Saturday, October 31, 2009

Are you lost?

Let’s pose a question that has always been at the forefront of my discussions; why are you for war? I have heard many people tell me that they feel war is necessary and for that I have laughed but recently I have come to the conclusion that they are still looking for something here in this world.

There are many answers to that question and I will attempt to pose a few and then give retort to them. So backing up, one answer is that war is necessary. I have to ask the question however, of why is it necessary? But I know the premise of the initial statement of necessity. It is born out of fear and irrational thought but it is at least a common trait. Some people seem to be wired in such a way that when they see evil, they feel it must be vanquished immediately. When evil has a chance to spread it becomes a cancer that is fatal and for some people, the only way to deal with that type of disease is to cut it wholly. If it leaves a scar then so be it, but eradicate the cancer and all will be well again.

The sad fact is that in real life, cancer is something that even if you cut off your leg to erase one cancer, another one may surface in your arm or your head. Evil, like cancer, is something that exists in this world and all the fighting to date has yet to yield a result other than death. And guess what, evil still exists in this world. Hold that thought…

Imagine that prior to going to work each day you had to go to war with your neighbor because it was a necessity. Each day your neighbor would put up a new fence at the end of your driveway and he would barricade himself behind it and wait for you to try and escape. Rather than be late for work you would not wait around long and would drive your armored car through his barricade and move on with your day. Does this sound too inane to be real? Good, we have an argument against necessity.

For war to be a necessity, it has to be something you can’t get around. You have to be left with no other choice than to fight; that is necessity. Currently our country is engaged in two fronts, in two countries and we are not doing well in either. We do not have to be in either place but we have indeed chosen to be there. Let me repeat that…it is not necessary for us to be there. In fact, in the history of the world there is no war where an opponent was forced to fight, making war a necessity.

Another common belief for why someone is for war is the idea of fighting for peace. The oxymoron involved there is beyond comprehension but I have to offer something lest you think I’ve gone soft. Committing acts of violence in the name of peace is like trying to get your iron intake by putting nails in your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s like throwing your baby in the garbage because he stinks. It’s like buying a sub-machine gun to use at a clay shoot. None if it makes sense and leads me to the conclusion that too many people are not convinced that they are not of this world.

War is perpetuated by people who have more ego than sense, more desire for power than decency. This is not my passive speak anymore, this is my in your face speak and I mean to make waves, not just stir the cesspool. It has been said before that you should never argue with a stupid person for fear that those looking on will not be able to tell the difference between the two of you. The same can be said of those who start wars. People who argue for war are in fact arguing against stupidity, but their arguments are so bold and they are moved by such “patriotism” that when people look on they fail to see the stupidity, and instead embrace grandeur.

There are three main points that I would like to make here.

First is, war never produces a winner, only losers, only death and only great loss.

Second is, when anyone masks the sin of murder with the lie of ridding the world of evil, he himself is evil. Your very intentions are to kill other people because YOU think it is right. God Himself said that “vengeance alone is mine”.

Third is, when man fails to recognize his calling to be in the world but not of the world, he loses sight of eternity and instead focuses on the one thing he thinks he has control over; this place.

Mankind continues to seek the pleasures and spoils of this world and continues to serve the wrong master. War is all about greed and ego and it will never be about righteousness and living out your faith. We have a unique opportunity as followers of Christ to serve this world, in light of eternity, as we have been called by the one who has saved us.

Maintaining that focus might bring persecution, but for His sake I pray that we stand ready for that kind of fight. There is no escaping conflict in this world; it’s your response to it that points to where you call home.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


Monday, October 26, 2009


We can talk about the travesty of war all day but we must investigate the very core first. At the heart of any conflict is intent. But how do we get our intent? Seriously, think about that one.

Our intent only becomes impure when our desire outweighs it. What I mean is this; if you want something (that is your heart’s desire), then your intent becomes your desire. When your desire is something you cannot have, your intent becomes compromised; you have a decision to make.

Will you choose to chase that which you desire even if you can’t have it? If so, your intent has changed because in any event you want something you can’t have, your motives become questioned, as do your ethics.

We see this exemplified everyday on the news. From politicians who cheat on their spouses, to professional athletes who risk everything to participate in an illegal activity. From pastors who fail as humans even though their very essence is to please God, to celebrities who are willing to sell their very souls to be famous. This is not just a rare occurrence but instead something that happens everyday, in nearly every walk of life and in every nation. There is no immunity.

So what then can we do with this intent, this broken circle that seems to bring us to our knees too often? We fail to recognize a way out and are too quick to blame society. When that placates us for that moment we move on, ignorant of the devastation of what we have just done and we make the same critical errors again.

There is another way you know, and it starts with surrender. We have to look at who we are and recognize that we will not make a single difference in this world on our own. We are powerless against the advances of this world but here is one simple fact to keep in mind; everything in this place will fade away at some point. That is one inescapable fact that no one can disagree with.

When you are gone, there will be more just like you and me, more people bent on the destruction of our souls, more people who see only what they want to see. Society cannot be to blame for your failures, only your desires are to blame. You alone make a decision to be the way you are. Will you change your direction or maintain the same old you? This society will replace you in an instant with someone else willing to risk it all because of ill intent.

On the flip side, your intent can make the difference between what other people choose to do. Consider the effect that a movie like Pay It Forward has on its viewers; reports have circulated around the world of acts of kindness that directly relate to that movie. There is an insurance company that touts doing the right thing and they are making a difference from a business perspective by being people centric. This is active cooperation on the part of a citizenry that is keen to the needs of their own. Whether you view it as profit gaining or not, the majority of people seek better than what they see. Clearly the intent is good but can we maintain it? In light of eternity I pray we can.

Our goal when it comes to intent is to sow the seed of desire in a positive way. When desire takes on a negative tone in any way, our intent is immediately in trouble. Check yourself daily regarding the intents of your marriage, your career, your very life. If you have to ask yourself what your intent is on a minute by minute basis, then find a way to engage others to do the same.

The Bible talks about the intent of our heart as it relates to every decision we make, not just the big ones but all of them. When our intent is pure we maintain our focus on the commission that Jesus has for us. We cannot get caught up regarding the intents of this world, they will eat us alive.

Intent #1 = Love God with everything you have; your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength.

Intent #2 = Love your neighbor as yourself.

Maintain that intent in this life, if for no other reason than what comes next.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

American Christianity part two

To critique American Christianity is to dive into what appears to be a popular mindset among critics. Understanding the why is not as important as learning the perspective and the motive.

For instance, is the writer cynical from an atheist’s view or from having been in the church for some time and found themselves disenchanted by the people within?

I think we must first ask if the critique is coming from inside or outside the church. After that, what is the intent of the writer? If the intent is good, are we listening and hopeful to receive the criticism constructively?

The church is under fire, but not because of faith, it is indeed because of rhetoric and self righteous hypocrisy within the church. What I find however is more often than not, it is a few very loud parishioners who are outspoken in their opinions. We are witnessing a ‘talk-show’ mentality among the far right in the church.

The intent here is to point out a growing problem and bring it before the only principality I am sure of today; God. We need to pray for intercession, clarity and boldness to confront this very real threat. The church is the body of Christ and there is no place in that body for this kind of sickness.

I am also writing out of love. Our positions as Christ followers (or little Christ’s), is to love one another as He loved us. When we aspire to that end we bring about the light to this place that Jesus desires for us. However, when we indulge in this foray of rhetoric because it seems the place of the church we fall into a trap that the enemy is all too keen to lead us.

We can be sure of one thing and that is God is in control. God knows the devils we face and He will not let us suffer more than we can handle. Pay attention to what you see and hear and filter it through the word of God and let the Spirit be your guide. The critics are many but their words are hollow and fade away instantly when compared to the greatness of our creator.

I could sit here and list for you the egregious offenses that are going on right now but you already know what I am talking about. Whether politics or economical factors or rumors or lies, we are in the midst of a chaos that is human made and not God ordained. We are allowing a dark negativity to pervade our souls, especially when we allow it into the very sanctuaries of this world.

I do not sit here to critique the church as much as I do the Christians inside that church. To enter into God’s house you are to have first made right with your brother or sister and then you go to God to give Him praise for all He does in your life. Instead we walk before God and lay burdens at His feet that are more than trivial, they are self serving and downright dangerous.

To make matters worse, we poison the minds of other Christians with the defense that we must all think alike! We must all vote alike and like the same radio and TV stations and agree on public policy the same. This inerrant world view is such that it is becoming main-stream in churches across the United States today. If you walk into a church, you are in essence saying that you agree and abide by the beliefs of the whole (or the majority). Those beliefs are not what you think; they are not the tenets by which that church practices their faith, but instead they are the tenets of being a patriot or merely an American Christian.

There are many tenets of this so called movement. Among them are beliefs such as pro-war, anti-abortion, pro-death penalty, pro-Republican, anti-liberal. The list goes on but sufficed to say, this is a movement rooted in Reagan-ism and is not going away for at least thirty years (that’s how long it will take for the majority of these believers to start passing away). I don’t go down this road to make people uneasy, but to prevail to people to stop and pay attention to what is going on.

We have become such an intolerant society. Nothing is good enough anymore, at least not for any considerable length of time. We change our minds more often than we change our underwear. We do so because there are truly no consequences left. So much of Christianity allows believers a free ride anymore. Since we are not responsible for our own salvation and we couldn’t do anything about it anyway, what do we have to gain by living a good life?

Jesus came and rocked the worlds of twelve every day guys. For 3 years He showed them a love they had literally never seen. He taught them what it meant to truly serve others. And lastly He taught them what sacrifice really looked like. Along the way He pointed to the Father countless times, spoke of the Law regularly and made a few things crystal clear.

Number one, that no one was getting to the Father except through Him. Number two, that we needed to actually love the Father with everything and to do so at all times (not just on Sundays). And number three, we have to love our neighbor…every last, dirty, rotten, crummy lot of them. For better or for worse, we have a lifetime to live out in service to the very people who would rather see us dead.

Do me a favor and re-read that last paragraph. Soak in that last sentence. Does modern Christianity look like this? Think especially hard of the people you see everyday, the ones you know that go to church, including yourself. This is not a joke, this is your life we are talking about here and you have a choice to make. Will you continue serving something else first (insert America or the GOP or Glenn Beck here), or will you wake up to your true calling.

American Christianity will taste a bitter defeat soon, rest assured. It will be the fault of a few well intentioned folks who just wanted to make the Christian life more publicly noticeable but instead turned Christianity into a side show for politics and right wing talk show hosts. Do not fear however, there is a way out and His name is Jesus. Unlike the GOP, He will not let you down….ever. Your eternity depends on whether or not you accept that simple truth.
My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The American Christian

There is this myth that pervades the very soul of this place, this country, this wondrous collection of states. This myth is something that looks like the real deal depending on who you ask. Basically it suggests that we are not just a Christian nation but we are in fact only a Christian nation. No other religions are aloud to exist here based on this myth, there is simply not room among the 80% (or more depending on who you ask) of the population who claim Christianity as their religion of choice.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to experience a little bit of what perpetuates this myth. While studying James 1:9-18 in which we specifically studied temptation, we looked at the progression of temptation, to lust, to sin and finally to death. We discussed how a strong faith, even under pressure, can persevere under trials and temptations, to see through to what God is giving us; eternal life.

In the midst of that discussion someone tripped in with a remark of how they wished we could talk about Democrats and health care and the redistribution of wealth and so on. Fortunately it didn’t last long but in that few seconds we were exposed to the very thing we were studying. The very people who were about to walk into a sanctuary to give God praise were giving into temptation to willingly talk about something that carries much emotion and debate, along with considerable angst for people they might not agree with.

As James says, our lust is seducing and it flares up in us, causing us to sin. We are called to so much more and yet we allow ourselves to be marginalized by our blatant actions and words. Some might call them hateful but I do not agree that all who share certain thoughts are hateful, but misdirected. This myth is exposed moment by moment when in fact we are nothing but heretics who act religiously. We seem more concerned by our outward appearance than showing others what is inside. The light we are supposed to shine is dimmed by flare ups of lust. Others only see our attitude and hear our speech. Instead of reaching out to others with love we shut people out with distaste.

This is the myth exposed; that we are not a Christian nation if in fact we are not truly Christians. Under the microscope we see a rotting population of people who are actually patriots first and Christ’s soldiers second (at best). This country, that will inevitably fall away, has become more important than the eternal country we seek to inherit.

It isn’t a bad thing to be an American but it is infinitely more important to maintain the priority of an eternal perspective before we get caught up in the limited perspective of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

James goes on to give us some powerful instructions in the following two verses. We need to look closely at this and remember that God does not desire for us to be in conflict with our neighbor but to love them. James 1:19-20 (NASB):

19This you know, my beloved brethren but everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

These things in this life that seek to trip us up are those things that the enemy uses to pull us further and further from God. If we truly aspire to be a Christian nation then we must first withdraw ourselves from these places of temptation and turn to God for wisdom. James points out the way in chapter one…1:5 (NASB):

5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

You see, for us to find our faith we must first turn to God and turn away from the temptations of this world. Americans have a hard time with that. Our faith is not tested like that. We do not know persecution like that, tribulations like that. God is watching America and trust me that there are few in this country who truly are turning to Him for wisdom. I know this because the 80% I mentioned earlier are still more concerned with the USA than heaven.

I count myself among those still trying to figure out how to properly ask our creator for the wisdom to see past these borders. America is a great country but we have a unique opportunity to shine a light for God instead of being so consumed with shining a torch for the good old U S of A. Take an opportunity right now to ask God to wipe out all the mess in your life and in your head. Take grasp of this incredible new life that He has offered you. Run with it and show it off, then make sure and stay on the path. We have a lot of work to do to reprove this myth.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.