Take a Stand on Your Knees

Modern American Christians are emotionally and spiritually soft. We believe that society is persecuting us when stores greet us with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. We feel as though society is after us when a baker is fined and put out of business for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding. Sure, this is a departure from past traditions, but is this religious persecution?

Is the government burning our churches down during a worship service? Are sales of Bibles illegal? Are any of us afraid to tell our co-workers about our Christianity because they might tell the authorities? Are we being stoned to death in the streets because we prayed in a public space?

There are Christians around the world who literally put their lives on the line to share their faith; and they still do it. We are afraid to ask our colleagues to church because they might stop inviting us over to watch the football game next week.

What happens when someone uses a racial slur among our friends and family? The person using the epithet is chastised, punished, probably even fired. Their reputation is devastated as they are labeled a racist for life. They need not even speak the offensive term to a person of color. The effects are the same.

A similar fate awaits those who use an anti-LGBT slur.

But what happens when someone takes the Lord’s name in vain in front of a Christian? Nothing. Society finds no offense. This is to be expected. However, should Christians not do something or say something about being offended? Are we so afraid to be sanctioned by peers BECAUSE of our faith that we, like Peter, deny Christ in public?

Race and sexual orientation, at least as a means of discrimination, has only been a thing for about 170 years. Christianity, as a means of discrimination, has been around for 2,000 years. Our savior was crucified. His closest disciples were tortured, killed, and exiled. Our religion was born from suffering in the name of love and salvation. Our history is filled with being enslaved and slaughtered. Our forefathers were fed to lions in the Colosseum. Our martyrs have been beheaded, burned at the stake, placed into iron maidens, flogged, drawn and quartered, and faced the worst punishments that human beings have ever devised.

We have as much right to be offended when Christ’s name is used as a joke or a swear as any race has when someone uses a slur.

We have as much right to be offended when society bashes our God and our beliefs as any sexual orientation has when someone refuses to bake them a cake.

No. Not as much. More.

We know that Christianity is losing its influence. We know that society respects us less and less. I think a big part of the reason is how we respond. We take offense and whine. We take to Facebook to complain or we might file an anti-discrimination lawsuit. What would happen if we actually took a stand, or a knee, in the moment?

Philippians 2:10 says, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Imagine the testimony we might have if when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain, we take this verse literally and take a knee and profess our faith. How the LORD would smile upon us at such a powerful display of faith.

Colin Kaepernick lost his job for taking a knee over police brutality. Would you be willing risk your career for God?

How much strength would we show if we were able to muster some fortitude in the face of adversity, rather than slinking away into the shadows? Maybe someone watching us take a stand (or knee) is a Christian who shares our apprehension, but is inspired by our displays of courage. Maybe our colleagues would begin to treat us with as much respect as they do minorities. Maybe someone would see us living our faith and come to salvation.

Christianity is not a joke. Our Savior is not a punchline. Our LORD is not to be mocked. Our God is the creator of the universe. He will punish the unjust and unsaved. He is coming to judge and destroy the world as we know it.

And we allow people we associate with to insult us and our God without mustering one ounce of character. Until we do, we will continue to lose our society. Even if we do not go as far as to literally get on our knees when someone utters the name of our Savior, the least we can do is say “I’m sorry, but I do not appreciate your using the name of my Lord in that way.”

It’s not much, but it’s more than we do now.

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Miracles or A Series of (Un)Fortunate Events

Something miraculous happened to me in the last month.

If you do not believe in God, you will see a series of interesting coincidences, but I would ask you to consider the chances of each of these occurring at all then compound the exponential chances of the entire series.

  1. Last May, I got into a pretty bad car accident. I was, for the first time, confronted by my own mortality.
  2. Last September, I applied for life insurance for the first time. All went well.
  3. Last November, I lost my healthcare. I stopped taking my gout medication and have not seen a doctor since.
  4. About a month ago, I was informed that I missed a payment on my life insurance, and my plan was cancelled. When I called to get reinstated, they told me I could get a better deal if I just applied for a new policy. I did, and had to submit new blood lab work.
  5. Two weeks ago, after my 8-hour comprehensive exam, my vision became dangerously bad. I thought it was eye strain from staring at the computer for so long. Over the next week, I found myself needing a nap every morning although I slept 8 hours a night. I also began to drink a gallon of water every day, and my thirst seemed unquenchable. I urinated every hour, even though the night. I knew something nefarious was going on.
  6. Last Monday, I received notice that my life insurance application was rejected. I saw my labs and found that my glucose levels were pretty high. I believe I have developed Type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar, blurred vision, increased thirst, increased frequency of urination, and exhaustion are all signs that I missed.
  7. I immediately cut sugar from my diet. Since then, I have reversed every single symptom. My vision is back. I’ve stopped heading to the bathroom every hour, even though I still drink a gallon of water every day. I’ve stopped wanting to take naps. I’ve also lost 20 pounds in the last three weeks, but now I feel the pounds are coming off for the right reason.

Do you see the miracle, as I do? Or do you see a series of interesting, but otherwise unrelated events?

I never would have applied for life insurance if not for the car accident. I wouldn’t have had to reapply for life insurance if I didn’t accidentally miss that payment. Having no health insurance, I never would have had blood work done. Because it was for a life insurance policy, the blood work was free. If I did not have the blood work done, I never would have realized that I needed to fix my blood sugar. I may have let diabetes continue to develop into a much more serious issue than what I suffered.

I’d still be unable to see. I’d still be on a dangerous road to complications that I would not be able to afford to treat without health insurance. I believe that God intervened in this instance to provide answers and wake me up before things got worse. If not for the series of “coincidences”, I would be on a path to self-destruction through my diet.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. Yes, I may be Monday morning quarterbacking. Yes, this may be a series of random and unrelated events and I am just reading too much into it.

However, what are the chances? If one link in this chain did not happen, I would not be healthier right now. If the bad things, like the car accident and losing life insurance had not happened, I would be shoving Easter candy in my face and killing myself.

We often take bad things for granted. As Christians, we often think that everything is supposed to go well for us. However, when God tells us “all things work together for good”, He means ALL things; good and bad. The outcome of ALL things is good. I suffered some pretty severe pain last year, but now I am motivated to live a healthy lifestyle for the first time. I took my health for granted, and I will never do so again. It took pain, suffering, and some pretty devastating news for it to happen, but the outcome will be a positive one.

Christians, please do not take God for granted. Do not mistake comfort for His condoning of our lifestyles.

Non-Christians, please consider that some coincidental events can actually be miracles. Do not dismiss miracles in your own lives. It is possible that God may be putting you in a place that may be useful for His purposes, even though you do not believe in Him.

This story is just one of many such miracles that I have experienced in my lifetime. I would be happy to write about some of the more incredible series of events that most people would take for granted, but I’ve realized are miraculous.

It’s all part of my testimony. I think more Christians need to be cognizant of their own miracles and properly attribute them to God. Miracles happen all the time. They happen to all of us as the Holy Spirit works through us to affect change in our lives and use us all for the glory of God.

Social Suicide and Mass Murder

On Valentine’s Day a 19-year-old kid marched into his old high school and opened fire on students who walked out of their classrooms when the killer pulled a fire alarm just before the end of the school day. Reports have come out giving us some insight on his life. The media (both mainstream and social) is focusing on guns and mental illness. Here is why I believe they are looking at the wrong thing.

In Emile Durkheim’s seminal work, Suicide, he looked at death records from several countries in Europe. He found that there are essentially four types of suicide: 1) Egotistic – when someone experiences a lack of social integration or are isolated (widows, hermits, victims of bullying); 2) Anomic – lack of moral regulation or a sudden change in life where the “new normal” feels overwhelming. There is a sense of “normlessness” where all of the social norms we abide by change and the new rules are difficult to grasp (losing a job or loved one; moving to a new country); 3) Fatalistic – overwhelming oppression and hopelessness (prisoners, terminally ill); 4) Altruistic – for the greater good (soldiers, firemen, suicide bombers).
Durkheim found that suicide is not a psychological phenomenon, but a social one. Changes in one’s social integration is a greater indicator of violence against oneself than any psychological condition.

Now, let’s apply this theory to what we know about the Valentine’s Day shooter.

  1. He was social isolated. Most reports are that he was bullied pretty regularly. He had very few friends. He was kicked out of school and other social organizations. This is indicative of Egotistic suicide.
  2. His adopted father died a few years ago, but his adopted mother died just three months ago. This dramatic social event would be a likely catalyst for anomic suicide.
  3. He apparently exhibited numerous histrionic outbursts – I believe these were to draw attention to an otherwise lonely boy – yet still managed to fly under the radar of law enforcement.
  4. Therefore, he was isolated from peers by choice (making numerous threats) or force (expulsion and bullying), as well as dealing with the death of his last remaining parent (and I have to wonder if being adopted started his feelings of social isolation). He also lives in a country where guns are weaved into the fabric of the nation and are constantly depicted in the media in both positive and negative lights.

It seems to me that this is a social recipe for a disaster. Rather than turning the weapon on himself, he turned it on others. Regardless, he follows a similar pattern to other mass murders, serial killers, and the suicidal. Reports are that the Vegas shooter, Steven Paddock, lost a lot of money before his rampage and was socially isolated from almost everyone except his roommate/girlfriend. The Columbine shooters were socially isolated and bullied. The same goes for the Aurora shooter, the Virginia Tech shooter, and almost all other mass murderers over the last 20 years.

I truly believe that we need to stop thinking of these events as psychological anomalies. There is something wrong with the SOCIAL fabric of the nation right now.

We have been in perpetual war since 2001. We just experienced a major economic recession. Social media and online video games are keeping kids from face-to-face interactions. We are the most medicated society in history. Our social and demographic categories are being constantly challenged and redefined. Religion is becoming less and less of an effective institution. Our electorate is becoming more and more divided.

Basically, we are in a national state of anomic normlessness that is leading to increasing social isolation. As our institutions continue to crumble, so does our ability to maintain solidarity. Without social solidarity and stability, we feel hopeless. We feel socially suicidal.

Some of us develop depression. Some of us do kill ourselves. Some are committing mass murder. The signs and symptoms are all there.

Since Suicide was published in 1897, data continues to back up Durkheim’s theory. I truly believe that we are experiencing social suicide that is beginning to manifest in social homicide.

These shooters are not “mentally ill”, they are socially constructed monsters. No laws can stop the inevitable destruction brought about by social unrest. Medicating the problem like we medicate our citizenry will not solve the problem.

Less “Reform”, More Revival

In the aftermath of last weekend’s Las Vegas massacre, Democrats came out almost immediately and called for new gun control regulations. Republicans came out and defended the Second Amendment, and back and forth we went.

When a maniac in a Dodge Charger drove into a crowd in Charlottesville, we began fighting over what statues were now deemed too racist to stand. The media blamed Trump for bringing racism back to America, and the GOP reflexively started defending the First Amendment.

These types of reactions and counter-reactions make up the political dance we’ve become accustomed to. Allegations and arguments are becoming so tired and shallow that it takes only a new voice, rather than new idea, to seemingly supercharge political partisan hacks.

Rather than rally for gun control, healthcare reform, or ending racism, why are there no calls for revival?

We live in a nation that, as of last year, claims to be 77% Christian, though only about 20% seem to take it seriously enough to go to church once a week. Yet when a sadistic mass murderer spends $50,000 on weapons and ammo so that he could spray bullets into a crowd of innocent concert goers, not one talking head called for people to get saved. Some on CNN and Fox News called for A savior, but no one called for THE Savior.

Did the evangelical political hero, President Donald J. Trump, mention one word about turning to God? Where was Osteen? He tweeted out a general platitude, like most Christians, saying to trust in the Lord. Other politicians sent “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. This is a lovely gesture, and as a resident Las Vegan, I appreciate prayers. Prayers work. However, prayer is not salvation. While everyone has been concerned with the physical health and safety of all in Las Vegas, it seems like few, if any, have been concerned with our souls.

In a “Christian” nation, millions of people should have been out in the streets witnessing for Christ and sending out invitations to church. Instead, we hit Twitter and started arguing about gun rights with complete strangers.

Jimmy Kimmel, a devout practicing Catholic, used his powerful platform to demonize the NRA and legal firearm owners rather than conduct an altar call and preach the gospel. Many others followed this pattern.

There is no more relevant time to witness to the unsaved than after a national tragedy. It’s never “too soon”, but it is often too late to do so.

You never know when an armed gunman will strike where you are.

You never know when a bomb will destroy the building you’re in.

You never know if you’re on a plane with someone who wants to crash it.

You never know when a drunk driver will come from out of nowhere and take your life.

Last Sunday night’s events were a reminder of our fleeting mortality. Life can end when you least expect it. Are you confident in your beliefs on the afterlife? Are you sure you are just going to become worm food? Are you positive that you will be reincarnated until you reach Nirvana?

I am 100% positive that I will be in Heaven with God and Jesus Christ when I die. I will not waver from that belief.

If you are questioning, at all, what happens when you die, talk to me. Yes, I am being an opportunist. I am taking advantage of fear and tragedy. That’s because I want you all to be as sure as I am that your eternity is secure.

Debate Should Not Lead to Death

I have been in my fair share of arguments. I have debated on Facebook, among friends, and in classrooms full of people. When the situation isn’t resolved, I generally leave the conversation feeling awful. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot convince the other side that I am right. I do not want innocent babies ripped apart in the womb. I do not want speech, no matter how hate filled, to be banned. I do not want anyone to go to hell when they die. I do not want my Constitutional rights taken away.

I do not like being wrong. I come in to every argument with as much knowledge as I can muster. I approach every debate with the mindset that empiricism trumps emotion. I want to be able to point to statistics and use my Sociological training to raise awareness and debunk irrational arguments. When I fail, I take it personally. After all, if I cannot convince an atheist that my religious beliefs are correct, then I’ve just my shot at seeing them saved by God’s grace. If I cannot convince a liberal that abortion is murder, then they will continue to advocate for the slaughter of innocents. If I cannot convince the Left that I have the RIGHT to bear arms, then my family may be in danger one day and I will be weaponless.

These are important arguments to me.

However, there are an increasing number of times when I feel rage from my opposition. Whereas I am saddened by my failure in disagreement, the other person HATES me. When I am disappointed, they want me silenced. They want me to lose my reputation and job. If I were to take social media seriously, I’d think they want me…dead (as a member of the NRA, there have been dozens of calls for my murder).

After this most recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, irrationality has become the norm. I know people who were there. I know others who lost someone. I drive past Mandalay Bay several times a week on my way to UNLV. I can see it from school. I can see it from the highway. I can see it when I drive to my home from grocery shopping. No one has to tell me the impact and devastation caused by the actions of an evil mass murderer. I am reminded of it several times a day, and most likely will continue to be so long as I live in Vegas.

Although I am shaken, sullen, and uneasy, I cannot and will not use this tragedy as justification to rid my city or country of firearms. As a matter of fact, I want MORE freedom and LESS restriction on firearms. Rather than feel weakened by the event, I feel my resolve strengthened. When I feel unsafe, I want to increase my own stockpile of weapons. I want to freely exercise my Second Amendment (that is, GOD-GIVEN) right to protect myself and family by any means necessary.

No counter-argument can change my mind. I see the statistics that show the correlation between INCREASED gun ownership and DECREASED crime rates. I understand the scenarios where a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. I know personal instances where having a firearm stopped robberies and sexual assaults from happening. I know that if someone were to come into my home in an attempt to violate the safety of my family, they will be met with lethal force.

More guns save lives than take them, not matter how many mass shootings occur; it’s just not sexy to report them on the news. It’s difficult to know the actual number, as gun saves are not often reported to the police or FBI.

We can disagree on this matter. You can push for gun control, and I will work tirelessly to resist your effort. I can promise you this, while I may be disappointed in our disagreement, I will never wish you dead. I would never want you to lose your job over it. I would never want you to lose your life. I just hope you feel the same.

Notes on Joshua 1-4

Moses is dead, and it is up to Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. God tells Joshua that “The book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8).

Oh, Christian. How prosperous would our lives be if we observed and abided by all the words of The Bible?

Chapter 2 is the story of the two spies who entered Jericho and met Rahab, the harlot. Rahab is an interesting figure because 1) she is a female hero of the Bible, which, we are told, is a completely misogynistic book; and 2) Rahab is taught by many churches (including more than one of mine) to be in the line of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5). However, the Rachab in Matthew 1:5 is not mentioned as “the harlot” as Rahab is in both Old AND New Testaments. Yes, there are differences between Greek and Hebrew versions of names, but the Rahab the harlot is named such in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25; so why would she not be the same in Matt. 1:5? Because she is probably not the same person. Sorry!

If we go back to the Greek (because that’s what all Bible “scholars” like to do), Rahab is Rhaab and Rhachab is Rachab. Yet the modern perversions of God’s Word translate them both as Rahab, thus, wrongly inserting “the harlot” into the line of Christ.

Rahab tells the spies in Josh. 2:11 of stories of the Exodus from Egypt and conquering of the Amorites, “as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man.” Ironically, the Israelites were scared to conquer a city of men who feared the power of the LORD God of Israel.

As we know, Rahab and her family would be spared during the destruction of Jericho because of her faith in helping the spies.

Another miraculous water crossing occurs in chapter 3, as the Israelites walked across a “heap” of dry land as the priests carrying the ark of the LORD stepped into the Jordan river (v. 13). Here, again, is another supernatural miracle experienced by the Israelites that makes their impending worship of idols so stupefying.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes on Deuteronomy 30-34

God wants us to hear, learn, and fear the LORD (Deut. 31:12-13). This order is repeated twice. We are to hear and learn the Word of God, then we are to fear Him. I believe this is because the more we learn of God, the more we cannot help but fear him. Unfortunately, our modern churches don’t actually teach the Word of God, and Christians do not fear the LORD.

Why should we fear God? Just look at the threats made to Israel (and the threats have become real since) in Deut. 31:17. God’s anger is kindled, he forsook them, hid his face from them, and devoured them. This sounds like a God you should fear.

God is described as the Rock (Deut. 32:4), which is not the same as Simon Peter (the rock) on whom the Catholic Church has been built (according to them). Our Rock is Jesus Christ, not Peter. The Christian church is built on Christ. Psalm 62:6-7 says “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”

Again, this is not talking about Peter, but God and Christ.

Deut. 32:8 once again shows the “negativity” of The Bible. It says that the most High (God) “divided,” “separated,” and set “bounds.” These are not inclusive, uniting words. They are divisive. Christians “are not of the world” (John 17:16), and should be divided, separated, and have bounds that we should not cross.

Modern Christians cross those bounds as often as we can, don’t we?

God also warns us of sacrificing “unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not” (Deut. 32:17).

I think this idea of new gods is pertinent to the entire world. When we think of gods, we think of the ancient Roman and Greeks; of Zeus, Jupiter, Apollo, Thor, Odin, Shiva, Buddha, etc. We scoff at the very idea that we would ever worship a god.

However, we worship NEW gods. We pray at the altar of celebrity, sports, and television. We build shrines to Tom Cruise or Jennifer Lawrence. We pray to “the football gods” when our team takes the field. We attend the church that Babe Ruth built.

The statistics on church attendance during football season are staggering. About 40% of men and 18% of women watch more than six hours of football a week, while less than 20% attend church for even one hour, and 22% of churchgoers would skip church for football.

We worship new gods alright.

What America has become is “a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them” (Deut. 32:28). We are walking the same path that the Israelites were on over 3,000 years ago. The very path that led to their scattering, suffering, and destruction is the one that we are gleefully running down.

Why? Because we have forgotten to fear the LORD.

Deut. 32:31 says “their rock is not as our Rock.” Peter, the Pope, Mohammad, Buddha, Odin, Zeus; these are the rocks that other religions are built on. Jesus Christ, the LORD is the Rock that should be our foundation. The Jewish religions missed that mark as well, as they deny that Christ is Messiah. Their only refuge is that they are God’s chosen people whom He promised to restore. Christians, that promise is not given to America. When God destroys our nation, there will be no coming back.

These are the warnings the God gave us through Moses; the only prophet “whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10). No matter the claims from the Vatican or Mecca, none are as great a prophet as Moses who died before entering the Promised Land.