This One’s For You Ryan!

My cousin is the one rocking it on the guitar!

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Praying for Norway

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.    “
–Eziekel 18:20

What prompted a Norwegian     man to kill 93 people?  What caused him to believe that the right course of action was to place a bomb in Oslo, then go to a youth camp and slaughter children?  What kind of world do we live in that contains animals like these?  It is really hard to understand.

I don’t know the reason.

We are now seeing plenty of experts in the headlines with possible answers.  Maybe it was caused by politicians and leaders sparking hatred amongst extremists.  Maybe it was because he had a difficult childhood.  Maybe it was a particular traumatic event that led him to commit this horrible act.  Maybe he is clinically insane and was off his medication.  I suppose there could be many reasons.

Maybe – he is just evil.

I think sometimes we try to make sense out our fallen world.  We try to find the magic pill or cure that will prevent mad men from committing crimes. If we just medicate them correctly, or if we just fix the issues in society that led them astray.  Why is it that we just can’t come to grips with the fact that there is such a thing as evil in this world?  Why can’t we just understand that there are people in this world that don’t want to be good people?

Don’t get me wrong.  I completely agree that medication and finding resolutions to societal issues that cause crime are worthy endeavors, especially since I know that through God – all is possible.  But evil people have existed since this world began.  As much as we try, they will always be among us.  Since the day Adam fell in the garden of Eden, evil has existed, and until our Messiah returns, life in this fallen world will be a struggle.  Some will unfortunately choose evil rather than good.  Some will fall.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
–Matthew 6:13

I truly believe that the farther we stray from God, the easier it is for us to be tempted, and the closer we come to evil.  It can happen to any of us. While most of us would never commit a crime as a result, we are all susceptible to it.  We are all imperfect, and such can be tempted to act in a way that does not honor God.

So how should we react to this horrible act?

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
–Romans 12:21

The Bible will always hold the key.  I believe it is very clear how we should react.  We can overcome evil only with good.  We cannot do it through revenge, since that right belongs to God.  It is not through anger, as that will simply tempt us to stray from God.  It is only through our adherence to the Bible, and God’s word that we can overcome such a horrific crime. Hey, I know it isn’t easy, but Jesus never told us that following Him would be easy.

Today, we pray for Norway.

We pray for the children and all who lost their lives.

We pray for those that have survived and are finding a way to make sense of the senseless.

We pray for ourselves, that we continue to follow our Savior, and that evil is overcome in the arms of Jesus.

Your Help is Needed, America

“Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
–Proverbs 31:9

America is still the richest country in the world.  We can be thankful to God that He has blessed us with a country where most people have a place to live and food on their table.  Even during a recession, with an uncertain future, we are not doing nearly as bad as other countries.

In fact, according to an article from ABC News:

  • In 2005, the American government gave about 28 billion in foreign aid.
  • In the same year, private Americans gave about 33 billion to other countries.
  • Immigrants send about 62 billion to their families in other countries.
  • A few years ago, the American government pledged 900 million in Tsunami aid, while the American public gave 2 billion for the cause.

That is awesome, and no country comes close to us in giving to other countries.  The fact is that America is simply a generous country.  We can be very proud of that fact, except for one thing.

People are still suffering.

With all of the money that we send to other countries to help, there are still children in other countries who go to bed hungry, who don’t have the proper clothing, who are not getting the education they need.  The fact is that with all of the money we send, it simply is not enough.

It is easy for us to look at the statistics and say “we have done enough”.  But that is not what the Bible tells us to do as Christians.

“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.”
–Leviticus 25:35

Throughout the Bible, they are many examples of how we are to treat the poor.  The fact is that Jesus gave a commandment to love our neighbors as we love our God.  As such, it is our responsibility to not turn a blind eye to the poor and needy in this world.

Here are some of the statistics from Compassion International:

  • Children under age 18 make up nearly 48 percent of the population of the world’s least developed countries, compared with 21 percent of the population of the world’s industrialized nations.
  • More than 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity and modern forms of energy.
  • Over 1.4 billion people in the developing world live below the poverty line (U.S.$1.25 per day).
  • More than 9 million children under age 5 die each year. Two-thirds of these deaths — more than 6 million every year — are preventable.

The bottom line is that our help is still needed.  It does not matter that we already provide so much help.  As Christians, we are called by our Savior to provide help for our neighbors, and it is obvious that more is needed.

How many times do you go to a restaurant and spend at least $40 or more?  Do you know that $38 a month will feed, clothe and educate a poor child for a month?  Do you know how many children have been saved from poverty by Compassion International in countries like Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and others?  They are currently helping 1.2 million children, yet so many are still not being helped.  It is Americans like ourselves that can mean everything to one of these children.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion International, you are not just sending money to an charity.  The money you send is going directly to help a specific child.  Your contribution will clothe that child, it will feed that child, and it will educate that child.  They will teach the child about God.  You will have the opportunity to write the child and influence their life directly.  You can even visit the child if you choose.  You will have the opportunity to pull that child out of poverty, and give them a chance they would never have had otherwise.

Will you make a commitment today?

Click here to sponsor a child.

Revelation, by Third Day

My life,
Has led me down the road that’s so uncertain
And now I am left alone and I am broken,
Trying to find my way,
Trying to find the faith that’s gone
This time,
I know that you are holding all the answers
I’m tired of losing hope and taking chances,
On roads that never seem,
To be the ones that bring me home

Give me a revelation,
Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying to find my way,
I haven’t got a clue
Tell me should I stay here,
Or do I need to move
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without You
I’ve got nothing without You

My life,
Has led me down this path that’s ever winding
Through every twist and turn I’m always finding,
That I am lost again (I am lost again)
Tell me when this road will ever end

Give me a revelation,
Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying to find my way,
I haven’t got a clue
Tell me should I stay here,
Or do I need to move
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without You
I’ve got nothing without…

I don’t know where I can turn
Tell me when will I learn
Won’t You show me where I need to go
Oh oh
Let me follow Your lead,
I know that it’s the only way that I can get back home

Give me a revelation,
Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying to find my way,
I haven’t got a clue
Tell me should I stay here,
Or do I need to move
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without You
I’ve got nothing without You

Oh, give me a revelation…

I’ve got nothing without You
I’ve got nothing without You

Made To Love, by TobyMac

http://youtu.be/Pc6BYqGeLRk

Verse 1
The dream is fading, now I’m staring at the door
I know its over cause my feet have hit the cold floor
Check my reflection, I ain’t feelin what I see
It’s no mystery
Whatever happened to a passion I could live for?
What became of the flame that made me feel more?
And when did i forget that…

Chorus
I was made to love You
I was made to find You
I was made just for You
Made to adore You
I was made to love
And be loved by You
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And you said you’d keep me
Never would you leave me
I was made to love
and be loved by You

Verse 2
The dream’s alive with my eyes opened wide
Back in the ring You’ve got me swinging for the grand prize
I feel the haters is spittin vapors on my dreams
But I still believe
I’m reachin out, reachin up, reachin over
I feel a breeze cover me called Jehovah
And Daddy I’m on my way
Cause I was made to love…

Chorus

I was made to love You
I was made just for you Made to adore you
I was made to love and be loved by you

You were here before You were waiting on me
And you said you’d keep
Me never would you leave
I was made to love and be loved by you

Bridge
Anything I would give up for You
Everything, I’d give it all away
(Repeat 3x)

I was made to love You, I was made to love You
I was made to love You, I was made to find you
I was made to love You, Made just for You
I was made to love You, Made just for You
I was made to love You, Made just for You
I was made to love You, I will love by you

What is a Christian Marriage Anyway?

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
–Ephesians 5:22-33

Today I would like to tackle an area of the Bible that many don’t like to talk about.  The reason it  is avoided is not valid. In the passage above, we have Paul writing to the Ephesian church, and discussing how husbands and wives should treat each other. Unfortunately, because of a distortion of the meaning of this passage, many even within the church tend to pretend that this passage does not exist.  Yet we will see that if we study it in the correct context, that it is truly a beautiful passage, and does not in any way demean women, but rather, lifts them up.

The main concern for many in our society is the first two verses.  Suggesting that women submit to their husbands is something that some find objectionable.  Further, the second verse – that the husband is to be the head of the wife – ranks right up there for some as one of the most difficult parts of the Bible.  But is it really?  Is it really wrong to say that the husband should be the head of the household?  Is it wrong to say that wives should submit to their husbands?

Before we get to those verses, I will take this passage in reverse order.  Let’s look at the last one first.

“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Notice that this verse joins two statements with the word “and”.  First, it says that husbands should love their wives as they love themselves, then goes on to say that wives should reverence – or respect – her husband.  The word “and” means that both points are equally important, and both are demanded of us as husbands and wives.  I don’t know too many people that would have issue with this verse.  Understand, that the Bible is telling us that a husband’s love for his wife should be no different than the love he has for himself.  That is a pretty bold statement, don’t you think?  He is telling us that as husbands, we should be willing to do for our wives anything that we are willing to do for ourselves.  In turn, women should have great respect for their husband. So far so good?

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”

This is the bulk of the passage.  Notice that this entire section deals not with the wife but the husband.  I will draw your attention first to the part that states husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church, giving himself for it.  Let’s explore that a minute here.  Do we all remember what Christ did for us?  You remember that whole dying on the cross thing that saved us from our sins, granting us eternal life if we just believe and trust in Him?  Yup, that is what He is expecting of husbands in their behavior towards their wives.  Quite a responsibility here isn’t it?  The rest of the passage explains how husbands should present their wives as unblemished, holy.  As husbands, we are to be willing to lay down our lives for our wives, loving them as we love ourselves.  Then the final verse says it all.  We are to leave our father and mother and be joined to our wives, and we shall become one flesh.  What a great responsibility husbands have, that we are to be Christ-like in our dealings with our “other half”, the other part of our flesh.  Do you believe this is worthy of respect?

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Now we come to the verses that some have an issue with.  Wives are to “submit” to their husbands.  Husbands are to be the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church.  What does this really mean anyway?  Well, let’s take the relationship between Christ and the church.  Do we as the body of Christ have a problem submitting to Christ?  Of course not.  Why?  Well, the answer is obvious.  He is the Messiah.  He is our Savior. He is God in the form of the son.  We submit to Him, not because we are forced,  but we do so willingly.  We rejoice and sing about our submission to our Savior.  Obviously, it is in our best interests to do so.

So, with respect to wives submitting to their husband, why is there such objection to it?  We have already read how husbands should treat the wives, correct?  We know that a husband is to be Christ-like, willing to die for his wife, striving to treat his wife as holy, keeping her unblemished.  He is to love her as himself.  With this great responsibility that has been place on husbands by God to love and protect their wives, is it so difficult to believe that their wives should submit to this?  In reality, is not submission to a good, Christian husband who treats his wife the same way that Christ treats the church not one of the most beautiful things a woman could do?  Is it not a reflection of her submission to Christ? Is not in her best interests to submit to the one who will love and protect her in the same manner that Christ does for her?

Let me be clear.  I am not for one moment suggesting that wives are to submit to their husbands as some take that verse – out of context.  I have heard and read many compare this verse to some form of slavery.  Nor am I suggesting that wives need to do everything their husbands tell them, even if their husbands are abusive or not acting in the best interests of the family.  What I am suggesting is submission of a wife to her husband – in the context of the entire passage – is one of the most beautiful and holy things we could ever witness.  A husband who loves his wife so much he is willing to die for her like Christ did for us, and a woman who respects her husband so much she will walk hand in hand with him through any trial or tribulation is something to be cherished, not shunned.

In a world where the family unit seems to be in constant danger of collapsing, I submit to you that if more people would study and follow this passage of the Bible, we would be in much better shape as a society.  It is a proven fact that how we are treated as babies have an enormous affect on the rest of our lives.  How great it would be for every baby in this world to be loved and nurtured by parents that are following the passage above?  A husband that loves his wife like himself, and a woman that respects her husband and submits to him like she submits to Christ.  Would it solve every issue?

Probably not.

But it would be a great start.

What Happened To You, Caylee Anthony?

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
–Matthew 18:10

I am angry.

Even though I have my opinions about the case, the fact is I was not there. I don’t have all of the facts. I was not a juror, having to decide the fate of this mother. Yet the truth is that I have serious doubts as to Casey Anthony’s innocence. I also have serious doubts as to the innocence of the entire family. I cannot believe that no one in the Anthony family knows what happened to Caylee. They know, and one day, mark my words, those responsible will have to stand before God and explain their actions.

“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

I know where Caylee is. She is in Heaven. She is sitting next to our Savior. Whether she is aware of what is going on down here I don’t know. But she is no longer in pain. She no longer has duct tape wrapped tightly around her mouth and nose, cutting off her breath. She is no longer lying in the back of a car trunk. She is no longer discarded in a field, being rained on, open to the elements. She is flying high, safe and sound, in the arms of a family that has much more concern for her than she ever received on earth. No longer will she wait for her mother while she parties all night. No longer will she be neglected, set aside while the adults in her life find other pursuits to entertain them. She is now receiving the love she was denied on earth.

This case makes me angry.  I am angry because the trial, and its verdict, reminds me that a family in Orlando cared so little for the welfare of this child, that they allowed her to be killed, stuffed in a car, then discarded in a field.

What really happened to Caylee?

The trial did not answer the question, and we may never know.  The Anthony family knows the answer, though.  They were entrusted with the care of this child. The child was NOT their possession, to do with as they please. That child belongs to God, and they chose to destroy her earthly body, either by their actions, or by their neglect. They will answer for it. God is not only a God of love, but one of justice. They will never be able to hide from Him.

The ones responsible for Caylee’s death may have escaped justice in this world, but God’s justice will come.

In a few weeks, the media will slowly stop covering this case. People will go about their daily lives. Some will forget the names, the facts surrounding the case, and the faces will fade from their memory. Caylee will become one of the many children our society mourns for a time, then discards much like the way she was discarded by those she trusted. I hope this does not happen in this case, but I know for many it will. We are a fickle society. We have been de-sensitized to these stories, because, unfortunately, they happen often enough that they no longer shock us as they should.

But folks, this is a human being, a child. She did not deserve this. My hope is that everyone who reads this blog will look at the photo of Caylee, really look at it. She is your daughter. She is your sister. She is your friend. She deserved much better. She deserved to live a full life. We need to cry over her death. We need to mourn her. We need to be angry. We need to pray – really hard – that God does a work on the hearts of the mothers and fathers in our society. We need to pray that parents place a higher priority on the health and well being of their children than they do on going to a party, getting a tattoo, and drinking themselves into oblivion.

Today, I mourn the death of a little girl taken too soon, but I rejoice in knowing she is safe in our Savior’s arms.

America, look at that photo, and see that you do not forget that little girl.

I will never forget you,  Caylee Anthony.