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”
Reflections the day after another school shooting.
My current reading has me in Exodus and Acts. A quick observation on power and control in my early reading: Continue reading “Pharaohs, Pharisees, and Faith”
When a newspaper posed the question, “What is wrong with the world?” the well-known Catholic thinker G.K. Chesterton reputedly penned a brief reply. I wish I was that brave today.
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.
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 Report, we 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.
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.
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.