Thursday, December 06, 2007

Freedom From Religion

Freedom from religion is the mantra of the aetheist, but I tell you beloved reader, I have adopted their mantra as well. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17 RSV

This is a call to freedom for all who believe that their salvation comes from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ did not die to release us from the tyranny of Satan into the emotional and spiritual tyranny of man. As faith is a choice and belief, it is seated in our soul; the emotional portion of our being. Satan has devised a plan of controlling our salvation by standing ready with organized religion to control and restrain the spiritual freedom purchased by Christ on the cross. "For you were called to freedom brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5:13-15 RSV

Make your way with God first and guard your soul against the manipulations of man-made religions. Study God's word (Bible), talk and listen to God (prayer) and give him praises (worship) as a sign of your commission to Him. "Beware of false prophets (those who profess to speak the word of God), who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." Matthew 7:15 RSV

Are those who profess to be from God - servants to their flock, or are they the masters of their flock? God called the shepherds to become servants, and as a shepherd moves the flock from green pasture to green pasture for physical sustenance, so shall our shepherds leads us for our spiritual sustenance. As a shepherd protects the flock from the attacks of wolves, so our shepherds shall protect us from the attacks of the world. A minister's first duty is to minister to his flock.
Guard your spirit, the new spirit that Christ purchased for you on the cross. As you chose Christ as your Lord and Savior with fear and trembling, choose a shepherd with the same care.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You Are The Salt Of The Earth

The year is 1828 and Mrs. Child's book, The American Frugal Housewife, has been published providing sound household advice gleaned from generations of women before her. She cites: "It is good economy to salt your own beef as well as pork."

For centuries, man knew that salting provided preservation. The Egyptians used salt in the mummification of their dead, wars were fought over salt rights, history shows that salt was used as currency and it was the first disinfectant. Every living plant and animal on earth requires salt to survive, and yet when Matthew 5:13 is quoted, Christians are called the seasoning of the earth, as though our main purpose is to make life more palatable. Belief in Jesus does make life more palatable, but I believe 'our salt' provides a greater purpose.

We are the Preservation of the Earth. Each Christian carries God's Spirit within them; the Holy Spirit. His Spirit, carried inside of us, protects the earth from evil. When Christians pray, they bring the Kingdom of God to earth. The Kingdom of God is contained in our songs of worship and praise. We bring His Kingdom to earth by carrying His Spirit wherever we go.

We are the salt of the earth it is true, but in addition to seasoning, our main purpose is to hold evil at bay through the Spirit that we carry inside.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

In the Beginning

“I am a good person.” Most of us believe this statement as we measure ourselves against the world, for when we measure ourselves against what we read in the papers or see on the screen – big or small – we are good people. We grade ourselves on a sliding scale, and frankly, most of us measure up pretty well. We were raised with a set of values, and we carried those values into our schools, work and perhaps our marriages. We work to provide for our families, raise our children with the same values we hold dear, and help others who are struggling to do the same. We may regularly attend a church of our choice and closely follow the theology of our religion. Yet intimately, we know the constant struggle to maintain our goodness.

We curse the driver who cut us off on the way to work. Pent up stress from our workday will unload on our spouse or children in a verbal tirade. Internet surfing or late lunches steal precious time from our employer. Procrastination and the care of our material possessions steal our time. Envy rises when our neighbor has installed a pool, and jealously rises when someone pays too much attention to our spouse. There are family members we only tolerate because of a past hurt, and our ‘white’ lies stack up like building blocks around our souls. Comparatively, we are good people, but we are not the person God created.

Sometime ago, I volunteered to lead a Bible Study for a small group of women. They were a diverse group with empty nesters, young adults, established and new Christians, along with unbelievers. The Bible study followed national events that had turned our security into horror, our trust into fear and our love into questioning. In addition, my inner life paralleled the nation with turmoil, misunderstanding and long buried pain. After prayerful consideration, I chose spiritual warfare as my topic.

I wanted to better understand the existence of evil, how it works, how it affects each of us and more importantly, how can we combat the evil we see around us each day. I questioned why God gave us a free will knowing that we would use that will to turn away from him. I examined the disparity between living under the laws of God and living under his grace. I was confused by the letdown felt by new Christians after the first joyous flush of salvation had mysteriously left them. I could not understand the difference between judgment and discernment or the conflict between forgiveness and self-protection. Although I had witnessed the power of prayer in my life, I wanted to move beyond the ‘genie in the bottle’ type of prayer, and finally, why did God place so much emphasis on praise and worship?

There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom for knowledge can be learned, but wisdom must be earned. Although I had chosen the topic for my Bible study, God had imparted the knowledge and the wisdom. Each week as I studied the scriptures in preparation for my class he revealed to me meanings that I had not before perceived. God also brought me through experiences during that time, and since, that only clarified and confirmed what he was trying to show me.

So again I say the knowledge and the wisdom belong to God and so does the title; for they are God’s Weapons of Mass Construction.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Terrible Twos

I have not studied child psychology, nor am I a pediatrician, but I am the mother of two children
and my experience has taught me that your two year old cherub can become a nightmare of emotion without warning.

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 24:45-51 NIV

A person accepts God's plan of salvation through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus, and just as a newborn baby, ecstasy follows as they are held fast by loving arms. The whole world looks and feels different, and that person knows true love for the very first time in their lives. This is not just the type of love the world offers - "If you look, act or think as I, I will love you" - but more akin to a motherly love - "I will love you no matter what."

Just as a baby is coddled, held close and cherished, the new Christian is the focus of the church and/or other Christians. Unfortunately, this period of being loved and cherished may pass quickly in some churches, and just as the baby grows to a toddler, the 'baby' Christian starts to mature. Some churches may begin the "Don't do that." phase of their training, and as a toddler who now hears one 'NO' after another, this period can instill anxiety, fear and depression in a new Christian. This most critical time may be when most Christians fall away from the church believing that Christian life is too hard to bear.

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. " Philippians 2:12-13 NIV

God's plan of salvation was always about his holiness - not yours. Just as he saved us by his plan of salvation, so too, he will work out your salvation under his plan. Do not succumb to men's idea of who you should be for only God knows your destiny and what you will need to learn before fulfilling that destiny.

As for the rest - "In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." I John 4:17-18 NIV

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Religion of the Fig Leaf

"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." Genesis 2:16-17

Adam and Eve had one commandment for living a perfect life, and yet, they failed to keep that one commandment issued by God. Later, Moses came down from the mountain with ten commandments; our edict of stone for living the perfect life. If we break one of these, we have failed as surely as Adam and Eve had failed. Different circumstances, but the consequences are the same; death. This is not just a physical death, but a spiritual death that will last for an eternity, so if we have broken just one commandment throughout our journey on earth, then we deserve to die. "For the wages of sin is death...." Romans 6:23

So, how do we ever redeem ourselves? Man has been trying to redeem himself through religion since the Garden.

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons." Genesis 3:6-7

This covering over sin was the very first religion - the Religion of the Fig Leaf. Although the theology of this religion sounds ridiculous to us today, it is no less ridiculous than any other religion man has invented since. You can recognize a man-made religion by three words - Do, Do, Do. All religion is based on what man can do to cover his sin.

But, God had a different plan. "And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. " Genesis 3:21. Remember God's edict - If you eat of the fruit, you will surely die. God did not want to kill Adam and Eve, yet something had to be done. So, God found a substitute death for Adam and Eve's sin. He killed two animals in their stead and used the animal skins to cover man's sin. This substitue and temporary redemption was repeated throughout the Old Testament with the animal sacrifices starting with Abraham.

The substitue death for sin was finished with Jesus dying on the cross. One pure, sinless man who would die for the sins of the world. Every man, woman and child who ever and who will ever live. Every single sin of their 80+ years on this earth. "When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. " John 19:30

The path to redemption is accepting and believing that Jesus paid the price for your sins, and like all things that come from God, it is easy and simple. No complicated doctrine, no self mutalation, no complicated tasks - Just believe!

Unlike man's redemption plan which reads - "Do, Do, Do"; God's plan is Done, Done, Done.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Celebrating the Fourth of July

Four centuries past in the year of our Lord, 1607, the first Pilgrims landed on the banks of what is now Virginia, founding the first American colony, Jamestown. I know that our history lessons teach that the first landing was in Plymouth for political correctness, but the landing in Plymouth (or Plimouth as it was so named) did not occur until 1620; some thirteen years later.

Whatever landing you choose, the reason these people endured months in tiny ships, unspeakable hardships, and the fear of the unknown, was religious persecution in their homelands. This freedom was so important to the authors of our Constitution, they made Freedom of Religion the First Amendment.

If religion is primarily a belief system, then the First Amendment has allowed us the right to think as we wish; not collectively, but individually. This freedom not only affects those with a belief in a Supreme being, but those who choose atheism, humanism, socialism and every other 'ism' that can be contrived by man. As with any freedom, there comes a responsibility. Our beliefs should never impinge the same right of another for even God has allowed man to choose him and his plan of salvation - or not.
Yet, once the our choice has been made, God does direct and admonish those who have chosen his path. In the book of Revelation, the angel of the Lord comes to the Disciple, John during his time of prayer and tells him to write what he sees for seven churches located at that time in Asia minor. John is then presented before the risen Christ and directed to record the issue Jesus has with these seven churches. But, before Jesus speaks to these churches, he shows John seven lamp stands - already housed in the throne room of God - so despite the shortcomings stated below, they are still promised for salvation.
I have listed each of the churches below. They are numbered as they are mentioned but listed from the best to the worst.
6. Philadelphia A church of brotherly love
2. Smyrna A church of martyrdom, persecution and poverty
1. Ephesus Apostolic, desirable, but they have left their first love - Jesus
3. Pergamos Married to the world. A church of mixed doctrines
4. Thyatira Continual sacrifice. Ungodly doctrines
5. Sardis A dead church although a few are not defiled.
7. Laodicea Lukewarm in their spirit - spewed out
I am employed in a very regulated industry, therefore, I must conduct my employment within the scope of my employers rules and regulations if I intend to keep my employment there. I do have the freedom to deviate from their decreed 'Best Practices', but my consequences would be the forfeit of the rewards (salary, bonuses and benefits).
So it is with God. As our Creator, he laid out the pathway to his rewards. We have the freedom to accept his plan or forfeit his rewards. Choose wisely and may God bless you, indeed.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Arise My Love, My Fair One, and Come Away;

What do Noah, Moses and Peter have in common? They each were vehicles for ushering in God's new economies.

God's covenant with Noah, symbolized by the rainbow, promised that God would never again destroy the earth by water.

God's covenant with Moses, symbolized by the Torah, promised that God's laws would be written on the hearts of his people.

God's covenant with Peter, symbolized by the tongues of fire, promised that we would achieve salvation by grace.

Three different events for three different economies separated by hundreds of years - yet - THEY ALL OCCURRED ON EXACTLY THE SAME DAY.

That day is called Pentecost by Christians and Shavuot by Jews. It is the Feast of the First Fruits. It is also called the Feast of Weeks because it is seven weeks (49 days) from Passover, and the Festival of Reaping because the first of the new wheat is harvested on this day.

Shavuot is also called the Festival of the Matchmaker. Homes and temples are decorated with a canopy of greenery and flowers hung over a large banquet as for a wedding. During the festivities, The Book of Ruth is read recounting Ruth's desire to become a member of the Jewish community. The reading is ended with Ruth's genealogy stating that David is Ruth's great-grandson.

God's next economy will remove the Holy Spirit from the world. This economy will be symbolized by the Rapture. Will his next economy occur on the same day as the previous economies? This year Shavuot will begin at sundown on May 22nd, and will end at sundown on May 23rd.

"For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 RSV

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Know Your Enemy

Satan, a mythical creature standing tall on hoofed feet with a bottle of wine in one hand and the world's riches in the other, or is he the little red nymph who runs around waiting to unleash his pranks on unsuspecting humans? Before we can fight the enemy, we must study his personality. When we learn to discern the attacks of evil, we can then counter-attack using God's weapons.

The Torah names Satan, Azazel, which means Accuser and we see a product of his accusations in the Book of Job both in the Torah and the Old Testament. "The LORD said to Satan, "Whence have you come?" Satan answered the LORD, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy face." Job 1: 7-11 RSV
Christians call him Lucifer, the bearer of light. According to tradition, Lucifer was created by God as his light bearer, and as God's wisdom is frequently referred to as 'light', then we can see that Lucifer probably held a high office in God's kingdom; but Lucifer wanted more. Which was his first sin - lust or envy? Only God can know for sure, however, we do know that Lucifer lusted for more power and envied the power of God. Then, in his own pride, he incited other angels to follow him into a revolt against God. So we see 'the creation' fighting against the Creator for the Kingdom. Lucifer and his minions lost and were cast from heaven to the earth.
Lucifer makes his next appearance in the Garden of Eden. "Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5 RSV
We see in this passage that Satan is subtle; covert in his temptations. This subtly displays intelligence and planning in his temptation strategy. He will weave one tiny untruth in a whole field of truth, but that one untruth will be the key to our downfall. He is also described as a wild creature. At first glance, this may be interpreted to mean that the character outlined in Genesis is not Satan, but in fact an actual serpent or snake, but let us remember that Satan is a creature; that is, he was created. To describe him as 'wild' highlights his previous rebellion.
To validate his subtlety, Satan approaches Eve with a rhetorical, but leading question. "Did God say you shall not eat of any tree in the Garden?" In choosing a question instead of a statement, Satan is fomenting doubt in the mind of Eve. He hopes that this doubt will lead to her confusion. Once he creates doubt and confusion, he can easily lead into his temptation. So, though his device was confusion, his temptation to Eve was the promise of power.
Not only did Lucifer's temptation create doubt in Eve's mind about what God had commanded, but he also created doubt about her own value and worth in God's eyes. Lucifer implied that Eve was not complete as a final product of God's creation, and the implication was that Eve needed something more . By eating the fruit, she would be more knowledgeable - more worthy. Doesn't Satan still use this ploy on today's Christians?
As we move through Genesis, we find the need for spiritual warfare. " I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15 RSV This statement made by God is a declaration of the war that exists between man and Satan.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

God's Weapons of Mass Construction

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. " Ephesians 6:12 KJV

Man-made laws set a standard for acceptable behavior within society. Deviation from that behavior requires societal judgement and sometimes punishment. However, problems arise when what is perceived acceptable by one group is unlawful to another group, or what was once unlawful now becomes lawful. Does truth waiver? Are the boundaries between good and evil black and white, or are they ever-changing shades of gray?

Most people will concur that evil exists. There are those whose actions are so heinous, so remarkable, they prompt a consensus of aversion around the world. This is the face of evil. Evil is organic; it lives and left unchecked, it grows. As evil grows it blurs our perception of the boundaries between good and evil by creating confusion.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan asked Eve a question - "Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" Genesis 3:1 RSV His question intended to cause confusion; a stirring up of Eve's inner peace about what is right and what is wrong. It is the same way he operates today.

People today are confused about what is right and what is wrong for the rules to the game continue to change. What was wrong fifty years ago is embraced today, and what was correct then is now condemned. We live in a world where animals have more rights than our own children. Outrageous hatred is given a wide berth by appeasement, and an act of kindness is returned with opportunistic violence. Humanists have lost their humanity and theists are demonized. Democracy has silenced our voices with political correctness, and socialism has made us all slaves for the first five months of every working year. Something must change.

When Moses brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, the people asked God for his laws hoping to obtain salvation by compliance. God had a different plan of salvation, but because the Israelites insisted, he gave Moses the law with the instructions that breaking just one required death. The Israelites failed. Centuries later, God sent his Son to complete His plan of salvation by grace. God allowed the Israelites to try it their way, but it is by grace - God's way - that we achieve salvation.

Today, we are making the same mistakes the Israelites made centuries ago. We want to fight evil our own way. Frankly folks, we are failing. I call on you to fight God's way, according to his plan outlined in his word. To prevail, we must use God's Weapons of Mass Construction.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

In the 7th to 8th Century BCE

The God of war worshipped by the Ammonites requires a sacrifice to combat chaos and provide victory to his worshippers. The Ammonites, people living east of the Dead Sea, named this god Moloch. The Assyrians named this god Ashur. They fashioned their god from metal, and it was hollow inside. A fire set at the feet of the statue would heat the entire metal structure. Then, an infant wold be placed on the outstretched arms of the statue as a sacrifice. While the infant screamed and cried, the priests would chant and sing to their god. Finally, at the end of the ceremony, a lever would raise the arms of the statue dispatching the infant into the fire.

In 1979

During the Iraq-Iran war, the Ayatollah purchased 500,000 plastic keys from Taiwan. Children as young as six years old were given the gaily colored keys and told that they are the keys to Paradise. The children would then be forced to walk ahead of the Iranian army to act as human triggers for the Iraqi laid land mines. The small stature of the children were a convenient trigger as the explosion usually left little to bury.

January, 2007

The holy day of Ashoura was celebrated by the Muslim world. This is the day that the Islamic saint, Inman Huessein was decapitated. In remembrance, Shite infants, children and adults slash their foreheads three times with razors or knives. While the children undergo this procedure, the adults break out into a chant commemorating the venerated saint. The children are then given juice and cookies to quiet their cries.

Monday, January 29, 2007

All Men Are Created Equal

"God's ways are not just and fair." I have heard this statement batted around many times, and each time I hear it, I hurt.

This statement comes from our own misunderstanding of God's ways. We assume that God operates on a worldly system rather than a heavenly principle. We assume that God will judge us by our actions, and just as an employer will reward the diligent employee and fire the incompetent employee, we believe that God will also reward and fire based on the same criteria. This perception is a lie perpetuated by the ruler of the world, Satan.

God did not give us a free will so we could love him; he gave us a free will because he loved us. We were never created to live in the world - we were created to live in the Garden; Paradise.

It was by the free will of Adam and Eve that Paradise was lost, and it will be by our free will that Paradise can be reclaimed.

Jesus made the only acceptable payment for sin, and that is death. Once he paid the bill, he was resurrected. Now, our only payment for Paradise is utilizing the thing that brought us into sin - Our Free Will.

If God were truly unjust, we would gain Paradise by our actions. Under this plan Bill Gates would receive a higher place by giving millions to charity, while my twenty dollars would buy me little. People who chose to become a minister would not only receive their annual salary, but would also obtain a higher place in Paradise than a truck driver. A shy, retiring personality would find more of God's favor than an ambitious and assertive person. This was never what God intended.

By accepting the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross - making a choice - we gain Paradise for eternity once again.

Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9, Romans 10:10, Romans 10:13

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Lady in the Water

Humans are fickle about their heroes. Favored heroes are applauded for their single-mindedness and self-involvement. Unfavorable heroes are criticized for those same traits.

If you watched Lady in the Water and believed that its author is self confident, you would be wrong. If, however, after watching Lady in the Water, you believe that the author is arrogant, you would be correct, for this work of M. Night's is truly autobiographical.

A bedtime story or not - this movie is a cry of fear from an author who has been both celebrated and vilified. Criticism, or even worse, apathy, are the constant fear of each writer, and Lady in the Water portrays the frightened soul of it's creator.

The author portrays himself in the movie as a writer incapacitated by rejection. Yet, a hovering movie critic delivers a tirade of criticism while lacking the courage to face the person of his disdain.

So why am I commenting on this movie here? When we watch this movie we see what was intended; a tent of arrogance covering a desperate fear. When we can discern the fear beneath the arrogance, then we can love the hero.