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Perseverance Over Opposition

Opposition is expected from the enemy. Sword of Truth -- be ready!

Opposition is expected from the enemy. Sword of Truth — be ready!

At this time in our world the daily news reports are predominantly more bad news than good. The disregard for fellow human beings has superseded even basic consideration of others and “loving others as yourself”. In secular society the “Golden Rule” seemingly has been replaced with “MY way or the highway.”

It is terribly sad, but what if I told you… it’s NOT surprising.

Why is it that people (who endeavor to live ethically, morally as Christ did), are “shocked” when people who have not yet acknowledged God and His Sovereign Lordship? They do not fear God’s promise of just punishment for every sinful thought, word and deed. Why is it so shocking that the unprincipled people would live unrighteously?

That’s right, God has revealed in His Word and through recorded events throughout history, the curse of sin that plagues our world since the Fall continues to degrade our societies into not-so-civil civilizations. That same “cause” is at work today! The blame does not fall on guns, knives, drugs, or terroristic gangs of people. The root of our problem is SIN. That is truly something that we ALL share; each and every one of us cannot help but commit sin in our natural life. Transgressions are unavoidable. What we do about them is the decision that will either bring us everlasting peace or continuing turmoil.

I have not only heard growing severity and numbers of reports from other people about the encroachment of evil opposition into their daily lives,  but lately I have experienced personal attacks that leave me shaking my head in disbelief at what I am witnessing first-hand.

Given recent developments, I even more appreciate the wisdom of the leadership and pastors at our church in selecting the current series of messages in the Bible’s book of Nehemiah and Ezra which focus on our need to think differently about our mission in reaching a lost world with the message of salvation which is for all mankind… the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God does punish sin, but He SAVES sinners that genuinely seek His righteousness. Get that? It is Jesus’ righteousness (we could NEVER accomplish it on our own), but it is offered to ANYONE who will believe. How awesome is that!

.Today’s message was delivered by Curt Tyra and was entitled “Advancing God’s Work in an Antagonistic World”. He covered both chapters three and four of the book of Nehemiah in the Bible’s Old Testament.

Nehemiah Chapter Three — EVERY INDIVIDUAL MATTERS.

Did you ever notice how many times there are all these near unpronounceable names in the Old Testament? Why not just say “a bunch of people got together and this is what they did”?  I had thought it was because by recording actual names and lineages, individuals could be identified by their neighbors of the time and also be researched throughout history. Their individual testimonies and actions could be studied, challenged, and/or verified. Their witness mattered more because they were “named” individuals.

Curt stressed, “Names Matter: Individuals Matter!” There are individuals who were used by God and their participation mattered. Look at that participation:

  • Individuals of all kinds of people: one task, yet various skill sets, ages, societal status
  • Corporately working together: the phrase “next to him” pointed out the teamwork of the project and that they were a bunch of individuals that were “all in it together”.
    • Communication is VITAL. Whether it is a white picket fence or a stone wall we NEED to know the plan and be working together toward the same end.
  • Enthusiastic participation – they “set to work”. Didn’t just talk about it… they rolled up their sleeves and got things done.
  • Not always unanimous – even amongst their ranks, people didn’t always agree. The nobles would NOT stoop to chip in; they would not humble themselves to do the work of the Lord.
    • NOTE: The people did not stop progressing forward. They didn’t say “if they don’t work, then neither will I”. They persevered and continues the work!

Nehemiah Chapter Four — Persevering Over Opposition

The Enemy has a predictable and often repeatable pattern in of opposing us when we are working God’s plan.

  • ANGER – (4:1,7) as long as we are just talking about what we want to do, the enemy leaves us alone, but the moment we actually move into action the enemy unleashes his anger toward us. Being sucked into a battle of emotions (very primal, fleshly, “natural”) could stop progress.
  • JEERING – (4:1-3) the enemies anger will quickly turn into jeering and taunting. This is designed to cast doubt on our own contributions to the good mission. The Enemy says “who do you think YOU are? You CAN’T do that?!”

When neither the enemy’s anger nor taunting stopped their work, he involved others in his plan to thwart the mission…

  • PLOTTING — (4:8) How evil can someone get? Intentionally lying and acting in such ways as to do harm to others is bad enough, but to enlist the support of others via misleading them is especially heinous. As we get serious about actually doing the work of God, the enemy will gather others together to conspire and plot and CAUSE CONFUSION.
    • NOTE: remember that God is not a God of confusion… that is Enemy territory. That is the direct result of what happens when one does contrary to God’s sovereignty and best for us.
  • THREATS — (4:11)  Personal threats are a drastic attempt at the enemy to stop us from doing what we know to be right. The Enemy likes to use FEAR along with his lies to try to deter us from getting the job done. God’s Word says “Perfect Love casts out fear”… Jesus is that perfect love. As children of God, ours is not a spirit of fear. Rather, we have been given all we need to overcome; “victory in Jesus”.

OUR RESPONSE TO OPPOSITION: “The people of God persevere in the work of God for the glory of God.”

  • PRAY — (4:4, 5, 9) Look at Nehemiah’s prayer to God: “Hear, O our God, how we are despised! Return their reproach on their own heads and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not forgive their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have demoralized the builders.”  Prayers of confessing our dependence upon God and that we may have His perspective. Not a call for personal vengeance, but for God’s perfect plan. Things like Jesus’ model prayer for us “THY kingdom come”.
  • REMEMBER — WHO God is. Is. 46:9 “I AM God and there is no other.” God is ours and we are His. No enemy is greater than He. “If God be for us, who can stand against us.?” The fear intended by the enemy can be overcome when we remember that GOD is in control, especially when we are feeling so “out of control”
  • PLAN — (4:13, 16-22) There were NOT unaware of the enemy’s scheme and plan accordingly. They continued the work by working together to protect AND work… a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other.

The opposition came when they went to work (not just talk about it) in the midst of coming together and building the wall, the enemy’s opposition came quickly and it came fiercely!  His intent was to tear down that which was being built and to confuse and demoralize the workers BUT …

“The people of God persevere in the work of God for the glory of God.”

and they did so with prayer, remembrance, a plan and by each individual ACTING, and doing so in the unified spirit of building.

See Ephesians 6:10 > regarding our need to put on the FULL ARMOR of GOD.

 

For Understanding: Classification versus Stereotyping

label tagI want to be clear… stereotyping of groups of people in such a way as to imply that “ALL of the group ARE this” is commonly seen as wrong. After all, every individual is their own person and no group of people are ALL the same… groups are made up of individuals.

For the sake of order and efficiency in our lives we do tend to catagorize things and classify people into generalized groups based on some kind of common trait. Inside those groups there may be subdivisions within that classification and maybe subsets of those. There may be such great difference discovered that an entirely different group is created. Labelling is an ongoing process as we learn more and maybe even redefine our criteria for a group.

Like many people, I order, categorize and label to quickly identify and efficiently use my time. I also use them for gaining quicker understanding. My groups or labels or terms may not necessarily agree with someone else’s who may have a different understanding or judgment of where something fits.

Since I have spent a good deal of time lately in conversation with a number of people who do not think the same way I do (in fact some in direct opposition to as I do) I thought this would be a good time to lay down a basis of better understanding.

THIS is what I mean when I use these terms: #Atheist (they call themselves this -no God)  #Angry or #Mad (predominantly displays anger, bitterness and criticism of others) #God-hater (displays hatefulness toward God, Jesus, Bible, and Christians) These terms defined by the everyday common understanding of the words: #Illogical or #Unreasonable (not following logic, reason) #Lie (not #True, contrary to the truth, facts, or nature of something) #Wrong (may be #mistaken, but definitely not #right which I use God’s ultimate standard as well as general humane definitions) #Bible (The Word of God, originated by God and recorded by divinely chosen men for benefit of mankind’s understanding God, truth, love, wisdom and how to live good and upright lives), #God (God as revealed in the #Bible, God of Abraham,Isaac & Jacob, Yahweh, “I Am,” Alpha & Omega, Everlasting Father, Almighty, Sovereign, Eternal, Omniscient, Creator of the universe and all that is in it, Sovereign, Provider, Sustainer, HOLY = pure good, love, truth, righteousness).

Being a Christian I do not pretend to know all the various forms of atheism and their subtle differences. As a Christian the foundation of my faith and life is Jesus Christ, truth and love. Love God and love others as myself.  Contrary to the accusers of me on twitter, I do not judge that a person is EVIL because they believe differently than I do.  Belief is an individual choice.

However, if anyone, believer or not, shows contempt for others and lies about truth I am compelled to speak against that bad behavior. That is admonishment — confronting lies with truth, wrong doing with righteousness.

It is not an easy thing to do. It is not a fun thing to do. But it is the RIGHT and LOVING thing to do. Depending on the degree of harm being done and whether I believe the person is even receptive to or respectful of the dignity and direction of truth, I may try to speak truth that exposes the wrong in hopes that misunderstandings are corrected and bad behaviors cease. All of us make mistakes. I would hope that someone else would do the same for me.

Like the wisdom of scripture states, there are those who have hardened hearts, deaf ears and are blinded to truth and righteousness. At those times when it is clear that the perpetrator has no desire to truthfully analyze or correct, there is no point in preceding. Don’t cast pearls before swine. Leave them with their depraved mind. Kick the dust off your sandals and walk on.

LIVING A GOOD LIFE IS SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE WITH OTHERS

Like most people, I enjoy hanging out with people that do the same things I like to do or generally believe the same things I do. Our experiences shared with our family and friends are the real memory makers that we get to enjoy over and again.

However, I also have great friendships “outside of my circles” where I am getting to know people I would not have even met in a sequestered life. The most profound discoveries of new friends happens as I engage in my online excursions. Social media after all is social.

I enjoy learning of various world-views from people that are not normally in my social circles. It is quite invigorating to engage in conversations with these new friends; growing in understanding of other people and ideas that I previously didn’t know. “Come let us REASON together,” is a welcome invitation to learn from one another and examine things together.

The experiences that I have with people helps in me to understand so very much more than I did before I had the blessing of knowing them. Even those who have been unpleasant to me have taught me valuable lessons in human behavior and communication. God is so very good. He allows us to grow in truth, love and wisdom as we encounter people who do not employ them. They demonstrate for us the consequences we have been told in the Bible will befall the liars, selfish, and foolish . . .without us actually having taken that particular path ourselves. Likewise, others can learn from our shortcomings when we share them transparently. ALL of us make mistakes. ALL of us can learn from those mistakes and help one another not to repeat them. Iron sharpens iron.

In closing, I believe that labels are just labels. They are not meant to define a person. They are just one way of quickly identifying what is same or different, or to point to a place. I believe that making statements about the characteristics of a group does not mean that it always applies, all the time, to all the individuals of the group. General statements about groups of people are that . . . generally speaking . . . for the most part.

The problem that I see with those who stereo-type is that they misuse labels. They proclaim that ALL people of this certain group are ALWAYS ________ (insert their claim). THAT in my opinion is the key difference between labeling and the wrongness of stereo-typing . . . having the label defining the person places one’s judgment of a person over who that person actually may be.

What do you think about this topic? I welcome your comments.

Dawkins Memified Atheists Deliberately Alter Truth

What is a #Memified atheist? It’s a term I had come to use which describes the all too common practice of many atheists who use way too many Memes [think pictured/text message]. Not only do they use them excessively, they often use them instead of actually carrying on an original conversation.  Bullet points in a can.  Pre-fabricated blurbs. Which is really ironic when these same individuals state that the problem with theists is that they “don’t think for themselves”.

As a graphic artist I can really appreciate the value of images when communicating and getting the point across to someone else who may be more of visual than auditory learner. “A picture paints a thousand words,” is a pretty good argument for using visual depictions.

However… the great danger is seen when the deviant minded creators of Memes deliberately construct these things so they incite fear, panic, anger and even hate and present a twisted interpretation that is inaccurate, libelous, slander… LIES and DECEIT visually depicted as truth. This is NOT a case of “no harm, no foul”!  On the contrary, this is by definition flat out EVIL!  For the sake of betterment of individuals and society at large, the integrity of the message being conveyed should be true, ethical and genuinely sincere.

Which brings me to this shocker… atheist’s revered leader Richard Dawkins relays with great pride that the idea of the Meme is his “invention”. He goes on to elaborate that it is designed to be DELIBERATELY MISLEADING by INTENTIONALLY ALTERING THE TRUTH!!

Did you catch that? Well here it is from Richard Dawkins interview entitled “RICHARD DAWKINS ON THE INTERNET’S HIJACKING OF THE WORD ‘MEME’ as can be read and videos viewed at http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-06/20/richard-dawkins-memes

“Dawkins explains how an “internet meme” is a hijacking of the original idea and that instead of mutating by random change and spreading by a form of Darwinian selection, they are altered deliberately by human creativity. Unlike with genes (and Dawkins’ original meaning of “meme”), there is no attempt at accuracy of copying; internet memes are deliberately altered.”

This coincides with the way in which many of these #Memified Atheists have been behaving as well. They are victims of the very evil they concoct and spread like a virus. Infecting society with deliberate lies and deceiving the ignorant or trusting. In our Bible Belt area of the United States, it is an onslaught of a new degree of evil. Which is worse, that they fell for the lies or that they intentionally deceive others? Or is it that they have gotten so entangled in the cobweb of lies that they’ve spun that they can’t even recognize the truth anymore?

I believe that their virus spreading has fatally infected themselves. The leading symptoms being such anger and hate toward God (who IS Truth) and the Christians (who have learned that God is Truth and Satan the Father of Lies). It is readily recognizable as a form of “Madness” in both senses of the word. Emotional madness: anger, criticism, slander, delight in evil, attacking people rather than helping enlighten them or serving them any kind of useful encouragement or admonishment towards growing in intelligence and wisdom.

The madness of the mind: the inability to recognize reason and truth or follow a logical thought through to it’s conclusion. When it gets uncomfortable they just “side step” as they call it. Throwing someone else twelve questions and the impatience  seen by their rising anger and added insults and explanation points multiply. The answering person is still following the chain of thought of a second question as the angry atheist is having a cursing meltdown about “ignoring” them.

To be fair, anyone can have a “bad day” or speak uncharacteristically at a time when they are influenced by a bad mood or misunderstanding.  I invite those who enjoy learning of human/animal behavior and to watch a twitter feed of an angry atheist for only a few days. The truth of God’s Word in regard to the sinful nature of man will be displayed right before your eyes.  The shifting, impatient, insecure nature of the mad will show itself. It really is extraordinary to see just how bad some people are. . . and they delight in it?!

Praise God for His great love for us! He has given us all that we need for life and righteousness. It is the light of truth that remains unchanged and dependable — steadfast and sure.  His Word…the Bible and the Holy Spirit which helps us learn from it and apply it to our lives. For God IS Truth and Jesus Christ came into our natural world to live a period of time to testify to the Truth and lived it out so that mankind could see how it’s done.

Instead these mad atheists have so deeply imbibed of the poisons of deceit that they are cackling like the demons of hell who are drunk with the glee of contrariness and deceit for the sake of pride in rebellion. Like the troubled child that gets excited by doing exactly opposite of what he knows he should do, the little hellions eventually will eventually learn there are great consequences to choosing to do things in ways that are not the “RIGHT” way. The devious drunkards may party hearty for the night, but with the SON rise they WILL wake on their knees before the throne, to a vomiting hangover, and the realization that they have done more despicable acts and embarrassing things than they can even account for.

Unfortunately, there are some of these drunkards who will get behind the wheel of a car shouting at any caring person who expresses their concern for their state.  “Oh, no. There’s nothing wrong with me…I’m perfectly fine to drive.” “Mind your own business. You aren’t the BOSS over ME!” They don’t recognize that love is consideration of others enough to help them out of their current problems and to avoid future damage. Only problem is this denying drunkard may run headlong into another car full of family and innocent children killing them all. Or maybe they take a more desolate road and drive themselves off a cliff and plunge into a gruesome end at the bottom of a great abyss.

Those are some dark thoughts aren’t they? Yet that is precisely the kind of endings that result from the deceivers, accusers and liars who deny or abandon the truth and exchange it for a lie.

It not only doesn’t benefit themselves, but it does great harm to innocents and society as a whole.

DO YOU VALUE TRUTH enough to cherish it, seek it out, and rely upon it, share it? Do you understand that unless you are truthfully approaching any situation the lies will leave you lacking? Do you LOVE? Really Love? Enough to help others even if they curse you for the truth and love you bring to them? Jesus did that! As Christians who follow Jesus Christ, that is what we are supposed to do.

This is why TRUTH is worth “fighting for”!  Anything short of absolute truth is not the best. So in order to progress one must have truth and confront lies. Then to be loving we USE that TRUTH to live our lives and confront the lies which may be easily seen by us but which lay as a snare trap to deceive others. Watching out for our neighbors who may be unaware of the dangers of the lies is loving your neighbor as yourself.

[Please see my related post Memified Lies Expose Atheist Errors]

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