love

The Trouble With Christmas

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PeaceonEarth9x16JPG_lgIt’s December once again. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time for listening to Christmas carols, for decorating the tree and putting up the lights, for having your home filled with the fabulous aromas of fresh baked cookies and scented candles. It’s a time for reflection on the year that has passed and for being thankful to the Lord, Jesus Christ for the wonderful blessings of friends, family, good health, and so on.

There was a time, not so long ago really, when Christmas seemed to bring out the best side of our natures. Complete strangers passing each other on the street, who normally might not give one another the time of day, smiled at one another and wished each other a Merry Christmas. Neighbors, who rarely if ever spoke, would exchange gift baskets and cards, showing an abundance of Christmas spirit. The Christmas season had an otherworldly ability to do what no other holiday season during the year could; to remove the barriers of the heart. Christmas allowed us to show compassion and love toward one another without being afraid or judgmental. It was the one time of year when we came closest to what God intended us to be.

Yes, it is that time of year again, and yet something feels very wrong. The Christmas spirit is still there, but it seems overshadowed by something. Its sparkle has faded and been dimmed by another spirit, one of division and hatred. There is heaviness in the air that should not be there. It is as though the Grinch has come down from his mountain peak and stolen the very joy from people’s hearts without them even noticing. All of America seems to be at each others throats over one issue or another. We’ve seen rioting in the streets, protesters marching and shouting abusive and foul language, attacks on those sworn to protect and serve the very people who are attacking them. All of these things while our so-called leaders, instead of trying to calm fears and frustrations, seem to be antagonizing and encouraging more of the same.

 

There cannot be joy and love where there is anger and hatred.

 

The President has done very little to bring peace to these volatile situations. Al Sharpton, a so-called “man of God” has actually spent most of his time promoting anger and racism throughout our nation. The tension and division in our nation is reaching critical mass and all the while people continue to place the blame on the other guy. There is no accountability, no responsibility, and seemingly no stopping it. It’s hard to feel the Christmas spirit when all around us the world seems to be burning with hatred and distrust. Why is this happening? Who is responsible?

I’ve listened to all of the comments and excuses given by the media, from politicians, and from protesters; the police are to blame, white people are to blame, rich people are to blame, one political party or the other is to blame…it’s all wrong! The truth is hard to swallow sometimes, and in order to avoid doing so people will always try to blame someone or something besides themselves. It is not something that is only attributed to our children; adults shy away from accountability too. The truth about why all of this hatred and anger exists in our nation today is because it has been taught. I know some will say, “I didn’t teach my children to hate”, others will say, “It’s the fault of the movies or video games,” but the truth is that the responsibility rests on the doorsteps of our own homes. We, the parents, are who must be held accountable for the actions of our children, whether they are three years old or thirty years old. It is the moral and spiritual lessons that we teach to them that lead them to whatever they come to believe.

What are we teaching our children? What do we permit them to bear witness to in movieschild-1374393113vYe or video games? When we talk to them, are we listening as well, looking for warning signs of rebellious behavior or problems they may be struggling with? Do we spend time with them to teach them the importance of respect and honor, of doing what is right over that which may be popular? When they were young, were there rules and guidelines that they had to follow, and if they did not do what was right were there consequences and punishments? Did we teach them to respect authority and to follow the laws that govern us? These are our responsibilities as parents, regardless of how hard or time consuming they may be. Our children deserve the best possible teaching they can get and we are accountable for what they learn. It is a huge part of being a good and loving parent.

Christmas is upon us once again. Instead of twinkling lights and Christmas displays, at least one city suffers from burned out buildings and charred emotions, all as a result of anger and hatred. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the death of a child, it is a very hard thing to endure (I’m speaking from experience), and my heart goes out to those who have suffered that kind of horrific loss no matter the age of that child, but hatred and anger will not help heal the wounds. Attacking others or burning down buildings will not help the pain to pass. Listening to those who have something to gain, by promoting or encouraging that anger and hatred, is not going to make things better. The only way that we can make our world a better and safer place for our children is to teach them things like humility, honesty, respect, and obedience. There is one other very important character trait that we must be certain we instill in our children and that is the ability to forgive. After all, Christmas is about the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, who came to this earth with the gift of forgiveness for the entire human race.

I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and an even brighter and far more peaceful New Year. God bless America.

Is America Becoming an anti- Jesus Nation?

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“Jesus loves the little children…
All the children of the world…
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

This little song; or nursery rhyme as some believe it to be, was written by a preacher named Clare Herbert Woolston (1856–1927). I can recall singing it along with the other children in Sunday school. It may be the very first song I ever learned by heart, probably because it is very short and repetitive, but also because of its simplistic phrases and terms, which makes it easily understandable for young minds. Its message is clear; Jesus loves us all! He is not concerned with what color our skin is or what part of the world we may inhabit. In His sight, we are all equal, and equally precious. His love for us is unconditional. What that means is that there is nothing that we must do, or say, or change to get Him to love us. Children seem to grasp this fact far easier than some adults. It is as though we, as adults, often cannot accept that something like the freely given, unconditional love Jesus has toward us could really be real. After all, we learn very quickly that very little in this world is truly free. There are almost always strings attached, or fine print at the bottom of the page, or prerequisites’ that must be met, but such is not the case when it comes to Jesus’ love.

Psalms 71:5-6
“For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.”

When I was very young and attended church with my parents, it never occurred to me that there might be people in the world who had no interest in Jesus or the love He had for them. I had no idea that there were some who either simply chose not to believe in anything beyond themselves and their own existence, or who knew and believed in the existence of Jesus but rejected His love for whatever reason. I mean, in my young mind, if Jesus loves you no matter what, why wouldn’t you love Him back? It would be like rejecting the love of your own mother or father – sadly, I have since realized that this too happens in our world far too often.

There is a benefit to being young in my opinion, one of unconditional trust. A newborn trusts its mother to nurture and to protect it, to teach it and help it grow. That trust is not something necessarily earned, which is evident when we see a child neglected or even abused by a parent and yet that same child continues for a great deal of time to trust their parent regardless of how they are being treated. Distrust is something that is earned. Over time, the neglected or abused child’s trust in the parent committing the offense begins to break down, eventually becoming non-existent. So then, how is it that Jesus could be so despised by those whom He loves? Why, if He has done nothing to earn or merit their distrust, do so many reject Him?

One answer may revolve around the concept of resentment. Often we have heard that all things are possible with God. Jesus is capable of answering anyone’s prayer; even those things for which we are unaware that we have need of, and yet His answer to some prayer is not what is expected or desired. Just as a parent who does not give a child whatever they ask for, Jesus is sometimes held in contempt for not giving a person what they want when they want it. What they fail to understand, or in some cases accept, is that Jesus knows the heart and mind of every individual. He knows what we need, as opposed to what we may want. If a child asks to have a bottle of poison to drink not knowing that it could potentially harm or even kill them, would a loving parent grant them that desire? What of those prayers which seem to go unanswered for a new job, or for happiness, or even for a dying loved one? Surely these things, being good and being requested for the most well intentioned reasons are prayers which should be answered in the affirmative. What we must recognize again is that Jesus does answer those prayers, but in His own time and in a way that meets our needs and the needs of others as opposed to our wants.

Hebrews 9:27-28
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

As for the death of a loved one: My wife and I lost our eldest son to a drowning accident a year and a half ago. It was the hardest thing we have ever endured in our lives. We prayed daily for protection over our children as many parents do, and yet we still lost him. There is not a single day that goes by that we do not think of him or wish he were still here with us. For awhile, after the accident, we both were upset and angry with God for allowing it to happen, and we went through struggles trying to reason with and understand a seemingly unreasonable and confusing event. We have since come to the conclusion that it was something that, at least for now, we simply must trust that God had good reason for allowing. There is no way for us to know what that reason is as we are not able to see things the same way that God sees them. What we do know is that it is not God’s desire that anyone should have to die, but it is the result of sin having entered into the world through disobedience. It is a fact; living in this world means that, at some point unknown to us, we have an appointment with death as a result of sin. However, knowing Jesus Christ as our personal savior, accepting His love and showing love back by seeking to trust and obey Him, grants us the assurance that death will only touch us once.

1st Corinthians 1:18-19
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

Another reason some have chosen to reject Jesus has to do with human intellect. As the years have passed and our world has become more advanced and technological, some hold to the premise that if they can’t see something it doesn’t exist. That, even if it did exist at some point in time, its absence in the here and now means that it is no longer relevant. Much like the old manual typewriters or 8-track tapes, which were popular decades ago, they are no longer wanted much or needed in a world where I-pods, I-phones, and I-pads exist. They have had their moment in the spotlight and have since been retired. Many people today have never even seen a manual typewriter or an 8-track tape. To them, they do not exist. However, Jesus Christ is not an object that can be dismissed; he is the one, true Savior of a lost and dying world. Without Jesus, there is no hope of Salvation. This is as truthful a statement as stating that the Holy Bible is not something that can be replaced by technology. The Bible is the Holy Word of God. It has been tested by time, trial, and fire. It has survived those tests and it continues to be the most inspiring, controversial, best selling, and life changing book ever written. Those who believe that they are far too wise to believe or to have faith in a creator simply because they cannot see Him are perhaps far too wise for their own good.

Matthew 18:2-4
“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

There are also those who choose not to believe in Jesus because it interferes with their concept of having fun and enjoying life. Following the Bible and showing obedience to God means having to put aside many of the things that are popular in today’s world. It means having to strive to obey the laws, rules, and desires of God. The Bible is abundantly clear when it comes to what is forbidden by God, and yet in our society there are so many who either misinterpret, attempt to change, or flat out choose to ignore those things in the name of pleasure or political correctness.

the Ten CommandmentsThe Ten Commandments are the very foundation of many American laws and have also served as a moral compass for centuries, and yet there are those who protest the very idea of having them displayed in a public place, why? They would have us to believe that it is all about constitutional law; separation of church and state, but the truth is that those who take issue with these types of things do so because they do not want to be reminded of the fact that they have rejected Jesus Christ. There are many groups in this Christian founded nation – a nation that accepts all types of religious and spiritual beliefs, or even the lack thereof – who seek to remove God and Jesus Christ or any reference of them from every aspect of our public lives. They do not object to other spiritual or religious groups, but rather seem to have set their sights on the Christian community alone. The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), and the American Humanist Association (AHA), two of the most widely known secular organizations, consistently take up battles and file suits in court over Christian based issues such as seeking to remove the words “under God” from our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” from our nation’s currency. Those individuals who oppose reference to God or Jesus Christ in our courts, our schools, our motto’s and oath’s, are not doing so because they are being harmed in any way by them, but rather because they do not like to see or hear about God and Jesus. They have even filed suits against the public display of Nativity scenes at Christmas – and many have even attempted to have the word “Christmas” itself struck from our vocabulary because they find it offensive and not “politically correct”. Most recently, atheists protested to remove a cross on a war memorial located in an Indiana state park. These individuals are at war with a God that they claim not to recognize. It is a war that they cannot win!

Many American’s look at the shape of our nation and the world right now, and they wonder how it ever became so chaotic, dangerous, and seemingly irreparable. They have lost hope in things ever becoming better. Washington seems to only care about special interests and power. Church leaders seem to argue with one another over the meaning of doctrine and what is acceptable in God’s eyes. Our enemies are more emboldened and set on our destruction. Our economy seems to be getting worse all of the time, meanwhile our deficit soars out of control and good jobs are hard to come by. Even we, our friends, and our neighbors seem so busy trying to keep up in this increasingly fast-paced world that they have very little time to take a deep breath let alone visit with one another or help each other. It is true. The things in this world are moving more rapidly than they ever have before, but some things are not as irreparable as they may seem.

2nd Corinthians 3:17
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Our freedoms may appear to be eroding, but they are not. They still exist, provided by a loving God, and the sacrifice of so many brave men and women who have fought and died throughout history to secure and to protect them. There still remains hope regardless of how dire things may appear. That hope cannot be found in any person in Washington, nor can it be found within one’s self. It is a hope that can only be found in Christ Jesus.

2nd Corinthians 7:14
“…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

So long as we; the Christian community, continue to accept Jesus Christ, do not turn away from God, and refuse to allow a small percentage of individuals who are at war with Christ destroy our right to believe in Him and share His message with others, there is still hope. Even so, there is the knowledge that this world is but temporary, and that ultimately we are nothing more than travelers on a journey – as the song goes: this world is not our home.

There is one simple truth that rings clear for each and every person in this world, including those who choose to reject the Lord Jesus Christ or deny His existence – He loves them. He will continue to love them until the day that they stand in judgment, and even then it will break His heart that they chose to rebel against the love He has for them. Until that day comes, and no one knows when that will be as it is different for each individual, they are still being given the opportunity to change their hearts and minds and accept the free gift they have been given. It is my humble prayer that they seek the truth before it is too late.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal savior and would like to know how you can change that, please click here to discover more about how to become a Christian. The Romans Road to Salvation explains how you can receive the free gift of salvation through the acceptance of Jesus Christ. After accepting Christ into your life and beginning your relationship with Him, I highly encourage you to locate a Biblical Based Church in your local area and speak to them about your knew found faith in Christ. There, you can receive baptism and begin to grow more as a Christian, learning more about the wonderful promises of God and fulfilling God’s intended purpose for your life! God bless.