Espirational Faith

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." –The Apostle Paul


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New Year – Old Wars

This article was written as an answer to a post made by a person in a discussion forum several weeks ago. I am reposting this today, New Year’s Day of 2018, as my response to her and anyone else’s fearful statements to the way terrorism seems to have a goal of annihilating everyone who are not Islamic and how it appears the only thing that can be done is to oppose such a religious faith violently. There is another way.

 

 

Believe me I understand how you feel about how Islam seems as violent as to want everyone who is not of their religion dead. But it is a religion, now hundreds of years old, regardless what we or others call it. My intent in replying to your comment is not to argue with you, but to give another point of view.
Let me ask this, in reality, are any other religions truly much different? We know that the Islamic faith sprung from the tribes’ ancestors by two brothers’ conflict. Most people of faith have read the Old Testament and wondered about the Hebrews being told to perform one battle after another, slaughtering whoever stood in their way, to take over the land promised to Abraham. And the Christians? From the time that believers in Jesus, the Christ, were forced out of Jerusalem in 66 A.D. Christians have stood at attention ready for military battle to defend our faith; believing that if they did not, then who would? This can be seen in international conflicts like the Christian Crusades, and more localized conflicts like the enduring war between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland.
But have those armed military conflicts really settled anything? Oh, certainly you can point at the United States and proclaim that had it not been for the armed revolution against the British that the Freedom of Religion would not be known in that country, or anywhere else. Freedom of religion? Defined how? While the whole purpose of this clause in American government was to sever the relationship between religion and government, it seems that today certain extremists Christian believers are proclaiming that instead the clause means freedom only for those who believe in Christianity. This, therefore, is an action toward establishing Christianity as the state religion, and to make things worse, those who are shouting this should be done are also declaring that anyone who does not believe in Jesus as the Christ should have no rights or possibly be killed. Now tell me, how different is that than what you found in the Quran?
Let’s take just a few moments and reason this whole mess out. WWJD?
Most certainly it is not a pleasant experience to suddenly realize that there are major, and I mean extremely major groups and forces who may feel it is their duty and responsibility to the God they worship to annihilate the rest of us. But, not to make excuses for these peoples’ actions nor to imply they are right, the Islamic/Mohammedan people have, in the past, experienced the same treatment at the hands of the Jews and Christians. The immutable conflict between the two brothers has been on an international, interreligious battleground for millennial ages now and has spread worldwide with no foreseeable end in sight.
So just what is this battle? Is it really who owns a piece of land in the Mid-East? Is our battle really who has been given the true access to the Creator, God of this physical universe?
I can tell you through my years of experience in the study of people, societies and human religions that the people who claim and try to live the Islamic religion are, in their hearts, no more naturally violent than anyone else – Christian or not. Now this can be offensive speech when heard by many Christian believers; but how many true believers have you ever known who would not explain away the words of Christ when it came to explaining their reasons for having a right, a duty, to defend themselves and their families? Yet is this the Christ message they are declaring, or is it something each one of us learn from the time we are born that is our “sacred” duty to do – or be shamed? This radical declaration of possible violent defense of the Christian belief systems is actually no different than what I have heard from the few radical Muslims I have had discussions with. The teaching of ones right and responsibility to defend their religious roots and existence is universal, though the roots may be on different religious plants.
But there is a different group of people in every religion, every country, and every group of well-meaning individuals who are less than benevolent, less than pure, less than holy. While there are people in every religion in the world who try to live a pure, clean and holy life, Christian, Jewish, Islamic and other religions alike, there are others who would prefer to disrupt the balance and claim such spiritual riches as being theirs and their groups’ alone. These extremists are the ones who declare that everyone who does not believe as they do and/or serve their purpose should die. They are the political activists who consider no compromise. They are, in short, the terrorists.
Fear is a terrible taskmaster. But, instead of the popular t-shirts with the slogan printed on them stating, “No Fear,” we, as Christians, should be holding up a banner proclaiming “Pure Love.” We are in a spiritual battle during this age, as stated in one of the “Lost Gospels” where the conflict is over good vs. evil, light vs. darkness and truth vs. lies. The truth which Jesus proclaimed is to not fear those who proclaim that darkness and defeat is inevitable, because if we believe that then our actions will become such as to cause that fear to become reality. No our instructions given by Christ was to “occupy” until he returns. Notice there is no mention of doing battle or slaughtering everyone who refuses to believe in Christ. We are to simply occupy. (LUK 19:13)
Strange, isn’t it? If we were all to simply occupy and serve God, as we know him, in our own ways without attempting to say, as would little children, “My God is better, bigger, more powerful than your God,” then go about our daily lives serving God as best we know how, it seems that could be a taste of heaven on Earth?
What do you think?
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A Newborn Year — A Newborn Life

To the new born, everything is new. While usually their eyes are still sealed shut, the new world around them is vibrant with sounds, smells and textures. All of which are spell binding. All of which are wonderfully compelling. All of which create a drive to want to see. To the person who is newly born into the true faith of the Spirit of God, of Christ, within us it is no different. These new born believers hear the sounds of truth around them. They smell the essence of the incense of prayers for them. And they feel the love which is now their life not only within them but all around them. Grow, little children, sleep, observe, play; for soon you will see with your own eyes, your own spirits, that which many have only ever dreamed.

We are holding now a three day old New Year in our hands, what do we do to help it grow and develop into the type of year we can be proud to be part of? We are also holding the occassion to allow the Spirit of the Christ child opportunity to grow within us. The question is will we?

There is only one way a baby grows: By someone loving it enough to provide its basic needs of air, water, milk, warmth and protection. As newborns grow they learn to do these things themselves, but for now they must be comfortable with being cared for by those who love them.

The same is true with this new year. While often uncomfortable, the inability to know the future is actually quite a blessing at times. To know the future would mean that we also would feel responsible to attempt to change that future if something were foreknown to be harmful to someone we love or ourselves. This type of responsibility could cause irresponsible actions by us because we would feel compelled to take actions which, on a universal-eternal basis, may not be prudent.

No, for the most part we know not the future. The year just past has proven that to most of us with the social-political events which have shook the globe. But the globe has been shaken before, yet it still spins on its axis and travels around the sun at a steady pace. And yes, we are still here.

The fact is that the spiritual Kingdom of God is but still an infant, a newborn. The Apostle, Paul, stated that he, representing the early church, “travailed in birth” (GAL 4:19) awaiting the rebirth of the believers in God through the Christ Spirit. And John said, in the book of The Revelation, that the birth of the Christian Church was as if the Hebrew faith were pregnant, and “travailing in birth,” or that is to be in labor (REV 12:2). The early church was the rebirth of mankind’s faith in the true Holy Spirit of God.

It has now been two allegorical days since that birth (2PE 3:8) and while much growth has occurred within the past 2000 years for most of us our eyes are not yet open. Many of us are frustrated and dismayed that the world is still in what seems to be even worse turmoil than historians have recorded to have occurred in the past. So we weep and shout and proclaim ourselves the ones to bring about the promised Kingdom of God on Earth, even with violence if necessary. Yet, even this decision shows that we do not understand Christ’s words when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (JON 18:36)

We are still infants, when it comes to true faith in God. Even as this year we call 2017 is but three days old today, the universal, invisible church called “Christian” is just now entering its third day of existence in the Spiritual realm. It is now time for believers to open our eyes to see the possibilities of the spiritual world which cannot be seen, but sensed only in our hearts and minds – only in our spirits. By doing so, and only by doing so, shall we see the fulfillment of the line in the Lord’s Prayer: “ Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”  (MAT 6:9-11)

May God bless you all this coming year.


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“Peter, Put Away Your Sword!”

In a beautiful garden, one familiar to Jesus and his disciples for he had taught them there many times the story of Jesus consummates from one of the Christ attempting to prepare his flock of followers for the inevitable to one where the solders came, with a representative of the high priest, to arrest Jesus. But Peter still could not conceive of what was about to happen. He had conjured in his mind that he would be a general in the Lord’s army which would lead the Hebrew people into a great victory over Rome establishing  them with the leadership they long deserved.  When Peter saw that the soldiers were taking Jesus away as a prisoner he could contain himself no longer. Peter ran to block the way of the entourage with sword drawn and, most likely recognizing Malchus who was representing the high priest at the arrest, swung his sword in an attempt to cut off the head of the intruder. However, not trained as a military man, Peter’s poor aim resulted in the removal of Malchus’ ear, and a very upset Christ who said quietly, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Then Jesus replaced the ear onto Malchus’ head and proceeded to go with the solders willingly, as Peter remained astonished and confused at what had just occurred causing him even to doubt the very one he had followed for several years. (JOH 18:1-18-NIV) This part of the salvation story is of utmost importance to believers today who try to follow Christ. Here’s why. . .

Throughout human history mankind has been violent. It seems to be an inevitable, almost innate characteristic of people which wells it’s ugly head at sometimes the most inopportune times and, without a doubt, causes reason to question our ability to ever be able to emulate such a Prince of Peace such as Jesus. But that is exactly what those who proclaim Jesus as Lord are called to do.

Jesus knew how difficult such a command would be for us to obey. Jesus explained to Matthew and the other disciples,

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[d] and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. (MAT 11:11-13-NIV)

Throughout the Old Testament there is presented extreme violence of war after war, murders, slavery, and multitudes of various persecutions while the Hebrew people have attempted to both regain their homeland and serve Jehovah God at the same time. This attempt to live successfully in two realms in the same lifetime creates chaos in a person’s mind and is, according to Jesus, impossible (MAT 6:24). However the materialism of property on which to live which can be called one’s own is very important in our minds if we are to feel freedom in this world. Thus, it seems, we are willing to fight and die for it.

But Jesus never gave the order to Peter to defend his right to movement, or his ability to teach of the Kingdom of God, nor for any other purpose. Earlier he had pleaded with his father (Jehovah) that the fact that he would be tried and executed as a common criminal be removed from his future, but realizing that plea was impossible if he were to carry out his mission he accepted it and went on toward his fate (MATT 26:39-42-NIV).

This is why scriptures indicate that even though he could call upon multitudes of angels to defend him during the crisis of his judgement here on Earth, he did not. He accepted his fate, written by his trusted father/god, and “marched on” toward a greater victory without violence. (MAT 26:53-NIV)

By accepting his responsibilities, Jesus was teaching his disciples and us one of the most important truths ever to be expressed in this world to know the difference between being an animal or a child of the living God. To recognize our relationship to God means to accept there are greater things in the universe than the physical and higher realms of reality than what we can sense with our common five senses. In short, violence leads to violence and in reality accomplishes nothing, but the way of peace creates within people the reality that there is a way through which all can be accomplished.

This message has been expressed by several other great spiritual leaders, both Christian and those of other faiths, through man’s short history. Ghandi’s leadership to India’s independence, Martin Luther King’s bold leadership of the black revolution in the middle of the  twentieth century and others have walked in great physical danger, some even to be killed, to promote right thinking and right actions in a peaceful way.

But the Christian faith has been riddled with violence ever since our Lord’s resurrection. Ever since the escape from Jerusalem when Rome came into the City of Jerusalem and destroyed the Hebrew temple there, the believers who call themselves Christian have armed themselves and gone to battle in defense of their faith. The Christian Crusades and other battles which was fought to embolden the Christian believers and to defend their right to exist against those who would argue otherwise.

Even massive worldwide wars like World War II have been promoted as a good thing for Christian believers to do because of the cruel and inhumane things being done by those being fought against. So we could not set back and do nothing while a despot rampaged over Europe, raping the land and slaughtering millions of Jews simply because they existed.

Now, today, we are facing a new yet ever so common a threat to our ability to follow the Prince of Peace. Several years ago this country called the United States was attacked in a very unexpected way. It seemed to be from within, using our own commercial aircraft as weapons and our own fear as the main tool to change this country from within.

What am I saying? Oh, we are not afraid? Don’t kid yourself. If this country is not afraid then why have we developed the most powerful military the world has ever known. Why have we declared war on a group of nationless faces who have likewise declared war on us, and for much the same reasons. And why has our political circumstances in this country become so chaotic that we are considering placing into leadership two questionable choices; either a person who has been struggling with court cases and questionable character during the whole presidential campaign or one who says he will build walls, build defenses, and eliminate certain people and traditional thought which this country has developed and known for centuries. And, furthermore, why is it that from the pulpits of this country’s churches who claim to worship the father of the Pirince of Peace do we hear church leaders telling congregates to arm themselves? Only fear creates such an atmosphere.

The U.S. citizen becomes the modern Peter in this scenario. For too long we have been following our animalistic selves and drawing our swords without thinking that there might be a better way. The Lord’s way. If we strike out with that sword, we could cut off the ear of the priests and political leaders of other countries and for what reason? It would do no good. Those in other places of the world could then not hear us and those we thought were friends would most likely choose otherwise. Could it be that there is a better way? A way of peace. A way of trying to set back and consider what we see and are experiencing before striking out and cutting off the world’s ear causing them to be unable to hear our need for help? After Jesus told Peter to put away his sword, Peter slinked into a corner of the garden palace and found himself denying his faith in the Christ three times. Are we, the nation who has carried the Holy Bible to the whole world, about to have a similar experience? Are we about to deny our faith in the Prince of Peace?

We need to get to a quiet place, pray, observe our circumstances and realize that fear is not the choice, except to fear fear itself. We must make some very hard choices in this country within the next few months. I pray everyone will make the choice best for the Lord we claim to trust. But listen to the Spirit of the Lord, “Peter, put away your sword.” Put away your knives, your guns, your bombs and your rockets. Put away your fear. For even as Christ had to drink of the cup his father gave him, so must we drink ours. Even as Christ had to die to show mankind mercy by saving us from Satan’s fear, so must we deny that fear from causing us to live without peace.

shalom aleichem


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Joshua Whitfield: Why I’ll give my life standing against hatred

(Bob’s Note: During this month I have started reposting what I believe are the best spiritual truth articles which come across my computer screen to share with Espirational’s readers. I’m doing this because I realize how difficult it is for most people to find these articles and to join them together into a consistent pattern which makes sense. I’m hoping this effort will become like a digest of best articles promoting faith, hope, love, understanding, truth and positivity.* The article here is one Rogene found in her perusing the Web’s headlines and sent to me because of other actions by confused “Christian” believers who are proclaiming that to be faithful to Christ we must take up our weapons and “kill all the Muslims.” Please take a few minutes to read this article written by a Catholic priest as a sermon, after a congregate shouted those words at him while consuming his portion of communion. Joshua starts out by giving some important background and history which explains how he got to this strong stance against violence, but please read the whole article which the link leads you to, as it is the best expression of the true gospel of peace I have seen to date. Thank you pastor.)

 

LINK TO ARTICLE

(Note: None of this article is reproduced here

as I believe it is best read without interruption to get the full spiritual message.)

Article Title: Joshua Whitfield: Why I’ll give my life standing against hatred“. Continue reading


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Soldiers of the Cross?

Merry December, everyone. This is the month of celebrations! The month when nearly all of mankind’s religions reminds us that we are to be light-carriers even until the time of the darkest moment of night right before dawn so as all may be able to see their way through the darkness. It is a time of celebration for the world’s period of rest, a time of hope for the germination of the birth within us as it awaits the coming spring which is filled with new life, hope and understanding.

So, if we are to celebrate, why do we hear so much shouting and bickering on the political soap-boxes? Why do we hear and read of news reports about unspeakable wars and rumors of wars not only in the Middle East but all over the world? Why are we witnessing religious leaders stand up and state that the best thing for the faithful to do is to fight fear with fear? Men like Jerry Farewell, Jr., President of the Liberty University, encouraging their students and followers to not only carry a weapon, but who are also providing the training of how best to use them.

What is faith? Is it proper to say you refuse to fear those who threaten our safety and thus to pick up a weapon to destroy our protagonists, our attackers? Or are we to stand before our opponents and “turn the other cheek,” even if it means facing possible death unopposed?

I’ve just read an article by Tim Suttle, Senior Pastor of RedemptionChurchkc.com and who has authored books like his most recent one called: Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014). In this article, called:  “Falwell’s Fearful Conceal-Carry Response is Not Worthy of the Gospel,” Tim Suttle gives a complete and documented explanation of why he believes Christians should not put on violence in this day of violent aggression against us, but instead he states what he believes is the simple gospel which Jesus was trying to teach.

I have taken liberty to quote the first part of this article (below), asking you to complete it on Suttle’s blog as my blog entry for December this year. I believe that the spirit of his post is truly the spirit which should be broadcast during this season. But please don’t stop there. Please go on to read the comments posted in answer to this post. I believe you’ll be amazed, as I was, at the range of comments and beliefs expressed in this discussion which follows Suttle’s article.

I hope this article helps you find the true meaning of Christmas and the Holiday Season. Beyond that — Shalom.

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Falwell’s Fearful Conceal-Carry Response

is Not Worthy of the Gospel

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In the wake of yet another active shooter incident, evangelical leaders have been rattling the sabers, and touting the wisdom of concealed carry. In a speech made at the recent Liberty University convocation, Jerry Falwell Jr. bragged that he had a gun in his “back pocket right now.” Liberty is offering a free concealed carry class to all students because, in Falwell’s words, “If more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.”

Why does Falwell’s argument have so much traction with evangelical Christians? Because, conceal-carry advocates like Falwell project confidence in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming threat of violence. Packing heat is a proactive response to fear, and Christians like those. But just how realistic is the fear? I was curious, so I ran the numbers.

Between 2000-2013, according to the FBI, there were 160 active shooter incidents resulting in 1043 casualties (486 killed, 557 wounded). That averages out to 80 casualties per year for 319 million people living in the U.S. This means you have roughly a 1 in 4 million chance of being a casualty in an active shooter incident. Any chance is too high, but for reference the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 280,000.

Still, Americans are afraid, and fearful people are attracted to leaders who will strike a Toby Keith-esque “We’ll put a boot in your ass; it’s the American way,” pose even though it has little to do with true strength, and even less to do with the gospel. Falwell’s response not only shows that he doesn’t have a firm grasp on the teachings of Jesus, but that he suffers from a lack of imagination for how Christians might lead the way toward resolving conflicts without immediately resorting to violent forms of behavior.


Christian non-violence is not built on the assumption that all forms of violence are inherently evil, but on the reality that through Christ God has made possible a new way to resolve human conflict.


 

Oswald Chambers once wrote, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.” The most rudimentary understanding of Christian scriptures involved the teaching that our future in this world does not rest upon superior firepower. When fearful people are longing for a sense of security, the mature Christian answer is not “Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.” The answer is, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

Christian non-violence is not built on the assumption that all forms of violence are inherently evil, but on the reality that through Christ God has made possible a new way to resolve human conflict. The church doesn’t deny that the state does some good through violence, and we can acknowledge that our fellow Christians who feel led to police and military work are able to do so in good faith, hoping to make the world less violent. However, Christians can never take the world’s violence as an absolute. Violence does not determine our future; Jesus does. We don’t enter public space carrying a concealed weapon. We enter carrying a cross. About this, Jesus was unambiguous. (Click HERE to complete article.)


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Paris terror and Christian response to evil

I am reblogging an article by Derek Maul which appeared on his blog on Saturday, November 14, 2015 titled Paris Terror and Christian
Response to Evil due to its timely significance being right after a terrorist bombing of that city and its spiritual importance of the teaching of truth and how to achieve peace. This is definitely an Espirational article.

Derek Maul, Monday and Friday

 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. – Ephesians 6:10-20

Thibault Camus/AP Photo Thibault Camus/AP Photo

I have very little time to post this morning; but I feel that I need to say something about Paris. I’m especially sensitive to the idea of evil at the moment, as my men’s group is studying “The Armor of God.” and one of the key ideas in the passage (Ephesians 6:10-20) is equipping ourselves to face the malevolent intentions of evil.

First, and I can’t say this strongly enough, the Paris attacks were the work of evil, not Islam. The agenda of ISIS has nothing to do with God, and everything to do with the purposes of evil.

Evil destroys, it never creates. God – the Creator – builds up, encourages, moves forward…

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