Thursday, 30 September 2021

Noticed, But Not Seen

Proverbs 3:28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

      As I walked by the homeless man on the street, I notice him, but I do not see him for who he is, or who he was before he became homeless. I do not see the fact that he has a mother, maybe a sister or even children. I only see the shell of a person who is begging and starring out to nowhere with the thousand-yard stare. I'm sure he once had dreams and ambitions that somehow lost meaning along the way. Who's to say he still does not have goals or a dream of getting off of the street. Maybe I could find out for sure if I stopped and talked with him, but as I walk by him, I only notice his shabbiness and clearly, I do not see his heart. We tend to notice the homeless, but we do not see them or their plight.
      Lately, we are seeing the native Indigenous population in Canada because so many unmarked graves have been discovered. This atrocity is pointing out to the world what the First Nations people have always known - the barbarity of our historic and present legislative decisions had only caused this segment of society to be noticed but not seen as a people. However, after discovering numerous unmarked graves that the native population knew were always there, we are now seeing these people. Hopefully, we can honestly be reconciled in spirit and in truth and not just offer platitudes and clichés of "We have to try harder, blah blah blah." Prov. 3:28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”
      If it was not for the pandemic, it would not have been revealed how terrible we have been treating our elderly by stuffing them away in poorly governed care homes. We would have continued to just notice the elderly and not see them the way the Lord sees them. Psalm 92:14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Even though the word of the Lord says the elderly will bear fruit in old age, our solipsistic lifestyles have no room for those who are elderly and in need. Maybe now that we have seen them, we can improve on the way we take care of them.
      At some time in our life, we have all experienced being noticed but not seen for who we truly are. Some people feel like a non-person as they plod along in life. The people who feel they are living a nonexistent life will have to decide in their hearts to make an effort to see and acknowledge others who are feeling the same way they do. If we want friends, we have to extend a hand of friendship. We do reap what we sow. We will have to sow some honest effort into seeing others if we want to be seen. We will have to push through the haze of life and see others rather than just notice the crowds. If you are lonely then reach out to the lonely. If you are depressed then reach out to those who are suffering the same sadness. Luke 6:38a Give, and it shall be given unto you.    
      There is hope. Our God knows exactly where we are on the world map. James 1:1b To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. He knows our address and our situation. The Lord sees us for who He made us to be in Him. Some people may feel like they are neither noticed nor seen, but rest assured, our heavenly Father is looking at us individually right now, and planning our future. The Lord knows us intimately. Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." God sees all our situations throughout our whole life. Psalm 121:8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. To the Lord, we are never nonexistent nor a non-person. We are His chosen creation.
      As I get older in years, I hope that I can mature in my heart where I see my fellow man the way the Lord sees them rather than just notice them. It would be impossible to see everyone on earth, however, we can start by seeing our children and finding out what is one their hearts. We can begin to see our neighbours, cashiers at the stores we frequent, and those we come in contact with regularly. We can sincerely ask the people in the church assemblies we attend, "How their souls are holding up during these difficult days." Taking the time to see the other people God created will help us see ourselves for who we truly are. May we rise to the challenge that is set before us and begin to see. God have mercy on us.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

The Real Prisoners

Proverbs 4:14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.

      Quote: Not all prisons have steel bars.
      In 1980, while I was attending bible college in Australia, I ministered with a group called Broken Chains Prison Ministry out of Sydney. On most weekends, we went into the different prisons throughout New South Wales and brought with us a variety of rock bands and musos who were Christians and keen on helping in prison ministry. The musicians expressed their faith in Christ through their music and personal testimonies of God's goodness in their lives. We also provided the prisoners with Christian material they had requested that declared, "Jesus Christ is Lord," and He was their eternal hope if they chose to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. We were blessed to have had such favour of the Lord as we ministered week after week.
      The interesting thing to me was that some of the prisoners who had become Christians while in prison and had a genuine relationship with the Lord were freer in their souls while in forced confinement, than a lot of the staff and guards who ran the security systems of the prisons. Even though the guards got to go home at night, a lot of them were bound in their souls because of the hatred they had for the criminals they oversaw. Who was really in prison? Who were the ones living in manacles? How was it possible to be able to go where and when you wanted on the outside of the prison walls, and yet, be more bound and chained than the Christian prisoners who were incarcerated?
      Some of the guards were angry with us for ministering to the prisoner’s spiritual needs. Their argument was that the prisoners were evil recidivists and they deserved to be locked up forever. In some cases, this may be true. However, God's word does say to visit the prisoner. Matt. 25:36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. What some of these guards did not realize, was that they were becoming what they hated. They had inadvertently stepped on the same path the criminals were walking. Their anger towards the inmates had caused them to voice their personal judgements of justice, revenge, and punishment. They were becoming as hardheaded as some of the hardcore inmates. Prov. 4:14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. 
      A person can be surrounded by the oppressive walls of a penitentiary, and the truth of God's word can free that soul from being bound by the invisible chains that many freed people are shackled to. John 8:32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. People can become a prisoner of their own making by hanging on to hate, resentment, and unforgiveness. In some cases, they can also become more severe and harsher on themselves because they become their own jailers by not letting go of their hate. 
      Lately, we have heard of people who were once dependable and stable citizens falling into the deep holes of believing every conspiracy theory that comes their way. They become prisoners of all the secretive and dark information they have personally accumulated to prove every single event going on in life is an attack and scheme to destroy their way of life. The sad thing is, they end up destroying their own lives by their never-ending angry conversations that alienate everyone around them. Deeper and deeper they fall into a terrifying abyss until words like Illuminati, sanctioned killings, tracking devices, microchip-readers, and listening devices become the steel bars of their personal cage they now find themselves fighting from. Even if everything they said was a fact, how would they personally stop it all? How could they go around the world and expose and fix every conspiracy that is supposedly going on? This would be impossible to do.
       Who are the real prisoners in life? Are they not the ones who are caged within their own bondage? The Apostle Paul wrote a large part of the New Testament from prison. Phil. 1:13 So that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. Paul was a prisoner of the Roman Empire's system, but in his heart, Paul was the Lord's prisoner, and this knowledge allowed him inner freedom while in prison. He called himself a prisoner in the Lord, and this truth broke the chains of the world system Paul was ministering in. Eph.4:1a Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy. 
      I'm not saying Paul had an easy time in prison. On the contrary, Roman prisons were brutal. What Paul had, was the confidence in his Lord who could deliver him from all of the real treacherous conspiracies that were against him. 2Tim. 3:11 Persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. There were real plots to kill and control Paul. However, Paul didn’t spend much time defending himself against all the accusations confronting him. He remained a free man by being a prisoner in Christ and letting God deal with his enemies. 
      We who are in Christ must be circumspect when it comes to all the trappings that could trick us into a jail of our own making. If we are going to be a prisoner of anything, then let it be a prisoner of gratefulness, kindness, generosity and love. Let us be prisoners in Christ so that we may remain free in our souls and heart. Amen and amen!a

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Small Strength

Proverbs 24:10 If you faint in the day of distress, how small is your strength!  

      The fatigue caused by the pandemic has sure demonstrated the lack of strength within some people's hearts. Many who thought themselves to be of strong character and would doubtlessly have thought themselves to be courageous in the face of adversity have found themselves unsure of their faith and quivering with fear in the corner of their minds. The tediousness of living under restrictions and everchanging rules is wearing down the resolve within people's hearts. Throwing in the towel is becoming an option for these tired souls, as they give up on life. Prov. 24:10 If you faint in the day of distress, how small is your strength! If these events caused by a world pandemic are causing such distress, what will happen when persecution for our faith becomes a real-life and death danger as it is in some countries today?
      A boxer looks for the weakness in his opponent and repeatedly keeps hitting the soft spot until an opening for a knock-out punch reveals itself. Suddenly the sound of a punch hitting home, and the thud of a boxer colliding with the floor, demonstrates the need for more training. In like fashion, Satan's goal is to keep hitting Christians in their weak spot until they cave. 1Pet. 5:8 Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. If we fall during the enemy's attack then this is an indication that more training in God's word of righteousness is needed.
      We who are in Christ must remain in constant training as we develop our skills in the use of our armour while proclaiming the living word of the Lord. We cannot allow the fears of the day to become part of our conversation when we have the weapons of God's arsenal at our disposal. 2Cor. 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We are well able to fight the good fight of faith because Jesus lives within our hearts.
      Just because someone might be small in stature does not mean they have to be small in heart. The Lord wants us to proclaim the strength that He has given us for the day of distress. God says to say "I am strong." Joel 3:10b Let the weak say, I am strong. With Christ, in our hearts, we are strong in the might and power of God's strength. By faith,  we have to believe what God says concerning our righteous strength. While wearing the full armour of God, and with courage, we step forward believing in our hearts that we are more than conquerors through Christ. Rom. 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
      We do not have to faint in the day of adversity. Our strength can be strong if we are walking with our Lord. God has a way of taking the average person and changing them into a voice of righteous excellence and an example of Godly endurance. Daniel was one of the captives Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken from Jerusalem to become a servant in Babylon. Over a period of time, Daniel rose up to be a leading governmental official in the country. Gideon was hiding and scrounging for food because Israel's oppressors were stealing everything that was not nailed down. In a short time, Gideon delivered Israel and became a judge in his time allowing Israel to become their own nation under their own rule.
      Many people come to God with frailties and weaknesses that seem insurmountable to overcome. If it were not for God, this might remain the case. However, the words, "But God," comes into play and major world events are changed. Matt 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Yes, but with God, all things are possible. Even the weak becoming strong in the Lord is truly possible.
      Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We have to get it into our hearts that God loves us and will move heaven and earth to help us fulfill what He created us to do. No saints. We do not have a small strength. We have a mighty God who strengthens us to be strong in Him. What a wonderful Lord we serve. Blessings.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Nadsat: Language Of Violence

Proverbs 4:16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.

      In 1971 when I was eighteen years old, the ultra crime movie for its day, Clockwork Orange, hit the movie theatres. The publicity promoting the film inferred that the 'Ultraviolence' ideology expressed in the film may become a reality in our future. The idea that gangs or mobs of sociopaths going out on a Saturday night just to beat up the homeless, rape the helpless, and torture the mentally ill while communicating in a language of violence, or Nadsat as it was called, was to my friends and I, definitely a work of fiction. We had never thought that this scenario could become a reality in our lifetime. 
      Well, we were totally wrong. Nadsat is becoming the language of so many angry people these days. A coded lingo of violent expression punctuated with actions of cruelty upon ordinary citizens is now a reality. Matt. 24:12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. It is no longer unusual to come across an obnoxious bully picking on and screaming at a nurse, waitress, store clerk, or stewardess who has simply shown up for work, but now, having to physically defend themselves against the viciousness of these ignorant blackguards.
      This loud tumultuous castigating against people should not be the expression of anyone in the church. However, Nadsat or violent language is slipping into some Christian's vocabulary and attitudes. If this is becoming the way of the church, then what relevance is the church if we are no different than any street gang? The word of the Lord instructs us to have grace in our language towards all people, and not words of toxicity that blow people over. Col. 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. The word says, let our speech always be gracious. Is cursing at our nurses and service workers gracious? Is shoving a store clerk to the floor and belittling them God-inspired? Is this how God treats us?
      There is a vacuum of righteous leadership in the world. Because of this vacuum, the fears within the people of the world are culminating into a global vicious language of darkness that is collectively growing in the hearts of man. As this darkness takes root on a world scale, it is manifested through these evil expressions of hate. The caustic eruptions toward vulnerable employees and the man on the street are the fruit of fear and perceived helplessness so many disenfranchised people are living with. Therefore, ignorance moves these souls to express anger at everything and everyone. Proverbs 4:16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. The hopelessness they are living in is palpable and raw in their hearts and they do not know how to react. So, acting out of a child's tantrum, they lash out.
      As Christians, what are we becoming if our first reaction is to express angry hate? This Hatred-Virus that is spreading within mankind is more dangerous than any disease. The language of violence toward any form of authority seems to come so easily out of the mouths of those who were once in control of their emotions. What infectious virus has entered the hearts of once reasonable people who professed to be Christians? 2Tim. 3:5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
      Supporting the idea of harming and belittling people is not what God called us to do. Our Lord has asked us to be His hand extended that would reach out and bring peace to those who are anguishing in their souls. We are to comfort the nurse who has been cursed at for simply going to work to take care of the sick. We are to help the store clerk off the floor who was knocked down for doing what his manager asked him to do. We who are in Christ have the message of peace and love the world is so desperate to hear. Mark 16:15 Then he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 
      The Gospel is the good news and not a violent language of hate. The word of the Lord sets us free from bondage. God's word does not let us participate in the rhetoric of simpletons who are agitating the crowds to vocalize their pustulant edicts of nonsense. There is nothing wrong with participating in peaceful protests to point out unrighteousness and harmful laws that truly hurt a society. However, let us do it with the scriptural basis that gives us the honest conviction of heart to be out there. While marching and speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, let us speak with God's language of grace which is salted with His love. 
      Before you lash out in the language of Nadsat remember that God so loved the world that He gave us Jesus. The punishment that so many people feel someone else deserves was placed upon Jesus so that we would have eternal life and peace. May God's face shine on you and give you the desires of your heart according to His will. Love you much.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Blabberers

Proverbs 10:8 The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.

      Anyone who writes a blog or any type of web page that welcomes interaction or opinions on the matter being written about has had to deal with babbling blabberers. In some cases, groups of people start arguing vehemently on someone's page who had simply asked a straightforward question. The vicious babble takes over the feed and these prating fools start posting their unintelligible manifestos, and no amount of wise interjection is heard or wanted and the intelligence of the original question becomes a distant memory. Prov. 10:8 The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.
      The Apostle Paul instructed us not to get caught up in the endless discussions of nonsense that are readily available at the touch of an app. 2Tim. 2:16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17a and their talk will spread like gangrene. I wonder how many people would be giving out their opinions if they knew every idle word they had spoken would be judged. But then, we would have to wonder if they would even care what God thought about their behavior. Matt. 12:36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
      We read the story of Korah who gathered a few blabberers who assumed their position was as holy as their leader Moses. Korah started a rebellion against Moses' leadership. Num. 16:3  They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?” What is interesting in this story, is that these people had come to the conclusion that they could organize God's system of worship, integrity, and righteousness to their own idea of ministry. As the Proverb says, "The wise are glad to be instructed." Korah and his group were not glad to be instructed. They wanted power under their terms.
      God instructed Moses to give the people a chance to separate themselves from Korah and the rebels he had gathered. Like so many people today, once the babbling gets going it is hard to change course and think things through with logic and truth. People get caught up in the misguided narrative that has suddenly become popular regardless of the facts that have come forth to prove different. There is such mistrust in any kind of authority today, that conspiracy theories can run rampant regardless of how idiotic they are.
      After Moses gave the people a chance to step aside and think things through, Korah and his group were left to the scrutiny and judgment of God. Num. 16:31 And as he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their households, and all the people who belonged to Korah with all their possessions. 33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. These blabberers got more than they bargained for.
      The cost of their rhetoric caused all of their family members to be killed. They lost everything for the sake of some meaningless ideological ideas of grandeur. As the Proverb says, "Babbling fools fall flat on their faces." What are you so hell-bent on that you are willing to lose your family, home, and workplace over because you have locked onto an erroneous belief that at the end of the day will not matter? What have you been babbling about that is starting to take over your life's agendas?
      Let us bring all our ideas and thoughts to God and let Him sort them out with us. Work on life's events with the Lord and things will get done right. Before we become a conspiracy activist, ask God if this is what He wants us spending our short life on and getting all worked up about. God knows why He created us, so ask Him for our life's purpose and what is important to Him so that we can be all we can be in the kingdom of God and be at peace while we fulfill our life's calling. It would sure be better than leaving this earth a blabbering fool. Amen!