The rise of false Messiahs

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. (Matt. 24:23-25, NIV) Continue reading “The rise of false Messiahs”

The politics of fear

In these Divided States of America, we are more “united” into our conclaves by what divides us. During this political season (which is getting to be just one long action the way we run elections these days) it is about instilling fear into your voting segment.

Democrats need their base to fear global warming, Republicans, pro-life wackos, fundamentalist Christians, the wealthy, etc.

Republicans/Tea Party need their base to fear terrorism, immigrants, Democrats, the poor, etc.

When someone wants to move you toward fear, or cause you to act out of fear, there is another way. The way of Jesus rejects life based on fear. (It just means you don’t have a political party any more. Greater tragedies have happened.)

Once again we need to hear the powerful words of the Lord in our lives!

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:25-27)

Ask yourself, “Am I being moved to fear, or am I being moved to faith?”

Insist on faith. Insist on the peace that passes all understanding.

 

The ties that bind together mass shootings

We probably lose sight of underlying causes, and it is so incredibly difficult to anticipate or predict underlying causes… but as I look at each of the mass shootings we have faced (and I am NOT using the number 353 or 355, but rather five targeted incidents) there IS an underlying theme.

There was the shooting at the church in Charleston, SC  (June), the Chattanooga shooting (July), the Oregon community college shooting (October) and then in the past two weeks: Colorado Springs and San Bernardino.

The scary thing is the underlying cause I can see is something that can’t have legislation passed on it. It cannot be controlled by tighter immigration policies or high fences. And THAT is probably what scares US.

In each of those shootings we have the underlying cause being hatred. Today’s news details the San Bernardino killers being radicalized years ago. There was a point, just like all the previous killers, where they decided to get mad. They decided to be enraged. And then, horrifically, they decided to act on that rage.

No gun control legislation, no immigration policy, no amount of wire tapping can get at those moments where rage is incited… and then acted on.

And that, in turn, enrages us. We are frightened. We are angry. We want to do something… but every measure can only be meager in “success” because tactics change.

Unless we find some “precogs” and reinvent Minority Reportwe will simply not be able to get into people’s minds and stop them from rage when the point of willingness to kill has been reached.

What to do? We are so enraged, so activated in our fears… we need something TO DO!

For the past week I have been blogging different thoughts on this, but I keep coming back to my first post on all this. If we can put our fears aside, as believers, this can truly be the American Church’s finest hour. 

When we refuse to respond like the rest of the world, and when we bless instead of curse… and when we pour out forgiveness instead of hatred… there is something that is possible in the heart. 

This is truly the brilliance of the Kingdom of God. We are not capable in and of ourselves. But Christ IS our source. It is through our walk with Christ that something different CAN be possible. This is our choice. Just as those killers chose those moments to be enraged and act on it, we can choose as well to bless, to love, to reach out. 

We simply will never know this side of eternity how many terrorist acts we may have stopped simply by choosing to reach out in kindness when we could have reached out in anger and fear. We will not know hearts that could be changed in key moments because we engaged in a conversation or did some acts of kindness that opened up new possibilities.

This is our time. And we need to seize it. We need to deliberately choose to walk away from fearful reactions and angry answers and walk in love and blessing and forgiveness.

This is our time.

Fearing Muslims?

Last Friday I began to see a link being passed around from an opinion piece on Charisma Magazine’s site. I didn’t have time to read it, but the reactions from it today are so strong, I went back to read it. The piece is no longer on Charisma’s site, but links can be found to cached sites and the “author’s” original site.

Rod Thomas and Brian Zahnd had strong responses and their posts have the links to the original piece as well.

Two things (among many) stood out to me reading the original piece:

1. Whatever happened to loving our “enemy”? We’ve sunk to an “eye for an eye” and forgot the words of Jesus himself.

2. The “author” uses the twist that is dangerous. He starts with the word “Islamist” then quickly switches to Muslim and equates all Muslims with radical groups like ISIS. All Muslims hate Americans. All Muslims are sworn enemies of God (meaning Christians).

This is horrifying at every level. And it is not Christ. My dearest Muslim friends abhor ISIS and it is clear ISIS doesn’t represent them any more than Westboro Baptist Church represents me and my love for Jesus.

We are not like this world. We are not following the spirit of this age. We will not meet violence with violence. Not in this irrational way. The Kingdom of God is far more powerful than visceral responses like Charisma dared to post. Let us live with transformed minds.

There is a good side to fear and shame?

Why yes, yes there is.

As an adjunct professor dealing with students who blow by assignments without getting them in and expecting me to take them anyway… or to say they loaded them up on the class site… and a week later “notice” it didn’t load up… YES there is a “good” side to fear and shame.

We have coddled students all the way through school, not giving them any consequences for being late. Years ago one of my son’s middle school teachers was flunking my son so I asked him what was up. The teacher explained that he had come from the business world and if you were “late” on a bid it meant you didn’t get the bid. No bid, no money. So he didn’t accept late assignments from his students.

I saluted the teacher.

He was gone a few months later. The reason? He was “intolerant” of students and their needs.

I need that guy back. I want MORE of those guys in the middle school instilling some decent fear in students so when they get to college they have a sense of responsibility.

It’s asking too much.

But, basically, all students need a little more fear in their lives. More paranoia. Always checking to make sure things got turned in. Always checking to make sure there is something to do…

It’s asking a lot, I know… but a guy can hope.

End of rant. Good night.

Violence in Our World

The bombing in Boston has shaken us again. We will be on the lookout again for the perpetrators, and then we will ask, “WHY?”

In our time, we are fixated on “WHY” as if we should somehow be exempt from problems. Somehow violence needs to be “over there” and not “here.”

Violence is a part of the human condition. A world in rebellion will breed violence in some way. It might be somewhat more “acceptable” in some ways… like abortion… or violence against women and young children in sex trafficking…. or undocumented in slave labor… but a world in rebellion is going to manifest violence in some way and we are not exempt.

It is not a condition new to our day.

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted. (Hab. 1:2-4, NIV)

Our hearts grieve. The loss hurts. We want “justice,” and probably “justice” will come in some way on this event… and then another event will roll around and we will feel that shock all over again.

Lord, we are a people in rebellion and our hardened hearts breed violence in every way imaginable. Help us to surrender our hearts and lives to the King of all kings so we may know the blessedness of being ones who bring peace instead of violence.

 

Two Great Words: Fear and Hate

It is incredibly interesting that two words we try to avoid and “correct” in our world are fear and hate.

Yet, in the Bible, they are words that have a different meaning in a different context.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Prov. 1:7, NIV)

10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (Ps. 97:10, NIV)

While “fear” and “hate” need to be corrected in some contexts, they actually need to be embraced in this context.

It’s our abuse of these words in our current world that is keeping us from a true understanding of an incredible God.