Hero

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”
–Ephesians 6:10-15

Jun 25, 2005.

Michael P. Murphy was part of a four man reconnaissance team on a mission to kill or capture a top Taliban leader in Afghanistan. This was not his first mission, but it would be his last. Soon after the mission got under way, they were discovered, and were surrounded by a group of almost 200 Taliban forces. With the help of reinforcements, the battle ended with 93 Taliban dead, including Murphy and two of his team members. While Murphy lost his life, he made his team’s defense possible with his heroic act, standing up and leaving his position to get a clear signal from his radio. In the act of calling for reinforcements, he was hit by the enemy, but continued to fight until he died from his wounds.

He received the Medal of Honor for his efforts.

His story would be exciting and heroic enough if that was the entire story. However, the most interesting part of this man’s life for me is not just how he fought. You see, this man had a very successful life before he went to war. He graduated from Penn State University, earning degrees in both Political Science and Psychology. He was working as an Assistant State Attorney when he enlisted. He had a promising career ahead of him, with endless possibilities. Why on earth would this young man choose to leave this successful life to risk his life on the battlefield?

I truly believe that God has a path for every one of us. Yes he gives us free will, and we have a choice whether to follow that path. But in every one of us, there is that little thought in our heads, always guiding us, urging us to go where God wants us to go. Some of us are attorneys. Some of us are computer programmers. Some of us are secretaries and office workers.

Michael P. Murphy was a war hero.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
–Jeremiah 29:11

Yesterday was Memorial Day. I know we all have our own opinions on the wars we are engaged in. We are entitled to our opinions. But regardless of them, we should stop and remember the brave young men and women who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. Micheal P. Murphy knew very well when he left his position he was risking his life. He knew they were surrounded. He did it anyway. He did it for his fellow team members. He did it for his country. He did it for you.

Let’s remember to always keep our service men in our prayers.

Justin Beiber Tattoo – Commitment or Pride?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
–1 Corinthians 19-20

Justin Bieber recently got a tattoo on his body with the name of Jesus in Hebrew. You can read about it here

Please don’t go away. Keep reading. This is not a religious indictment on tattoos per se. This post is really just my opinion about tattoos in general, from a Christian perspective. This is not the old guy on the corner yelling “Get off my lawn.” I promise.

So what do I think about Justin Bieber, or anyone, getting a tattoo of Jesus? It is actually a difficult question to answer. On the one hand we have the passage above, that puts such great emphasis on how God expects us to treat our own bodies. On the other, it is a tattoo of Jesus. I mean if you are going to get a tattoo, why not one that tells the world that you follow our great Savior, right?

Well, I can tell you that I have no tattoos, not even of Jesus. I have never really liked tattoos. I always considered them to detract rather than add. You see, I have always considered my body to be something given to me by God, and a tattoo was something that – well – was not right. Yes I know that in society today, tattoos are widely accepted. Yes I know that this position makes me somewhat of an old fuddy duddy. By no means do I consider tattoos some really bad evil thing you should be condemned for, but I have always considered them a negative thing. Hey it is just one guy’s opinion, take it or leave it.

But is it really a sin? Is it really wrong? I mean, if you get a tattoo for the purpose of honoring God, is it acceptable? That is a very good question, and here is my opinion.

It depends.

Why are you doing it? No I mean really, deep down inside the depths of your soul – why? There is another article about this subject, which you can read here. It is talks of a pastor who has tattoos himself and approves of them as memorials. I get it. I can see how a tattoo can be used as a memorial to Jesus, as a powerful statement of faith. However, it is a slippery slope for us, and one we should think seriously about. Before you go out and get yourself a Yeshua tattoo to match the one Justin got, be sure that is really why you are doing it. Let’s make sure this is really not something you are doing out of pride, rather than as a statement of faith. C.S. Lewis, considered one of the great Christian writers of our time, explains pride this way:

“The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
–C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The form of pride I am talking about specifically here is vanity. The problem with this particular vice is simply that in many cases, it is hidden from us. How many times have we seen people do very good things for the wrong reasons? Sometimes it is the person giving to the poor to impress other people, or going to church to be seen by others as good. There are so many examples of pride, where we place ourselves first and act out of vanity or conceit, rather than the selfless humble way in which Jesus would prefer.

So in that respect, my word of caution is this. If you truly are getting that tattoo in honor of Jesus, and it is an act of humble recognition of your commitment, who am I to say it is not a good thing? But if your real desire is to stand out in the crowd, to puff yourself up or say “hey look at me, look how great I am”, then my suggestion to you is simply – pray about your decision. The tattoo artist will still be there tomorrow if this is the right decision. But make sure your decision is for the right reasons.

“But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
–Mark 10:42-45

What a beautiful passage this is. It shows how Jesus, as great as He was, humbled Himself to minister to His people. What better way of closing my post than to say that with regard to tattoos, as Christians we are to humble ourselves as Jesus did. Let’s remember that Jesus can see our actions. Jesus does not need a tattoo to know your commitment to Him, and the outside world will benefit more from your humility and selflessness, than the attention you attract by your outward display of a tattoo.

Just Jesus

Today I am taking the easy way out. Instead of writing, I will be quoting someone much better at this thing called writing.

From Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis:

“God is the only comfort; He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger – according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way.”

“Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth – only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.”

“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines – would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.”

“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That s why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him, and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His begin a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

“The perfect surrender and humiliation were undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man. Now the Christian belief is that if we somehow share the humility and suffering of Christ we shall also share in His conquest of death and find a new life after we have died and in it become perfect, and perfectly happy, creatures. This means something much more than our trying to follow His teaching. People often ask when the next step in evolution – the step to something beyond man – will happen. But in the Christian view, it has happened already. In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us.”

Psalm 138

“I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth. Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD. Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.”
–Psalm 138

Truth. Strength. Pride. Revival. Salvation.

Those are the key words in the Psalm above. At least they are for me. Oh what words they are. They pretty much identify our entire relationship with God. I guess that is why this psalm jumps off the page for me. I was reading through the book of Psalms yesterday, when I reached psalm 138, and there it was, like God coming down to sit next to me, teaching me. It is one of those parts of the Bible that does so much to help me grow closer to Him, to better understand Him.

God is truth.

In our society today, this word is so elusive. Everyone seems to have their own version of it. It is all relative, some may say. Depending on where you are from, what your experiences are, you may have a different version of truth. But is that really truth? I think not. There really is only one truth. Whether we realize it or not does not change what truth is. Of course, this world is all about opposites isn’t it? We cannot have good without evil. Truth cannot exist without falsehoods, or else how would we tell the difference? As the psalm says, I will praise God for the truth He has so lovingly revealed to us, through His son, Jesus Christ.

God is strength.

How common is it for man to ignore God. We spend so much of our time puffing ourselves up, acting as if we are in control. We are the heroes. We are the warriors. But no matter how mighty we are, there always comes a day when we are dejected, depressed, beaten down. And in those moments, who do we call? You got it – God. In times of desperation, all of a sudden even those who have strayed far from our Creator dare to cry out for His help. How many times do we find out that He did not let us down? No matter how unfaithful we are, as ungrateful as we can be, His grace is never ending. When in desperation, we call out His name, and He gives us just enough strength to make it through our trials and tribulations. How long will it take before man realizes that any strength we have, we have because of Him? When will we realize that we are to praise Him always, through good times and bad?

God hates pride.

This part of the psalm speaks of God having respect for those that are “low” but being far away from the proud. Pride is probably the root of most of our sin. Think about it. Greed, adultery, addiction, murder, lies – aren’t they all a product of putting ourselves first? So much about our Savior Jesus Christ is about submission, humbling ourselves, selflessness. It is obvious that God thinks of pride as one of our greatest obstacles. Only by knocking ourselves off of our pedestals, can we grow closer to Him. Yes it is hard. Our world is one of pride. It is selfish. Everything in our society today is about acquisition, instant gratification. The world does not value selflessness as it should. Yet It it is the denying of ourselves that is precisely at the heart of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.

God Revives.

Jesus never promised us riches, or good times. He promised us trials and tribulations. He told we would be cursed because of Him. His apostles saw it first hand, many of them dying for our Savior. He does not offer an easy path, but He does offer healing. He does offer to revive us. This goes back to strength. When we cry out, God hears our cries. He will not always gives us what we want, but He will always give us what we need. He gives us just enough to refresh us. He picks us up, dusts us off, then throws us back in the battle. We can know that we have the greatest warrior the world has ever known, dwelling within our hearts.

God is salvation.

Since the fall of man, the world has been consumed with sin. It is said the world is the dominion of Satan, and that he rules the earth. How difficult then is it for man to save himself? He cannot. Left to our own devices, we will fail. But God is not an unjust God. His love for us is greater than we can imagine. His love is one of those things we can’t fully comprehend with our earthly understanding, but one we will completely embrace the day we meet Him in Heaven. Because of this love, He gives us a way out, a way to salvation. He gave us a glimpse as to His unending love through His son, Jesus Christ. Dying on the cross to atone for the sins we deserved punishment for, He washes us clean, giving us the way to eternal life. But to receive salvation, we need to do our part. He asks us to believe, trust, repent, and surrender. Is it too much to ask?

This psalm is one of my favorites. It is amazing how we can go back to the Old Testament and find so many parts of the Bible with Messianic messages. I don’t know if this one was meant to be read in that manner, but it sure feels that way to me.

What does this Psalms say to you?

It’s a Secret

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
–Genesis 1:26-27

“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
–Genesis 2:21-24

I think most of us are familiar with the passages above. It is how we were created. Notice the clear distinction between man and woman? It was deliberate. It is apparent that we are to take these passages and see the obvious differences between men and women. We are not the same, and there is good reason for it. Whether we like it or not, God created men and women for different purposes. We each have our roles on this earth.

No my blog is not about homosexuality. It is not about women’s liberation, or the other controversies you typically hear about in today’s society attributed to men and women’s roles. I do realize that this post may be about those subjects in an indirect way, but it is not my intention to discuss those topics here. I get that in today’s society, women work outside of the home, and some men stay at home with the kids. I get that we have a society today that is much different than the ones depicted in the Bible. Instead, my blog post today is about an article I read that has me a little – well – upset.

There are two parents that have decided to raise their 4 month old child without a gender.

What?

Yes I said that right. You can read the article here. The Stockers have decided that the constraints of gender in our society is something they don’t want to expose to their young son or daughter. Here are some of the quotes from the parents in the article:

“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs…”

“We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place? …).”

“What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious”

“In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, ‘Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s (he) wants to be?!.”

You ever read an article on the web, and have the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? This one did it for me. Gender is such a basic part of who we are. How could these parents possibly make the decision to deny this to their child? Listen I get that gender is a hot topic in our society. But gender is not something that is to be decided. It has already been decided. Gender is not a choice. Mind you, I am not talking about sexual orientation, but rather gender.

What is “between your legs” is God given, whether you like it or not. By not teaching their children properly with regard to gender, they are not giving them freedom of choice, they are stifling their growth as human beings. I wonder, if when crossing the street for the first time, they will attempt to hold their child’s hand, or simply let them make their own decision as to when to cross? I mean, if you want them to have freedom of choice…

Children are not to be used as social experiments. Parents have a responsibility given to us by God to raise our children correctly, and part of that is showing them what it is to be a man or a woman. Denying gender is a lie you are telling to your children, for your selfish reasons, and based on your own hangups and baggage. I pray that these parents will come to their senses and choose not to cripple their children by resisting the God given, wonderful differences between man and woman. They were given to us for a reason, and we should embrace them, not hide them in the interest of pleasing a sector of society, that in many ways is broken, and in need of repair.


“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
–Proverbs 22:6

Again, my intention by this blog post is not to cause controversy or stir up issues with regard to the battle of the sexes, or homosexuality. It is simply a recognition of what we have learned from the Bible about how men and women were created, and the natural differences between us.

Christians, let’s learn from these misguided parents, and be ever mindful of how we train our children. They really our the future of this world. Don’t succumb to the pressures of this fallen world and resist the God given gender differences we have been given. Your child will have plenty of time in his or her life to make the tough decisions on their role in society. Don’t make it more difficult for them by confusing them. Man was made for a reason. Woman was made for a reason. Embrace the differences, because they came from a God who loves us, and He wants men and women to complement each other and help each through through this momentary blip of time we call life.

Preserve My Soul

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
–Psalm 121

In my previous post today, I started with this psalm and told my readers I had writer’s block. My writer’s block is over. For some reason, I was drawn to this psalm. Now, later in the day, as I was reading the news, I saw the devastation in Joplin, Missouri (click here to read story). If you are unaware, a tornado ripped through the heart of that town, and the death toll is 89 and counting. They had about 20 minutes warning before the storm destroyed their town.

So you may be asking, how does this Psalm have anything to do with that? I mean, it talks about God keeping you safe from harm? 89 people have died, so how does that match? Well, it’s interesting that the original version I posted was using the New International Version of the Bible. Later in the day I took a second look, and realized that the King James version has some significant differences. There is one word specifically that made all the difference in the world. In the International version, the line in question reads:

“The LORD will keep you from all harm: he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

However, the King James Version uses the word soul instead of life. It is no small difference. Life, in the International version is therefore not referring to simply our earthly life, it is referring to eternal life. When the psalm talks about God preserving our soul, it supersedes our physical bodies, and our earthly life. The psalm is by no means trying to tell us that God will protect us from any casualties in our current life. God is trying to tell us that no matter what happens in this life, He will preserve, protect, and guard our very essence. The essence – our soul – is eternal. Through His grace, and by our faith, we will overcome this world, no matter what happens to us here.

Jesus of course told us the same thing.

“What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father Which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
–Matthew 10:27-32

My thoughts and prayers go out to every one affected by this tornado. My hope for those that have passed is that they are sitting in heaven, watching over us, no longer in pain, freed from their earthly bodies, their souls forever preserved by our Savior Jesus Christ. My hope for those that were left behind, is that they use this event to draw closer to God, leaning on each other during this time of healing, and looking up to God for guidance. No one knows for sure why these disasters happen. We do know that whatever the reason, God has a plan for our lives, and will preserve our souls for all eternity. All He asks is that we surrender to His will, and we put our trust in Him.

“He shall preserve thy soul…”

Writer’s Block – Day 1

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”
–Psalm 121

Ok so for the first time in months, I have writer’s block.  I have no idea what to write about.  So, I just picked a favorite psalm, copied and pasted it here, and I started typing.  Right now I am just typing what is coming out of my brain.  Hopefully, something good will come of this.

I believe sometimes events like these are the result of God telling you your brain is mush, and you need to clear it.  Go back to the word, read the Bible, and get closer to Him.  Eventually, I will realize what He is trying to get me to realize, and the words will flow again.

When I was thinking of something to write about, I started to think about the book of Psalms for some reason.  I Googled “favorite psalms”, looking for some inspiration.  I read several of them, and while all of them spoke to me in some way, psalm 121 stuck in me the most.  I am not sure why, but all I could think about was that this psalm is one I wish I had had in my head at certain times in my life.   There have been times in my life when things were not going well, and I was facing adversity, and could have used words like these to remind me that God was standing next to me, holding me up as I moved forward.

By the way, it is May 22nd and we are all still here, which means one of two things.  Either Harold Camping was wrong in his calculations – again – or we all missed the rapture.  Obviously, I believe the former not the latter.  The one thing that I really hope is that his followers have family and friends around them right now that can help them come to grips with the reality of what happened, or didn’t happen.

But what about this Harold guy?   Well, interestingly enough, his radio show apparently took in 18 million in donations this last year.  Now that is calculations were proven wrong, is he going to give the money back?  I doubt it.  Why did he need the money anyway, if the rapture was coming?  This part of this event angers me quite a bit.   Was it a scam?  I don’t know, but if I was one of them – not that I ever would – I would be pretty upset right now. I would be knocking on his door asking for a refund right about now.

Ok so that’s it for today.

Thanks for sticking with me while I work through this rut.