Will Christ help me with everything?

easter scene with crown of thorns, hammer and nails with blood on sand

easter scene with crown of thorns, hammer and nails with blood on sand

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me
I very often hear, and see this verse. But almost every single time, it’s out of context. Usually the person quoting it, in life, or on facebook has just accomplished a difficult task. Whether rock climbing, an exam, a heavy lift, dieted and lost weight…the examples are endless.
Almost everyone of the examples given above, don’t give glory to Christ. They give us glory. We just throw Christ’s name in there to not look like we want all the glory. But if we are going to really analyze it, if we didn’t want the glory, we wouldn’t have take on the particular activity we did.
I’m not saying we can’t be proud of accomplishing incredible things. What I am saying, is not to throw that particular verse in every time you do something, that has absolutely nothing to do with the gospel.

Let’s look at a bit of background to this text.

First, realize this, the apostle Paul, was in a prison when he wrote the letter to the Philippians. He wasn’t rock climbing Mount Everest. He was anticipating his release. He was writing the Philippians to show his appreciation to them for their continued support, prayer and growth.

If we know anything about prisons in those days, people didn’t claim strength. To either fight the guards, break the chains or even start a riot. Once in prison, you had no rights. Nothing like the prisons of today with everything included. Not saying prison time is easy now, but prisoners have more privileges now than they did back then.

The context that Paul was writing this letter, was about encouraging the Philippians in their work for Christ.

He could do all things through Christ that strengthens him, was anything to move the gospel forward.

Remember that Paul had survived being stoned and left for dead, beaten with rods 3 times, whipped with 39 lashes 5 times, attached by an angry mob, many death threats. What about the hardships?

Shipwrecked 3 times and floated for about 24 hrs, criticized by other Christians, under arrest for 2 years without a trial and bitten by a viper.
Most, if not all of us, have no idea what kind of context this would be. Some of us may have had threats, but not serious death threats.

I remember preaching the gospel on Main St in Moncton. The closest threat I got, was a man clinching his fist. My only prayer was “God, let him hit hard enough, that it will put me out. That way, I won’t have to figure out if I have to defend myself, or show the other cheek”. I have to admit, it was a tense and stressful moment. But nothing compared to what Paul had been through.

If anything, the Christians in the middle east, India, North Korea and similar places, have more context to use this verse than we do.

That’s what context Paul is writing. Not self glory about unbelievable achievements he was able to accomplish. And yes, I will say, some people have had incredible achievements in their lives. But to claim that and tie it to Christ…context should always be considered.
I’m sure there are some verses that could be used, but this one, I’m not convinced.

Christ, or the bunny

easter-bunny--3-1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him
Recently there has been a break up of a teen band called “One Direction”. While I am familiar with a couple of their songs on the radio, they play often in stores and shops. I couldn’t name the songs if they played.
I heard a few things on the radio that made me think of how sad this world is. Some teenagers, presumably young girls wanted to take time off work to cope with the heartache they are facing with the separation of the band members.
Have we made ourselves some idols so strong in this world, that when things don’t go our way, whether it’s a hockey team going for the Stanley Cup, football team going for the Super Bowl, Baseball with the Pennant and the list goes on.
How about possibly our own car, your lawn, your yard, house, furniture, friends and the list goes on and on and on.
Am I saying we can love our possessions? Absolutely not. We have to take care of what the Father has granted us. However it shouldn’t go to the point of obsession that we need time off work to cope with a band, that has no idea who you even are, that is splitting up.
I remember seeing some pictures of young women that were pretending to be kissing some movie star cutout cardboards, with much intensity, and the caption below was disturbing on what they wanted to do to that cardboard while imagining it was the actual star.
We have not only taken some of our passions and turned them into hobbies. But we have taken our passions and turned them into our obsessions. And I’m not immune to this. I have my struggles with hockey. I was talking to my wife, this morning. I am a Montreal Canadians fan. I don’t miss a game. If I’m at work while the game is on, or at the gym, I have it on PVR.
I watch it later. I love watching the strategies, the failed attempts, the success and obviously the winning. And I love winter. I am not a big, big fan of summer. But what I love about summer, is that I get my evenings back.
Once hockey is over, I have almost every night to do what matters to my family and I. In the winter, we hibernate, train a little at the gym, but I watch hockey, along with my studies.
But I wonder often, what really has my heart, my study, or hockey? And I’m not even closely obsessed with hockey as much as some of my friends are. Or as some people are about other passions. And I almost find it a burden with the time I put into it.
The coming weekend is a weekend that has a 2000 yr old anniversary. The death and resurrection of someone that marked the calendar forever. Yet there is barely a mention of him anywhere anymore. We are trying to drown him out. Proclaimed Atheists around the world are attempting to deny his existence. Other religions and faiths say “everyone’s belief system is valid”.
But he, while on earth said “I am the way, truth and the life. No one comes to the father but through me”.
With that exclusive claim, there’s only 2 possibilities. Either he is, or he’s not.
Dear friend. Have you considered Christ this coming Easter, or are you tied up in the world, and you will love chocolate and the bunny like everyone else is doing?
Remember, you only have 1 life to live on earth. And that is the one that decides where you will spend eternity. It’s multiple choice, with only 2 choices.

Is life as a Christian easy?

Luke 9:23-24 (NIV) Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

More and more we hear preachers (Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar and the list goes on) preaching a very different gospel that Christ preached.
They preach on being rich, or at least not having any suffering. I remember hearing Benny Hinn even saying that if you are sick, it’s because of a lack of faith. The ironic part was, he was wearing glasses due to failing eye sight like most of us after a certain age.
I very often talk to people that claim they were Christians, but then they gave it up because they weren’t happy all the time.
The problem with preaching in North America (at least on a general scale) is that it’s sold as a bill of sale without issues.
It goes something like this. “Sir, you seem to have lots of things in your life, have you ever heard about Christ? He’s going to wash all your tears away, and make everything alright. If you have debt, he will help you clear them, heal sicknesses…”.
Not word per word, however the thought is there and this is the message portrayed. Then we have people that don’t want to believe in “religion” anymore because nothing of the above happened. And who can blame them?
When was the last time you bought a product, was told one thing, and the opposite happened and you went back to the same salesman and asked for something new? You would avoid that store, or at least that salesperson in fear of being taken again.
What’s the difference with Christ? If you are sold on a Christ that loves you no matter what and will fix all your problems, you have been sold a lie. Christ, according to the verse above, NEVER promised an easy life.
What he did promise however, is to walk through it with you. He will never give you more than you can handle. However, once the ordeal is done, you will be shocked in how much you could actually take.
When Christ said to take up your cross and follow him, he was speaking symbolically about his own cross. Imagine being nailed to it, then suffocating while hanging there. If you are to be a Christian, there are going to be some tough times. Some VERY tough times. You will feel that everyone has abandoned you. You will feel alone in the world. However, Christ is there. Even if we don’t physically see him, he’s never left our side.
If we told people more truth in the sermon. “sir, do you have any idea how good God is? Do you have any idea how bad we are? And do you have any idea how that’s a bad problem? Let me present you Christ, the one that can reconcile us. We must repent of our sins against him and accept Christ as our savior, while not making life easy, restores us to God, and saves us from His wrath toward us for offending him”. While most conversations with unbelievers can last minutes to years, this is a more accurate description of the gospel.
It won’t make you any friends, but this is the method God has used to save his flock.

If someone doesn’t agree with me, are they still nice?

nice-personJeremiah 17: 9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
Recently at work, I found out that a same sex couple (women to be specific) gave birth to a child. This defies our logic since they have no man in their life. It was then discovered that they got a sperm donor. Now the whole thing makes sense. One of the 2 ladies was the carrier obviously, and the donor signed off his rights, financial responsibilities, and his views on any upbringing of the child.
All the mentioned above is done by the couple. While I can’t say I’m completely shocked in this day and age, what I will write on in this post, is their expression in this event.
When asked about the child, whether they adopted or how they got the child, their response was “a very nice man helped us”.
Here’s the issue, nice man compared to what? You see, if the man had some issue with 2 women raising a child, and politely refused, would he still have been nice? If he was a multi millionaire, donated thousands and thousands every year to the Red Cross, or any other charitable organization and then spent every waking minute not working on the streets to help the homeless. Then helping young pregnant women find counsel, no matter what decision the make (keep it, put it up for adoption or abortion).
Let’s say his family is very well raised and respectable in that they respect others, and work hard like their father in society.
Let’s say he doesn’t even believe in God, and he does all this simply because he believes in the greater good. If an employee of his steals money from him at work, and he doesn’t prosecute the employee, but simply says, “the money you stole from me for whatever reason, is forgiven, however you will not work in the same position again. You will now work in a division where you can’t steal, and you will be supervised”.
We would all qualify this as nice, wouldn’t we? But what if he was approached and refused to donate his sperm. Would they still call him nice?
What if his life is the complete opposite? Say he’s a thief, a liar, major temper, drugs and sleeps with women every night, and doesn’t care about anyone else’s emotions. We would classify him as “not nice”, but he donates his sperm because they know him personally.
You see, being nice, is ALWAYS in relation to another person that gets what they want. I personally don’t agree with 2 people of the same sex raising a child. There have been more than enough studies showing that a child needs a father and a mother. These studies show it on a general scale, so I can’t point the finger and say all couples are the same. So please don’t think I’m saying all same sex couples are the same, they most definitely are not.
That would be like saying all heterosexual couples are perfect to raise a child. If the husband is very abusive towards his wife, I can hardly call that a great environment for a child either.
The concept might be right, however the ingredients are wrong.
The point I’m trying to make in this post, is not that this man was nice, it’s that he gave them what they wanted, the point was subjective. It was based on the relativity of their needs/wants.
I’m wondering if they would have called me nice, with the way I everyone I meet with dignity. If due to my beliefs and convictions, I would have declined should they have approached me.
Would they have insulted me, threatened to sue me based on their view of discrimination, even though them insulting my views would have also being discrimination against me.
How often do we want something, and when we get it, we give those people compliments. Because they fulfilled out desire. Whether moral or not. When our desires are satisfied, we give compliments to those that gave us access to our objectives.
However, when someone denies us that access, either when making a purchase, stopping us at a gate to an event (concert, sports event, whatever). We quickly turn to anger and hatred. Our compliments turn to insults for not letting us get what we want.
I am very much in the same boat. Though my wife tells me my temper is almost nonexistent, it does exist occasionally. I have seen myself push my weight around to get my way.
Which is why the verse above is so fitting to all of us. We’re only nice, when we get our way. When we don’t get our way, and we don’t feel like compromising, we react just like the child in the store wanting candy. The only difference is, we don’t lay on the floor pounding our fists. We resort to insults, and threats of lawsuits.
Oh how we have grown up.

People have no fear of God in their eyes.

Picture_6775AA_ezrBeing a typical guy, I enjoy video games from time to time. And I remember seeing an infographic on youtube that showed that my age bracket (32-40) was the most active in playing video games. That probably comes from being in the same generation that Atari came out when I was young. Then the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), and the gaming consoles evolved more advanced, better graphics and eventually, so lifelike that the arcades we played with quarters couldn’t keep up and were phased out.
Then came out the first person shooters (mostly war games, that you shoot people online). I admit, they sometimes are a great stress reliever since you don’t actually kill anyone. I play it almost guiltless since I’m only on for at the most 1hr a day, if I have time at all. Get on there, let my manly man thing take over with the weak shooting abilities that I have and usually get slaughtered.
The fun part is, I get to play with guns as most men have that hunting instinct. I get to let out steam by shooting others in a virtual world and no one really gets hurt.
The part that hit me today, was that while playing, you can also chat with people within the game. Either giving a compliment by letting them know “nice shot” when they got you where you didn’t think you were visible. Asking how to do a technique if you’re a rookie and asking how the day was when you get to know some of them on the server.
But the negative thing, some parents let their children play these games. I found out that 3 of the individuals playing were 15 (two of them) and 1 was 12. And the 15 yr olds had no issue swearing up a storm when they were frustrated. And the game I play, is quite novice in the realm of graphics (it came out in 2004), there’s no swearing in the game, there’s absolutely no nudity, fighting (aside shooting and grenades) no stealing and the list goes on.
I actually find it a tame game. I would still however not let my young teenager play it, especially if he/she is the type of person that gets aggravated quickly if they lost often.
Today, there is absolutely no fear of God or respect for Him in anyway. Romans 3:18 describes this perfectly. “There is no fear of God in their eyes”. Young kids are playing games that were designed for adults that know the difference between a virtual world and a real world. And there are hundreds of games that should never have been created in the first place.
Grand Theft Auto series comes to mind. I have played the first one for about 30 minutes and I was bored. Wasn’t my type of game. But now the 5th installment of the game was released a few months ago, and there is everything from hotwiring cars, to prostitutes, nude women and actually sex and abusing women in the video game.
If you put someone that still hasn’t live outside his parents house, still hasn’t had a job and hasn’t had any morality compass taught in his life, how do you think he going to treat people.
We see it all the time with teenagers now in the mall. They want something, and the parents say no, they will humiliate their parents till they get it. And if they are home, I have heard as far as starting fist fights with their parents.
A 6’ tall young man, whose father is only 5’5”, and half the weight, there might be a struggle if the young man was not taught respect from the start.
I know for myself, my father is 5’6” and barely 140lbs. I’m at 6’4” and tipping the scales at over 200 since I was 23. If my parents didn’t put the fear of God in me, and teach me to respect adults, I can just imagine the struggles they would have had.
Today, the verse mentioned in Romans has never been more true. Children as well as adults have absolutely no regard of future consequences for their actions (talking on a general scale, some still have some moral compass by the grace of God).
If you take their parking space in the mall parking lot, they cuss you out, or worse, some have actually been sent to the hospital with stab wounds or gun shots. Black Friday, a huge shopping day in the USA has caused fatalities.
I’m not saying Christians are perfect. We aren’t. The difference is, God has now written his law on our hearts, so our conscience is hitting us much harder than it ever was before. I have to say, that I probably sin more now that I am saved, ONLY because now I know I do it. Before, if I took God’s name in vain, I never even noticed it. Now, when I hear someone else say it, it hits me hard, like a knife in the heart.
Dear friend, reading this. I know you’re not an ignorant person, you have some common sense and I’m sure you’ve noticed how people are now calling evil things good, and good things evil. God has already set the standard. We can’t change it, because we would change it every year based on our emotions/feelings.
I pray that you look to Christ on the cross, repent of your sin and believe in him.

Has social media ruined Christian fellowship

Social-Media-Manager-1024x683As of late, my wife and I were contacted by someone looking to do a private adoption with us. At this point, we were skeptical, however it was impossible to hide the hope we had in potentially finally becoming parents and feeling a self worth more than just husband and wife.
The family was specific in that they wanted a reformed Baptist family raising the child, to which we replied that fits our description. Then the social workers got involved and told the family that there are great Catholic families out there looking for children, the grandfather of the child mentioned “If we were Muslim, you would never have brought up a different religion, you would have had to oblige”. And at point, they mentioned the way they approached us was illegal. This was the first sign of intimidation towards the family.
So the family advised the social workers of what they wanted for the adoptive family, and they obliged. The mother of child was not 100% stable. And so the social workers preyed on this, and used it to their advantage and told her she would have the final decision on where the child would go.
However, at the end of it, they had her sign a document that was for public adoption, which means she signs over ever right to the province.
When the mother and her sister finally signed a document retracting the entire process, and another document passing all decisions to her sister, the social workers again mentioned the illegal process, and said the new documents were invalid.
Now another family potentially has the child that may have been for us. The family giving up their child is seeing a lawyer to see if any integrity was broken on behalf of the social workers.
All this took place over 3 – 4 weeks. And I can say, it is the most painful process, especially when we got the call saying the child was lost. I can only compare the events to watching your child get hit by a car, and there was absolutely nothing you could do.
My wife is numb with pain, I am trying to stay strong for her, but know my own strength is limited. We are trying hard to keep faith and hope.
But the other hard part is, that our own church family, none have contacted us. We always tell everyone when we preach the gospel that the love of Christ overbears all. I have to admit, though I know God loves me and is pulling us through this, I don’t always feel it. And during this emotional time (for both my wife and I) our church family didn’t call us during the first part of our trial.
Everyone however is using Facebook to tell us how much they love us and care for us. Has Facebook and social media replaced what Christ preached? As well as what Paul and all the preachers of old taught us? We were taught to love and support each other. But now, seems that social media has taken over. Text messages are quicker so we can move on with our day. Too many things to tend to, I’ll just send an encouraging thought.
The problem is, we can’t cry through a Facebook message when the hurt is too heavy. You can’t hug your phone and arms grow out of the other person’s phone to translate the hug to you. There are some human interactions that will never be replaced by social media. I have to admit, I am very emotional with some things, and other things, not so much. I am always compassionate. And I am also very strong in supporting my wife. However the last series of events, my wife needed support from women. And not for them to talk, but just for them to listen.
And I needed support from men, a shoulder that I could rest my head on, when my wife is not resting her head on my shoulder. Though I’m not much for hugs, I could have used a few.
John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the bible. However, at times like this, it’s also one of the strongest ones to show that humans have emotions. We sometimes say things in our hurting emotional state that hurt others. We will do things irrationally. And then that verse comes to mind. “Jesus wept”, or in other translations, “Jesus cried”.
Jesus, being fully God and fully man, was not immune to emotions when Lazarus died. And I think the emotion lasted longer than it takes to read the verse. It takes ½ a second to read it. But he could have very well cried with the people for a few hours.
It’s ok to have emotions, it’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be hurt. But what we also need, are other people to encourage us in our hurt. The hard part is, when our Christian family is more concerned with verses of encouragement than they are with hugs and tears.

And for the record, we are not angry with our church family. Our emotions have taken over, and seems every one is a target when you feel low.

Has the internet and social media helped, or digressed the gospel of Christ?

Internet-IPv6As of late, I have been thinking much about this topic. The internet has been around since the 1960’s (military use in the USA) then gone public with highly educated “techies” in the mid to late 80’s. And went public with mostly text websites in the 90’s.
The internet went graphics as we know it a little later. Computers were expensive to purchase, it wasn’t high speed. The internet connected via dial up (couldn’t talk and connect at the same time, annoying when you had to call tech support). Then finally it came to high speed that you could talk and be online at the same time.
Then the younger generation jumped all over it. Fantastic web sites, made by professionals, information coming from all around the developed world. Emails were helping people communicate much faster than snail mail. Just hit send, and within seconds, the recipient would get their message. A few more minutes if you attached a photo, or a file.
Then came social media and chat came around. Myspace and ICQ, MSN Messenger, then the all too well known, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and tons more.
While all these are great tools to connect with people, that’s about where they stop. We have now reduced our lives to videos that are less than 10 minutes. Any longer and we see it as a waste of time. Reading? We don’t read anymore, we skim. We have so much information coming at us from every angle that we can’t wait to get to the next article.
Which brings me to my topic. Has the internet helped us with the gospel of Christ? I see it as a yes and a no. The big thing about reading the bible, is we must familiarize ourselves with the historic content of the literature we are reading. While the book was written 2000 yrs ago, the applications are timeless.
How often do we read something, and don’t apply the correct context to it. When Christ talks about women, in the bible. He gives them as much honor as he gives men. In that culture, women were unfortunately viewed as property. And still are in a number of cultures.
But people read right over that. We’re too busy looking for the next thing. Which is why I believe the internet and social media do a bit of harm when it comes to spreading the gospel.
We put the link to an article about persecution from somewhere else around the world, and before even reading it, we judge it. Many “Christian” people around the world now have access to the internet and spread hate towards homosexuality, abortion, races, communist countries, and you can pretty much insert whatever you want here and they all claim the bible supports them.
Another issue, is that more and more employers are looking at your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and such to see what kind of context you post. If you hate a certain people group, you may not get the job, and if you have the job, you may lose it.
Anyone can now post anything they want. There seems to be a quote from Albert Einstein, whether he coined it or not, it stands true more and more we look at our younger generations. “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.
When people like the Westboro Baptist Church (if you want to see everything a Christian does NOT stand for, see their site) now have the internet to post anything they want. And then people around the world find their site with a few bible verses, and the title “Christian” and they tell me “You Christians are all so judging”. Well, once again, we have to look at the context and the motive of the heart.
Others are using Facebook to push their views against or for something. But since we can’t convey emotions with text, if you had a bad day and are angry, you will read it with an angry tone. Even if the writer had nothing but compassion in their heart while they wrote it.
I can see the internet and social media as helping reach people all around the world with the gospel. But one must be very cautious that cultures around the world don’t have the same views you have. And they may not read the text with the same tone you wrote with. I will never apologize for sharing the gospel and truth about how much sin offends God. I will however choose my avenues carefully.
I was a big proponent of posting things about God all the time, and articles putting down homosexuality, abortion, politics and much more on Facebook. I have discovered only one thing, it enraged people in the wrong way since they often times thought I put those things on my wall with a judging heart.
I now very rarely post anything controversial on my wall, not in fear of man, but in fear of being taken out of context. Still the best way to share the gospel, is sharing it on the street, having a coffee, inviting someone to your house to explain it. That way, if they have questions, you can answer them without everyone else feeding off from someone’s bad comment online.