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Culture and Religion

The Truth: An unpopular message

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Sometimes you just need to take a break from carnage that is modern politics.  Over the summer, my church conducted a weekly Bible study series entitled “Faith over Fear”.  Several of our Sunday School and Bible teachers taught on a particular “fear” topic.  As one of those teachers, I covered “Fear of Delivering and Unpopular Message”, focusing on Jeremiah 1.

Delivering an unpopular message has become a daily occurrence for many of us.  If you find yourself speaking against binary choice politics, Donald Trump, or the two major parties, you have probably found yourself at odds with untold numbers.  However, in these times it is important to remember the big picture.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There is no greater call than to deliver His message.

Stand and Deliver

When teaching this lesson, I asked my group if anyone had been in a job for 45 years.  One hand went up.  Then, how about being in a job where no one likes you and no one wants to hear what you have to say?  That was Jeremiah.  Jeremiah was called by God to speak to his people, in approximately 626 BC.  He spent the next 45 years calling out his people and proclaiming the wages of sin.  This was not a message the people wanted or appreciated.  In the end, Jeremiah would die, having been kidnapped, as a captive in a foreign land.  Despite the personal toll, Jeremiah remained faithful to his call.  Through the rejection, despair, and hostility, Jeremiah carried out his mission.  What can we Christians learn for his example?

Modern Day Prophets

We are living in a world of moral relativism.  God’s message of love, through Jesus Christ, is now considered hate speech.  Even today, we remain a people with an unpopular message that is attempting to be silenced.  How do we respond?  What can we learn from Jeremiah’s calling?

In the course of Jeremiah 1, God makes four promises: 1) Being reluctant to speak the name of the Lord in the face of skeptics leads to more fear and marginalization; 2) Opposition will be real; 3) Those who are faithful will prevail; and 4) If you are faithful, you will know the presence of the Lord, and He will rescue you.

I am of the firm belief that as the church has attempted to conform to culture, the more culture has declined.  By almost any metric, the number of self-identified Christians is falling.  The number of unaffiliated and atheist continue to rise.  The speed at which these numbers are changing seems to be directly correlated to disengagement and conformity by the church.

Cowboy Up

Christians live in fear of being labeled racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes, etc.  The reluctance to speak the truth of the Word has led to fear and marginalization.  Christians face real opposition to His message.  However, in the face of the opposition, God commands us to be strong.  Jeremiah 1:17-19:

“Now get ready.  Stand up and tell them everything that I command you.  Do not be intimidated by them or I will cause you to cower before them.  Today, I am the one who has made you a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land-against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the population.  They will fight against you but never prevail over you, since I am with you to rescue you.”

I like to think of these verses as God’s “Cowboy Up” speech.  With God’s help, His message of hope and love will prevail.

Of Hope and Love

The message we are called to deliver today is the hope and love of Jesus Christ.  Is it, at times, an unpopular message?  Yes.  Is salvation through Jesus Christ an exclusionary message?  Yes.  Will this message be offensive to some?  Yes.  Just because the answers are yes, does not mean we should refrain from sharing The Truth.  And, what is The Truth?

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, you will also know my Father.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  John 14:6-7

Therefore, proclaim it loudly and without fear.  Proclaim it with love.  We are called to share the Good News with the world.  God has fortified us and we will prevail if we allow Him to strengthen us.  Some things are more important than Donald Trump’s tweets, the republican and democrat lies, and celebrity gossip.  Salvation hangs in the balance.  This is the greatest calling of all.

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Culture and Religion

The truth about Thanksgiving

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The truth about Thanksfiving

Thanksgiving for many of us has been presented as a time when diversity worked. When a group of people who came seeking refuge from religious persecution was saved by another group of people. A time when different cultures could come together and share what they had to offer one another, culminating in a feast consisting of corn and turkey that was made to honor that moment.

Sadly, the most recent depiction of this pivotal moment in our history has been turned into an American horror story. A story that depicts white Europeans who came to wipe out all the innocent natives by disease and war. The evil white man brought with them more evil white men who only wanted to destroy and kill, to take land that didn’t belong to them and annihilate anyone who wasn’t white. Because that’s all white people want.

Neither of these versions are remotely true.

The Pilgrims were not fleeing from persecution. Nor did they spread disease or kill an entire village of Native Americans. They simply came to a new world filled with the hope of freedom – freedom to live by the values and principles as defined by the word of God. They came to the new world to give their families that chance rather than being overtaken by a society they felt did not reflect those values. It was so important to them that they risked their lives and the lives of their children to make the voyage. A voyage that landed them far from where they were expecting.

After arriving to the new world it was clear that God had a plan. The circumstances which led up to the first thanksgiving – for both the Europeans and the Native American that helped them – could only be explained by divine providence.

Despite being told this is a time to apologize or to be shameful for our history as a nation, the truth is Thanksgiving should be the most important and revered time for all Americans. A time of remembrance of God’s grace and divine providence for a group of people that risked everything to honor Him, including a Native American by the name of Squanto.

The diversity of God’s grace is what we, Americans, should be celebrating. Not multiculturalism.

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Culture and Religion

Marco Rubio whips out Bible verse that goes after the Florida recount debacle

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Marco Rubio whips out Bible verse that goes after the Florida recount debacle

There are two prevailing opinions pertaining to the Florida election and subsequent recounts. Democrats generally feel like it’s good to “count every ballot” until they win, even if that means “finding” more ballots to add to their candidates’ tallies. Republicans have been fighting against the recounts despite that play coming across ingenuously to voters on both sides.

We should want every valid vote counted. The operative word there is “valid.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Catholic, Tweeted a Bible verse that seemed apropos to the current debacle in Florida.

One might even say this draws in one of the favorite punching bags for Republicans, former presidential candidate “Crooked” Hillary Clinton. That wasn’t the intent, I’m sure, but it’s always fun to laugh at Hillary.

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Culture and Religion

3 reasons President Trump should offer Asia Bibi asylum

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3 reasons President Trump should offer Asia Bibi asylum

There are certain political moves that can be considered “no-brainers” for anyone in Washington DC. Offering persecuted Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi asylum is one of them.

The drawbacks of doing so are few but potent. It would enrage hardline Muslims in the United States who may go after Bibi and her family, but that’s a risk she’ll face anywhere she goes. It would put US citizens and military personnel at greater risk than they already are when traveling abroad, especially in Muslim majority nations like Pakistan. Lastly, it would spark negative press against the President who would ask whether or not he would do the same for a Muslim in a similar circumstance.

All of those negatives are mitigated by three important positives.

  1. It goes against the bigotry narrative. Don’t get me wrong. Mainstream media and leftists will still try to paint the act of offering asylum to a persecuted Pakistani family as racist because she’s Christian. Thankfully, most Americans are smart enough to see through that false narrative.
  2. Pakistan won’t mind. If anything, their preference would be for America, which is already evil in the eyes of most hardline Islamic Pakistanis, to accept a burden that will only perpetuate a narrative that already exists.
  3. It’s the right thing to do. Any time the President of the United States can do the right thing, he should. Lately, there just haven’t been many opportunities to do so.

Every day that passes brings Asia Bibi and her family closer to the dangers that are closing in on them in Pakistan. They need to be taken in as soon as possible. Italy, Germany, and even Canada have offered to step up. The United States needs to do the same.

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