Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Pledge My Allegiance To....

[I wrote this in May of this year but never published it because I felt it may be too pointed. However, these are my opinions and convictions from reading, contemplating, and meditating on Scripture and history. You are free to disagree with me, in fact, I encourage you to test what I say rather than taking it at face value, but this is what I believe.]

I was at a Christian highschool graduation tonight. There was a good size class, many people who had attended Christian school their entire life and learned the truth of the Bible and hopefully are walking in a relationship with God. The ceremony started out with a procession of the flags followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a singing of the National Anthem.

I was reminded again that a large mass of American Christians everyday are pledging allegiance to this great country in which we were born. I choose not to pledge allegiance. Many of you may be aware of my belief that it is wrong to harm another individual even for sins against other people, society, or God based on Jesus' restatement of the eye for an eye principal (Matthew 5:38-48), however my conviction about the pledge of allegiance is a different issue entirely.

I must start with some definitions, for the people who have said these words all of their life but never took the time to sit back and think about what they meant.

Pledge - To offer or guarantee by a solemn binding promise. Synonyms are "devote, promise". I think that in our culture we have lost some of the understanding of this concept, we do whatever seems best at the time even if we've already agreed to something else. We do what's fun and nice rather than committing ourselves. Jesus talks about this when he says that we are not to swear (pledge) by anything, he is not saying that it is wrong to commit ourselves, but rather he goes on to say that every "Yes" and "No" should be in our mind a commitment. We as Christians should not have to swear or pledge, because we are pledged to everything and everyone we say yes to or agree/align ourselves with. However, this is not my issue with saying the pledge.

Allegiance - Loyalty or devotion to some person, group, or cause. Synonyms are "devotion, dedication" Loyalty implies a steadfast and devoted attachment that is not easily turned aside, and devotion is earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc...

How many Christians realize that when they say the Pledge of Allegiance they are earnestly attaching themselves to a steadfast, devoted, earnest attachment to a body of individuals who are in no way affiliated with Christ or His work in this world? And this is a binding life-long commitment that should never be broken. No matter what the actions of that body of individuals is, when you pledge your allegiance to them you say that you will follow with them, you are attached to them, no matter what. I believe that as followers of Christ we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Can a man have two masters? Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. We understand in the church today that it is not right for a Christian to attach themselves to a non-believer in the covenant of marriage, but yet we teach that it is fine and even good for them to attach themselves to a whole body of individuals who want nothing to do with God and even fight against Him. Have you pledged your allegiance to this group? Do you pledge your allegiance to them? Or do you pledge your allegiance to God and His Church? Are you fully devoted to Christ and to spreading the Gospel, not American ideals, all over the world and this nation? Are you devoted to Christian teaching and fellowship (Acts 2), other believers in brotherly love (Romans 12:10), to the service of the saints (1 Corinthians 16), to prayer (Colossians 4), to Scripture (1 Timothy 4), and to doing what is good (Titus 3)?

May you see through the lie that freedom and democracy are as important as grace, peace, and love. May you see that you are not your own, you were bought with a price, and so you may not give yourself away by attaching yourself to a governing body. May you see that God may call you to Iraq to share the Gospel, and you would soon find yourself in the very place that you have been pledging allegiance against. May you be devoted to the church and the furtherance of the Gospel, not attaching yourselves to things of this world that will not last, but rather seeing the eternal in the temporary. Do not be yoked together with [attached to] unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? But rather attach yourself to Christ, the author and the finisher of your faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thoughts on Hope in Light of the Gospel

(Facebook Note - November 2, 2009)

I wrote this up for a friend recently and then decided to share it with everyone.

So, you mentioned feeling hopeless. I realized last Spring that that's what I was feeling, and then I stumbled across 1 Peter 1:13 which says, "Set your hope FULLY on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."

I want to tell you an amazing message. We have messed up in every way. We continue to mess up every day. Even our good works are as filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6). The good we ought to do we do not do (Rom 7). We deserve the wrath of God. And there is NOTHING that we can do to change that. NOTHING. (John 15:1-8) We can do all we want and not get one bit closer to God. So God, in his infinite mercy, made himself sin for us so that in HIM we might become righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). God chose to crush himself for our sake (Isaiah 53:10). He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24) So that we might be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:15) So that we might behold God and know Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). And now there is no condemnation. There is no need to carry guilt or the burden of sin in our lives (Rom 8; Matthew 11:28-30)

So, God chose to make himself an offering in our place. There was/is nothing that we can or could ever do to be worthy. But now we can approach with confidence because of what He did. What a Savior. What a God.

Ok, now, you may be saying, "Yeah, I already know all of that. That's the gospel and I'm a Christian. I believed that long ago and was washed clean. And what does all of that have to do with hope?" Well, what people often don't realize is that the gospel message applies to all areas of our life. We should never let the message of the cross move far from the forefront of our mind. We should live every situation out in consideration of how the cross applies to it (there are a number of scriptures I could point out that enumerate this point, but I want to get to my point.) So anyways, I thought it might be helpful for you to spend some time meditating on the gospel. Thinking over what a savior we have.

And this is our hope. Our hope is in God. Our hope is in Christ. Our hope is in the grace that he has given us through Christ. We can know that he is serious about this because he CRUSHED HIMSELF for our sake, so how much more will he provide for our every day living. So what is left for us to do but to trust in Him. Now, I know that all of this is much easier said than done, and I have many days that this is not what my life looks like, but I strive to be more impacted by the message that Christ died in my place. To be more effected by the truth that I can do NOTHING (John 15:5). To be more humbled by the fact that any fruit that I see in my life has nothing to do with me but everything to do with Him. (Colossians 1:9-10) These things all just leave me searching out His word to know Him more and understand what he desires, and to spend time in prayer recognizing that I can do nothing apart from him. And living my life as a living sacrifice (Heb 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:15) And that is our hope. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Our hope is that we have been reconciled to God and can live in light of that.

Monday, September 27, 2010


As I've said other times, Father Ryan is not the best of poets. His verse is fairly simplistic and his words oftentimes not beautiful. I find, however, that in the very simplicity is the beauty because you see him as a common person, such as ourselves, living an everyday life, and in that I can connect and identify with his poetry in a way that I often cannot with flowery and "beautiful" speech.

By: Father Ryan

The tears that trickled down our eyes,
They do not touch the earth to-day;
But soar like angels to the skies,
And, like the angels, may not die;
For ah ! our immortality
Flows thro' each tear - sounds in each sigh.

What waves of tears surge o'er the deep
Of sorrow in our restless souls!
And they are strong, not weak, who weep
Those drops from out the sea that rolls
Within their hearts forevermore;
Without a depth - without a shore.

But ah ! the tears that are not wept,
The tears that never outward fall;
The tears that grief for years has kept
Within us - they are best of all:
The tears our eyes shall never know,
Are dearer than the tears that flow.

Each night upon earth's flowers below,
The dew comes down from darkest skies,
And every night our tears of woe
Go up like dews to Paradise,
To keep in bloom, and make more fair,
The flowers of crowns we yet shall wear.

For ah ! the surest way to God
Is up the lonely streams of tears,
That flow when bending 'neath His rod,
And fill the tide of earthly years.
On laughter's billows hearts are tossed
On waves of tears no heart is lost.

Flow on, ye tears! and bear me home;
Flow not! ye tears of deeper woe;
Flow on, ye tears!that are but foam
Of deeper waves that will not flow.
A little while - I reach the shore
Where tears flow not forevermore!

Psalm 56:3-11 (NASB)

3When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
4In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid
What can mere man do to me?
5All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
6They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.
7Because of wickedness, cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God!
8You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle Are they not in Your book?
9Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.
10In God, whose word I praise,
In the LORD, whose word I praise,
11In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thoughts on the Kingdom of God

Written August 15, 2009

We want to see the Kingdom of God come so many people ask what does the kingdom look like and then they seek to live in that way. The better question is how does the kingdom come, then seek that. The kingdom is present where the will of God is done, where the Spirit is in power. Where there are regenerate people. To seek the kingdom of God is to seek the salvation of souls. We need to stop seeking peace on earth, happiness, good families, morality, etc... If we were to instead seek to lead peole to Christ and then teach them to walk in the Spirit, not to live morally but to walk in the Spirit, then the attributes of the kingdom would follow.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Food For Thought

Excerpt from "False and True Knowledge"

Why did my parents send me to the schools
That I with knowledge might enrich my mind
Since the desire to know first made men fools
And did corrupt the root of all mankind?

- Sir John Davies

Friday, September 24, 2010

How God Shrinks and Grows...

This is something that I wrote to Dana yesterday in the course of a Yahoo chat, but I felt that it was appropriate to share.

It seems to me that singing, do i say this, when we're going through difficulty we more easily recognize our need for God and therefore God becomes much bigger in our eyes, so then when we sing it is easier to really let go and worship him. But when everything is going well, then God becomes smaller in our eyes, so we look to songs more for their truth content in order to show us God, rather than enjoying songs that allow us to just let go and praise God for who we see He to be. I've been noticing that in my own life recently at least, like, I feel like God has become so small in my eyes and therefore it just becomes harder to really worship, because worship is giving God glory
because He is so great, so then I find it harder to really connect with songs and music and know what songs what to call it...usher you into the presence of God I guess. So, I'm feeling the need for some adversity so I can become smaller again and I see God for how big He really is.