Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Crying of the Wolf at Midnight

There is a crying in the night.  A quiet lament of the soul.  You can sense it at three in the morning, and the hour of the wolf is upon you.  All the thoughts of life and the daily parade rumble through like a freight train.  

Looking out the window, all is dark.  But something compels you to head out into the darkness to discover the source of this insipid wailing.  You don a coat and slippers and your feet hit the cold pavement.  A flash of light and your down an alley.  It sounds like a dying animal. But as you turn the corner you realize the sound has internalized itself.  It's not coming from outside you, but from within.  

You look up at the stars and the moon in the uncertain skies.  And you wonder, more than wonder you yearn, desperate to know: Just what does it all mean?  What is this sadness in my soul?  Why does everything fall off short?  What idea unites all these dispirit pieces?  How can I silence the howling of the soul, as I search the streets? The hooting owl is within me, the howling wolf is my unknowing, and God is present in the dark.  

 I have been many things in my life, but one thing I did quite often was to lay awake at night wondering what it all meant.  I couldn't brush it aside like everyone else.  I couldn't pretend it didn't matter.  I couldn't chase capricious pleasures and call it a day.  I had to know.  I was curious.  I needed answers.

Metaphorically, and literally I did this many times: I left my bed, put on my shoes and my jacket and hat and walked the streets for hours.  I did this hundreds of times, thousands of times.  It was the only pleasure I could pull from life, for years.  Everything else seemed empty and pointless.  But these walks at night seemed to beam with a divine presence.  As my body wandered so did my mind.  

These are the questions we always ask, aren't they?  Why am I here?  What is my purpose?  What is the meaning of life?  What made the universe?  What should I do with my life?  What undercurrents all of reality?  

I fondly recall those walks today, as events of seeking taking place in my mind and soul.  I was after what was real.  For years those walks exposed me to beauties not often realized in the fast paced modern world.  How often do we really walk in silence and look upon the natural world anymore in our society?  Not often, is the answer to that question.  Technology has taken us away from the beauty of open roads, bristling forests and star filled skies. 

I lament it actually from time to time.  I've gotten far into it myself, and often wish I could escape it.  I yearn and envy those who live on farms or in wooded areas where they spend the bulk of their day in manual labor.  I've at times gone on sabbaticals into such lifestyles and the simplicity and freedom is quite appealing.  Not to mention the wisdom quite appealing, quite appealing indeed.  The trees are real, they speak the truth, the fields of grass are real, the sky is real and there is no illusion to them, as much as reality itself may be the dream of God.  God's dreams are quite real.  Just like yourself.  Your real.  A real dream of God.  Don't you think?  

I could not come to the apprehension of the suggestion that reality supposedly bends and contorts to my own preferences.  That had never been my experience after all.  Much more so it seems that reality does not bend to my preferences, and that is the whole situation humanity find's itself in.  We try to bend reality to fit us, we try to remake the truth in our own image, and we find awe struck that our own reimagination of the truth is false and fails to sustain itself in the realness of reality.  No, I could not take that suggestion from modern philosophers that I ought simply do whatever I felt like, and that would be my truth.  That is not true, it's not true for you and it's not true for me.  It's universally false.  Though I suppose there is one for whom reality does bend to it's will, and that one would be God.  God being perfect, this does not prove a danger to us.  Man being limited and dangerously cynical and self centered, this reality is best left to God.  Thank goodness for that.  

On the road no one could lie to me and keep me shackled.  The screens are full of lies of course.  Some truth is making it through, more so than usual, but still it's mostly lies.  The road, the trees, the grasses, the fields, and the stars don't lie to me.  They speak volumes of the reality of something greater than holds all things together.  The one I would come to call God.  Staring at the natural world so often, and so thoroughly is bound to make believers of just about anyone.  The beauty, complexity and symmetry is quite provocative.  One could call it eventually, absolutely astounding.  The more one looks, the more one realizes it.  And its no illusion.  It's not a 3 minute video on YouTube, it's there and it's in front of you and it's real.  And your in awe.  Because many of us seem to live in a state of acceptance of reality only because perhaps we are expecting to wake up.  But once you realize how real and unflinching it is, and also how beauty and harmonious, well, you begin to realize your already awake.  And once this thought has finally thoroughly traumatized you, it begins to awake your mind to the necessity for a sustaining force which allows for such a reality's existence.  That being... God. 

The weeping soul can't help but walk out into empty places hoping to discover something that might mend the soul.  The interesting thing is all humanity is born with troubled souls, and wanders about often either willfully blind, ignorant, or in search of something greater.  

The crying of the wolf in the night is the call to the adventure of the pilgrim on his search for the eternal city.  Today we might call the pilgrim the seeker.  The seeker knows there is something missing.  The seeker knows there is a God out there, a unifying force, an ultimate reality, and he or she seeks after it.  There is a deep conviction, a sensation of one's own lostness.  And there is a yearning to know.  So the pilgrim, you and I, set out to discover who can free the soul from the burdens it carries.  Through, trial, tribulation, joy and sorrow, we may just find the one who can relieve us, the God who loves us, and the eternal city for those who have received his grace.  

Along the road we encounter many struggles and tragedies.  We deal with many hardships.  But each of them seems to build us up in odd ways ,and make us stronger.  Then at the height of the hill we discover the cross of Jesus Christ.  Finally, the burden falls from our backs, the agony is broken, and the wolf is rested, at ease, and willing to go the distance.  But this is not the end of the journey, but only the beginning!  The seeker has become Christian, and Christian must make his way through all manner of struggles, trials, and persecutions to reach the holy eternal city.   

The wolf still cries, but these are cries bedded in fundamental victory dealing with temporary suffering, all be it, intense suffering at times.  This suffering is a trademark of Christian life.  Suffering is all part of life.  No drug, no pill, no sexual encounter and no philosophy can take away the struggle of life.  But the fundamental shift is from despair as a lifestyle, to peace and joy as a lifestyle through many trials and tribulations.  

Related Posts:
  1. Christianity in the Public Square
  2. Expert Testimony: the Demise of Evolution, Complexity in DNA
  3. Expert Testimony: Intelligent Design, Archaeology, and Historicity
  4. The Great American Culture War: Religious Liberty, Gay Rights, Naturalism and the Christian Faith
  5. What is the matrix?
  6. Logic, History, Statistics, & Astronomy: Interdisciplinary approaches to the Truth Claims of Christianity
  7. Does man need God in Western Civilization
  8. Real Christianity: Clothing, Buildings, Money, & Extravagance
  9. Seven Objections to the Bible and Seven Reasonable Responses
  10. 10 Answers to Common Questions Raised by Skeptics

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Rediscovering Lost Values, Political Engagement, and Overcoming Cruz Crew Discouragement

As a Christian, this election sucks.  This isn't a new trend unfortunately.  Whether it's Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, or John McCain, we're left with options that aren't appealing.  Hillary Clinton is despicable, obviously.  She must be the most corrupt person to ever run for president.  Donald Trump is almost as bad.  What's sad is that we had the option of a principled conservative Christian. Of course I'm speaking of Ted Cruz.  We were very close too.  But Fox News helped push Trump over the top.  There were many others factors as well, but the ignorance and hatred of our own people ultimately finished us off.

It's very depressing.  It leaves Christians wondering if God is in the process of "judging" America.  It makes us want to disengage.  But that is the one thing we must not do.  

Too many decent Americans have disengaged, because they're burnt out.  I understand how they feel.  I really do. But stepping out is not the answer.  They've turned over the country to the worst of the worst.  They don't want to deal with the mess.  That's very selfish.  And it's an abdication of their duty as citizens. 

They want us disengaged.  Don't give that to them.  Stay active.  Take vacations when you need to.  Take sabbaticals and set it aside for a few weeks, or a few months, but always come back to the fray.  We need decent people who are taking an interest in the political sphere.  We need you to man up and do your duty, even when it's hard. 

In 2016, well, it's very difficult.  We're left with the difficult choice of Satan vs. the anti-christ.  I'm really hoping for a better future for our country.  I'm really hoping and believing that things are going to turn around in a big way.  It starts today. 

Am I going to vote for Donald Trump?  I still don't know.  I can't vote for Hillary Clinton, she is anti-religious liberty, anti-guns, and pro-abortion.  She is a radical progressive with serious Marxist tendencies.  She is brutally corrupt to the core.  I've never seen anything like it.  If there were any justice in our legal system Hillary Clinton would've been indicted for violating the Espionage Act.  It's so obvious it hurts.  But apparently in the Obama era, Democrats like Hillary Clinton are immune to the law.

What about third party candidates?  Well, I can't vote for Jill Stein obviously, the Green Party is extreme left socialist big government advocates.  I also can't vote for Gary Johnson the libertarian candidate.  I have a lot in common with libertarians, I call myself a conservative libertarian.  Sadly Gary Johnson is the worst libertarian ever.  Gary Johnson is really just a liberal, a Democrat in libertarian's clothing.  Gary Johnson is pro-abortion, anti-religious liberty, anti-gun, and he thinks a carbon tax is a good idea.  In addition, while Gary Johnson was governor of New Mexico he was a big spender, increasing the debt from 3 billion to over 7 billion dollars.  He's no libertarian, not at all.  

I may have to pull the lever for Donald Trump, because Hillary's America terrifies me.  I don't know that America can survive another four years of the Obama progressive agenda.   

In all likelihood Donald Trump will be destroyed by Hillary Clinton in the general election.  He's way down in the polls.  This means the next four years will be about assembling a coalition of young people who can and will stand for Constitutional values and Christian ethics in the public sphere.  We need young people, we need old people, we never everyone we can get to sign on and fight to make a difference over the next few years.  One of the best ways you can begin to do that is by applying to become a Heritage Action Sentinel.  This is a volunteer opportunity to help hold your political leaders accountable.  It's a way for you to hone and multiply the effects of your political activism. The Heritage Foundation is the best political organization I've ever been a part of.  Definitely check it out and get involved.  

Especially if your a young person, get involved, stay involved, but don't get obsessed.  I've become politically obsessed in the past and I burn out.  Then I want to disengage.  Moderate yourself, don't overload yourself.  Keep it as part of your weekly routine, but don't make it the centerpiece of your life.  We can easily become discouraged and demoralized if we take in too much, too fast and too often.  

Our greatest adversary is the mainstream media.  They control the narrative, and their megaphones reach the masses.  The biggest problem we face is that our message doesn't get out.  Our worldview, Christianity, conservatism, and constitutionalism never reach the general public.  The internet has provided a megaphone for a growing conservative movement, but the mass general public still mainly get their worldview from the television.  And the television is a progressive hellhole.  We have to look to find new ways to reach the average American.  We have to reach young people especially, because young people are the future.  
Old people, well, they blew it.  They presided over the demise of American values and the demise of Christianity.  Now they run megachurches and run the country and read your blogs, take your ideas and use them to keep themselves in power, so they can spend away your future, bank off your faith, and keep you down at the bottom.  

We, young people, are the last hope.  We have to do it differently than our parents and grandparents.  Unfortunately many of us are even more disengaged and distracted than them.  Our ancestors were so distracted by the new technology and the new television media that they fell asleep while criminals captured the country and began to transform it into a secular big government dump.  In the same way the religious foundations of the country, the big cities, of the small towns began to be supplanted by new modernizations, by rising pleasures, and the churches began to crumble as self-centered focus took the place of God-centered worship.  

We have to rediscover our own lost values.  We have to rediscover true Christianity.  We have to rediscover the principles of free markets, limited government, and personal responsibility.  We have to rediscover morality, values, principles, heroes, dignity, and personal honor.   

Ultimately if we become who we want the country to be and learn to spread that message via revolutionary mass movements, then we'll retake the country through the fire and zeal of the truth.  If we know the truth and live the truth, the truth has set us free and will set our fellows free as well.  God is good, and things can change very quickly.  Jesus Christ is Lord and he will build his kingdom.  May His work be done through us.   

Related Posts:
  1. Media Bias, Saul Alinsky, & the War on America's Character
  2. An Essay on the Fall of Man in Today's America
  3. Five Political Presentations that will Change your Worldview
  4. An Appeal to Heaven: The Movement
  5. The Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty
  6. Thoughts on Public Schooling: Should Christians homeschool their Children?
  7. Kim Davis is only the Beginning: Prepare your Ministry for Persecution
  8. A Cause Worth Dying For: Materialism, Millennials, & the Authentic Mission
  9. What is the Truth about Abortion? Fact, Fiction, Christianity & Humanism
  10. Christian Activism: Can Christianity survive the new cultural attitudes?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

God of Love, God of Justice: A Future Heaven, a Future Hell

Source via Flickr by rabesphoto
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

God's works are many in the world and of particular beauty.  Yet there is also the proclivity of man toward evil.  God allows for free will, which opens the doors to almost any possibility.  Which explains why the world is so messed up.  Humanity decided to turn from God, and play God.  

Life is best lived with God at the center of all things.  We can tend to treat God as an auxiliary to our plans and desires.  That is not the way it is suppose to be.  God should be the very center.  If life is the road and we're the car, God should be the engine.  If your life is a city, God ought be the center square, the city hall, the centerpiece of all operations.  

Too often we, myself included tend to relegate God to errand boy status.  Or watcher status.  Or perhaps advisor status.  Or order taker status.  God is much greater than that.  He runs the whole show.  Our job is to seek out His will, in a very real and practical sense.  What is my calling Lord?  What do you want me to do with my life?  What goals would you have me pursue?  These should be our daily questions to our Maker.

He leads us, subtly at times.  And more forcefully at other times.   A friend of mine told me of how he had been a duplicitous cheat, liar, and raving alcoholic for many years.  He told me something peculiar.  He said God gave him a vision of hell, which prompted large changes in his life.  Normally I would be quite skeptical of such an account.  Yet I was surprised and impressed by his simple sincerity.  He told me he found himself in total darkness.  He tried to blink his eyes, but all he saw was darkness.  He told me it wasn't really like he was seeing it, it was like he couldn't see.  He tried to look down at his body and saw only blackness.  He felt distant.  He tried to cry out but he couldn't speak a word.  He tried to breathe but their was no air.  It was so terrible he was awfully scared, tried to weep, tried to scream, but nothing would come out. Then he came to again.  He looked around stunned.  And later he came to the conclusion that this had been a vision from God of what hell would be like.

Now we've all heard of the bestselling books and accounts of hell, and people have described seeing demons torturing them and such things.  Of course that isn't biblical, demons aren't in any positions of authority in hell, they are simple prisoners of this place, which is a place of the lack of the presence of God.  We think of burning fires, red lit tunnels and dark rocks, and devils in red spandex suits, but those things aren't really biblical.  What is biblical is that this "hell" is a place of disconnection from God; A place completely outside the sovereign presence of God.  

This account got me thinking.  And it brought back several memories of mine from before I was saved.  I realized that I'd had a similar experience about ten years ago.  I had been sitting in my room, and I'm not sure if I had been napping or what, but I had just that kind of experience.  Everything was dark, and I couldn't talk, I couldn't scream, I couldn't cry though I desperately wanted to.  I felt the agony of this emptiness, of being totally alone. I remember trying to life my hand up to eyes to tree to see.  But there was nothing there.  I had no hand, just a phantom attempt at movement. It went on for I don't know how long and then I came out of it.  I didn't react with a change of heart and life like my friend did, but the experience matched near identically.  

It's been on my mind ever since.  Let me say immediately that I trust the word of God and the word of God only.  Visions, dreams, and experiences like these should be viewed skeptically.  But if these experiences do line up with scripture, then they can at least be discussed and taken into account.  

It's something to consider.  We often don't like talking about hell.  Maybe we're afraid that we'll be considered "fear mongers" and so on and so forth.  I do believe the love of God and the grace of Christ are primary motivators toward reception of the gospel.  But I think equally so is a healthy reverent fear of God, and a knowledge of hell.  Hell is after all, completely real if we take the OT and NT to be the inspired word of God.  And I do.  The Bible is 100% inerrant and true.  

What a fate indeed for many to find themselves eternally disconnected from God! It is a fearful, shocking thing indeed.  Yet God is in charge. God is sovereign over all things.  We have to remember that.  Yet he also allows for free choices, all the way back to the first free choices made by perfect man and woman.

This free choice began in a perfect world, in a perfect garden.  There were hundreds of fruit trees in the garden of Eden.  There was only one that was forbidden to be eaten from.  All Adam and Eve had to do was avoid that one tree.  And they failed to do so.  Now today we are in a converse inversion of that scenario; we are surrounded by hundreds of trees that should not be eaten from, and only one, the Christ tree will save us. This Christ-fruit is oft hidden from many and sometimes quite hard to find. But to those who truly seek after it, they find the Christ-tree.  And they eat from this tree and find eternal life.  

Reality will be renewed again, the universe and the Earth, after the door to salvation is closed.  Some will join God almighty in the eternal kingdom at the city of New Jerusalem.  If your like me, a born again believer and follower of the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ then we have the most wonderful possible future awaiting us.  It is so incredible, so wonderful, so perfect that it's written that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no one’s heart has imagined all the things that God has prepared for those who love him” (2 Cor 2:9 CJB).  For those who have rejected the son and turned their hearts and minds from the obviousness of the existence of God in nature and life, they will be removed permanently from the presence of God. They will be sent from the presence of God, to eternal darkness.  

Hell, if that is what my friend and I experienced, is a terrible, terrible place to end up.  It is a place where the presence of God is missing.  But isn't God just to send those who hated him and ignored him their entire lives to a place where he is not?  

If your husband were abusive, rebellious and hateful would you not divorce him and escape from His presence?  And the same with your wife?  Or a friend, boss, or coworker?  And what about the corrupt reign of nations like North Korea or China?  Wouldn't those peoples give almost anything to escape from the presence of such hate and evil? Of course they would. They would flee and never return.  And so it is just that God removes from his presence those who refuse his love and spit in his face hatefully, disobeying all his laws, that are meant to bless them, and harming his other children through their perverse actions.  

It isn't an easy reality to swallow.  It offends our modern sensibilities.  But the truth is we're all happy when justice wins out.  God is a God of love firstly.  But God is also a God of justice. I'm glad that God is so good that he protects us, and will set things right from this world gone mad.

Many in the media would probably say this is a "dark outlook" on life.  Or that this is "negative."  Yet the facts show that this is in fact a very dark and corrupt world.  Even in America, we see it everyday.  So we must accept God's justice along with his love, if we really want to live in a better world.  

In closing I want to say this, to those who are still outside the cross of Jesus Christ: One day the door to eternal life is going to be closed permanently. God is giving a great deal of time for as many as possible to come and receive cleansing through Jesus Christ the savior he has provided. But the clock is ticking. God will bring into judgment the human race for the many wrong doings that have caused so much poverty, struggle, and chaos on Earth. Join a church now, today, gain access to the savior through the word of God. Don't wait, begin that journey today. Jesus is open to any and all. Call out to him!

Many are saying the end is quite near.  The weirdos on the outskirts have been saying that for many, many years.  But more so than ever I'm noticing people I highly respect are beginning to say the same thing.  They could be right, I don't know for certain.  The point is, we don't know.  But we do know the return of Christ will be sudden.  We do know we've awaited his return for almost 2,000 years now.  My request is that you make sure you are ready for that day.  For the elect, dig in deep, make your fox holes deep and strong.  Stay awake by remaining thoroughly active in the various ministries of the Christian faith, the practice of daily prayer, and the constant study of the word of God.  If you are yet unsaved, don't delay, join a good church and set off on that journey to meet Christ.  The window of opportunity will only be open so long, then it will close forever.  God is good.  He is love.  He is just.  May he be praised forever, amen. 

Related Posts:
  1. Take a Stand Like Daniel: Being a counter-culture warrior
  2. Sermon: Purity of the Heart & Holiness
  3. The Divine Mysteries of Jesus Christ
  4. Sermon: Fighting the Good Fight of the Faith
  5. The Great Pillars of Society: Morality & Religion
  6. The War on Principles & the Hope in our Worldview
  7. Take a Stand on Key Issues: Addiction, Abortion
  8. Politics & God
  9. Comprehending the Truth about America
  10. Be a Powerhouse Christian Battleship

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How to Pray Authentically: The Four Position Prayer

When I first became a part of the family of Christ I was pretty clueless.  I had no idea what it meant to be a Christian, I had no idea how to study the Bible, and I didn't really know how to pray.  

I've read several books about prayer.  And often times I find myself, after reading hundreds of paging, coming out still knowing virtually nothing about prayer.  So let's just cut right to the chase.  I did all this study, learned very little, so I decided that I needed to come up with my own method of prayer.

Prayer is insanely important to the Christian life.  If you aren't praying at least once a day it's hard to say that your even a Christian.  Prayer is like breathing to a Christian.  If you aren't praying, your suffocating or dead.  Plain and simple.  No excuses.  It's true.  

In the mornings I do two quick devotional readings.  A devotional is just a book with a reading for every day of the year.  There are tons of them out there.  I like Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  And I also do Taking Time to Be Holy by Samuel Logan Brengle (Salvation Army devotional).  A great devotional is called Our Daily Bread, I always read that one at my nursing home Bible study.  It's free.  

I also do a short prayer in the mornings after my two devotionals.  Mornings are not my favorite thing.  I have trouble walking, eating, and breathing in the mornings.  I am not a morning person, and the world is run by morning people.  Very sad.  Anyway, I keep it short and sweet in the morning.  

My big prayer is at night right before I go to bed.  I call it the four position prayer.  Here's how it works:

First step, take out your hymn book.  I have a Salvation Army song book.  You could use a Baptist hymn book, a Catholic hymn book, or any number of song books from various denominations.  If you don't have one, head over to a Goodwill or thrift store, you'll probably be able to find one.  Also, there are tons of hymns available including the Salvation Army hymn book available via apps and such.

Leave your night light on for this part.  And you pick 1-3 hymns and simply pray them to God, reading them over and projecting them as praise toward heaven.  Very simply, very effective.  I'm usually sitting on the floor Indian-style when I do this one.

Step two, take out your Bible.  If you don't have a Bible, well, your in worse shape then I thought.  Take out your Bible, and open it to the psalms.  Pick 1-3 psalms and pray them to God.  Use them as praise to heaven.  I usually go to psalms, but you can pray many parts of the Bible. Experiment with what works for you.  Leave the night light on for this part, or the Bible might be hard to read.  You can kneel as you pray in an upright kneeling position with the Bible on the floor in front of you.  

Step three, turn off the night light and in total darkness go on your knees and place your head an inch or two from the ground.  From this position pray to God the "Our Father" prayer.  Do not just "say" the Our Father.  Slowly go through it, line by line, emphasizing the various aspects of the prayer.  Make sure your expressing the meaning in your soul and mind as you pray it.  I was raised Catholic, and we would say it so often, it wasn't really a prayer, just a monotonous mumbling of sorts.  Really pray it.  

After the "Our Father" then pray the Serenity prayer.  I pray the short version, but if you want you can pray the long version.  The short is: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  Google for the longer version, both are great.  After the serenity prayer I tend to pray a quick prayer for tomorrow: "God grant me the serenity to love their best and never fear their worst."  This prayer is good when you may have to deal with difficult coworkers, or obnoxious customers or family members that rub you the wrong way.  

Step three concludes with some thank yous, usually just "thank you for this day."  And "thank you for your love."  And "thank you for something nice that happened today."  Or "thank you for the struggles today, because I know they're maturing me into the man you want me to be."

Step four.  Move from the kneeling position and lay flat on your back, on the floor, and place your hands folded over your chest/stomach.  Position four is your confessional time.  This is when you really talk real to God.  Be totally honest about how your feeling and what's going on in your life.  It's best to do this in total darkness.  Confess your struggles.  Make your requests to God in this position.  If your angry, yell and scream.  If your upset, cry.  If your questioning, ask God some questions.  But always conclude your statements with "Never the less Lord, your will be done and not mine."  And if your having a real struggle and your really suffering then pray "God, you give and you take away, but never the less, blessed and holy is your name."  This is a way of saying "Lord I don't understand what's going on with all this, but I trust you and I refuse to blame you and I refuse to suggest that you might be doing something wrong, because you are always holy." Job did the same.  Pray for your family.  Pray for your friends.  Pray for the lost.  Pray for the world.  

[Optional Step 5] Sometimes I will also include the five finger prayer either while I'm laying on my back, or I will sit up back in an indian style sitting position on the floor.  And I'll do the five finger prayer.  If you'd like to include that in your prayer, it's a very nifty prayer.  It's kind of hard for me to lose my hand.  It tends to always be there.  So I look at my hand:

Thumb: Pray for those closest to you, like family and close friends.

Pointer finger: Pray for your spiritual leaders.  So pray for your pastors, pray for your counselors and pray for anyone who mentors you.

Middle finger: It's the tallest finger, so pray for those in authority.  This would be prayers for political leaders, for local governmental leaders, for Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President.

Ring finger: This is your weakest finger: Use this finger to pray for the weak and the struggling.  I usually pray for drug addicts, alcoholics, the depressed, the disabled, the lost and the sick.

Pinkie: Lastly, pray for yourself and your needs.    

Related Posts:
  1. Take a Stand Like Daniel: Being a counter-culture warrior
  2. Sermon: Purity of the Heart & Holiness
  3. The Divine Mysteries of Jesus Christ
  4. Sermon: Fighting the Good Fight of the Faith
  5. The Great Pillars of Society: Morality & Religion
  6. The War on Principles & the Hope in our Worldview
  7. Take a Stand on Key Issues: Addiction, Abortion
  8. Politics & God
  9. Comprehending the Truth about America
  10. Be a Powerhouse Christian Battleship

Dear Emily: About Life, Death, Depression and Euthanasia

Dear Emily,

Hi. I'm Justin. I read about your story on the internet.  And I'm quite interested.  I tried to find you online so I could try to talk to you. On social media and such. But I wasn't able to do so.  I'm writing this blog post in the hope that perhaps somehow you'll see it.  

I'm quite interested in your case, and your desire to die, because you see... I've had much the same problem.  In fact I've tried to kill myself several times in the past.  

I've fought depression my entire life you see.  I'm not sure why.  It just always seemed to be there.  I've been hospitalized several times in connection to this.  I've seen dozens of counselors.  I've gone through treatment programs, in patient, outpatient, blah blah blah.  For years this went on.  My life kept getting worse and worse.

I used to lay in roads to kill myself.  For some reason no car would ever come.  I stood in the highway once.  A car almost hit me.  

I've been to the darkest places imaginable, inside my own mind.  And I've felt the horror of the unending battle.  And the day filled with gloom.  The gray scale life, day in and day out, never ending.  

Today I still battle the depression.  But life is good today.  And I'd like to tell you about what changed my life.  

You said that it felt as though there were a monster inside your rib cage.  And it was always there.  What I'm about to tell you won't remove the monster. But it will put that monster in a cage.  

Do you believe in God Emily?  Have you ever explored down that eminent road?  No counselor will tell you about it.  They never told me.  No mental hospital will hand you a Bible.  No doctor will suggest a spiritual road.  Why?  I suppose perhaps they can't or their profession comes from a different worldview.  But ultimately the question must be asked: Is God real?

Don't you see Emily, if there is no God, and you and I are simply evolved pond scum then it would be entirely reasonable to have a needle stuck in your arm and have your life ended?  If we're just accidentally here, on Earth, then it doesn't really matter.  But if there is actually life after death, then it does matter.  Everything matters, every choice matters.  

If there is nothing, just the great blank darkness, then I can fully understand euthanasia.  But the truth is, there is hope.  There is life after the grave.  God is real.

Much of the western world has turned from such beliefs.  Why? I'm not sure really.  But I grew being trained in religious faith, in the United States, but I rejected it.  

I watched the documentary about you, and you were asked about death.  And you said, "I'm not religious."  And you said that you think of death as something to do with personal peace, related to your personal experience of peace.  My blog is called a lifestyle of peace.  I recall at that moment in the documentary, the sky went from overcast, to sunny, and light shined down on you.

You said "I'm not religious."  Why not try this Christian road?  That's what happened to me.  My family was praying for me.  I was all kinds of lost.  Got involved in drugs.  All sorts of terrible things.  And they were praying for me.  I started carrying a Bible around with me, reading from it.  I thought, maybe there is hope here.  Many say there is.  Could they all be wrong?  

If God is really real.  And he has revealed himself through Jesus Christ, and his word, then it's exactly what your missing. If we need Jesus to cause us to be born again, and we're broken and empty until that happens, then Jesus is exactly who you need.  A living Jesus. 

So Emily, could you give it a try?  Could you begin a spiritual journey and ask God: Are you real?  Jesus are you really alive, are you really who you say you are in the Bible?  Jesus would you reveal yourself to me?  

You've tried everything else, right?  You've even applied and been accepted to be euthanized.  But something kept you from it.  Something inside stopped you.  I believe that something that stopped you is God.  Begin that journey.  Try it out at least.  There is nothing left to lose, when you've already lost everything.  Right?  I know.  I did lose it all.  And I went to rock bottom.  It was there I realized something.  

I realized: Maybe, just maybe Jesus Christ can help me.  I've done all the drugs.  I've tried all the medications.  I've been to the hospitals, seen the counselors, read the books.  But maybe, just maybe God is real.  And he's really out there.  And he really cares about me.  I recall at rock bottom, in the opaque darkness I cried out, cried out with all my might, in tears, in bitterness, in despair: JESUS HELP ME JESUS SAVE ME PLEASE, please.. please.. please.  And my life changed.  The monster got locked in a cage.  The battle wasn't over.  But suddenly, joy was possible.  I could feel again.  And I was alive.  The darkness no longer had me.  I had come into the light. 

Could it change you too Emily?  Could it mend up your broken heart?  Could Jesus really be the light to ignite in your darkness?  I'm betting He could.  There is nothing left to lose.  There is nowhere else to go my friend.  You might as well seek him.  Ask him to reveal himself to you.  Carry a Bible around with you and read from it.  Do as I did.  Call out to Jesus.

I'll be praying for you.  As my family prayed for me.  I hope I will get a chance to talk to you about these things.  Take care my friend.  I know how you feel. I've been where you've been.  


Justin Steckbauer

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The War for Freedom & Liberty: Four Movements that can Restore America

Freedom and liberty are as vital as air to our Christian way of life.  Free will is the sovereign gift of God.  He grants us the incredible freedom to choose that which we will do.  It is such a sacred gift it is unimaginable what it might be like without it.  Inherent in the republic in which we live is the core concept of liberty.  We believe radically different from much of the world.  We believe that a single person knows better than a bureaucracy or a regulatory body, how best to live their life.  

We believe that a person is best when self regulating.  We believe a person ought to be free, led by their conscience, instructed through teaching from their parents, books, and teachings of religious organizations.  

I'm very thankful for that way of life set forward by God, and also honored by our founding fathers.  Unfortunately the elite of our society think they know better how people ought to live.  And they are so certain of their own superiority, they are sure that they must enforce their agenda on all of us.  

"It would be difficult for anyone looking around the world today to resist the conclusion that something has gone very badly indeed with what we continue to call “Western Civilization.” This awareness tends to be distorted and muffled – if not obliterated – by the media, which manage to induce us to take for granted the continuingly explosive situations that confront us on every hand, and to see as an enlargement of our freedom and an enhancement of the quality of our living the steady and ominous erosion of the moral standards on which our traditional way of life has been based." -Malcom Muggeridge, The True Crisis of our Time 

This is not a democratic or Christian way of conduct, but much more so a secular authoritarian way of conducting national affairs.  It is socialist in bent.  When the sovereign God of "In God we Trust" is removed from the equation, near instantly the government becomes the God.  And thus all must be appealed to the government for justice.  Sound familiar?  

The government may be appealed to as god, but it is not god. It will in fact be bent toward corruption.  That is of notable concern.  For as more and more power is ceded to the government, less and less influence remains with the people.  And eventually government grows and grows, until even everyday decisions must be regulated and guided by government.  Eventually the alphabet soup of federal agencies grows so large and so unwieldy that there exists a government network at the Federal level so extensive and unaccountable that the people become effectively ruled without representation.  

This network of controls and rules becomes increasingly necessary as a once free people embrace immorality, sexual liberation, and redefinition of key boundary markers.  Jump to today and we see morals and principles have been utterly destroyed in our society, and thus a growing authoritarianism is taking the place of liberty.  

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”
– Samuel Adams, in a letter from Samuel Adams to fellow patriot James Warren on February 12, 1779

As the many federal agencies grow and grow the executive branch gains more and more power.  Through legislative fiat the Supreme Court does much the same, expanding it's own authority unchecked.  With the executive and the courts exceeding their authority, the Congress, the most direct representatives of the people are left with little power to influence the course and stability of the nation.  Thus liberty has been lost in many ways in our nation.  

The Christian churches of America could do something about this, though as divided as we are, there seems little we can do on a national level. At times we fight and we have victories, but mainly it seems we go from defeat to defeat.  And decline seems constant.  Our first duty is to Jesus Christ of course, and the propagation of his gospel.   In fact Jesus is our gospel.  And Jesus Christ is alive.  He is seated in glory in heaven.  And he will come again to rule and reign on Earth.  This is a literal fact.  God is good.  His word is true.  This is our first purpose.

Our second duty is to our country, the United States of America.  And what a wonderful country it is!  We are called to guide civilization and help preserve it, as salt and light.  Liberty and freedom are more than words, or catch-phrases, they are shared meanings of the nation.  We agree to the rules of country before we even begin interacting on issues like government, politics, education, culture and religion.  We all agree to the rule book: The Constitution.  We agree that freedom of thought and action and word are non-negotiable.  They are to be held as sacred to each and every American, as shared values that must never be forsaken.  Though they are being forsaken.  Oddly enough they are being forsaken by our most educated and affluent. 

Malcom Muggeridge wrote, “So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating boredom out of his own affluence, vulnerability out of his own strength, impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brings the walls of his city tumbling down, and being convinced that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.” ― Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society

Is that to be the fate of the United States of America?  To slip into organized madness, to slip into a bizarre trance of self destruction unto utter extinction?  Great empires seem to have a way of turning and heading in that direction.  

Our job remains, to carry the gospel of Christ and to preserve the free society.  A free society is best for the propagation of the life providing gospel of eternal life.  The gospel encounters trouble when shunned, attacked, or outlawed in socialist/communist nations like China, North Korea, and Russia.  Therefore it seems vital that we fight with all our might to preserve the free society.  And to do so at all costs.  

Why as a Christian minister do I write so much about politics?  Well, if it was still the 1950s or even the 1990s I wouldn't have a need to.  It's just that I can't help but find politics pressing into my religious area quite regularly.  But even if it weren't, Christianity is for all parts of life.  Not to be enforced through theocracy, but practiced personally as a way of life.  We simply want a free society, without coercion.  

We didn't start this fight.  They did.  And they keep pushing forward, at a steady drumbeat, destroying our society, convinced of their own superiority and righteousness as they do so.  The secularism we deal with today is not a passive secularism, it is a rabid anti-Christian secularism.  It is at war with religious faith. 

Think I'm wrong?  How does the media portray Christianity?  Think of Dan Savage and his show on ABC.  Think of Bill Maher on HBO.  Think of the hostility of people like Bill Nye who teach their worldview to our children on public dime.  Think of the hostility toward private practice of Christianity by children in public schools.  The fear permeates parents and children, that if they dare speak of Christ in school they might be sued, fined, or suspended.  Think of the hostility toward creationism and intelligent design in the scientific community.  Think of the rabid hatred of Christianity in television media and Hollywood.  And think of the expulsion of Christianity from academia.  Think of the college professors who make it their mission to drive faith out of their students.  Think of the legal battles being waged today on the government level.  Think of how Christian organizations and schools are being forced to bend the knee to abortion ideology, gender ideology, and the radical redefinition of marriage.  Our foes are not content to change these cultural norms merely on a national level, they must also force them upon us, force us to endorse them, and punish us for the perceived injustices of the past.  This is a rabid secularism, a hostile secularism, and it's getting more hostile and brazenly so.  

We must stand for freedom and liberty.  Our ideological foes don't necessarily care much about freedom.  They may garb themselves in American philosophical themes to garner public support, but beneath the garbs are always one thing: force.  Beneath the garb is always authoritarianism, using government power to enforce new standards on a resistant population.  It is the outgrowth of tyranny  in our modern day.  We must reject it and fight back.

We are doing just that.  Many organizations are fighting back against this evil growing in America.  There are many movements beginning to rise up and challenge these ideological progressives.  Their agenda really does scare me.  And they are so brash about it.  They are so loud about it!  They hold so many of the key microphones of the society.  They flaunt their hatred for traditional American values through people/programs like Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, SNL, Dan Savage, The View, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, Chris Matthews, Van Jones, Al Sharpton, the list goes on and on.  

I puzzled for many years at what seemed to be the lack of push back from constitutionalists, conservatives, Christians, and the like.  But there really is a strong push back.  The problem is the secularists hold almost all of the megaphones of culture and media.  And they make sure you almost never hear of public resistance to their agenda.  But if you go on social media or on local levels in more suburban areas the adherence to traditional Judaeo-Christian American values is near universal.  As you wade into social media, grassroots organizations, and alternative media you realize there is this massive, huge, gigantic "revival" of sorts going on toward liberty, justice, faith, family, and morality.  The zeal is real.  People are passionate, and they are using new media to fight day and night to spread the message of liberty.  

I participate in this.  I do it everyday through social media.  It really is an exciting time.  People are energized.  But our ideological opponents are strong, and they go after the minds of the young.  So it's tough.  It really is tough.  And it's heartbreaking.  The more you read and learn through alternative media, the more disturbing are the realizations that come.  

Today, in a seemingly short amount of time we Christians have found ourselves surrounded by enemies.  It really is quite a fascinating development in the life of our nation.  Who would've thought?  Francis Schaeffer could see it coming, as he wrote in his landmark book "How should We then Live?"  Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias said that in the 1970s if someone had told him America would be like it is today he would've never believed it.  He said he thought Francis Schaeffer was perhaps a bit too strong about the possible dangers ahead.  But it turns out the worst case scenario has been realized.  

I grew up in a medium sized city of about 100,000 people in central Wisconsin.  The culture was conservative and still is fairly conservative.  But the young people even in Wisconsin turned quite decidedly from the shared religious meanings of the past.  Many of the churches, with some notable exceptions, were and are congregations of the elderly, that will close their doors given a few more funerals.  Today I live and work in a community in Michigan of about 12,000 people.  And even here, in Upper Michigan, where it seems as if I'd stepped back in the early 90s, you can see it with the young, the teens, and young adults, they've diverted away from Christianity, and into secular thought.  Not on a militant level, but simply passively, lulled in that direction.  It's amazing how uniform that is even in smaller communities. 

I can sense the hostility from people my ages, people in their twenties and thirties to the Christian message.  Even within the apartment complex where I live I can sense the hostility from my neighbors!  But the most hostility comes through in the media and television world.  Today we are more than ever surrounded by those who consider us adversaries, or at least oddities.  

 But as Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. 'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

They keep telling me we're in the end times.  I want to slap people who say that to me.  But then again it could be quite true.  Though I won't accept any notion that might imply we ought to surrender prematurely.  I say fight to the last man.  

We should don our armor and march onto the field of battle lined up row by row, shoulder to shoulder, unflinching, totally dedicated to our principles and values.  We should march onto the field outnumbered and outgunned.  And make our stand.  I think we can, and I think we will.   We'll march on the gates of hell, and make war on the broken fields of mount Doom.  We'll take on the hordes of useful idiots, the zombies of progressivism and though we be outnumbered 3 to 1, we shall win the day.  

There will be four columns of troops I hope, from four distinct movements within our nation.  They are:

1. Constitutionalists - A massive force of principled conservatives will lead the charge, arrayed in force to restore rule of law, personal liberty, and economic freedom.

2. Christians - A force of Christians, sent from evangelicalism will join in the fight to save America.  They will fight to help restore religious freedom, sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

3. Libertarians - Our friends in the liberty movement will join us to take on the enemies of truth, justice, and republican government. They will fight for free markets, spending cuts, personal freedom, and state sovereignty.

4. Alt Right - The alt right was bailed out of jail and the commitment to the mental hospital was stayed just long enough for these folks to join us at the battle of the last alliance on the slopes of Mt. Doom.  No one is sure who invited them, but they showed up, and maybe they can help with political correctness, freedom of speech, and federal overreach. 

Then Alinsky's hero Lucifer may stride onto the field and we would find ourselves in a great struggle indeed.  The struggle is ultimately against our spiritual foe.  For the struggle of western civilization, of the United States is ultimately not about men, women, philosophies or even ideas, it is about the spiritual battle between good and evil.  It is the struggle between the selfish self righteous heart that strives to create a secular utopia on earth, and the selfless heart of love fully surrendered to Christ the savior set on fighting for freedom in this life and fighting for eternal life in the next.  That is the ultimate struggle we face, as we fight for the soul of the United States of America.  

"There is a moral and spiritual war for the souls of Americans. And this war must be waged by preaching the Gospel, prayer, and obedience to God's Word."
- David Jeremiah

I hope we can unite as Americans to stand against this progressive secular agenda perpetrated by the elites in our cultural institutions.  I hope and pray God will grant us the victory.  Join me in prayer, and appeal to heaven for our country.  Get organized and speak out.  Trust in God.  Preach the gospel of Christ.  And fight for freedom!  May God be with you all, and may you be with Him.  Amen. 

"I am sure there never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe, that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God, who is alone able to protect them."
-George Washington, Letter to John Armstrong, 11 March 1782, in Ford's Writings of George Washington (1891), vol. XII, p. 111. 

Related Posts:
  1. Media Bias, Saul Alinsky, & the War on America's Character
  2. An Essay on the Fall of Man in Today's America
  3. Five Political Presentations that will Change your Worldview
  4. An Appeal to Heaven: The Movement
  5. The Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty
  6. Thoughts on Public Schooling: Should Christians homeschool their Children?
  7. Kim Davis is only the Beginning: Prepare your Ministry for Persecution
  8. A Cause Worth Dying For: Materialism, Millennials, & the Authentic Mission
  9. What is the Truth about Abortion? Fact, Fiction, Christianity & Humanism
  10. Christian Activism: Can Christianity survive the new cultural attitudes? 

25 Powerful Quotes on Why Christianity is actually Real

If Christianity is just a lie, then it doesn't really matter at all.  Then again, if Christianity is actually true then it matters more than anything else in life.  

I was very skeptical about Jesus and the Bible at first.  I thought it was stupid.  I thought it was just a bunch of silly legends.  I couldn't believe how average everyday people could believe such incredible nonsense!  Were they all crazy?  Were they completely bonkers?  Or did they just do it for show?  So they could feel good about themselves?  Those were the thoughts I had about Christianity and religion in general.  It seemed ridiculous.  

Little did I know, I'd been fed stereotypes and false caricatures by a media and culture that despised organized religion.  Only later on did I discover quotes like these describing a Christianity I had never encountered before: a deep, coherent, and reasonable Christianity.  Enjoy.

(Please feel free to share these images, save them, and distribute them on social media)

Related Posts:
  1. Does man need God in Western Civilization: Young People
  2. Real Christianity: Clothing, Buildings, Money, & Extravagance
  3. Spiritual Journey | Dreams, Darkness, False Light, a journey in Ideas
  4. Proverbs Chapter Twelve (Ancient Wisdom for Everyday Life)
  5. Philosophy, Science, Logic, and History: Presentations on Christianity
  6. Five Presentations by Ravi Zacharias on Christian Philosophy
  7. Journey of the Christian through the Forest called Earth
  8. True Christianity vs. the Modern Culture
  9. Recovering Consumer & Self Righteous Intellectual
  10. The Testimony of a Skeptic on the Existence of a Loving God