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A Violent Purge


1 John 4:3 (AMP)
3  And every spirit which does not acknowledge and confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [but would annul, destroy, sever, disunite Him] is not of God [does not proceed from Him]. This [nonconfession] is the [spirit] of the antichrist, [of] which you heard that it was coming, and now it is already in the world.

persecutedThe recent violence in Gaza has drawn attention away from the continuing extreme actions by ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Having conquered much of northern Iraq, ISIS is busy persecuting Chaldean Christians in the area. The city of Mosul, for example, has been purged of Christians, perhaps numbering 100,000. As one commentator observed, “Our worst nightmare is confirmed. Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst.” The goal of the radicals is to create an Islamic state with no room for dissenters. Christians are being forced to convert to Islam, face death, pay a fine or leave.

What many do not know is that Islam was the driving force behind the original Jewish Holocaust that brought about WWII. Hitler was urged to purge the Jews by Islamic leaders of the day. Nazism and Islamic extremism are blood brothers.

The battle in Israel is the same battle being waged around the world. China removes crosses from churches, Obama covers-up crosses when he gives a speech at a religious building. The ACLU and Freedom from Religion organizations are suing cities and towns across the country to remove roadside crosses. Recently there was a lawsuit to keep the ground zero cross out of the ground zero museum, where the court recently ruled that the cross could be included and indeed should be.

Since the time of Eden Satan has waged a war against God and anything that resembles God on earth, thus this purging of Christians and Christian symbolism along with the constant attack on the Jewish people, are all symptoms of the same spirit, the spirit of the Antichrist.

 


Matthew 16:13-19 (GW)
13   When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They answered, “Some say you are John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
17 Jesus replied, “Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! No human revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven revealed it to you.
18 You are Peter, and I can guarantee that on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell will not overpower it.

Let’s think about the word IDENTITY. The definition of the word identity is “The fact of being who or what a person or thing is.” We could sum up our identity with so many attributes that make us who we are, but the fact of the matter is that our identity is found in who God says we are. Only He can define what we are, and the Bible says that He calls us His treasured possession. In fact, it says that He has chosen us to be His treasured possession that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Deuteronomy 14:2 (NIV)
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.

1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Our identity is not in how much talent we have or how many Facebook likes we receive. Our identity is not how much fame or future we garner or how big an applause we get. Our identity is not defined by social media hype or buzz, nor is it defined by positive or negative tabloid reviews.

When Jesus asked his disciples what the social buzz was about who  he was, he was greeted with the most obvious answers, his identity was being compared with other famous people of the day.

Some  said he was John the Baptist, or Jeremiah, Elijah or one of the other prophets. They were relating to him what others said about Jesus based on what he was saying and doing. They were judging him based on his performances in the city square, and really had no idea who Jesus really was.

Jesus then asked his disciples personally who they though he was. Peter answered with Jesus’ true identity that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  Jesus praises Simon for comprehending who Jesus really was, a revelation he got directly from God himself. As a result Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter which means rock. And upon this rock of the revelation of who Jesus really was, upon this solid foundation of Jesus’ true identity, Christ was going to build his church. A  church based upon the knowledge of Jesus being the living God, the one and only true Messiah.

Many still see Jesus as nothing more than a good man, or a prophet of God, but not until they get the heavenly revelation of Jesus’ true identity will they really know Jesus for who he really was and why he came to earth.

Getting back to who do people say you are, we need to look at how we identify ourselves. How do we define who we are. How do we gauge our successes or failures?

How do you define yourself? Do you define who you are by what you do? Do you find your identity in who your family is? Do you decide who you are by what you own? Does your bank account determine your self-worth? Are you more concerned about what others say about you and as a result of attempting to please others you have lost sight of what really makes you happy? Who are you? What makes you tick? Why do you do what you do? What makes you who you are?

When we allow others to define who we are it is easy to get lost in the fantasy world they will then create for us to live in. Their approval, or applause will decide how we behave. When we are living for the approval of others, it is easy to lose sight of what really makes us function as a whole human being. Opinions of others matters more than our own opinions. Being forced to do for others to please them is a pretty sure path to losing yourself in the process.

When the applause stops our purpose for living ends as well. When others start to criticize and belittle us, we start to believe their bad press. By allowing others to define who we are, we fall into the trap of defining our self-worth based upon what others think we are worth.

This could very well explain entertainers who self-destruct through the abuse of drugs and alcohol because they have lost sight of who they are and what makes them happy. They have spent so much of their life pretending to be someone else to be liked by others that they despair for lack of a true identity.

One of the positive results of knowing Christ is He changes our identity and places within us a new improved identity, one that is incorruptible and life changing. God does not see us how the world sees us for that matter even how we see ourself. Simon became Peter once he knew who Christ really was. It was the life-changing revelation that allowed Peter to be bold in the face of personal attacks and character assassination attempts by those who wished to demean him and dismiss him as insignificant. Peter now knew who he was in Christ, his identity was no longer based on the shifting sand of popular opinion, his identity was now hid in Christ who saw him as ‘a rock.’ We need to note that all this took place before Peter denied he knew Christ three times.

Jesus knew who Peter was better than Peter knew who he was. Jesus was able to teach Peter what his true identity was and is. In Christ we find our true life, and our true identity. It is in Christ we find our purpose and our hope for living, apart from Him we actually can do nothing.

John 15:5,6 (AMP)
5  I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. 6  If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned.

By associating with Christ, and drawing from Him, and allowing Him to define us, our identities are changed from a fruitless vine into a fruitful one. We are no longer fit for the garbage heap but instead are considered a treasured possession. We have value, so much so that Jesus shed His blood and died for you. You have eternal value, do not allow your value  to be cheapened by allowing your identity to be stolen by the beggarly elements of society. Your of heavenly value, believe that and then live like you are a treasure, your life has great value and God knows it. Do you?

Don’t let others steal your identity secure it in Christ.


Psalm 69:1-3 (HCSB)
1 Save me, God, for the water has risen to my neck. 2  I have sunk in deep mud, and there is no footing; I have come into deep waters, and a flood sweeps over me.

Robin-Williams

Robin-Williams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last Monday night, the tragic announcement of actor and comedian Robin Williams’ death, apparently by suicide, shocked many of us. It was known that he struggled with severe depression, but for many of us the only encounters we have had with Robin Williams was via his portrayal of a character we have grown to love; Aladdin’s Genie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Peter Pan, or in his more serious roles as Patch Adams, or English teacher John Keating in “Dead Poets Society“, and psychologist Sean Maquire in “Goodwill Hunting“. For most of us this is the only thing we know about Robin Williams. We were not made aware of all his private struggles only those which became public knowledge. We were not invited into his everyday life and permitted only a glimpse into who Robin Williams was a a whole man.

For most of us, celebrities like Robin Williams are one-dimensional people, summed up by the quality they’re best known for such as Williams’ zany humor. It can be hard to understand that a man who made so many others laugh could struggle with the disease of depression. But the truth is that no one is a one-dimensional person. We all have areas of beauty and of darkness in our life. The strongest of us have weaknesses, the “weakest” of us have strengths; the happiest of us can be sad, the saddest can be happy, the healthiest, sick, and the sick, healthy. All of us, if we care to admit it, have areas of darkness we hide away from public view. Many of us put on a happy face to the world even though we might be struggling with our own internal demons. When we come to the place where all hope is lost, and we can not see the light at the end of the tunnel, where do we find hope for our hopelessness? Ironically one of the treatments for depression is laughter.

Life can throw us some pretty tough curve-balls, and heap upon us some really hard challenges, if all we have to rely on is our own intestinal fortitude we can quickly become spent and exhausted from fighting life’s bitter battles. Some may seek relief through escapism, running away from the problems of life. Some may chose to mask the pain through medication or alcohol abuse. Others knowing they are weak in themselves will seek out the help and advice of others, whether they are friends, relatives or professionals. Still others may simply try to ignore the problem hoping that by denying a problem exists it will somehow disappear. When the burdens get so bad, and there seems to be no end to the suffering, whether real or imagined, some look for a way for the bitterness to end. For some this end comes about by their own hand. This is tragic on many levels, and leaves behind a great deal of hurt and pain, along with questions and doubts by survivors who wondered what more they could have done to reach out and help the troubled soul.

Except for the grace of God I too could find myself facing the same demons Robin Williams faced last Monday when he finally had had enough of the pain and hopelessness he was feeling. He may have even cried out to God for help and thought that God was so far removed that he either didn’t care or would not answer. Let me assure you friends that God really does care about every detail of your life. He cared enough to even sacrifice the life of his own son in order to remove the barrier that existed between us and God because of our sinful life choices. He is reaching out a hand of help and comfort to anyone who is willing to grab hold of it and trust God to lift them up out of the miry clay and the pit of despair and set their feet upon a solid rock of hope. (Psalms 40:2).

There is no problem we face that God has not made a way for us to deal with it and to overcome it. He promises to keep us and be with us through every circumstances of life. The problem is we often do not seek God before a calamity besets us, so when we find ourselves in the midst of the crisis we are so far removed from God’s comfort we can not sense his presence when it is needed the most. God’s desire is to not see anyone perish but that all would find salvation and abundant life through his son Jesus. I beg you therefore to seek a relationship with the giver of life before you come to a place where you are seeking to take your own life. It is not too late to find that peace that passes all understanding. You too can find hope when you feel hopeless, comfort when you are comfortless, and joy when you are sorrowful.

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

GOD AND CAESAR Being a Good Citizen


Originally posted on The Patriot Brotherhood From Sea to Shining Sea:

Thomas Jefferson concerning the 1st Amendment Religious Freedom (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson concerning the 1st Amendment Religious Freedom (Click to enlarge)

By religious freedom, or soul liberty, is meant the natural and inalienable right of every soul to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to be unmolested in the exercise of that right, so long, at least, as he does not infringe upon the rights of others; that religion is, and must be, a voluntary service; that only such service is acceptable to God; and, hence, that no earthly power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, has any right to compel conformity to any creed or to any species of worship, or to tax a man for its support.

This principle gives to “Caesar” “the things that are Caesar’s,” but it denies to Caesar “the things, that are God’s.” It does not make it a matter of indifference what a man believes or…

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Hall of Famers


Hebrews 11:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  
33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented–
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

 

 

English: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Mu...

English: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Scan of the original photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.

Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.

Thomas, pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox, Torre and La Russa were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York Sunday, and all paid special tribute to their families before an adoring crowd of nearly 50,000.

“I’m speechless. Thanks for having me in your club,” Thomas said, getting emotional as he remembered his late father. “Frank Sr., I know you’re watching. Without you, I know 100 per cent I wouldn’t be here in Cooperstown today. You always preached to me, ‘You can be someone special if you really work at it.’ I took that to heart, Pop.”

Ever the diplomat as a manager, Torre somehow managed to assuage the most demanding of owners in George Steinbrenner, maintaining his coolness amid all the Bronx craziness while keeping all those egos in check after taking over in 1996. The result: 10 division titles, six AL pennants and four World Series triumphs in 12 years as he helped restore the luster to baseball’s most successful franchise and resurrected his own career after three firings.

“Baseball is a game of life. It’s not perfect, but it feels like it is,” said the 74-year-old Torre, who apologized afterward for forgetting to include the Steinbrenner family in his speech. “That’s the magic of it. We are responsible for giving it the respect it deserves. Our sport is part of the American soul, and it’s ours to borrow — just for a while.”

“If all of us who love baseball and are doing our jobs, then those who get the game from us will be as proud to be a part of it as we were. And we are. This game is a gift, and I am humbled, very humbled, to accept its greatest honor.”

It is a wonderful feeling to be honored for your life’s work, or in this case play since baseball is after all a game. Nonetheless baseball is as American as apple pie so the saying goes.  Joe Torre in his acceptance speech expressed a deep appreciation for the game and humbly accepted the honor of being included among the elites of the game.

Being accepted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is an honor reserved for very few of the many who have played the game before. Those who are honored in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown have shown and above average talent for the game. They have demonstrated spectacular performance on the ball field and from this day forward shall be enshrined forever among the greats of the game.

As Joe Torre expressed in his remarks it gave him a sense of pride to pass on the game to the next generation and give them encouragement and a love of the game. He took his honor to heart.

Being an example for others, and offering encouragement for those who come to the game after us is certainly something that should be remembered and having a Hall of Fame to honor these great men is certainly right.

In our Christian walk we too have a record of the Hall of Famer’s found in Hebrews chapter 11. These are those who although they had obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, because God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. The list is long of all those who are listed in God’s great Hall of Fame including David, Moses, Samson, Elijah, Joshua, Rahab, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Esau. And let us not forget Joseph, Noah and Abel. The list is too long to include everyone here but you can visit God’s Hall of Fame found in the pages of scripture.

In order to walk among baseball’s finest you must take a trip to Cooperstown and visit the Hall of Fame, but to walk among the biblical elite on God’s Wall of fame you simply have to turn to scripture.

Like Joe Torre emoted, these men, who have played the game already, have left a legacy for others to follow. They have set an example of what can be accomplished when you are fully dedicated to the game of baseball. So too have the heroes of our faith set forth an example for others to follow. Let us follow their examples and get in the game, perhaps we too will one day find ourselves in the hall of fame.

Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

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