You Just Can’t Win

Sad manCan’t Win at…

Do you ever feel that you just can’t win?

That no matter what you do, someone is going to be unhappy?

Michelle is familiar with a few of these stories, but I’ve felt that way quite a bit at work. Not with my boss specifically, but as an example…early this year one bigwig sent an even bigger bigwig a note asking a question and saying that I was doing a “fabulous” job. The word “fabulous” was literally used.

My Director needed an update about the overall discussion…so I forwarded it to him thinking, “He’ll see what bigwig #1 thought and that’ll be good for me.”

Well, I’m not entirely sure what my boss thought, but I did find out that his boss was very unhappy because he felt I stepped outside my bounds.

I do my job in a way that the bigwig I am specifically leant to is super-duper happy and…

Crying womanI just can’t win. And trust me, that’s not the only example. Luckily I am not one to give up, but I have to admit I am having a hard time getting past my sense that I just can’t win.

Now…your experience might be in a different area. Perhaps a relationship where no matter what you do it bothers the other person.

You just can’t win.

Or at school, where no matter how hard you try your teacher isn’t satisfied.

You just can’t win.

That’s a frustrating and depressing situation to be in, isn’t it? [Read more…]

Acting Like Romans

Roman soldierI ran into a really interesting article tonight thanks to Instapundit about “How Roman Central Planners Destroyed Their Economy.” Although not all enacted by today’s progressives in the United States (yet)…it does seem like Romans created a progressive’s playbook. (Just read the article…think Venezuala…you’ll understand.) Strangling, escalating, damaging control of people and markets.

What got me really thinking, however, was when I recognized the most intrusive emporer’s name because of another reason. He is the same one known for the most extreme persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire:

The Diocletianic Persecution (or Great Persecution) was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman empire.[1] In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding the legal rights of Christians and demanding that they comply with traditional Roman religious practices.

I couldn’t help but wonder, does this anecdotally show a correlation between the progressive affinity for totalitarianism and their persecution of Christians? They’ll tell you how every part of your life is to be lived and will not allow you to worship any other God than theirs. (For instance, it would not be far-fetched to compare “demanding that they comply with traditional Roman religious practices” and basically banning businesses that won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.) As Dennis Prager says, leftism is a religion.

Either way, random Friday night thought…

You Have Been Warned

Downhill trend warning sign

Jeremiah’s Call

Today I would like to jump right into Scripture.

Is that okay with you? 🙂

Let’s turn to the first chapter of Jeremiah…starting with verse 4…and look how that young man was called:

4 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the LORD said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;

for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,

and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8  Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you,

declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:4-8)

And let’s scan not quite 10 verses down to verse 17…part of a section that starts with “The word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah] a second time…” (Jeremiah 1:13):

17 But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them (Jeremiah 1:17).

Pretty impressive calling, eh? Known before he was formed in the womb…consecrated…and appointed a prophet!

Our calling is far more ordinary…more bland…right?

Peter can help us with that:

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:9-12).

Wow! Chosen race! Royal priesthood! Holy Nation!

A people for his own possession!

Notice also that we may not have been “appointed a prophet,” but we are to “proclaim [God’s] excellencies.”

So, we don’t have the same exact calling as Jeremiah…but it sure seems equally impressive, doesn’t it?

Requires Commitment

Please notice one more thing. Both callings came with an exhortation to commitment. With Jeremiah he is told not to fear…and “Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.” With us, we are urged “as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul.”

These are not commitment-less callings. We represent the Most High!

And…I think we can be confident that just like Jeremiah would be expected “to abstain from the passions of the flesh,” we would be expected to stand up for God and not be dismayed. If you don’t agree with the latter, how about these words from Jesus Himself?:

32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).

Seem’s very similar to “do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them,” does it not?

[Read more…]

“The Baby Jesus Is Going to Open His Eyes”

Mary and baby JesusNativities and New Years

As Michelle, the family, and I reflect on this past year…one thing we thank and praise God for is that…after more than a year and a lot of mokyearching, the Lord has brought us into a wonderful family here. I may not be able to remember all your names yet :-), but every one of you is a blessing from above to us.

Although it is not the building that makes a church, I’ve also appreciated how this one is decorated…and today’s sermon, in part, is inspired by the nativity you see right in front of me. Just after it was first put up…and before we moved it and the table over-and-over 🙂 Pastor Wayne…Augie came out of the sanctuary and said to me, “The baby Jesus is going to open His eyes.”

Along with a huge, proud fatherly smile a thought came to mind. When baby Jesus opens His eyes, what will He see? From the Bible we can get a picture of what He saw 2,000 years ago…but…and we know when He returns it will not be as a baby…but if Jesus were to return as a baby today and opened His eyes, what would He see?

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see? [Read more…]

Privacy Isn’t Just for Criminals

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, then…”

Isn’t that a popular refrain as authorities continue to incrementally invade our privacy?

This is not a political blog; it is a religious one. However, government spying has real-world implications to believers around the world. In many places it is impossible to show your unapproved faith in public (or at least dangerous to), so as nations progressively blur the line between public and private it is sure to increase religious persecution.

So, today I got into a waiting line for ProtonMail, which allows users to e-mail each other in the most secure way possible (and for free). Although it should be noted that nothing is perfectly secure, kudos to those trying to keep private…well…private.

ProtonMail Logo

You can sign up for ProtonMail here and donate to their Indiegogo campaign for ProtonMail here. I did both.

Oh, and you can always pray for ProtonMail and innocent people around the world who need the service more than we do. I will do both.

“Judge orders baker to serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs”

WhippingOminous words:

"While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers," ACLU staff attorney Amanda Goad said in a statement. "No one is asking Masterpiece’s owners to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple."

The rest of the article is available here. Basically, if you don’t want to use your artistic skills (translation: free speech) to implicitly endorse something you consider (and the church from day one has considered) sinful…too bad…something that is specifically mentioned in the First Amendment (religious freedom) is trumped by something that is never discussed in all of the Constitution (sexual preference).

This reminds me of a sermon I did called "Steppin’ Stone." In it I shared a similar case with a Christian photographer: [Read more…]

Steppin’ Stone

Stepping stones

Escaping

Is anyone here that also has felt that a perfect life would be a log cabin in the middle of nowhere—a million miles away from the hustle-and-bustle of modern times?

Totally unplugged and just communing with nature and God?

Go ahead and throw in space in your cabin for your loved ones…that is, if you want to. 🙂

Especially when it comes to spiritual growth, doesn’t it just seem that it would be so much easier if you didn’t have the stressors around you? No annoying neighbors? No bills arriving faster than income? No impossible deadlines at work? Nobody treating your Christianity as a disease on society?

Just you, your Bible, and God?

[Read more…]

If It Wasn’t for Bad Luck…

Depressed man who lost at slots

Ray Charles

Preaching back in Antrim, New Hampshire I was famous for quoting songs in my sermons…and sometimes having them be the actual inspiration for the talk.

Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say I was infamous for it 🙂

In either case, don’t worry…I’m not going to start singing up here. I already like all of you too much to do that. 🙂

However, I am going to quote the late Ray Charles, who famously…and quite soulfully…sang:

If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.1

Do you ever feel that way? That nothing…at least nothing major…ever goes right for you?

  • That if you get mail it’s going to be a bill?
  • That if you are going to hear from your boss it is because he or she is mad at you…and you didn’t do anything wrong?
  • That if you get a call from long distance family it’s going to be to tell you someone has died, has cancer, or some other awful news?
  • That the one time you don’t watch the speedometer closely you are guaranteed to see flashing lights in your review mirror?

What else would you add to the list? How long is your list?

I suspect there are some sitting here before me who aren’t being unreasonable to feel that way. The last half-decade has been especially hard on many of us, and it seems tragedy is striking closer to home…and more often. As a church family we still mourn the recent loss of Tyler…who should be in our pews instead of in our memories. I’m sure there are others of us who are fighting a disease whose outcome isn’t yet sure. Still others may not know how they are going to pay their upcoming rent or mortgage.

In our sin-scarred world there seems to be one thing that is as sure as death and taxes:

We will suffer.

[Read more…]

Embracing a Fate of Fire

Dateline Afghanistan

This week the Associated Press reported some positive news from Afghanistan about a Christian named Sayed Mussa:

An Afghan man who was jailed for nine months for converting to Christianity has been released after an intense campaign by international diplomatic missions and Christian activists, an official said Friday.1

Sadly, just being released from jail isn't that great news in a country where many adhere to the view that says those who convert from Islam…who "apostatize"…deserve death. Dead is dead whether it is at the hands of officials or vigilantes…and there is a good chance a successful vigilante would be seen as a hero. (If you aren't convinced of that, just think of lawyers in January throwing rose petals at the feet of the bodyguard who killed the Pakistani governor he was supposed to be protecting because that man had come out against blasphemy law; that and the 500 Muslim clerics who lauded the murderer.2)

However, a bit later in the AP article there is even better news:

[Read more…]

How Far Would You Go?

Machine gunThe lead article in the most recent Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter is about the exploits of Rolo, a former member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) who now spends his time leading residents of FARC-controlled areas (and FARC rebels themselves) to Christ. Needless to say, it is a very risky proposition. Not only is the guerrilla organization anti-religion (they are Marxists), but his former membership in the organization makes him, in a sense, an apostate. It isn’t only religions that consider turning your back on your “faith” a major “sin,” and every time he crosses over into FARC territory it is only the protective hand of God that is between him and death.

[Read more…]

You Are Members of the Devil’s Household

You Are Members of the Devil’s Household

COLOMBIA: PASTOR MARTYRED

http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?story_ID=MTky

On Sept. 21, Pastor Manuel was shot and killed by The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in San Jose del Guaviare, Colombia, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts.

[Read more…]