03 August 2010

Distracted Living

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Wow. Where to start? How about this: Been distracted lately?

Perhaps the greatest marketing campaign of all time was the one done by the Dairy Council that we all know of as "Got Milk?" Shortsightedness on the part of the Dairy Council saw that they never did patent that them or trademark the font used in that original ad, so it has been copied thousands of times over now using the same font to say, "Got this?" of "Got That?" Well, I ask you this: Got Distraction? Sure you do. Children, bills, work, neighbors, health, economy, souse? Whatever that distraction might be, we have a responsibility to stay focused. And an even greater responsibility to have our focus on the right place.

Focus is really important. Our focus determines not only our direction, but our commitment to that direction. Our focus becomes the centerpiece to our day, and the compass to our lives. We are constantly reminded in scripture, especially by Jesus Himself that we need to keep our eyes open to see the Lord's workings, and that we must keep our eyes on Him. Perhaps the best example is what happened to Peter when he took his eyes off of Jesus as he was walking on the surface of the Sea of Galilee, he began to sink.

Metaphorically, we all begin to sink when we take our eyes off of Jesus. As a former competitive rifle marksman and as a US Army Expert Rifleman, 300 yard shots were required just to qualify. Expert meant no misses at 300 yards, and as a squad Designated Marksman 600 yard shots were not only routine, but expected of you. If you take your eyes off the target for just a millisecond, it's a miss. Your bullet might land somewhere near the target, but lacking that perfect hit, your job was not accomplished. The word 'sin' means literally 'to miss the mark'. Interesting how that correlates. I'm also sure it is no accident that Jesus was crucified in the center, between the two thieves…

I was praying the other day after having missed the mark, "Lord, why did I miss the mark? Why did I not heed the spirit and chose my flesh?" God's immediate answer, "You were not looking at me"… Seriously, it is really HARD to not follow God when you think of Him watching you at all time. It is hard not to live to please Him when we are focused on the fact that He is walking with us. It is hard to allow thoughts to come into our minds that should not be there when you are reading God's word. I distinctly remember asking God one at time how to create a better walk and die to my flesh, how not to act a certain way. He replied loud and clearly, "If you had been reading your bible instead, that would not have happened." He knows we need to be totally focused on Him all the time, if we are to hit the mark with every shot. Remember, even the easy shots are hard to make with our eyes closed.

At this summer's pastor's conference, I was just worshipping and exalting God. I was having a mountaintop moment that we all seek to hold on to and treasure. I speaking to my heart the Holy Spirit just moved me into love. I wrote down in my journal that day, "Walk in my love, Walk in my joy, Walk in my Peace: The Holy Spirit". I'm remembering that today, and the refreshing that comes with that. If we desire to talk in the love, joy and peace, we need to be hitting the mark by focusing on Him.


 


 

The Politics of Christianity

I could offer you a long discourse and present a solid defense for the argument that Jesus was a very politically active individual. He confronted politics in nearly every aspect of his religious life as He carried His message of salvation throughout all of Israel. But this devotional is not meant to be a lesson in apologetics about Jesus the politician. Rather, it is meant to be the foundational platform from which the rest of this devotional rests.

Much has been said about the building of the Cordoba House Mosque. For those who do not recognize this title, you will surely recognize this one: Ground Zero. Why? Because that is where the Cordoba House Mosque, a Muslim mosque and community center is planned to be built, right across the street from where the World Trade Center's Twin Towers once stood before being toppled by Muslim pilots of two hi-jacked American airliners on 9/11/2001. Most Americans, to say the least, are at the very least at odds with this proposed construction project. If put into words, most Americans are really angry that New York City politicians, New York State politicians, private land and business owners, and the overwhelming will of the people seem to be unable to stop the already rolling wheels of progress when it comes to the seemingly inevitable construction of this mosque.

As with most Americans, when I had initially heard of this mosque being built on the site of the 9/11 attacks I was outraged. How could it be that a religion that claims harmony and peace be so callous as to not consider the thoughts and emotions of Americans that have suffered so badly because of this callous act of terror against innocent Americans? AMERICANS. Wow, that suddenly rang into my head. I sat here at my desk at work and stared at my desktop, a graphic representation of the Declaration of Independence. I started thinking about the politics of dealing with faith and religion in America. As I pondered that thought, the freedom to worship freely the God that we love. While I certainly disagree with those who will tell you that the God of Islam is the God of the Bible (a statement that the Roman Catholic Church agrees with coincidentally: See the recently reiterated state of Dominus DOMINUS IESUS by John Paul II and Benedict XVI - and the 1965 declaration of NOSTRA AETATE), I began to be convicted, really convicted by the thought of the Constitutional Rights of Americans to the freedom of religion, and my personal desire to deny a religious organization the right to build a place of worship, and worship as they see fit. After great consternation, I had to confess, that to deny this religious organization the opportunity to build a house of worship, in spite of my disagreement with that faith, and despite the absolute injustice of it, I found myself having to side with the Muslims in that to dent them to opportunity to build there, even on that site, was to deny my Citizenship and to spit on the Constitution that I swore an oath, and fought a war to defend.

Confident that I had made the right decision I moved forward with my life, with the constant nagging in me that this decision did not sit right. Sure it did not sit right with me (my flesh), but at the same time, as much as it hurt, I knew that I need to apply our constitutional rights equally to all. THAT is what America stands for. That is why I stand for. So why did I find myself not feeling right? Why do I not find myself at peace with this? I decided to keep an open mind and investigate this further, and really pray about this. The old WWJD bracelets came to mind, and I found myself really wondering that question; what WOULD Jesus do? Using Jesus as my example in the world of faith and things of the spirit, as well as a man - dealing in a world of hateful international politics, I plugged on. In limbo.

This morning a good friend of mine from Bemidji, MN forwarded me an email. In that email was the answer to my prayers and anxiety. Suffice it to say that I can no longer answer the question of the Cordoba House in the same manner.

Our Constitution is a wonderful thing. It is an eternal document that provides line-item freedoms and rights to the citizens of this nation – enumerating them as God-given and unalienable. Provided the laws of the land do not cross a biblical mandate, I have sworn to defend these freedoms: with my life if necessary. For some, I understand that this is a ridiculous statement. For others I know you fully understand. But the bottom line is this: these freedoms only apply to citizens of the US. Not to foreign powers and governments, and not to foreign individuals residing here in the States be they legal or illegal.

True to the rule of most criminal activity, if you want to get to the bottom of something, you need to get to the 'top' of the organization. To do that we only have to do one thing: Follow the money. The money trail for the construction of this mosque goes out of this country. It would be one thing is, in spite of the fact that this religion flies in the fact of Christianity and expresses a written desire to wipe us and the Jews from the face of the earth, I'd still be in favor of letting those people worship her, if the freedom was reciprocal. Something about the whole do unto others thing that sticks in my craw.

Proselytizing in Arab nations, including the relatively 'civil' one of Saudi Arabia is more than just un-encouraged, it is illegal. The conversion to Christianity from Islam is a capital offense. The proof of true intolerance is not that we disagree with another viewpoint, or that it may even angers us. True intolerance is when that opposing viewpoint is not permitted, and deemed illegal by those in power. What really caused me to reconsider my position was the email I received this AM. Let me explain.

Last weekend the citizens of New York and of this nation for that matter, held a protest at the sight of this proposed mosque. Did you see it on the news? No. No major broadcast new agency covered the event. It was not on ABC, CBS or NBC. Fox News covered it, and that was the only place to see it on TV as it happened. The reason you did not see the protest on TV is because it is considered intolerant by the press who are ruled and directed by our federal administration. We no longer have a free news network in this nation, we now have a coral of cows and sheep baying in praise at the very word of the shepherd who, while appearing to have a countenance of peace and equality, in actuality (as proven by his legislative agenda) has a heart of socialism, and a 'faith' anything but Christian or tolerant. What we see is a veneered fa├žade of a leader pushing this nation in a direction we do not wish to go, all in the name of tolerance.

This protest was not covered because it was peaceful. Thousands of people stood quietly. Some with signs in hand. Others, perhaps thousands of others stood not with signs, but with pictures. Framed pictures of their loved ones. All who were killed on that site during the 9/11 Terrorist attacks at that site. One sign read this: "Sensitivity works both ways. If you care, build it elsewhere." But the one that caused me enough pause to reconsider my opinion said this: "You can build a Mosque at Ground Zero when we can build a Synagogue in Mecca!" How true, how true. IF, and it's a big IF that we all already know the answer to, Islam was truly a religion of peace, and if truly Islam was a religion that sought tolerance and understanding for its faith, wouldn't they allow such a concession? We need not ask the question. We already know the answer. This fact is seen daily on the temple mount; a place built by biblical King Solomon, made the most grandeur place on earth by King Herod all in the name of Christianity and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and a place that still lacks any monument that that faith and only a monument to Islam who's control of that piece of ground was won by military religious conquest at the cost of the blood of thousands of Jews.

I am bound by my faith to obey the laws of the government under which God in His sovereignty has destined me to live. I will do just that. However, if there is in the course in human events, and opportunity to fight a character or value system contrary to peace, and that seeks to eliminate Christianity, and that means is legally provided by our government, to not do so is to be derelict of our responsibility to our nation and to our faith. No, we do not need to be offensive, overbearing, rude or hateful. We need to show what true Christianity is. Love towards our fellow man even when that man is opposed to God. But what we have forgotten in the argument is this: America is at WAR. In war, you give no quarter to the enemy in your home state. If the Imams that will be teaching at Cordoba House Mosque will swear to teach peace and denounce Islamic terrorism, swear allegiance to the US (if in fact they are citizens), if the money funding this comes from states, peoples and nations outside the US that are friendly to Christianity and truly tolerant of other religions, hey, now it's worth discussing. But alas, we all know this will never happen because the reality is that Islam is NOT a religion of peace. It is religion on conquest and suppression, and forced conversion at the penalty of death.

If this mosque is built, it will stand as a monument to hate, and as a trophy to those who hate America, freedom, and any religious faith other than Islam. Sure, the builders can say it is a community center, but the world will see it as a victory for Islam, and the Muslims will see it as another slap in the face to America.

If Islam is a religion of peace, and its followers believe that, why do we not see thousands of Muslims protesting this mosque being built on the site where the terrorists murdered 3,000 innocent Americans? If these terrorists, ALL OF THE Muslim, really do not properly represent the true tenants of Islam, why do we not see thousands of Muslims standing side-by-side with those Americans carrying pictures of their murdered family members and loved ones, crying along with them to protest the construction of this mosque? The is a reason, and the reason is self explanatory, but since it is not politically correct we do not report it on the national network news, or even talk about it in public for fear we might 'offend'.

I'll close with this. Let me remind you so that you might remind others. The fight against Islamic terrorism is not new. The fight against terrorism has been going on since Thomas Jefferson was President of this nation, and it has not stopped since. Most Americans and every Marine past and present knows these words to the Marine Corp song, "From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli…" Where do you all suppose Tripoli is, and what were they fighting there? Islamic terrorism through the piracy of international shipping (just like they are still doing today off the coast of the Sudan). The War against Islamic terrorism did not begin in 2001, it began in 1801 when Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha (or Bashaw) of Tripoli, declared war against the United States for failing to pay a "tribute" (read: BRIBE) of $225,000.00 guaranteeing safe passage of American vessels through the Mediterranean Sea. This war will continue as long as Islam lives.

Scripture reminds us that we do not war against men, but against principalities and powers. These powers come from Satan, and embolden the enemies of Christianity to continue their hatred and war not against us, but against a loving God who wishes that none should perish but that all should have everlasting life. We need to wake up. We need to call on God for His protection, wisdom and strength in defending this nation that He so boldly created through His divine guidance. May God once again, bless America.