By this we know

June 29, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Blogroll | Leave a comment
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There are many in the church today who seem to have things all figured out. They know exactly what makes someone a Christian and have no qualm in letting others know. Like the Pharisees they have their list of religious obligations and duties someone must perform to show they are a Christian. If someone fails to do this, then they fail the test and (in this person’s mind) couldn’t possibly be a true Christian.

These lists often form the basis for denominational difference. Some were the reason one church split from another. While most of the lists come form personal opinion and not scriptural authority, they are the works of man and not of God. Having said this, some lists do have scriptural basis and can help us to have an informed idea of what Christians should look like. When I say this, I don’t mean how they dress. I also don’t necessarily mean what they say either. Many today call themselves Christians and are so in name only. When I talk about what Christians look like, I’m not talking about superficial appearance; I’m talking about how they live their lives. This is important. What’s also important is the fact that I’m not just talking about short term, where they do one or two things that go along with the Christian faith. I’m talking about living life scripturally for the long haul.

So, is there a place in the Bible that gives us a list of things we should recognize in Christians? Actually, there are many. Galatians 5:22-23 gives us the fruit of the Spirit; characteristics that Christians should be exhibiting in their lives. There are many other places as well, but on I want to look at in particular is 1 John.

I just started doing a Precept Ministries PUP study on 1 John, and I noticed a phrase the apostle John used numerous times in his letter. All throughout the epistle, John says “by this you’ll know” or “By this…” John’s purpose in writing the epistle was so that those who believe in the name of the Son of God will “know they have eternal life” (5:13). This in and of itself is an important statement. Those who believe eternal life and those who don’t believe don’t (5:12). This means that unless someone beliefs in Jesus Christ, they cannot have eternal life. When John says, “believe in the Son of God” he’s not just talking about believing Jesus exists. James 2:19 says that even the devils do that (and they have the common sense to tremble…). When John talks about believing, he’s talking about understanding who Jesus is and who you are in relation to Him. He’s talking about respecting the Son of God and living in obedience to Him.

How do you know if you’re a Christian? First, John says that we are Christians (we’ve “come to know Him”) if we keep His commandments (2:3). What are Jesus’ commandments?

“You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all you strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

Unfortunately, many Christians today seem to think that these supercede the Ten Commandments, but they don’t. Jesus boiled the Ten Commandments down to two. If you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and strength; then you’re not going to have other gods before Him, you’re not going to make idols (with your hands or your mind), you would keep the Sabbath, and you’re not going to take His name in vain. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you’re not going to hate/kill (1 John 3:15), lie, steal, cover other people’s things, lust/commit adultery (Matthew 5:28), and you’ll honor your parents. If you can look at your life and see that you’re consistently doing these things without concern for God or others, then you’re not a Christian. Now, it should be said that I’m not saying that keeping the law saves people. It doesn’t. But, doing things by God’s law shows our love for Him and others. It shows that we’re saved and growing in holiness. If you don’t keep His commandments, John says the truth is not in you and you’re a liar (2:4).

Next, John says that we are Christians (“in Him”) because we walk in the same manner as He walked. Our lives should be a reflection of Jesus. It won’t be a perfect reflection because we’re sinful wretches; but we should be striving to make our lives the best reflection of Christ that we can. How we react to circumstances (good or bad), how we treat others, and how we deal with adversity are some of the ways we should be reflecting our Lord. When some people read this, they will take that to mean that we must always be soft-spoken and non-confrontational; making every effort to conform to what’s around us. Tolerance is probably something many will think about that too but, if you do, make sure that you understand the definition. Tolerance is being able to disagree with someone and still put up with them. It’s not giving in to them and their beliefs. When we truly begin to reflect Jesus, we reflect all of Him. We show understanding toward those who have been ravaged by sin and are humbly looking for answers. We speak the truth to all, especially those who would pervert it for their own ends. We reach out to help those we can without overreaching. We preach the good news and call people to repentance so they might be saved from the wrath of God to come. This is reflecting Jesus. Our Lord never compromised Himself or His message in order to gain followers, fame, or fortune. Instead, He preached repentance and faith and droves of people listened to Him because they weren’t hearing it anywhere else.

The next time we see the phrase used, it is found in Chapter 3, verse 10. Here, he tells us that the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious. Those who fail to practice righteousness or love their brother (Christians) are not of God. Again, (as throughout), John makes it clear that it’s not the person who talks Christianity or even does a good thing or is righteous here or there. It is the one who practices righteousness. This means it is a constant, ongoing process for them. John continues this thought in verses 16-20. Here he says that we will recognize Christians in two more ways. The first is through sacrifice. If we are truly Christians, we will sacrifice even our lives for our brothers and sisters. Would you die for other Christians? Jesus said that there is no love greater (John 15:13). He then shows that it’s more than just being willing to die. We should also give if we are able. There are many in our country who are hurting because of the economy. Are you doing what you can to help them? If you see a brother in need and can help them but don’t, John says the love of God doesn’t abide in you. We are to love not “with word or tongue, but in deed and truth” (3:18). It is when we love “in deed and truth” that we know we are of the truth (3:19). The deeds don’t save, but they are evidence that we are saved. John even says that this will assure our heart!

He finishes chapter 3 by saying that it is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to us that we know God abides in us. Unfortunately, there are many claiming to be Christians and “filled with the Spirit” who are nothing more than charlatans and fakers. We are to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (4:1). If the are not, they are false. How do we know if they are true or not? Those that are true confess Jesus (4:2). I don’t believe that this means that they just say the name of Jesus or talk about Him. They also line up with scripture in word and deed. If they do or say something that goes against scripture, they are not of God.

John continues by telling us that those who are of God listen to the apostles (biblical writers). The apostles Jesus chose (including Paul) were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what they did. If we do not listen to them, men who saw and even touched the Lord while He was here, then we cannot be from God. If we are unwilling to give God-breathed writings (2 Timoth 3:16-17) the place of authority and respect they deserve, we’re not of God. The same cannot be said of so-called “apostles” today. Many gladly claim the title for the power and prestige it brings. Of course, having a title doesn’t make you an apostle any more than standing in a McDonald’s make you a hamburger. John then talks about how we know we abide in God (4:13). God’s Holy Spirit will be the one that confirms that we abide in God. Paul said that “the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). This testifying by the Spirit is not some emotional thrill we get. It is a quiet confidence, even when we stumble, that we are children of God. It is knowing that we are in God. The last two times John uses this phrase, it is in reference to love. John tells us that those who abide in love abide in God and that it is in this way that love is perfected in us. As this love is perfected in us it gives us confidence. When it is fully perfected in us, we will have confidence in the day of judgment (4:17). The final time John uses the phrase, it is to talk about loving the children of God and brings the topic full circle. He says that we know that we love God’s children when we love God and keep His commandments. He then reminds us of something that I think we forget many times. God’s commandments are not burdensome (5:3). If we are truly saved, we will desire to love and please God. We will hate sin and strive to live holy lives before Him.

Are you keeping the Lord’s commandments (Matthew 22:37-39)? Are you walking in the same manner in which He walked? Are you practicing righteousness? Is His Holy Spirit confirming that you’re His child? Do you love your brethren, whom you can see, to show your love for God, whom you can’t see (4:20)? If you are not, please go to God in prayer and confess to Him. Get things right and then live it out before God. Remember, “by this you know”…

Newslinks – 06/27/09

June 27, 2009 at 9:19 am | Posted in Newslinks | 1 Comment
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Saturday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

 Iranian Leaders Try to Divert Attention by Pointing at West, Israel, ‘Terrorists’
(CNSNews.com) –
Amid a weekend of deadly violence in Tehran, Iran’s leaders launched a concerted drive to deflect blame for the unprecedented post-election turmoil away from the state and towards its customary enemies – the West and Israel…  

Sotomayor Overturned Prison Regulations to Allow Santeria-Practicing Convicts to Wear Beads(CNSNews.com) – Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, told the State of New York in 1994 that it must allow prison inmates who practice Santeria to wear multi-colored beads.  Santeria is a sect that combines African religious traditions with elements drawn from Roman Catholicism…  

Clerical Rumblings Reported in Iran as Opposition Figures Continue to Demand New Elections(CNSNews.com) – As Iranian opposition figures continue to demand fresh elections following the worst civil unrest in decades, reports of simmering discontent among senior religious clerics suggest that some of the pillars of the theocratic state may be facing an unprecedented challenge…

Obama’s Top Economic Adviser Says ‘Public Option’ Health Plan Will ‘Never’ Take Public Money(CNSNews.com) – Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told Congress that the government-run health insurance agency that President Obama hopes to create would “never” rely on public money after it is established…

Britain–Which White House Suggests Is Model of Single-Payer Health Care System That ‘Works’–Doesn’t ‘Work’ for Everyone
(CNSNews.com) –
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs raised eyebrows last week when he attempted to clarify President Obama’s startling admission that he thought there were countries where single-payer healthcare systems work “pretty well.”…

‘Government-Run’ Health Care Is a ‘Buzz Word,’ Sen. Chris Dodd Says
(CNSNews.com) –
President Barack Obama has announced that he would like to create a government-run health insurance company to compete with private health insurance companies. When asked if they support this idea, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) called it, i.e., “government-run,” a “buzz word,” and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) called it “political talk.”…  

Suspect Raised Red Flags in Law Enforcement Circles Long Before He Allegedly Killed Abortionist George Tiller
(CNSNews.com) –
It was April 1996, just a few days before the one-year anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, when Sgt. Larry Crady and other officers of the Shawnee County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department were briefed on a potential threat from the Freemen, an anti-government extremist group then in a standoff with the FBI in rural Montana… 

Netanyahu: There’s ‘An American Commitment to Make Sure’ Iran Doesn’t Develop a Nuke(CNSNews.com) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that “there’s an American commitment to make sure” that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu was speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”…

 

Christian Groups Highlight ‘Devastating’ Violence Against Women, Girl Refugees
Christian groups and believers around the world capped a week of refugee advocacy with World Refugee Sunday in hopes of mobilizing more churches to pray for the more than 42 million refugees and internally displaced peoples

 

Creation of 2nd Anglican Body in North America Nears Completion

 

LU Dismisses College Democrats’ Sponsor; Club President Resigns

 

Texas High Court Rules in Favor of Ex-Prisoners Ministry

 

 

Christians Free to Pass Out Leaflets at Gay Pride Event, Not at Arab Festival

 

Sudan Faces Permanent Humanitarian Emergency, Warn Relief Groups

 

Media Cheer Obama’s Golf Outings; Criticized Republicans’ Trips to Course
(CNSNews.com) –
President Barack Obama has gone to the golf course at least 11 times since he took the oath of office a little more than six months ago–three rounds were played during the late January, 12-day holiday Obama took with his family in Hawaii; one at Andrews Air Force Base; and seven at Ft. Belvoir Golf Course, including a round on Sunday, Father’s Day, with Vice President Joe Biden… 

GOP Lawmaker Wants White House to Produce Communications Related to Firing of Inspector General(CNSNews.com) – The communications between the White House and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California regarding the firing of an inspector general–who uncovered misuse of federal funds by a charity run by an Obama political ally–should be released and reviewed, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee…

House and Senate Health Reform Bills Prohibit Subsidies to Illegal Aliens
(CNSNews.com) –
Both the House and Senate versions of President Obama’s health care reform plans contain passages explicitly excluding illegal immigrants from receiving federal money to purchase health insurance from either a private or government-run health plan…

Islamic Attire Symbolizes ‘Servitude and Humiliation,’ Says French President
(CNSNews.com) –
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has launched a stinging attack against the burqa, just weeks after he fended off implied criticism by President Obama on the subject of France’s attitude towards traditional women’s attire in Islam… 

Less Than 24 Percent of Guns Seized by Mexican Authorities in 2008 Were Traced Back to U.S. (CNSNews.com) – Less than 24 percent of the guns seized last year by Mexican authorities, mostly from drug trafficking organizations, were traced back to the United States, according to data released in a report by the Government Accountability Office… 

Massachusetts Health Care Reform Not as Successful as Lawmakers Claim, Free Market Analyst Says (CNSNews.com) – Lawmakers are painting a rose-colored picture of Massachusetts’ 2006 health care reform, according to Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of the book, “Health Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It.”…

 

Anglicans Officially Establish Orthodox Body
The Anglican Church in North America was constituted on Monday, marking a new beginning for thousands of conservative Anglicans eager to get past the politics of church and on with promoting the Gospel.

 

ELCA Head Calls for ’50 Days of Prayer’ Amid Sexuality Debate

 

PETA Seeks ‘Converts’ at Southern Baptist Meeting

 

Survey Explores Christian Faith of Homosexuals

 

Luis Palau: Religion Can’t Give You Eternal Life

 

6 Members of Traveling Youth Choir Confirmed with H1N1 Flu

 

Obama Says It’s ‘Not Logical’ to Fear Government-Run Health Care
White House (CNSNews.com) –
President Barack Obama said it is “not logical” to think that a government-run health care program competing with private health insurers would eventually drive the private firms out of business…

 New York Times Poll Showing 72% Support for Obama’s Health Care Plan Was Stacked With Obama Supporters
(CNSNews.com) –
A New York Times/CBS News poll released Saturday that showed broad bipartisan support for President Obama’s health care reform, over-sampled Obama voters compared to McCain voters, critics say…

 Physician Disputes Obama’s Claim of 46 Million Uninsured Americans
(CNSNews.com) –
An Arizona orthopedic surgeon testified in Congress on Tuesday that President Obama’s claim that 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance is not accurate because it does not reflect exactly who those people are and why they are “uninsured.”… 

Obama ‘Appalled’ About Iran, Will Not Discuss Consequences
(CNSNews.com) –
After taking flak for days from some conservative quarters for his approach to the turmoil in Iran, President Obama on Tuesday declared himself “appalled and outraged” by Tehran’s response to the post-election protests, but repeatedly declined to say whether there would be any consequences, or shifts in U.S. policy, as a result.

Obama Condemns Iranian Government’s Violent Treatment of Peaceful ProtestersWashington (CNSNews.com) – President Obama amplified his criticism Tuesday of the violent treatment by the Iranian government towards peaceful protesters in the aftermath of the nation’s recent elections, saying he “condemns” Iran’s actions… 

More Street Protests Called in Iran in Defiance of Regime Warnings
(CNSNews.com) –
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, in continued defiance against the government, has reportedly called on supporters to demonstrate yet again on Wednesday, despite warnings by senior officials that those who have been arrested in post-election protests will be taught a lesson… 

Hoyer Says Obama, Congressional Leaders United in Push for ‘Pathway to Citizenship’ for Illegal Aliens—Wants Action as Early as This Fall
(CNSNews.com) –
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) said Tuesday that President Obama and the Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate are united in the cause of enacting immigration reform legislation that will provide illegal aliens with a pathway to citizenship and that will create a guest-worker program for foreign workers… 

Former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson Files Suit Claiming Same-Sex Marriage is Constitutional Right(CNSNews.com) – Attorney David Boies and former Bush administration Solicitor General Theodore Olson have filed a lawsuit in California to overturn voter-approved Proposition 8, which says only male-female marriages are valid in the state, declared unconstitutional so that homosexuals can marry…

 

Rick Warren Supports New Conservative Anglican Body
Pastor Rick Warren expressed solidarity with hundreds of conservative Anglicans who broke from their national churches to form their own orthodox body.

 

 

Southern Baptist Head: We Have a Vision Problem

 

Judge: ‘Religious’ Library Policy Entangles Church, State

College Democrats Vote Off Club Sponsor; Embrace New LU Policy

 

Aid Group Exposes Myanmar State Violence Against Christian Minority

 

Relating Climate Change to Poverty ‘Vital’, Says Head of Catholic Relief Network

 


Two Years Later, Sustained Dramatic Decline in Casualties in Iraq Demonstrates Surge Strategy Worked

(CNSNews.com) –
Two years after the U.S. military’s deployment of additional troops in Iraq went into full effect in June 2007, a dramatic and sustained fall in the number of combat fatalities among American servicemen can clearly be tracked back to the implementation of the “surge” strategy…

Obama Not Telling Truth on Gov’t Health Care, Republicans Say
(CNSNews.com) –
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) both said that President Barack Obama’s description of how his proposed government-run health care plan would work was not true. DeMint added that Obama apparently thinks the American people are too dumb to realize that the government will never compete fairly with private insurance companies…

Obama’s Plan to Fund D.C. Abortions Shows He Is Not Seeking ‘Common Ground,’ Congresswomen Say(CNSNews.com) – Pro-life activists and members of Congress said President Barack Obama’s claim that he wants to seek “common ground” with people who morally object to abortion and find ways to reduce abortions contrasts his actions, including his recommendation to revise an amendment in the 2010 budget for the District of Columbia and thus allow federal funds to pay for the procedure…

Electric Cars Will Not Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Says Federal Study
(CNSNews.com) –
The stimulus law enacted in February promoted the purchase of plug-in electric cars by the federal government and the broader market, but a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released this month says that the use of plug-in electric vehicles will not by itself decrease greenhouse gas emissions…

Hoyer Slams Reagan Administration While Discussing D.C. Metro Accident
Washington (CNSNews.com) –
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) took Monday’s fatal D.C. Metro accident as an opportunity to slap the Reagan administration for failure to adequately fund public transportation a quarter-century ago…

 

New Nixon Tapes Include Phone Call with Billy Graham
A 1973 conversation between President Nixon and evangelist Billy Graham about Israel was among the secretly recorded tapes from the Nixon presidency that were made public this week.

National Association of Evangelicals Names Cizik Replacement

 

Breakaway Anglican Church Takes Property Case to Supreme Court

 

Southern Baptists Celebrate Obama Election; Decry His Policies

 

Appeals Court Backs Va. Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

 

Southern Baptists Re-Elect President Johnny Hunt to 2nd Term

 

Reid Did Not Have a ‘Lot of Time’ to Read Stimulus Bill; Will Not Give Public a Week to Read Health Care Bill Before Voting on It
(CNSNews.com) –
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- Nev.) will not commit to giving senators and the public a full week to read and review the final version of a health care reform bill before he holds a final vote on it… 

Obama Suggests Health Care Reform Will Mean Rationing for Some, But Admits He Would Pay Out-of-Pocket for His Own Family
(CNSNews.com) –
During ABC’s health care forum Wednesday from the White House, “Prescription for America,” President Obama cited his deceased grandmother’s hip replacement surgery as an example of rationing care…

Angry Docs Say Proposed Government-Run Health Care Plan Will Drive Physicians Out of Medicine(CNSNews.com) – You do not have to be a brain surgeon to see that government-run health care will bode ill for doctors and medicine, says Dr. David McKalip of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons…

 Obama Joins Bipartisan Group from Congress to Begin Push for Amnesty for Illegal Aliens(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama met with Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Thursday to try to work out a comprehensive immigration reform package, which would include a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal aliens–a proposal that has failed twice before in Congress…

Islamic Bloc Chief Urges Appointment of New US Envoy, But Is This It?
(CNSNews.com) –
Buoyed by the presence in the White House of a president who wants to prioritize relations with the world’s Muslims, the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) visited both Washington and Brussels this week, and urged the U.S. to quickly appoint an envoy to the Islamic bloc…

 Muted UN Response to Iran Crackdown
(CNSNews.com) –
Two weeks after Iran’s bitterly disputed election, despite days of protests, state violence and a rising death toll, the United Nations Security Council remains silent and the world body’s Human Rights Council has not called a meeting… 

Reading Miranda Rights to Captured Terrorists ‘Most Outrageous Notion I Have Ever Heard,’ Says Republican Senator
(CNSNews.com) –
The Obama administration’s policy of having the FBI read the Miranda rights to terrorists captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan is “outrageous,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told CNSNews.com…

 Film Reveals Courage, Sacrifice of U.S. Army’s Bomb Squad in Streets of Baghdad
(CNSNews.com) –
The death toll in Iraq from Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) would be much higher if it were not for the men who spend every day in a life-and-death struggle to dismantle those destructive devices…

 

‘Stoning of Soraya M.’ Sheds Light on Human Cruelty, Islam
Hitting limited theaters this weekend is the true and eye-opening story of a modern-day woman who was tragically stoned to death in Iran after she was falsely accused and deemed guilty of committing adultery.

 

Christians Say Hate Crimes Bill Is Not What You Think

 

Indian Christian: Attacks Have Increased Our Faith

 

DCLA 2009 Kicks Off Triennial LA Gathering

 

T.D. Jakes Holds 15th ManPower Event After Near-Death Experience

 

Churches Campaign to Restore Int’l Food Aid to North Korea

When We Forget

June 22, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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It seems that, in a rush to be trendy, tolerant, and popular, a great number of people have forgotten who they are. Because they are so focused on the perception others have of them and they desire to be appealing to their target group, they have completely lost sight of what has made them special.

One group of people I feel have forgotten are Americans. Many Americans today look totally different and have a totally different worldview that Americans just 50 years ago. Some would call this “progression” but I would disagree. There are still a number of people who do remember, but their numbers seem to be dwindling. Today, the “leaders” of America are trying to change the nation into a socialistic government that mimics the European model found in many countries. These men and women are unscrupulous in their push to change the country. Because of this, I wouldn’t be sure that I would even call them Americans…

Let me explain a little more. America was founded as a haven for Christians where men and women could worship the God of the Bible without fear of the government restricting them (which is what was happening in Britain). Compare this to today where Christians are attacked and restricted while others are allowed to speak freely and act as they wish (committing the same actions that they accuse Christians of committing). This is evident in the desire to expand the “hate speech” legislation (why do we even have this to begin with?) to include speaking out against homosexuality by pastors (which would be a violation of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution – not that anyone cares…).

The founders of America made their dependence on God very clear. When George Washington was inaugurated, after his speech, those attending proceeded down the road to Washington’s church where they sang hymns, heard sermons, and prayed to God on behalf of the nation. Many of the early presidents declared national days of fasting and prayer. They knew that without God’s favor and grace their country would not survive. Today, America is burdened with a president and other “leaders” who turn their backs on God and openly support things that God calls abominations. Barack Obama said absolutely nothing on the National Day of Prayer (although he claims to be a Christian), but openly and proudly declared June to be LGBT month. Mr. Obama also openly supports the murder of thousands of unborn children a year through abortion and infanticide. This is not leadership and it is also not in line with the vision that our founding fathers had for this nation or what made it what it was…Mr. Obama recently gave a speech where he declared that America is not a Christian nation, denying the full history of the United States. Instead, he said that America was a Muslim nation, even though 78% of Americans claim to be Christians (whether they are or not is a different blog) and there are only 1.8-3.1 million Muslims in the country. I’ll readily admit that I’m not a mathematician but last time I checked, 78% was a majority. Not only that, but even if we take the highest number I heard, 3.1 million Muslims is far, far, less than what we would need to be the “third largest Muslim nation in the world”.

Our early leaders sought godly counsel and acted according to scriptural principles when dealing with others, whether in war or peace. That doesn’t mean they did everything right, but they based the things they did on scripture in an effort to glorify God in their words and actions. They never apologized for the actions they took because they were grounded in scripture rightly divided. Today, the vast majority of politicians take action and make speeches only to glorify themselves. They do nothing unless they will gain something from it (just look at all of the wasted tax money spent on the pork projects…). One glaring example of the focus on self is the fact that, throughout the 2008 election campaign, many hailed Barack Obama as a “Messiah”, some to the point of worshipping him. I have yet to hear any response from Mr. Obama denouncing this kind of adoration (he is a Christian remember…). Why? I believe that he thinks that he deserves it. This kind of attitude is both un-Christian and un-American.

It doesn’t stop with our leaders though. It seems that even the American people have forgotten what it means to be American. It used to be that Americans garnered respect because they were hardworking, honest, and consistent in the way they lived and how they conducted themselves. They were bold and caring. They stood their ground and rallied around the Christian ideals the nation was founded on. They never tried to be anything but Americans. Even though all of them came from other countries and celebrated their own heritage, they didn’t forget that they were Americans. They took just as much pride in being American as they did in having ethnic heritage. They also helped others to understand and adopt those ideals and bring freedom and democracy through their efforts. They stood on those ideals at home as well. They faced many ordeals and overcame many hardships because of the faith that was their foundation.

Contrast all of this with what we see today. The American people don’t know their history and don’t seem to know what it even means to be American anymore. Many seem to try really hard to be anything but American. Instead of garnering respect, Americans are laughed at and mocked. Those who have been charged with leading the country have not just dropped the ball; they’re not even in the game! No longer are the virtues and hard work of previous generations set up as standards. Now, many Americans are happier to lay around collecting welfare from the government (which is un-Constitutional by the way…) than working and taking pride in contributing to America in some small way. Americans are no longer consistent in their views either. American “leaders” speak out of both sides of their mouths, doing all they can to appease as many people as they can, not for any concern they have for they people they are supposed to be leading, but for votes and the hope to have a small place in history. No longer do we have men and women who are proud to be Americans and willing to stand on the principles of our forefathers, even if it means sacrifice. Instead, we have cowardly individuals ready to throw American values under the bus in hopes of gaining respect with those who would see us destroyed. We have men and women who spend most of their time apologizing for what American has done because they have no love for the country their supposed to be leading. Now, the heritage of individuals supercedes the pride that comes from being an American. Today, a large number of people are ready and willing to sell their liberties and freedoms for glass diamonds and plastic trinkets with result from the false promises of the “leaders”. Instead of facing hardships together and building strength and character through trials and tribulations, they run away from the tests to find their comfort zone in mediocrity. Instead of crying out to God for help, they thrust their hands out to the government in hopes of being bailed out. Faith is no longer a foundational pillar to lean on; it’s a second-class utility to be used to appeal to certain groups of people and help solidify the idea of “hope” in the minds of those who have certain religious beliefs.

I’ve just realized that I spent more time then I expected to on how I feel Americans have forgotten what it really means to be an American. While some of you may have stopped reading by this point, I hope that the rest of you will push on to the end to understand what I’m getting at. I truly believe that what I’ve written so far is true. I can’t help but think about Proverbs 30:7-9:

Pro 30:7 Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die:
Pro 30:8 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion,
Pro 30:9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.

Is this what has happened in America? Has God’s blessing been so great that we have forgotten Him?

This brings me to the second group I want to address – American Christians. Now, before I go on, I feel the need (because of political correctness and how easily offended people seem to get) to say that not all American Christians are like this and not all non-American Christians are exempt from this group. In the end, the similarities between the church in America and the nation itself are not shocking, but they are definitely there.

I believe that many American Christians have forgotten what it means to be a Christian. Just like our nation, the American church looks to “church growth” models not found in the Bible to accomplish what it believes to be the tasks it has been commissioned to do. The men and women who “lead” churches have become unscrupulous in their endeavor to gain numbers and money. They have worldviews that are totally different from American Christians just 50 years ago. Instead of recognizing their need to depend completely on God’s provision, they put their faith in these “growth models” and other false doctrines. They no longer fast and pray to discipline themselves. They spend their time and effort trying to be relevant. Fasting and praying is too “old-fashioned”. They don’t seem to be concerned about God’s judgment or the punishment guaranteed to all of those who don’t receive the gift of salvation.

A growing number of these “leaders” openly support ungodly things. Many American “Christians” and their denominations support homosexuality (“Open Doors. Open Hearts. Open Minds.”) to the point that they allow gay “pastors” in their churches. According to the Bible, God sees homosexuality as an abomination (Lev. 18:22) and says it will keep people from entering heaven (1 Cor. 6:9). And yet, there are now entire American “churches” made of so-called “gay Christians”. This is a perfect example of what happens when you compromise scripture!

The early church leaders pushed themselves to preach the gospel in truth. To do otherwise was to bring shame on yourself and on God. To let others compromise the true gospel without saying anything would have been just as bad as doing it themselves. The early church knew that the gospel preached correctly is what glorifies God (not the size of your church or the number of congregants). Today, the “church” willingly compromises the gospel in order to gain money and influence. Many of those who claim to be Christian have no shame, no reverence for God and His Word, and no idea what they, as Christians, should be doing. There is no consistency in their beliefs, no hardworking attitude (just look at how many volunteer for different church “events”…), and no honesty. Pastors now copy others sermons and preach what people want to hear. They are no longer bold (Prov. 28:1) and would rather cave under pressure than uphold the scriptures and be called names. There is little effort to study scripture and share that truth with others (although I can’t help wonder how many would know Christian truth to begin with) Instead of clinging to Christ in hardships and trials (John 16:33), most run back to their comfort zone of sin. Christians are laughed at and mocked because they can’t give a sound answer from scripture for the simplest of questions. Like our political “leaders” the church “leaders” aren’t even in the game… No more working and studying to understand scripture correctly. Now, we can just write a blasphemous, scripturally unfounded book (think “Sex God” or “The Shack”) and become instant “biblical scholars”.

American “Christians” are willing to throw Jesus under the bus for fame, fortune, or to escape “persecution”. The sad thing is that 99.9% of American “Christians” don’t have a clue about what persecution really is (yet). They think that when their speech is attacked that it’s persecution. Compare this to what is happening to those who believe outside of the U.S. They are being crucified, cut down with machetes, burned, shot, and beheaded. None of this is happening in America. Christians in America thrust out their hands and lay hold of whatever new fad will make them a megachurch or whatever “doctrine” will allow them to shape a “God” that suits their lifestyles without expecting them to change at all instead of crying out to God for help. They chase people, not because they care or because they want people to be saved from hell, but because it will fill their churches and their coffers. Strength and character have been replaced by relevance and lack of wisdom. American “Christians” are no longer concerned with having the attitude of Christ.

Ok, so what attributes should a Christian (no matter where they live) have?

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

Eph 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
Eph 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Mat 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
Mat 16:25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Mat 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mat 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Mar 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Joh 8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gal 5:23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This list is not exhaustive by any means but it is part of the list and much of it is lacking in American “Christians” today. As I said, not all American Christians are false converts but the numbers seem to be changing. Many people want the “benefits” of Christianity without actually getting saved. They want the good feelings and the fun events without the obedience and the sacrifice. Pastors would rather have the pride that comes from a packed church with at least one building project (for expanding the church) than have the peace that comes from knowing that they’ve preached the truth and left the increase and salvation of those listening to God. They ignore their consciences and take the easy route because it doesn’t require a backbone. Many of these churches are cold too. Not temperature wise, but the people themselves. They have painted smiles and hollow platitudes to offer newcomers if they speak to them at all. It reminds me of “Stained Glass Masquerade” by Casting Crowns. If true persecution comes to America, it will be the purifying fire that will show who is willing to serve the Lord and who is standing in His shadow. I pray that it doesn’t take real persecution for the church to wake up and stand up, but I’m afraid that’s the only thing left…

Design of the Week – Crossover – Oboist to do List

June 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This week’s design has to do with music. It is a to do list for those people who work hard to play the oboe.  Anyone who plays or has played an instrument for any amount of time knows how much time and dedication it takes to get good.

That is what stood out to me in this design. I don’t know what all is involved in playing the oboe (I played the trumpet and only had three valves to worry about…). Just reading through this list gives me a little indication as to what the oboist has to go through and that’s plenty.

If you play the oboe or know someone who does, this would be a great gift for them! If you are interested in music, then you need to check out the Musicall shop!

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http://cafeshoppe.com/TeeHee

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Grace

June 15, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | 1 Comment
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Many people talk about the grace of God, but how many people understand it? I hear all the time about how the grace of God has done something for people; how it’s brought them through a situation or how it’s brought them a blessing, but is that what it’s about? Understanding God’s grace is important to everything in Christianity, but especially about salvation.

 So, what is God’s grace? The definition of grace is unmerited favor. Grace is favor that you and I haven’t earned. There is no amount of good deeds, giving, or going to church that can earn you God’s favor (Titus 3:5). The Bible says that God’s grace is sufficient for believers in any situation (2 Corinthians 12:9). God’s grace is also what saves people (Acts 15:11/Ephesians 2:8). It also justifies believers (Titus 3:7). It is crucial to God’s throne and helps in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). God’s grace reigns through righteousness (Romans 5:21) and it covers believers (Romans 6:14).

 But, how do you get God’s grace? According to scripture, God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). To receive God’s grace, you have to get rid of your pride and self-righteousness. If you can’t do that, then you can’t receive the grace of God. When you humble yourself, you must be honest and see yourself the way that God does – a vile, wretched sinner that deserves everlasting punishment from a holy and just God. If you’re willing to do this, then you will begin to understand God’s grace. Proverbs 3:34 also says that God gives His grace to the afflicted. Everyone does not get God’s grace though. James 4:6 also says that God resists the proud. The word translated as proud here is the Greek word huperēphanos (ὑπερήφανος). This word means “appearing above others” and “haughty”. Proverbs 3:34 also says that God scoffs at scoffers. The word scoffers is the Hebrew word lîylîyth (לילית). This word can be translated as “night spectre” or “screech owl”. This basically means that God opposes those who think that they are higher than others and mocks and laughs at those who mock and laugh at Him.

 One “complaint” by many who don’t like Christianity is that Christians just use God’s grace as a license to sin. They maintain that Christians don’t live up to the standard that they try to force upon others. While I agree with this to a point, I have to say that real Christians wouldn’t do this. Ultimately, those who claim to be Christians and continue to live in their sinful lifestyles aren’t really Christians. I’m not saying that Christians don’t sin. They do. They are still fallen human beings. This brings us back to God’s grace. God has given those who repent of their sins and trust in Him unmerited favor to be saved. Those who recognize the magnitude of this gift will not want to take it for granted or use it to their own advantage. Paul talks about this in Romans 6. If we understand God’s grace, we will hate those things that God hates and love the things that He loves.

 If we truly understand God’s grace, it will help us to understand just how wonderful and compassionate a God He really is. He has every right to wipe all of us off the face of the earth without question. Instead, He sent His Son (who was/is without sin) to take the punishment that we deserve. His Son became the sacrifice that God required to appease His just and holy wrath. He then turned around and offered the righteousness of His Son to those who will repent and put their trust in Christ. God has given us gifts like salvation, grace, and mercy even when we don’t deserve it and, to me, this is awe inspiring. It is when I think on God’s grace that I am truly confused as to why someone would turn their back on such an amazing and gracious offer.

The church and the Prince

June 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Christianity | 1 Comment
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I bet at least one of you is wondering about the title. What prince am I talking about? Well, it’s not the Prince that used to be a symbol. It’s also not the Prince of any nation led by royalty. The Prince that I want to talk about is a book by Niccolò Machiavelli. I’ve been reading a book by Dr. Benjamin Wiker called Ten Books That Screwed Up the World, and Five Others That Didn’t Help. In this book, Dr. Wiker talks about various books that have had an extremely negative influence on the thinking and actions of the generations that followed them. The first book that Dr. Wiker talks about is The Prince.

 I am shocked by how much influence the books have had, but reading about The Prince brought me to some thoughts about the church that I wanted to toss out for discussion. The book says that everyone understands that the honest and faithful leader is laudable and praiseworthy. Everyone understands that it is best to be honest and faithful, but Machiavelli questions whether or not the honest leaders are successful ones. The premise of The Prince is that a leader needs only to look pious, holy, and noble. The leaders, while looking like leaders are expected to look, are then told that they can use whatever means necessary to keep themselves in power. Machiavelli says that “goodness” is whatever the ruler does to maintain his rule. He says that being good is something to be tossed aside but appearing good is to be pursued. A prince doesn’t keep his word, but instead practices deception and that is what brings the most successful results.

 Unfortunately, this is in direct opposition to Christian beliefs. Sadly, this thought pattern has shown itself in even religious institutions. While it may not be to the point that Machiavelli encouraged in his book, it made me wonder about some of the basic premises. For instance, Machiavelli says that it is not necessary for leaders to be righteous, holy, noble, or honest as long as they look that way. It is this thought that started me thinking about the church.

 It seems to me that this is one of the founding ideas of the modern Christian church. It seems that the modern church is more concerned with looking holy, righteous, noble and honest, all the while acting like the world and doing whatever they want. They present a façade of what Christianity should be while using whatever means necessary to get what they want. Look at some of the examples we have nowadays. Joel Osteen is the pastor of a “megachurch” in Houston. He is one of the most well known pastors in America and around the world. Many, many people talk about how they love his “sermons” and how he is a great example of Christianity. But what’s the true measure of Christianity? Is it what we think a Christian is, or is there another standard? I believe that there is a much higher standard than what we set for our “leaders”. If someone looks pious and acts that way, does that make them a Christian? If they are soft-spoken and do good things, are they necessarily a Christian? Or, is it an instance of The Prince influencing the church? Does it matter how a “pastor” looks and acts if they fail to preach the truth? Now, before you think I’m just attacking Joel Osteen, listen to what he preaches. A few months ago, Mr. Osteen preached to his 50, 000 plus congregation that he doesn’t eat pepperoni or shrimp because it was something that the Jews were told not to in Leviticus. What does this have to do with the New Testament or the gospel? Does this not sound like the Judaizers that Paul faced in Galatia? What purpose would keeping the Levitical laws have for someone who believes in Christ? The Levitical laws no longer apply to Christians! The moral law (Ten Commandments) still does because Jesus didn’t abolish that law; He fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17).

 How about other examples? What about the prosperity gospel “preachers”? They go around the world “preaching” prosperity and blessing to those who will listen, but to what end? They act piously and righteously (often touting their piousness) but what they preach isn’t found in the gospel. Not only that, there are some statistics that show that the people who follow these false gospel preachers are some of the poorest people. What does this say about their gospel? The influence of The Prince is evident here. In the “prosperity” circles, it’s all about chasing the blessing and gaining God’s favor. Those who preach the prosperity gospel will say that it’s not about money only. They will talk about how they want “believers” to regain the “authority” they lost and live like Christians are supposed to live. If it’s not about money, then why do all of their messages revolve around money? If it’s not about money, then why do they all have to have private jets, million dollar mansions, and designer suits? Why do they constantly talk about “sowing and reaping” and asking their followers to give money so they can gain God’s blessing for their lives? They parade around and shout and yell and get red-faced as they “preach” their “message” with “authority” but the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Machiavelli would be proud. They aren’t killing anyone to keep themselves in the position of power that they have, but they are using deception to get exactly what they want and looking as pious, righteous, holy, and noble while doing so.

 What about the whole conflagration with Miss California? Carrie Prejean has been held up as a role model for Christians (young women especially). She talks about her faith and when she answered the question Perez Hilton asked, she was lauded as a wonderful example of Christianity. Is this true? Think about this for a minute. Here is a “Christian” woman parading around IN A BIKINI!!! What kind of example is she setting? So she thinks that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s great, but is she a role model? I will not have my daughter doing what she does…ever. The bible makes clear statements about how women (and men) should dress modestly (1 Timothy 2:8-9). How can you be modest when your body is almost totally uncovered? How does this reflect Christianity? Is it because she claims to be a Christian or thinks that marriage is between a man and a woman that she is a Christian? I think that it’s great that she believes in traditional marriage, but that alone doesn’t make here a Christian. She goes to a church, but that doesn’t make her a Christian either. She seems to be using Christianity to forward her career. She looks and sounds pious, but where is the fruit? If she understands what the bible says and was taught by people who understand the bible, then she should know that what she wears and how she presents herself does not line up with Christianity. She would know that parading around in a bikini on a stage in front of millions of men (and women) could likely cause many of those watching to sin by lusting after her. Now, I understand that they could lust after her even if she dressed modestly, but do they need help? What really irks me is that she seems to have no concern or care for what she’s doing. She’s basically said that she doesn’t care if people don’t agree with what she’s doing, she’s a Christian and she’s going to continue to model and do pageants. Machiavelli would be proud.

 Watching what is going on in the church and seeing how so many people call themselves Christians and then do whatever they want, I can’t help but wonder how small the true church is. I can’t help but think about the parable of the wheat and the tares. It seems that the church is full of weeds. There are a number of people who look like wheat, but they have no fruit. The new game for the church is to see how quickly you can start a church, fill the seats, and then build your new buildings. Of course, this doesn’t happen when you preach the true gospel. To get this to happen, to build a “megachurch”, you have to compromise the gospel. You have to preach what people what to hear to keep them comfortable. You have to have programs that help people to feel like they are doing something good and “reaching out” to others. If you have this, then you’re off to a good start. Unfortunately (in these churches), it’s not the gospel that saves. Instead, it’s the emotional experience that people have and then spend the rest of their lives creating. I have said this before but I still can’t help wondering how you can grow a “megachurch” and preach the true gospel. The bible itself says that people will hate the message of the true gospel. If people are going to hate that message, how likely is it that you’re going to have thousands upon thousands to fill a former sports arena?  If you really want to see the effects of the gospel clearly, look outside the US.

 The church of America today (and to a large extent the rest of the world) is playing with the principles found in Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince. They strive to build a convincing façade of holiness, righteousness, and piety while doing everything that they can to fill and grow their churches (even if it is directly against the scriptures they are supposed to uphold). Is this what Christianity is? Nope. Christianity is about recognizing that you are a wretched sinner and that you have been saved by the grace of God. It is about Jesus Christ taking the punishment for your sins (crimes against God and His law) and you being released. It is then a life of striving to be an example of Christ on earth. It means that you repent of your sins as soon as they are committed and share the truth of the gospel. This is Christianity. It is not about being perfect, it is about striving for perfection while understanding that you will need God’s grace daily for the sins that you still commit. To those who profess and play up their “Christianity” for the public eye and to gain anything for themselves (whether it be money, congregants, or anything else) you need to stop. You are doing nothing other than making a mockery of my Lord and Savior…


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