I will give a personal example here. In 2005 I moved to the Indianapolis area. I rapidly became a Colts fan. In December of 2005 I went to my first Colts game, and I was hooked. Being surrounded by 60,000 screaming fans focused on the actions of these 22 men on the field is an amazing feeling. It’s much different than watching the game on television. Over the course of the next year I slowly became addicted to the Indianapolis Colts. I knew every player. I knew their positions, their game stats, the teams they were playing, etc. I watched every game. I bought several jerseys (some for about $80 each). I went to several games, and bought a season ticket for the 2007 season. I went to almost every game, unless I had to work.
This morning I woke up and hit the power button on my phone only to find that my battery was at 1%. I had five seconds to look at the screen before the phone shut down with a dead battery. That’s when I realized that last night I didn’t plug my phone in to the charger. The charger was plugged in to the wall right next to my phone. It had been there all night. But I didn’t plug it in.
It occurs to me that many Christians go through life this way. We have the Bible. We may even have several Bibles. But if you don’t read the Bible and plug yourself in to God’s charger, your spiritual battery is going to die.
We have prayer available to us day or night, in any time at any place. If we have trusted in Christ as Savior we may come boldly to the throne of grace. But how often do we? How often do we speak to our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe? Just having God available to us does not help us. We must grasp the opportunity to speak with Him and read His Words. Only then can we recharge and become useful to Him.
Conflation is the act of merging two sets of ideas into one. One website explains it as “negative or careless blending of two otherwise disconnected ideas.” In recent usage it means to confuse two ideas or events as being the same thing. An example would be Kellyanne Conway and her recent statement that “two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre.” She most likely conflated the two Iraqi refugees in Bowling Green who pled guilty to terrorism in 2011 and the terrorist responsible for killing four marine recruiters in Chattanooga (which is NOT Bowling Green) in 2015. She mixed them up in her mind into one event, even though they were two separate events separated by 200 miles of geography and four years of time. That’s conflation.
I mention this because the Pope, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, was guilty yesterday of conflating the morals and guidelines of the Bible given to individual people with the morals and guidelines of the Bible given to governments and nations.
The pope stated, “In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls, but to build bridges. To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offense with forgiveness. A Christian would never say ‘you will pay for that.’ Never. That is not a Christian gesture. An offense you overcome with forgiveness. To live in peace with everyone.”
Is the pope wrong? Yes and no. While it is theologically correct that Christians are called to forgive, to live in peace with others, to defeat evil with good, and to build bridges, it is NOT theologically correct to conflate Christian ideals with civic policy and procedure.
Does this mean we should not promote Judeo-Christian values in our government? Not at all. I believe we should have a government that punishes certain sins (such as murder, rape, etc), not a government that forgives offenders continually. We should make laws that encourage people to live moral lives. But we should not expect the government to operate as an individual person should. For instance, Peter asked Christ how many times he should forgive his brother, and Christ’s response indicates that forgiveness should be limitless. Should this principle then be applied by the government when someone breaks the law repeatedly? No.
And that’s why we need a wall. We need secure borders so that we can enforce the rule of law among our own people. We need to keep people out who aren’t supposed to be here. I keep hearing about “the Christian thing to do” as it relates to foreign relations, immigration, etc. People who use those words to refer to the policies of the United States government are conflating guidelines given in the Bible to individuals with guidelines given to the government in general.
The United States is not a “Christian Nation.” It is a nation that has Christian citizens. Even if every single citizen was Christian, it would still not be a “Christian Nation”, it would be a nation made up of Christians. It seems like I’m splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction. You see, being American does not have anything to do with your status with God as a Christian or non-Christian.
The United States is being invaded right now by people who don’t belong here. I know that on the surface that sounds racist, but it’s not. As an example, let’s just look at ethnic Mexicans. I’m saying that the American citizens of Mexican descent belong here, whereas those of Mexican descent who are NOT American citizens (or have permission from the government to be here) do NOT belong here. Now, is that racist? Obviously not. Ethnicity has nothing to do with my determination regarding who belongs here and who doesn’t. I am simply interested in protecting the rights of United States citizens from those who are here illegally.
I don’t agree with Trump on everything, but I do agree that we need to secure our borders. What to do about the people who are already here illegally is a different question, but the first step is to prevent any further influx. And in that the pope is wrong: as a country we should NOT be building bridges, we SHOULD be building walls.
We are sad that Carrie Fisher died. It IS sad whenever someone dies, especially for those of us who will miss her. We fans will miss her, but not as much as her family and friends. My thoughts are with her family and I have been praying for them for the past week and will continue to do so.
That being said, there’s a whole lot of nonsense flowing around Facebook, Twitter, and the internet in general about how she is now “one with the Force” and people saying “May the Force be with her.” I’ve even seen Christian friends posting stuff like that, which bothers me, because they know better. “The Force” is a fictional concept which has no basis in reality and should not be used when speaking seriously about the real death of a human being. If I were one of her family and friends I would be insulted if someone came up to me and said, “She’s with the Force.”
Let’s get one thing straight: it doesn’t matter that she was part of one of the most successful film franchises ever. It doesn’t matter that she was famous. It doesn’t matter that she was loved and adored by millions of fans.
At the moment of her death, only one thing mattered: did she trust in Christ as Savior while she was alive? If she did, then she is rejoicing in heaven with the Lord, the angels, and all the other saved people who have died. If she did not, then she is suffering in hell for eternity. Those are the only two options.
Am I being cruel or unkind by pointing this out? I don’t think so. If your dad died of lung cancer from heavy smoking would I be cruel to encourage you to avoid smoking? No. Even though the time has passed for Carrie Fisher to make her decision (whatever she decided: her destination is set in stone), it is not too late for you. When you die, will you want to spend eternity with God or an eternity of suffering? Your choice. And every day just over 151,000 peoples’ choice is solidified for all eternity.
CS Lewis said “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.”
So while we mourn the passing of Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, and so many others this year, remember that every single one of us will die, and nothing we do on earth will matter more than our relationship (or lack thereof) with Jesus Christ.
The Bible mentions one specific way that unsaved (i.e. “non-Christians”) people will be able to tell that we are followers of Christ.
John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The sacrificial love of Christians for each other is supposed to be of such obvious quality that unbelievers will see it and say, “Whoa! There’s something different about them.”
And yet sometimes we as believers do not treat each other with kindness, let alone love. This is unfortunate and it is not Christlike. I am sometimes guilty of this, and sometimes I am a victim of this. I say things to people sometimes without thinking, and then I realize it was unkind later on. And I can think of three specific people in the past five years that I know are born-again believers, and they have treated me with anything but love.
I don’t know why, but for some reason God has given me the kind of personality that most people either enjoy being around me, or dislike me intensely. I guess there’s probably a group that are ambivalent towards me also, but I don’t hear from them.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying we as Christians MUST like one another. That’s not what Jesus said. He said we must LOVE one another. I John 2:9-11 goes so far as to say that if someone says he’s a Christ-follower and yet hates another believer, then he is not saved. There are Christians I don’t get along with, but I do my best to love them. There are Christians I don’t enjoy being around, but I serve them just like the Christians who are my best friends. And that’s the difference.
These believers who have treated me with bitterness, anger, and outright hatred at times are not following Christ in doing so. It is not my place to question their salvation, especially since I believe them to be saved (from all the other evidence I have). It is my place to point out their error in being insulting, unloving, and assuming the worst about a brother in Christ. And after doing so, they continue to insult me. Part of the problem is that it is sometimes difficult to convey tone, intent, and attitude through simple text. The words “I love you”, when said verbally, can be said in such a way as to be romantic, matter of fact, sarcastic, questioning, boredom, begging, and a hundred other messages that aren’t present in the eight letters. The problem lies in someone reading my words and assuming I intend to be arrogant or a “know-it-all.” No matter how humble I tried to be with one of the people I’m thinking of, he assumed I was either being arrogant, condescending, or snotty. I literally could not win with him, or with the other people that catalyzed this post.
And so in the spirit of Romans 14:13 (“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”), I have blocked them on Facebook so that they will no longer be carried away in their bitterness towards me, because they will no longer be able to see my words on Facebook. I pray that they recognize their error and repent, because I don’t believe God wants any of us to continue in anger, self-righteousness, or a root of bitterness, but instead wants us to love one another.
I have done all I can for them. The only thing that remains to me is to continue praying for them. Aside from that, the best thing I can think of is to remove myself from their sight.
Sometimes the loving thing to do is to walk away.
For the past few months Colin Kaepernick and others have been holding a protest. I’m sure this is not news to most of you. For those of you who don’t turn on a television or read the news, the short version is this: Colin and others (especially those who affiliate with the Black Lives Matter organization) feel that the police are trying to systematically kill black people. In protest of this, they are sitting or kneeling during the playing of the national anthem at sporting events to try to bring attention to the “problem.” The media has been covering these protests almost non-stop (or so it seems). The attitude of the National Football League can be summed up in the words, “What protests?”
First of all, I disagree with the premise. An extended family member (first cousin once removed) of mine is very anti-police, and pro-BLM. He agrees with Colin that there is a problem. I disagree. He listed six, high profile, black people who have been killed in the past few years (including Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a non-white, part black private citizen who was NOT a cop and was defending himself from Trayvon Martin…anyway my point was Martin died four years ago). I listed about 16 police officers who have been shot and killed THIS YEAR ALONE by black people. My point was, maybe it isn’t the police who have declared war on black people. Maybe it’s the other way around.
Secondly, if the Black lives matter crowd wanted to protect the lives of black people, there are organizations and groups of people who have killed way more black people than the police. Here’s two:
1. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Twenty eight percent of abortions are committed on black babies. Since there are about a million abortions per year, that means that so far this year (ten months in), Planned Parenthood and other abortionists have killed about 230,000 black people. Just slightly more than the amount of black people killed by the police, which, according to the Huffington Post (a liberal news site that is sympathetic to BLM), hit 173 people from January to July of this year.
2. Other Black People. Ninety percent of murdered black people are killed by other black people. According to the FBI, in 2011 (the most recent year I could find with stats compiled) 2447 black people were murdered by other black people. Makes 173 people killed by cops seem insignificant, doesn’t it? But it’s kind of hard for a group to protest against itself. Much easier to point out a group that is different than them (but not always…many of these black people killed by cops were killed by black cops).
And I would hazard a guess that most of the people killed by cops actually deserved to be shot and killed (as in, they were shooting at the police, they were going for their gun to shoot the police, they were about to hurt an innocent victim, etc). Sure, there are cases where black people have been unjustly killed by the police, and in those cases, the police officer(/s) who shot and killed the black person should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But those are probably the exception, not the rule.
Which brings me back to Colin. He’s protesting against injustice, he says. Well guess what, Colin: injustice has been around for thousands of years and isn’t going to be eliminated by you taking a knee while we play the national anthem recognizing that we live in the greatest country on earth and expressing our national pride in those who have sacrificed and died for our freedoms.
And this is why I’ve stopped watching the NFL by and large. For the past several years I’ve watched the NFL whenever I could, because I enjoy it. I watched Sunday afternoons in between church services, Sunday night football, Monday night football, and Thursday night football (when I wasn’t working or doing something else). But this year, I have only watched the Colts games, and I’ve ignored the others. Because I love my country more than I love football. Realistically, my loyalty goes first to God, then my family, then my country, then waaaaay down the list, football. Come to think of it, as I write this, the Colts are about to play, and the Cubs are about to play. I’m going to watch the Cubs. So football is even below baseball on my list.
The NFL is in denial over why their ratings are tanking. Every week this season the ratings come out showing how many people watched NFL games. The numbers started lower than in previous years, and have gone down each week. They say it’s because of the election. Nope. They say it’s because people are cutting cords. Nope. They say it’s because Tom Brady and Peyton Manning haven’t been playing. Nope. Every person I’ve talked to about it has said the same thing: it’s these protests. They make people sick, and quite frankly, angry. I admit to being upset. I’m upset with the protesters for disrespecting the flag and by extension, the United States, but I’m more upset with the NFL, who by ignoring the protests, are doing nothing about it. Even when it is becoming clear that people are abandoning the NFL in droves, they refuse to acknowledge the damage these protesters are doing to their brand. Personally I feel that the NFL should release a statement something like, “While we appreciate the enthusiasm our players have for social issues and the need for equity in our society, from this point on we will be fining each player who does not stand for the playing of the national anthem, due to the damage that player is doing to their own team’s financial well being, with the fine equaling the amount of that player’s game check. We encourage our players to protest on their own time, and not when they are wearing an NFL uniform during an NFL broadcast.”
Until they do that, I will continue severely restricting the amount of NFL football I watch. And so I guess I have to thank Colin Kaepernick and the other protesters, because I have lots of spare time now. Thanks, Colin.