Tag Archives: faith

COEXIST is Not for Me!

Patrick Denker (CC)

Patrick Denker (CC)

Patrick Denker (CC)


You’ve probably seen it on bumper stickers or maybe even on a sign recently held around town at a protest rally. But really, it’s not for me, I’m not allowed. That’s right. There are people who want us to COEXIST. They want everyone to get along, but only on their terms. They want everyone to accept each other’s differences, but only within their guidelines. And, apparently, I don’t fit.

I’m not speaking simply from observation, but from personal experience. According to the COEXIST Foundation, they are a non-profit organization creating understanding across divides. Does “understanding” mean forced acceptance? According to most who say they believe in the COEXIST movement this seems to be the case.

For me coexist means that you are allowed to worship your god and I am allowed to worship my God. Neither has to hide in a closet or behind closed doors. It means that you may not understand my beliefs but you allow me to believe them and practice them as my faith requires me to.

COEXISTers will picket and protest and ask that certain religious groups (Christians) refrain from calling abortion murder. Why? It’s what the Bible teaches us. Shouldn’t we be allowed to speak what God teaches? Wouldn’t that be COEXISTing?

COEXISTers will picket and protest and ask that certain religious groups (Christians) refrain from calling the gay or lesbian lifestyle sin even though that’s what the Bible teaches us.

COEXISTers will picket and protest and ask that certain religious groups (Christians) refrain from teaching our kids to abstain from sex before marriage even though it’s what the Bible teaches us.

So, basically, the COEXISTers want us to COEXIST with them but without our “Owner’s Manual”.

As Christians, the Bible is our “Owner’s Manual” with instructions on how we are to live our lives.

The COEXIST Foundation website asks…

“What is it that makes Coexist distinctive among others working to promote better understanding between faiths?”

The problem with this question is that it sounds good, but it doesn’t reflect what’s happening. There were major “rifts” between the COEXIST people and the mainstream Christian and Mormon churches over California’s Prop 8. However, if the goal is to understand then why would they not simply accept that these two groups understood the Bible to say that the sacrament of marriage is between a man and a woman as stated by God?

When the COEXIST people verbally ridicule others for what they believe doesn’t that go against their basic tenants? Are they really trying to understand, I think NOT!

The website goes on to state, “while we recognize and celebrate the many connections between the Abrahamic faiths, we also acknowledge their differences and distinctiveness. We believe we learn more about ourselves and our own traditions by looking respectfully at others’. So Coexist is not just about good relations: it is also about exploring our own convictions and beliefs.”

WOW! Another great statement. But it doesn’t match. Their actions show they are not willing to allow us to live out what we believe. Many who ascribe to the COEXIST philosophy have written nasty things about those of us who live by and adhere to our Biblical principles. If I speak out (not in hate, always in love) about things against God’s word that they may not agree with, they will call me a hater.

Take gay marriage for example. The mainstream Episcopalian church believes in same sex marriage. Mainstream Christian churches believe that God has called us to marry, have children, and repopulate the earth. It’s hard to do this from a same sex position. Yet instead of tolerating that viewpoint, they call us ignorant haters. This does not sound like a group that wants to coexist.

My biggest issue with many on the COEXIST side is that they are quick to let those of us who want to hold strong to our Christian beliefs just how wrong we are. They actively seek us out to picket and write opinion pieces about how they are for equality for all.

But that isn’t really the truth either. Have they ever fought for the Christian kids to have a right to include the name of Jesus in a campus speech? Have they ever fought for the Christian kids to be able to promote their faith on campus through clubs and activities? Do they fight for the any kids to support the rights of the unborn on campus? The answer is “no” to all of the above. But wouldn’t that be “equality for all”?

From what I’ve observed, COEXIST is exclusively for them, but it’s NO-EXIST for us.

If you want equality it goes both ways and applies to everyone.

Christianity, the Roman Empire & Israel’s Place in It

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A vantage point for inquiring minds and those who’ve lived faith shy of geographical or historical context. Biblical maps are enlightening for tethering us to what was and what is and understanding how small our world has become, bringing Israel and the Middle East today into sharper focus.Jesus Knocking

The rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire caused people to start questioning what they thought they knew. By 392 A.D. it was the official religion of the region. As it spread across the Mediterranaen, Christianity connected with larger themes in Roman history.

Reading Historical Dates

Without going into all of the science, emporer and political changes to calendars over time – and there were a lot of them – this keeps understanding date abbreviations simple. For more information see the “More Reading” resources below:

There is no Year 0.

There is no difference between “A.D.” & “CE.” They are the same.

There is no difference between “B.C.” & “BCE.” They are the same.

B.C. – means ‘Before Christ’ and starts with Year 1

A.D.– means ‘Anno Domini’ or ‘Year of our Lord.’ This is the year of Christ’s birth and also starts with Year 1. (Commonly referred to as ‘After Death,’ obviously not correct.)

CE – a more recent term meaning ‘Common Era,’ used in place of A.D.

BCE – a more recent term meaning ‘Before Common Era,’ used in place of B.C.

Jesus in Judae (Israel) & the Roman Empire

It’s widely accepted that Jesus Christ was born 4-6 B.C., two years before the death of the Roman Empire’s Herod the Great. Scientific calculations suggest Christ was born in the month of September or October.

Christianity began in Judea about 2,000 years ago with the birth and teachings of Jesus and the disciples who followed Him. Judea was a cultural hub of cities and farms. Click the map to view the area in what we now know as current day Israel.

When Jesus taught the “new covenant” (New Testament) in Judea, Rome was under its first emperor rule. Jesus is known by Christians as the Son of God and of Man, conceived by God by immaculate conception with the virgin Mary, who married Joseph.idol worship3

The Jews hated Roman rule because it was a pagan reminder of their historical oppression and it violated their faith under the Torah* (Old Testament). The Romans worshiped a number of gods and superficial idols they‘d built to those gods. That was in direct conflict with the Jewish faith, which recognized the one and only God of the Bible.

*”Torah” refers to the Five [Biblical] Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But the word “torah” can also be used to refer to the entire Jewish bible (the body of scripture known to non-Jews as the Old Testament and to Jews as the Tanakh or Written Torah), or in its broadest sense, to the whole body of Jewish law and teachings.

The start of Christianity is recorded in accounts of the New Testament but its history began with Old Testament prophecy. There are over 300 predictions of the coming of a Jewish Messiah that are recorded in the Old Testament, spanning more than 1000 years.

Click this map to see the Jews’ exodus from Egypt through the Wilderness and into Cannan (current day Israel), their Promised Land.

Some Jews saw conforming to the Roman Empire as their only hope. Others became religious zealots developing warlike guerilla resistances against Rome. Still others withdrew into the Judean wilderness to study Jewish law and wait for the coming of their Messiah, or savior, as promised in the Old Testament.

Isa 7:14 [OT] Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Immanuel means “God with us”. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, had come to dwell with, or tabernacle on earth with, His people.

John 1:14 [NT] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.

Jesus was a Jew. He observed Jewish faith and was well studied in its law. Said to be a carpenter by trade (though that is questioned today), by His early thirties Jesus traveled between villages teaching in synagogues, healing people and performing miracles. His news traveled swiftly. From a young age He challenged religious leaders to repent from their self-righteous and hypocritical ways and to realize that the Kingdom of God is rooted in service and love.

Jesus taught during the Roman rule of Augustus, their first emperor from 27 B.C. through 14 A.D. He urged purification of the Jewish religion with a moral code of love, charity and humility. Christ’s teachings stirred the hearts of people and His healings grew in influence and ever-increasingly high demand as word of His message and acts spread.

These things and Jesus’ growing popularity because of them created an instability that Jewish authorities feared. The disciples were faithful men who followed Him and Jesus taught them about the “new covenant” that God was bringing to humanity, because men had fallen into so much sin they’d lost the personal relationship with God that they had in Old Testament days.

Jesus was crucified on a cross about 30 A.D., believed to be in Golgotha or “The place of a skull” just outside of Jerusalem. His followers believe he rose three days later, proving that He was the Son of God. The Christian faith, unlike any other religion, hinges on historical events. An example can be seen in the eye-witness accounts evidenced by Paul in I Corinthians 15:3-6.

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”

Manuscript studies point to this scripture being written within a few years after Christ’s death. Paul, born Greek, ends this passage with “most of whom are still living,” inviting people to confirm the facts for themselves. He wouldn’t have if he was trying to perpetrate a myth or fraud. It is the historical validity that gives Christians their belief and a genuine and eternal hope.

Roman Mythology & Christianity

Before the coming of Christ and Christianity the Roman Empire was “embroiled in myth,” having archeological traces of early settlements dating back to 750 B.C. The myths were based on both fiction and history in stories passed down through the ages.

Roman mythology was an emphatic state religion consisting of rituals and ceremonies. Their myths were more practical than the Greek’s but they adopted most of the Greek deities.

Every Roman god served a purpose and had an office to fill. There were “divisions of labor” between them, some presiding over births; some over bakers and some over the bakers’ ovens. Every vocation and household function had presiding gods and goddesses. This picture depicts a god tending to the wound of a solider with a Greek goddess looking on.

The rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire caused people to start questioning what they thought they knew. By 392 A.D., Christianity was the official religion. As Chrsitianity spread it connected with larger themes in Roman history.

Christianity comforted social grievances in an empire marked by inequality and among the poor. Slaves, dispossessed farmers and impoverished city dwellers found hope in a religion that encouraged a goodness of morals and after-life rewards for living morally.

The Christian faith also answered cultural needs that Roman values, which stressed political goals and ethics about living in the world, did not. It brought political benefits to the Romans as their empire grew and consolidated, as well. The new faith was seen as universal, open to all, whether people followed the Jewish faith or not.

Click to enlarge this map showing the growth of the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean area; and Israel’s place within it (boxed).

Belief in Jesus spread among Jewish communities in the Middle East, the Roman Empire and beyond. When His disciples realized that Jesus was not returning to earth to set up the Kingdom of God, they fanned out to spread the news, particularly around the eastern Mediterranean area.

The predominant language of the day was Greek. Paul’s Greco-Roman culture helped to explain Christian beliefs in Greece and in Italy as well as in the Middle East. Paul essentially created Christian theology as a set of intellectual principles; and some speculate that he emphasized women’s more subordinate role to men and the dangers of sexuality in the books of the New Testament.

By the 4th Century A.D. Christian writings were the only creative cultural expression of the Roman Empire. Theologians sought to explain issues brought up by the new religion; and to relate it to ethics and Greek philosophy. Just as the Roman Empire was in decline Christianity produced complex thought and elegant language, redirecting its culture and preserving its earlier literary and philosophical achievements.

Christianity goes well beyond Rome and had more to do with opening a new era of history of the Mediterranean region than in shaping the Roman Empire.

Today’s Conflicts between the Middle East and Israel & The West

In the Bible’s Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter 17, God promised Abraham that he would become “the father of many nations.” Many today aren’t familiar with the divisions hinged on that promise.

abraham sarah hagarAbraham’s wife, Sarah, could not bear children so she gave to her husband her Egyptian maiden, Hagar. Hagar birthed Abraham’s son, Ishmael. Many years later Sarah gave Abraham a son named Isaac (described in the scripture below).

When dissention in the houshold grew, Hagar returned with her son to her homeland of Egpyt. By then Abraham and Sarah had located to Cannan (Israel), where they remained. Today Sarah’s descendants are Christian and Hagar’s are Muslim. Indeed Abraham was “the father of many nations.”

Genesis 17 (OT, KJV excerpted): And when Abram was ninety years old and nine the LORD appeared and said, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect and I will make my covenant between me and thee and will multiply thee exceedingly and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee and I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

 abraham sarah isaacAnd he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house [and] which is not of thy seed. And God said unto Abraham, as for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.

And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him.

Coming: What was Constantine the Great’s role in Christianity?

“From the time of Constantine onward, the worship of the Roman Catholic Church, in its forms and ceremonies, has been more clearly identified with the paganism of Ancient Rome, than with the religion of the New Testament. The customs of pagan religion were only baptized with Christian names.”

-Paganism Surviving in Christianity By Abram Herbert Lewis “The Control of Christianity by the State Under Constantine and his Successors,” Chapter X; pg. 210
 

More Reading:

Wise Geek, Bible Time, Got Questions, History of Religion, Judaism 101:Torah, BibleLight, Greek & Roman Religion, History of Christianity, Romans Empire, Cynric

Latino Vote: Families, Children, Faith

Eduardo_Verastegui

Latino actor Eduardo Verastegui star of telenovelas and the movie Bella is a pro-life advocate. He has released several videos denouncing the pro-choice message of  President Obama.

Verastegui has released a new video reminding Latinos of their guiding principles to families and faith. Please visit the website to watch it: Urgent Message For Latinos.

It’s time to stand for our principles. Vote for the candidate who also believes in families, children and faith.

Please share this with your Latino and Hispanic friends. And be a friend. Offer a ride to the polls Tuesday.

A New Moral Majority? Calling ALL People of Faith

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 1

When John F Kennedy ran for president there were many who questioned whether a Catholic should be president. Would his presidency give the Pope a direct line to the country’s administration?

Kennedy addressed the question reminding Americans “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish…” “…where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

Today some look at Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion and ask if his beliefs will negatively impact the country. When asked about his faith in a recent CNN  interview Romney replied:  I am often asked about my faith and my beliefs about Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.

Is Romney a Better Choice for Christians?

It is expected that this will be a close election. Because of the impact on religion including the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); the value issues, including sanctity of life, marriage and religious freedom; and concern a the rise in secularization of society groups who might otherwise stay out of the fray are speaking up.

They have looked at the issue and the candidates.  Many specific religions are not recommending one candidate but are instead reminding people to look at what the candidate stands for.

Do you know someone of faith still on the fence? Perhaps they would feel better knowing that many faithful have found the best choice.

This week Reverend Billy Graham published an advertisement aimed at his Christian followers. You can read about it here. He wants voters to at the state of the country and vote their Biblical principles.  Son, Rev. Franklin Graham, offered an opinion on whether Christians could vote for a Mormon.

We are at a profound crossroads. Our secularized society has shaken its fist in God’s face and rejected His very name. Like Joseph and Daniel, we must not compromise when government clashes with the worship of God. We must not silence our voices to God’s law. We must use our influence to elect those who will govern with respect for the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman; the sanctity of life; and yes, the protection of God’s beloved nation Israel. We must not cast votes for officials—whether candidates of the Democratic, Republican, or Tea Party, or of a religious persuasion—that are against these principles of God. We have, in the past, elected Christians who have defied some of these very principles.

We need something like what Jerry Falwell did in the 1980s. We need a “moral majority”—made up of Christians, Jews, Mormons, Catholics and many others of faith—to come together to take a stand for our religious freedoms and rights.

In recent days, President Clinton said that President Obama “has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up.” But God-fearing Americans have no desire to see America rebuilt—but rather restored. To “rebuild it” would be to create a new nation without God or perhaps under many gods. This was never the intent of those who shed their blood for the freedom to worship as “one nation under God.”

I pray that all Christians and God-fearing Americans will put aside labels and vote for principles—God’s principles—that for many years have resulted in His blessing upon our nation.

So, can a Christian vote for a Mormon? The answer is yes.

Catholics, while not endorsing one candidate are asking their members to vote their values as seen in this powerful video.


Dr. Alveda King, Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece, wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Times promoting black Christian voters vote for moral values and the candidate who work to improve the black community.

This time, in 2012, I beg my brothers and sisters in the black community to look past color and vote for God’s values, not those of a particular political party.

I was in an African-American church in Virginia earlier this month, and afterward many people came up to me with tears in their eyes. Regarding the 2008 election, they said, “I just didn’t know what to do; I just didn’t know. But now you say there are other people on the ballot, like state and local levels. There are referendums and constitutional issues. If I can’t vote for any candidate in the presidential slot, at least I can write someone in.”

Don’t ever say I’m going to vote for the lesser of two evils. No, we can’t think that way. We are not voting for evil. We are voting for the best candidates possible.

Early on in Mr. Obama’s campaign, people came to find out that I opposed his agenda, and I took criticism from friends and family and even other pastors. They thought the black community would be influential in the Obama administration. Besides, we all would be praying for him. While I don’t doubt the power of prayer, Mr. Obama has done very little, if anything, to help the black community. In fact, he has turned his back on the very values that are the moral backbone of the black community.

 

A diverse group of Christian leaders penned an open letter last month praising the social policies found within the Republican Platform of Mitt Romney.

 The letter also focuses on the moral principles in the Republican platform, which are “squarely within the Judeo-Christian tradition” and are “at stake in today’s society.”

Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, are thanked for running on a platform which is a “political compass” in the “confusing moral thickets of our day.”

The signers encourage support for Romney even though there may be “differences in a candidate’s theological doctrine.” This is despite the fact that “some have tempered their enthusiasm” for the Mormon candidate. Government policy is the issue, the letter says, not theology.

A well-known Evangelical pastor Bishop Harry Jackson created two videos; in the first, he lists four reasons he will support Mitt Romney and in the second, four reasons he will not support Barack Obama.

These are challenging times and for many a challenging decision. My own favorite pastor put it succinctly:

I think this [issue] is one of the reasons why many Christians struggle with this year’s election.  Fortunately, we’re not electing a pastor but a president.  I’m really praying for a change and I hope one more week is enough time to reach enough people to capture a victory.

Vote November 6.

 

 

Faith and Freedom

faith_and_freedom

The official music video of John Schlitt,  former lead singer of Petra.

“Faith & Freedom” from his 2012 release “The Greater Cause.”

“We gotta rise up
We gotta stay strong
‘Cause everything’s on the line”

Courageous! The Movie

I am not one for going to the movie theater, preferring instead to watch movies from the comfort of my own couch. It just makes logical sense to me. It does not cost a drop in the bucket what the cost of going to a movie theater costs these days. I can have all the snacks I want at a mere fraction of the cost, and most importantly, I can actually pause the movie and go to the powder room when necessary!

I’m sure it came as quite a surprise to my husband when he received an email from me telling him that I wanted to go see this movie! I knew we had an upcoming trip out of town, away from the kids, and knowing how much he loves going to the movie theater, I thought this would be a great surprise for him to have me actually say I want to go to a movie theater.

I had seen the preview several times, but did not read any movie reviews. I have found that so often, the movies I like are given bad reviews by other reviewers. Knowing this movie is a wholesome movie made me stay away from reviews even more.

I have visited the main page of the website, but did not want to go any deeper until after I saw the movie. Needless to say, I was completely surprised by the entire plot.

This is just a blurb from the actual synopsis of the Courageous website:

From the writers of Fireproof and Facing the Giants comes a story about four law enforcement officers whose lives are deeply tested as they embrace their calling to serve and to protect. As crime fighters, they must face danger every day. Yet when tragedy hits close to home, they are left wrestling with their hopes, their faith, and their priorities as men. 

Four men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they face danger every day. Yet when tragedy strikes close to home, these fathers are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, and their faith. From this struggle will come a decision that changes all of their lives. With action, drama, and humor, the fourth film from Sherwood Pictures embraces God’s promise to "turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers." Souls will be stirred, and hearts will be challenged to be … courageous!

Having seen all of the movies that have been produced by Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia, I thought I knew what to expect. A heart-felt movie that dealt with real life, but not with quite the same depth and reality as Hollywood. This movie provides very little distinction between the production quality of professionals and those who are called by God for the purpose of bringing Him glory in their movies. That is- with the major exception of the foul language that seems to be a "necessity" in every Hollywood movie.

Please do not get me wrong- unfortunately, I have grown accustomed to the harsh language that peppers our world today, and in fact, at times have been known to speak in a way not so becoming of a lady. Sadly, I’ve grown so accustomed to this reality that there are very few times I’m actually phased by foul language. However, in many movies that come out of Hollywood today, it’s as if they just stuck a four-letter word here and there to seem cool and acceptable to their audience. 

There were times in this movie that I was literally hanging on to the edge of my seat, anticipating what was coming next! There was a moment of actual fear, as I became so lost in the story that it was almost reality for me. There were times I laughed. And there were many times I cried. It hit home for me because of past experiences in my life.

I was not aware of the fact that the movie deals with the tragic death of a loved one. The raw emotion portrayed by the family members who lost their loved one struck a cord in me that cannot be explained. Only those who have lost a loved one in a horrible tragedy know that raw emotion. Only those who have clung to the hem of His garment in the aftermath of the tragic death can know exactly what I’m talking about.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this movie! Support a Christian movie that has a lot to offer- entertainment, wisdom, knowledge, strength, comfort, laughter, tears, action, romance, and challenges. I specifically challenge any man who is a father to go see this movie. It very well could change your life, and how you view the calling on your life.

While it is a very well made movie, technically, in my opinion, it is a movie made from the talents and gifts of many every day, ordinary people. It is not a movie made by the Hollywood stars and starlets who see millions of dollars per movie. The real-life quaintness was refreshing to me.

If you go to the movies to critique the camera angles, lighting and video technique, this may not be the movie for you. However, I still recommend it to you. I simply challenge you look through the eyes of your heart rather than the eyes of the technical critic in you. 

".. honor begins at home."

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  
Joshua 1:9