Strength, Courage, Resolve, and a Bridge

1 Cor 10:13 (NLT), The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

John 14:6 (NLT), Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

 

Most of us have, and prayerfully others will as well, come to a bridge that we must cross. This bridge will take us across a deadly chasm and, eventually, to the other side where His Kingdom resides, His Promise! As we cross this bridge, we will experience problems, challenges, and chaotic moments that will cause us to pull from our faith, as the bridge is tossed back and forth in the crosswinds of life.  The bridge will be rickety at times and have gaps in it that will possibly create opportunities for doubt.  And yet, you will see people on the other side of that bridge, with the knowledge that they too, dealt with the same winds, the same gaps, the same opportunities for doubt, the same issues of life, and yet they made it across the bridge. The Bridge is The Way, but it is up to you to continue. 

Some people will unfortunately be blown off the bridge and perish in the rocks and raging rivers below, allowing the seeds of doubt to take root, allowing the issues of life to take their life; they let go of the rope that was their faith. Their issues blurred them to the truth, His truth, that He is the Way and His Way is strong. It is our job to keep crossing that bridge ourselves while helping others to continue and encouraging others to also take their first step on that bridge, to the Promise! Allow others to borrow your faith if necessary, but not permanently. 

To be blunt for just a second, whatever problem(s) you are dealing with, right now, is nothing special! I know, some problems can feel really harsh, as if it/they are crushing your very life from you. I had been living a very shallow life, thinking that the problems and challenges I was dealing with were something unique to me. That somehow, I needed to create my own solution(s) to get through, or across, whatever it was I was dealing with.  If I am to be honest, I am still challenged with this shallowness from time to time; only now, I recognize it and can apply faith to conquer it.

There are many different kinds of traps people struggle with that span all walks of life. Any type of addiction can be a serious trap. Or how about financial (this is always a good one)? It’s easy to let worries consume your thoughts. That is not God’s will for our life.

1st Corinthians 10:13 gives God’s perspective on all the problems you are facing right now. No matter how overwhelming, suffocating, and insurmountable your issue might seem, it is merely a common human problem that has already been faced and overcome by countless other people and believers in the past.

It is an insidious trick of the devil to plant the false assumptions in your mind that your need is a special case, I myself had fallen victim to this several times. I can also share freely, that If he succeeds in doing this, it will be vastly more difficult for you to overcome your problem, you’ll assume that none of God’s principles apply to your situation because your problem is bigger, unique, and special. And before you know it, you have taken over and are relying on yourself and noone else to help you. And when someone gives you an answer for your situation from God’s word, you’ll just nod and say, “yeah, whatever”. You will agree with what the Bible says, but you will still consider your case to be an exception.

1 Cor 16:13-14 (GNT) “Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong.” The NASB translation commands people to “Act like men” and be strong.

Paul warns us that believers must be alert about competing traditions of worldly wisdom and stand firm. Paul’s command to “Act like men”, is due in large part because faith in Christ will face opposition, where others will try to convince you that God cannot help you, that His Word is nothing but words on paper.

It is imperative that you stop looking at your issue as something that no one else has ever experienced. It is always true that your problem is something that countless others have faced in the past and are facing today. Yes, some of the variables may be different, but the problems are the same.

How you look at the problem will determine how quickly you get out of it! If you look at it like it’s huge, unique, and special, you will have a very hard time getting over it.

“Act like men” is translation from the Greek andrizomai, was a frequent command in the Old Testament and is used to encourage people (i.e., soldiers) to act with courage and strength in obedience to the Lord and with confidence in His power. They must be resolved to remain in their faith with strength and courage. 

Keeping crossing that bridge. Grab the rope and hold on tight. Sometimes, you will have to drop to your knee’s, while this will allow you to sturdy yourself on the bridge, also symbolic to you dropping to your knee’s in prayer to Jesus to give you strength, courage, or whatever you need to continue to cross that bridge. And them stand up and continue across that bridge to His Kingdom. Finish the race across that bridge.

How should you look at your problem? “In the history of mankind, I’m not the first person to face this type of challenge, and I won’t be the last. There are numerous people facing problems far more worse than mine, yet they are able to smile and maintain their joy in the midst of the challenge and end up victorious on the other side! This is just a common problem that many people have conquered before me-and I’m going to be the next to do it!”

When you adopt this attitude, you position yourself to quickly escape the trap your in by reducing the size of your problem in your mind into something manageable and conquerable. God is faithful to make a way of escape for you. He will show you how to get out of any trap you might find yourself in right now. There is a way out, and God has given you his word and his spirit to guide you every step of the way across the bridge, avoiding the rocks below, and keeping you from turning back to your old life.


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Faith, Practice, Mirrors, and Timelines

2 Peter 1:5-10 (NASB), Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

 

In early December, I spent some time with a group of 18-20 men, we were discussing the concept of peace. Are you at peace with who you are, or, do you not like who you are?  When you sleep at night, are you truly getting rest, or do you wake up each morning not feeling rested?  What do you think about yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror?

The discussions revolved around worry, stress, anxiety, and internal conflict; how these things impact our perceptions about ourselves. Do we like the way we look or the way we feel?  Are we satisfied with our thought life, as well as our heart life?

I was reminded about some time that I had spent on this a little over a year ago. If we do not like ourselves when we look at ourselves in the mirror, what are we supposed to do with that information?  The Lord actually took this idea of the mirror one step further with me. If you don’t like who you see in the mirror, ask yourself this, do you like the person you are becoming?
 
Perhaps you don’t like who you see in the mirror today but you believe that you are a better person today than you were yesterday.  Praise God for that, it’s progress!!   If you are happy with who you are becoming, then why is that not a good thing, why suffer anxiety about it today?
 
For some, it is a matter of expectations of time. You may have placed a calendar on yourself and maybe you aren’t living up to that calendar.  Rather than focusing on the timeline, we should probably focus on the process, which of course, we find within scripture, in God’s Word.
 
You are not in trouble, but yet trouble is on your mind. It is messing with your love, messing with your destiny and how you are viewing yourself. But, when you get into the Word, the Word eventually works its way into your spirit. Once it is in your spirit, its thoughts become your thoughts. It allows your mind to go through a metamorphosis.
 

Peter provides us with a list of qualities in 2 Peter 1:5-8 that we are to supplement our faith with:

  • Virtue with knowledge
  • Knowledge with self-control
  • Self control with steadfastness
  • Steadfastness with godliness
  • Godliness with brotherly affection
  • Brotherly affection with love

 

Peter tells us that these qualities are ours for the asking and will increase in us because of our faith. But if we should find any of these qualities lacking, we should practice them (v. 10), continuously.  With practice, he continues, you will be richly rewarded.  Some find this easier than others and that, my friends, is the rub for some men.
 
In Hebrews 5 (v. 11-14), we read about the maturing Christian, who, after first being born again, is like a toddler who requires milk instead of solid food. But, like a child, as we mature in our faith, we start taking in solid food. This is in reference to the degree’s of understanding scripture and the application of what He is teaching us in the Word. The writer in Hebrews tells us that with time, we ought to be matured, [through practice], enough to become teachers of the faith ourselves.  However, while rebuking the believer that they should be teachers of the faith, the writer does not place a timeline on the maturation process, the timeline is completely up to you – the believer.  For some men in particular, this can be frustrating – almost always due to ego and pride, or, lack of repentance and forgiveness, causing them to give up.
 

Too many men feel that they should be faith experts, or, that they should “see” changes within a short period of time. This is because they are comparing their ability to learn and adapt their faith with their ability to learn and adapt with their earthly endeavors – their intellect and their minds. We miss the idea that spiritual endeavors are not the same as physical endeavors. While spiritual endeavors CAN be easier, it is also the most complex – due to bad programming in the mind. Men, we need to recognize that spiritual endeavors are of the heart, not the mind. We can’t see change when we are focusing with our physical eyes, we need to learn to see with the eyes of their hearts (our eye gate).

A man matures in his faith through PRACTICE.  He practices his faith with other men, discipleship, prayer, listening to God’s voice, fellowship with other men, digging into the Word so that our spirit can soak it up. We are  training our spiritual muscle, much like we train the muscles of our bodies. It can be difficult for a man to read the bible for spiritual revelation when he has been trained to read books either for entertainment or for intellectual knowledge. We will, with practice, train our spirits to react with muscle memory, our spirit is acting before we even realize it.

With practice, the Lord will work on the man from the INSIDE and eventually work its way to the OUTSIDE.  If we view ourselves with the eyes of our heart instead of the eyes of our head, we will see that while we may not like who we see, we will like who we are becoming.  Some changes can be subtle but change is nevertheless happening.

One man said that he had to learn to trust God, that he put up a wall between he and God. This is typical for a man that has learned to trust only himself because placing trust in others has usually led to problems.  Over time, he learned to trust God and the wall eventually came down. This wall came down because the man learned, through practice, how to apply his faith to his life.

For the man that has adapted to lack of rest during sleep caused by stress, anxiety, and worry; this too goes away as we practice our faith and allow the Word to sink into our spirit. At night, while we are sleeping, our spirit is still awake – always awake – always guarding our hearts in our sleep.   How many times can you recall quoting scripture, or declaring Jesus, in your dreams?  It is an awesome experience when that happens.

Through practice, we can all learn to have faith like the Apostles Peter and Paul.  Yes, we can!!


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Suicidal Thoughts, The Pit of Despair and the Fear of the Lord

For some reason, this morning the Holy Spirit spoke up in me regarding men, around the world, that are living a life where they truly hate and despise the holidays. SO I am going to obedient and modify my plans for Him.

We see messages all of the time about folks that despise the Christmas Season and that we should look out for them, pray for them, and show compassion and empathy (possibly a little egg shell walking?). Please allow me to share a personal and first hand account why this is truly paramount and critical – it could save someone’s life.

After my son died in the Middle East in February 2011, I began a massive heart decline that nearly tore apart my soul. I was truly a functioning “hate-a-holic”, grasping at straws for a reason to keep moving forward. The issues revolved around what I perceived my relationship to be with my son, that whatever opportunity we had together was now gone – forever.

I told my wife later, that if I had a gun in the house, I might have shot myself. I don’t know if I would have done it, but the pain was deep enough that I considered it. Nonetheless, what I did do, was pray to God for an event, an accident, or some catastrophe that would take me out. I wanted to die.

For a little more than three years after his death, I grew despondent about life, riddled with guilt, remorse, severe depression and every other negative emotion you can probably think of. And I masked it really well. I am not sure if there is a difference between having “suicidal tendencies” or being “suicidal”, but I most definitely had suicidal tendencies.

I never spoke against God, but I sure was angry. I was mad at everything. I was mad at God but I was most angry with myself and I learned, once again, to hate myself. This “mindset” was tearing me apart. So, I self-medicated myself by pursuing a Doctorate Degree, to allow me to focus my mind on different thoughts, to keep me occupied. I was kicking the can down the road as I knew, at some point, I was going to have a collision course with this issue.

My academic pursuits worked a little bit, for a short period of time.  Did nothing for my family though, as I darn near ignored them, spending as little time with them as possible. Just enough to feel comfortable that I was doing my part as a “diligent” dad as we adapted to our new life without our son, a life where my daughter and my youngest son needed to move on without their older brother.

After three years and some poor decisions, a very tiny spirit hole that I somehow allowed to remain intact in my heart started to allow a small point of light to peak through the darkness I was in.  This small point of light eventually grew and expanded enough to allow me to make a decision that I needed to get back to His business.

Psalm 40:2 (NLT). “He lifted me out of the pit of despair……..”

I started to panic, a sense of fear that I had never experienced before.  I realized that I had completely removed God from my life and it scared the crap out of me.  And I knew, without a doubt, that I was in the current predicament I was in because I had severely backslidden.  Outside of clear instructions from Him telling me to “go back to His house”, I heard absolutely nothing more.

Prov 19:23 “The fear of the Lord leads to life……..”

There was a comfort in simply going back to church, that I did not really need much more, at that point in my “comeback”. I think the family was simply happy that I was going back. Nobody questioned me, no one berated me for my three year absence, they simply acknowledged me and smiled in that knowing way. Marcus was back.

The Lord is the healer that can make all things new.  This allows us to keep Moving Forward.

Once back, the Lord and I were engaged.  And He was assisting me with my comeback.

Psalm 40:2 (NLT). “…….. out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

There are people struggling at this time of year and most of them are embarrassed about it. As you try to comfort them, they will have issues of trust at first, but, with the Lord involved, He can help you work through the “human” consequences both you and the struggler find themselves.

“The fear of the Lord is loving what God loves (wisdom) and hating what God hates (evil)l”. ~Pat Morley

 

Let Him be the guide and do what the Lord tells you to do, your spirit will be reconnected under the grace of our Lord Jesus. Keep the faith and remain consistent and loyal to Him – and then rest.
 

Prov 19:23 ” ………..So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”


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The prodigal father

In the Book of Luke, we read Jesus Parable of the prodigal son, but is it also possible that this parable can also apply to a Prodigal father? 

 

Some men come to Christ late in life, and sometimes, their children are grown.  Scripture reminds us that the man is to be the spiritual head of the household, along with principals on how to raise their children amongst others.  As the man in this example digs deeper into the Word of God and he begins to realize that he missed it, the guilt can be strong, particularly if their children are not leading the lives they would want for them, or, when they realize that they had been absent from their children’s lives – giving a sense of “it is too late now. I messed up.”  For a man at this stage of his life, this revelation can cause the man to progress with a broken spirit.

However, what does God have to say that can help the prodigal father with a broken spirit? 

In Psalm 51:17, we read that the God actually desires a broken spirit, because this is when the man, in this case, realizes that he needs help and comes to Him. This is when “help” is something that only the Lord can provide, requiring humility, strength, and courage.

Fathers may have to admit to their families that they did not carry out their God commanded responsibilities to be the spiritual head of the house. The father should ask forgiveness from his family and pray that through this example of reconciliation his adult children will be pointed to Christ. As we see in Psalm 51:17, God honors a broken and contrite heart.

A dad can sit down with each child and explain how he now sees things and admit he should have done things very differently in regard to their upbringing. He should let them know he has confessed this to the Lord and then ask them to forgive him, even if they don’t understand what this means right now.

The prodigal father makes the decision that he is determined to move forward as an example to them of what a good father can be. Then the father needs to spend much time in prayer with his spouse for their children, grandchildren, and the generations to come if necessary. Prayer is the source of our power, according to James 5:16, prayer is highly effective when offered by the one who has confessed his sins – an act that a righteous person does.

But wait, there’s more. For the prodigal father, God has more to say. 

In Hebrews 9:14, we see that the blood of Christ has cleansed our conscience from our [past] acts that were leading us to death. 

There was no timeline placed on this, or a length of time that your past can be forgiven, as if there is some form of cut off point. That is good news, but wait, it doesn’t stop there.

In Rev 2:17, John shares a vision where Jesus is going to give us, meaning believers who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, a white stone. 

Why did Jesus promise a white stone in Revelation 2:17? What is the significance?

In both ancient Rome and ancient Greece, black and white stones were used when voting. In the case of Roman trials, judges would cast a black stone for guilty or a white stone for not guilty. In Greece, citizens would vote on an issue by casting a black stone against the issue or a white stone in support of the issue.  In both of these examples, we conclude that a white stone is used when in support of something. In Jesus case, His white stone is cast for you. His white stone means that He has reviewed all of the evidence, all of the data, and He has judged in your favor. 

When Christ promised a white stone to the believers who overcame, he was not only announcing freedom, forgiveness, and acquittal from a past sinful life, but he was also telling them, my vote is for you. I am putting my full support behind you.

A white stone in Revelation 2:17 declares that Christ has found us not guilty and that he is putting his full support behind you and me. Christ is voting for us!  Including The Prodigal Father.

Men like me, who came to the Truth a little later in life, that may You have been forgiven and washed in the precious blood of Christ, you are forgiven – period. The devil may try to hassle you in your mind and torment you with past memories that God himself doesn’t remember. Since His blood was applied to your life, He has found you completely blameless and free from shame.

If it doesn’t feel at the moment like anyone else is for you, just remember that Christ himself has cast his vote for you. My friend, if Jesus has cast His vote for you – and He has – you can throw off all despair and start rejoicing, because the one vote that really matters has been cast in your favor!


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How My Desires Nearly Destroyed Me

1 Tim 3:1 (NIV), Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.
 
Phil 3:14 (NASB), I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
 
In 1 Timothy, Paul was instructing Timothy to choose people for church leadership roles who have the specific quality of “desire”. While this verse is in reference to a position in Church leadership, we can have desires for other things, as long as they remain a noble desire in the eyes of God.
 
The word “desire” describes a longing, a craving, an urge, a burning desire, or a yearning ambition to achieve something. A person so fixed on the object of his desire that his whole being is stretched forward to take hold of that goal or object, and he will not be satisfied until he reaches and obtains it.
 
Paul held the qualification of “desire” above everything else in his list of requirements for leaders – and it takes only a few personal experiences with “desireless” people to clearly understand why he did this.
 
We also find in Scripture that we, as believers, need to press on toward the goal of the prize to be found in Jesus Christ. 
 
Whatever our desire, whatever we deem a prize, we are to press on – as long as we know, that we believe, that our desire is good in the eyes of our Father.
 
Before Christ, I was a driven man, in pursuit of success no matter the cost. Pat Morley refers to this as “success sickness”.  My mission, my objectives, were more important to me than anything else, including people. If someone told me “no” when I wanted a “yes”, then I would do whatever it would take to turn that no into a yes. For the most part, I was honorable and followed the rules, but, the rules did not say anything about relationships and people.
 
You too will run into many obstacles in life that no one prepared you to face, possible even people. However, your obstacle may be money, a regulation, or something technical.  No matter what your obstacle may be, if you have the inward desire to achieve your goal:
  • Any obstacle can be overcome
  • Any challenge can be conquered
  • Any mountain can be successfully climbed

 

Paul stressed the importance of “desire” because it is absolutely fundamental to achieving success in any arena of life. If your level of “desire” is strong, it doesn’t matter if you’re ill equipped or uninformed. You will complete your assigned task because your inward determination and resolve will not let you give up!

“Desire” pertains to anyone who desires to reach “….the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14) for their own lives.  But, be careful, because “a human mad with desire is more fearsome than a demon. Be careful with your desires.

For me, the easiest obstacle to get through were people. I did accomplish my missions and my objectives most of the time, but I destroyed a lot of relationships along the way, and it came “to hurt me back” later in life.  I did not conduct myself with grace nor mercy. I was graceless and merciless.

Each persons calling is different, and you are uniquely gifted to fill a specific role within the great plan of the Father. However, to truly realize your potential, you must possess a strong inner desire – a desire that refuses to quit at all costs and continually presses forward to reach new heights.

Go for it, but don’t do what I did. Ensure that you are acting in a way that honor’s Jesus as you do it.


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Preaching the Walk; Walking the Preach

2 Tim 4:2 (MSG), I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.

2 Tim 4:2 (Amp) Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.

You can read the article that follows, or, you can watch my video on this message HERE.  The video is just a tad more spontaneous and natural, lasting about 15 minutes.
 

I read a saying the other day that is apparently shared among some Christians that I have been led to understand is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” My understanding of this phrase, as interpreted by those Christians familiar with it, is that it means that are to live God’s truth before others without actually having to explain it, and that this, by itself, is sufficient to fulfill God’s command to “preach the gospel.” But, if you have to because people just aren’t getting it, then go ahead and use words to share the Gospel. I have personally listened to others teach or say to other Christians that all we need to do is live Jesus out in our lives and this, in itself, will preach the Gospel, that people will be curious about you enough that they will either wonder among themselves or ask you directly, “What is it about you that makes me want what you have?”.  As I was reading Second Timothy 4:2, this verse seems to contradict that understanding, but at the same time, I want to be very cautious and do not want to neglect or understate the importance of how we live and conduct ourselves, both in private and around others. Of course, our lives should never detract from God’s Word and our message. Indeed, the Christian is called to live in such a way as to make the gospel attractive as we are reminded in Titus 2:10 where we are told “to show that they (meaning we Christians) can be fully trusted, so that in every way they (meaning we Christians) will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” (NIV). But, ultimately, if the Word of God is to be proclaimed, we must use His words.

When I was working for the ministry at Wycliffe Associates (love that ministry by the way), there were plenty of people working for the ministry that I would not know were Christian if they were not working in that environment (I can unfortunately include myself in that category). However, there were two men, in particular, that simply projected love – there was something about them that said “I love you”. I wanted what they had and I wanted to be like them. Without even speaking, these two guys just exhibited love – something that is very difficult to explain. I spent as much time as I could around these guys, hanging out with them in their office and talking with them. I wanted to know them and be around them, I wanted to soak in what they were projecting.

What these two men had to share with me is in complete alignment with how they carry themselves in their character and behavior; that aura they projected that was easily sensed and felt. It was amazing, but yet, it also caused me to wonder what was wrong with me, laying subtle seeds of doubt. Why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I present myself, in a way, that people can simply feel the love that I have for the body?  I was not jealous or prideful, but I suppose there was envy. Because, I knew, without a doubt, that this is what Christ wants for all of us and I did not feel that I had it. After leaving Wycliffe in 2018, I can honestly say that I really miss these two guys more than others.

I have been around A LOT of people who are very charismatic, people that I trust completely, but this is different. I don’t want to downgrade what other people have as far as their anointing is concerned as we are all different, but I can honestly say that I have never been around other men like these two guys. As I read through 2 Timothy Chapter 4, these two were immediately illumined in my heart and in my mind. These guys did preach the Word as Paul tells us, but they were also living it – at least when I was around anyway. So, in the meantime, what do to? 

I have decided that the path for me is to continue to immerse myself in His Word. I will continue to bear my heart and talk with others. When people engage with me, it is very apparent that I have a lot of passion, that there is a lot in my heart – even if they are perhaps taken a little aback by my very verbose and fast talking. I talk very fast which is why I am very intimidated about doing video or podcasts. But, what I can also say, with complete sincerity, is that I never feel as alive as I do when I am sharing my heart, and Jesus, with others.  I don’t know how I feel about the thought of me “preaching” as the Scriptures discuss as I am not a Pastor, but I am very comfortable with the thought of “sharing” what the Scriptures illumine to me – even if very pointed and directed. As we learn how to share the Gospel, at a minimum, is it ok that we, as His disciples, practice?  Not practicing the action of talking, though that is important; I am talking about practicing to listen – listening for what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Sometimes we may miss it, but over time, we get it and, over more time, the process gets easier.   This is very similar to what they teach regarding the gift of prophecy – we need to practice2 Tim 4:2 (Amp)

We need to practice because the process of preaching and teaching of the Word can have a life changing, yoke destroying effect on peoples lives.  The Word of God breaks down strongholds, releases the supernatural power of God, and transforms minds and lives as it changes external destinies. And perhaps one day, the Word of God will pour out of us, even when we are not speaking, it is simply by our presence.

Which, is a good transition back to 2 Tim 4:2,. As we read this verse, we may tend to believe that this is only applicable to the pulpit. But this is not what Paul says. As I had alluded to earlier, the word “preach”, from the original Greek, means to “publish or proclaim openly.” When Paul tells Timothy to preach the Word, the idea of a formal setting behind a pulpit or in a church service is not present. Nor does it connote a certain style of speech—“preaching” vs. “teaching” vs. “normal conversation.” In the context of 2 Timothy, any presentation of the truth of God’s Word is “preaching.” Therefore, any Christian can and should do this. So, I guess I should take back my original discomfort of with me in the action of “preaching”. Perhaps some of you should as well.

The Word can be proclaimed by books, magazine articles, and email. I am not a fan of bumper sticker meme’s, but the Word can be proclaimed through Facebook posts and Tweets. The Word can be proclaimed through music and the visual arts. The Word can be proclaimed by a get well card to a sick friend.  The Word can be proclaimed by men, women, and children of every age and station in life. And, yes, the Word can and should be proclaimed when the church gathers together for corporate worship (whether the pastor “preaches” from behind a pulpit or sits on a stool and “just talks” to the congregation – fyi, our Pastor does this and has been well received). All of us are responsible to preach, that is, to communicate God’s Word to others in whatever situation we find ourselves in with whatever tools of communication we can muster.

The verse goes on to tell us that we should be ready to do this when it is convenient and when it is not. Perhaps one of the most convenient times is when faithful church members have gathered to hear their pastor “preach.” Perhaps one of the most inconvenient times is when a group of co-workers are gathered around the water cooler. Even when it is inconvenient, we must proclaim the Word with “great patience and careful instruction,” even when the situation calls for rebuke.

Therefore, if I want to be like the two men from Wycliffe, who poured out the Gospel simply by their very presence – then I need to constantly be in the Word, strive to always live it out, and I need to always be ready to “preach” and “communicate”, no matter the time and no matter the obstacles placed before me. Today, that is via the books that I have written and am writing, the articles that I have written and the articles I will write, and via the video’s I have done and the videos I will do. The rest of it, is up the Lord, for as Paul instructed Timothy, I intend to stay put and remain at my post, just as any soldier of Christ should do. Thank you for allowing me to practice sharing Him. For practice is how the Lord is preparing me, and you.

This preaching of the Word is necessary because “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (verses 3–4). People normally tend to be comfortable with falsehood, and Timothy must combat this tendency by being ready at all times to preach the truth, that is, to preach the Word of God.

How this can apply to the everyday Christian who does not have the opportunity to preach in a church service. The answer comes from a proper understanding of the word translated “preach.”

 

One thing is sure: as you determine to remain faithful to your divine call and to the place where God has assigned you, He will empower you with inner strength that enables you to see it through to a glorious conclusion!

 


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Dysfunctional “Bible” Families

Did you know that some of the most prolific characters, and hero’s, of the Bible were part of what many might consider “dysfunctional families”?

The very first family, Adam and Eve, were dysfunctional (Cain killed Abel). King David was part of a dysfunctional family (he had relations with a married woman and had her husband killed). King Ahab married Jezebel (enough said on that one). Even Abraham and Sarah were dysfunctional (he gave his wife away, twice; Sarah gave permission to Abraham to “lay with” another woman).

What about the story of Joseph and his family? His brothers sold him off to slavery because they were jealous. Even Joseph and Mary left a 12 year old Jesus behind, they forgot about Him. You can probably think of more examples yourself.

No matter how dysfunctional you think your family may be, this does not mean that the Lord cannot use you or use your family. In some examples of Some people are tearing themselves down because of their family dysfunction and have given up hope of any glory or blessings in their lives. This is what some in the world want you to believe, but it is not the truth of what God can do or what God expects – the bible is clear about this truth.

While our earthly family may cause us some distress, continue on your race, continue on your path for the Lord is like a candle under your feet. He will guide you, if only you will allow Him and stop allowing your family situations to distract you.


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My Plight with Friendships and Relationships

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

How many people have asked to be a friend in your life and then, once you commit to being a friend, you never hear from them again? I find that this is a two way street in my own relationships.

Over the last year, I have had some folks ask to be connected with me and be my friend, to which I gleefully accepted – only to never hear from them again. After wishing one guy a happy birthday a month or two ago, he responded to me by asking, “where do we know each other from?”, when he was the one that reached out to me just a few months earlier from a Christian group (LOL, true story). But that’s ok. Simultaneously, in life, we invest time and effort into certain friendships, only to not have that investment returned back. It sucks when that happens but it is also an area that we recognize we just need to let it go and move on.

And then, there are friends who only exist on a “friend list”. They never acknowledge something great happening in your life nor do they reach out with “anything at all” when your life experiences a dramatic turn of events. In this case, my background and experience usually tells me that I am the one that messed that one up. My thought life is flooded with “Somehow, someway, somewhere, I screwed up”. Man that is an uncomfortable feeling, particularly when you have no idea what you did, if anything. I have a niece that has coined this as the “rejection” and “guilt” clause. Love those terms.

However, and even more sadly so, I have reached out to others to become friends and, while I do know who they are unlike my “friend” mentioned above, I have not done anything to foster that relationship, to make it grow, to develop it. I never respond or acknowledge anything, neither via social media, phone call, nor in person. It makes me feel horrible to think that that is me. If you are one of those that I have neglected, then please forgive me.

As humans, as God’s children, we are created to be sociable and relational and, for me anyway, if I feel that I have failed in that regard – it can tear me up. Why? Because of my past. I held to a certain character and conduct ten years ago and earlier that still hold a subtle part of my programming. I simply “did not care”. If I was on a mission and you were in my way, I would shove you out of the way and not bat an eye. Collateral damage, yep, that was me.

If I sense that my old self has surfaced, after working so long and so hard with the Father to make those corrections in my heart, I will experience a deep conviction. That I have somehow let the Lord down. But, this is good news. Why? Because that old self is coming to the surface and identifying itself so that it can be scraped away. Sometimes, I have to scrape it away a dozen times before I finally get it.

Iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17). Never perfect, but always being perfected (Phil 1:6). This is God’s way and His desire for me, and you.


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The Church Stranger – A Short “Fiction” Story

THE CHURCH STRANGER
 

As the stranger enters the first and outer door, he wants to be hugged, but he is stand offish. He wants someone to say “Welcome”, but he gives an impression of not being approachable – a body language that says “stay away”. He hungers for love but his body language, his patterns of behavior, drive those away that he so wants to be close to.

Those familiar patterns emerge, again, where the people reject him. This is how he feels anyway and what the whispers in his head keep telling him. Nonetheless, the stranger courageously enters the auditorium through the inner door, thirsty for something that will fill his heart and give him a reason to live, a reason to exist. “Please hug me, please tell me that you love me,” he thinks to himself. Only to turn people away via a look or his downcast eyes. And yet, he continues through the struggle to humble himself, fighting the urge to run away, just so that he can hear a message that might explain his existence. He has heard that this is what this place is for. Right?

Time lapses, the message the stranger hears is on par, it tugs at his heart, pulls him in. “Does the man on the stage know me or something”, he ponders. “How does this guy know my story?”. There is an urge to run to the stage, his heart is pumping new blood, it is life giving, but the fear is overwhelming and he rejects the notion. They don’t want him up there because he is ugly, inside and outside. And then, finally, the man on the stage cries out for someone to come forward, sacrifice the fear and end the suffering. “Come and receive life, we love you, we want you, we need you. Come forward NOW!!” In whose name? Who did he say?

“Is he talking to me?”, he wonders. “Nah, nobody likes me, I wasn’t even acknowledged when I walked in”. “Wait, I feel something pulling me in, what is that?” It is then that he feels the tug of war, the whispers, telling him that this is stupid. They are not talking to you, they are talking to someone else. He feels a force trying to pull him forward, but there is another opposing invisible force pushing him back into his seat. He feels like people are staring at him, like he is an idiot or something.

He starts to cry, it is unbearable, but he fights it and, eventually, it stops. He wants to crawl down to the floor, he cannot bear his own weight sitting in the chair. The man is done talking and he is thanking people for coming. The man on stage dismisses all of the people but the stranger remains in his seat. He is in the back of the auditorium and he watches as the people walk past him. Some are at least acknowledging him with their eyes, a smile here and there. But, for the most part, the people congregate with those they are apparently friends with and the stranger is, once again, back to being a nothing, a nobody. Invisible.

He slowly rises and shuffles to the exit door, passing two groups of friends who are having their own private discussion. The stranger is again hoping that someone will recognize him, acknowledge him, give him a hug and tell them that they love him. His shoulders shrink deep into his chest and he leans his head forward and down to look at the ground. He cannot bear the thought of looking at anyone. They might recognize him as someone that does not belong.

“Well, I tried”, he sobs inwardly. “They don’t want me here, but that is what I expected anyway.” The stranger continues to meander, slowly, to the last door before he is outside.

He wants to say out loud “Please”, but he can only beg inwardly to himself. “Somebody”, pause, “Help me!”, pause, “I need someone, anyone”. Nope, his head whispers, figures.

He perceives, no wait, he senses, that he is being stared at. He is one step from the outer door. “Is someone going to stop me?”, he wonders.

No. He must have been mistaken. He is just a few inches from the outer door when he feels that strong tug on his heart again. Still an unfamiliar sensation, his body starts to shake. He doesn’t understand it, what does it mean. He slowly lifts his head and twists it a little to his left. There he is, an older guy, watching me. His eyes are crystal blue, what is that I see in them? The old man smiles at him, just slightly, and nods his head just a little, enough to tell the stranger that he sees him. The eyes of the old man look like they are saying, I recognize you.

“Weirdo”, he thinks. “Leave me alone”. The stranger turns his head back to the door and walks the final inches to enter the parking lot. He hears that whisper again, see, I told you. Nobody likes you, you are pathetic.

The stranger walks faster once he gets outside. Just shy of a jog, that familiar force that he has felt his entire life is pulling him forward. And, just as the stranger is ready to turn a corner, placing the building behind him for the last time, a slight shimmer stops him cold.

Turn around, he hears. “No”, he says to himself. Turn around, what you need is back where you came. “No, that is not true”, the stranger says to himself once more. I love you. “Yeah right! I am hated, nobody likes me, they don’t care about me. Nobody does.”  The man pushes through the shimmer, with the shadow of a cross from the roof of the building striking his back, pleading for him to come back.

Meanwhile, the old man that the stranger had seen at the outer door, cries out to himself. “You fool, you let him go”. “He needed you, the Spirit told you to grab him and hold him tight”, a slight inward pause, “But the stranger looked dirty, and there was a glint in his eyes that said beware. He was scary.” “Lord, forgive me and please place someone in his life that can get to him, lead him to the joy and freedom that he so desperately needs. In Jesus Name.”

The old man is so consumed with his own personal pride and grief about letting the stranger go that he does not hear that still whisper in his heart that says, “Go get him, chase him. Bring him back”.

The stranger allows the familiar force to continue to pull him away while ignoring that new and strange sensation to turn around. The battle fades as he continues walking to never be seen again.
 
***********
 
There are men, throughout the world, who were rejected as children and continuously rejected throughout their adult life, to a degree that they have a difficult time adjusting from that pattern in their lives. After a while, they start to create the conditions where they actually become a cause for that rejection. In their hearts, “once rejected always rejected”. They believe that they have become incapable of feeling the love that they recognize is so essential and critical to living a fruitful and joyful life. This is tormenting to men like this.
 
Some will make an effort, take that leap, to go to the one place where there is not supposed to be rejection. A place that is understood to be overflowing with love. As they enter the doors to this “building”, they are still carrying that rejection on their shoulders, you can see it in their eyes. But yet, their hearts are beating with anticipation, to finally be somewhere where they can feel like they belong, a reason to exist, a purpose for “all of this”. However, strangers will never recognize that this building is filled with many hurting people. Rejected people are people easily hurt and offended. They, more than ever, need someone in the Church to help lead them to Christ.
 
The Church is not the Pastor nor the building; the Church is about God and His people. His people should show Him through their character and their hearts towards people that they are introduced to and encounter – some seeking a new body and a new beginning. It is the people that love and take care of each other, this might be the first physical expression of love that someone has experienced. A family – even if a dysfunctional one. Sometimes, a stranger appears, who wants to enter the family, to get a piece, even if only a portion, of what a church family has. The successful integration of the stranger depends on the people (who God operates through), not the Pastor by himself, and most definitely not the building. If the people are perceived to not care, then the stranger may conclude that God does not care either. And that my friends, may be the end of the stranger. 

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Running the Race

1 Corinthians 9:24, Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

 

All men are born to die and we know it. We cannot stop it nor should we try. Some men know that they will die and enter heaven in eternity while recognizing that others will enter into an eternity of torment. Some men, unfortunately, believe that death is an entrance into nothingness, darkness, the end.

For all however, it is about how we lived, not how we die. The question then is, what are you living for? I prefer to live knowing that in the end, I died for something, with honor, and with integrity, a life worthy of God. That I ran the race (1 Cor 9:24) and that I finished ahead of where I started and where I was. One step closer to glory. I find it odd that as we all live such short lives, that too many treat the finality of death with outrageous contempt.


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What We Don’t Do Matters

James 4:17 (NASB), “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” 

 

Boy, do I have “a few” stories where I have not lived up to this. Thank God for His gracious mercy, I have needed it and I continue to need it.

What a believer “does not do” is commonly referred to as sins of omission. It is not only what people do that matters, the good that they fail to do is equally important to God.

Knowledge of God’s principles, His revelations, implies responsibility to act on them. The sin of omission of knowing God’s will and not doing it is presumptuous sin (should I or shouldn’t I?).

Knowledge of God’s Word without the application of it in our experiences will eventually distort our knowledge of it. It is possible to cauterize the soul by dabbling (i.e., sampling) in divine truth and revelation knowledge, and not benefitting from it because we do not practice it.

Galatians 6:9-10 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

“Good” refers to what is intrinsically good — goodly, fair, beautiful, excellent, surpassing, suitable, honorable, praiseworthy. It can adapt to circumstances, purposes, and whatever it is that you are experiencing right now at this moment.

A Christian life is a marathon race. Doing good is not to be justified by good works, but living as God planned for those who have received his gracious salvation through faith.


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Doing “things” That Honor Jesus

Colossians 3:17 (NASB), Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

 

This verse is one that should truly convict us – it has really convicted me, multiple times unfortunately. This morning, this verse brought tears to my eyes as I viewed it in respective of my own actions.

Excerpted, paraphrased, and adapted from Sparkling Gems II by Rick Renner.

The Holy Spirit lives inside of you if you have been born again, and your body is His temple here on earth. You should think once, twice, or more about everything you do.

Whatever you say, do, watch, or participate in, you involve Him because He lives inside you. If you can say and do such things, knowing those words and deeds will bless the Holy Spirit and honor the name of Jesus, then go ahead and say and do them, but if you are even a bit concerned that what you say or do will grieve the Spirit or bring dishonor to the name of Jesus, you should refrain from it.

In the KJV, the word “whatsoever” is used in lieu of “whatever”. This tells us that God is concerned about every action in our lives – not only the large ones, but even the smallest.

The word “do” infers any action that one does, which tells us that we must be careful about whatever we say and do, for every little action has an impact on our internal Resident, the Holy Spirit.

“Word” means that our words have an impact on the indwelling Holy Spirit and the manner in which we honor the Lord Jesus.

In Ephesians 4:29-30, we are commanded, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…

“Corrupt” communication grieves the Holy Spirit. Corrupt describes anything that is rank, foul, putrid, rotten, corrupt, or worthless. This could include gossipy language or simply putrid talk. “Grieve” means that it deeply pains the Spirit when a believer talks in this fashion.

The word “deed” would include our treatment of others, how we handle our money, what we do with our time, what we look at on TV or on the Internet. “Deed” is all inclusive of everything.

The word “all” refers to everything – nothing is excluded.

If you will listen to the indwelling Holy Spirit, you will know when your actions or deeds grieve Him. When that occurs, simply back off, immediately repent, and resolve not to do it again.

IF ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO DOESN’T GIVE HONOR TO THE NAME OF JESUS…. THEN DON’T DO IT! Its just that simple.


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Understanding a Culture of Faith

Phil 4:8 (NASB), Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 

The CSB translation uses the words true, honorable, just [right], pure, lovely and commendable [good repute]. This particular verse is guiding us to fill our minds with things that will inspire worship of God and service to others.

What is true is found in God, in Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. Honorable means noble, “worthy of respect”, believers are advised to meditate on whatever is worthy of awe and adoration. The believer is to think in harmony with God’s divine standard of holiness. What is right [just] refers to giving people what they deserve. Pure is that which is morally clean and undefiled. Lovely means “pleasing” or “amiable”. Of good repute [commendable] refers to that which is praiseworthy and highly regarded or thought well of – some scholars say that this in reference to what is generally considered reputable in the world, such as kindness, courtesy, and respect for others.

Philippians 4, as a Chapter, is full of some of the most glorious promises and practical wisdom for a life that is “well pleasing to God”, applicable to every generation on every continent for all time.

Two very different thoughts for consideration on this passage:

1. Some believers find this passage to be difficult. They have backgrounds that cause them to struggle with focusing on what this part of scripture is telling us, along with the rewards. Issues with varying degrees of abuse, family conflict, or time spent meditating on Him and His Word with no tangible results, etcetera. Yes, this person is allowing the world to consume their attention, they are asking for help, but they do not get it. Christians that find this scripture absolute, simple, and basic may view the believer that struggles to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable to be someone that says they know God but they do not know God; yet, the person going through the struggle is not advised, guided, or assisted in this struggle. Instead, they are viewed as not being in touch with the Holy Ghost and believers think “Oh well, I pray that they get it”. Because we are working to operate in love, some believers may toss subtle hints at them which cause their struggle to deepen until finally, one day, they give up. Love means giving accurate and direct guidance to those that struggle, lift them up, inspire and encourage them. Show them Philippians 4, do not just preach to them. This may require a tad more intimate coaching and mentoring.

2. Founding Father William Samuel Johnson, a signer of the Constitution commended school graduates in his day to this very Chapter to inspire them. “Rejoice in the Lord always…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…“. Imagine the bewilderment and possible outrage that would consume William Samuel Johnson if a judge or school official today told him that it was against the Constitution for him, a framer and signer of that very Constitution, to deliver this Bible address to school students? The fact that judges and officials would undoubtedly declare this speech to be unconstitutional is a poignant demonstration of just how far modern America has strayed from its original moral and religious foundations.

If we wish to stop the outflow from the Church, we must not forget what this particular verse is telling us: Truth, Honor, Just, Pure, Lovely, and Commendable. It is not just inside the church, it is to help our fellow man fully understand the culture of faith and, if a believer is getting it wrong, help them to understand. Some of God’s children walk through life with a very heavy heart, or, they are hard headed to a point where patience and time are necessary. Do not give up, do not view the struggling believer with contempt, keep moving forward, for the struggle is real my friends – at least for some.

 

Beardsley, Edward E. (1886), Life and Times of William Samuel Johnson, LL.D, Boston Houghton, Mifflin and Company, pp. 141-145


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Refuse To Give Up and Quit!

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. – Gal 6:9

Refuse to give up and quit!!!

You must stay steady and on track with the assignment the Lord has given to you! Those moments when you’re tired and tempted to quit are the exact times when you need to grab hold of the power of God and determine that you are not going to stray from your course until you’ve finished what God asked you to do!

God commands you and me not to surrender to any temptation to give up. He promises that in “due season”, a harvest will be reaped if we don’t quit – the manifestation of what each of us is believing for will come if we will not cave in and give up.

Each seed has its own set season – a specific, individual time when the seed will produce its harvest. No matter what season our seed is to be reaped in, God promises that if we are consistent – if we steadfastly keep sowing our seed into the ground and refuse to let weariness take us down – a time will come when “we shall reap”.

The most common thing that causes one to loosen his grip is weariness. That’s why Paul urges you not to throw in the towel in times of spiritual, physical, or mental exhaustion. In order to reach that point of reaping, you must hold on tight to what God has told you and remember that your seed has a set season when it will produce if you don’t disrupt the process.

God promises you in Gal 6:9 that if you will remain steadfast, your time of waiting will eventually produce a harvest.


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Freedom and Liberty

Galatians 5:1. Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

There is deliverance from the law for the sinner who has been unsuccessfully trying to achieve his own righteousness, it is found in Jesus Christ and the salvation that He brings to the table.

Therefore, we need to stay where we are and stand firm on the truth, maintain your liberty; to be burdened by the law is the essence of religion and slavery. If you had been freed from the law, why would you go back?

Freedom is defined as independence, a license to do what one wants. But it can also be narrowly defined as having the “permission” to do something as you please. Permission is something granted by someone, which means that freedom can then be taken away by that someone. This is why we have liberty.

Liberty is described as something second only to life, a right granted by our Creator. It is part of you, it cannot be revoked. Liberty provides for the protection of rights.

Freedom is something granted; liberty is something we own that cannot be taken away. Freedom requires that you operate in a protective defense posture where you must always wear your “armor” (Ephesians); whereas Christ has liberated you from sin because of His salvation and grace – this is God’s offensive tactic, His gift to you, that can never be taken away from you. You have to voluntarily give away your liberty, why would you want to do that?


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Is Telling the Truth Newsworthy?

Jesus warned:

“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17 NASB).

If only CNN had listened! Project Veritas recently released a series of secret recordings revealing the private agenda CNN was pursuing while simultaneously claiming to be “the most trusted name in news.” CNN has rejected the traditional media objective of presenting truthful news and has adopted the role of a political change-agent, spinning, twisting, and making up “new stories” to achieve a specific outcome—in this case, the removal of the elected president of the United States.
The new undercover video reveals previously hidden conversations between CNN employees:
“Another staffer identified on the recordings as field production supervisor Gerald Sisnette said CNN won’t change until Trump ‘dies,’ adding ‘hopefully soon.’ Alleged staffers are also heard saying on the secret recording that CNN manufactures drama to increase revenue.”

Whenever propaganda parades as journalism, the people suffer; but its harmful effects are not limited just to people in the United States, for CNN has an additional 384 million international households who believe they are watching American news and not political talking points.

But CNN is not alone in deceiving the public with its personal vendetta against the President.

When President Trump was speaking on Turkey and Syria, saying, “They have a problem at a border — it’s not our border,” NBC changed his phrase “it’s not our border” to “it’s not our problem,” thus making him say something he definitely did not. And ABC deliberately broadcast footage from a gun range in Kentucky while portraying it as Turkish bombings in Syria.

While some stories are corrected when exposed, how much damage is done to our country through the intentional dissemination of false information simply to further politically-charged narratives? If self-proclaimed journalists insist on professing personal political opinions under the guise of reporting news stories, they should openly announce themselves as political commentators, or go to work for political campaigns or PACs. (But maybe that’s what they are doing by working for today’s so-called “news media.”)

Claiming to tell the truth and actually telling the truth can be polar opposites. But as George Washington affirmed, genuine truth will eventually win out: “Truth will ultimately prevail where pains is taken to bring it to light.”

The Bible warns strongly against those who speak lies disguised as truth (1 Timothy 4:2). Hypocrisy of any kind is to be abhorred, and Jesus called out the Pharisees (or was it today’s news media?) for such deception:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28 NASB).

As people of faith, we need to be “shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16), wary of “the father of lies” (John 8:44), who deploys wolves “in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). But at the same time, we should also ask ourselves, “What would the world find out about me if every conversation of mine was secretly taped and later exposed?”

“He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9 NASB).

 

References:

Flood, B. & Givas, N. (2019, October 17). CNN staffers bash network’s liberal bias, Jeff Zucker goes after Trump in new, secret recordings. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/media/cnn-jeff-zucker-secret-recordings-liberal-bias

CNN worldwide fact sheet. Retrieved from http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/cnn-fact-sheet/

PART 1: CNN insider blows whistle on network president Jeff Zucker’s personal vendetta against POTUS. (2019, October 14). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/embed/m7XZmugtLv4?start=310

NBC news on Twitter. (2019, October 16). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/nbcnews/status/1184533981305417734?s=12

Givas, N. (2019, October 14). ABC apologizes for mistaking Kentucky gun range video for Turkish bombing of Syria. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/media/abc-news-error-gun-video-syria-turkey

Washington, G. (1794, August 10). Letter to Charles M. Thruston. Retrieved from https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/quotes/article/truth-will-ultimately-prevail-where-pains-is-taken-to-bring-it-to-light/


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Lawmaking Lawlessness

Passing burdensome legislation is one of the many things that is not “new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Even in Biblical times, this was a common practice for policy-makers:

“The scribes and the Pharisees…tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men…” (Matthew 23:2, 4 NASB).

Although Congress remains “deadlocked” and not much is moving forward right now at the Federal level, local governments on the other hand are very busy passing legislation that, quite frankly, continue to move the needle forward that infringe on our everyday lives. The NYC Commission on Human Rights published new guidelines on how to refer to undocumented immigrants, announcing “The use of the term ‘illegal alien’… is illegal under the law,” with fines of up to $250,000 if violated.

NYC employers and landlords can also be fined up to $250,000 for “using gender pronouns other than those preferred by employees and tenants.” But even this ridiculous policy is not as onerous as the one in California that imposes up to one year imprisonment for “California health care workers who ‘willfully and repeatedly’ decline to use a senior transgender patient’s ‘preferred name or pronouns.’”

Meanwhile, traditional laws for the protection of all citizens are being set aside. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently reversed a law requiring citizens to assist local law enforcement. And on the other coast: “A Virginia police officer was suspended after allegedly turning over a suspected undocumented immigrant to federal authorities following a traffic accident last month.”

When policy-makers encourages lawlessness, law and order becomes null and void.

James Madison warned of such trigger-happy legislation, writing: “The internal effects of a mutable [ever-changing] policy are…calamitous [disastrous]. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous [numerous] that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood—if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated [passed], or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.”

The Chief Lawmaker of the universe gave Ten Commandments for humanity to follow, so why do fallible lawmakers believe it necessary to impose hundreds of thousands of regulations on local constituents? In the words of Jesus:

“Woe to you…[You] have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24 NASB).

And woe to those policy-makers who make government a personal weapon to micro-regulate behavior according to the ever-changing winds of political correctness while ignoring the true purpose of law and government.

 

References:

 

NYC commission on human rights announces new legal enforcement guidance and actions against discrimination based on immigration status and national origin. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/press-releases/Immigration_Guidance_Press_Release.pdf

Gallagher, T. (2019, October 1). Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/transcript/guiliani-i-was-investigating-hillary-clinton-and-the-democrats-cooperating-with-ukrainians

Singman, B. (2017, October 9). New California law allows jail time for using wrong gender pronoun, sponsor denies that would happen. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-california-law-allows-jail-time-for-using-wrong-gender-pronoun-sponsor-denies-that-would-happen

DeMarche, E. (2019, September 4). California’s Newsom signs bill allowing citizens to refuse to help a police officer. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/californias-newsom-signs-bill-allowing-citizen-to-refuse-to-help-a-police-officer

Casiano, L. (2019, October 1). Virginia police officer suspended after turning in suspected undocumented immigrant over to ICE. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/us/virginia-police-officer-suspended-after-turning-in-suspected-undocumented-immigrant-over-to-ice

Madison, J. (1788, February 27). The Federalist No. 62. Retrieved from https://www.constitution.org/fed/federa62.htm


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The US Constitution and Foreign Policy

Just in case you are averting your ears and eyes to the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, there was a lot to be said about the testimony of LTC Alexander Vindman. LTC Vindman was one of the people that was listening to the call that Trump made to the Ukrainian President on 25 July.  According to the Washington Post, a paper that does not support President Trump:
 
“[Vindman] told lawmakers that he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy and an improper attempt to coerce a foreign government into investigating a U.S. citizen.”
 
The suggestion being made is that the President was subverting US foreign policy. What foreign policy was he exactly subverting? Can the President subvert foreign policy if he has authority over foreign policy? Can the President ask a foreign leader to help in the investigation of a US Citizen? If he doesn’t, then who does have the authority to discuss this with another foreign leader? Congress? If a President subverts foreign policy, can he subvert him or herself? What does the US Constitution have to say about Presidential powers for foreign policy?  Unfortunately, the answer is not that cut and dry.
 
  1. Article 2 of the US Constitution gives certain authority to the President.
  2. Article 1 of the US Constitution gives certain authority to Congress
  3. There is no authority granted to the Judicial Branch over foreign policy; however, the Judicial Branch does have authority to submit and provide legal decisions regarding how the executive and legislative branches conduct themselves regarding constitutional law – this includes foreign policy. Supreme Court decisions in this area were very limited for the first 200 years of this nation, but, have grown significantly over the last two decades or so.
  4. And then, there are some powers that are divided equally amongst both branches.

 

The political branches often cross swords over foreign policy, particularly when the president is of a different party than the leadership of at least one chamber of Congress.  Foreign affairs include activities such as military operations, trade and commerce, immigration, intelligence operations, foreign aid, and international agreements (i.e., treaty’s) Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the Constitution is not very specific in some of these areas, but it can be argued that the division if powers over foreign affairs is implied in almost all areas. For example: if Congress is not happy about a military action ordered by the President, Congress does control the money – they can hold off funding. A second example is the appointment of ambassadors, Congress can deny approval of an ambassador by vote. 

Nonetheless, history has shown that the party in power will use the vagueness of Foreign Powers in the Constitution to their advantage; this goes for both Republican and Democrat. Presidents have accumulated foreign policy powers at the expense of Congress in recent years, particularly since the 9/11 attacks – perhaps this is why we have experienced a dramatic increase in these types of issues going to the US Supreme Couty. The trend conforms to a historical pattern in which, during times of war or national emergency, the White House has tended to overshadow Capitol Hill. Is Russian collusion into our election considered a national emergency? I think so and, unfortunately, I have zero confidence in Congress to investigate this. 

Secondarily, we regularly hear about the President “obstructing justice”. In truth, the President has told certain high level officials that they will not testify in front of Congress and they have also stated their refusal to turn over some of the documents that Congress has requested. One may argue that the President is correct, there is such a thing as executive privilege, but, I believe that the most obvious case is that Congress is NOT following precedent in this impeachment inquiry. Yes, portions of previous impeachment inquiries into Clinton and Nixon were held in secret, but, and this is a large but, these inquiries were led by an independent council and NOT by a member of the Intelligence Committee of Congress who has an extremely obvious case of political bias. If I were Trump, I would hold as much back as possible and only release the materials once I have an opportunity to participate in the legal process.

 Back to the argument about foreign policy powers, “The Constitution, considered only for its affirmative grants of power capable of affecting the issue, is an invitation to struggle for the privilege of directing American foreign policy,” wrote constitutional scholar Edward S. Corwin in 1958. Some legal and constitutional scholars have noted that presidents have many natural advantages over lawmakers with regard to leading on foreign policy. These include the unity of office, capacity for secrecy and speed, and superior information. “The verdict of history, in short, is that the substantive content of American foreign policy is a divided power, with the lion’s share falling usually, though by no means always, to the president,” wrote Corwin.

President Trump’s foreign policy proposals may spur Congress into taking a more active role than it has in recent years, writes political science professor Stephen R. Weissman in Foreign Affairs. But, as the precedent has already been set in reference to the President and his power over foreign policy, can Congress find the President in violation of law regarding his actions?  Perhaps, at best, they can make new laws limiting the Presidents power moving forward.

For example: what law did the President break when it is said that he subverted foreign policy?  Adam Schiff, for his part, is arguing that the President abused his power in a quid pro quo by asking a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent that, some say, Trump can use in the upcoming President election.  However, as Republicans and others are arguing, the transcript provided does not show this, so again, what law did Trump break?  

The sad news for Americans is that, unless this transcript is shown to have been manipulated (which some are now saying), then the country will always remain divided over this question.  I am one that does not believe this impeachment is about preserving the argument that “nobody is above the law”, else, I believe that we would have seen many more prominent and politically elite, in prison or fined significant amounts of dollars at the least. No my brothers and sisters, all impeachment hearings are political, including the ones that came against Clinton and Nixon. 

Regardless of the outcome, whether Trump is vindicated or whether he is found guilty, this impeachment is not healthy for our country and will divide us further. If you don’t want Trump as your President, then vote him out in 2020. If you do, then vote him in. Let America speak and stop the political pandering.  Our elected officials are acting like children – all of them. One trying to outdo the other, all of them are trying to sell us on why they “are great Americans” and are about doing America’s business in the name of justice. 

Did the President break the law by subverting foreign policy? Give the American people ALL of the information and let the American people decide, because our elected representatives are failing.

 

References:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-official-who-heard-trumps-call-with-ukraine-leader-testified-that-he-was-told-to-keep-quiet/2019/11/01/dbed7fae-fc07-11e9-ac8c-8eced29ca6ef_story.html, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/understanding-the-constitutions-foreign-affairs-power, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/us-foreign-policy-powers-congress-and-president, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.amazon.com/President-Office-Edward-S-Corwin/dp/0814713904/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487861733&sr=1-1&keywords=Edward+S.+Corwin+president+powers, accessed 4 Nov 2019

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-12-12/congress-and-war, accessed 4 Nov 2019


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Joe Biden Denied Communion

A bishop in South Carolina refused to allow communion for Joe Biden due to the VP’s stance on abortion. A few days later, a bishop in New York also stated that he would not allow communion for Joe Biden for the same reason. In his defense, Joe Biden did not speak out negatively of the bishops; however, he did state that while he is a faithful Catholic, it was not his job to “push” his faith on others. His assertion is that while he may personally dislike the idea of abortion, it was not his responsibility to support a policy that would prohibit those that want an abortion from having one. 

A few observations about Biden’s position, in which he is far from alone:

  1. Biden’s position on abortion has changed over the last 40 years in a way that mimic’s what culture is telling him. When abortions were not viewed favorably, he spoke out against it. Now that culture celebrates abortion, he supports it.
  1. Biden’s fear of man (i.e., likability and electability) is significantly stronger than his fear of God.
  1. Did He pray about, or ask God, what position to take in reference to abortion?
  1. It is not for me to question or judge his faith; however, if he truly believes that he will be standing before God upon his death, then he also believes that God will support his decision to support abortion and the killing of babies. I do wonder what he believes the Lord will say to him about this topic? I truly wonder what his heart is telling him.
  1. When he states “push” in reference to placing his faith on others, this language is very strong and I question his word choice and his view of what it means to truly believe and practice a Christian faith. Would it be wrong for him to state that his “faith is the foundation of my values and I value all life. While I am obligated to support abortion because that is the current law of the land, I cannot in good “faith” be in support of the procedure itself as this would conflict with my faith and my values.”?

In fact, I have to wonder what all professed Christians, that support abortion, truly believe they will hear when they are standing before our Father. Do they truly believe that He will be ok with it?

Some believers may believe that they can compromise their faith in favor of the right to “reproductive health care”, but I am one that does not believe they can support this in Scripture. My heart breaks not only for the children that are murdered in the name of health care, but my heart also breaks for believers that think abortion is ok. 

Just a thought.

God bless.

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/biden-s-long-evolution-abortion-rights-still-holds-surprises-n1013846


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The Box of Self-Betrayal

1 Timothy 3:2. An overseer [leader] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy.

    May the Lord bless you today and tomorrow. On occasion, I spend time on reflection, reflecting on where I have been, who I have spent time with, how I got here, and, more importantly, what does the Lord have in store for me moving forward. I am not sure about you, but I tend to get a Word by reading a book, reading a verse or two that are illumined on my heart, or even watching something on TV. The cool thing is that I never know where the word will come from, it tends to just happen. Last year, the Lord enlightened me to some financial and investment decisions but earlier this year, He served as my comforter by bringing to the front of my heart my own acts of self-betrayal.  This word came from a random book that I picked up late in 2018 titled “Leadership and Self-Deception”.  As I am always one to use myself as an example, I will once again place myself “out there”. I know that I am not the only one that has experienced this, or, perhaps you know someone like this.

Matthew 7:5 (NASB) You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    When I joined the military over 30 years ago, I did not know that I would serve 20 years. When I retired in 2007, I had not realized how my life had fully acclimated to change. I had become acclimated to frequent changes in my life that included such things as job changes, leadership changes, military change of stations, deployments, training, and several promotions. This lifestyle of change had so percolated my life, that I failed to realize until now, how this had impacted my post military career – and not necessarily in a good way.  The primary symptom that this manifested in me was boredom, which I recognized (I would even joke about it), but what I failed to observe is the condition this had placed on my soul and how I allowed this so-called “boredom” to impact me in other ways.

    Since my military retirement, I was honored to serve in “a few jobs”. By November of 2018, I started job number eight.  Yep, eight jobs in 10 years. There are a lot of reasons for this, boredom for all sense and purposes was just an excuse I had created in my own mind. On New Years Eve (2018/2019), the Lord brought the full truth down to me in his comforting, revealing, and funny way. Bottom line is that I had accustomed myself into a learned behavior where I was betraying myself. I had convinced myself that it was inevitable that I would eventually get bored at a job and, knowing that it was coming, I would start coming up with – and even creating – excuses to rationalize my eventual departure from “the job”. Once the excuses start to flow, I would start to get uncomfortable and create more excuses to explain away my discomfort.  I had placed myself in a vicious circle and as a result, I would betray my own happiness and job satisfaction. After all, I was going to leave the job anyway, why get comfortable or be happy about it?  For those that I hurt, or otherwise betrayed as a result, I can only apologize.

    Via this regular ‘modus operandi’, I placed myself in a constant “Box of Self-Betrayal”. Once in this box, I would become deeply insecure and hurt other people around me with the end result, causing them to place themselves in a box of their own. I would continue to come up with excuses to justify my own issues with happiness and job satisfaction. I needed this justification and I needed other people to also be “in a box”. And oh God no, it was never my fault – nope!! It was always someone else’s fault that I was not happy or satisfied. While in the box, I am actively resisting what God is asking me to do with, and for, others. In Ezekiel 36:26-27, the Lord promises to give us a new heart and He will remove the hearts of stone.

 

    When in the box: I see myself as the victim, I am hardworking, I am important, I am fair, I am sensitive, I am good at what I do, I am a good leader and follower. When in the box, here is how I see others: lazy, incompetent, unappreciative, lousy, insensitive and/or inconsiderate.

    Here is what I have learned by being “in the box”. 1) It does not work when you try to change others, 2) it does not help when I do my best to simply cope with others, 3) leaving the job does not help (oof!, that one hurt), 4) just communicating my feelings with others does not help, 5) learning and implementing new skills does not help, and 6) even changing my own behavior does not help.  None of these work because in each one of these areas, I am still focused on myself.  But wait, there’s more!! And it gets worse!!  What do you think this mode of thinking does to ones character?  Shall I share?  OK.  Depending on the job, one or more of the following have been a problem for me: 1) lack of commitment, 2) lack of engagement, 3) troublemaking, 4) conflict, 5) lack of motivation, 6) stress, 7) poor teamwork, 8) backbiting and bad attitude, 9) misalignment, 10) lack of trust, 11) accountability issues, and 12) communication issues. I wonder how many of my ex-coworkers would agree to these?

    Now, to be clear, there were plenty of occasions when I was not in the box and I was always on a mission to see the organizations I worked for succeed. Even more so, I wanted my direct reports to succeed – this is where my primary motivation was generally derived from.  I have known for a few years that there was something going on inside of me, I could just not explain it. I knew that I had some old programming in my mind, and in my heart, that I needed to clear up, but nothing was working. I had prayed about this for years and I cannot recall, at any time, a good answer that I could use to rectify my destructive pattern. Until now. The answer had been right in front me the entire time. Praise God!!  There are people that have been in and out of my life, in which I was never in a box around them. What made them different than others? And then, there are some people in which I move in and out of the box like some kind of jack in the box.  On a deep level, this is when my personal values are in conflict; primarily values of honor, integrity and loyalty.

Person B

 

    When I was operating outside of the box, these are the occasions where I would question my own virtue and my personal values were in full force. These are the occasions where I would question my own hypocrisy, and I would even dare say, that the Lord had been trying to talk to me the entire time. My heart had been focused correctly, but my rational and logical mind would take over.

    Here is the bottom line of my discussion with the Lord on this topic. I have been a real jack ass, and everyone knew it but me.  I now know what it is that has been placing me “In the Box” and the Lord and I are working on a system to keep me out of the box – a way of thinking, a way of measuring, a way of reporting, and a way of working.  An accountability system that will minimize my self-betrayal. Once outside of the box, it is much easier to move forward. The Lord is offering me up another chance and I believe that He has an awesome plan for my wife and I in 2019 and beyond. A breakthrough. The result is a system of achieving positive results that require thinking of others first. This is true servant leadership. This is what it looks like outside of the box.

 

    Here is what I know now:1) self betrayal leads to self-deception which leads to “the box”, 2) when in the box, you are not focused on results, 3) success and influence depends on being outside of the box, 4) we get out of the box when we stop resisting other people.   When we honor ourselves and others we are: committed, engaged, reputable, positive, sensible and self controlled, and hospitable.

Do my best to help people achieve results Choice Committed Engaged Problem Solver Happy and joyful Motivated Fun and jovial Team oriented How I start to see myself Victor Inner Peace Gentle Hospitable Honor It How I see coworkers Brothers/Sisters in Christ Considerate Important Betray It "Self-Betrayal" How I start to see myself Victim Hardworking Important Fair How I se coworker Lazy Inconsidera Unapprecia Insensitive


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Our Flags Waving, Never Forget

The Bible repeatedly commands us to remember the past:

“Remember the days of old; consider the years long past.” (Deuteronomy 32:7)

“Remember the former things of old.” (Isaiah 46:9)

“But call to remembrance the former days.” (Hebrews 10:32)

Oftentimes, holidays exist to be times of remembrance—days such as Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July. Yet somehow in today’s heated political environment, it seems that the primary remembering being done (or at least the primary remembering that is capturing the national spotlight) is that of remembering past sins rather than our triumph over them.

Ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick made headlines…“by telling Nike to pull its Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneakers. Nike said [Kapernick] told the company he believes the colonial flag used on the shoes is offensive, because it was flown when slavery was legal.”

If Kaepernick’s measurement of historical expungement is to be the new standard, then anything used before the Civil War must be excluded, because it was used when “slavery was legal.” This would mean that the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention, and the Emancipation Proclamation must be excluded because they were used when “slavery was legal.”

Imagine what would occur if we applied a similar standard in other areas. For example, what if we cut from the Bible the story of everyone who sinned? We would have no examples of redemption. The only Biblical account remaining would be that of Jesus’ life (minus the content of bickering disciples, plotting Pharisees, violent Romans, and betraying Judases). What is the meaning of the Cross without the understanding of our sins for which the Savior died?

Behind every truly great story or inspirational person is a background of conflict or suffering—which makes the story of the overcoming that much more worth the telling. We have to remember enough of the evil to appreciate the good.

The Home Page of our website is dominated by a waving flag. We believe in what the flag stands for – our nation and the people in it. Many seem to forget that the American flag was not the flag of slavery; it was the flag of the Union that abolished slavery. Regardless of the era in which it was flown, our flag has always represented the spirit of liberty and freedom. As acknowledged in the National Anthem:

“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto, “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Human civilization will continue to progress (or regress) depending on our attitude to history. If we ignore the past, then centuries from now even our presence today will be obliterated from the public record. After all, there are more than 40 million in slavery right now (far more than at anytime in world history). Since this is the most slavery-ridden time in world history, what if future generations use today’s standard refuse to mention anything from our generation?

As God’s children living in this country, we may look with pride on our flag, which has flown over battlefields at home and abroad as brave men and women for centuries believed our own inalienable rights, and those of others (including black Americans in slavery, for whom hundreds of thousands gave their lives) were worth dying for.

In the words of colonial flag-maker Betsy Ross,

“Our hearts aching, our prayers praying, our flags waving, never forget.”

 

References:

Gage, J. (2019, July 4). Colin Kaepernick breaks silence after igniting controversy over Nike’s Betsy Ross flag shoes. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/colin-kaepernick-breaks-silence-after-igniting-controversy-over-nikes-betsy-ross-flag-shoes

The star-spangled banner. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/fomc/learn/historyculture/the-star-spangled-banner.htm

The Editors of Peter Pauper Press. (2018). Revolutionary women: From colonists to suffragists. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=sm1oDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT13&lpg=PT13&dq=Our+hearts+aching,+our+prayers+praying,+our+flags+waving,+never+forget.”&source=bl&ots=EciDJiZR7v&sig=ACfU3U3exsv4lq-fxsPdOS-dG2N87ckAxQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiH-oybj6HjAhWYGs0KHVCTD-Y4ChDoATAAegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=Our%20hearts%20aching%2C%20our%20prayers%20praying%2C%20our%20flags%20waving%2C%20never%20forget.”&f=false


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The Electoral College

The Electoral College is a body of electors established by the United States Constitution, constituted every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president of the United States. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and an absolute majority of 270 electoral votes is required to win election. Pursuant to Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, each state legislature determines the manner by which its state’s electors are chosen. Each state’s number of electors is equal to the combined total of the state’s membership in the Senate and House of Representatives; currently there are 100 senators and 435 representatives. Additionally, the Twenty-third Amendment, ratified in 1961, provides that the District of Columbia (D.C.) is entitled to the number of electors it would have if it were a state, but no more than the least populated state (presently 3).U.S. territories are not entitled to any electors as they are not states.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg stated that if he was elected as president of the United States, he would try to heal the divide in the country and reassure Americans about the voting process in part by abolishing the Electoral College. All of the Democratic Candidates agree.

Every presidential election, candidates campaign in a state-by-state race, not only to win the most votes, but also to win their respective electoral votes. The number of electors varies by state: Alabama, for example, has nine; Florida has 29; Massachusetts has 11; Vermont has three. The power to determine the president of the United States is ultimately reserved for the 538 electors, as candidates race to win at least 270 electoral votes in the general election. The Electoral College motivates candidates to visit and campaign in most states across the country – it is believed that this would change if the college were done away with.

Most states award electoral votes on a winner-takes-all basis, meaning that the candidate to win the most votes in a given state will take all of that state’s electoral votes, as well. Nebraska and Maine are the only two states that do not follow the winner-takes-all rule. Electoral votes are instead allocated proportionally.

While Democrats are the most vocal about abolishing the electoral college, some Republicans have also suggested it albeit less vocally and less frequently. President Trump even called for its abolishment in 2012, but changed his mind after winning the election in 2016 (irony?).

In 2020, there could be even fewer battleground states, according to the National Popular Vote. This could pose a problem moving forward as just five or six battleground states hold more power in determining where 2020 campaign efforts are focused.

The truth is that if the Electoral College were done away with, smaller states and more rural states will have less influence in elections that rely only on the popular vote. But these states already have little power under the current system, which relies heavily on winning over a small number of deciding states.

Big states like California, Florida, New York, and Texas would have more power in deciding the president. Basically, the President would be elected by the large cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Atlanta (for example). Because they are politicians first, you would very likely never see the President – ever. Why should he/she? 50% of the country (land, not people) would no longer matter.

However, abolishing the college would require a Constitutional Amendment and this is not likely to happen as 2/3rds of the states would need to ratify it. Therefore, it is not likely to happen. Nonetheless, this is the direction that the Democratic Party is going to continue to push this. At least, until the lose the popular vote.


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Faith, Love, and Culture Part 2

Jude 1:20-21. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 

   My wife and I recently had a discussion with a woman who was very interested in how we integrate “American politics” into our ministry. She had mentioned that she and her husband would watch events happen around them, or on the news, and they would get angry about it. They felt helpless at what they could do to participate in the discussion and had doubts about how they, being one “small” couple, could do anything to make an impact.  Julee and I could absolutely relate to how she was feeling – we still can.  The couple in question have been involved in leading ministry efforts for many years; whereas Julee and I just started our ministry a few months ago. Some may ask that if they, as experienced ministers, don’t know what to do, then who are Julee and I to do anything? In regards to her question about how we do this, we offered the following:

  1. Our preference, and our mission, is to have discussions around “culture” versus politics. While politics is a part of culture, it is culture that influences politics. There are efforts to politicize culture movements (which we discuss as the Lord leads us), but forced culture reform leads to a reduction in personal liberty, which then leads to tyranny. This is why we decided to start sharing the truth as we believe it to be (and as we are guided by the Holy Spirit). Our articles always follow the pleadings of the Holy Ghost and will not always follow the current news cycle.
  2. As ambassadors of Christ, we must learn to manage our anger when it comes to cultural debate. Paul reminds us about our sinful nature in Romans 7. When we get angry, this is our sinful nature working to come to the surface. Thankfully, as Paul further reminds us in Romans 8, we have been redeemed by Jesus Christ who strengthens us, allowing us to be overcomers.  As ambassadors, we should endeavor to approach things in a way that honors Christ – this can be difficult when our flesh wants to act out in culture.
  3. We endeavor to write about, and discuss American cultural issues, from the perspective of Kingdom Principles.  Some people refer to biblical principles but as scripture can be used to support any argument, we don’t feel that biblical principals seamlessly apply. Kingdom Principles are items that we glean from prayerfully reading through the scripture, followed by revelation knowledge from the Father. He never lets us down.
  4. A tad more than 50% of the time, we are not knowledgeable on certain cultural topics, so we read up on them, study them, and meditate on them. While we do get tidbits of knowledge from specific articles, we always follow the thread of resources as annotated in the articles we read. When reading up on pieces of legislation, we always go straight to the actual legislation, or bill, itself to develop our own interpretation.
  5. When quoting something that someone said, we always go to a video source to hear it for ourselves. We also listen to the entirety of the video to ensure context.  If video is not available, then we go to the material that the person wrote themselves. Again, we read the entirety of the writing to ensure proper context. We never rely on headlines, memes, or one liners – though these may lead us to something more tangible.
  6. We always tend to leave our secular, commentary, and other source materials in a REFERENCE section at the bottom of our articles so that our readers can judge for themselves.
  7. We have a few mentors in American and Christian culture that we rely on and follow for teachings and guidance. Our primary sources of kingdom principles and Godly mentorship include:
    1. Truth and Liberty (affiliated with Andrew Womack)
    2. Jim Dennison
    3. Lance Wallnau
    4. Wallbuilders (Dave Barton)
    5. Patriot Academy (Rick Green).
    6. American Heritage Foundation
    7. Family Policy Alliance
  8. Last, but most importantly, we remain consistent in a solid foundation of both prayer and scripture time.

 

   In early October, we wrote an article on Faith, Love, and Culture.  This article touches on how we must maintain our faith and love in our fellow man as we journey along this path of life on earth together. However, this week, the Lord brought me to Jude 1:20-21 and it resonated on my heart as an expansion, or addendum, to the article previously written. We can remain at peace with the world around us as long as we remain firm on our foundations. When our politicians behave radically, rudely, or out of the character you expect, a solid foundation in His Word and in prayer will keep you walking forward with your head held high.

   Over the last 12 months or so, I have found that anger towards others with whom I have disagreement with in regards to American Culture has decreased tremendously. This does not mean that I do not get frustrated, nor does it mean that my heart rate does not increase for a few minutes when I see or read a view that opposes my own. But I find that tolerance is much easier, sympathy comes faster, and mercy comes “eventually”.  I do have my buttons and short strings, but this is a far cry from the person I was just a few short years ago, but this is due largely in part to the calling the Lord has placed on our hearts.

   True believers have a sure foundation (see 1 Cor 3:11) and cornerstone (see Eph 2:20) in Jesus Christ. The truths of the Christian faith (v. 3) have been provided in the teaching of the apostles and prophets, so that Christians can build themselves up by the Word of God (see Acts 20:32).  Praying in the Holy Spirit is not a call to some ecstatic form of prayer, but simply a call to pray consistently in the will and power of the Spirit, as one would pray in the name of Jesus.

   We do not have the qualities or the experiences of Jim Dennison or Andrew Womack, but the Lord does not want that from us. Inspirational talks may stir us up; impassioned speeches may really get our blood flowing – but without a faith informed by the Scriptures, it’s all just a lot of hype! We are our own (unique) in the image of God, we have our own experiences and we are not designed or intended to be parrots of our favorite pastors or ministers. But, what the Lord does want from ALL of us is a solid grounding in scripture and a full life in prayer.  These two things, scripture and prayer, are the foundations that will lead us to being comforted in this journey we call life, no matter what you read in the news, personalities you listen to, or activities you personally witness around you.

   Julee and I have wonderful “personal” prayer times and we both love spending personal time in our bibles (I have three on my desk at any given time). We have recently made a decision to come together in prayer – together and daily. We have done this off and on over the last few years but praying together has not been a regular activity in our lives and we have been missing out. However, no matter how we feel or what we are doing, we (mostly she) presses forward to ensure that she and I spend time, every day, praying together. The love of a husband and wife can only be fully realized when they’re open with each other and sharing their lives – including a life together in prayer.

   To pray in the Holy Spirit means to approach God in and by the Spirit as opposed to the flesh. Coming with an attitude of surrender – Rather than being full of self. The Apostle Paul said that he both prayed with understanding and in the Spirit, meaning in the tongue the Spirit gave him that bypassed his understanding.

   Keeping yourselves in the love of God is an imperative that establishes the believers responsibility to be obedient and faithful by living out our salvation while God works out His will (see Php 2:13). It means that we must remain in the place of obedience where God has poured His love out on His children, as opposed to being disobedient and then incurring His chastening. This is accomplished by: 1) building ones self up in the Word of God (Jude 1:20), 2) praying in the Holy Spirit, and 3) looking for the finalization of eternal life.

   We wait in eager anticipation of Christ’s second coming to provide eternal life in its ultimate, resurrection form, which is the supreme expression of Gods mercy on one whom Christ’s righteousness has undeservedly been imputed. Paul called this “loved His appearing” (see 2 Tim 4:8) and John wrote that such a steady anticipation was purifying (see 1 Jn 3:3).

   Therefore, brothers and sisters, keep at the forefront of your hears and your minds that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Regular, consistent Bible reading and study is crucial if we’re going to grow spiritually. There’s no substitute for the Word of God.
 

Added Scriptural References:

1 Jude 3:3 ……contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

1 Cor 3:11. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Eph 2:20. having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,

Acts 20:32. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Phil 2:13. for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

2 Tim 4:8. in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

1 John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.


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Free Stuff or Freedom?

On March 11, 2019, President Donald Trump released his budget request for fiscal year 2020. Under his proposal, the federal budget would be a record $4.746 trillion. The U.S. government estimates it will receive $3.645 trillion in revenue. That creates a $1.101 trillion deficit for October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020.

These data points are not intended to be critical of the proposed budget for 2020, the data points are provided to share what the current budget looks like for the US Government, as well as the expected revenue the US Government plans to take in.  As you see, the current US Budget is approximately $4 trillion while current revenue is approximately $3.7 trillion.

Using the current US Budget estimates, we can use these numbers as we consider the planned policies and intent of the current democratic presidential candidates.  They are ALL promising a lot of free stuff for people, including those that do not pay any taxes in the United States, current and future.  Another example is the proposed Green New Deal, which is expected to cost in excess of $32 trillion over ten years, that amounts to $3.2 trillion per year, on top of the already existing budget requirement of approximately $4 trillion. If you think a $1.1 trillion deficit is tough to swallow, consider the potential budget problem if one of the potential democrats takes office.

Throughout history, civilizations have fallen for the alluring promise of free stuff—even when it comes at the cost of their freedom.

Recall the words of many Israelites who had just been delivered from four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt?

“The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:3 NASB).

They valued the free stuff in Egypt above the freedom God had miraculously given them. As America prepares for another political campaign season, voters are being courted with the alluring promises of free perks: “…a set of guaranteed payments of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year, to all U.S. citizens over the age of 18. Yes, that means you and everyone you know would get $1,000/month every month from the U.S. government, no questions asked.”

“…we will organize the American people around the concept that all people in this country have the right to health care…when I talk about health care being a human right, last time I heard that undocumented people are human beings as well.”

“All federal student loan borrowers would qualify for loan forgiveness.” But is a universal basic income really free? Definitely not.

“Doling out a Universal Basic Income of $12,000 a year to every American citizen would cost taxpayers $3.8 trillion…That’s roughly one-fifth of the nation’s entire annual economic production.”

For every American to get a “free” $12,000 per year from the government, every American would have to pay an additional $12,000 per year in taxes.

How about universal healthcare?

“‘Medicare for All’ is estimated to cost tens of trillions of dollars over a decade.” Americans would have to pay even higher taxes for “free” healthcare than they would for a “free” guaranteed income.  Senator Elizabeth Warren refuses to say how she will pay for this, refusing to state that she will raise income taxes. Bernie Sanders has been very transparent, on the other hand, stating that he intends to place a very dramatic tax against the wealthy.

And what’s the cost of forgiving student debt?

“Eliminating all student loan debt would cost somewhere around $1.6 trillion, though the exact cost is anyone’s guess. Sanders says that his plan, which includes making all public colleges in the U.S. free, would cost $2.2 trillion.”

And these figures do not include the Green New Deal’s estimated cost between $32 and $93 trillion (yep, TRILLION). How can Americans afford this free economic stuff? They can’t. They would have to say goodbye to their individual economic freedom and become slaves of the state—Biblically speaking, they would have to leave the freedom of the Promised Land to return to slavery in Egypt.

No matter what aspiring political leaders may promise, free benefits always come with strings (and more often chains) attached. Thomas Jefferson wisely warned: “If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

 

References:

Yang, A. (2019). What is universal basic income? Retrieved from https://www.yang2020.com/what-is-freedom-dividend-faq/

Rutz, D. (2019, June 21). Sanders: Medicare for All plan would ‘absolutely’ cover illegal immigrants. Retrived from https://freebeacon.com/politics/sanders-medicare-for-all-plan-would-absolutely-cover-illegal-immigrants/

Stratford, M. (2019, July 24). How Elizabeth Warren would cancel student loan debt. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/24/elizabeth-warren-2020-student-loan-debt-1428361

Jaeger, M. (2018, July 12). Universal Basic Income would cost taxpayers $3.8T per year: study. Retrieved from https://nypost.com/2018/07/12/universal-basic-income-would-cost-taxpayers-3-8t-per-year-study/

Earl, J. (2019, January 28). How much would ‘Medicare for All’ cost? Democrats’ health care plan explained. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/how-much-would-medicare-for-all-cost-democrats-health-care-plan-explained

Lombardo, C. (2019, July 10). Student debt forgiveness sounds good. What might happen if the government did it? Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/07/10/738506646/student-debt-forgiveness-sounds-good-what-might-happen-if-the-government-did-it

De Lea, B. (2019, July 30). How much AOC’s Green New Deal could cost the average American household. Retrieved from https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/aoc-green-new-deal-cost-american-household

Jefferson, T. (1802, November 29). Letter to Thomas Cooper. Retrieved from https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/wasting-labours-people-quotation

https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-federal-budget-breakdown-3305789, accessed 19 Oct 2019


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Fears of Climate Change

I am not sure about most, but I was personally both shocked and appalled at the act of the United Nations bringing in a 16 year old “child” to lambast and lecture the world about human generated climate change. My heart goes out to the child as she is used by her parents and their contemporaries to spread a message of fear under the guise of “science”, while ignoring the science of other experts, such as Judith Curry. Judith Currey has written numerous books on the topic of climate change, numerous peer reviewed journals, and other documents proving that while the earth may be experiencing some climate changes, it is not human generated. However, the voice of Judith has given up while she has decided to retire due to the toxicity of the climate change debate. Others of her contemporaries are soon to follow as they are giving up.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer to listen to credible experts before I will listen to an inexperienced child who is parroting what adults are telling her to say and have convinced her to be true.

My heart hurts for Greta Thunberg and I refuse to be one of those that criticize her. I believe she is stating things that she really believes to be truth based on her parents (and other adults she surrounds herself with), who both happen to be involved in the entertainment industry and know how to perform. Both her parents and the United Nations should be ashamed of themselves for using children like this, another reason that the United Nations should be disbanded as a useless, and completely godless, organization. Which serves as a nice transition into a more biblical perspective on the topic of climate change.

The flood at the time of Noah was a valid and truly global catastrophic event. Since the flood, the earth has experienced many more disasters, ranging from volcanic explosions to earthquakes and hurricanes. (Incidentally, NASA says that a single hurricane is the equivalent of 10,000 nuclear bombs; a volcano, 10,000 atomic bombs; and an earthquake, 42 tsar bombs—the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated). These frequently recurring natural disasters, each of which far surpasses any force of man, does not have the potential to wipe out all living creatures. Yet today there is a very real fear that human-generated climate change could do what nature has never been able to.

Facing this terror, millions of young people recently participated in 3,600 protests. Signs included messages such as “Stop denying the earth is dying” and “You will die of old age. We will die of climate change,” and chanting phrases such as “I speak for the trees and they said f*** you”.

While we can debate public policies, what cannot be ignored is genuine sense of fear the next generation feels. As Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old climate activist in Generation Z, explained: “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” Generation Z (those born after in 1999 or after) has been declared the “‘post-Christian’ generation,” and statistics seem to confirm this: “the percentage of Gen Z that identifies as atheist is double that of the U.S. adult population” and less than 4 percent have a Biblical worldview. Without God, this generation will not experience His promise that “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18 NASB).

God created this world and only He has the power to destroy it. He made this clear in Job 38, and the Apostle Peter similarly affirms: “In the last days mockers will come…it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:3, 5-7 NASB).

For believers, faith—not fear—should guide our behavior. Fear is not God’s plan, but even if we find ourselves surrounded by it, we should remember His promise that “in the world you have tribulation, but take courage: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NASB).

References:

Steve Graham, Hurricanes: The Greatest Storms on Earth,NASA Earth Observatory (November 1, 2006), accessed 19 Oct 2019

Dominic Utton, “Volcanoes: Nature’s Nuclear Bombs,The Express (April 16, 2010), accessed 19 Oct 2019

Robin Andrews, “The World’s Most Powerful Earthquake Ended With An Eruption And A Human Sacrifice,Forbes (June 25, 2017), accessed 19 Oct 2019

Hirji, Z., Champion, M. & Ghorayshi, A. Millions of young people around the world are leading strikes to call attention to the climate crisis,Buzz Feed News (September 20, 2019), accessed 19 Oct 2019

Millions attend global climate strike,BBC (September 20, 2019), accessed 19 Oct 2019

Global climate strike: Greta Thunberg and school students lead climate crisis,The Guardian (September 20, 2019), accessed 19 Oct 2019

Franklin Foer, “Greta Thunberg is Right to Panic,The Atlantic (September 20, 2019), accessed 19 Oct 2019

Atheism doubles among generation z,Barna Group (January 24, 2019), accessed 19 Oct 2019

Judith Curry retires, citing ‘craziness’ of climate science, accessed 13 Oct 2019


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