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Faith and Endurance

I’ve been wanting to write on this topic for a while, especially in these times when America’s future is uncertain and morality and true faith are a breath of fresh air.  When times (personal or external) are tough and you feel like one thing after another is causing you heavy burden, the most precious thing we have to hold close is faith!

Now, I know that may sound much easier said than done, but when trying times burden my heart (making anxiety even worse with my OCD), I still know the Lord loves me and my future is in His all-powerful Hands.  Before I came to know the Lord through His Word and a personal relationship with Him, faith was hard because without a relationship with God or a grasp of His character, faith is baseless.  I’ve had a relationship with the Lord for a few years now, but only made this relationship connection a few months ago, and ever since then trusting in God has given me peace where I would not truly have it!

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT):

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in You,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”

But Psalm 34:19 and John 16:33, respectively, told us trials would happen… “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers them from them all.” (ESV) and “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

What is most important is how we react (who we lean on and trust in) when these trials come!  But when we do come out unscathed on the other side (Daniel 3:28-29 (visual)) and, eventually meet the Lord when He either calls us home or calls His church home, our faith will be tested by the fire and glorifies the Lord Jesus to the world (1 Peter 1:7).

The Apostle Paul also tells us to be “…joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”—Romans 12:12 (NIV) and that we should “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”—Romans 5:3-5 (ESV, visual)

In his last letter and when he knows he’s about to die, Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:8 (NLT) what awaits those who endure to the end in victory… “And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.”

One of my favorite lines about faith came back in 2013 when “The Bible Series” aired.  In the first episode, right before God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, the narrator says, “After years of struggle, Abraham has learned that to be chosen by God is a blessing—and a test. He must prove his faith—again, and again.” (The Bible Series (2013),”Beginnings, Part 1,” 34:26 time marker)

If you needed any more reason to have faith in trials, there is a reward.  In Revelation 3, Jesus has nothing to correct or discipline with the church in Philadelphia, but commends the church that they’ve “kept His command to endure patiently” and promises to “keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (3:10), which is most likely the Great Tribulation, or “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).

The Apostle John, also called the “Beloved Disciple” (John 20:2), had “patient endurance” (Revelation 1:9) and was given the privilege of seeing and writing what God had concealed for ages.  I truly believe that enduring patiently (trusting God and having faith) is the other side of the reward coin God promises!

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Law Enforcement: Favoritism or “Professional Courtesy”?

(This post was inspired by someone I know being pulled over by a cop for speeding and using their badge to get out of a potential ticket.)

The purpose of this post is to explain the rationale behind my belief that the practice of “professional courtesy” (i.e., allowing fellow authority figures to break the law without repercussion) is corrupt, not necessarily to provide solutions.

Before I begin, I want to say I have high respect for law enforcement officers. When I was in middle school, I started watching reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger and for more than a decade afterward, I wanted to be an FBI agent. Then, for two years after graduating from high school and before moving to Texas, I volunteered with a California police department. 

To my knowledge, the police officers I worked with while volunteering never engaged in the practice of extending these professional courtesies to others in their field. In fact, when one of the K9 officers, who was also one of my advisors, said to me, “I’m held to high standards—I’m going to hold you to higher standards,” his words made a strong impression on me.

That being said, I’ve seen this on the news… police officers giving preferential treatment to fellow law enforcement officers. Their superiors may say, “They will be held accountable,” but the perspective and subsequent behavior of a police officer sometimes changes once they find that their suspect has a badge or some position of authority, and this is the point at which the scales of justice are made unequal.

This kind of treatment is hypocritical at best and corrupt at worst. It is a game of Russian roulette wherein the repercussions of this preferential treatment can cause irreversible harm, and the longer this pattern continues, the greater the chances that something tragic could happen.

For example, what about an inebriated off-duty officer who has repeatedly been “let off the hook” by fellow officers for driving drunk? What would they have to say for themselves should he kill someone while driving under the influence? Once this happens, the blood of the victim will be on the hands of every officer who knew about the behavior and did nothing to stop it. 

Therefore, I can’t help but find the practice of officers extending this sort of professional courtesy to be indefensible, unjust, and corrupt. And what does this say about the officers who practice it? Well, according to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution (specifically the “Equal Protection Clause” aka “Equal Justice Under Law”) and founding principles of America, everybody is to be treated equally under the law.

This tenet is also supported by Scripture. Apostle Paul addressed this issue in Romans 2:1, which says, in effect, that although they may see themselves as being less accountable for their unlawful actions because of their position of authority, they are, in fact, more guilty because they should know better! 

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (NIV) And because God is perfectly true and perfectly just, He “does not show favoritism.”—Romans 2:11

The badge and position of law enforcement is a place of high standards, and any person in authority who is caught breaking the law they are sworn to protect should receive at least the same, if not more harsh, justice according to the law.

Why I Can No Longer Sing or Listen To “God Bless America”

This may seem bold or un-American, but I’m aware of what I’m saying. I was born and raised in America and grew up playing, watching, and loving the nation’s pastime… baseball. I loved listening to beautiful renditions of “God Bless America” during major sporting events and holidays. But recently, I haven’t been able to sing or listen to it because I don’t believe it matches with our current reality.

Why do I believe this? Our Pledge of Allegiance contains the words “under God,” and if a nation wants God’s blessing, He expects them to take His laws seriously. If they don’t, they will be under a more severe penalty than of a nation that doesn’t claim allegiance—the more guilty nation did not fear Him or His laws as its people claimed.

But America has committed abominations—the legalized murder of innocents, legalized covenants of perversion and sexual immorality, and idolatry of presidents, to name a few. America has ignored the eternal laws of God engraved on the buildings of our highest courts. And if He doesn’t drop the hammer down, we’ll end up destroying ourselves.

We have abandoned our trust in God in favor of trust in presidents, politicians, money, and government. Many Americans, including the mainstream news, can’t believe how bad the leadership is under President Trump. We have turned away from the God of this nation. He is the only One who gives us a firm and uncompromising basis for morality and truth—both of which cannot be separated from Him and still work. Because we have compromised on truth, morality, and love, our only basis of reference for what was once good is history and traditions.

Like Moses calling his people back to their God after four hundred years of slavery, we need a mass spiritual revival—starting with God’s anointed and holy church.

I believe many things need to happen for the judgment of God to not come upon America, but these are just a few major issues America must see. This list is by no means comprehensive.

  1. For Americans, especially those in high power and authority, to love the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
  2. Repealing the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage. (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26–27)
  3. Total abolition of Roe v. Wade, on national and state levels. (Matthew 2:16–18)
  4. God’s church adhering to and proclaiming His Word in His house.
  5. Great repentance by the nation and call of prayer to seek His Holy face.

I have loved this country and what it stood for, but I can’t ignore blatant wickedness, perversion, and corruption. I do hope America repents of her wickedness and major wicked laws listed above, but my allegiance is now to the Lamb of God and His eternal Kingdom. Glory be to His Name and His Kingdom, now and forevermore!

Counting the uncountable: God’s love for us!

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve longed for friendship with people.  If someone mentioned or talked about me in a good way, it always uplifted and made me feel warm.  Why wouldn’t it?  This mentality even extended into areas one might not think of.  If my name was used as a character’s name in a book, I would get giddy because I would think if someone I knew by chance read my name, they might think of me.

But I’ve come to realize that my priorities were out of place.  Even that last example was a far stretch because it was “by chance.”  Even if we consider our spouse, significant other, parents, or kids who think about us all the time (or vice versa), the quantities and depths of thought and love they give us is absolutely minuscule compared to the way God feels and cares for us.

In Psalm 139:17–18 (NIV), David says:

17 How precious to me are Your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand
    when I awake, I am still with You.

That’s the love God has for us!  The gravity is overwhelming and the amount is incomprehensible—and the only natural and proper reaction is to fall on our face and worship at His nail-pierced feet!

Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

Praises rebuke the enemy!

A short but important realization: On Sunday night, I was home trying to get homework done when the enemy started to attack me in my thoughts. I’m vulnerable there because my OCD causes me to doubt many things, including the assurances of God. But I remembered some of my other friends in Christ have said the enemy can’t be around when we sing praises to the Lord. “Shout to the Lord” by Hillsong Worship (one of my favorite worship songs) was in my head, so I started singing silently. I immediately felt the peace of God as the thoughts of doubt quickly fled! I hope this message gives you a weapon from the Lord to defend against the enemies attacks!

Scriptural References:

Ephesians 6:10-18 – resist the devil by taking up God’s armor in prayer (which includes praise).

James 4:7 – resist the devil by submitting to God, which we do when we sing praise and gratitude to God.

Sportsmanship

When you think of sportsmanship, what do you think of? A player helping his/her opponent up? Shaking hands after a game? Would you believe me if I told you fans also have the responsibility of sportsmanship too?! Yep, the duty of the fan, among many other things, is to act civilly and with thanksgiving when a beloved player leaves an organization. Why? Because if you only love a player when they’re playing for you, what credit is that to you? Sound familiar? That’s because it’s a modern application of what Jesus said “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?…”-Luke 6:32

It’s almost become expected that fans will burn jerseys and boo them upon a future return. It seems to be an uncommon occurrence that fans will cheer, give thanks, and honor former players when they play their old team. But there are examples of fans giving standing ovations in many sports to players who went to a different team. Take, for instance, Sergio Romo, who closed out the San Francisco Giants’ 2012 World Series win against the Detroit Tigers, then went to the Dodgers—longtime rivals of the Giants—and received a standing ovation for his time in San Francisco.

There’s a similar example in hockey. When Patrick Marleau, drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 1997 and who spent 20 years with the team, signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he received a memorable and moving homecoming upon his return with his new team the following season.

These are just a few examples of fans showing both cases of admirable behavior and reprehensible behavior to players who gave so much. Sports, teams, and fans must have character into the contest area if any honor is to be seen in sports—winning and losing. If not, those who act in a despicable manner are nothing more than players and fans who are slaves to their own evil emotions. “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.'”-John 8:34

Live for today… or eternity?

The month of June was pride month. If you’re not aware, that’s the month where American society celebrates equality and the LGBTQ community. I used to be in support of this movement and community because of my conservative beliefs and this quote from Thomas Jefferson: “But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Also, I have friends who identify with this lifestyle. I do not denigrate the people of this lifestyle as human beings. However, their choices have eternal consequences and, thus, I cannot condone their choices.

But as my faith in Christ, knowledge of His Word, and prayer grew, I found I could not support the lifestyle any longer because I now care more about what God cares about—eternity—and therefore, I cannot ignore or support it just because it doesn’t affect me.

But now that my heart is closer to God’s heart, I can more clearly feel what He feels. So when I am watching the news and if an effeminate man is shown, my eyes want to just look away while my heart is sad for them. Some of the Church today has been deceived into thinking because someone is born with desires toward the same sex, that it must be natural. However, the Apostle Paul tells us otherwise in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (ESV): “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality…

About the movement…

One of the most distinguishing symbols of the pride movement is the rainbow flag, which represents different genders and sexual identities. This movement has evolved so much that there are now over sixty different “genders,” according to CBS News and Telegraph.co.uk.

I must be truthful with you—this movement is demonic. No, I am not homophobic (fearing, hating, or mistreating homosexuals). However, my heart breaks for them as does God’s because He doesn’t want to see anyone perish the Second Death.

Why do I believe it’s demonic? Because God has established laws and only two genders: male and female. When we believe we can establish our own genders, we are taking God’s authority upon ourselves when He has not permitted it. This act was what satan tried to do and what he convinced Adam and Eve of—that God was holding out on them and that they could become like God instead of with Him.

Satan’s kingdom in Hell is the place of lawlessness (where anything goes), and we can see this so evidently in the pride movement’s flag (where any gender/sexual preference goes). It doesn’t have to be this way, though; God’s grace is still available to all who want to be free from sin and have eternal life with Christ. The three-step path to redemption is admitting you’re a sinner (just like I am), believing Christ is the Son of God, and calling upon His Name to be saved! From there, He will give you the gift of eternal life* and will give you a new heart of flesh**!

* “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”—Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV)

** “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”—Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)