Category Archives: Current Events/Culture

Accountable for bloodshed: Turning the other cheek – Part 2

Day 5 of the Scripture challenge – final day, so I figured I’d save the most controversial for last. :) If you missed them, check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. Also, you should probably read the first part of this blog prior to continuing as well.

Before I go any further with this, we need to have a chat. I don’t give two stinks about whether or not you agree with me on any of the verses/passages I’ve written about.. If you agree with me, I don’t care. If you disagree with me, I don’t care. The only thing I care about is that you truly dig into God’s Word on your own and make a decision in light of the entirety of Scripture, the context, the language snafus going from Hebrew to English, the cultural context, etc. If you can tell me you’ve really dug into these topics and yet disagree with me wholeheartedly, then fine. That’s on your plate, and what I believe is on my plate. I’m accountable for that, and you’re accountable for what you believe. If you’re comfortable with that and okay with that and have no qualms, then more power to you. Romans 14 is where you need to direct your attention right now. Please, please please read this chapter before proceeding. We’re all at different points on the spectrum of weak and strong. While I believe that this truly is an issue that scripture is pretty black and white about (an example of one that is not black & white could be drinking or watching rated R movies – lots of context and details to think about), it does require a considerable amount of digging and wrestling through. This is one that I am continuously re-evaluating to be sure that I’m not blinded by my upbringing or something similar.

Second little tid bit I want to cover is this: Why should you believe me? What authority do I have? Well, none. I have no authority. I have no degree in bible, philosophy, theology, biblical Hebrew, biblical Greek, underwater basket-weaving, flame-throwing, or anything related. My degree is in Church Music and Worship. The only thing I can tell you is this: I’ve wrestled with this topic time and time again. I’ve looked at the entirety of Scripture, and I’ve taken into consideration the fullness of God’s character that I currently understand (this is an ever-evolving concept for me, as I am always learning about him). So with that…

Day 5 – Matthew 5:38-39

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Let’s start with a viewpoint that is all but the exact opposite of mine in a lot of ways: Read this. No really. You have to go read this. Disclaimer: If you don’t have time to read this stuff, then this isn’t the blog for you. You need to read everything I’m telling you because it matters and it’s important. Do a little work and read. Also, for the rest of this blog I will refer to gun ownership quite often, as this is the most common method of lethal force in the face of grave or immediate danger or threat to life and limb (which happens to be the definition of when a free and law-abiding citizen can legally use lethal force).

First of all, if we really want to talk about the way of Jesus not making sense, then I would encourage this guy to get off the Internet, sell his computer, sell his home, and take seriously Jesus saying that “the son of man has no place to rest his head.” If we are truly going to follow in Jesus’ footsteps the way blog author Tim Archer seems to be interpreting Scripture, then let’s bust out the For Sale signs. To push a few more buttons, how very interesting that some want to label me as unChristian for defending self-defense (even from a biblical standpoint) yet they themselves have an iPhone, a Mac, a TV, and so forth. Nevermind the fact that many companies today are exploiting overseas workers through the production of these items, but instead, please tell me how it is scriptural for you to own any of those luxuries, especially when they can be used for such terrible things. Oh, but you can control what you see on TV and what you use your iPhone to search for? I likewise can control the use of my own guns. And mine are made in the USA – legally, by adults who are paid fairly. Just sayin’.

If you are a gun owner or support the right and do so for self-defense reasons (among others, but if you shoot purely for sport and not for self-defense, then this won’t apply to you), I hope you have wrestled through the concept of self-defense. I hope that if you are both a committed disciple of Jesus and a gun owner that you have, at some point, questioned your own views. This is important. I definitely disagree with the guy for multiple reasons, but I’ll get to that. However, he’d be correct to say that Jesus didn’t fight back…at least during his crucifixion, when he was dying for the sins of the world. Jesus was not a popular guy with the government or with religious rulers – we know that much. However, the New Testament doesn’t seem to touch the self-defense issue, while the Old Testament states that it’s entirely justified (Matt. 5:18 – please keep this in mind). Was Jesus ever attacked and we don’t know it? Did he ever have to defend himself and we don’t have it recorded? Logic would say that he would have had to have fought back if his life was going to be put in immediate and grave danger, would it not? If he couldn’t flee, either he or one of the disciples would have had to have fought back! (Likely Peter, seeing as how we know he carried a sword — and by the way, Jesus was cool with that). Jesus couldn’t die prematurely. He had to die a very specific death. Quite frankly, given the corruption of individuals like Herod, it would in no way surprise me if this guy tried to hire con men to do away with Jesus before he was taken captive to be killed. Is there proof that Jesus ever defended his life against a premature threat? No, but I think I’m allowed to ask the question.

Working off that, I think Scripture speaks quite a bit to individuals not fighting back in the middle of religious persecution. We have record of early Christians willingly walking into the arena to be torn apart by wild animals. Iranaeus didn’t consider himself a Christian until he was martyred. However, this isn’t the context in which this guy is writing. Am I going to whip out my gun and shoot someone who says, “Bow to me!”? No. Regardless of Christian beliefs, I know the legal system: if my life isn’t in immediate and grave danger, I can’t pull that trigger without being charged with, bare minimum, second degree murder. If that man pulls a gun on me and says, “Reject God and bow to me or be killed!” in the name of Islam will I do it? I’m torn. My immediate reaction is no because that is religious persecution, and that is what Scripture speaks to. How quickly we forget that Peter was carrying the rifle of his day – a sword. He whipped it out and hacked someone’s ear off, to which Jesus told him to put it away, but he never told him to get rid of it. How interesting it is that it doesn’t record him calling the weapon evil or reprimanding him for having it, or telling him to sell it. I’m not going to put words in Jesus’ mouth and try to guess why he didn’t tell him to. But can we just read a passage from Luke real fast? Luke 22:3-38-

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

Hmm.

The author of this article talking about religious persecution and trying to cram self-defense into this belief system, and that just doesn’t work. If someone attacks me on the street unannounced and I can defend myself with my pistol, will I? Yes. Quite frankly, I see nothing in Scripture that speaks against this. What in the world does someone attacking me on the street, who doesn’t know me, who has no clue I’m a Christian, have to do with religious persecution? We’re confusing two very different situations. To add fuel to the fire here, I’m torn with this issue of persecution. If others’ lives are at steak, you better believe I’ll fight back. 100%. I’ll touch on this later, but whether or not they confess to be Christians, I legitimately do not know where they will “end up.” I’m not God. I don’t hold those answers. To allow someone to be killed because I think I know where they’re going is dangerously close to playing God in my opinion. I believe we also have a responsibility to one another to keep each other safe. Ezekiel 33. I’d rather err on the side of defending innocent life and eliminating a threat that is pure evil and a threat to the lives of others as opposed to knowing I stood back and did nothing. If you were to survive somehow while the other died, I wish you the best of luck in living the rest of your life without feeling as if their blood was on your hands when you could have done something about it yet did not. If that’s a risk you’re willing to take, then that’s your call. However, as someone who seeks to be a peacemaker and live in harmony, yet is trained to restore harmony when someone upsets that balance, I will not hesitate to use said training. I’ve not been trained as a cold-blooded killer. I’ve been trained as a law-abiding citizen, who makes it a point to mind her Ps & Qs, who absolutely will not result to lethal force unless it is the only option in defending my life, the life of the innocent, or the life of a loved one. I hope to God I never have to use it.

Anyway..

I’d be interested to know how he would define who Jesus’ enemies were as well. I’m assuming the answer would be anyone who didn’t agree with his teachings, seeing as how we don’t really have reference to any other type of person within Scripture (yes, there were people who wanted to kill him, but it was because of his teachings). Jesus’ resistors were those who didn’t buy into him being the Messiah. They were the ones who wanted to kill him, for both good and bad reasons (i.e. the religious leaders). Bad reasons – their egos were hurt and they wanted this guy out. “Good” reasons (in their mind, for their day and time) – if you believed someone to be an absolute heretic in what they preached, and also believed they were total blasphemers, then by Old Testament law it made sense that they wanted the guy dead! That doesn’t mean they were right, but it at least gives us a little understanding as to what they were thinking. I think there was a guy named Paul who did something similar to Christians and admitted that he thought he was doing good and realized he wasn’t. Back to my original point: Jesus resistors (as far as we know) weren’t people who wanted to kill him in cold-blooded murder with no rhyme or reason. To do so would have gone against Old Testament law. That takes care of the religious leaders. Government officials – this guy was clearly not good for keeping the government in power over its citizens. He was disturbing the peace. Whether or not they followed OT law matters very little in regards to my point. My point is that all of the people who wanted to do away with Jesus had reasons for wanting to do away with him. All of these reasons were justifiable in their minds, culture, and society and actually make sense if we’re willing to be such heathens to go as far as placing ourselves in their shoes. Jesus was not randomly attacked that we have recordings of, which is the discrepancy with what this guy is saying. If this guy wants to try to relate unjustifiably justified (ha!) reasons for eliminating upheaval with something like a random attacking, shooting, or home invasion, then I wish him all the luck in the world. The two just don’t add up, and quite frankly, I just don’t see proof that personal defense when attacked ruthlessly and pointlessly is bad or contrary to Scripture.

The fact that he attempted to –

“According to the norms and standards of this world, Jesus’ way is a complete and utter failure. It offers little to no protection to its followers. It’s manner of dealing with evil men does little to dissuade them from their immoral deeds. It gives us no sense of vindication, no gratifying undoing of the wrongs of men.

By men’s standards, Jesus’ way doesn’t work.

That’s why so few would be willing to turn the other cheek, for example. They want turning the other cheek to stop the violent man in his tracks. They want submission to aggression to cause the aggressors to repent of their ways and begin to defend the innocent.”

– tells me he’s missing the disconnect. The NRA has nothing to do with religious persecution. I’m not resisting persecution by being a member. I’m not resisting anything, actually. I’m taking advantage of a freedom and right that I have as defined by our founding fathers (who were VERY Christian, might I add), and I am doing so not to take advantage of being able to take someone’s life, but to defend my own God-given life. You could argue that I’m resisting the government, but I would challenge your interpretations of my motives. I’m advocating for freedom. Pardon me here, but there are times when I think the, “Live and let live” philosophy isn’t a bad idea. Don’t interrupt social peace and you won’t have to worry about social justice. Period. Use your gun for good and you don’t have to worry about someone else using it, not for bad, but to defend their good.

“Just as Jesus’ way doesn’t fit the real world, the world’s way doesn’t fit Jesus’ kingdom. In the Kingdom of God, the world’s way doesn’t work.”

Please don’t try to tell me that Jesus wasn’t a fan of justice. I don’t even need to reference the Temple incident. I know that’s already in your mind. If you aren’t isn’t a fan of that one, let’s look at one that would seemingly derail my point. The woman caught in adultery. First of all, I’d like to point out that the story had absolutely nothing to do with adultery or the consequences thereof, yet we’ve made it about that to argue that Christians should be against the death penalty. Substitute any sinful act you want, and it still has everything to do with trying to catch Jesus in a bind. They could have used a hundred different scenarios to do this. Adultery was not integral to this story. However, let’s assume it was for the sake of me being on the losing end of the argument. Jesus doesn’t say they can’t stone her, but he makes it apparent that they have no right to (again, nothing to do with adultery) in light of their attitudes and knowing their approach and why they were doing what they were doing. What’s he tell the woman? He doesn’t condemn her, but tells her to go and leave her life of sin. Now allow me to make one of my beliefs very, very clear: Jesus died for eternal consequences. Not earthly ones. This woman, guaranteed, did not live an easy life after this moment. She was a whore. If she had no family or her family wouldn’t take her back, she had nowhere to go. She would have few to no options. Let’s just be real about the situation. The earthly consequences she would have endured from this moment on would have given her challenges for the rest of her life and most likely made her miserable. She is reduced to begging if she is to “go and sin no more.” Even if she weren’t, the emotional baggage she’s left with, the physical repercussions, the social repercussions, etc are all earthly consequences. Jesus didn’t take these away from her. This is the result of sin. We bring it upon ourselves with our own willful decisions to go astray. I’ve made my own stupid decisions, and I have to live with those consequences, fully aware that Jesus has forgiven me, but fully aware that there are consequences to my actions. Jesus didn’t die for those earthly consequences. That’s when you have an imbalance between grace and Truth. For there to be zero consequences would be all grace and no Truth. Perhaps I am horribly wrong, but I’m going to draw the conclusion that the same can be said for an individual who chooses to randomly step in and impose on someone’s well-being by being a life-threat to them. Part of the consequence of breaking into my house with intent to do harm to myself or my family will not bode well for you, gun or no gun. Welcome to natural consequence. If you personally want to take the stance of, “Well, I know where I’m going. I don’t know where he’s going,” then that’s fine. If that’s your conviction, so be it. That is not mine, ESPECIALLY if others dear to me are involved. I will not sit back and make the claim of, “Well, I know where they’re going, so it sucks, but it’s fine.” Quite frankly, I do NOT know where they’re going because I am NOT God. What do I do about family members who do NOT know Christ, as I do have many of those? Do I allow them to be murdered? If you’d like to accuse me of placing more value on one life over another, I will remind you that three more fingers point towards you when you point one towards me. Unless you are living the life that Mother Teresa lived, I’m going to challenge how much you truly value the lives of others around you. Just because I defend something as controversial as gun ownership and the use of such things in situations of self-defense does not mean I’m the only one defending something that’s up for interpretation. Congratulations on tithing a whole 10%, but please justify the usefulness of owning a new car, a laptop, a Blu-ray player, or a $70 pair of shoes that cost $10 to make and gives back even cheaper pairs to the shoeless “for every pair you buy.” Here’s a thought: buy a pair yourself and give the shoes to someone in your own community. Oh, but heaven forbid we actually do ministry ourselves.

Going further along in the article… All of the Revelation references speak directly to religious persecution – of which I clearly agree with – but they still have nothing to do with personal defense. I have SERIOUS issues with something he said: “It (the way of Jesus) doesn’t protect the weak or avenge the innocent.” If this is true, then expect Esther to show up in hell. She put her head on the chopping block to save her people. Damn her for defending them. Damn her for exposing that shrew Haman. God’s people should have willingly endured what Haman was going to bring against them. Pull away your abortion arguments. Stop defending the innocent.

Can I be brutally honest? Like, Hannah kinda-honest? I wholeheartedly believe Satan is taking advantage of our “turn the other cheek” belief. I really do. I think he’s sinking it into the hearts and minds of Christians that we are to, in no way, defend ourselves against any sort of evil or injustice. God commanded that we endure persecution should we stand toe-to-toe with it. I get that. In my mind it isn’t all that fun of an idea, but I get it. But to willingly allow some random psychopath to take away God-given life? Do we hold so little value over this awesome experience of life that we are in no way willing to defend it? We’ll defend the unborn, but we all of a sudden have a moral dilemma defending the born? We contradict our own views! It doesn’t add up! Christians should have called David Green and told him to drop the Hobby Lobby issue. Tell him to supply the healthcare for abortions. No more fighting. Tell him to turn the other cheek and not fight it. If we’re going to use this guy’s logic in one area, then let’s start using it everywhere. If we are going to build a theology off what this man is saying, then we should probably inform every police officer who is a serious Christian that he needs to take off his uniform and put the gun down. After all, they shouldn’t be fighting the violence.

Shoot, let’s get scientific about it. Your parasympathetic nervous system controls fight-or-flight. I am wired in such a way that, in darn near every situation I’m up against, I fight, and I fight hard. Do I look at God and tell him his design was flawed? I know we have the sin issue to deal with, but what do you do when your physiological make-up predisposes you to defense in a literal split-second situation? (let’s not confuse physiological and biological – I don’t want to leave gateways for the alternative lifestyle argument to somehow creep its way in here) Why does God design people who have justice (whether it be to defend life against attack be it physically, emotionally, or otherwise) almost literally coursing through their veins? Maybe it’s generations’ worth of sin. Perhaps my family comes directly from Cain and what I think is justice is actually cold-hearted malice. I’m sure you could somehow make the claim that my personality may very well be the result of generations of sin. I don’t have that answer. But I’m having a difficult time trying to figure out why God has made me so damned passionate about justice if there isn’t a reason behind it. Maybe I’m too much like Paul and think I’m defending the right thing when in all actuality I couldn’t be further from the truth. If that’s the case, then I’m hoping I head towards Damascus sooner rather than later, because fecal matter is about to hit the fan in our society. If I’m not supposed to be defending these issues the way that I am, then I hope he pulls me from this road quickly, because I’m very committed to defending what I believe.

Overall, I’m not seeing a balance of Truth and scriptural proof *IN CONTEXT* in what this guy is saying. He doesn’t explore how he may be wrong. He doesn’t explore the other side to things. I don’t see a lot of wrestling. I see a lot of sensationalist, Jesus-wants-you-to-be-miserableism coming from him, and that’s what I have a difficult time accepting. No, Jesus’ way isn’t easy. Anyone who’s been seriously following Christ for any amount of time knows that. But we contradict our own views as I’ve said before.

“If you’re looking for something that works, don’t look to Jesus’ teachings. But remember one thing: if you choose what makes sense to men, you’re choosing something that God despises. If your views line up with the views of your non-Christian neighbor, you’re probably not using God’s values. If your outlook is that of the Democrats or the Republicans or the Tea Partiers or NPR or the NRA, then you’re probably not following Jesus’ way.”

This is manipulation and it flat-out ticks me off. If nothing is ever going to make sense in this world, then first of all, you’re saying God can’t make sense of it. If it makes sense to no man, then I’d challenge whether it makes sense at all. I have a lot of non-Christian friends who are against guns. I guess that gives me freedom to value them… In all seriousness though, this man is attempting to bring doctrines of persecution into things that have absolutely nothing to do with persecution, and as I’ve said, that’s the root of my issue with what he’s saying. Also, the NRA holds prayer meetings, and my views are pretty in-line with that, so I guess I’m as sinful as they come (sorry, more sarcasm)..

Maybe I’m “clinging to guns & religion.” Shoot, maybe I’m just clinging to guns.  Until God convicts me that defending my own life that HE gave me against monsters who have nothing to do with persecution, chances are I’m not going to give up this fight. If Obama or some ISIS extremist wants to knock down my door himself and tell me to bow to him or I get shot, then that’s different.

From Titus 1: “For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silent, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach – and that for the sake of dishonest gain.”

Maybe I need to do some examination and this is me. Maybe I’m not conforming to the image of Christ. When I pray, “More You, less me,” maybe I’m not really open to that. After all, there’s no record of Jesus carrying a weapon (also no record that he didn’t, but let’s operate under the assumption that he didn’t just so I’m on the losing end), but there’s also no record of him rebuking at least one of the disciples for carrying one.

One more thing. It’s interesting that some Christians want to bash gun ownership and gun owners any time this topic is brought up. That’s probably a super effective way to evangelize to those who are adamantly pro-gun and yet don’t know Jesus. I hear that whole relating thing is worthless. After all, the Bible never mentions anything about becoming all things to all men.

Oops.

Quite frankly, I’m very, VERY disappointed with those Christians who are adamantly refusing to see the other side, especially when the argument for pro-gun/pro-defense practices can be made with a biblical perspective. I’m disappointed because individuals who have never taken into consideration how a person can own a gun and can defend life and can still follow Christ is far beyond irritating. Think critically, dear friends. Think far more critically than you are now. Please think critically if you are an individual who knows little to nothing about self-defense and its presence throughout Scripture except what you’ve heard in sermons. If you have not actually looked at this outside of church, if you have not honestly studied any of this but instead you’re piggy-backing off of someone else’s theology, a societal trend, or an emotional reaction, then please – for the sake of those of us who are attempting to build a biblical and accurate viewpoint (however controversial it may seem because your favorite pastor is completely opposed yet knows nothing himself), either shut up or start digging and studying (I say that with all the love and respect in the world. But there are really only two options here).

Defend yourself. Defend the people you love. Defend the gift of life God’s given you instead of trying to be a martyr in a situation that doesn’t call for martyrdom. Find the lives of the innocent valuable enough to defend them both before and after they’re born.

Pray. Seek. Do.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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If grapes are growing on your pepper plants, then we have a problem.

In case you missed yesterday’s post, click here.

Day 2 – Matthew 7:1-2

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it be be measured to you.”

Lemme guess: You’ve heard and/or used this at least 850 times in your life to prove a point or you’ve heard someone else use it to prove their point.

“Don’t judge me.”
“Only God can judge me. The Bible says so.”
“We have no right to judge those who believe differently than we do.”
“I’m not judging you for your lifestyle…”

If it includes some form of ‘judge,’ you’ve probably heard or said it. Our culture is huge on this one right now, because judgment means we’re telling someone they’re wrong, and who am I to tell someone else how to live their life, or that what they’re doing is wrong? It’s their life, after all. Not mine.

The problem is we have a really crappy idea of what judgment is. We think that someone telling us that what we’re doing is wrong is itself wrong, or we think that just because someone doesn’t approve of what we do, think, or say that they’re hate-mongers who live their lives discriminating everyone.

Just like last night, let’s once again operate under the assumption that we’ve taken this verse out of context and, once again, have a terrible understanding of it.

The problem with this verse is we pull it entirely out of context. We remove that single verse with the takeaway that Jesus told us we shouldn’t judge anyone. Absolutely. Even removing it from the rest of the verses still gives it the same meaning. We shouldn’t judge a single person. We don’t get to make the call as to whether or not they wind up in heaven.

BUT…

There may be more to the entirety of Jesus’ message than simply refraining from passing judgment and making assumptions. Let’s read the rest of the passage:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Jesus knew what our tendency would be. Now that we’re all holy & saved, it’s pretty easy to start noticing the sin of the world. It’s easy to look around and see what’s wrong here, here, here and there when we have the misunderstanding that our relationship with God is defined by what we do instead of what He’s done. And everyone and their brother is right: Stop judging. It’s not necessary.

BUT…

Is it judgment when we recognize a tree by the fruit it bears? Is it truly judgment when we look at someone’s life and evaluate what comes from their mouth with what actions they choose to take? Answer: Put the big girl panties on – this isn’t judgment. Its not judgment for me to look at the life of a Christian friend who spends their weekends getting drunk and to then ask them some questions. It’s not judgment for one of my Christian friends to call me on the carpet when something immoral comes from my mouth. That’s calling a tree by the fruit it bears. Let me tick everyone off: It’s not judgment to look at an individual who claims Jesus as savior of their soul yet hasn’t allowed him to be the Lord of their love life. At some point because of love we need to look at each other and ask why there is a dichotomy between thought, word, and action if we’re seeing a discrepancy.

BUT…

If I’m going to ask these questions, then an examination of my own life needs to happen first. If I myself am struggling with an issue that I’m seeing in my Christian brother’s or sister’s life, then the first step is to get me straightened out. And honestly, chances are that the other person probably knows that they need to clean their junk up (however, that doesn’t let us off the hook of holding each other accountable), so what I’m saying to them will likely not come as a shock. However, tread lightly and lovingly. Calling out sin because you know it exists and having concern for your brother or sister’s walk with God are two very different approaches.

BUT…

Jesus doesn’t stop there. He gives us a pretty big warning that’s difficult to stomach sometimes because we don’t always know where to draw the line: There are going to be people who will be the metaphorical two-year-olds, stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and start screaming, “LA LA LA LA LA LA!” at the top of their lungs. Do not waste sacred time here. It’s futile to try to teach a concept coming from Jesus to people who tear apart everything Christians say and do. In short, you can explain yourself til you’re blue in the face on any Facebook argument you want, but if you’re casting pearls before swine, you’re wasting your time. By no means does that mean we give up, but if we’re hell-bent (ironically enough) on getting through to “that one person,” maybe we need to first evaluate motives and the methods with which we go about them. The biggest question you can ask yourself is, “Am I genuinely concerned for this individual’s place in eternity, or am I more concerned with just being right?” Check yourself. Be honest. I’ve been there. I’ve been more concerned about being right than I was about whether or not the person understood who Jesus was, as it was clearly evident in my argumentative nature. This is where honest prayers for wisdom and pure motives are essential in reaching those who we know that have a tendency to be closed off to what we have to say. Sometimes we may be casting our pearls before swine and recognize that now is not the time, but it doesn’t mean that that particular someone will never come around and be slightly more fertile soil to plant in on down the road, so to speak.

BUT…

Remember, we also need to look at context. From here, Jesus teaches about asking, seeking and knocking. He follows up his teaching about judgment with the idea of asking God for honest answers, and seeking those answers out, and knocking on the doors of opportunity. Coincidence? Doubtful. Further, he says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” I guarantee you that if someone came to me and told me about how they’ve been asking God for wisdom, seeking out wisdom in Scripture, and watching for an opportunity to talk with me and be honest and open about what they’re seeing in my life, I’m going to be more receptive. What they have to say might sting, but this is someone who hasn’t shied away from loving me through accountability, but who has also spent time prayerfully considering the circumstance. That’s how I would want someone to approach pointing out the speck of dust in my eye, so maybe that’s what Jesus is getting at when he gives us the Golden Rule. We all need held accountable – every last one of us. Without accountability, you get…well…American culture. You get Hollywood. You get girl power that emasculates and humiliates men. You get the belief that you can and should have sex with whomever you desire, and you shouldn’t have to live with the natural consequences should things not go according to plan. You get the belief that it’s completely acceptable and even healthy to desire the rape-like treatment viewed in movie theaters and read in books. You get the leniency of, ‘if it feels good, do it.’ Without accountability, you get to do whatever you want. And boy, doesn’t that seems like a great idea.

AND…

He then talks about the way to heaven: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Are we seeing a theme here?

SO…

I find it to be no coincidence that Jesus then follows that up with the teaching of recognizing the fruit in peoples’ lives. Apple trees don’t produce bananas. Grapes don’t grow on pepper plants. Judgment doesn’t grow in a Christian, but neither does spineless acceptance that prioritizes peoples’ temporary happiness over the lasting consequences of eternity. And should it be any surprise that he then says (in a nutshell), “Just because you recognized that I was Jesus, just because you went to church yet continued the same lifestyle you had before you knew me, just because you told people about who I was doesn’t mean you ever actually let me have any say in your life. And because of that, sorry, but I never knew you.” (Matt 7:21-23). Surprisingly enough, I think Jesus is telling us that it’s actually about more than what we do. It’s difficult to say that I truly believe that Jesus loves me if my life says I love the world. If your life after meeting Jesus looks the same as before you knew him in both actions and posture of heart, then God have mercy on those of us who saw it and never said anything. We live out what we believe – period. Being able to recognize Jesus is different than actually knowing him. I would recognize Robert Downey Jr. on the street, but that doesn’t mean I knew anything about him. And friend, please – please don’t take eternity lightly. Please don’t assume that the grace credit card will work if life was spent ignoring the call to know Jesus and shape your life in a response to that.

Little surprise that Jesus then talks about the man who builds his house on the rock and weathers the storm versus he who takes the easy way out and builds on the sand. Guys, there’s no doubt that Jesus loves you, but there’s also no doubt that he wants to see our lives respond to that love, not ignore it and/or contort Scripture to make up our own definitions.

Summary: If bananas are growing on your apple tree, then get rid of the weirdness, okay? Go back to growing apples. If you see grapes growing on someone’s pepper plant, tell them! You don’t have the right to lecture them about how the pepper plant is altogether bad and useless – that’s not the truth. Just prune the tree, help them get rid of the fruit that shouldn’t be there, and see them through to growing what they should be growing. Further, find the people who are the Miracle Grow in your life. Find the ones who are willing to take an ax to a branch that has no business growing on your tree, but will help your tree grow as it should. And be willing to be that for someone else.

Pray. Seek. Do.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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First, you’ll need to read this article for this blog to make any sense at all.

http://www.wineskins.org/filter.asp?SID=2&fi_key=380&co_key=2691

I have refrained from blogging about this simply because many of you see enough of my opinion on Facebook. However, what you’re seeing is a very sarcastic (although honest) opinion of what I believe about Barack Obama and his push for gun control backed by his minions. This, however, is a very honest and what I consider to be fairly well-thought out response that covers multiple angles. I know some (possibly many) of you will disagree with me. That’s fine. I will operate under the possibly naive assumption that you have actually considered this side instead of automatically labeling me a heretic.

After you’ve read the above article…

First of all, if we really want to talk about the way of Jesus not making sense, then I would encourage this guy to get off the Internet, sell his computer, sell his home, and take seriously Jesus saying that “the son of man has no place to rest his head.” If we are truly going to follow in his footsteps the way he seems to be interpreting Scripture, then let’s bust out the For Sale signs. To push a few more buttons, how very interesting that some want to label me as unChristian for owning a gun (be it semiautomatic or otherwise) yet they themselves have an iPhone, a Mac, a TV, and so forth. Nevermind the fact that many companies today are exploiting overseas workers through the production of these items, but instead, please tell me how it is Scriptural for you to own any of those luxuries, especially when they can be used for such terrible things. Oh, but you can control what you see on TV? I likewise can control the use of my own guns. And mine are made in the USA – legally, by adults who are paid fairly.

Now, that moment of immaturity out of the way, I’ll actually tackle this a bit more (but don’t tell me I don’t have good reason to use the previous argument!).

Ever since I bought that first handgun, I have wrestled with ownership of it on a daily basis, and I mean daily very literally. I definitely disagree with the guy for multiple reasons, but I’ll get to that. However, he’d be correct to say that Jesus didn’t fight back…at least during his crucifixion, when he was dying for the sins of the world. Jesus was not a popular guy with the government or with religious rulers – we know that much. However, the New Testament doesn’t seem to touch the self-defense issue, while the Old Testament states that it’s entirely justified. Was Jesus ever attacked and we don’t know it? Did he ever have to defend himself and we don’t have it recorded? Logic would say that he would have had to have fought back if his life was going to be put in immediate and grave danger, would it not? He couldn’t die prematurely. He had to die a very specific death. Quite frankly, given the corruption of individuals like Herod, it would in no way surprise me if this guy tried to hire conmen to do away with Jesus before he was taken captive to be killed. Can I make that claim 100%? No! Can I make that claim even 20%? No! Am I justified in wondering? Yes.

Working off that, I think Scripture speaks quite a bit to individuals not fighting back in the middle of religious persecution. We have record of early Christians willingly walking into the arena to be torn apart by wild animals. Iranaeus didn’t consider himself a Christian until he was martyred. However, this isn’t the context in which this guy is writing. Am I going to whip out my gun and shoot someone who says, “Bow to me!”? No. Regardless of Christian beliefs, I know the legal system: if my life isn’t in immediate and grave danger, I can’t pull that trigger without being charged with, bare minimum, second degree murder. If that man pulls a gun on me and says, “Bow to me!” will I do it? Still no. That is religious persecution, and that is what Scripture speaks to. How quickly we forget that Peter was carrying the rifle of his day – a sword. He whipped it out and hacked someone’s ear off, to which Jesus told him to put the dang thing away. How interesting it is that it doesn’t record him calling the weapon evil or reprimanding him for having it, or telling him to sell it. I’m not going to put words in Jesus’ mouth and try to guess why he didn’t tell him to. I just think it’s something we don’t often consider, especially since the following exchange happened with the Disciples:

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

-Luke 22:35-38

The author of this article talking about religious persecution and trying to cram self-defense into this belief system, and that just doesn’t work. If someone attacks me on the street unannounced and I can defend myself with my pistol, will I? Yes. Quite frankly, I see nothing in Scripture that speaks against this. What in the world does someone attacking me on the street, who doesn’t know me, who has no clue I’m a Christian, have to do with religious persecution? We’re confusing two very different situations.

I’d be interested to know how he would define who Jesus’ enemies were as well. I’m assuming the answer would be anyone who didn’t agree with his teachings, seeing as how we don’t really have reference to any other type of person within Scripture (yes, there were people who wanted to kill him, but it was because of his teachings). Jesus’ resistors were those who didn’t buy into him being the Messiah. They were the ones who wanted to kill him, for both good and bad reasons (referring to the religious leaders). Bad reasons – their egos were hurt and they wanted this guy out. “Good” reasons (in their mind, for their day and time) – if you believed someone to be an absolute heretic in what they preached, and also believed they were total blasphemers, then by Old Testament law it made sense that they wanted the guy dead! That doesn’t mean they were right, but it at least gives us a little understanding as to what they were thinking. I think there was a guy named Paul who did something similar to Christians and admitted that he thought he was doing good and realized he wasn’t. Back to my original point: Jesus resistors (as far as we know) weren’t people who wanted to kill him in cold-blooded murder with no rhyme or reason. To do so would have gone against Old Testament law. That takes care of the religious leaders. Government officials – this guy was clearly not good for keeping the government in power over its citizens. He was disturbing the peace. Whether or not they followed OT law matters very little in regards to my point. My point is that all of the people who wanted to do away with Jesus had reasons for wanting to do away with him. All of these reasons were justifiable in their minds, culture, and society and actually make sense if we’re willing to be such heathens to go as far as placing ourselves in their shoes. If this guy wants to try to relate unjustifiably justified (ha!) reasons for eliminating upheaval with something like a random attacking, shooting, or home invasion, then I wish him all the luck in the world. The two just don’t add up, and quite frankly, I just don’t see proof that personal defense when attacked ruthlessly and pointlessly is bad or contrary to Scripture.

The fact that he attempted to –

“According to the norms and standards of this world, Jesus’ way is a complete and utter failure. It offers little to no protection to its followers. It’s manner of dealing with evil men does little to dissuade them from their immoral deeds. It gives us no sense of vindication, no gratifying undoing of the wrongs of men.

By men’s standards, Jesus’ way doesn’t work.

That’s why so few would be willing to turn the other cheek, for example. They want turning the other cheek to stop the violent man in his tracks. They want submission to aggression to cause the aggressors to repent of their ways and begin to defend the innocent.”

– tells me he’s missing the disconnect. The NRA has nothing to do with religious persecution. I’m not resisting persecution by being a member. I’m not resisting anything, actually. I’m taking advantage of a freedom and right that I have as defined by our founding fathers (who were VERY Christian, might I add), and I am doing so not to take advantage of being able to take someone’s life. You could argue that I’m resisting the government, but I would challenge your interpretations of my motives. I’m advocating for freedom. Pardon me here, but there are times when I think the, “Live and let live” philosophy isn’t a bad idea. Don’t interrupt social peace and you won’t have to worry about social justice. Period. Use your gun for good and you don’t have to worry about someone else using it, not for bad, but to defend their good.

“Just as Jesus’ way doesn’t fit the real world, the world’s way doesn’t fit Jesus’ kingdom. In the Kingdom of God, the world’s way doesn’t work.”

Please don’t try to tell me that Jesus wasn’t a fan of justice. I don’t even need to reference the Temple incident. I know that’s already in your mind. If you aren’t isn’t a fan of that one, let’s look at one that would seemingly derail my point. The woman caught in adultery. First of all, I’d like to point out that the story had absolutely nothing to do with adultery or the consequences thereof, yet we’ve made it about that to argue that Christians should be against the death penalty. Substitute any sinful act you want, and it still has everything to do with trying to catch Jesus in a bind. They could have used a hundred different scenarios to do this. Adultery was not integral to this story. However, let’s assume it was for the sake of me being on the losing end of the argument. Jesus doesn’t say they can’t stone her, but he makes it apparent that they have no right to (again, nothing to do with adultery) in light of their attitudes and knowing their approach and why they were doing what they were doing. What’s he tell the woman? He doesn’t condemn her, but tells her to go and leave her life of sin. Now allow me to make one of my beliefs very, very clear: Jesus died for eternal consequences. Not earthly ones. This woman, guaranteed, did not live an easy life after this moment. She was a whore. If she had no family or her family wouldn’t take her back, she had nowhere to go. She would have few to no options. Let’s just be real about the situation. The earthly consequences she would have endured from this moment on would have given her challenges for the rest of her life and most likely made her miserable. She is reduced to begging or continued prostitution. Even if she weren’t, the emotional baggage she’s left with, the physical repercussions, the social repercussions, etc are all earthly consequences. Jesus didn’t take these away from her. This is the result of sin. We bring it upon ourselves with our own willful decisions to go astray. This is why you don’t see me having the attitude of, “Woe is me,” because I’m not a virgin anymore (surprise! Hannah’s a sinner! For those of you who didn’t know that, sorry you had to find out this way, but let’s just be honest about stupid decisions in the past). That was my own stupid decision and I have to live with those consequences, fully aware that Jesus has forgiven me, but fully aware that there are consequences to my actions. Jesus didn’t die for those earthly consequences. That’s when you have an imbalance between grace and Truth. For there to be zero consequences would be all grace and no Truth. Perhaps I am horribly wrong, but I’m going to draw the conclusion that the same can be said for an individual who chooses to randomly step in and impose on someone’s well-being by being a life-threat to them. Part of the consequence of breaking into my house with intent to do harm to myself or my family will not bode well for you, gun or no gun. Welcome to natural consequence. If you personally want to take the stance of, “Well, I know where I’m going. I don’t know where he’s going,” then that’s fine. If that’s your conviction, so be it. That is not mine, ESPECIALLY if others dear to me are involved. I will not sit back and make the claim of, “Well, I know where they’re going, so it sucks, but it’s fine.” Quite frankly, I do NOT know where they’re going because I am NOT God. What do I do about family members who do NOT know Christ, as I have MANY of those? Do I allow them to be murdered? If you’d like to accuse me of placing more value on one life over another, I will remind you that three more fingers point towards you when you point one towards me. Unless you are living the life that Mother Teresa lived, I’m going to challenge how much you truly value the lives of others around you. Just because I defend something as controversial as gun ownership and the use of such things in situations of self-defense does not mean I’m the only one defending something that’s up for interpretation. Congratulations on tithing a whole 10%, but please justify the usefulness of owning a new car, a laptop, a Blu-ray player, or a $70 pair of shoes that cost $10 to make and gives back even cheaper pairs to the shoeless “for every pair you buy.” Here’s a thought: buy a pair yourself and give the shoes to someone in your own community. Oh, but heaven forbid we actually do ministry ourselves.

Going further along in the article… All of the Revelation references speak directly to religious persecution – of which I clearly agree with – but they still have nothing to do with personal defense. I have SERIOUS issues with something he said: “It (the way of Jesus) doesn’t protect the weak or avenge the innocent.” If this is true, then expect Esther to show up in hell. She put her head on the chopping block to save her people. Damn her for defending them. Damn her for exposing that shrew Haman. God’s people should have willingly endured what Haman was going to bring against them. Pull away your abortion arguments. Do away with this Kony campaign. Stop defending the innocent.

Can I be brutally honest? Like, Hannah kinda-honest? I whole-heartedly believe Satan is taking advantage of our “turn the other cheek” belief. I really do. I think he’s sinking it into the hearts and minds of Christians that we are to, in no way, defend ourselves against any sort of evil or injustice. God commanded that we endure persecution should we stand toe-to-toe with it. I get that. In my mind it isn’t all that fun of an idea, but I get it. But to willingly allow some random psychopath to take away God-given life? Do we hold so little value over this awesome experience of life that we are in no way willing to defend it? We’ll defend the unborn, but we all of a sudden have a moral dilemma defending the born? We contradict our own views! It doesn’t add up! Someone needs to call David Green and tell him to drop this Hobby Lobby issue. Tell him to supply the healthcare for abortions. No more fighting. Tell him to turn the other cheek and not fight it. If we’re going to use this guy’s logic in one area, then let’s start using it everywhere. If we are going to build a theology off what this man is saying, then we should probably inform every police officer who is a serious Christian that he needs to take off his uniform and put the gun down. After all, they shouldn’t be fighting the violence.

Shoot, let’s get scientific about it. Your parasympathetic nervous system controls fight-or-flight. I am wired in such a way that, in darn near every situation I’m up against, I fight, and I fight hard. Do I look at God and tell him his design was flawed? I know we have the sin issue to deal with, but what do you do when your physiological make-up predisposes you to defense in a literal split-second situation? (let’s not confuse physiological and biological – I don’t want to leave gateways for the alternative lifestyle argument) Why does God design people who have justice (whether it be to defend life against attack be it physically, emotionally, or otherwise) almost literally coursing through their veins? Maybe it’s generations’ worth of sin. Perhaps my family comes directly from Cain and what I think is justice is actually cold-hearted malice. I’m sure you could somehow make the claim that my personality may very well be the result of generations of sin. I don’t have that answer. But I’m having a difficult time trying to figure out why God has made me so damned passionate about justice if there isn’t a reason behind it. Maybe I’m too much like Paul and think I’m defending the right thing when in all actuality I couldn’t be further from the truth. If that’s the case, then I’m hoping I head towards Damascus sooner rather than later, because fecal matter is about to hit the fan in our society. If I’m not supposed to be defending these issues the way that I am, then I hope he pulls me from this road quickly, because I’m very committed to defending what I believe.

If “Jesus’ way doesn’t work,” then I don’t know how you override what seems to be a God-given personality and drive. Maybe I’m supposed to be/should direct it elsewhere. That would make sense. But overall, I’m not seeing a balance of Truth and scriptural proof *IN CONTEXT* in what this guy is saying. He doesn’t explore how he may be wrong. He doesn’t explore the other side to things. I don’t see a lot of wrestling. I see a lot of sensationalist, Jesus-wants-you-to-be-miserableism coming from him, and that’s what I have a difficult time accepting. No, Jesus’ way isn’t easy. Anyone who’s been seriously following Christ for any amount of time knows that. But we contradict our own views as I’ve said before.

“If you’re looking for something that works, don’t look to Jesus’ teachings. But remember one thing: if you choose what makes sense to men, you’re choosing something that God despises. If your views line up with the views of your non-Christian neighbor, you’re probably not using God’s values. If your outlook is that of the Democrats or the Republicans or the Tea Partiers or NPR or the NRA, then you’re probably not following Jesus’ way.”

This is manipulation and it pisses me off. If nothing is ever going to make sense in this world, then first of all, you’re saying God can’t make sense of it. If it makes sense to no man, then I’d challenge whether it makes sense at all. I have a lot of non-Christian friends who are against guns. I guess that gives me freedom to value them… In all seriousness though, this man is attempting to bring doctrines of persecution into things that have absolutely nothing to do with persecution, and as I’ve said, that’s the root of my issue with what he’s saying. Also, the NRA holds prayer meetings, and my views are pretty in-line with that, so I guess I’m as sinful as they come (sorry, more sarcasm)..

Maybe I’m “clinging to guns & religion.” Shoot, maybe I’m just clinging to guns.  Until God convicts me that defending my own life that HE gave me against monsters who have nothing to do with persecution, chances are I’m not going to give up this fight. If Obama or some ISIS extremist wants to knock down my door himself and tell me to bow to him or I get shot, then that’s different.

From Titus 1: “For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silent, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach – and that for the sake of dishonest gain.”

Maybe I need to do some examination and this is me. Maybe I’m not conforming to the image of Christ. When I pray, “More You, less me,” maybe I’m not really open to that. After all, there’s no record of Jesus carrying a weapon (also no record that he didn’t, but let’s operate under the assumption that he didn’t just so I’m on the losing end), but there’s also no record of him rebuking at least one of the disciples for carrying one.

One more thing. It’s interesting that some Christians want to bash gun ownership and gun owners any time this topic is brought up. That’s probably a super effective way to evangelize to those who are adamantly pro-gun and yet don’t know Jesus. I hear that whole relating thing is worthless. Afterall, the Bible never mentions anything about becoming all things to all men.

Oops.

Yeah, I know. More sarcasm when I could be a bit classier. I’ve had it up to my nose with being considered very unChrist-like because of my stances on gun control issues. Quite frankly, I’m very, VERY disappointed with those Christians who are adamantly refusing to see the other side ESPECIALLY when the argument for pro-gun practices CAN be made WITH a biblical perspective. I’m disappointed because individuals who have never taken into consideration how a person CAN own a gun and CAN defend life and CAN still follow Christ is far beyond irritating. Think critically, dear friends. Think far more critically than you are now. I’m always thrown for a loop when someone who knows little to nothing about gun ownership begins making claims about how terrible weapons are (those scary black, semiautomatic sinful things!) and yet considers someone like me who actually knows how these “beastly” things work to be idiotic. That’s quite interesting if you ask me.

I’m becoming more and more negative with every word I type, so I will wrap this up. I don’t mean to end on a sarcastic note, so please know that when I become sarcastic, it’s due to frustration with being told what to believe. I’m okay with people not wanting to own guns themselves. That’s fine. But do NOT tread into territory where you’re telling me that I’m not allowed to own them, be they semiautomatic or not. If you don’t like the thought of someone attacking you and your life with a gun, then I recommend you buy your own, carry concealed, and be a peaceful citizen. And when judicious and accurate marksmanship is called for, I hope you’ve taken it upon yourself to train with your sidearm. Please do not ask me if we should therefore make hard drugs legal. The arguments are not equal. Use of drugs is not the same as use of a firearm, and if you believe that to be a false statement, do not bother to argue this with me. I do not consider you a rational being. If you want to take drugs, that’s your prerogative. As an adult, you are capable of your own decisions. I don’t find them to be good decisions, but I will not stop you. If your drug use endangers my life, THEN we will have a problem. Your abuse of freedom will not be tolerated once it crosses boundaries into abusing my freedom. I would expect you to have a similar view on firearms. If I want to own a firearm and you don’t like them, I would assume rational beings to not seek to infringe upon that, but to instead take the view that they are willing and ready to defend their freedom should I ever put their freedom in a compromising situation. It is not the government’s responsibility to protect you. They have a record of failure in this department. Defend yourself. Defend the people you love. Defend the gift of life God’s given you instead of trying to be a martyr in a situation that doesn’t call for martyrdom. Find the lives of the innocent valuable enough to defend them both before and after they’re born.

Hannah.

Self-Defense vs. Persecution

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Gay marriage. Christianity. Choices. Opinions. Oh boy, here we go.

*I originally posted this as a note on Facebook, but I decided to post it here as well.*

Well, since I find the need for the world to know my opinion on everything, why should I withhold it in regards to Obama’s recent support of gay marriage?

My two cents: I in no way, shape, or form support gay marriage. At all. HOWEVER. I also can’t bring myself to saying it’s the government’s job to say who can and cannot marry. Does that make the decision okay? No. Regardless of whether or not the government allows for gay marriage, those who are gay are still going to be together. Government isn’t going to prevent that. Some of you are probably fairly shocked by me saying this, but I have a really big reason. If we allow the government to decide on certain issues like this, then we’ll allow them to make decisions on other issues that they shouldn’t touch. I don’t support gay marriage at all because it isn’t biblical nor does it fit with the “other” point of view: evolution (survival of the fittest – you can’t procreate if you’re having sex with your own gender).

As a Christian, it isn’t my job to define someone else’s morals for them. It isn’t my responsibility to make someone else’s decisions. It’s my job to pick my Bible up off my night stand, read it, and apply it to my own life. As a Christian, I do not yell and scream at people that they’re going to go to hell if they don’t repent, but I do warn that there are consequences (both good and bad) for every single decision we as humans could ever make. Hell is one of them (this isn’t a homosexuals-are-going-to-hell comment. This is a those-who-reject-Christ-are-going-to-hell comment). If my life isn’t urgently expressing that, then I’m doing something wrong (I’ll be the first to admit that recently, my life has done everything EXCEPT urgently express that). Jesus himself never forced anyone to follow him. He gave them a decision. The rich young ruler said he’d kept all the commands since he was a boy. Jesus commended him, but also told him to sell everything and follow him. He couldn’t do that. Jesus didn’t force him. Jesus didn’t yell at him. He gave him a decision.

If the world wants to waltz right up to the gates of hell, then it will. Someone else’s salvation is *NOT*, I repeat, *NOT* my responsibility. I can save no one. That’s Christ’s line of business. My responsibility is to tell the world about him, what he’s done for my life, and give them a glimpse into how incredible the gift of salvation is. I’m following what Paul said: I must be all things to all people in order that I might save some. That means being willing to associate with anyone & everyone – including those who make decisions I don’t agree with. If people want to reject grace, love, and acceptance from the One who gives it wholly and freely just because it’s who He is (which is the exact opposite of the human nature), then that’s between them & Him. Christ will look at me one day and ask, “Why didn’t you tell them?” That’s on my head. But it is not, “Why didn’t you save them?”

So where does that land us as Christians? Do we slander President Obama’s name because he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with our Christian views? If so, we do nothing to help the problem. Do we follow in the footsteps of the Westboro cult and hold picket signs reading, “GOD HATES FAGS!”? No. Clearly, no. (Also, please note the careful wording of cult and not Westboro Baptist Church – that’s not a church, but we can talk about that later). So what do we do about this problem in the world? My solution: I think we need to each take the planks out of our own eyes, examine our own lives and where we aren’t measuring up, and once we’ve done that, THEN maybe we can start working to change the world.

But perhaps changing the world actually means just changing ourselves. You don’t change the world by waking up the same person every day. Changing the world around you means changing yourself first, and continually doing that. I think changing the world is actually just a byproduct of personal growth, but that’s just my opinion.

I’m sure there are at least a dozen people (Christians?) who will disagree with me for every one person there is that agrees with me on the above statements. That’s fine. If you think that my choice to not necessarily speak against legalizing gay marriage (again, I do NOT support it) is wrong and that I should be, as a Christian, vehemently protesting it, well, okay. I’m going to continue revamping my views and opinions and challenging them against Scripture. I only ask that you do the same.

Keep on keepin’ on.
-Hannah

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Pro-Life or Pro-Birth?

I’m currently reading Why Pro-Life? Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers by Randy Alcorn. It’s a book written in defense of the pro-life opinion. Alcorn is a Christian, but this book is not written on an argument of faith, but of scientific research and discovery. I highly recommend this to anyone, be you pro-life or pro-choice. I’m not very far into the book, but far enough that I’ve come to realize our Christian, pro-life stance on the issue is hollow. Yes, hollow.

I argue that most of us Christians fight for pro-birth, but we aren’t really pro-life. No, I’m not arguing this from an anti-death penalty view because I’m for the death penalty (we’ll tackle that argument some other time). I’m arguing this from our nice little conservative boxes that we confine ourselves to.

How many of us vehemently stand on the side of pro-life, yet when that baby is born, the argument then ceases? We won, didn’t we? The mom didn’t have an abortion! Let’s go find the next teenage girl who’s walking towards Planned Parenthood. But what about the teenage mom who just had the child? If we’re supposedly pro-life, won’t we continue to fight for the good of that mother and child? Or, instead, do we revert to our conservative views of, “Well honey, havin’ a kid is rough work. Get a job and start supporting that kid. The world doesn’t owe you anything.”

Tell me I’m wrong and that you’ve never had this thought run through your mind when you hear of a pregnant teenager. Tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve thought this. I had friends in high school who became pregnant and I remember thinking, “Wow. They’re idiots. Seriously? Can’t you just wait to sleep with someone until marriage? Oh well.. it’s their problem, but she better not have an abortion. That’s just plain wrong.”

Allow me to point out the controversy in my thought process.

“It’s their problem, but she better not have an abortion.”
I turned the child into an inconvenience. I could argue (with myself no less, ha!) that I intended for the situation of becoming a teenage mom to be a problem. That does not excuse the fact that I could be heavily misinterpreted, and furthermore, come across as a very, very hypocritical Christian. Unplanned children are not “problems.” They’re unexpected, that’s for sure. And perhaps they’re fabulous instruments of fear (ha!), but they are not problems.
I continued my ignorance and immaturity through the thought of “…but she better not have an abortion.” This is controversial to my first statement. If the child really were a problem, why not abort it? Secularly, chances are we believe in evolution. If the child is a problem, then we should seek to eliminate said problem. Survival of the fittest, after all (nevermind the numerous loopholes that can be found in this theory). Religiously we seek to surrender power to Christ when we find problems. They aren’t ours to conquer. Christians shouldn’t be having abortions, yet, “43% of  women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% identify themselves as Catholic. Two-thirds of America’s abortions are obtained by those with a Christian affiliation. Eighteen percent of all U.S. abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. That’s nearly a quarter million abortions each year in Bible-believing churches (Alcorn 17).” For those of us who aren’t in this boat, think about your first reaction to the statistics I just listed. Horror? Shock? Disgust?

I return to my original statement. We fight for birth, not life. If we fought for life, our first reactions would be that of heartbreak, not only for the unborn, but for the mothers who sat through our church services, yet were never encompassed with the love of Christ that should have influenced their decisions. Instead of turning to the church for help and aid, what caused these mothers to feel so rejected that they would hide away from our churches once they become pregnant? Do we really come across as a place and a people so judgmental that she can’t come to Jesus, even if she does have an abortion?

Church, we have to stop being pro-birth and start being pro-life. Stand in the line of fire for those who are already nearly-mortally wounded by society or, God forbid, the church. If we fight for birth but not life, we defeat the purpose. A poverty-stricken child isn’t given a chance at life. We can’t keep turning our eyes from this issue (Not poverty, but our insensitivity to the mothers and children post-birth, just because they don’t look, act, talk, or think like us). I’ll be the first one to admit that I need to change. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed my insensitivity and pride have sky-rocketed. Faaantastic. I never realized how great is the analogy of the church being a body. Cancer can start small, but it has the potential to destroy in a very minute measurement of time. All it takes is one member who is prideful and/or insensitive and the cancer will go from Stage I to Stage IV in no time.

I know we (as an entire Body) have the ability to do this. With the grace of Christ, we can run to those who are hurting and wrap our arms around them. I think we just need a perspective shift. Pro-life. Not pro-birth.

Pray on, friends.

 

*Edit on 9/6/12
There is NOTHING in this post that is seeking to speak against the death penalty. Please see my other post, https://lifeaccordingtohannah.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/the-long-awaited-opinion/  for clarification on my views of the death penalty.

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“Oh, Canada!”

Well, it’s 1:30 AM. Canada Day is officially over. Allow me to explain why Canada Day gets its own blog…

The Canadians here are INTENSE about their partying on Canada Day. Of course the Christian ministry kids were invited.. The whole town is invited to the Canada Day party. Four kegs. GONE by 11:30. I didn’t get there til about 10:45. My friends (not the ACMNP team) were quite lit. I won’t lie; most of the night was pretty hilarious. I met some pretty …outgoing… individuals throughout the night. The rest of the ACMNP had a glass or two of beer. Totally cool; they’re all over 21. At one point, one of our Canadian friends came over and started pouring them all some margarita. Again, it’s cool. She offered me some and I, of course, refused. I’ve always said there’s no way I’ll drink before I’m 21. I’m totally against underage drinking. Well, after she left someone tried to give me a little. First thing outta my mouth, “Would you care if I tasted it?”

“Psh. No, go for it.”

I put the glass up to my lips and almost did it. I was very close. Then I remembered the pact I made with God. I couldn’t do it. I gave it back and he’s like, “Dude seriously. Not a big deal. Have a sip.” I had to continually fight it off. I’ve never been tempted to drink before tonight. Rest assured, I never did, but it was really strange to be tempted like that for once.

I was having a blast the whole night until the last twenty or so minutes I was there. First, I noticed a girl who was completely smashed trying her hardest to find the hottest guy she could so she could take him home with her. That didn’t rip my heart out the most. I expected to see that everywhere. What DID do it for me was when I saw a girl I work with completely drunk and completely stoned. As far as I know she’s never been one to drink to the point of being completely hammered, and she’s never said she likes pot. I’ve never seen someone so far gone. Her face had no color, she’d broken out in what had to have been a cold sweat (did I mention it’s only about 40 or so degrees tonight?), her eyes were blood shot beyond belief, and she could barely hold herself up. And man, were there a number of guys taking note of that. I’m half scared to death that she’s currently in bed with someone she doesn’t know, and that it wasn’t exactly her decision to wind up there if you know what I mean. I tried to talk to her a little bit, but she wasn’t even understanding anything I was saying. She was just laughing at the fact that all the guys kept saying her name. I should have just picked her up and dragged her off. Granted, I would have had a number of people after me, but still. I hate myself for not doing it.

I’ve heard it said a half a dozen times that most people come here to get away from everything for the summer. Most of the people here (mainly the 20-30 somethings) are here to leave the crap they have at home, and to have a good time for the summer. This typically means getting drunk more than once a week. There is so much hurt here. There is so much potential. It’s hard to keep that in mind, though, when so many people see the ACMNP kids as a joke. A lot of people, with a lot of problems, running away from a lot of things, chasing everything down with a lot of alcohol and other substances. This world needs a savior, but what do you do when no one wants one? Alcohol (in crazy-huge amounts) doesn’t save anyone. It creates more problems. People cover up all the pain they deal with something that will never do them any good. It’s so frustrating..

Some of you may be questioning the ACMNP kids going to bars and parties (yes, I can go to bars until a certain hour out here), but remember… Jesus didn’t come to save the ones who didn’t have problems. He came for the destitute, the weak, the hurting, the abused, the addicted, and most importantly, the sinner.

Pray on.

Another One Bites The Dust

For those of you who don’t know, Miley Cyrus has just come out with a new video – “Can’t Be Tamed.” Good girl gone bad. Typical Hollywood story. Seriously Hollywood? Do something different. Stop influencing girls to turn into seductive temptresses. The Internet has enough soft porn on it; try a different marketing scheme. This one’s old.

Once again, the girls of America will catch the underlying message of, “This is what I have to be to turn heads.” I’m assuming that nearly half (if not more) of today’s teens and young adults will fall in love with this song. Why? Because it talks about the wild child in all of us. Here are the lyrics, and then my commentary..

I can get a bit crazy
Have to get my way
24 hours a day
Cause I’m hot like that
Every guy everywhere
Just gives me mad attention
Like I’m under inspection
I always get til 10
Cause I’m built like that

I go through guys like money
Flyin’ out their hands
They try to change me
But they realize they can’t
And maybe tomorrow is
A day I never planned
If you’re gonna be my man understand

I can’t be tamed
I can’t be saved
I can’t be blamed
I can’t, can’t
I can’t, can’t be tamed
I can’t be changed
I can’t be tamed
I can’t be (can’t be)
I can’t be tamed

If there’s a question about my intentions
I’ll tell ya
I’m not here to sell ya
Or tell ya to go to hell
I’m like a puzzle but
All my pieces are jagged
If you can understand this
We can make some magic
I’m on like that

I wanna fly I wanna drive I wanna go
I wanna be a part of somethin’ I don’t know
And if you try to hold me back I might explode
Baby by now you should know

I can’t be tamed
I can’t be saved
I can’t be blamed
I can’t, can’t
I can’t, can’t be tamed
I can’t be changed
I can’t be tamed
I can’t be (can’t be)
I can’t be tamed

I’m not a trick you play
I’m wired a different way
I’m not a mistake
I’m not a fake
It’s set in my DNA
Don’t change me
Don’t change me
Don’t change me
Don’t change me
(I can’t be tamed)

I wanna fly I wanna drive I wanna go
I wanna be a part of somethin’ I don’t know
And if you try to hold me back I might explode
Baby by now you should know

I can’t be tamed
I can’t be saved
I can’t be blamed
I can’t, can’t
I can’t, can’t be tamed
I can’t be changed
I can’t be tamed
I can’t be (can’t be)
I can’t be tamed

Here we go.

“I can get a bit crazy.. Have to get my way.. 24 hours a day.. Cause I’m hot like that.. Every guy everywhere.. Just gives me mad attention.. Like I’m under inspection.. I always get til 10.. Cause I’m built like that..I go through guys like money.. Flyin’ out their hands.. They try to change me.. But they realize they can’t.. And maybe tomorrow is.. A day I never planned..If you gonna be my man understand.. I can’t be tamed..”

Any Type A, headstrong girl with even a hint of a wild side in her will love and relate to this song. Congratulations Miley. You’ve written a song that encourages girls to be selfish, egotistical, and rebellious. First of all – If you have to go from sweet to scandalous, chances are your career was never that musically strong or grounded to begin with. It’s probably safe to say that your persona was being followed more than your talent, or lack thereof.

She says, “I go through guys like money” obviously trying to find a guy who won’t change her. This seems like an .. understandable .. thing, but it’s rather immature. If this new video was a stunt to show she’s “more mature,” it failed. Epically. At least it failed for those who walk in faith. And before I get harped on for talking about faith, please read..

In a 2007 interview, Miley Cyrus said that her faith is “the main thing” in her life, and (sounding like her father) she told USA Today that God wants her to be a “light, a testimony” in Hollywood (“Miley Cyrus Fulfills Her Destiny,” USA Today, January 1, 2007).

Read more at Suite101: Is Miley Cyrus a Christian?: The Faith of the Star of Disney Channel’s Hit Show Hannah Montana http://protestantism.suite101.com/article.cfm/is_miley_cyrus_a_christian#ixzz0n1Js1K5o

I’m not exactly sure this video help that whole “being a light” image. Christians aren’t sinless. There isn’t one that is. However, I’m going to put my foot down on this one. This was entirely preventable. Miley, you’ve let those of us who saw you as a decent role model for younger girls down. In fact, I would never EVER recommend Miley Cyrus as a respectable celebrity ever again. She’s lost all credit in my book.

From a Christian perspective, change is imminent if one is going to stop “going through guys like money.” Yes, get over it America, you’ll have to change pieces of who you are for relationships. Why? Because God better be changing you to prepare you for marriage. I know that there is NO WAY I could ever enter a marriage being who I am right now. Certain things will have to change. What specifically? The part of me that can relate VERY closely to this song. This song could very well be my personal anthem, but instead it sickens me because she’s embracing this as a good thing. Rebelling and “going against the grain” is only good when you’re standing up for something. Standing up for being “who you are” is a load of crap in this case. Let me reiterate that: It’s a load of crap. She’s standing up for not being changed. In what sense? You won’t let go of your wild side? You won’t submit to someone because you’re too stubborn and selfish to admit that YOUR ways might be wrong? Oh cool. Yeah. That screams maturity. If she can’t be changed, then clearly everything she does is correct. I’m just so sick of songs like this for so many reasons!

Let me make all of this a bit more personal..
One of the main reasons I absolutely hate this song is because of how closely I can relate to it. It’s taking a lot of self control to not buy this song off iTunes. Anyone who knows me would agree with what I’ve said entirely. I thrive on not being tamed.. and it’s something I struggle heavily with. It’s been a battle since high school. The song on my senior video is “Wild One” by Faith Hill. I can remember talking with Dave one night and telling him that I never wanted to lose the edge that I have. Settling down means losing a certain level of excitement.. but it also means entering into a completely DIFFERENT level of excitement.  My fear is a very shallow one: losing the edge, losing the appeal, losing the enticement. However, when I’m 50, if I’m still seeking that out, chances are I’m the most immature 50 year old ever. In essence, I’m afraid of not being young forever. Being unwilling to be “tamed” or to “change” means you’re unwilling to grow up. Period.

Here’s the thing: If you’re going to make the claim that your faith is the most important thing in your life, then live like it. Don’t write a song about how you should have your way all the time and then claim to follow Christ. For those of you who say I’m being too harsh, please – just shut up for a minute. I know I’m pushing the envelope, but I’m so disgusted with celebrities claiming Christ and then pulling a stunt like this. If you have a problem, a struggle, whatever, that’s fine. Just own up to it. Don’t try to make it look “hot” and dress it up so you can fit Hollywood’s definition of cool. If you REALLY want to stand out, then don’t do what everyone else has succumbed to. Stand for something. Put some clothes on. Tell girls it’s okay to be afraid of being tamed, but that it’s a sign of growth to sort of “tame the beast.” I know there is a side of me that will never calm down because it’s God-given; the desire to never put down roots, to always be on-the-go, getting to know God’s people, doing ministry everywhere that I can, to fearlessly pursue what he has planned for me.. THAT’S the wild child I shouldn’t ever let go of. Miley has the same side; I hope she discovers it.

Should I ever reach my dream of a famous recording artist, you’re hearing it here first: I will NOT fall to Hollywood’s schemes. I will set an example for young women, and I will live out my faith fearlessly, even if that means not being at the top of the charts all the time. I don’t sing for my own glory anyway. Do I want to be in the lime light? You bet. Why? Because I’m sick & tired of girls looking to promiscuous women for their role models. I want them to look to Christ first, and look to the Christian women around them in their local churches second. I’m so tired of the voice of reason being choked back by what’s “in.” I’m tired of girls being led down the wrong path. Real women stand up for what’s right, even if it isn’t what’s popular.

-steps down off of soapbox-
-screams into a pillow-

Okay. I’m done.

Pray on friends. Pray for those in Hollywood. Pray HARD. And pray viciously.

Matthew 11:12
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

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Victoria Donner

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