Killing Christians

I recently started reading Killing Christians by Tom Doyle.  I wasn’t sure what I would find in this book, but after reading it I’m shocked, dismayed, worried, etc.  Even though I knew that persecution of Christians existed, I didn’t know the horrifying extent of it.

Living in the U.S. has an insulating effect.  I’m ashamed to say that I often just don’t think about the struggles that Christians in other countries deal with.  Like many Christians here, my biggest concern is usually isolated to concerns over the slow erosion of the Christian foundation on which our country was built.

It never occurs to me that Christians worldwide are in hiding.  That they are meeting late at night and in secret places to learn and praise God.  Just this week I walked into a nice Christian bookstore with no thoughts of being killed because I was there.  We pray before we eat out at a restaurant without worry of being seen and targeted for death.

I didn’t know that Christians are still being crucified.  I’m sorry that I didn’t pay more attention.  I’m sorry that I haven’t been actively involved in the spiritual battle to support those who are facing atrocities because they refuse to renounce Jesus.

I’m out of words.

English: Persecution of the Christians

English: Persecution of the Christians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Aside

iDisciple.

I saw the ad for this is the Family Christian catalog I received in the mail this week.  I haven’t done much with it yet but it looks awesome.

I downloaded the app for my phone and tablet and they have a really good look.  I’m always looking for new things that will enhance my walk with God.  Probably more than that, I’m always looking for new ways to remind myself to walk a better walk with God.

Have you tried it?  Tell me your thoughts.

 

 

iDisciple looks awesome, what do you think?

Training without experience

Physical Fitness Test

Physical Fitness Test (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

 

I’m sure all of us have been through training of some kind.  Standard education, physical training, self defense training, firearms training, job training, etc.  We’ve all been through some type of it.  We study, we take a test and hopefully pass it and then believe that we’re now ready for whatever.

 

But there’s a missing component to all training.  Experience.  Experience is arguably one of life’s greatest teachers.  This is because it is nearly impossible to recreate a real life experience in a training environment.  We can come close, but can never truly match it.  Life does not fit into a training curriculum.  It’s unwieldy, and uncooperative.  When you know for sure that it will go left, it goes right.

 

Please understand that I’m a staunch supporter of training.  It’s the only thing any of us can do to try and prepare.  These same points hold true in our relationship with God.  No where in the Bible does God say “follow me and life will be a piece of cake”.  Quite the opposite is said over and over.  “Follow me and the world is going to do all it can to take you down”.  It’s good versus evil, it’s a war.

 

The idea for this post came from my reading in the Psalms this morning.  I was struck again at how David, described as a man after God’s own heart, was always going to God with petition and praise.  He didn’t get with God and then the road suddenly became straight and easy.  No, he partnered with God and all hell broke loose.  He seemed to be constantly fighting with one enemy or another.  Sometimes external and sometimes internal, but he was always in the fray.

 

Some would read the Psalms and think at first glance that God kept leaving David in a mess.  But what we need to understand is that we are at war.  A war of good versus evil.  There’s no way around it or out of it.  A person can choose to not fight, but that’s the extent of our individual choice.  We will be attacked whether we like it or not.

 

Many today proclaim that they strive to live in peace with everyone and everything.  It’s a great platitude, but unrealistic.  Let’s imagine something for a moment.  Imagine you’re standing in the middle of a battle field.  Bullets are flying, bombs are exploding, yells, screams, smoke, and soldiers running and fighting.  Now imagine that you decide that your not going to get involved, after all you live for peace.  So you sit or stand idly in the middle of the malay.  How long do you think you’ll last?  Do you believe that because you have chosen to create your own one person peaceful protest that you’ll be unaffected by the war?

 

I hope not.  Because if a person did this they would last a few seconds at best.  Those that are actively involved in the battle at hand don’t have the time to try to fight around you because you’re peaceful.  They’re going to have to go through you, and they will.

 

Here’s the bottom line for all Christians: YOU DO NOT have a choice.  You’re going to be on the battle field whether you like it or not.  You can’t escape it because it’s where you live.  No amount of peace symbols are lovely platitudes are going to protect you from it.  It may not sound fair, but God did not promise that if you followed Him that all of life would be fair.  But, the good news is you still have a choice.  God always gives you a choice.  You can live a pointless, at peace with everyone existence or you can get off the pew and fight for the lost.

 

Living in the desert

English: Leaving traces on soft sand dunes in ...

English: Leaving traces on soft sand dunes in Tadrart Acacus a desert area in western Libya, part of the Sahara. Français : Un marcheur laisse des empreintes sur le sable mou des dunes de Tadrart Acacus, une zone désertique de l’ouest libyen appartenant au Sahara. Italiano: Tracce lasciate sulle soffici dune di sabbia nel Tadrart Acacus, un’area deserta nel sud-ovest libico, deserto del Sahara. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Sometimes God has us live in a desert.  Not a literal desert, although that happens too I guess.  What a mean is a desert of no direction.  There are times when everything seems to stop and you find yourself stuck where you are.  Most of us will typically try to remove ourselves from this place, usually with no success.  We live in one of those mazes where you open a door, go through and then suddenly realize that you’re in the same place you started.  A lot of energy has been expended with no forward progress.

 

It’s hard to know what to do in these places.  Human beings by nature do not like to be trapped.  We want to be able to move freely and follow our instincts.  The problem is that our instincts can often be misleading.  No matter what we think we know, we can’t see the whole picture.  We are quite literally blind to anything the future holds.

 

Then there’s the fact that we usually have a hard time believing that God has not abandoned us for whatever reason when we can’t find a way out of a tough place.  We pray and pray, quite often for a specific answer.  Assuming all along that we know exactly what the right answer is even though we don’t know what will happen even 1 minute into the future.  It’s a very arrogant mind that we all have at times.

 

Every Christian is very lucky, blessed beyond measure, that we have a Father who will often refuse to let us out of the desert until the time is right.  I’ve been in a desert of sorts for 2 or 3 years now.  I’ve tried unsuccessfully to escape on several occasions.  I failed each time.  God allowed me to try, but then He lead me right back to the desert, gave me what I needed to survive and then went on His merry way.  Leaving me to pout and sulk like a spoiled brat for a while.  Then in time I would gather myself and attempt my next grand escape only to be sat back in the desert again.  Eventually I stopped fighting so hard to escape and relinquished myself to His will.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not some sort of super Christian.  I stilled whined and complained at times, but that was less often, much less often.  At some point I resigned myself to His will and not my own.

 

Only then did He open some doors and show me the way and time that was right.  So, as of this writing I’m slowly and tentatively taking baby steps out of the desert.  Praying with each step.  Practicing what I’ve learned about patience and dependence on Him.  I spent most of my desert time with no job.  No way to earn any money no matter what I tried.  Then suddenly, in the span of a week opportunities suddenly come.

 

I’m approaching each of these possible opportunities with the knowledge that these are gifts from God and He is in control of my path.  I am hopeful that now I can finally leave the desert behind, at least for a while.  I’m amazed again at God’s goodness, love, concern and care for me.

 

Why avoid the death penalty?

No death penalty

No death penalty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve heard it more than once, but a story on the news headlines this morning made me think.  The headline said that a man on trial which would carry the death penalty if convicted is trying to get multiple life sentences to avoid death.

My question to these actions is this: why?  I’ve never understood the thinking in preferring living in a prison cell for decades instead of just ending it.  Why is it better to live like an animal rather than die and be done with it?  Do the convicts that choose this path have a hope that they will be set free somehow?  Or, is it a fear of what’s on the other side of death?

Let me take a moment to postulate an answer.  Let’s take me as an example.  I have accepted Jesus as my savior.  I have no fear of death.  I may have some fear of the pain involved in the dying process, but not in death.  I don’t fear dying because when I do I get to go home.  I go home to God because Jesus made a way for me.  Death for me as a Christian is a release to something better than I can imagine.

Now, if I had not accepted Jesus then maybe my attitude would be different.  Maybe I would be scratching and clawing to hold onto this life with all that I had.  I don’t even think I would have to believe in Jesus’ existence to feel this way.  I feel that when faced with imminent death a person knows what’s coming, good or bad.  I think some things that were hidden are revealed in those moments prior to dying when you know you’re going to die.

But, back to my question.   If you know that Jesus is your salvation, if you know that He has provided a free way out, then why fear dying.  Why fight to stay here?  Of course this line of questioning is rather specific to prison and the death penalty.  I don’t believe God is looking for anyone to just walk out into traffic just to make it back to Him.  He controls the timeline of each persons life, not me.

p.s. You can pray to Jesus today and ask him to forgive you for your sins and ask Him to come into your life and be your savior.  If you don’t know exactly how, then contact a Christian friend or call Christian church.  They can lead you.

Are you a God hunter?

What's Opera, Doc? (1957) is the only Bugs Bun...

What’s Opera, Doc? (1957) is the only Bugs Bunny cartoon included in the registry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

A God Hunter.  Sounds strange doesn’t it?  It brings to mind Elmer Fudd hunting that wascally wabbit.  But, that’s not what I’m talking about.  Like many well meaning Christians, I fail daily to be a God hunter.  Rather than hunting for all of the amazing things that God has created, all of the fantastic people, situations, and blessings He has brought into my life, I look at the negatives.

 

This may be partly due to the damage done by PTSD in me, but I feel that that is no excuse for failing to see the blessings all around me.  I’m not ashamed to say that money is an issue for us right now, as it is for many.  PTSD has removed my ability to work at a normal paying job.  But, that doesn’t mean that God has left me, or that there are no blessings to be found.  With God as my dad and me as the child, I need to go through each day like I’m on an easter egg hunt.

 

Remember those?  You and a bunch of other kids are suddenly release into the wild to find treasures that you know are there.  You knew they were there because you trusted.  You trusted that your parents and those in charge wouldn’t fail you.  You knew they wouldn’t bring you to an empty, desolate field and just send you out to find nothing.  They had as much fun watching your joy in finding the treasures as you did in finding them.  That is God’s relationship with you.  No, he is not hiding things from you so that He can be amused as you struggle to find them.  He has placed all that you need and more in the field of life before you.  But, the really awesome thing is this:  He doesn’t just stand on the sidelines and watch you try to find them.  He walks with you.  Holding one side of the basket, while you hold the other.  If we will relax and trust, then we can see all of the other amazing things that He wants to show us.  We can see all of the other amazing things, blessings, that he has placed in the field of life as well.  And then, in His timing which is always right, He will say “look! there it is! There’s what you need.  There’s the answer to you prayer.  I prepared it for you long ago because I already knew what you would need and when you would need it.”

 

Sound simplistic?  Yep.  But, that’s the point.  Although we all educate ourselves and then believe we have it all figured out, we do not. We are children of all ages.  And as children we need our Dad to take us by the hand and teach us.  We need Him to lead us to the next step in life.

 

Without Him, we are just lost children wandering an empty field trying to find to fill our basket when we don’t know the difference between candy and a snake.  Turn to Him today.  He already knows what you need and where it is.  He’s just waiting for you.

 

Will your church attendance show?

It’s Saturday night. Only 10 hours or so before millions of Christians in America will get up, get ready, and head to God’s house. Afterwards, many of those millions will engage in friendly, although sometimes unwanted, small talk before high tailing it to their favorite after church lunch spot.

This is where many Christians will fall flat on their face in their walk with Christ. It may show in inconsiderate driving. It may show when many ignore all others as they herd their crew into the Olive Garden entrance. It may show when they treat the restaurant staff like nameless servants. It may even show in a minuscule or non-existent tip.

Speak to anyone who has worked in a server role on a Sunday afternoon, and if they’re willing to be honest they will tell you that Sunday afternoons are one of the worst days because of the church crowd.

(Warning: here’s where I get a little annoyed.)

Dear fellow Christians, Wake the Hell Up!!!!!! The world has grown accustomed to the poor behavior of Sunday Christians. They don’t see the light of Christ, they see many self absorbed asses who would rather judge their server than ever think of trying to win them to Christ through example. It is only because of the overworking of the Holy Spirit that we haven’t totally ruined the work of those dedicated Christians who’ve come before us.

If you don’t want to carry Jesus with you out of church and into the world, then please change into some sweats before you hit the town after church. That way maybe they won’t make the Christian connection.

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Should Christians avoid all violence?

Surprised Burglar

Surprised Burglar (Photo credit: R Scott Photography)

 

I’m kind of on a rampage this morning after an online attack on my faith in Jesus.  I have a simple question to ask.  You may not know the answer, but it’s something worth thinking about.

 

Should Christians avoid all violence?  Take the time to think through many possible scenarios before answering.  What if you witnessed a child in a park being attacked by an adult predator?  Which is right?  To watch and pray from a distance, or to use force to stop the attack?

 

You’re walking down a city street and see a young woman being dragged into an alley by a rapist.  Again, the question is this: call 911 and then stand at a distance and pray, or use force to try to save her?

 

You’re in the park with your child.  You have a pistol and a carry permit.  A white  van pulls up, a man jumps out and grabs your child and heads for his van.  Should you call 911 and then stand back and yell help, or do you use whatever force is at your disposal to save your child?

 

You’re at home with your family.  Suddenly a unknown man kicks in your front door and enters your house wielding a crow bar.  Do you call 911 and hope the police can get there in time?  Or do you use whatever means you have to defend yourself and your family?

 

Please give me your honest answer.  Is it better to watch evil have it’s way, or to use force to try to stop it?

 

Change your point of view

Nature's GPS

Nature’s GPS (Photo credit: Swamibu)

 

God talks to me in some unexpected ways sometimes.  Today was one of those times.  I’m somewhat a creature of habit.  With PTSD familiarity is a comforting thing.  It removes some of the stress of life.

 

But there are times when doing the familiar is a negative.  It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.  It’s easy to begin seeing everything in life through the same lens, often a negative one.

 

I was doing my usual this morning, standing on the back deck with my coffee.  I really didn’t pay attention to it before, but I always stand on the deck facing the same direction.  And usually thinking the same things.  But, this morning I had the thought to just turn around.  Face the other direction.  So I did.

 

It’s a whole different view looking the other way.  My view changed and in a way, so did the world.  The world can be a rough place.   Watch too much of the news, any news, and it’s easy to believe that there is absolutely no good left.  Nothing but war, storms, fights, arguments, and so on.

 

But, if you change your view, look at things from Jesus’ view point, then everything changes.  Suddenly, the mountains of life that seem insurmountable are just mole hills.   Where once you saw only bad on the horizon, you see Jesus standing right next to you.  Instead of seeing just the darkness, you see the squirrels, cardinals, other birds I don’t know the name of.  All of them being taken care of on a daily basis by a God who loves them in a way we will not understand this side of heaven.  And you and I are infinitely more valuable to God than anything else.

 

So, take the time to turn around today.  You may be surprised at what you find.