Please see the links below to read my latest articles. They will take you to my articles on Helium.com or to Remnant Ministries.
What is Truth?
The Devil is the Media
Movie Review: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
The difference between a legal issue and a moral issue
What Heaven Looks Like
Book Review: Dubliners by James Joyce
I hope you enjoy these. Keep checking back for more.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I’ve experienced two special people leaving this world for heaven in less than a month. One had a massive heart failure and the other a rare cancer. Both had numerous people praying for healing and yet both left this life much too young. Both lived lives that influenced hundreds of people and did so with great passion for Jesus. One I knew for only a year and the other for almost two decades.
In their absence we experience loss, grief, questions, desires to speak with them, to see them, to have them experience more life with us. My thoughts flit and float between memories, desires, emotions, and questions. Emerging from all of these is a desire to be proactive in honoring them. I want to pull on the wealth of their contributions to me and live it to the fullest.
A common saying in the Church today is to make one person’s ceiling another person’s floor. To take all that is learned and gained from the life we are honoring, whether they have gone on before us or not, and use it as a launching point to go farther. If they accessed 10% of the treasures of heaven, go for 30% so that the next person can launch from 30% towards 50%. In honoring, we take our spiritual inheritance and we expand it throughout our lifetime so that the inheritance we give is greater than the one we received. This is true stewardship.
This may seem impossible when the life was lived so fully. But I think that those we are missing would want us not to set their level of maturity in Christ as our goal. Instead they would want us to believe that that has already been deposited into us by them so that we could go so much farther. Every father or mother wants their child to go beyond them, and we honor them by doing so.
The key is that we do not do so by our own strength for we will wear ourselves out in a week if not sooner. Our strength comes from the same source as their strength, and that is in Christ. We go farther by resting in Christ. We live by the strength of Christ in us, not by our flesh, but by His Spirit. We find our hope, our joy, and our peace in Christ for this is how we honor those who have gone before us.
In so doing, I want to be careful to not determine truth by experiences, but to view experiences through the lens of truth, which are the eyes of Jesus. Jesus told us we are to pray that the reality of heaven be made present upon the earth. That is the mission of the Christian life to bring heaven to earth. Thus, I want to walk in boldness to not set those experiences as a stopping point, but instead a launching pad to grab hold of those truths of heaven and pull them to earth.
In the spirit of honoring, I want to go after healing more. I don’t have the answers as to why healing doesn't happen sometimes, but I do know that in Jesus I can find the keys to the Kingdom. I will trust in the goodness of God. I will remember that for the believer, death is swallowed up in victory. I will remember the lives lived and the lessons learned, but I will not memorialize them into the past, but pull them with me into my future as I grow in Christ. Those I influence, those I lead, those I teach will be learning also from those I learned from as I honor them by continuing to move forward.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a
This post is in honor of:
Monday, January 28, 2013
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Religion hurts people. It is religion that rears its ugly head that leaves such distaste in the hearts of man. It masquerades as truth, righteousness, and love, but it is none of those things. It focuses on morality, justice, and law, but only leaves rebellion in its wake. It’s a chain that most people will not suffer under for long. They will break through and break free. But unto what? What do we break free to?
We may think our freedom lies in a life without religion. We would be right in this estimation, but not usually in the way in which it is meant. We equate spirituality with religion, and yet religion only utilizes spirituality to cover its true nature. It isn’t spirituality that is the problem; it is the law of religion that is the problem.
Does that mean we should shirk all moral precepts? No. Morality is no more the problem than spirituality. But because religion often brings with it moral law and attaches itself to spirituality, when we break the shackles of religion we find ourselves also at odds with anything that we now associate with the chains of religion.
Or we try to find these things in a form that has no God element attached to it. But what if God isn’t the problem either? What if religion isn’t of God at all? What if we have associated something with God that God also disavows?
This religion construct is not only found attached to legalism and religious structure. People can be as religiously against religion as religion can be against the irreligious. It is a meme or construct not confined to theists or members of a world religion. It’s attached to the human race no matter faith or creed.
It’s generally an internal indignation, offense, or reaction to something or someone that sucks the life out of the person being affected by the religious response. It’s a vice grip on the heart that spawns and spews animosity, distrust, fear, and self-righteousness.
Bottom line: Religion hurts people.
Here’s the thing. No one is immune to, at times, responding religiously to people. While I know that I can love Jesus and love people and it not be the aforementioned description of religion, I know I can also be exuding religion anytime I’m allowing fear or animosity to rise in my heart.
It is love that casts away fear. Love is the guard against this religious problem so prevalent in this world. This love comes from the Father. It comes from gaining His heart for people. We want to fight wars He isn’t fighting and we fail to realize that only love wins the war.
Speaking as a follower of Jesus, I’m sorry for the damage religion has done in the name of Christianity. I would be remiss to say I haven’t any religion in me. If I were to say there was none in me, I would be speaking falsely. In fact, to read this and think not of oneself, but of another guilty person shows that there is at least a little of it in us.
Naturally we can all think of extreme cases, but we must remove the plank before removing a speck. The unhealthy stuff in us, is always more harmful to us than the unhealthy stuff in someone else.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
It doesn’t feel like it’s been 11 years since the tragic day known as 9/11. I see the images on television and on Facebook and the emotions of that day come rushing back. I cannot even imagine the emotions of those who experienced loss or who were in closer proximity to the events that unfolded that day.
For me, the day began like any other. I was on the campus of my community college. I had already attended one or two classes that day and had time to kill before my next and last class of the day. I decided to visit the computer lab in the library. Sitting down in the computer chair, I tossed my book bag at my feet and began to check my e-mail. All of the sudden, I heard a man exclaim rather loudly that we ought to attack them. The exact words are now lost to me. I was surprised and annoyed to hear someone speaking so loudly in a library. He sounded so angry.
I didn’t have much time left before class, so I logged off the computer and hoisted my back pack on one shoulder to exit the library. I stepped into the foyer and drew to a fast stop as I saw a gathering of students to the television mounted to the ceiling in the corner of the lobby. My eyes traveled up and took in the horrific scene of a building consumed in fire crumbling upon itself.
I stood transfixed, alarmed, and confused. I didn’t yet know this was on American soil. I didn’t recognize the structure. Then camera panned and I saw Lady Liberty and I felt the immensity of this --- whatever this was – happening in my home land. I remained there until I learned about the plane crashes and that it was evidently an act of terror.
I realized my class was starting any minute and decided to leave the building and head for class. As I walked I pulled out my cell phone to call my mom. I felt compelled to contact my family even though we were nowhere near the danger. The call didn’t go through. I tried again to no avail. I looked about me and saw students everywhere along the walk ways on campus talking on their cell phones. I realized everyone was trying to get through to somebody. I tried once more and she picked up. She and my grandparents were already aware of the events.
I hung up and continued to class to find a note scrawled on the chalk board that due to the present events the class was cancelled. Somewhat out of sorts and lost amid the unfolding events, I headed for my car as I was to work that afternoon. Arriving at work I found my co-worker concerned about her husband who was in the military as he may not be able to leave the base that day. She had the radio on and hadn’t seen the footage yet.
We ordered lunch from the café down the street where she first viewed the footage on their television. The day passed in this surreal fog of unbelief. I arrived home, ate my dinner, did my homework and then sat before the television. There was nothing to do but continue to watch the news. The local news began to ask people to come to the Red Cross to donate blood. They showed the packed waiting room of local citizens awaiting their opportunity to give. Then the people broke out into song, “God Bless America, land of the free, stand beside her and guide her . . .” The voices rose together poignantly. The emotions of the day finally found relief and I cried. My nation had been brutally attacked, but Americans were rallying together to serve and to humble themselves before God. I heard the hope in those voices of strangers joining together in song while waiting to give their blood for others.
I could take this post further and use it to discuss the current state of America or the need for a return to God in this nation, but to honor 9/11 for 9/11 and not to use it for any purpose of my own I will close this article without any such commentary.
I will never forget 9/11.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Christians are often guilty of not telling the full story when it comes to knowing God. First of all, we often start the story at the Fall of man, rather than at the beginning. Second, we jump from Genesis 2 to Jesus crucifixion and conclude with His Resurrection. Then we insert this long wait for the second coming, judgment, and final destination of believers and unbelievers. In reality, we are gipping people of the full Gospel, the Kingdom of God. We do this when we reduce the story to what we think are the essentials – Man sinned, Man needs God to be free from sin, God sent man Jesus to die in our place so we can be forgiven, Jesus saves those who believe, believers go to heaven, unbelievers go to hell. End of story.
This couldn’t be more misleading. I am finding both in Christian circles and in non-Christian circles this is creating quite a misconception. This misconception is a logical misconstruction based on our faulty rendering of the Gospel.
The story doesn’t start that man sinned and is thus in need of God. The story starts, “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . .” He goes on to create the sun, moon, stars, oceans, plants, animals, and finally humans. He says that all that He has created is good. He places the man and woman (Adam and Eve) in the Garden of Eden and He tells them they have dominion over land, vegetation, and animal life. He tells them to have children and multiply humanity in the earth. He gives them only one “don’t” – He tells them not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and warns them doing so will bring death upon them.
God had fellowship with Adam and Eve – walking with them in the cool of the evening. He had relationship with them. I imagine they walked with Jesus through the Garden – as Jesus is as eternal as His Father. Throughout the Old Testament we see instances where Jesus appeared. Remember Jesus said, before Abraham was, I Am.
Here is where the Fall comes into play. Eve, and then also Adam, having been tempted by Satan, succumb to temptation and eat of the forbidden fruit. Now they want to cover themselves and hide from God. They broke relationship with God, and already felt the shame of their first experience with sin.
Mankind was designed to walk with God as we cultivated and multiplied across the globe. Now we had caused a divide between God and man. The curse of sin worked its way into the nature of man – corrupting humanity – and corrupting the earth itself. A world that was designed to flow in harmony with the Kingdom of God was now being ruled by corrupted men rather than holy men who walked with God.
Christians often take the story from the Fall to the Cross and then lack the theology for the story to go beyond getting forgiven by the work of Jesus upon the Cross. Jesus gained back for the world what was lost in the Fall – but we have lost sight of the role of man in this earth. God gave us dominion. Satan took that dominion when sin infected us – but Jesus took it back from Satan and gave it – not back to God – but back to man. We are still the ones who are to cultivate the earth to restore it to the glory of God – to a New Eden. It starts with transformed people – but these transformed people are called to transform everything we have influence over – land, businesses, economy, health care, medicine, food, water. We can restore healing and life back to everything that was once corrupted. It’s all back in our hands. The thing is, most of us don’t know it. And even the few that do, don’t take action. We are clueless to our assignments and to our power and authority to carry them out.
Most the Church is still focused on a salvation only Gospel. No wonder the world only asks questions of us regarding heaven and hell because they don’t know that we are supposed to have access to the entire Kingdom of God. They don’t know we have access to far more than salvation – because we don’t know it ourselves.
Even if man never fell – we would have a huge assignment upon this planet that would require continual communion with God. We were designed to thrive on that communion – a symbiotic relationship. Without it we languish never reaching our full potential. We don’t even know it because we are conditioned to accept life without God. In fact, this includes Christians. We have become so accustom to doing things in our own strength we haven’t scratched the surface of what life would be like if we did everything in partnership with His strength.
Heaven – is an extension of living in Christ – that is why it is not a gift of Jesus – but a place in Jesus. It’s not a separate place from Him. So it is not accessed outside of Him. All of the Kingdom of God is in God. We can only access it by knowing Jesus and having His Holy Spirit living inside of us.
Hell – is an extension of existence outside of Christ – where He is not present. Where we are always thirsty for Him and yet unable to quench our thirst – we may not even know at that point we thirst for Him, but we will know the torment of life without Him. It is tormenting because it was never to be – not because it was the worst punishment God could think up for not loving Him. It is, instead, the place of abject darkness – full of souls perishing without His sustenance we so desperately require. Existence without God is death. When we cross over from our earthly existence without God – all is left is existence without God – that is an eternal perishing existence.
Kingdom of God – is the extension of heaven – of Jesus manifested upon the earth by God’s children accessing heaven and making it available to be experienced by others on earth. This is everything from peace to healing the sick or raising the dead, or causing unfertile land to produce a harvest, or any other number of miracles.
Everything that has breath is designed to operate within the Kingdom of God – without the King there is no Kingdom.
While brief, hopefully this article helps to create a more accurate rendering of the story of the role of God in the life of humanity regardless of the interruption and corruption of sin.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Reactions to yesterday’s Supreme Court Decision run the gamut. I’ve seen celebration, surprise, relief, anger, fear, animosity, apathy, ignorant bliss, worry, and sorrow. I join the camp of those who disagree with the decision. I understand it is a serious matter, and yet I also am not provoked to anger or fear over the outcome. Neither reaction would change anything. It is almost like we think we are accomplishing our civic responsibility by sounding off on our social mediums such as Facebook or Twitter our particular view on the matter.
I must admit, I turned first to Facebook after hearing the news to see what was being said. But I realized, that it didn’t really matter what I or anyone else was saying, because most of us were not in places of influence to where it made any difference what we said.
It would seem that our perilous times would drive us into our history. We would begin to dig into our heritage and rediscover our civic responsibly to this Republic. I have always admired the Founding Fathers and enjoyed the colonial era of history, but I now have an even greater appreciation of their sacrifice and the people of this nation that lived in those formative years.
Regardless of your political persuasion, I think we can agree that we need men and women with the character and resolve of our founding generation. We all recognize the economic crisis. We all should know that what we have been doing isn’t working.
Some are focused on social security and Medicare needs. Others are concerned about job security. Others are concerned about their investments. Still others are worried about their health insurance premiums. Then you have the matters of liberty, the national debt, the failing businesses, the unsustainability of the government programs, or the state of education in this nation. No matter our particular concern, we all have to unite together, just as they did in the early days when the states had to put aside their fears and unite under one Constitution so that they could secure a more stable future.
They lived for us, and yet we live for ourselves. We don’t live to preserve their sacrifice, or to ensure the freedom of our future generations. Most of us are concerned first and foremost for ourselves and our own generation. We have to think beyond our own needs and the needs of our own generation. It may be necessary to give up temporary comforts, for the future security of a now fledgling nation. It may be necessary to provide for ourselves, regardless of the entitlements available to us, just so that the nation doesn’t incur more debt.
There is a poignant scene in The Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith. Will’s character approaches a government agency service window with cash and coins in hand to pay back every cent that was given to him while he was in need. What if we thought like this? What if, we the people, took responsibility for our local and national debt?
We have to start thinking about the problems differently. The solutions are simple, but we get too impressed by the complexity of the problem to see them clearly. The same principles that create a happy healthy family, creates a happy health business, and a happy healthy school, and a happy healthy government. It’s all very simple. We have just lost our way so severely that we apply elaborate and expensive band aides to cover the symptoms without ever touching the root issue.
We also have the tendency to declare the whole nation a sinking ship, forgetting we are on board. We then look for ways to provide a life jacket for ourselves, having given up on the ship itself. Or we believe, for spiritual or financial reasons, we will be immune to the sinking of the ship so we figure we might as well sit back and let it sink, because it won’t ultimately affect us.
Sadly, few see themselves as having any role to play that could make any difference. As long as we think like that, we won’t make a bit of difference. But we will be just as responsible as those who are sacrificing and working to right the ship.
The reality is that every American has a role to play. Not everyone will be in a prominent role directly affecting their city, state, or national officials, but a vital role just the same. It comes in the form of being educated and educating others about our foundational history. It comes from voting. It comes from getting or staying out of debt. It comes from loving our neighbor, our spouse, and our children. It comes from serving our city. It comes from not taking what we don’t need. It comes from giving more than we take. It comes from not wasting what we have. It comes from honest business practices, both as an employer and employee, as a consumer, and as a producer. It comes from keeping our word and honoring our elders.
We cannot take these things too seriously. This is what makes a nation great. Not doing these things is what fills our jails, bogs down our courts, and increases regulations. This is why the Founders lamented that children must receive a good moral education in order to secure this Republic. They, for the most part, did not mandate this by law, but they did promote it in their speeches and writings meticulously preserved for posterity.
America, it is time to wake up. It is time to preserve the sacrifice of our ancestors and secure the stability of our future generations. We can keep or lose this Republic. We will either be the source of the blame or the source of the victory. The choice is ours. I choose victory, for I will not give up on this great Republic.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The feast of Pentecost was originally celebrated as commemoration of the day Moses received the law from God on Mount Sinai. It was 50 days after the feast of Passover where the nation of Israel prepared to pull out of Egypt. Fast forward to the New Testament and we have the Passion Week of Jesus coinciding with the feast of Passover. Then, 50 days later, we have the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the 120 waiting in the upper room.
The seasons of the Lord often mirror the Jewish calendar and feasts. On the anniversary of the day the law was given, the Holy Spirit comes as our guide into all truth. Jesus fulfilled the law, and the Holy Spirit comes to link us to Him, Spirit to spirit.
We are now in the season between Passover and Pentecost. It is especially notable that the year is 2012 because 2012 is chocked full of manifested prophetic destiny. We need to watch carefully for the invitations into the promises of God. May 27, 2012 is the anniversary of Pentecost. The season is prophetically pregnant and we shall see the prophetic is being birthed into the natural. We should be seeing the activity being stored up in heaven finally manifesting upon the earth in the areas in which we have sown faithfully.
God is on the move. He is moving forward. If we are current with Him we are also moving. We are entering new things, new phases of continuing things, and we will have to let go of the old things that are holding us from experiencing this new season. If we keep the old, we cannot embrace the new. If we do not let go, we cannot let God. At this juncture, we shouldn’t have old things left tying us to last year. We must jettison them if it is in our power.
There are things that remain that the Lord must bring the change for He has positioned us so that only He can bring the deliverance. But there are other things that we know we can leave behind and it is time to do so. We cannot deliver ourselves; we have to let him do that part. But we can prepare for the deliverance by not holding on to anything, but Jesus. The Lord had the Hebrew people pack up and prepare only unleavened bread so that they could move out in an instant with nothing holding them back from obeying the call of the Lord to move forward.
Likewise we need to be ready in every way possible to accept the invitations and deliverance of the Lord. We know 2012 is the year for the beginning of something great. Don’t miss it by being out of season with the Lord. As long as you are current with Him, you will move with Him into the new season. Some have moved into it, some are moving into it portion by portion, and others will suddenly enter it having been fully prepared to move at once. Be ready and wait on the Lord, just as the 120 waited in the upper room from the time the Lord ascended until the Spirit descended so that we could live from ascension.
Monday, May 14, 2012
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark the sacred times, an the days, and years, . .” Genesis 1:14
Doomsday predictions overturned? While I do not ascribe to astrological predictions, even those of ancient civilizations, I did take notice of the 2012 Mayan predictions. I did not do so because of them, but because I felt 2012 marked a significant new season for the world. I saw 2012 as the beginning of a new age and 2013 even more so. It seemed appropriate that a people group dedicated to times and seasons would also make note of a seasonal change, a change of one era to the next.
Most of the time historians do not recognize eras until after they have come and gone. Then terms are ascribed to them such as The Middle Ages, or The Enlightenment era. But with 2012, we have a preformed concept that the world has entered something altogether different, even though we have yet to have the benefit of history to validate the foresight.
Now, the latest news has it that archaeologists have uncovered a previously hidden Mayan calendar that calculates dates as far out as 3500A.D. I had already felt that the Mayan prediction was for the world to take notice, and now to find new data after the world is already deeply engaged in this mystery is extremely timely. Now we see, from the Mayans' themselves, doomsday was not their prediction, but a something so new they gave clear demarcation of it.
It is too soon to know, but I wonder if there is anything on this newly discovered ancient calendar to indicate a difference between the calendar that ended at 2012 and this one that continues beyond. If they truly were specialist in times and season, I would not be surprised, and yet amazed, to find that there are distinctions between the calendars.
We are in a new age. Many things are changing. Many things are coming into what they have long been built into. Meaning, things that were built on a solid foundation will begin to excel like never before and the things that were built in corruption will begin to be obviously corrupted either by crumbling or by persisting in visible corruption. It won't be life as usual.
More on 2012:
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Creative people can look at something chaotic and find order. They can bring unity to diversity without suffocating the diversity. I’ve been watching the new hit series, Touch, with Keifer Sutherland. It is a fascinating show where Sutherland plays the part of an autistic child’s father. The child’s mother died in the towers on 9/11. The young boy never speaks audibly, but begins to communicate through numbers and patterns. His dad quickly discovers that by following the numbers he becomes interweaved into a story that links lives and events the world over to bring help to one or more people with painful problems. Sometimes the scope of the help that comes through the result of his following the numbers remains unbeknownst to Keifer’s character.
Keifer finds help from a doctor who also has this ability to see numerically. The doctor’s controversial research indicates that this boy is picking up on the mathematical order in the cosmos and communicating it to help end the pain of others.
I can’t help but be reminded of the prophetic when I see the boy notice a number and write it down and that number reappear as an address, phone number, apartment number, receipt number, or the number of a bus or taxi. It is exciting to watch seemingly unconnected people and events converge into a unified story.
In doing so, I contemplate the chaordic – the order in chaos. I become fascinated by the unity in diversity. Human nature attempts to unify by removing diversity, but the real artistic beauty of creation comes when order and chaos coalesce without sacrificing one to the other.
I tend to lean towards being neat and orderly at the expense of freedom and yet my way of thinking creates a tension pulling me towards greater and greater freedom. My first instinct is to keep messes from happening by preparing for all the variables in advance. But freedom, messes included, produces much more life than keeping messes at bay.
I think religion often tries to ignore or protect against the contamination of messy life. Jesus did it so differently. He intentionally placed himself in the thick of the messiness of life. He hung out with the prostitutes and tax collectors. He spent time talking with a Samaritan woman. He was born in a stable, slept in a manger, rode a donkey, and hung out with smelly fishermen. He washed the feet of his disciples and touched lepers.
I was once listening to a couple who pastor overseas. They were amused by how American churches are so bent on keeping clean sanctuaries. They said where they pastor; everyone knows you don’t put carpets in the sanctuary. Here we are concerned about someone spilling coffee, but there people get real messy. When they get healed or delivered things happen that cause big messes. Between bodily functions and tumors falling off, there is no concern for the place getting messy. Sometimes I think we are too focused on keeping things neat and clean that we think clean hands makes a clean heart. Jesus warned against washing the outside of the cup to make the inside clean. It doesn’t work that way. Outward appearances of a saintly community fool no one.
We often cannot get to the inside because we are focused on the outside. Religion keeps us looking at how good we look. It blinds us to how empty we are. Jesus cleans the inside of us and draws us out into freedom so that we can make messes and learn how to clean them up. Moreover a healthy Jesus culture doesn’t look cookie cutter, but has a beautiful diversity of each person being who he or she is to be in Christ rather than just like the next clone. Religion births clones, Jesus births people.