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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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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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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The Business of Impeachment

Hearings have begun in Washington DC against President Donald Trump. The stated intent of these hearings is to determine if formal impeachment charges will be filed against President Trump, which could then be used to kick off the “actual” impeachment trial.  In commemoration of an impeachment process that I do not believe is likely to end in the removal of Trump from office, I was curious about the history of impeachment. 

Impeachment as an institution has its roots in ancient Rome and it was Rome that the Founding Fathers were thinking about when it was written into the Constitution. Only senators could be impeached in ancient Rome—the emperor could not, leading to a number of chaos-making political assassinations. 

The Founding Fathers wrote impeachment into the constitution for the purpose of removing an official who had “rendered himself obnoxious,” in the words of Benjamin Franklin. Without impeachment, Franklin argued, citizens’ only recourse was assassination, which would leave the political official “not only deprived of his life but of the opportunity of vindicating his character.

Franklin, and others like Alexander Hamilton, paid special attention to impeachment because British politics didn’t have a structure for impeaching the leader. The British crown—the king or queen—is literally unimpeachable. And the Founding Fathers didn’t think that impeachment should happen for just any reason. For example, Hamilton wrote in the Federalist papers that grounds for impeachment should be:

“Those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

The founders also debated on the criteria for impeachment, settling on treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors against the state. “High crimes and misdemeanors” was another term that originated in British law.

James Madison saw the Impeachment Clause as “indispensable . . . for defending the Community [against] the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate.” Elbridge Gerry stated that impeachment was needed as a check against presidential abuse of power. “A good magistrate will not fear [impeachments]. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them,” he argued. George Mason then refuted Morris’ argument that only the President’s assistants should face the impeachment process. “No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice?” he asked.

Impeachment remains as a rarely used process to potentially remove the “President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States” if Congress finds them guilty of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” That is, until 1973.

The impeachment process is governed under Article 1, Section 3, of the US Constitution – in particular, clauses 6 and 7. Article 1 of the US Constitution covers the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government. Article One grants Congress various enumerated powers and the ability to pass laws “necessary and proper” to carry out those powers. Article One also establishes the procedures for passing a bill and places various limits on the powers of Congress and the states.
 

CLAUSE 6

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
 

CLAUSE 7

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

 

While there have been demands for the impeachment of a few presidents, only two—Andrew Johnson and William J. Clinton—have actually been impeached; however, both were acquitted by the United States Senate and not removed from office. Eight people have actually been impeached and convicted in Congress – all were judges who faced charges including perjury, tax evasion, bribery, and in one case, supporting the Confederacy.

Thirteen sitting Presidents have either been threatened with impeachment or had resolutions filed against them. 

President John Tylor [Whig] (1841-1845) – faced on impeachment resolution which was defeated. Tylor was the first impeachment proceeding against a president in American history

President James Buchanan [Democrat] (1857-1861) – hearings were held but there was no impeachment resolution filed.

President Andrew Johnson [Democrat] (1865-1869) – subject to three impeachment resolutions, neither of which succeeded.

President Ulysses Grant [Republican] (1869-1877) – threats and measures given, but nothing happened

President Herbert Hoover [Republican] (1929-1933) – subject to two resolutions had been entered but they were both tabled

President Harry Truman [Democrat] (1945-1953) – two were put in front of Judiciary Committee, but the committee sat on them

President Richard Nixon [Republican] (1969-1974)  – faced 17 impeachment resolutions.

President Ronald Reagans [Republican] (1981-1989)  was subject to two, but both failed.

President George H.W. Bush [Republican] (1989-1993) was also subject to two, but both resolutions were voted down.

President Bill Clinton [Democrat] (1993-2000) was subject to one.

President George W. Bush [Republican] (2001-2009) – was subject to three. All three failed during a vote.

President Barack Obama [Democrat] (2009-2017) was subject to one resolution that was filed and died in Judiciary Committee

President Donald Trump (Republican] (2017-    ) has been subject to five resolutions so far. Inquiry ongoing.

 

Prior to 1973, eight (8) impeachment resolutions had been filed; however, since 1973, there have been thirty-one impeachment resolutions filed. 

President John Tylor is the only president to have threats of impeachment that does not belong to one of our current political parties (he was a member of the Whig Party).

There have been 7 impeachment resolutions filed against Presidents from the Democratic Party and thirty-one impeachment resolutions filed against Presidents from the Republican Party.

It may come as no surprise that many historians believe that some of the impeachment threats were purely politically motivated in order to discredit the sitting President from being elected for a following term. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the current impeachment hearings will have against President Trump. Unfortunately, regardless of the outcome, it may be a decade or more before an unbiased and more credible analysis is made.


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Social Media – Test All Things

In Acts 17:11, we read where Paul’s teachings were tested by the Berean Jews. This was not only acceptable, it expanded their faith.  Can we not apply this same expectation today to things we read that are not of the bible but of the world?

As the ministry venue for FHGH Ministries is currently a digitally based ministry, I do spend a bit of time reviewing others areas of the digital space. I have it on my heart, at some point, to write an article about “Christian Concerns About Big Tech”, but the Lord has yet to provide me with the right words – as well as solid biblical foundational support. My professional experience is based on technology so I do have some foundation on technology. Nevertheless, I look forward to when the Lord tells me the time is now.

However, this morning (4 Sep) I came across an article that was quickly spreading across Social Media that indicated “Oprah Winfrey had purchased a controlling stake in the Fox News Network”. A link to this article can be found below in the references section if you care to read for yourself. As one might imagine, this article caught the eye of many conservative readers and the result was foul. Conservatives felt that they had just witnessed the demise of the last venue of conservative free speech in America, and they were terrified. Violent actions had actually been contemplated by some. The writer of that article had accomplished his objective. Well played sir, well done! For my conservative friends out there, be comforted in the knowledge that this article is false!!!

1 Thess 5:21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good”

As tensions rise across our nation, rhetoric also increases exponentially. Unfortunately, the reaction is to spread “stuff” across social media platforms. Over 41% of Americans get their news from Social Media, this percentage increases as we consider younger generations. Unfortunately, a large percentage of what is placed out there across social media is false, or at best, intended to stir up a response placed on negative human emotions. Making this more difficult is that the bad guys know where the majority get their news but also that innocent citizens are also aware of the fakeness of social media news (this IS NOT intended to be commentary about regular media) but they react to it anyway.  This is due, in most part, to a digital and literacy deficiency. Oh, I wish I had space to share details about how our Founding Fathers wrote at an intelligence level that surpasses us today and how the Bible played a significant part in their vocabulary, knowledge, and writing style. But alas, that is for another day {I hope}. Acts 5:29 “….obey God rather than men”

The bottom line is that human nature is lazy and we tend to take the easy road at every opportunity. We focus on headlines rather than the body. We rely on human reasoning, the word of others, or tradition.

Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

When I came across that Oprah Winfrey article, there was a check in my spirit that something was wrong, so I tested the information found in that article. I googled it, I reviewed my trusted news sites, and a meditated on what the article was implying. In less than 5 minutes, I knew that the article was fake and false. Yet, the writer had accomplished his mission. What took 2 hours to spread will now take weeks to clean up.

2 Tim 4:3-4 “For 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.”

The Bible advises us to test scriptures, to test any word from God that we receive, and to vet what we hear and read with two or three spiritual brothers. When it comes to the junk that we see on Social Media, we should apply the same principal. Test it. Test it against two or three sources that you trust. If necessary, share it with a brother and sister to get their thoughts on it. Do not share or spread until you have checked and verified, the same that you would do with a word from God. The same should apply to something that you might consider “good” or “favorable” to you.

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

As Christians, I would argue that we need to test everything that we see come across our preferred social media platforms. As responsible Christians, we should be stewards of the truth, this also includes being good stewards of our digital resources and not add to the hype that is only intended to seduce a negative human reaction. This spreads hate.  I look forward to the day that Christians are contributing to not only good news, but also the truth. Perhaps, just perhaps, we shall see a decline in the fakeness that is taking over social media.

References:

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/social-media-still-has-a-fake-news-problem-and-digital-literacy-is-largel/538930/

https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/nl/security/news/cybercrime-and-digital-threats/fake-news-cyber-propaganda-the-abuse-of-social-media

https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2018/03/fake-news-spread-fast-dont-blame-bots/

https://www.aace.org/review/social-media-and-fake-news/

Oprah Winfrey and the Fox News Network


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Why Do Some Christians Hate Trump?

On 27 August, I shared a blog about how Trump is not my savior. A link to that write up is here: Trump Is Not My Savior.  In that article, I was transparent about my dislike of some of Trump’s behavior via Twitter as well as my lack of support for him when he was campaigning for the nomination from the Republican Party. As a matter of personal discourse, I stopped considering myself a Republican the day that he was nominated.  However, his nomination and eventual election as President has not stopped my belief that the far left wings of the Democratic Party are more dangerous to America, as well as our freedom to preach the Gospel, than President Trump by far. They have an outright hatred for Judeo Christian values, that had been somewhat obvious yet still hidden in the shadows in the past, that have now come to the surface in a manner that is blatant, chaotic, and extremely dangerous: for both our American heritage AND our religious liberties.  Trump is my President.

Unfortunately, there are Christians out there whose hatred runs deep, they are so blinded by what they consider to be unbiblical and ungodly actions of President Trump, that they cannot see the forces that are actually opposing what they know, in their hearts, to be true. They hate Trump with such a passion, that they would agree to sacrifice some of our religious liberty (as ordained by God), just to see President Trump taken down, tossed in prison, and legacy destroyed.  Christians that hate Trump will elect a democratic candidate even if the candidate supports late term or at birth abortions, even if the candidate will enact laws that will not allow the Gospel to be preached “openly”, even if the candidate will place a tax of over 50% on their income – their hatred runs that deep. How to share a story about Christians who hate President Trump has been something I have been personally struggling with.  How can I share this truth in a way that does not become blinded by my own personal opinions and political bias?
 
Scripture promises that “blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes” (Psalm 119:2). God blesses those that keep His word and judges those who do not.
 

How does “hating the President” line up with the gospel?  How does NOT praying for the President line up with Scripture? A Christian should never induce another Christian to sin.

The prophet Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel recognized the role that this pagan king played in God’s unfolding drama.  Daniel prayed for Nebuchadnezzar and helped him interpret his dreams. The church’s ability to work with Trump is totally Biblical.
 
We may believe that the Bible is divinely inspired but if we do not put its truths into practice, our beliefs ring hollow. Because the Bible is God’s Word we must be ready spiritually to hear what it says to us. The Bible is meant for every believer and if we want to help our culture understand why Scripture is worthy of respect, we must show that we respect it first. 
 
Bible study is built on certain presuppositions:
  1. Believe that you can understand Scripture. God has given us His revelation in such a way that we can discover and apply its truths. We need not depend on creeds, councils, and church traditions. 
  2. Use the New Testament to interpret the Old. The New, which reveals Christ, is our means of interpreting the Old. God reveals Himself progressively, building later revelation upon earlier truth. The New Testament is God’s fullest revelation of himself to us and our means of interpreting His earlier revelation.
  3. Make the Bible it’s own commentary. Scriptures can interpret themselves because Gods word is unified, coherent, and fully inspired.
  4. Remember to ask the question, “What was the author’s purpose?”. We need to know all we can about the authors intended purpose before we try to interpret the writing. If we don’t understand the purpose or task at hand, we will miss much of what the writer wants us to know and do.
 
When Christians accuse other Christians of disrespecting God’s Word because they disagree on the non-essentials, however important they might otherwise be, we jeopardize our witness to the non-Christians world. The end state of any Christian “opinion” should be firmly placed on a belief system grounded in the gospel – period. Therefore, if we remain grounded in the gospel, how does President Trump stack up against the current team of democratic candidates? My “opinion” which I believe is firmly grounded in biblical principles is that while Trump himself may not be behaving biblically, his heart, his motives, and his policies have made tremendous positive steps towards rebuilding and sustaining biblical principles.  Unfortunately, I recognize that there are Christians that will find my opinion flawed – I simply have to accept that. My heart is at peace.
 

Tom Farron is a former leader of the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom. He wrote and published an article on 5 June 2019 titled Why do US evangelicals support Trump? They’re giving Christianity a bad name“. In his article, he is highly critical of Christians who compare President Trump to the pagan king Cyrus from the Old Testament. But, it was his concluding paragraph in his article that weighed heavily on me:

“The choice of American Christians to publicly back Trump now, and George W Bush before him, has been a dangerous move in a culture war that now means that half of the US has its fingers in its ears when it comes to the gospel. My challenge to Christians in the US is this: what matters more to you, the identity of the person in the White House or the promotion of the good news about Jesus Christ? If it is the latter – and it surely must be – then you need to seriously reconsider your support of the former. The politicisation of US Christianity has undermined the witness of evangelicals everywhere.”

As I prayed on and meditated on this paragraph, I asked the Lord what it was about this article that was causing me distress. I believe very deeply that the Democratic Party is on a collision course with both our biblical freedom as well as the rights and freedoms afforded us in our US Constitution. What the Democratic Party is saying regarding their policies IS NOT grounded in biblical principles (see my blog on Trump mentioned earlier). However, I also find the tongue of President Trump to be unbiblical and ungodly as well.
 
Ask yourself: how does it look for petty, quarreling believers to air dirty laundry in front of unbelievers?  In this regard, I am referring to biblical interpretation and the judgement and exercise thereof. We really should keep our focus on Christ as He is our great equalizer. We are all under His authority.
 
We have Christians that hate Trump so deeply that they are willing to give up their own individual liberty to get him out of office. However, when we read 1 Cor 8, we see where Paul is telling the Corinthians that strong Christians should not give up their liberty, they are to use their liberties in a manner that will best serve Christ. While some Christians are free to choose to give up their own liberty, they do not have the authority to sacrifice the liberties of all Christians. Their hatred is a sign of weakness and, thereby, not under the authority of Christ.
 

Today, I was introduced to a story written by Mario Murillo titled “Christians Who Hate Trump“.  I don’t profess to know much about Mario, but I felt the last half of his write up, which I share below, to ring true in my own heart. You can click on the link to read the full article if you wish.

“Franklin Graham was attacked for questioning Obama’s Christian Faith.  They told him not to judge a brother.  Hold that thought as we explore another question…

So why do so many Christian leaders—who said it was wrong to judge Obama—judge Trump?

Trump is not a pastor.  He is a businessman who loves America.  As far as his faith?  I am not qualified to determine his spiritual depth, since I’ve never had the chance to meet the man. But there are many photos of Christian leaders laying hands on the President, praying for him, and he is cooperating.

“He is like Hitler and the church is being fooled,” said another comment.  At this time, those of you who are wearing tinfoil hats, please remove them, and listen.  Hitler never had 98% of the media against him.  Trump has never called for a new constitution.  Hitler never tried to protect Israel.  I could go on and on.

Maybe if Trump had addressed the March for Life.  Maybe if he had chosen an on fire born-again Vice President.  Maybe if he had rescinded executive orders that banned federal funds from Christian organizations.  Maybe if he overruled the Johnson Amendment that banned the free speech of pastors.  Maybe if he had moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, and shown himself to be a true supporter of Israel.  Maybe if he had put someone on the Supreme Court who helped Christian bakers to exercise their right to freedom of religion.  Maybe then you would support him.  Oh wait…he did all those things…”

While Trumps tongue may challenge the best of us when it comes to biblical soundness, his actions indicate otherwise. Others will argue that his policies violate biblical principles or the teachings of Jesus, something that I will attempt to dig into in a later article; however, I believe that his issues come down to his “tongue”, and this gets him in trouble.

On facebook the other day, I shared an article, written by Dave Barton in 2015, that outlines an argument about how President Obama is arguably the most biblically hostile President in modern history (hence, most anti-Christian). Click on this link to see a list of 89 acts of hostility toward Christians: AMERICA’S MOST BIBLICALLY-HOSTILE U. S. PRESIDENT. The bottom of the article contains a reference list supporting all 89 acts. Being an avid researcher, I randomly reviewed 50% of the supporting arguments myself and believe I would have come to the same conclusion as Dave Barton.

My opinion and belief system remains firm that the conservative parties, while not completely, remain much more grounded in Judeo Christian principals than those of the liberal parties. My belief is based on actions, words, and individual stated beliefs; this does not mean that all conservatives are in line “biblically” nor that all liberals are not in line “biblically”. We must recognize that we are dealing with political parties developed and instituted by man, not God; therefore, all political movements and parties are flawed. Unfortunately, our nation is managed by a predominantly two party system, yet, in my opinion (and my heart), conservatives are standing on firmer ground.

Remain biblically grounded and evaluate against the end-state – the gospel. Since we live in a pluralist culture, I accept that there will be some disagreement. But, can we disagree with love in our hearts? Yes, I believe we can, and we should.
 

References:

https://mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/americas-most-biblically-hostile-u-s-president/, accessed 2 Sep 2019

https://mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com/2019/08/29/christians-who-hate-trump/, accessed 3 Sep 2019

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/05/us-evangelical-christians-trump-bad-name/, accessed 19 Jul 2019

https://www.fhghministries.org/trump-is-not-my-savior/, accessed 27 Aug 2019

Denison, J. PHD and Denison, R. MDiv, (2019). How Does God See America?, Denison Forum, pages 43-58

Limbaugh, D. (2018). Jesus is Risen, Regnery Publishing, pages 185-193


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Trump Is Not My Savior

I only have one Lord and Savior and it is not Donald Trump, BUT, he is my President.

From 28 July thru 3 August 2019, I spent a week at the Texas State Capital participating in sessions about the US Constitution, religious liberty, and the legislative process.  This group, ran and operated by the Patriot Academy, was attended by and facilitated by a wide range of people ranging from regular Christian American patriots (like me) to people already serving in elected office at various levels from local office through state legislators. One of the participants is intending to run for Governor of California in the very near future while another announced his bid to run as a State Representative for Texas. Also in attendance were 115 kids ranging in age from 16 thru 25; learning how to operate in positions of civil leadership in a biblical way while also understanding the TRUTH of our US Constitution and the founding of our great nation.

True, accurate, and factual lessons were given by such prominent professionals as Rick Green, Dave Barton, and other political and national figures.  This experience was truly inspiring and revealing.

On the topic of President Trump, I have been very honest and open about my disdain about HOW he uses social media. He openly trashes his own staff members and he calls others by nasty and disparaging names. The bible does teach us about how we speak about others, grace to the hearer (Eph 4:29), slander (Matt 12:26, Prov 10:18, Col 3:8), etcetera. The bible also reminds us about how our tongue is strong enough to light fires (Prov 18:21), and while not vocal, our social media posts are representative of our voice. I stopped considering myself a Republican the day that he was nominated as the candidate for the republican party. However, there is MUCH more to the President than how he uses Social Media.

President Trump is fighting a war against a media (Matt 7:15) that is controlled and manipulated by the democratic party. President Trump has been fighting a relentless battle against career politicians and the inner circle of Washington DC. Dare I say that there is a deep state in operation that wants nothing more than to “take Trump down”, only because they do not like him. Over the last three years, our elected officials have spent a dominant amount of time and money working against President Trump rather than fulfilling their legislative responsibilities “for the People”. Based on this, if President Trump wants to be Sampson, then I say let him be Sampson.

Because of the war against him, within the circle and within the media, President Trump has no choice but to use Social Media to get out his message. 10% of his messages are junk and poor word choice, but the remaining 90% of his words provide a snapshot of what he is truly doing for our nation. I believe that President Trump is a patriot and is fighting to preserve our Constitution and the liberties and rights contained within. No other President in history has done more to protect our religious liberties and freedoms given to us by our Father and Creator. Not since our Founding Fathers.

The actions of President Trump are bringing to the surface, and to the light, the ugliness and bitterness that has always existed within the political arena. Without his actions, the things that we used to only think to be true or things that we used to think were nothing but conspiracy, would never have been brought to the light.  Additionally, the activities of President Trump have done more than just bring the hidden ugliness to the light, he has caused the deep state to be blatant and “in your face” about their hatred of America and, in some cases, how much they despise those that follow the truth that is found in Jesus Christ.

To be clear, President Trump DOES NOT fit the profile of a Christian. I don’t know what he believes, but I do know that he has done more for us that any President has over the last few decades, and he has worked hard to live up to his campaign promises.  If you want to consider a President that did fit the profile of a Christian, then take a look at President Carter – whom most consider to have been the worst President in modern history.  Just because someone fits a particular “profile” does not mean that they are the right person for the job.

If you also want to consider examples of those that did NOT fit a Christian profile, then we need look no further than the Old Testament. A review of Xerxes, Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus will provide examples of kings and rulers that DID NOT fit the profile of a Christian, yet, they still did good in the eyes of the Lord. In fact, the Lord refers to these leaders as “His servants”.  If President Trump does not fit the profile of a Christian, does he, as some say, fit the profile of Cyrus?  Numerous articles and books, along with Christian thought leaders, believe that President Trump is the new Cyrus.

There are some that believe President Trump is some kind of messiah, and this is almost as dangerous and gregarious as the never-Trumper’s (I refer to them as ever-Trumper’s). President Trump is not our savior, at least not mine, but he is our President and he is the right man for the job as it requires in our culture today. He is a flawed human being with a very large ego, narcissistic, and loud when he should be silent. Yet, without getting specific, he has done a lot for our nation and is fighting  a fight worthy of a man that is committed and in it to win it. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 18 months, as more of the deep state, and the hatred within it, is revealed and brought to the light. If only those in-the-know will share the truth.

 

www.patriotacademy.com

www.rickgreen.com

www.wallbuilders.com


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Christ Redemption Through Grace (Identity and Purpose)

On 12 August, I was honored to share my Redemption Testimony in front of the CR Group for Journey Community Church in Augusta, Georgia. I was not allowed to record the session due to sensitivities surrounding the CR Group, but below is a transcript of my notes as I shared my own personal redemption through the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

Some have been Christians their entire lives, or at least for as long as they can remember; I myself am coming up on 11 years next month – to this, I give Him all of the Glory and Honor – Praise God!!  But, does my 11 years pale in comparison to the lifelong Christian? Is there a ranking that I am not aware of or cannot locate in the bible?  Does the lifelong Christian move along through life with no worries, no grief, no pain, no struggles?  No, for the struggle is real for all of us.

From my earliest memories as a toddler through roughly my pre-teen years, my dad would regularly remind me that I was not worth it, that I would not amount to anything. That I was worthless. When I reached my pre-teen years, this changed to silence and abstinence. We did manage 2 week vacations practically every year, but we were never close as father and son. We were not a part of each others lives. Thank God I recognized later how limited my thought processes were. My dad was doing the best he could based on his own flawed relationship with his father. 

Somehow, I managed to attend a Christian Elementary School (K-6) but my formative teenage years were stereotypical of a southern Californian kid during the 1980’s. Drugs, bicycling, boarding, and partying.  
 
I joined the Army in 1987 right out of high school. I needed to get away from dad and family, needed a new beginning, a purpose, a new identity. 
 
It was not long before I started to destroy people around me, which I did for more than 20 years afterwards. “Get out of my way” with a little bit of collateral damage along the way.
 
There were times when satan tried to take me out before I received Christ, and after. Physically, mentally, financially, relationally, and emotionally. Every time, every occasion, the hand of the Lord was there for me and my family. I just did not see Him.
 
What I realized after coming to Christ is that growing up through adult hood, I never knew my true identity. Because I did not know my identity, I did not understand my purpose.
 
I was orphaned as a sinner.  I did not know the names the Lord had given me.  I was victim to whatever the world threw at me, enveloped into the fallen world of Adam.
 
What do you believe your name to me?  Liar, thief, failure, unworthy, unloveable and unlikeable for starters? These were the names that I received from my father and I carried with me for almost 40 years.
 
I did not love myself, even with 20 years of military service how could my brothers in arms love me? I was not worthy of love and I was in short supply of love to give out.
 
It was during Desert Storm that I experience my first true “life pivot”. The details of this story can be found in my book titled “My Personal Desert Storm: Eating Crow and Humble Pie”, but in short, I managed to turn my life around, but I became obsessed with success – “Success Sickness”. I pivoted from the extreme right of the heart spectrum to the extreme left of the spectrum.
 
My wife recommitted to Christ while I was deployed to Desert Storm. She would pray for me for the next two decades. I experienced a very real and physical born again experience over labor day weekend in 2008. God did not give me a second chance, He gave me a new life.
 
Ephesians 1:18 (NLT)  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
 
For me, Jesus came to me as the Light of the world and saved me from the darkness I was just as written in John 8:12.  As we also read in 1 Peter 2:9, He called me out of the darkness and into His light.  This allows the character of Jesus to come out when I realize that what was once weak has been raised in glory (1 Cor 15:43). But the struggle is still real.
 
It was a few years after my born again experience that I recognized the wounds of my heart, given to me from the wounds of my father. Chains had been passed from son to son. -hurting people hurt people. My father had inherited chains from his father and so he passed them on to me. These are the results of generational sins and curses. Unfortunately, I would also pass my inherited chains and my own chains on to my first born son Christoffer.
 
I would later learn about the power of forgiveness. I also learned that it is not our parents fault. 
 
I would eventually tell my father that I forgive him -which I share in some detail in my book- after I had established a relationship with my heavenly Father. I was no longer orphaned. I had new names as I now recognize myself based on the Heart of my Father and Jesus Christ who died for me.
 
Jesus Christ did not die just so we could have a good day or get away with sinning on a regular basis. Galatians 5:13 reminds us that we shall not abuse the freedom we now have in Christ. The names of God (Holy Spirit): Advocate, Comforter, intercessor, spirit of Truth, spirit of God, helper (paraclete), Counselor, teacher,
 
1 John 2:1 ….And if anyone sins, we have an Advocatewith the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous John 14:16…. He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever
John 14:26. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teachyou all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you
Rom 8:26-27….the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered…..He makes intercessionfor the saints according to the will of God.
Isaiah 11:2. The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counseland might, The Spirit of knowledgeand of the fear of the Lord
 
Once baptized in the Holy Spirit, I was awakened to my new names:  worthy, trustworthy, lover, friend, and when my wife is angry at me, “Marcus Johnson!”.
 
We are flawed, but this flaw is in the flesh, not in our spirits.  His Spirit is with our spirit which has “freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Rom 8:2).  Romans 8:9 continues to remind us that we are not controlled by our sinful nature (our flesh), we are controlled by the Spirit.   Therefore, if we remain in obedience to Him and walk with him at ALL times, He will correct us before our fleshy temptations condemn us to an act of sin.  But the struggle is real. Paul reminds us: 
 
Rom 7:17  So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.  
Rom 7:22-23   I love God with all my heart, but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to sin that is still within me. 
 
The good news: 
 
Rom 7:25  Thank God!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…. 
1 John 1:9  But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 
 
In February 2011, satan executed a massive attack on my family when he took our oldest son from us. Killed in action in the middle east, this one almost worked, took me down. Even though it took a few years to recover from this one, if I had not had the Word of God in me and my wife, I would not be standing here in front of you today. His Word is clear to me in my heart and my mind. Though I flailed a bit like a chicken with his head cut off, I eventually recovered, stronger than ever.  The lesson is one of victimhood.
 
I am no longer a victim of what happened, I am now an expert in recovery from action.
 
A victim mentality will keep you bound to that trauma or frustration and will sabotage any hopes or attempts to prosper. A victim mentality is resignation to weakness and powerlessness, and it becomes ones modus operandi. It automatically disqualifies you and dictates what you will or won’t do. The challenge is whether you identify yourself as the victim, or the victimizer – and admitting/confessing it. How can you see what is in front of you if you fail to recognize what is inside of you? When our own hearts condemn us, there is no power in prayer, no power in preaching.
 
My born again experience was over powering and so over whelming that I instantly knew that I had been wrong my entire life. I had the epiphany that “I am all in and I guess I am now one of ‘them’”. I started in faith, I started going, and I started to press forward.
 
Some Christians are really skilled at covering their flaws and look pretty externally. And even those that look pretty on the outside usually get disillusioned or just end up judgmental because they are “nailing it” (heart issues??). I happen to be “that guy” that occasionally wears my train wreck on his sleeve. But I keep going, I keep the faith and I keep pressing forward.
 
The Lord reminded me that no matter who you are or what you do, God has chosen you. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you live, how much money you have, your position, whether you are articulate or not. Let Him fulfill all your desires and worship Him.
 
But I learned, the hard way, that we have got to have a fresh encounter with God – every day.
 
I would not know my purpose if I had never learned of my true identity. My identity is as a warrior for Christ. Every warrior needs a kingdom to defend and a King to fight for. Therefore, my purpose is to serve as a soldier for Christ and the Kingdom of God. Wherever this takes me and whatever task He gives me, I am there for Him.
 
I used to be a solder for the US Army (20 years), this has instilled certain things in me, values, character traits (some good, some bad) and discipline. I have a voice that carries, I have passion, I get enthusiastic. I zig and I zag. I mentioned this to the Lord when clarifying His plans. The Lord chastized me with vibrant YES, He wants to use that, He has called me to transition from soldier to warrior. I am now a warrior for the Kingdom. But every warrior needs a weapon, warriors need a sword. Ephesians 6:17 tells us about the “The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”.
 

Logos – written word of God

Rhema – Spoken Word of God

God’s Word speaks to me, it lives in me. While challenged to memorize specific scriptures, I recognize God’s character.

John 7:38“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
 
We MUST arm our new warriors and we MUST get them their sword, else they are always on the defense and cannot take the offense. This is what excites me today. God took me from being rebellious to a revolutionist for Jesus Christ. Satan may have thought that he was winning at those moments where he tried to take me out but all he did was make me angry and strengthen my resolve to work harder for the Lord. I am tired of playing defense. His attacks on me have lit a fire in me to proclaim victory but that means we have to take spiritual action. I am in ministry training today but each day, through the gift of His spirit, I grow closer to Him, I know Him more intimately, and I will run the race He has set before me. We need to go out and take possession of the gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit.
 

Tit 3:5  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Rom 5:5  …. hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
 
I know that I am a flawed human being, but I also know that God loves me 100%, as is, right now. There are some church people that are good at following the rules but there are also many Christians out there acting out in judgment instead of compassion and love.
 
Like many here, I can be outrageous on occasion when I should be silent and I can be neutral silent on other occasions when I should be loud. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure, He see’s opportunity for growth. When I want to give up, He whispers “No, you can make it”. This is why, even if I may suck at being a Christian, I keep going, I keep the faith, and I keep pressing forward.
 
So maybe if we can all accept the idea that Gods love is wholly separate from our actions or our problems, receive it and give it to others, maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel its important to beat people down with their theology or doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people.
 
Maybe then, even millennials will stop looking at Christians as bigoted and judgmental and out of touch with the times. I think that maybe then, we might even just see Christs kingdom here on earth. Here is the race set before me and others!
 
This is what I have learned based on this question – I have been in training for this my entire life, I just didn’t know it.
 
If you still don’t believe in miracles then ask my wife how long she prayed for my deliverance. Ask her if she ever thought that I would be standing in front of a group of people like this talking about Jesus and the life He has in store for us. 
 
I found my purpose. I found my strength. I want others to find theirs. No matter what it takes!
 

Amen


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Rage Against the Social Media Machine

     This will be the first part of a series on “Christians and Technology”.   Titled “Rage Against the Social Media Machine”, today I wish to share what the Lord has been dealing with me regarding a Christian Life through Social Media. We are talking about all platforms, known and unknown. For transparency, I personally only have experience with Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Paler.  
     Over the last 3 years, the Lord has been dealing with me regarding how we, as a nation, use Social Media to propagate our “opinions” and “beliefs” in the hopes of spreading our opinions and beliefs to others. This can be good, if used correctly, but also bad for those bent on evil and misdirection. For self-professed Christians, we ought to take our use of Social Media very seriously. In the past, I have been very guilty and complicit in not using the platforms correctly; in this regard, I have repented and moved on.  Top Dog Social Media has identified 10 categories of social media users. See if you can identify which one of these you think you are. You may be a mix of two or three.  
  1. The listener – those that fly under the radar and only access media to be nosy and see what others are posting and doing
  2. The Activist – They realize the power of social media and strive to have their voice heard to make a difference.
  3. The Spammer (oh boy!) – this is the type of person that tells themselves their cheesy posts count as “quality content” 
  4. The Passionista – bonded by passion, this type of social media user focuses their time on exploring and sharing their passion with others online.
  5. The Social Butterfly – This breed of social media user never seems to stop showing you how small the world is by getting tagged in pictures with what appears to be every person you’ve ever met. If you want to know how popular they are, just check their social channels!
  6. The Trolls – manages to cross that line from unpleasant opposition to downright hate speech, no matter how sensitive or irrelevant the issue. 
  7. The Influencers – Influencers are those that are producing high-quality content and sharing their knowledge with their social media community. They are passionate about their topic and love to help educate others. They understand entirely the concept of “quality content” and live and breathe it every day.
  8. The Early Adopter – They were on Facebook or LinkedIn before it was mainstream and love to remind you about it. This unique user has also likely moved on to all the new, shiny social platforms that you might hear about months from now.
  9. The Black Booker – A real relationship builder, this person looks at social media in the most practical way possible: a means to communicate with other people.
  10. The Family Person – These users tend to avoid technology but fell in love with social media the moment they realized they could keep in touch with their family members from every corner of the world as if they were right across the street.

     Unfortunately, social media has been used and abused to intentionally spread false information, or at best, information intended as humor or satire is understood to be truth by the receiver.  Adding to the dilemma, self-professed Christians are also guilty of spreading things across social media platforms that they either know to be wrong, or, they fail to research what they are spreading thereby expanding the false narrative.  As Christians, I believe we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and a higher calling to only share what we know to be true, or, at least identify that the issue you share is of your opinion.  If it is satire or humor, we may want to ensure that it is clearly understood. In comparison, we have bottles marked as POISON that come with warning labels telling us “DO NOT DRINK”. Captain Obvious does not always apply.

     In the Corporate and Business world, there is a concept known as “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR).  CSR is a program where a business voluntarily develops a policy about how they will contribute to the overall good of their communities and/or society as a whole, generally using profits to pay for these programs. CSR can range from environmental sustainment programs to philanthropy initiatives taking care of people that cannot take care of themselves (Example: Hospitals and shelters).  While some business’s do this from their hearts, most organizations today do this as a marketing opportunity, “Look what we did”.  CSR, while honorable a few decades ago, has devolved into masking selfishness and pride with virtue and love. They mask their true intentions with feel good statements and a wink and a nod.  In comparison, some people will intentionally spread information across social media platforms with the full intention to influence people while also knowing that they cannot backup the information they have shared; they themselves do not know if the information is true, but they want it to be. The truth is that just because you want it to be true does not make it true.

     Why is this important?  Because too many American’s are getting their “news” from social media platforms. “Online news websites are more popular among those ages 30 to 49. About four-in-ten (42%) in this age group get news often from websites and news apps. About a quarter (27%) of 18- to 29-year-olds get news from news websites, making it the second most commonly used platform for news for that age group. For these youngest adults, social media is the most popular news platform – 36% get news there often, topping news websites, TV (16%), radio (13%) and print (2%).”  Imagine the level and degree of influence that social media has on our younger generation. As Christians, we should consider this as we share and spread items considered “newsworthy” across whatever your platform of choice.

     I myself am extremely guilty of having participated in sensationalism, but I experienced a heavy conviction in my heart about 3 years ago. Recently, I have observed an increase in hostile and ugly arguments, serving absolutely no purpose but to divide us even further. Some try to use social media as a debate tool when it is literally impossible to do so – you cannot use social media to debate something into someone’s heart. As Christians, we absolutely cannot forget that our primary objective is LOVE.  In my “opinion”, we should feel free to use social media to share the truth BUT we also need to believe it, and know it, to be true ourselves.  It is frustrating and disheartening to continuously see social media posts that persist in old stories that no longer matter (such as Obama’s birth certificate). Too many times, these same stories were false last year, they did not magically become true today. We should also consider that the spread of false information is also contributing to significant increases in depression and anxiety.

     As Christians, if we pass a false story (whether knowingly or not), this not only impacts your own integrity, but can also impact the Christian community. I believe it is ok to share your opinion about a topic, but, you ought to indicate that it is your opinion if not obviously so.  Think about your heart and the impacts to others. Is your message coming from your heart, or, are you so outraged by an issue that your human bias is blocking what your spirit is telling you?

     Here are some Christian guidelines as proposed by Truthful Words:

  1. Don’t Be Rude—Show Respect For Others: One way that you can be distinctively different from the world while using social media is to think of others more highly than yourself (Phil:2:3-4)… When God’s people make the conscious effort to stop putting “me” first, they are less apt to be rude and more able to think of others’ needs and feelings above their own.
  2. Don’t Be Excessive: Remember the Fruit of the Spirit and exercise temperance (self-control) (Gal. 5:22-24)! Don’t forget to let all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). 
  3. Don’t Be Possessive Or Too Dependent: Remember these Biblical admonitions: Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:4). Ye shall make you no idols (Lev. 26:1). Consider taking certain days to fast from your devices or media, replacing that time with a renewed focus on improving your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ so that you do not allow social media to run your life.
  4. Don’t Be Secretive: Applying scriptural principles to your use of social media is a great way to guard yourself from being in bondage to them. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? (Gal. 4:9).

     “Incorporating “yourself” into your social network or blog in a God-glorifying manner for example could be posting that you had specifically prayed for something and the Lord answered. Instead of talking about your achievements, talk about your latest ministry or witnessing adventure, mission trip, or family day. Share about the blessings and the challenges that the Lord gave you through those activities. Talk about the people you spend time with and the character qualities that you like in them. Use media options to glorify the Lord by having a true meaning to your posts. Ask the Lord to give you a redeeming purpose for your blog, Facebook, and YouTube posts, or personal websites. It is important to once again stress that we as Christians need to be distinctively (yes, even radically) different in the way that we use whatever the world promotes or the culture deems acceptable. The strength of the choice is in your hands. By God’s grace, you do not have to allow anything to have power over you (2 Cor. 12:9-10).”

 

References:

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/social-media-outpaces-print-newspapers-in-the-u-s-as-a-news-source/, accessed 29 June 2019

Rosenberg, Matthew J. (1 April 2002). “Review of Misguided Virtue: False Notions of Corporate Social Responsibility”International Affairs.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#2923aa4b2e5a, accessed 29 June 2019

https://topdogsocialmedia.com/10-types-of-social-media-users/, accessed 29 June 2019

https://www.truthfulwords.org/articles/media.html, accessed 29 June 2019

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/04/08/rage-against-the-social-media-machine-how-did-it-get-to-this/, accessed 29 June 2019

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_social_media_driving_political_polarization, accessed 29 June 2019


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The Story of Rehoboam

     One upon a time, in an ancient land, there was a king named Rehoboam. King Rehoboam had inherited the kingdom from his father, who was considered the wisest man in all the world. During the reign of his father, the land thrived, kings (and a queen) from all over the world would visit Rehoboams father to partake of his wisdom to see if he would impart something significant to them for their own kingdoms. Rehoboams father, and his father before him, was a devout follower of “the way”. 

     Now, the father of Rehoboam did make some mistakes and strayed from “the way” and it had been prophesied that the land might eventually suffer as a result of his infractions, but the land was still awesome at the time Rehoboam took the throne. One day, Rehoboam was confronted by a people asking that Rehoboam honor them just as his father had done, and, if he could find it in his heart, they asked Rehoboam if he would even offer them a little more freedom. Rehoboam, wanting to be wise, consulted with the same elders that had provided guidance to his father before him. These elders recommended that Rehoboam loosen the reigns a little more as these people were an honorable people. But, Rehoboam did not like that guidance, so he decided to ask his buddies, those that he had grown up with.

     Rehoboams friends told him that he should tighten the reigns and restrict the people even more, for they were focused on ways of old. There was no sound reasoning to this guidance other than they felt Rehoboam might appear weak if he allowed these people to live free, plus, the ways of his father were considered antiquated and not of the times. So, rather than listening to the counsel of the elders that had helped his nation thrive and grow, he listened to his young friends and told the people to get stuffed. Not only would he not give them more freedom, he restricted their activities even more and punished them further. 

     After turning away from the request and will of his people, they fought him and even killed one of Rehoboams servants. A rebellion was kicked off which lasted for hundreds of years. The people of the land grew angry and despised Rehoboam for the remainder of his reign. King Rehoboam had successfully divided his nation in only one generation. 

     At the time of Rehoboam, his generation had decided that they wanted to pursue their own activities, their own agenda. They wanted to establish their own moral code and, if necessary, they would push their code on to the people of the land. They had become naïve and weak due to the prosperity that their nation had achieved over the previous 80 years. It was their forefathers that had grown and conquered the land, it was their purpose to maintain it; however, they decided that the way to do it was to force a new belief system through violence and choice of words. A once successful and thriving nation, following established ways, had been torn apart. 

     A thousand years later, a new prophet would walk the land – the true story continues. The people of the nation had become negligent and, achieved such a level of weakness, they had been conquered and overrun by many different foreign nations and were currently occupied. This new prophet was advising the people that the world was renewed, that there was light in the darkness. But this new movement was under attack, the people of the movement were being tormented and, rather than fight the battle, they would just convert to the ways of the foreigners so that they could live in peace. They did not really believe in the foreign ways, but it was just easier to comply.

     But the prophet continued to preach, that there was wisdom and revelation in “The Way!”. If they kept “the way”, their eyes would be enlightened to the right understanding, that there is hope. While it is easier to conduct ourselves in a way that our bodies desire, “the way” is alive in mercy and love, as long as we stick together in grace. That if they kept “the way”, that the people will thrive, but they needed to keep the faith, not just methods and activities.

     The prophet reminded the people that if they remember what their lives were like before “the way” and compared their lives to “the way”, they were happier and more successful. It wasn’t until the foreigners started to attack “the way” that the people were made miserable and fearful. He reminded them they “the way” is a new covenant and was bound in the blood of those that preceded them in death. For, the people are one, by Spirit, and connected to the source of “the way”. 

     For this very reason, the prophet bowed his knee’s to “the way” so that he would be strengthened through the Spirit in his own body and spirit. He argued that the people should continue to walk worthy of “the way”, bearing one another in love and endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in a bond of peace. They should feel renewed in the spirit of their mind and speak truth with each other and their neighbors. It is perfectly acceptable to be angry, but do not allow this anger to fester or it would bring on bitterness. Only speak what is essential to the cause and necessary to maintain “the way”. 

     Let the bad people continue to do their thing, but feel free to speak out against the new thing, against the foreigners, for while it may seem dark, the people of “the way” will bring light to the darkness enveloping the world. However, beware of letting bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking, put away all malice. Walk circumspectly but not as fools. Do not be unwise but understand the will of “the way”. We are not wrestling with people of flesh and blood but against rulers and authorities of evil. 

Concluding Analysis:

     Rehoboam allowed “the way” to be overcome with the progressive movement of personal agendas and power of his contemporaries, and his nation was divided as a result. A thousand years later, the people were beginning to wake up to the reality that they were happier and more successful when they followed “the way”, it was only when they were attacked for their beliefs that they would be tempted to stray and were miserable as a result. It is possible to be happy, even while being persecuted. It is ok to speak out in anger against this persecution, but, this anger must be dealt with before going to bed each night; hence, we should remain on guard against bitterness, wrath, and malice. All is done with love as the motivation, saying only what is necessary for edification. This is what it is like when we follow “the way”.


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Keep Going, Keep the Faith, Keep Pressing Forward

As we get ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I also look at it as a time to reflect on my own personal relationship with Him. As I meditate on this season, I am reminded about how much I continue to suck at being a Christian – and I am not alone. If you continue to read, you will understand. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

Since becoming a Christian, there are some of our faith that will remind me (either verbally or body language) that some of my favorite things are not considered a part of the “Christian circle” and I should destroy them, throw them away or otherwise get rid of them.  I am talking about such things as my music preferences (which includes rock and yep, even some heavy metal), I like beer, and I will read books and watch movies that are secular in nature, amongst other things. [I do like Christian music and I am constantly reading Spirit filled books as well – just FYI]. The thought is that these items will influence my heart and drive me away from Christ – or preclude my walk in some fashion. There are things of the heart and then there are things of the mind – look at the heart and you will see and find a person in love with Jesus. But I suppose there are some that will continue to think, no matter what, that I suck at being a Christian.

But, we then get into the true imperfections of my soul and those things that are valid areas of my personality and character that are a “work in progress”. I talk loud and I talk too much. Depending on who is around me, I will still toss out a little “soldier speak”. I am a large fan of fairness and I am a champion of justice, BUT, I am unfortunately talking about justice and fairness in the eyes of Marcus. I continue to allow the wrong people to push my buttons and I will lash out however it seems appropriate to me at the time. The good news is that this is nowhere near the level it was for me 10 years ago, or even 3 years ago, but it still happens nonetheless. Now this is an area where I continue to suck at being a Christian.  Ironically, after a day like this and an hour of self-criticism and repentance, I will get home and initially relax with a beer and a song or two from Iron Maiden or Metallica [while repenting]. However, I will eventually switch my music choice to worship, reminding me of my salvation and redemption in Christ. I will close out EVERY day, before going to bed, with scripture and a prayer discussion with my Father.  I am always thankful to Him for continuing to correct the flaws of my character, giving me a wonderful family, and taking care of all of my needs – His will for me and not my own. Sounds Christianeeze , right?  Romans 7 reminds us that the struggle is real. In Happy Joy, Romans 8 further reminds us that there is a solution to the struggle. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

And THEN, we get to the true meat of the Christian challenge – the nature of the WORLD itself. Continuing to behave as a true and faithful man of Christ is very difficult and challenging.  Losing my oldest son in February of 2011 was very close to the final straw for me, almost took me down. Yet, here I am, continuing to profess my love for Christ, sharing Him with anyone and everyone that will listen, and not concerning myself with what others might think of the position I hold near and dear to my heart. Why? Read Romans 8 again. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

We watch our politicians struggle to come together across “The Great Divide” in order to make decisions in areas such as economics, immigration, security, and life choices. We watch as professed Christians condone abortion or tax us in the name of government services. We watch as our national citizenry continue to lose focus on identifying who we are supposed to be as people or who we are as a nation. We watch as Christians publicly condemn people for their life choices instead of remaining compassionate and operating in love for others regardless of their decisions. And we watch as over 2400 Christian denominations argue about their interpretations of Law versus Spirit and right versus wrong. We are taught that the bible is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow – yet some work to change and mold the bible to fit the choices we make as a society in the modern world. If the founding fathers of our great nation were using the same bible 250 years ago as a guide in forming our constitution, then how is it possible that our constitutional processes are wrong and need to change to validate “progress” according to the world today. In this regard, I must suck at being a Christian as my Spiritual beliefs don’t fit the mold of the progressive movement. Nonetheless, while I may not be progressive enough, I still love others no matter what their views and I Keep Going. I Keep the Faith. And I Keep Pressing forward. 

We watch as some argue that science is stronger than faith and then watch as the same group says science is wrong in declaring what gender we are at birth – but I suck at being a Christian because I hold an opposing view even while continuing to love those that declare it. We watch as more church leaders are caught in scandals or, even worse, identified as pedophiles. I suck at being a Christian because I am glad that these people are being caught. But I Keep Going. I Keep the Faith. I Keep Pressing Forward.

So why, as I suck at being a Christian, do I keep going, keep the faith, and keep pressing forward?

Because there are guys out there that are good, honest Christians. There are guys out there with tattoo’s, who occasionally use “soldier speak” and who like to drink beer.  These are people who exhibit behaviors that would typically get you kicked out of the God Club. Aren’t they living in sin?  Do they suck at being Christians like me?  This is not why I am a Christian, just FYI, that would be a stupid reason.

These same guys love me for who I am and they love people who are hurting and messy. These same guys, tough on the outside, share openly about how they hurt and are repeated failures. They love their wives unconditionally and always speak highly about them. It is the joy I see in their eyes even in the middle of their tears and pain. They absolutely do not pretend to have it all together nor do they claim to have all of the answers – it is ok to simply say “I don’t know”. They Keep Going, They Keep the Faith. They Keep Pressing Forward.

What they do know is contagious, it is infectious – if only you were to listen. They are big, bold, and beautiful and it is fascinating, if you will only pay attention.  They are like me in many ways, we don’t believe that it is simply about believing in Jesus and living a morally correct life to get to heaven. It is much more than that. A life in Christ is not following a simple set of rules to earn God’s favor. If that were true, there are more morally correct people out there who live much more moral lives than Christians. In fact, I would argue that it is very possible that there are more non-Christians helping more people than those sitting in Church on Sundays.

To the dude with tattoo’s, the dude that talks loud or way too much. To the dude that likes to occasionally listen to rock music or drink a beer when he gets home from work. To the dude that occasionally talks like a soldier. We all believe in the same thing – that the cross where Jesus died is a reminder that as good as we try to be, we still need someone to save us from ourselves because at the end of the day, we like to compare ourselves to scoundrels. If Christianity teaches anything, we learn what a train wreck we are and when we see people in this light, we are humbled beyond compare. We might suck at being a Christian but we are real, heart felt, Christ loving men that keep going, keep the faith, and keep pressing forward.

Some religions say: “This world is going to hell. It doesn’t matter. It’s not real, but a shadow, so we wait until we die and escape this. We wait until the next life.” However, Christ teaches that His goal regarding the resurrection is to transform the world. Christ teaches His goal is a new heaven and new earth here on earth. Not that we convert people to our tribe and wait for God to nuke this place, but that we’re in the business of restoration. That we bring hope to the hopeless. That we love everyone regardless of their views or choices in life. That we help the needy, poor, and oppressed. That we give generously, freeing the captives and the addicted. That we transform the world where disease and suffering are alleviated. That we treat others different than us better than ourselves.

The truth is, being politically incorrect, that some Christians happen to be really skilled at covering their flaws and look pretty externally. And even the one’s who are pretty on the outside usually get disillusioned or just end up judgmental cause they are “nailing it” (although that attitude reveals massive heart issues). I happen to be “that guy” that occasionally wears my train wreck on his sleeve. But I keep going, I keep the faith and I keep pressing forward.

This may be surprising to many but the day that I became a Christian is not the day I asked Jesus into my heart. I had not even been attending Church, so I had never confessed to anyone that I was down with this whole confusing Jesus dies on a cross, resurrects, and is God, but God can’t die because he’s eternal…….Instead one day (labor day weekend 2008) I had an experience that was so over powering and so over whelming that I instantaneously knew that I had been wrong my entire life, I had the epiphany that “I’m all in and I guess I’m one of them.” It would be another two weeks before I prayed the confession and started openly identifying as a Christian. I started going, I started in faith, and I started to press forward.

So, Why Am I A Christian?

Because I know I’m a flawed human being. But I also know that God loves me 100% as is, right now. I know there are some church people out there that are good at following the rules but I also know that there are Christians out there acting out in judgment instead of compassion and love. I can be outrageous on occasion when I should be silent and I can be neutral-silent on other occasions when I should be loud. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure, he sees opportunity for growth. When I give up, he whispers, “No, you can make it”. This is why, even as I suck at being a Christian, I Keep Going, I Keep the Faith, and I Keep Pressing Forward.

So maybe if we can all accept the idea that God’s love is wholly separate from our actions, receive it, and give it to others maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel it’s important to beat people down with their theology and doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people. Maybe then, even millennial’s will stop looking at Christians as bigoted and judgmental and out of touch with the times.

I think maybe then, we might even just see Christ’s kingdom here on earth.


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The God I wanted vs. The God I needed

Gal 5:22-26 (NLT) ……the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. 

Many Christians were born and raised in a Christian household and cannot recall not being a Christian. They have been immersed in a Christian environment practically their entire lives – their conversion was slowly absorbed into their heart, soul, and body versus one giant, dramatic leap from someone that had been living a “worldly” lifestyle.  These Christians do make their own independent declaration of faith in Christ, but they generally do not experience a dramatic experiential transformation – they have already been walking in His grace.

Walking from the “world” into a life of Christ is a conversion where a lightbulb is suddenly turned on, going off in front of your eyes.  I have come across a few since my connecting with Christ that cannot identify with that unmistakable moment (a small number have been fascinated by it). For me, my experience in September 2008 was immediate and very dramatic (I was shaken to my core and knocked to my knee’s), but then, tapered off over time due to my conflicting worlds (materialism vs. Christian “morality”) and silly events that would breed whispering seeds of mistrust. To be clear, I am accountable for my tapering off, not the Father. 

Rom 5:3-5 (NLT)  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. 

The true turning point for me came when I stopped seeking the God I wanted and started seeking the God who is. I surrendered completely and fully committed myself to a relationship with Him and followed Him.  I surrendered my will, my heart, my mind, my soul and my strength to Him.  We dealt with, and still deal with, temptations and made/make some wrong choices, we have been taken to the mat a few times, but the Lord has always been there for us and we have walked away victorious. Actually, these moments are becoming much more clear to me personally, adding strength to my spirit and deepening my resolve and determination to follow Jesus wherever He takes me. We will experience a series of battles and trials, but it is through these events in our lives that we are made stronger as we honor Him and when we give Him the glory.

1 Peter 1:7-8 (NKJV)  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 

It is not the way of Christ that leads to everlasting life, it is the Person of Christ. It is not what we follow, but whom we follow; not a set of values, but a Person. This has been my lesson over the last few years – learned via some hard knocks. Jesus said “Follow me.”, He did not say, “Follow My principles”. If we imitate His life but don’t know Him personally, we will become exhausted. In the beginning, I was trying to simply follow a set of rules and what I thought of as Christian principles and values. This was me “yesterday”, it is not me “today” or “tomorrow”.


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