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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Having Peace In Conflict

This month, Rogene (Genie), my Spirit lead wife, has a message which everyone should read and heed who proclaim and are dedicated to living a spiritual life and helping to bring forth a more perfect existence on this planet we call home. While many Godly oriented people are today cheering for who has been chosen to be our next U.S. president, others are now weeping. Emotions are rampant and becoming chaotic. Violence and hatred have taken control of many of our nation’s streets, led by fear; yet the truly spiritually led person knows that we are told:

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”                     (John 7:24)

But now the choice has been made. In just a few weeks we will have our new president and to make righteous judgment we must realize that we really do not know what type of leader Donald Trump will be for the United States. Therefore, I hope the new president the best for his first term of office, but I will refuse to get caught up in either the rejoicing or the grief many are feeling because of this decision. While some people trust in guns and tanks to bring about the changes which cannot seem to be brought forth peacefully, and others trust in fear and violence, Genie and I have made a conscious decision to trust God’s holy nature of Agape Love.

— In him be the glory.

    — In him shall we live and serve and have our peace..

 

Here is what Genie wrote:

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Jesus, the Master Teacher, came to this earth to teach us how to live.  But if we read the Scriptures we will see that he had issues with the religious leaders of his day.  We get a glimpse of the anger that led to the over-turning of tables driving those who were taking financial advantage of worshippers out of the temple in Matthew 21:12. Mark 11:15 and John 2:15.  He was even known to call the Pharisees vipers including. Matthew 23:32-ch25 is one example of this.

We also see great sorrow as the Messiah wept over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Many have been experiencing anger and sorrow following the American presidential election while others rejoice.  For me there is sorrow and disbelief that many who call themselves “Christians” appear to be supporting and ushering in a scene which appears to be what they fear most, instead of their hoped for “salvation” from the destructive forces of darkness.  There is also at least a little anger within me toward these people and their leaders for the hatred and fear they spew in the name of God.

Please, let me explain: This is not the first time I have experienced this type of anguish. I watched in disbelief as dedicated, called women of God were kept from or driven out of “the ministry” in attempts to preserve the “boys club.”  The attempts to keep the women “in their place” included physical violence and intimidation, all justified in the name of God.

I have wept as I saw my loving and caring home church left in ruins after a “hostile takeover” by a group who felt the church was “too liberal.”  In their attempts to “save” the church it was severely damaged.

Looking back on my life now I can see that I have been prepared for this time.  Once again I have watched as the fabric of the union of these United States, and it’s diversity of races and cultures, have been ripped to pieces as was the church in which I was raised.  The progress we thought we had made now so easily destroyed by realizing the anger that was seething under the surface all along.

Perhaps one day we will finally come to realize that we cannot depend on the governments of mankind to save us.  The time has come to trust God and walk in the Light.

My reaction to the election results has surprised even me.  I am a person who is somewhat given to fear and panic, however in a real crisis I usually step up and find the strength to find a way through.  The message I received through spirit before I had seen the news the day after the election that said, “It’s Trump, but it’s okay” did not mean that he will be a great leader and the world will be saved through him.  It meant that what happens in this world will happen.

I will continue to trust God and walk in the light.  The sun will continue to come up each morning and the birds will continue to sing. It also doesn’t hurt that I am surrounded by angels and the white light of God right now.

So, along with Paul in his letter to the Romans (8:31), I ask, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Who is with me in this faith?

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You can read more of Rogene’s work by following her blog at espirational.com. She would welcome your comments.  — Bob


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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

fear.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.)