you envision how that would begin to change this nation?
     So, I applaud Franklin Graham for his efforts to wake up America to our shared plight.  Our fall cannot be fixed politically or by political correctness.  BUT, we can begin to turn towards God and blaze a new trail of American commitment to our Creator.  It's time we take that path ... we MUST take that path... before it is too late!  C'mon, Christians ... get in the fight, because we are in a battle for our nation and the eternal lives of millions!

Isaiah 6:8      And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”


December 24, 2015

The "War on Christmas": The Truth, The Reality, & The Confusion

     It certainly seems to me that with each passing year, the "war on Christmas" gains steam and the religious and spiritual sense of Christmas diminishes a little more.  Actually, in our early history as a nation, Christmas was celebrated in a far less extravagant manner than it is today... some people might choose to go to a church service, but more often than not, it was an understated family affair, and the idea of piles of gifts under a Christmas tree was more the result of some smart marketing, than any Biblical significance.
      It was actually the upper classes who had the money and time to create specific holiday traditions that caught the idea of entrepreneurs and canny businessmen.  Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” written for his family’s entertainment in 1823, was soon endlessly reprinted each season in newspapers. In the years after the Civil War, Thomas Nast created a full narrative (and image) of the life of Santa Clause through his vivid engravings for Harper’s Weekly magazine.  In 1870, when Godey’s Lady’s Book, the most widely read magazine in the nation at the time, published an image of a family gathered around a small tree set atop a table, the idea of a Christmas tree soared in popularity, and a new industry was born.
     It wasn't long before F.W. Woolworth -- who had already pioneered a successful business model based on fixed prices and 10 cent inventory -- quickly saw the commercial possibilities in importing Christmas ornaments from Germany where, he reported, they were “made by the very poorest class.” It's not hard to see that this romantic sentimentalism, combined with the advent of Christmas lights, Christmas cards, and an unlimited supply of creative Christmas decorations, contributed to many vibrant commercial opportunities.
     Today we have seen the huge success of these opportunities in our new tradition of Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the entire retail industry.  In fact, in recent years, it has contributed greatly to the success or failure of our domestic economy.  Sadly, it is this very Christmas "market" and the consumer economy it sustains that has come to embody "the spirit of Christmas."  So much so, in fact, that political movements like Black Lives Matter think that by disrupting Christmas shopping at the Mall of America in Minnesota, they can gain more traction for their social crusade.  (Little do they know, that they are just pawns of the behind-the-scenes players whose goal is to cause disorder and havoc for their own benefit -- but, I digress).
     I actually found it interesting to peruse an atheist website to get their take on the growing friction over the Christmas holiday.  Consider this comment by one such unbeliever when posed with the question, Why has Christmas become less "secular" in the last decade or two?  Here is his answer:  "Of course all of us atheists are fully aware that Christmas is a secularized holiday, but it seems that the culture at large has now resorted to this idea that it's specifically "Christian" and therefore inappropriate in public contexts, even when it's just the secular elements being involved. You have stories like this councilwoman, who resigns because tree lighting is renamed to add the word "Christmas", and the university diversity office condemns holding Christmas parties because they are non-inclusive, and so on.
   This has the effect of turning any mention of "Christmas" into a religious or political statement... I love Christmas, and I don't want to be associated with Christianity or the right-wing just because I happen to refer to the holiday itself.  Europe doesn't seem to have this problem... why do we?  Is it because of PC attitudes, or because of the right-wing?"
     Don't you find it hilarious, that atheists actually hate the non-religious people in the public arena complaining about possible religious ties to Christmas, because they think it actually calls more attention to the religious connotations of the holiday?  What they are really saying is, "when you make an issue of Christmas displays and greetings being too religious, then you are ruining it for me, because I actually like Christmas, and now I'm somehow politically aligned with right-wing Christian nuts!"
     Another atheist commentator felt he needed to make sure everyone was aware that, in the past, Christmas was this thing everyone celebrated, but it was always a Christian holiday.  But, now that we have become more ... ahem, enlightened ... we realize that it's not OK to ignore all the other religions in our diverse population, and it's time the Christians get over claiming the holiday for themselves.  He, of course, is in favor of the all-inclusive "Happy Holidays" because it incorporates all the minority religious holidays.
     He goes on to say, "In all this, of course, the true meaning of Christmas has been lost. The reason for the season is obviously commercialism. Christmas is your cue to go out and buy! You used to get big corporate-sponsored Christmas decorations and pageants and such. Originally, this was inoffensive because non-Christians just shut up about it and enjoyed the Christian holiday, but now the Christmas (or Christian) stuff is done at the risk of alienating a significant part of the consumer base... Is there a War on Christmas from the left? Not really. It's just general social progress, resisted by the Culture Warriors."  For the life of me, I'm not sure how or why we Christians are now referred to as the "Culture Warriors".  Doesn't make sense to me ... but then again, very little in this world makes sense to me anymore.
     So, there you have it.  We Christians, who are being marginalized in what the rest of society likes to call "social progress", are just supposed to accept that we no longer have proprietary or exclusive rights to Christmas.  Granted, I see very little of the Bible in our commercialization of Christmas; but any attempt to remove Christ from the public forum offends me -- even if I do have some issues with what we Christians celebrate as the "true meaning of Christmas."  But, you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see my perspective on that loaded statement.  Until then, let us agree on the cause for celebration on any day of the year ... that God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son to die for us.

Thanks to the websites, Bloomberg View and Reddit, for their contributions to the history of the commercialization of Christmas and the atheist viewpoint of this religious holiday.

John 1:9    "There it was—the true Light [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] which, coming into the world, enlightens everyone."


December 5, 2015

Really!? "Prayer-Shaming" Is Where We Want To Go After This Tragedy?

     I find it incredibly sad that one of the hallmarks of the terrorist tragedy in San Bernardino will be the coining of a new media term, known as prayer-shaming.  It seemed that in less than 24 hours after the massacre, the anti-God crowd couldn't wait to spread their venom against those who turned to the only One who could offer solace in such a time of senseless evil.
     The attempts by the media and the empty souls who tweeted their disrespect for the faithful was truly disgusting.  Yes, they will try to say it is a reaction to what they saw as "posturing" by politicians and presidential candidates; an attempt to garner votes by taking advantage of a tragic situation in order to promote themselves.  And, yet, it is most likely true that if those same politicians had come out screaming for more gun control as their response to San Bernardino (and thus endearing themselves to the anti-gun audience), then they would have been hailed as compassionate and caring.
     But anytime FAITH comes to the forefront, then it must be dismissed as hollow or foolish behavior; and those of us who cling to it should be made to feel ashamed for its inadequacy.  In other words, they look to man to solve the evil intentions of the wicked, and the fact that we Christians turn to the Sovereign God of the Universe for comfort and strength is nothing more than empty expressions.
     But don't take my word for it.  Let the cover of the New York Daily News tell you itself:  GOD ISN'T FIXING THIS! it screams, followed by the subtitle, which says, "As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes."
      The backlash came after Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and others tweeted that their "thoughts and prayers" were with the victims of the terrorist attack.  Immediately, they were castigated for accepting campaign donations from the National Rifle Association, while tweeting their intentions to pray in the aftermath of the tragedy.  (Funny, but I don't see any hypocrisy in that at all.  The former is a decision made as a citizen of this world; the latter, is a spiritual response as a member of the Family of God).  
     And ironically, it doesn't seem to bother them that the White House tweeted its thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Paris attacks.  So, I have to ask... is it really the idea of prayer that offends them, or just that prayer was the first response of people, rather than demanding stricter gun control?  
     I also noticed that the White House did not tweet any such offering of "thoughts and prayers" to the victims of San Bernardino, but rather tweeted an interview with CBS News, in which the President said "our hearts" go out to the victims and families....".  That's a pretty big difference, to me.  Offering my heart does not extend the same power [to the victims] as appealing to God to heal broken hearts and the consequences of evil men.
     For me, the real tragedy is what was described by Charisma News:  "Led by a rabid media, the headlines were no longer about the victims and their grieving families—but about leaders who dared to do what the frightened people inside the killing ground asked: pray."  Who can forget the text that one of the victims sent to her father during the slaughter:  "Shooting at my work ... People shot. In the office waiting for cops. Pray for us."  Those in the midst of those terrifying moments knew what would help them the most ... prayer.  They knew that the Lord God Almighty hears the prayers of His children, and they knew nothing was impossible with Him.  They knew they could expect almighty and supernatural results from prayers sent heavenward.
     You've heard it over and over.... Guns don't kill people.  People kill people.  And it is a spiritual sickness that pervades the minds and hearts of men that drives them to such murderous acts.  But those without a spiritual connection to God will never understand that, and so, they continue to blame "tools of violence", rather than the "spirit of violence" that pervade men's souls.
     Once again, Charisma News did an outstanding job of compiling clear, logical and convincing thoughts on this subject: "...hate is what drives men to slaughter innocent people—not guns. And the government can't make us safer until it recognizes that the problem isn't the instruments of violence, but the environment of it."  They further quote The Federalist's Mollie Hemmingway, who wrote:   "[They] are only diminishing the Christian faith so that they can exercise their own religion: big government. [Progressives] explain that the god of good government would have been able to take care of us if only we'd given it sufficient power to do so. In this case, that power is gun control... Government — if made to have sufficient size, scope, and proper management over the affairs of man—will fix, or at least seriously mitigate, the problem of evil in the world. They tend to believe that man can be perfected, and perfected through government action. These almost cartoonish denunciations of prayer we saw yesterday, combined with the implicit praises of government action, are best understood as a sort of primitive religious reaction to the problem that growth of the state still hasn't fixed the problem of evil in the world."    
     And we, the Faithful, know it never will.  That is why it is more important than ever that we continue to pray!  That's why thousands gathered at a stadium in San Bernardino, and in churches around the nation --- to pray for those who were senselessly killed and for those who grieve; to declare to the wicked rulers and principalities in the spiritual realm that the city of San Bernardino does not belong to them; to proclaim that we are active in the spiritual war against our nation; and to state our profound belief that God will give Justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night.  Finally, we claim victory in the Name of Jesus!  And no amount of "shaming" will keep us from praying at all times in the Spirit, and with all prayer and supplication!

James 5:16    "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

December 4, 2015

Do Not Let Him 'Steal, Kill and Destroy'

    The purpose of my blog post today is two-fold ... First, from the perspective of the world's view, to simply comment on my initial thoughts about what happened in California on Wednesday.  Secondly, as always, I can't help but view events such as this from my Biblical worldview, and I am seeing how it is effecting our American men.
     Like you, I am reeling from the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino.  While politicians, Federal law enforcement, and the media tiptoe around the motive behind the killing spree, I believe the American people are less hesitant to see the connections between what happened on that day and radical Islam.
     Perhaps our Western mindset and our over-reliance on political correctness wishes to see workplace violence instead of admitting that a radical, fundamentalist ideology is alive and growing in the midst of our heartland.  But are we really expected to deny the aspect of premeditation in the presence of body armor, pipe bombs, and a home that was an alleged IED factory set to be detonated by remote-control cars?  And what about the trips to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the recent past?  It will be interesting to see if the authorities release the internet history of the suspects and be willing to be transparent in connecting the dots.  (Even now, the media is leaking that they searched ISIS propaganda websites).
     Then there is the quote from the father of the prime suspect (Syed Farook) who said he hadn't seen his son in some time:  “He was very religious. He would go to work, come back, go to pray, come back. He’s Muslim.”  I found it interesting to read an article by Walid Shoebat, a former jihadist who converted to Christianity.  He said it is difficult for the Western mind to read "the signs" of a terrorist; something that he is all too familiar with.  Therefore, he is not surprised that American officials and law enforcement are hesitant to label San Bernardino as the site of a terrorist attack.
     But he also states that it will be difficult for our security services and law enforcement to thwart Lone Wolf attacks like what was executed on Wednesday.  "[This] will soon be realized in the West... ISIS now is heavily promoting this [Lone Wolf] agenda on social media.  A lone wolf is not only a very ordinary person living in the community as a member, they also behave like them in that they do not have any unusual activity or act suspicious. They are encouraged to cover up any sign of religious affiliation and are encouraged not to pray or become a member in a mosque, or keep a low-profile in the mosque. They do not belong to any form of criminal or neurotic gang. They are away from the eyes of observers as being a member of a terrorist organization. These [people]are perfect for ISIS."  Shoebat goes on to say that U.S. terrorism task forces have moved from drug busting into terror busting, and now must think like a Muslim terrorist and know Islam inside and out.... something that is very difficult for our Western minds to fathom.
     So, there you have the physical world's perspective.  But what about the spiritual component?  As I consider the men of faith in my life, I see the struggle they wage with how they are to react to this tragedy on our home turf.  I can only imagine how this affects young men like my nephew, who until now, have been able to immerse themselves in their college careers, with little or no need to make them concerned about a public and active shooter.  This event is different than the various school shootings he would be aware of, in that these perpetrators are other than a mentally ill person who reacts to some psychological trigger.  These shooters will most likely make the younger generation conscious that there are people who have deliberate evil intentions to steal their peace, kill innocent victims, and destroy how we Americans live our lives. That "age of innocence" has been marred, and the trusting faith that America is immune to such terrorist acts will now be tested.
     I have also seen good friends struggle with how our God expects them to respond if and when they are faced with such an attack.  I can see them agonizing over a scenario in which their wife or child is a potential victim and if it's OK with God if they kill in defense of their family.  That is a long-going and controversial debate among Christians.  I asked my husband, whose first and middle name literally means "Peace-Loving Warrior" (PLW) how he views that debate and exactly what his name means to him; how does he see his obedience to God in light of that contradictory name?
     Here is what he told me ... an oft-quoted line from the Bible is John 10:10:   The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].   He says we need to read that in the context of the entire Tenth Chapter of the Book of John, which is known as The Parable of the Good Shepherd.  Jesus is telling us that He is the Good Shepherd; the provider and the protector of the sheep who know His voice and recognize His call.  Jesus reveals that He is the Door that leads to eternal life and anyone who enters through Him will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security).
     But interestingly enough, Jesus also references "the thief who comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy."  In the parable of the Good Shepherd, that thief is represented by a wolf.  So, as PLW explained how he views his name, and how he thinks God expects men to obey, he said, "All of society are sheep; and as men, we are either the sheepdog, or we're the wolf.  As the sheepdog, we are expected to protect those sheep who are helpless.  But God expects us to not become so reactionary that we cross the line and become the wolf."
     PLW's sentiment is very similar to that expressed by Dave Grossman, a former psychology professor at West Point, and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army, who wrote a fascinating book titled On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.  Grossman has this to say about the sheep/sheepdog/wolf dynamic:  “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident. Then there are the wolves, who feed on the sheep without mercy.  The moment you forget or pretend this is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial. Then there are sheepdogs. Sheepdogs live to protect the flock and confront the wolf. The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep.”
     So, PLW is simply saying, that as a Christian man, he has to walk that fine line between fulfilling his duty as a sheepdog, without disobeying God's command to never become the wolf.  As for his name ... Peace-Loving Warrior ... he feels he has two options:  God's first option is for him to be peaceful, but if that doesn't work, and the wolf is hell-bent on stealing, killing and destroying, then he will go into Warrior mode.  He admits that the peace part of him is harder, and he can only accomplish that through his relationship with Jesus.  But PLW is quick to assert that he does not believe Jesus was a pacifist, and he won't be, either.  He also points out that the Warrior side of himself does not prohibit him from praying for those lone wolves and their salvation; but if they come to kill him or his family, they can expect to be resisted.  He says that it is hard to find that line;  where to be passive --- until it's time not to be.  He just has to rely on the Holy Spirit to tell him where that line is.
     But as it pertains to the shooting in San Bernardino on Wednesday, my husband says his biggest fear is that, as a nation, we are being conditioned and desensitized; that we are becoming accustomed to a shooting every few days or weeks, so that (as the Bible says), "because of the increase of wickedness, the hearts of men grow cold" (Matthew 24:12).  Remember that Jesus makes this statement in response to a question from the Disciples about when He would return and what would be the signs of the end of the Age.
     So, are we seeing a fulfillment of End-Times prophecy that men's hearts will grow cold because of the proliferation of evil on the earth?  Are the Lone Wolves of the Jihadist movement demonstrating
the Enemy's desire to steal, kill, and destroy?  And how will the men of Christ respond?  There is no doubt that those who killed on Wednesday were hell-bent on harvesting death and destruction, no matter what the "official" cause turns out to be.  But I would also like to point out that no amount of gun control laws would have stopped that carnage.  California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.  But more importantly, those murderers are hell-bound because they were spiritually destitute, and did not know my God.
     Today my thoughts are with those families who lost loved ones, and my prayers are for the strength and endurance and courage of the American people to repent of our sins and turn to the One who can protect us and help us to repel this evil.  Do not let our hearts be troubled; neither let them grow cold.

Psalm 97:10    "You who love the LORD, hate evil; He protects the souls of His godly ones (believers), He rescues them from the hand of the wicked."