When to resist

If you spend any time on social media, you can’t avoid the hashtag #RESIST, the slogan of the people who are unwilling to accept the results of our country’s election and the peaceful transfer of power. Those in this movement include opportunists, anarchists, terrorists, and other malcontents eager for attention. However, there are also sincere people, even some Christians, among the throngs. It is this latter group, the sincere folks who simply disagree with the conservative doctrine of the current administration and its followers, to whom I write today.

The Bible gives us clear direction as to when it is our duty to obey those God places in positions of authority over us and when it is our Christian responsibility to #Resist.

Titus 3:1-8 1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!

It is the right and duty of good people to speak out and make our opinions and values known, but only when our authorities go against God’s laws are we to rebel and resist obeying the laws of our land.

 

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I lift up my eyes to The Hill?

I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. – Psalm 121 (NIV}

It is generally accepted that the familiar words of Psalm 121 were written by King David, but there is some difference of opinion among Bible scholars as to the Psalm’s setting. Some say it is the field of battle and some believe it refers to dangers faced by travelers at the time.

Whether this verse is a cry from a soldier in combat hoping for reinforcements to appear on the horizon,memorial day or from a vulnerable traveler scanning the high ground in fear of being attacked by brigands, the emphasis is on the source of help, “My help comes from the LORD.”

Although situations have changed from Old Testament days, believers are still in peril as we go through cultural and spiritual battles.

Many believers are tempted to look to the government to save us, but pinning one’s hopes on the politicians in Washington D.C., a certain party or candidate, is doomed to disappointment.  While it is good for Christians to be involved and politically active, it is vitally important to remember where our focus should be, individually and as a nation; OUR HELP COMES FROM THE LORD.

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Created Equal

In a few days we will celebrate the birth of our nation, Independence Day, with parades, picnics,  fireworks, and all the usual Fourth of July activities.  It is appropriate at this time to take a look at our founding documents.

When I went to school, back when we studied real educational subjects, such as history, we were obliged to memorize the Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. One phrase from the second paragraph in the Preamble comes easily to mind, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

While the idea of a Creator has lost favor with quite a few Americans, many still cling to the idea that we are guaranteed EQUALITY and HAPPINESS by this document.

I think it is important to clarify: we are created equally worthy by God, but our government can only guarantee equality of opportunity under our laws. It is not possible to legislate equal circumstances or abilities. Pursuit of happiness is to remain unfettered, but the outcome cannot be guaranteed.

People are born with widely different physical and mental abilities in a multitude of circumstances. This is a fact which doesn’t come under the purview of government regulation. Politicians who attempt to create equality in these areas are doomed to failure and frustration.

Perhaps it is time for all citizens to accept the unchangeable facts of life, accept our innate differences, and take responsibility for our own pursuit of happiness, within the boundaries of our individual circumstances.

God gives us Life, the government promises Liberty, but the pursuit of Happiness is up to us.

Have a blessed Fourth!

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Brothers and sisters, let us cast a spell…

Brothers and Sisters, Let Us Cast a SpellNon-believers frequently refer to religion as mere superstition, an attempt by lesser mortals to attempt to explain and control a random and capricious universe. Setting aside the condescension and blasphemy inherent in that view, I have to admit that, like most people, I have a streak of superstition.

The success of the Harry Potter books demonstrates how attractive magical thinking is to most of us and this tendency can sometimes influence our attitude toward God and prayer.

When reciting a “ritual” prayer, I sometimes wonder if I am I praying from my heart or merely trying to manipulate God with special “magical” words.

In my personal prayer life I like to use the Disciple’s Prayer as a pattern; acknowledging God as my Father, seeking His will, asking for provision and forgiveness, etc.  Using a pattern while tailoring it to my unique concerns and situations keeps my prayers from becoming rote recitations.

However, since my life is fairly consistent, my pattern prayer has become almost a ritual in itself. The other night when I fell into bed, exhausted from a trying day, and merely mumbled a hurried, “Thank you, Lord, your will be done,” I felt strangely uneasy. I worried that by not mentioning the usual people and issues, at the usual time and in the usual way, I was somehow exposing them to harm by failing to cover them with my prayer. I was mistaking the power of my praying words for the omnipotence of the One to whom I prayed.

We are admonished to pray without ceasing, of course, but that is not because God will forget about us if we fail to nag Him. At least as I see it, unceasing prayer is an attitude of mind where one communicates with the Lord constantly, acknowledging His presence and awareness of our every thought and feeling; it’s a communing spirit.

Memorized prayers can help us to feel closer to God and get the conversation going when our own words fail us, but if we begin to feel the power of prayer comes from us or the words we say, we have moved away from God and His infinite power and love.

In the turmoil of today, sharing our concerns with our Heavenly Father gives us peace of mind and strengthens our confidence that God knows what is going on. He will take care of everything in His way and in His time.

[Original version posted June 2010]

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Speaking in tongues

Many Christian churches celebrated Pentecost last Sunday, commemorating the day the Holy Spirit was poured out on Christ’s disciples as recorded in the Book of Acts, chapter 2: On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.

pentecostThere were Jews from many different countries who spoke a variety of languages and all understood the disciples in their own tongue.

As a result of this miraculous event, there is disagreement among the various Christian denominations as to how we are to understand the spiritual gift of tongues. While I’m not comfortable with those who aver that one must speak in tongues in order to validate their salvation, I agree that the words we speak can certainly be an indication of the state of our sanctification. As it says in James, chapter three, if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body.

Mature, spirit-filled Christians demonstrate maturity by controlling what they say and how they say it. Today, that also includes what we share on social media; especially how we comment on posts with which we may disagree, either politically or theologically.

Christians may continue to disagree about the meaning and necessity of speaking in tongues, but we all agree about one thing: the world will know we are Christians by our love and that includes our words.

 

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One in Christ

Diversity, multiculturalism, racism, sexism, white privilege, black power, Islamophobia

What comes to mind, what feelings are aroused, when reading those words?

diversity2In light of the current prominence of these concepts in our society, many of our Christian ministries are making an effort to become more sensitive to minority cultures and viewpoints. Unfortunately, in the process, many minority members within our ministries are becoming hyper-sensitive to perceived slights. This well-intentioned consciousness-raising is resulting in a deepening of feelings of separation within many ministries.

Now, consider these words from Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

blog text boxHow, then, are we to consider one another within the Body of Christ? If we truly believe we have been made new and we are One in Christ, then we must give up our preconceptions about those with different heritage and background and see them only as brothers and sisters in Christ. This applies to majorities and minorities equally. It means we gladly set aside what we feel is our right to take offense for unintentional slights from our Christian brothers or sisters, not only on matters of race and culture, but on the day-to-day life of the church.

No one grows up without absorbing some bias, prejudice, or stereotypes. No matter how divisive these differences in outlook become in the world, they must melt away within the Body of Christ; they have no place within the Christian Church.

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Never forget

memorial-day-clipart-memorial-day-clip-art-2014-2Memorial Weekend is a time set aside to remember those men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is a time for flag flying, camping, picnics, barbecues, and family celebrations; all the while remembering the ones who died to preserve these happy gatherings.

Memorials and days of remembrance were set down in the Bible, both old and new testaments, because God knows what short attention spans His creatures have. He knows we need frequent reminders of who He is, what He has done for us, and what He expects of us while we remain in this world.

As you gather with your family and friends this weekend, whether at a social gathering or a Memorial service, along with honoring our military heroes spend a few moments honoring the One who created them and us, and who has a plan for every one of His children. A plan for our good and His glory.

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Whatsoever is true…

Doctors don’t want you to know this bombshell technique celebrities use to lose belly fat and wipe out wrinkles with only these two simple ingredients!”clickbait

Every day we are bombarded with click bait, fake news, misinformation, unfounded accusations, innuendo, and spin confusing us and muddling our thoughts. What are we to do? We might be tempted to simply believe whatever agrees with our own biases and ignore anything which challenges them, as many people do, but this leads to ignorance and complacency.

Fortunately, Christians have a simple solution for cutting through the clouds of maliciousness and falsehood swirling around us: God’s truth, the Bible.

As the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Whatever we hear or read should be sifted through this filter, with the additional knowledge that
the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17-18 NIV) 

We should also take into account the source. What sorts of fruits are being produced by the person or organization making the claims being promoted?

 As always, God has given us all the tools we need to discern truth.

Still confused?  Take advantage of this bombshell secret the devil doesn’t want you to know:

PRAY FOR WISDOM
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Special Thanks (and a little shameless self-promotion)

As many of you know, I write fiction as J.B. Hawker.

My latest release, Mrs. Thistlethwaite and the Magpie came out this week.

I want to make my faithful readers aware that this well-reviewed book may be downloaded from Amazon FREE this week only (May 16-20).

If you enjoy wholesome fiction, please click on the download button to get your copy with my thanks.

AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT!!
I’ve been a fan of J.B. Hawker’s fantastic writing for sometime. This book is outstanding!! Her ability to use elderly characters – Matilda Thistlewaite and Slim Bottoms – is brilliant!! These characters (as well as all the other characters) are painted so vividly that you feel as though you would recognize them if you met them in your local churchKindle Cover, grocery store, or neighborhood. The story is set in a small town and reflects the devastation and fear brought by the disappearance of a young teenaged girl and the evidence of the return of a serial killer. The author seamlessly weaves the story and has you wanting to read the entire book in one sitting. It’s about friendships, families, First Responders, and the criminal element. There are a myriad of surprises scattered all throughout this book. Read it. You’ll be so glad you did!! ”

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Fans of Miss Seeton and Mrs. Pollifax will welcome the indomitable Mrs. Thistlethwaite. Like these beloved, mature characters, at the ripe old age of eighty-five Mrs. T. is ready for whatever comes her way.

When a beautiful and talented teenage ballet student disappears, rumors fly in the charming village of Tillamook, Oregon. Did she run away to the big city, or is she the latest victim of the notorious serial killer preying upon lonely young women along the coastal highways?

Beguiling octogenarian, retired school teacher, Tillie Thistlethwaite, applies her exceptionally sharp mental skills and no-nonsense practicality to the mystery. Petite Mrs. T. and her tall gentleman friend, Slim, reject both theories and launch their own investigation. Will the amateur sleuthing of this unlikely and adorable pair succeed where the police fail, or will they fall victim to foul play?

——

For those who prefer a paperback book, you can buy a print copy at a 50% discount by following this LINK and using discount code  6FYNHJWE  at checkout.

NOTE: This discount is not effective from the regular Amazon site.

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Big Brother is watching, and so is the Father

poster_1984_lrgIn George Orwell’s classic science fiction novel 1984, he depicts a society where Big Brother, the government’s all-seeing eye, is watching citizens for even the slightest infraction against the powers that be. When it was first published, many critics scoffed at such a scenario, but today we are becoming accustomed to having our every movement recorded via traffic cams, security cameras, and even cell phones.  We hear warnings about the ability of our interactive devices, computers, and televisions to monitor our words and activities without our knowledge.  Thinking about this situation makes most of us uneasy at the loss of privacy, but it is obvious from the recent social media postings of horrific criminal acts, that not everyone feels the need to respond to this constant observation by living a blameless life.

This is similar to Christians ignoring the Bible’s teaching of God’s omniscience and failing to curb our sinful impulses. We know we are being observed 24/7 and even our thoughts are exposed to God’s all-knowing, all-seeing eye. Yet, we still think we can hide our secret sins.

Many who can quote Psalm 139 from memory still ignore the portent of these words, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

Although constant surveillance is uncomfortable; law-abiding citizens of a benign government have nothing to fear. There is no government more benign than God’s Kingdom ruled by the love of our Lord.  Rather than trying to hide our missteps from Him, we should rely on His watchful love and care to keep us from temptation.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

 

 

 

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