Friday, September 8, 2017

Just Thinking about being ready

For all of my Coos County and surrounding area friends I have a question for you? As you are watching the fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and etc. are you secretly saying I'm glad it's them and not me? Are you secretly thinking nothing like that could happen here? I’m not saying that in a negative judgmental way, but in a real and serious way? Is there some sense of relief that it is not you who is under threat right now? Well…

I have a feeling that a month or so ago those in Houston didn't think it would happen to them. Those in Florida know hurricanes can come, but one like this? The hundreds even thousands who have been forced to run because of fires probably didn't realize it would come so fast either. Last night there were folks in Mexico that went to sleep like any other night and were blasted awake with the shaking of an 8+ earthquake. Some lost their lives. They probably didn't think that would happen either.

What's my point? My point is that I am concerned. Seriously! I am concerned for my family and for my church family. I am concerned for those who live and work around me every day. Some of you may be my friends and some of you may not or would not like me at all. I am still concerned for you. My concern is that if something really catastrophic happened like a MAJOR storm or an earthquake, many would have no plan or preparation to deal with it. I suppose, like many, we believe the government will step in and fix it. What if they don’t? What if they can’t? What if you and your family is all you have to count on? I am concerned that we are so busy living our day to day lives that we don’t even care enough to think about it.

What if there are no stores to go to for food or water? Can’t happen you say? It’s happening right now in Houston Texas and is likely to be the case for, as it looks at the time I am writing this, most of the state of Florida. In just a few hours it may be that there is no food, water, gas or other supplies available in large portions of two states. That doesn’t even include what is going on in the Islands that have already been hit or those who have been displaced because of the fires in our territory. I’m sure most of those involved didn’t think it would happen a few weeks ago or even a few days ago.

 Do you have a plan? Do you have food and water available to you should there be a time when all the stores are closed or empty? Do you have an emergency bag that you can throw on your back and run if a storm, earthquake, fire or some other emergency happens? Should you? Or is this just a bunch of nonsense “prepper” talk?

I am happy to say that there are some areas that my family and I are prepared. I am equally bummed out to say there are some areas that we are not. However, we are, even today, working to remedy that situation.

How about you? Does it matter? Is everything always going to be as it has been?

On another and I believe more important note. I am a believer in Christ. I am a pastor. One of the greatest passions of my life is to study the Bible and to see what it has to say to us today, and it says a lot! Take these words for instance. I have noticed they have been floating around the net for the last couple days. Jesus said that in the final days:

25 “there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. 26 People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. – Luke 21:25-26

I know! I know! There have always been eclipses, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and more, but is it possible that there is significance to the fact that they are all happening almost simultaneously? Aww never mind. This is all probably just a bunch of religious silliness, right? Yeah, maybe. But what if it’s not? What if what’s happening isn’t what all the “best and brightest” minds say is happening? What if Jesus really did tell us 2000 years ago what we should look for before he came back? What if we really are in the final days? Are you prepared for that? I think as important as it is, AND IT IS, to prepare for a catastrophe, it is even more important that you prepare spiritually. If, for any reason, catastrophic or not, your life were to come to an end today do you know where you would go? Your eternity depends on it. Trust Jesus. Ask him to come into your life and give you the wisdom to know how to live in the days we are living in. If you need help knowing how to do that hit me up. It would be my honor to help you get it figured out. I would never say I know it all, but I think I know enough to help you get started.

Whether you know who I am or not, I want you to know that I care about you! PLEASE do what you need to do to be ready if that thing you don’t think can happen really happens? Be Blessed, Tom

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Just Thinking..... About Elections, Politics, Divisions and Real Love

 It’s been an interesting few months hasn’t it? I have tried my best to avoid the mindless political speak that I am constantly bombarded with these days. I have friends who span the political spectrum from the pretty far right all the way to the pretty far left. I like it that way. It does get crazy sometimes though.

 I remain clear, to all my “righties” and “lefties” what I believe and I try to leave it at that. Since my core belief is that hope for our country and world is in Christ and not in politics, I try to steer clear of political arguments. However, there is just this teeny-weeny little thing I want to point out to all of my Christian brothers and sisters and also my very non-Christian friends as well.

 But first, some background.

On Election Day all of my friends on the left of the spectrum were simply glowing with over confidence. The election was over before the voting even started. When the results started to pour in they became apoplectic. The election was stolen, there was fraud, the Russians did it, and on and on. That has continued to be the posture of most. The protests of inauguration day and the woman’s march only succeeded in stoking the rage and further proving to most of America that those who so adamantly profess tolerance and love can also be some of the most intolerant and hateful people around. (I’m really sorry, but it’s true)

These days my twitter, facebook, etc. timelines, as well as multiple personal interactions are a constant barrage of hatred toward Trump, the republicans, the stupid American idiots….. You get the point. I don’t say this to stoke further division, I simply want to say that if you are on that side of the political aisle, it may be helpful to look at yourselves and find out why you lost. Not only have you lost the presidency, but you have lost 100’s of federal and state legislature positions, governorships and so on. It has been going on for years. The more you push, hate and divide the more you lose. I’m just sayin’….. Let’s move on shall we?

In the last few days though, I have noticed a shift in the anger. Oh don’t get me wrong, they still hate Trump and every other person who chooses not to bow down to their intimidation, but now I notice all the hate being thrown at the Christians. My question is why? Rhetorical, I already know the answer.

Just today, I have seen cartoons of overweight, hateful Christian women beating Syrian children with Bibles, I have seen posts mocking Christians as the stupid white guys who have all the privilege in the world and want nothing more than to take everyone else’s rights away. (Who knew that every Christian is a white guy? That will come as a surprise to a lot of my friends and… Hey wait a minute; I thought it was angry women beating children with Bibles. I’m confused) I have seen posts mocking the pro-life community for having the unmitigated gall to say that murdering children in the womb is a bad thing. My favorite post today at least, is the “America has become a theocracy” angle. Donald Trump??? A Theocracy??? (Pardon me while I clean up the orange juice I just spit out laughing) I pray for President Trump but I think we’re a couple minutes out from a theocracy. In the end, as I have come to understand, the Christians are the single biggest problem in the world. If they could get rid of us I’m sure everything would be perfect.

At times I begin to get discouraged. I think to myself, “Man I must be surrounded by a bunch of hateful, hayseed idiots. Maybe I should turn my back on Christianity.” But then!!! I get punched in the face by reality!

You see, I am surrounded by Christians on a daily basis. REAL CHRISTIANS! Not the buffoonish caricatures that are being pushed by those who don’t like us. You know what I see? I see folks who have little to no money sacrificing what they do have so they can buy food to help feed a homeless person. I see people working their tails off to create a place where food and clothes can be stored in order to feed and clothe those who need it. (Excuse me a moment… Just got a text…..Ahh yes it is from a lady in my church who, on her day off, is trying to organize the food recently donated to give away in the “food room” that some other church members have been trying to finish for two weeks….such deplorables)

Anyway, I see people who work 40 hour a week jobs and then in their “off” time, they minister in prisons and work to help people get out of abusive, negative life-killing situations. I see people who sacrifice tirelessly to help people find freedom from alcohol, drugs and whatever other addiction they may be caught up in. I see people every day who take seriously the admonition of Jesus that the greatest commandment is to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Do you know their names? No you don’t! Why? Because they do not care if you know their names, they only care that you find help and the love of God. And guess what? Keep hating them and they will still try to help you when you need it. Weird huh?

 Here’s some real truth. Love is not shown by sitting in front of a computer all day long mindlessly retweeting everyone else’s thoughts. Love is not in the #resistance or the #revolution or whatever the meaningfully meaningless hashtag is today. Love is shown when you get out from behind your computer screen and actually help someone. I understand it though. It is much simpler and conscience easing to sit behind a monitor and take shots at people in the name of love and tolerance than it is to actually get out and love people where they are. You can agree or disagree with building a wall on the border, but hundreds of thousands have already built a wall between themselves and the real needs in our country. That wall is their computer screen. Keep on posting and you won’t have to see the real needs. It may make you feel better but, in the end, 1000 tweets do not feed, clothe or help ANYONE!

 I’m not actually moved by any of this though, because I have known since I was young that the world would hate those who follow Christ. It may actually be beneficial. As long as folks are hidden behind their hashtags, they won’t be in our way as we try our best to help others and proclaim the love of God. My thanks for helping us win the culture war.

No it doesn’t bother me that people who don’t know any better dislike me or my Christian family. What bothers me most is when my Christian family gets wrapped up in the back and forth. When Nehemiah was rebuilding Jerusalem, his enemies mocked him and did their best to intimidate him. They sent a message and told him to stop doing what he was doing and to come talk to them. Paraphrasing his words, the response was “I’m doing a great work for God; I don’t have time to come and talk to you.” We must realize that our job is to share love and truth. If that is rejected, so be it. However, don’t stop doing the “great work” God has called you to. Share the gospel, Love the unlovable, free the captives, and be like Jesus! In Acts 10:38 it says, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Church family, this is what we need to do. Just keep “doing good,” speaking healing, and proclaiming  the love of God. Don’t get caught up in foolish arguments. It’s a waste of precious time.

In the end, I see that much of the anger is coming because our enemy, our real enemy, (Not people) knows that his facade of fake love and fake tolerance is crumbling in the face of the real love that is being shown by the real church. There are crazies, fakes and frauds who hate and shame the name of Christ, but they are not us. We are those who are willing to lay it all down to love God and love others and we are succeeding. In the end those who love in the name of Christ will be shown to have had the truth all along. Just love. You will most likely continue to be hated. Jesus told us what to do with that. Love those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you. Show them all what love really looks like. In the end Love really will win!

Lastly, it’s time to start bridging some of the gaps. What I know is that the perception many have of Christianity is not the reality. I also know that every ugly thing said about the non-Christian community is not true either. If there is anyone who wants to do something to actually try and help people let me know. We, as well as many churches and groups in the area could use the help. Christian or not, turn your computer off and open your eyes. The opportunities are all around you.

With nothing but love to you all

Monday, July 18, 2016

I Suppose

I suppose I could complain
About how tough my life can be
About how I’ve been done wrong and hurt
About all those who were mean to me

I suppose that I could grumble
And blame my trouble on others
And lament how much better it would be
If not for that church of hypocritical sisters and brothers

I suppose that I could fuss
And refuse to look inside
And realize my trouble is of my own making
Instead of running away to hide

I suppose that I could murmur
And get others to feel bad for me
To gently pat me on my back
And illicit all their sympathy

But should I choose
To cry and complain
The bound will stay bound
And the addicted the same

And If I choose to take my ball
and run away and caterwaul
Broken families remain Broken
Stuck with no hope at all

The Devil will laugh
 The sinner stays lost
Another life may leave this Earth
Having never heard of Christ and His Cross

Because while I moan
While I selfishly grumble
Christ cannot use me
To reach a life that has crumbled

So instead of complaining
And fussing and such
I will choose to stay faithful
And see that I’ve been blessed so much

For to live my life focused only on me
Is a life that I refuse
To die having wasted my very breath
Instead of giving God my breath to use

Because I have been chosen
To shine a light
To offer hope
In the darkest night

And on the day
When my last breath I take
I want to have given all I could
To share the Love of God and for the Gospel’s sake

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Just Thinking...About Laodicea

The greatest problem in the American church is that we are the Laodicean church! The most prominent message I hear today, especially by Christian Television and media is the “Prosperity” Gospel. It’s all about blessing, breakthrough and the pursuit of personal satisfaction. Apparently the sign of God’s blessing is money, jet planes, impressive homes and big buildings. Who Knew?

We fear struggle more than we fear The Spirit. We fear losing money more than we fear losing our anointing. We fear losing our prestige more than we fear losing our voice. We fear losing our tax exempt status more than we fear losing the presence of God.

Meanwhile, race wars are breaking out, our cities are being destroyed, our citizens are being murdered, our officers are being mowed down in the streets and our babies are being killed in the womb. Evil is redefined and legislated to be righteousness and the righteous are viewed and portrayed as hapless idiots.

We stand as a Christian community, wringing our hands and saying, “I don’t understand why we are not respected and honored like we used to be. Why won’t anyone listen to us?” We attempt to bolster our waning influence through boycott and forcing the legislation of morality, instead of allowing God to create a moral revolution driven by The Spirit of God, in us, through us and into the conscience of our country. Political expediency is, seemingly, easier than Spirit-driven transformation. (Oh, and hopefully it won’t affect our bank accounts. Because, after all, calling sin sin and calling out for repentance may negatively impact our finances, P.R. and very thorough marketing plans.) Where do you suppose this is all heading? How’s it working out?

 The media on the right and the left are putting forth a racist, evil and deceptive narrative of events that seem designed, purposefully, to stir up abomination, anger, hate and division. Sadly, the Christian community is, by and large, getting sucked in hook, line and sinker. By all means, we need a few more posts, articles, commentaries and sermons from inside the Christian church that explain why the Whites are wrong, the Blacks are wrong, the Latinos are wrong, the Bora Borians are wrong, the Gilligans Islanders are wrong, the republicans, the democrats, the government is wrong...and on and on. I know this is true because CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, E.S.P.N. and that really smart guy on public access told me so!

What we really need is just a teeny weenie bit more media parroting hatred and division from those who claim to be a voice for Christ. (Oh and we need some more supposedly theologically sound discussion of why the things God calls sin aren't REALLY sin. That one news interview with that one college theology professor from that one college explained to me how what the Bible says isn't really what it says. I'm glad that confusion got cleared up. Also, eliminating the truth of God's Word will bring the people running and the money flowing. Woo Hoo!)

Is all of this the message of The Gospel? Does it matter? Is this the message that will facilitate revival and release an awakening of The Spirit of God? Is this the message of The Apostle Paul who said:

Galatians 3:26–29 (NLT)
26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”

And yet, the united voice of the Christian church seems to be more attuned to being en vogue than being a voice. Jesus is knocking at the door church! It’s time to let Him back in!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Just Thinking.....About America

What can you say? How do you digest the devastating wounds that we are inflicting on ourselves? At what point will we see that the culture that we have created in this country is killing us from the inside. At what point do we realize that our politicians are useless to help fix the gaping wounds that are bleeding life out of America? At what point do we realize that meaningless arguments and the hatred spread from social media to the streets of our country is succeeding in nothing except for driving a deeper wedge between “US” and “THEM?” We are all US! We are citizens of the U.S. At what point do we realize that it’s not O.K. to continue to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that we don’t know our country is imploding? It’s not acceptable to say it’s not your problem. It’s not reality to say “It’s not that bad.” At what point do we quit blaming our broken condition on things that are irrelevant to the real problems we face? At what point do we realize that we have to turn to turn back to God if we have any hope at all of righting this sinking ship.
I have watched with incredible sadness and I admit overwhelming anger, the events of the last several days, months and now years. What I see is that death drives hate and hate drives death. What I see is that when you create a culture that devalues life then lives are lost because they are not valued. It is a natural, and seemingly obvious, conclusion. Maybe not? From the abortion clinic to the nursing home to the streets of our cities life doesn’t really mean much anymore. Oh we say it does but in reality we watch people being shot, we watch the news of officers being murdered, we debate whether our taxes should be used to kill unborn babies in the womb and then we yawn as we go back to posting selfies and discussing the Kardashians.

 I love our Police Officers! Let me say that again so there is no confusion, I LOVE OUR POLICE OFFICERS! I can’t begin to imagine and I won’t pretend to try and understand the pressure our law enforcement officials are under. They have to deal with stuff every day that all of us who sit on our high horses pretend to understand and feel free to criticize. They are asked to walk in to situations that require split second judgments and actions. Their job description is to run in while you are running away. They see and experience on a regular basis what many of us would not wish to experience even once in a lifetime. Those who are so critical of law enforcement tell me, when was the last time you put your life on the line for someone you don’t even know? Hmm…awfully quiet out there. These individuals are husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends and family. They don’t have any desire to die. They don’t look forward to being shot or stabbed our assaulted. They don’t enjoy being criticized or hated, but they are willing to risk all of these outcomes to protect you and me. All of you who are or have been in some way involved with law enforcement THANK YOU!

Having said that, we also must address what is real, not just what we wish to be real. What is real is that there are bad police officers. Not all officers are bad! A majority of officers are not bad! A lot of officers aren’t bad! There are VERY FEW! The problem we face in our country right now is these few give the whole community a bad name. As I type this, I am broken to be watching the news of the Dallas Police Officers who were inexplicably executed in cold blood. Their crime? I guess their crime was to show up and protect the people who were protesting them. I admit that I don’t know everything that is going on in this situation, but it appears at this moment, they were killed as some form of protest of what other officers supposedly did. Maybe this information will change as the investigation proceeds. If it is true then why are they paying the price for the bad apples who aren’t true police officers, but thugs in a uniform? I can only believe that all of the faithful and committed officers out there wish to get rid of these criminals in uniform as much as anyone else. Why would they want their names and reputations damaged by these frauds?

It is so awful and absolutely unacceptable that we seem to be constantly presented with videos or accounts of young black men being shot by police officers. When I see what I see, the evidence seems pretty convincing that they are being shot down without legitimate cause. Do you know what the problem with my opinion is? I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about. I don’t know who is telling the truth because I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened before these recordings began. I don’t know what the officers perceived to be happening. I don’t know if they were threatened. I don’t really know anything.

The sad truth is the loudest voices of hatred against the police are emanating from people who don’t know a shred of information more than I do. As hard and as dangerous as it seems to be to say some of those who are killed are killed because of terrible choices they made. It may not be politically correct to say, but it is true. Maybe we could let each case be investigated and allow those with knowledge to determine what really happened. If the evidence is as it seems to be, these so-called officers are guilty of murder. When it is true that one of our fellow citizens is gunned down, then justice must be served. If it is shown that the one who was killed is at fault then we must face that reality also and put the blame where the blame is justified.

There are more than a few of my friends that look at these protests that are happening related to these incidents and are quick to criticize. They see anger and, at times, the destruction of cities. It is easy to dismiss this as simply criminal behavior. However, just as it is true that there are some criminal police officers, there are criminal protesters. There are those who are willing to destroy their own communities, not to truly protest anything, but just because they can. Sensible people of any racial background cannot believe the destruction of neighborhoods, businesses and property are productive ways to make their voices heard. Murdering innocent police officers is no more justifiable as a tactic as the incidents that are supposedly being protested. Sometimes criminals are just being criminals.

However, we CANNOT use the activity of criminals to outshine those who are protesting for what may very well be a justifiable cause. If people of any color are being shot unjustifiably then a protest at the very least is in order. If my son or daughter was shot for no reason, mistaken reason or even worse criminal reason, I would, most certainly, protest as well. I would likely demand justice and not stand down until I received justice. Why is that so hard to understand? We are all the same and we would probably react in similar fashion. It’s true right? Be honest.

Here’s the thing. When all is said and done there is an answer for all of this that very few are willing to hear. The answer is Jesus Christ. Anyone who has truly studied the Word of God and understands what it teaches about love, hope, reconciliation and peace knows that this is the answer. I know this opinion is easily mocked and ridiculed. However, what I also know is that in Christ there is no white, black, Hispanic or any other racial separation. There are only sons and daughters of the Living God. I love our country. I am praying that God will visit us again and help us to pull out of the mess we have made. I am not concerned with what anyone thinks about my answer to all of this. It is reality. I think for the believer in Christ there is no more time to worry about what people think, we must pray, we must love, we must preach the good news of Jesus Christ. It is our only hope.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Just Thinking....About Orlando

So while scrolling through all of the responses to the shootings in Florida, I have found the typical get rid of guns, get more guns, it's the Muslims, it's not the Muslims banter. There are the various insults, profanities and the typical name calling. None of which is actually helping anything. It does seem to make people feel like they are important and accomplishing something though. So maybe that is a good way for them to vent their anger. However, once in a while some individual who seems to believe in the greatness of their intelligence will bring up the supposedly brilliant argument that Christians are just as violent as Muslims. This argument is often strengthened by pointing out that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were "Christians." While I sit dumbfounded by the absolute ignorance of this argument a couple of thoughts occur to me.

First, the truth is Hitler did use Christianity in his evil. The Nazis did, in fact, cause many of the churches to join Hitler in his perverted beliefs by using German pastors as tools for his political aspirations. HOWEVER!!!! There was a sizable group of Christian pastors and leaders from all over the world who stood strongly, openly and vocally in opposition to Hitler and his agenda. Men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (I would suppose many reading this may not know this man. It would be wise for you to look him up) These men and woman actually gave their lives attempting to take down Adolf Hitler. They recognized the real problem and sacrificially set out to do something about it. They realized that the Christian faith was being perverted and used as an avenue for the propagation of evil. They weren't quietly sitting on the sidelines but boldly standing against, being imprisoned for and giving their lives for the mission of stopping this tyrant. It was never the Christians who were behind this evil, it was Hitler and the Nazis.

It is true that there will always be a perversion of the Christian faith, but there will always be a strong outcry from those who truly know the Word of God. 

So, my question is for those who claim Islam is a religion of peace. Where is the huge groundswell of Muslim believers who are so strongly standing against this perversion of their religion? Where is the voice of the resistance? I don't see it. I do realize there are a few voices here and there but where is the organized voice of the peaceful Muslim? Most of what I see is an immediate running to a microphone to tell people they are not allowed to believe that Islam is a religion of hate and violence, while commenting on yet another act of hate and violence perpetrated by someone who claims Islam as their faith and yells “Allahu Akbar” while carrying out the act. The anger gets directed at the victims, their families and all of the Americans and others who are wondering why these Muslim believers keep killing us. Somehow their actions are the fault of those who would even dare ask the question. 

Are ALL Muslims violent extremists? Absolutely not! I do not believe, in any way, that all Muslims are violent extremists, but the fact is, there are terrorist attacks occurring consistently that are either directly linked to, or at least inspired by, the radical Islamic belief system. Somehow and in some way those who believe their religion is being hijacked need to stand up in mass and put an end to it or at least vocally oppose it.

Now, let’s move back to Hitler the “Christian” and his Nazi “Christian” cohorts. When logic and good sense ruled in the world, evil was met by a resolve to destroy it. No one ran around blaming the weapons Hitler and the Nazis used to destroy. MILLIONS of Jews were killed in the Nazi gas chambers. You did not see people running around claiming there needed to be a ban on gas chambers. Why? Gas chambers were not the problem. Hitler was the problem. The Nazis were the problem. I want to be very clear about something. What I’m about to say is not because I am either in favor of or against the second amendment and the access to guns. So PLEASE keep the gun arguments out of this. That is not the point of THIS post. If you wish to argue about gun control there are many other posts that are not hard to find today.

What I know is the problem is far bigger than guns. Not one single person was killed on 9/11 because of a gun. In Israel, they are facing terrorist attacks on a very regular basis. Many don’t know this because they are, apparently, too busy to pay attention. What is the weapon of choice in these attacks? A Knife. These attacks are happening often. There aren’t as many people killed in these attacks, but the frequency with which they are occurring is leaving just as much damage. Just last week Yazidi woman were burned to death because they refused to be raped by their captors. In the last few months a Jordanian pilot was placed in a cage and burned to death. Others were placed in cages and lowered into water. Christians were forced to kneel on top of bombs that were buried in the ground. Bombs exploded! Christians dead! People EVERY DAY are being crucified, burnt, blown up, thrown off of buildings, drown and beheaded. These people are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, Hindus, Buddhists, gays, straights, woman, men and children. What is the one thing all of these evil and disgusting acts have in common? It wasn’t guns. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the common denominator. And another question; Why no massive outcry on facebook and twitter in support of these lives? The silence is deafening. I think the real answer to that question may be very telling. (Excuse me your hypocrisy is showing)

Also, the young man who attacked the nightclub was, apparently, known by the F.B.I. since 2013 to be tied to terror and acquainted with a man involved with suicide bombings. (When a background check was done for his “so easy to purchase” guns, why wasn’t this information available to the seller? A different question for a different post) How many people have been killed by Islamic terrorist suicide bombings in, let’s say, the last 5 years? HUNDREDS!! My point is that you can ban “assault” weapons if you want. It won’t make a difference. You can ban all guns if you want. It won’t make a difference. Those who have a core ideology of killing people they hate will always find a way to kill people they hate. While we argue about guns and things maybe we could take a moment to remember that there is an entire branch of Islam that believes they are called, not to prevent war and death, but to provoke a war in order for their “Mahdi” or their Messiah to show up and rule over a new Islamic kingdom. For those who think I don’t know what I’m talking about please study it out yourself. If starting a war through violence and hate is your core belief you cannot negotiate peace. They are going to kill and believe they are doing it for God. All Muslims DO NOT believe this way, but there are many that do.  

I realize the knee jerk reaction to ban guns is strong when emotions are running high but we must honestly face the fact that the guns weren't the cause of the senseless violence in Florida. The guns were tools used to carry out an act based on the true cause which was a theology of hate, probably reinforced in the mind of someone who wasn’t mentally stable to begin with. This is not a pro or anti gun statement, this is a statement of truth. His guns were tools just like gas chambers, hijacked planes, bombs knives, fire and water. Again, this is a much bigger problem than guns.

I’m not against peaceful Muslims and their freedom to worship. America is, at least at the moment, a free country with the freedom of religion. While I believe Islam is a false and deceptive religion I will not oppose those who wish to practice it. Muslims have every constitutional right to worship as they wish. At the same time, I will boldly proclaim my belief that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven and others can accept or reject that message. What I do adamantly oppose is any ideology that condones the murder of Americans or anyone else because they refuse to convert to their perverted ideology. 

Hitler and the Nazis had to be defeated. The United States and the rest of the civilized world stood up and declared we are going to put an end to them. The true Christian church stood up and said Hitler and the Nazis need to be stopped. They unified and said we are going to stand against evil in the world and eliminate it. We cannot continue to use the actions of people who are determined to kill in any way they can to justify political agendas that, at their core, are not the problem. It is high time that America and the rest of the world step up and with one united voice say enough is enough. I hear politicians; both democrat and republican talk a big game about stopping radical Islam in the world. However, at the end of the day they send out a few “strongly condemn” tweets and then go back to their fundraising and campaigning and fail to make a real stand. This is not helping either

In the end though, it doesn’t matter what politicians do because the real problem is not political. We can fight wars, kill terrorists and imprison sympathizers. It is the number one job of our government to protect the people. It is their responsibility and they must do that in ways that are very difficult and costly. However, war, death and prison will not stop hate. Why? Because our world is broken. The problem is that men’s hearts are desperately wicked and full of sin. It may seem like too simple of a thing to say but it is true. I am going to go to my grave proclaiming that there is an answer for the sin and for the destructive hate. The answer is Jesus Christ. In the Word of God He is called the Prince of Peace. It is only in Christ that hearts can be changed. Hatred is turned to love and war is overcome by peace. Most of the world will mock and reject the gospel message of Christ. It doesn’t change the truth of the message. However, there will be a day when Christ comes and sets up a kingdom that will reign in worldwide peace. That is the only time we will actually have an opportunity to see peace on Earth. When you are overwhelmed by the circumstances of the times, turn to Christ. He is your answer. Accepting Christ may not bring peace to the world today, but it will bring peace to you and there will be a day when you will see peace in the world.

Finally, my heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were lost at the hands of this murderer. I choose not to see those who were killed as “those gays.” These were real people with real families and friends who loved them. We cannot allow them to be perceived as nameless and faceless individuals. I see them as fellow Americans, as human beings, and as people who were loved by God. I do not accept that this was an attack on “The Gay Community.” There are times when we may discuss and debate our different "communities" and beliefs, but there are times when we need to stand together. This is one of those times. This was an attack on the fellow citizens of my country. We are all Americans and this was an attack on all of us. There is no excuse and no justification for what happened to them and we should all do our own part to try our best to keep it from happening again.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Just Thinking About.....Tolerance

Tolerance seems to be the buzzword of the current socially accepted, politically correct, modern culture. We are told that everyone should be tolerant of others. Seriously though, no one actually believes that. You don't believe it and I don't believe it. It would be more accurate to say that everyone must be tolerant of what THEY dictate. Am I Wrong? Look at the comment section of any article or post relating to Biblical values, traditional marriage, abstinence before marriage, the pro-life position or anything that has to do with a strong Christian stand in general. You will quickly find yourself immersed in the warm and loving arms of the new and “tolerant” society. All of the sudden, differences of opinion will, most definitely, not be tolerated. Wait one second! I think that’s called hypocrisy. Don’t point that out though. That would be intolerant of you. Manipulation, intimidation and control all in the beautiful name of tolerance.

Is the church immune to this? Hardly! Every day my facebook, twitter, instagram and "conservative" leaning news sites are filled with hateful and disrespectful articles, posts and pictures about the “evil left,” “Those idiots,” and my personal favorite “The demoncrats.” …......Demoncrats???? Really?? I bet Jesus gets a good laugh out of "demoncrats" right? LOL Jesus probably hates those people too right?? Uhh? Maybe not! I’m frustrated and discouraged to say some of those people posting and commentating are called “Pastor.” Sometimes I catch myself saying to myself, “Wow I thought that person was a Christian. Oh wait! They are?! The devil must have hacked their twitter account. I better pray about that.” Sometimes I feel tempted to say the same things. Father, lead me not into temptation!

Wouldn’t it be better if we were ACTUALLY tolerant? And by tolerant I mean intolerant. Huh? I’m just going to say it; I’m not very tolerant about some things as it relates to my life and what I believe the church is called to be. I have strong opinions on what's the best direction for our country and our society. These beliefs are based on strong foundations. I’m not just going to roll over and play dead because someone doesn’t like what I believe.

The thing is, I’m willing to bet you are the same way. There are certain things that you aren’t very tolerant of because you believe it. If you don't have things that you believe in deeply, you are not tolerant, you are weak! So here’s the thing, isn’t real tolerance being tolerant of others intolerance. Wait! Don’t tune out on me now. Is it really tolerant to only tolerate what it is that you believe? It’s not that hard for me to tolerate people who believe like me. So, the only real way for me to truly be tolerant is to tolerate people who don’t believe like me, right?

Let me put it this way, I believe that homosexuality is sin in the eyes of God. I don’t, in any way, hate homosexuals. (This is the part where I say I have people in my life that I care deeply about that are living a homosexual lifestyle which will then cue those who will mock me for saying I have people in my life that I care about that live a homosexual lifestyle. Tolerance is awesome!) Anyway, I don't hate them, I just disagree. I believe that abortion is the killing of an unborn child. I don’t hate people who believe in abortion and I certainly do not hate those who have had an abortion. I just disagree with them. I believe that The Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God. I don’t hate people who disagree. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. You don’t believe that? O.K. Guess what? I disagree with you, with very strong and long thought out reason. However, I don’t hate you and I will stand up for your right to disagree with me. We can discuss it. Put it out there in the arena of ideas and see where it leads. No hatred, no intimidation or belittling others beliefs, but a real robust, uncompromised and respectful debate. If people don't have the guts to discuss their beliefs without anger, hate and trying to shut the voice of the other, as I have said before, maybe the argument is just not that good. I am willing to stand in the arena of ideas because I believe that I know what's true and real. I truly believe that I know what, or should I say who, can fix our country and our society. I'm not ashamed to put it out there.

Why do I think this way? And maybe this is more for the church folk reading this. I think this way because, believe it or not this is what the Bible teaches. The Apostle Paul, who wrote a big chunk of the New Testament, operated this way. He would go in to a place where they were debating ideas and join the debate. When Paul spoke many believed him. Some didn’t. Some tried to kill him. Not very tolerant, but hey, whatever. No plan is perfect I suppose. The point is Paul would go into a place that had 300 “gods.” He didn’t ridicule them. Instead, he said, “Let me talk to you about that “unknown god” you have there. This is what I believe about Him.

Jesus, himself, hung out with the tax collectors, the sinners, the prostitutes, and worst of all, he hung out with the church people too. He had conversations on the ocean fishing, at a well getting a drink and over in that part of the country where that "other" race of people lived. He didn't care. He would listen to them, love them and then tell them the truth. Again, some accepted him, others didn't. The religious people and the government killed him though. The thing is Jesus planned to die. He planned to die for the same folks that were currently rejecting him and his ideas. I think that's called love.

In the end, what an individual believes is up to that individual and that individual can live with the consequence of that choice one way or another. If I’m not mistaken, that is the real definition of tolerance. This mess we have going on, especially in The United States, is ridiculous!! NO ONE can make a case for their beliefs one way or the other because everyone is screaming and simultaneously covering their ears saying, “nana nana nana I’m not listening to you.” Is it not glaringly apparent that the direction our country is going is not working? The only thing this whole tolerance thing has been successful in doing is tearing our country apart. Racism is increasing. Hatred is multiplying! Anger is on the rise! Our cities are being destroyed. Injustice is prevailing. And guess what? Donald can’t fix it. Hillary can’t fix it and even if you are really “feeling the Bern,” Bernie can’t fix it either. Don't be so foolish as to believe that they can! Why, because the problems are not political, they are spiritual. Just to be clear, THE PROBLEMS ARE NOT POLITICAL THEY ARE SPIRITUAL!!! Spiritual answers need a true spiritual answer. That’s what I believe. What if there was a better way? What if we just talked about it? But what do I know I’m just an idiot Bible-thumper right?