Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Set the Captives Free

Evil is evil. It is all part of the same family. Whether it is a parent who is a child abuser, a teacher who is a bully, a government leader who is a dictator-they all have the same evil spirit.

In the United States, with our physical freedom, and our constant access to information, it is easy for us not to see the clear contrast between the darkness and the light. We see a lot of grey, but it is not as grey as we think.

The evil men in our country are often forced to be more deceitful, but the spirit is just as evil as the evil in other places.

Knowledge is power. If we are not ignorant of the devices of evil, we will be able to recognize what is going on. Knowledge is understanding the truth. The truth will make you FREE.

In North Korea, it is a crime, punishable by death to have a Bible or a Scripture verse. Lighting a Christmas tree, which we see as a secular enjoyment of a season, is a pleasure that would get you killed in that country.

Do they turn on news media and watch it? Do they read lots of books? No. Media, books, Scripture and even expressions of joy or holiday are seen as a THREAT to the worship and pre-eminence of the dictator family who the people are forced to serve.

Often, we find amidst all the politics and details in the world, that things seem complicated and confusing, and maybe they are. But sometimes we lose track of a pretty simple truth about the world there IS good and there IS evil.

When we fought the Nazis in world war 2, we were fighting a regime that wanted to annihilate an entire race and religion. to silence them, to destroy them. we were fighting EVIL.

When we fight the Islamists who want Shariah law to rule the world, who want to decapitate anyone who does not share their religion. who want to shut down schools, outlaw books, and oppress-we are fighting evil.

When we fight the sex-traficking network in this world that is kidnapping and taking advantage of women all over the world to enslave them, we are fighting evil.

There is EVIL in this world and it is always an enemy of freedom.

NO ONE should be oppressed or dominated by another human being, ever. It is evil.

No human being was created to be subject to the whims and wills of another human being.

Christ said we should treat others as we would want to be treated-to love others as we love ourselves.
This is in direct opposition to those who seek to dominate, control, oppress, manipulate or take advantage of others.

We see references to shining the light-or liberty, freedom, etc. as being .......cliche..........but in very dark places, something as simple as a lit Christmas tree---completely against the law in North Korea, as a symbol of joy, liberty, and hope.

You may sit around with your family and have a movie night, having a nice time, maybe having a pizza or some ice cream or something...and hey, it's a good time. But to those in an abusive home, they could never imagine what it must be like to it back and watch a movie and relax with family without being afraid of the unpredictable behavior of their abuser.

We need to keep aware of the fact that oppression, some subtle and some blatant is everywhere and it comes from a spiritual source of evil and we serve a Lord who has come to set the captives free and relieve the oppressed! The Devil is the father of all the oppressors as he is the father of all lies. Christians, must stand for freedom always! Be a voice for the vulnerable. Speak out and use your freedom, don't let it go to waste, and pray for people being perecuted all over the world, in dark places such as North Korea.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Freedom In Christ

I read "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom a few days ago. She survived a long stay in a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jews in her house to save them from being murdered. She was a born again Christian, just showing the love of Christ to her follow man, including-God's Chosen People. If she was a Christian then we know that she had the Spirit of God in her. The One who Scripture says where He is there is liberty, yet she dwelt in captivity. But in her spirit and mind-she was free. Free from the hate that most of the world was caught up in. Free from the fear, the hopelesness. and the sin. But yet not free from the physical suffering.

Most of us have enjoyed physical freedom for some time, but that may very well be drawing to a close when you consider the political climate of our generation. Jesus said in the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer I have overcome the world. We all have our liberty in Christ. Yet millions of Christians have lived through slavery and abuse and persecution.

Corrie Ten Boom talks about the long, torturous roll calls in the concentration camp, and she also talks about how during those times, when the guards would scream at them and torture them by making them stand at attention for long periods of time, often time a bird would come right in the middle of it and sing loudly. To her, that bird was a messenger from God. Un-effected by the nazis and free to fly and sing-the bird said God and His creation is bigger than the nazis and this prison. That little bird filled her heart with joy and encouragement amidst this abuse and persecution.  For me, the sight of an eagle, or a hawk or even sometimes a seagull-conveys the whole concept of freedom as it soars higher and higher. What a majestic lesson of liberty God gives us in nature!

Spiritual liberty is an even higher concept and ideal than physical liberty. Physical liberty is WONDERFUL but not always guaranteed, but God's liberty is eternal and unchanging.

Just think of Paul and Silas singing and praising God in a dungeon,,,their spirits were free BEFORE theur chains fell off! The nonbelieving prisoners werent singing and rejoicing in that miserable place, but the free men of God were able to sing.

Am I so spiritual a person that I could go to jail and sing like Paul and Silas? I cannot make such a claim. But I am encouraged greatly by Crrie Ten Boom and Paul and Silas as well as many others who are and have suffered for their faith.

Think of that Pastor in Iran, they want to kill him for not denying Christ. My heart breaks when I think of his suffering. But imagine the reward this man will receive in Heaven for his testimony for Christ. We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us! They can kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. The Collisseum could not silence the followers of Christ and neither can Islamic terrorism and secular humanism. The faith of Christ will go on and we will be free nd have our liberty in our souls as well as 'physically' in the New Jerusalem. We must keep our eyes on this Blessed Hope.

Also, never live in anything LESS than liberty in your spiritual walk here on earth. You are no longer a servant to sin. You should no loger be entangled with the yoke of bondage or with the cares of this world. You can move forward with what seems to the world to be a reckless abandonment!

Faith and Freedom go hand in hand!

BTW. Politically and nationally speaking---freedom, physical freedom does reign in a Nation where God is honored and human dignity is understood. The further Germany moved in an ungodly direction, the more they accepted the teachings of faschism. and the further America moves away from God and His principles, the less chance we have of having physical freedom in our Nation. But these political realities cannot change our spiritual reality. We are in Christ.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Man-the marred glory of God

We are human beings. We were made by God, in HIS image. 1 Corinthians 11 explains that man is the glory of God. No, this is not humanism we're talking about-this is human dignity given by our Creator.

When we have a proper understanding of our place in God's eyes, certain truths that we've heard over and over but not comprehended become much more profound.

I believe that through "State-ism," the over-use of technology, and the abandonment of our faith, we, the human race, are losing our God-given humanity.  We are starting to believe that efficiency is more important than compassion, that results are all that matters (the ends justify the means), that machines and formulas are the ultimate achievement and goal of existance....this happens subtly, and many do not see it.

Let me try and give some examples,

COURTESY, or politeness, pleasantness.....in our past, was much more important to us than it is now. Courtesy, small kindnesses, thoughtfulness, comes from our values, It comes when we value PEOPLE.  Today, we are in a hurry, we are wrapped up in text messages, and personal concerns, and we have an agenda, and anything outside of our agenda is often ignored an we do not feel bad about it.

My Grandmother Buchler, representing another generation, is a great example of what we are now missing. She took time for people, and that could be anyone from the paperboy, to a neighbour, to the garbage men, to her family. She was polite, pleasant, thoughful....she valued people and she cared about their feelings.

Some people think talk like that should only be applied to women, but that is ridiculous. Especially for Christians, as people commanded to love one another, it is high time we return to the courteousness and kindness of pre-internet, pre-texting generations.

Today, especially in entertainment, art and media, we desire to see what appears to be most genuine....authentic....and that can be good, but in some cases in our culture we've taken our desire to be authentic so far that we often become vulgar, and do ourselves and our listeners a disservice.

I'm not saying to be a prud, or to have unreasonable, victorian sensibilities, I'm just saying, let's try being polite. Let's try being human. Let's not forget what is important.

We have been mis-taught when it comes to "Humility" We have brought humility to new lows, we have gotten into self-loathing and human loathing, where we talk so much about the depravity of man that we think of humanity as masses of disgusting, vile filth....but GOD looks down on humanity and says "For God so loved the world..."

Again, this is not humanism, and this is not denying the fallen state of man, but-we do not need to see ourselves and others as something to hold in disdain. On the contrary, we need to value them just as God does.

We like to hear how God is love but He is also Holy. Good. But what is Holiness? Is holiness some kind of detached, cold, impersonal concept or is Holiness a person. If God is Holy then Love is Holy because God is love. And we will not be effective servants of God until we value people because we value God. We love others because we love God, we cherish people made in the image of God because we cherish God. The more we TRULY understand Holiness, the more we will realize that holy people treat other people well, and do not shy away from their God given humanity.