No! Non! Nein! Nyet! NO!

You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.

Pope Francis

I have a serious problem with this statement.  God is Just.  God MUST be just or He is not completely perfectly righteous.  If someone doesn’t believe in God and doesn’t seek the walk of faith, then they have no part in heaven.  It seems completely unfair since not everyone has a chance to hear the Gospel, but God is just.  His law is not negotiable, nor does it make special exceptions or exemptions for acts of good conscience.  You can not work your way into God’s grace and mercy because we are unrighteous, unholy beings and everything we do on our own is tainted by our sin-state.

This thinking that we have any say in our salvation aside from acceptance of and adoration for the Savior Himself is the essence of sin itself – it is selfish pride – that we can be good enough!

Ha!  If it came from someone lesser, it wouldn’t offend me as much… but still… I’m sorry if you like Pope Francis, but on this HE. IS. WRONG.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

A Prayer for My Country

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.

Psalm 33:12

Why do people look for their salvation and safety with government instead of God?

The stories in the Bible have a common thread running through them…. and some of the most referenced stories often have hidden meaning and message buried beneath the surface, while others are right out in front.

Let’s talk a bit about faith this morning.  Faith is a firm belief and trust in something for which there is no proof.  When we turn to mankind, to government, for an answer to the problems of life, are we acting out of faith or fear?

When the giant Goliath taunted the Israelite army for weeks on end with no challengers, were the Israelites acting out of faith or fear?  Saul, the anointed king of the people was trained, armed, and a physical specimen, yet he cowered, and by his example all of the army did the same – none willing to challenge a single man and place his life in the Lord’s hands through faith.

It was God’s will through this lack of faith to demonstrate the power of faith.  A boy, the youngest born of a small family, a shepherd – not a soldier, was offended by the nature of the giant’s taunts and how none dared stand against him.  He did not put on the armor of man, but rather the armor of God.  He then stood in front of the evil of his time unafraid and unashamed of his faith.

You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.

1 Samuel 17:45-57

When did this country stop trusting God and start trusting man to provide for it?

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.

Exodus 14:13

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Could all of our past and current problems be a result of a collapse of faith in God and the prideful replacement of it by faith in man?

 

Oil and Water

Why does sin require death?

Why does sacrifice require blood?

How does Christ’s death satisfy the debt of sin?

All three are deep theological questions and the answers to each can open up new questions.  Before I dive in, question why something is a certain way is not wrong in any way.  Questioning and even arguing with God is not wrong, but ultimately obedience is what is demanded by the Creator whether we understand fully or not.

Some people are not satisfied with blind obedience though.  As a liberty-minded patriot, I have expressed my disdain for blind obedience before.  That obedience that I have a problem with is directed toward fallible men however, not an infallible God.  So if you have faith in God and obey God absent full and complete theological understanding, that is great for you and it will be credited to you I am certain.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:29

So how do you answer the questions I posed above.  Do you feel the need to answer them?  Do you trust God and love the Lord enough to not need them answered?

There is no wrong answer… just food for thought.

 

 

Passion

I think one of the things that people would say about me is that I am a passionate person.

I am passionate about sports.  I love competition and the push and pull of a hard-fought football, basketball, or baseball game.  I love the thrill of victory snatched from the jaws of defeat – the buzzer beater in basketball, the successful Hail Mary pass in football, or the bottom of the ninth bases loaded hit to score the winning run.

I am passionate about my country.  I grew up with a deep understanding of freedom and the sacrifices in the past in order to win those liberties and the ongoing sacrifices necessary in maintenance of them.  I look at those men and women who have sacrificed limbs, years of their lives, families in some cases, friends, careers, and lives in maintenance of those liberties and freedoms.

I am passionate about my family.  I deeply love my wife, more than I could ever express in words. I cherish everything that she does and sacrifices for me and my sons.  I watch earnestly as they learn new things and hunger for new experiences and share their excitement in going out to tackle those experiences together.

I am passionate about truth.  The mission statement and purpose for this collection of writings is part of my passion, which is to share the unvarnished truth.  I mix in my opinion, but always with an eye on the truth of the matter.  Whether a million people happen to read my words or not doesn’t matter – the truth on it’s own is justification enough for me to expend my energy in this endeavor.

I am passionate about my God.  I wish I could say that I was the perfect follower of Christ and always place Him at the center of my life.  I try, but it is so easy to get out of balance.  It is so easy to put other things in the center of my life, even for just a moment, but as I have gained more perspective in life it has become easier to realize that my motivations, my focus, my hub are out of whack.  This perspective has given me the ability to go to God to re-centralize my focus on Him.  I don’t get it right all the time, but I know that He has already forgiven me for those moments.

That’s really the crux of passion if you think about it.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

God, one and the same as Christ and the Spirit, is eternal, infinite love.  The triune nature of God is one of love and passion.  The God of the universe loved the Son infinitely.  The God of the universe loved the world, mankind, so much that He asked Christ, the Son, to die and suffer separation from the triune bond, even if only for three infinitesimal days from His perspective.

What passion.

How much passion must you have to ask your SON to die?

How much passion must you have to respond, as Christ did, by doing so?

To lay down His crown and authority for us?

I believe from the core of my being that He hung on the cross and rose after three days in the grave, yet I have a hard time grasping that amount of love and passion.  I want to desperately.

I could be ruled by my own passions… I could chase the desires of my flesh – sex, food, wealth, vanity, pleasures of every kind, but they do not fulfill me.  They fail to satisfy me, and leave me wanting more and more.  Instead of inspiring me, they ensnare me in an endless cycle of trying to gain my next “hit.”

I choose to be ruled by His passion.  As I want more and more, He freely gives of His own passion.

I know a lot of people who would ascribe to me the passions I listed above, amongst others, but what I desperately want people to see is that my passion in life is not my own, but His.

 

 

 

The Bishop of Rome

Viva Papa Francis.

I am not Catholic, but I respect the Catholic Church and the devoted people within it that daily follow Christ’s calling to be His emissaries in this world.  So today, I celebrate that Spirit-led election of the new Bishop of Rome and the titular head of the Church.  I pray that he is received a double-helping of the Spirit, the courage, bravery, and boldness of Christ in all that he does.

The elevation of this man to the head of the Church comes at a crucial moment, not only in our time as Christians, but also for Americans and lovers of liberty alike.

Why is that you might ask?  I wasn’t even so sure myself until I spoke with my Jesuit-educated bride about it.

The Church will benefit from a man that has lived a life of humility and service despite his titles and authority formerly as a Cardinal and the Archbishop of Argentina.  He seems to deeply believe that the calling of Christ is not to be taken lightly or to be abused, but rather it is a calling to service first and foremost.  The Church will also benefit from a man dedicated not only to service, but also justice.  The man himself, while open to “free-thinking” as espoused by the Jesuits is a rigid defender of the Faith and of Catholic doctrine, not just when it comes to Christ’s teachings, but how those teachings apply in the modern world.  He has come out against gay marriage, gay adoption, and a litany of other social issues that leftists and outsiders use to try to cleave the Church in two.  The arguments and defenses that the Jesuits use in defense of the Church doctrine are usually exceptionally well-thought out, well-versed in Scripture, but also well-versed in science, history, and philosophy.

What it ultimately comes down to for Pope Francis as he begins his tenure as the most visible ambassador of Christ in the physical world is that he will enter this post with humility, but I do not expect him to be timid or meek.  He will rather seek to emulate the founders of his order, Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis.

The man may be 76 years old, but he is one of God’s Marines.  And to steal a saying – only two kinds of people understand marines: marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

Uplifted

My wife and I are embarked on a journey to read the entire Bible in a year.  We’re reaching the parts about David prior to the establishment of his kingship over Israel and I am reminded how divinely provident so many of the actions and coincidences in his life were.  David was extremely cognizant of the divine nature of these things, and I find myself wondering how many instances of divine providence that I’ve encountered in my life?  How many did I recognize at the time?  How many days, week, months, or years later?  How many did I fail to see at all?

In all things God works for the good of those who love him.

Romans 8:28

A few nights back, I watched the movie Machine Gun Preacher.  I tried to put myself in the main character’s (Sam Childers) shoes.  He was an outlaw, a man as far from God as light is from dark.  He is at the absolute bottom of the pit.  He can’t see his way out, and isn’t sure there is a way from him to get out.  Long story short, he comes to find Christ and begins to turn his life around.  He becomes inspired some years later to build a church for men and women like him – people at their absolute worst who need Christ’s saving grace and forgiveness, and to begin using that church to support his passion of saving the children and orphans of the ghastly civil war in Sudan.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

1 Timothy 1:15

The divine providence evident in this man’s life (since the movie is based on the real Sam Childers) was incredibly portrayed.  While in prison, his wife and daughter find Christ, which opens the door for him to find Christ as well.  Once he is starting to get his feet under him, he goes on a mission trip to Uganda and convinces a soldier to help him go to the front lines of the war because he feels called to help those in need.  There he sees the plight of the children who live in constant fear.

Newly built, the village and orphanage he built are burned to the ground by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Sudan.  He becomes despondent and discouraged.  He calls his wife and she says “Get off your butt, stop your crying, and build it again.”

This man poured his life and spirit into his passion to build something for the glory of God and to help the children and he earned a price for his head.  His response was that he “must be doing something right then.”

Every step in this man’s life along the way prepared him to be a man willing to live with a price for his head.  That is great faith.  I envy that faith.  Despite all of Sam’s failings, Christ reached down into that pit of despair, of drugs, of violence, vulgarity, and wretched sin and grabbed this man and pulled him up.  He washed him clean and used him in such a way as to glorify Himself.

Paul called himself the worst amongst sinners, and he was saved by grace and became one of the most righteous and faithful men to have ever lived.  David lived a fallen life, replete with sin and failings, yet God loved him and provided for him at every turn.

It doesn’t matter where you are or how far down you have fallen, Christ can reach you. Christ will reach for you.  You just have to be willing to take his hand.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

 

Thirst

Are you thirsty today?

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:2

My oldest son is being used by God to show me something and it’s not subtle.  Everyone is born with fundamental questions within their soul that need to be answered.

Where do I come from?

Why I am I here?

Where am I going?

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Why is the world like this?

Is there a God?

What is good?

What is evil?

What is truth?

How can I be happy?

When you boil down every world religion and philosophy, they are all attempting to answer these questions.  There is a thirst for knowledge and truth within us all and the driving element in our life is our attempt to answer these questions.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

My oldest son has an intense focus on books and puzzles. Being four years old, he studies things incredibly and remembers the smallest details about these things that capture his interest.  He will spend hours in his room quietly playing with a single puzzle, memorizing every single piece to the point where I believe he could assemble it in the dark if he really wished to do so.  My son’s thirst is well-developed and he is attempting to quench it.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6

For Christmas, my son received a gift to help quench this thirst and encourage it to grow within him.  He received a bible for Christmas (mind you, he is not quite four years old yet).  Most kids would put the bible aside and attack the toys still waiting under the tree or already unwrapped.  He on the other hand promptly sat down and started to read.  It has only been a few short weeks since he received this gift, but he is addicted.  If this is the addiction (and we all have one) he suffers from in his life, praise be to God.

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

John 7:37-38

My son truly clings to the Word.  He wants to know where it is always.  He wants to bring it with him to everything we do (eating dinner, playing with cars on the floor, to the gym, or to Nana’s house).  He wants the Word close to him as often as possible.

Shouldn’t we all feel that way?  When the trials of life hit us, we may turn to the Word for reassurance, but do we do it daily?  Do we cling to it?  I thought I understood what Christ meant when he said the following.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

Matthew 19:14

Children are able to put such amazing faith into things.  They believe them fully – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Spiderman, and untold numbers of other completely fictional creations, but there is something else… children are not yet corrupted by pride or personal success, they have a thirst that seems so unquenchable that when they are exposed to the Wellspring, they fear to leave it behind as it is exactly what their souls need – knowledge, truth, strength, courage, faith, righteousness, perfection.

My son CLINGS to the Word at just shy of four years old.  Do I?

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.

Isaiah 55:1

Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

John 4:14

spring-water

 

Old Acquaintance

Looking back at this year, many amazing things happened.  They far outweighed the bad.  Even looking forward and the uncertainty of the next year politically, socially, culturally, and financially, I have nothing but praise for God for all the blessings He grants me every single day.

So looking forward, despite the uncertainty, I have great hope in another blessed year.  Whatever may come… I will walk forward into the next year with faith in His grace and faithfulness.

May the Lord of all creation grant you the same.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

pine_sun

For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13

impressive

Massacre

I was feeling a horrible case of writer’s block earlier today.  I had no clue what I wanted to write about or if I was going to put fingers to keys earlier.  I tossed around doing a Christmas post, but dismissed it for some reason.  Now I know why.

Today, an atrocity happened.  This morning in Newport, Connecticut, a 20 year man walked into the elementary school his mother worked at and opened fire, killing 27 at this point in time, 18 of which were students.  There are no words to help the grieving families.  Nothing I say, write, or do will bring their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, or children back to them.  Nothing.  A tremendous hole was ripped through the center of their chests and right now, it probably feels like the entire universe is crashing down on them.

I cannot help, but to mourn with them.  I don’t dare say that I understand why these lives were taken.  That is only for God to know.

Again, senseless violence has struck at a place thought safe.  Safety is a strange concept.  We all need it.  We crave the need to feel safe.  We lock our doors at night.  We wear seat belts while we drive.  Women marry men that are capable of providing them safety in some capacity.  Children look to their parents for safety when they are scared.

Events like this just serve to reinforce a fundamental reality of this world.  Safety is an illusion.  In the end, when the rubber meets the road.  When you find yourself staring down the barrel at evil incarnate, the illusion is shattered.  Evil will always find a way to shatter that illusion, because the only refuge, the only true safety is found in God, and by shattering that illusion, evil is trying to shatter your faith in the One True Refuge.

We won’t know the full story of what happened in Newport for days, but one thing I know for certain is that the only way to deter evil is to be ready to destroy it at all times.  Evil can not be bargained with, compromised with, or planned for.  Evil operates outside of the rules and serves only one purpose, to destroy your relationships with God and other people.

That is a mindset that is formed by a forging of the spirit and creating an unyielding determination.  It is a mind that within exists a very clear “line in the sand”.  A point at which you will act to defend yourself or another innocent person.  It is a mind that does not waver or hesitate.  It is a mind of action.   Winning a real fight requires controlled violence. You must be able to call up your “dragon” on demand and become a fierce feral creature instead of the domesticated human you have been raised to be. If you are not emotionally and psychologically prepared to physically destroy your adversary, then you need to reevaluate your true ability to defend yourself and loved ones.

 

Liberty and Lead

How would you act if you were a teacher at the school?  A passerby?  Perhaps a father dropping their children off at school?  You hear shots inside.  Screaming.  Quickly people start streaming out of the building and you realize there is a shooter inside massacring people.  The police aren’t there yet.

You must decide, now.

Do you enter the building?

Do you have the mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude to hunt down evil in the flesh?

Will you destroy it with whatever tools you have at your disposal – even at great personal danger?

Are you prepared to unleash that fierceness and feralness locked inside and domesticated by your life in illusory safety?

Do you trust that you are not truly going in alone and that by just taking that first step into the building by faith you will have God’s help every step of the way?

I don’t want to color this massacre as anything other than an awful atrocity, but until men are ready to stand in the gap to defend the safety of not only themselves and their families, but of others, than evil will continue to successfully shatter the hearts of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and children.

Firm

One of the most well-read and God-loving men I know has as one of his guiding principles that when phrases or concepts are repeated in the Bible, there is a distinct and incredibly important reason.  For instance, the combination of “Fear not,” “do not fear,” “be not afraid,” etc are in the bible hundreds of times.  Why is that?

Simply, if God, the eternal, all-powerful, Creator of every last subatomic particle and ampule of energy in the entire universe and beyond, is on your team, then really, what does it matter what is arrayed against you?

Something I have heard a lot of late amongst conservatives and patriots is a lament, a deep-seated concern that perhaps we are outnumbered.  To this I say what does it matter?  Does it matter if we philosophically outnumbered?  Does it matter if we are physically outnumbered?  Does it matter whatsoever how many people attack us verbally, disrespect us publicly, or assault us physically?

Even in the most dire of circumstances where you are being hunted or persecuted for your beliefs, you have one amazing thing on your side if you have the Lord of all in your corner.

So what should you do?  Should you cave on your principles in the face of a numerically superior enemy?  Should you compromise on your principles?  Should you do whatever it takes to survive?

Stand firm.

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.

2 Chronicles 20:17

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.

Exodus 14:13

We rise up and stand firm.

Psalm 20:8

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
    but the righteous stand firm forever.

Proverbs 10:25

Stand firm, and you will win life.

Luke 21:19

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Don’t give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks.

James Lawrence

What does it look like to stand firm?

Imagine a shield wall.  Tens, hundreds, thousands of foot soldiers with interlocked and overlapping shields arrayed and shielded on both sides by something immovable, like a rock wall.  You hold fast, assured that your sides are protected just as well by your comrades in arms… but as a Christian, that faith does not need to be in men, but rather the God of the universe.

I read a book not long ago that spoke about “the covering” as something God bestowed on David and his mighty men (Benaiah, etc) in combat.  They did not understand it, but when they were under “the covering,” they were invincible.  Standing firm, or standing fast, in faith is much like that… you are within that shield wall and you are untouchable.

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