The Simplicity of Unity
Today is a day used to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There is no argument against his fight for civil liberties and that those liberties included the right of Blacks to be provided equal rights in every aspect of society. Among those rights was the right for Blacks to attend schools of their choice. This is to say that Dr. King fought against the ideology of Jim Crow. It was a tough fight, yet it was a fight worth fighting.
Dr. King was also laden with dreams. In one of his speeches, he expressed his dream of his children playing freely with White children. Said differently, King had a dream of unity. He had a dream that all men would walk side-by-side with the matter of ethnicity being non-existent. King’s dream led him to work for a nation more concerned with the content of one’s character rather than the complexion of one’s skin. And, in many cases the dream of King came to pass and, in some instances, there remains fighting for unity.
I, too, have a dream. My dream is much like that of Dr. King. My dream is a simple unification of people. Like King, I am sick and tired of racist activity and rhetoric that seeks only to cause unnecessary divides. I am weary of constant bickering of idiosyncratic stereotypical ideologies that seek only to further divide a people. Well, I have had enough. I have a dream and that dream starts with the Church taking its proper stand in this conversation. My dream is simple. My dream requires only that the people of God love each other, and that love can only unify. It cannot divide.
Psalm 133 paints a beautiful portrait of unity. Verse one states, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” It is good and it is pleasant for those of us that call in the Name of Jesus to have the lifestyle of godliness. That brotherhood is not concerned with ethnicity. It is not concerned with nationality. It is only concerned with the individual. Love seeks only to build. It does not seek to tear apart. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for the Church to rid itself of racist rancor and collect the words of life. Those words of life serve only to heal and reconcile. This is the work of the Christian – reconciliation.
Unity is a very simple matter. It means treating others the way you want to be treated. It means standing side-by-side with your brother in the good times and the bad times. The simplicity of unity is expressed in one simple word; love. So, let us love one another. Not because of ethnicity or other superficial means. Let us love one another, starting from the pulpit, as Christ loved us. Only then can the simplicity of unity be had. Please, Church, let us love. That is my dream.
The Real American Dream
In light of some of the problems that plague the United States many have either forgotten or have never know what the “American dream” is really about. There is a considerable lack of understanding of why our founding fathers fled the oppressive hand of one, King George. Well, there is little sense in rewriting the history books. However, it serves great purpose to examine two points of interest in respect to the founding of the United States as it relates to the American dream.
Item one – The matter of religious freedom under King George was much less than a misnomer. One had to essentially celebrate his way or no way. This is to say that King George preferred a State religion. It was, in a manner of speaking, a type of the bondage held by the Romans over the Jews. The Israelites were not allowed to worship God as they desired. They had to worship predicated upon the desires of the ruling authority. This was the problem between King George and those that sought freedom.
The real American dream had much to do with religious freedom. The preamble of the Constitution of the United States points to our Creator. It is our Creator that affords us the freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights. The chief freedom is that of religion (or Christianity) as seen by our founding fathers. The 1st Amendment says in part that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Hence, part of the American dream is one that allows the free worship of God without interference from Government. Note, the Amendment says nothing about freedom from religion, as some purport. Instead, the Christian need not hide or celebrate in private. He has every right to worship God publically without fear of governmental retaliation.
Still, there are those that seek to destroy Christianity. Christians are the only group of people wherein it is politically correct to offend and attack. Christians are the only ones forced to acquiesce to things contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Moreover, when Christians stand for godly virtues they are called everything but the children of God. Well, this is not what the founding fathers had in mind and this is not pleasing to God. The question, then, is where is the American dream for Christians desiring only to please God?
Item two – Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution discusses taxation. This is important because King George had no trouble imposing high taxes on the people. Among the taxes imposed on the young Colonies were the Tea, Quartering and Stamp taxes. None of these taxes did anything to aid America (not yet the United States) but served only to bolster the British desire. This was, in essence, theft of labour. This is why taxation, as outlined in the Constitution, was designed to be limited in scope and for the specific purpose of defending the homeland. The exact verbiage in part is, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”
Now, some argue that taxes should be high. Some even seek to biblical reason for such actions. While it is good and wonderful for the people to be generous and give of their labour it is not encumbered upon the Government to force such generosity. This is tantamount to slavery. Instead, part of the American dream is a dream to work and be successful. Some will fail and others will not. This really does not matter; the pursuit of happiness means there will be a struggle and that struggle comes in many forms. Financial stability, without an oppressive tax system, goes a long way to securing the American dream.
Many things can be addressed and the Constitution can be juxtaposed with Scripture on many fronts. And that is the point – freedom and the real American dream is a dream of worshipping God, even with our money, away from the oppressive hand of King George and the like.
Yet Another Vote
Yes, it is true. Today I went and took advantage of early voting in Texas. There is no surprise that once again my vote was for freedom. Honesty must prevail when I say that I did not recognize all the names on the list. It was a rather extensive list. That only goes to show that I perhaps should have done a bit more homework. Be that as it may, I did enough research to know that freedom was my ultimate motive for voting. Freedom is an issue that I chose not to overlook and is a matter that I made paramount as I pulled the lever. Freedom is a matter that deserves one vote and then another.
It is for this reason that voting should be done in more than one way. Yes, one can go to the polling place and carefully select issues that are important to him. This is part of what is called the democratic process. However, it is not enough to simply pull the electoral lever in favour of freedom. Freedom must be lived no matter where the voter is. This means that one action must be in line with the vote he made. Let me explain.
As a minister of the Gospel I implore people to live a life complimentary of scriptural teaching. This is a vote not so much in the proclamation of Christian virtues as it is in living out those virtues. The same is true when one casts his vote for freedom. One cannot simply say that his vote is for freedom. He must have a lifestyle emblematic of that freedom. He must know when to evoke such freedoms and know when not to evoke them. The fact is there is more than one way to vote and one such way is in action.
Some might recall the time I left Baltimore a couple years ago. The State of Maryland has proven to be oppressive and not wanting to adhere to the Constitution. I had had enough. So, when the opportunity presented itself I decided to vote with my feet. And, vote I did. I voted for freedom on a number of fronts. I did not use the ballot box; I used another freedom. I am free to live in any State in this union so I decided to vote with my feet. I used actions that afforded me the ability to live as a free man should. I made yet another vote.
Those calling themselves Christians also have opportunity to vote. The votes, though, are not made under the watchful eyes of state election judges. Instead, this vote is looked upon by a Holy and Righteous God. You see, there are many that make votes on Sunday mornings. They vote to let Jesus into their lives while they choose to lay aside the sin that separated them from God. They realize that “He who the Son has set free is free indeed (John 8:36). There is a longing for the freedom and words of repentance are made to that end.
Unfortunately many choose not to vote for that freedom by reason of their lifestyles. Some try to live a double life, secret service saints, as it were. There is a tendency to Christianity on Sunday mornings and one for hedonism during the rest of the week. The true vote is not for the freedom provided by Christ. The vote is for diabolical celebrations proving only to widen the way of destruction. This is a dangerous double standard which only pulls from freedom.
Yes, in these United States we are in the midst of a heated presidential election. There is fighting on every side. Some are fighting for freedom while others seek forms of certain slavery. Yet, there is another vote. That vote has more to do with our lifestyles. This vote has to do with how we choose to live our lives. If we live for Christ and His standards then our vote is freedom. If we cave in to the sultry, seductive world of what feels good for the moment then our vote is for bondage. Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me, I and my house will serve the Lord. We have cast our vote and we will live in such a way as to please the Lord.
Continuing to Stand
It is true that I watched the State of the Union address last evening. To say that I was impressed would not lead to the truth of what I truly felt. Nonetheless, the most troublesome thing that I heard was when our “Christian” President chose to uphold Islam and its tenants over the virtues of Christianity. Now, if one is Islamic it stands to reason that such individuals would further what he sees as just and honourable through Muslim eyes. However, when one is a Christian it should also stand to reason that such a person uphold the virtues of Christianity above all else.
The fact is that Christianity is not given to the weak and appeasing. It is not given to those that uphold its virtues so long as its standards do not offend. The fact is that the Gospel never seeks to appease. Instead, the Gospel has shown itself to be a stumbling stone and a rock of offence (Romans 9:33). This means that there are some who will not take too kindly to the standard of Scripture. Others will find reason to avoid it even if that avoidance means making cultic ventures greater than the Gospel. Well, Christians, it is time we continued to stand. It is time to take back the narrative from those who love not Jesus and stand on the very principles of the Gospel.
The hallmark principle of the Word of God is love. It was because of love that God sent His only begotten Son into the world in order to restore a broken relationship. It was because of love that Jesus humbled himself unto death; even the death of the cross in order to make things right between the Father and man. It is because of love that Christ remains on the right hand of the Father interceding for those that love Him. That love is furthered in Christendom to all that know not Christ might come to know Him. That love is extended to all – even followers of Islam. That love is perpetuated in the lives of the Christian whereby his life is one showing forth the love of God. Love is the hallmark of all that God is as God is love.
On the other hand Islam does not present in love. Now, some might say that all of Islam does not seek to be like what is counted as radical. Even so, contrary to the commandment of love found in the Holy Writ, Islam presents no such idea; not even amongst its own. Many Muslim men rape their women and other women. There are honour killings in the name of Allah for those who betray the teachings of Islamists. Many Muslim men take very young wives and often those wives are counted as property. Those counted as infidels are beheaded, burned and drowned. Yet, Islam is counted as the religion of peace even while the Prince of Peace is seen as a mere prophet to be subordinated to Muhammad.
This is not a time for Christian apathy. It is not a time to kowtow to the move of some political figures that seek to remove Christianity from the public arena. Instead, it is time to stand in the face of adversity. It is time to hold fast to the fundamental teaching of the Gospel. It is time not to give in to the feel good temporary gimmicks of the day. Instead there needs to be a continuation of the stand that was called for in Scripture. This stand is not a stand with calm waters in a peaceful pond. No, this is a stand when the wind and waters are contrary to what we know to be right. We started standing and that stand needs to be perpetual.
Ephesians chapter six uses the word “stand” three times. The idea of standing is central to the chapter and to Ephesians at large. However, the idea of standing is not specific to the church of Ephesus. Christians today are also faced with the wiles of the enemy. Christians today need to wear the entire armour of God. And, when one wears armour he, by necessity, must stand. Standing is not an act of apathy. It is an act of boldness and determination. Determination — what an idea from a determined God in order to restore broken relationships. Standing in love; what a way to present the truth of the Word of God without shame.
Peering into Academia
Academia: Through the Eyes of a Preacher
Now, it is true that most of my writings are not designed to be academic in nature. However, that does not mean that I have veered from what has caused me to grow and understand more concerning the things of God. In my recent book Academia: Through the Eyes of a Preacher I examine a number of academic disciplines associated with Christianity. Those disciplines range from history to evangelism; from discipleship to missions and everything in between.
With that, please peer into the book and see what you can glean. The below is an additional portion of the essay “The Nicene Creed: The Trouble that Caused It.” Please remember this work is copyright protected and and all rights remain reserved. Now, let’s peer into academia again.
Despite the company Athanasius found himself in there was also grave opposition to his stand against heretical teachings. Saint Hilary of Poitiers was born in 315 with an uncertain Christian heritage. Even though Hilary was appointed Bishop of Poitiers and eventually made a saint questions concerning his Christianity are brought to question in that he was seen as a pagan. No matter the issue of Hilary’s Christianity his writings clearly show that he did not recognize Jesus as being coeternal with the Father rather clearly states that Jesus is a creation of God. In this vein Hilary states “He is not eternal or co-eternal, nor was He uncreated at the same time with the Father…”
The calling of the synod included more than discussions on the substance of Jesus. Little is said in respect to the Holy Spirit even in the Nicene Creed but there was argument against His divinity which was part of the controversy at large. The problem was even though the Holy Spirit was associated with the Godhead there was considerable uncertainty as to His nature. The matter of His nature brought to the center of the argument supposed that He was a mere person and the Arians saw Him as being subordinate to the Son who was counted as being subordinate to the Father. The confusion was so great that Basil expressed “Of the wise men among ourselves, some have conceived of him [the Holy Spirit] as an activity, some as a creature, some as God…” With this lack of understanding as to who the Holy Spirit was it obviously brings into question not only His substance but also His divinity and authority.
This instability in respect to the Holy Spirit becomes more compelling when His divinity is purposely stripped away. Some Homoiousians (those subscribing like or same substance to Jesus) refused to afford the Holy Spirit His rightful place in the Godhead. This denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit was part of the heretical teachings of Arianism. The Deity of the Holy Spirit was also denied by Macedonius who declared that the Holy Spirit was nothing more than a “minister and a servant”.
Now, to put this segment into context you will have to read the entire essay. Not to worry, there are other studies that will catch the attention of all scholars. For instance, “The World of Islam,” “Diverse Gifts,” and “Looking at the Evidence” are three of the essays included in this work. You will also find an exhaustive bibliography to aid in research. So, go ahead, get you a copy and put on your seat belts. There will be surprising academic twist and turns as you learn academia through the eyes of a preacher.
 The Catholic University of Puerto Rico, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1954)V
 Ibid., 102
 Richard E. Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight Over Christ’s Divinity in the Last Days of Rome (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999), 205
 Ibid., pg 206
 Everett Ferguson, Church History: From Christ to Pre-Reformation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 207
 Ioannis Karmiris, “The Second Ecumenical Council” in The Ecumenical Review 33 (July 1981):244-248
 Earle, E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), 129
Fighting wars is no new thing. Fighting has been going on from the time Cain killed Abel so it comes as no surprise that man has sought to kill fellow man stemming from jealously and fear. Such was the case during the Crusades beginning in 1095 wherein Catholicism sought to defend itself against the ever increasing stronghold of Islam. The initial loss to Catholicism caused the determined Muslims to fight even more for that they construed to be a “holy war.” That fight has been going on from that time to this with the idea that Islam should be the world religion and those that do not adhere, even different thinking Muslims, need to suffer the fate of death by the hands of those that fight in this jihad.
There have been many instances of late wherein Islamic terrorists have committed acts of violence not only in the Middle East but also in Canada, Australia and the United States. One of the most horrific acts was reported just yesterday. The report is that a Jordanian pilot was burned alive by Islamic jihadist. These Islamist, calling themselves ISIS, have no regard for human life. There is no respect for opposing viewpoints. Their holy war is just another means of silencing those that do not give in to Islam and yet our President refuses to publically admit that the enemy the world is fighting is a war against Islamist seeking to kill the rest of us. There is definitely a crusade going on yet there is another crusade that many will not engage in.
Christians are also called to a holy war however that war is not to seek out and kill those that disagree with us. Instead the Christian is called to a jihad of sorts. Now, this is not to say that Christianity is to give way to Islam; that is far from what is being suggested here. Instead an examination of the original idea of jihad is the Muslim idea of an inner struggle. The Arabic term has much to do with striving and has little to do with the idea of holy wars. Still the Christian would do well to understand that we are called “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24). With this the Christian is not to fight against a physical enemy as a way of life rather he is to work diligently in keeping the faith (II Corinthians 13:5).
It is true that many Muslims seek to tear down Christianity by any way possible. And Christians are to be determined to fight another crusade. Certainly there are times when nations must take up arms in the matter of self preservation. So must Christians lift holy hands to a Holy God in complete surrender to His will. The fact is that Islam does not recognize the spirit realm so it takes its jihad against all who are not like it. However Christendom has another crusade wherein it realizes that the fight is not against flesh and blood rather it is against principalities and powers and rulers of darkness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). The Christian crusade also involves standing to live (I Thessalonians 3:8) rather than putting forth the false idea of martyrdom. This Christian crusade means fighting for righteousness and giving even our enemies a chance at salvation.
So, while the Islamic State continues to wreak havoc the world over Christians need to maintain holiness and faithfulness to the One and only God. Fought properly the holy war of Christians can and will soften the heart of the most dedicate Muslims. With that, Christians, let us crusade not out of malice and vitriol but rather with love and compassion so that we might win some; even if some are Islamic terrorists.
The State of the Church
Last evening the President of the United States of America presented his sixth State of the Union address. During the address, a number of issues were raised. Some of those issues caused a collective scratching of heads with many across this great land. One such item was that the President touted financial success by reason of policies he has implemented and that the nation’s unemployment levels have steadily gone down over his tenure. Unfortunately, the only reason the unemployment levels appear to have fallen is that about ninety-three million people of fallen out of the employment picture and are not looking for work because of the lack of jobs and have exhausted all benefits. This is not to mention the fact that when the President took office the debt was about nine trillion dollars and now stands over eighteen trillion dollars.
There are many other items that can be addressed in the President’s speech however it might be more beneficial to discuss the State of the Church as the Church has had many successes over the past year. For instance, the Church is strong and growing. Despite the attacks on fundamental Christianity the Church has not folded. Instead, Christianity is beginning to stand its ground in favour of traditional Judeo-Christian values and refusing to relent to the boisterous cry of those that seek only the demise of the one entity that recognizes the one true and living God. Evangelical Christians are digging deeper into the trenches of holiness as it furthers the Great Commission.
Even so, there are problems in the Church. And problems are nothing new in the Church particular if one considers the issues Paul addressed concerning the Church at Corinth. This is evident in I Corinthians 3:3 where he states that “ye are yet carnal.” This carnality meant that the church was much like the world at large and that carnality was detrimental to the Church in a number of ways. The same is true with the Church today. There are many that cannot eat the meat of the Gospel as they are still on milk. Among many, there has been no growth so that some local bodies have become stagnant. This stagnation has led to frivolous programs called ministries which serve only to create social clubs in these Houses of Worship. These things ought not to be so.
Likewise, there has been a pulling away from the historical teaching of Christ in futile efforts to reach those presumed unreachable in traditional terms. Hence music has changed from worship to entertainment wherein in some localities it is becoming increasingly more difficult to determine if the churches are parts of the Church or clubs. This, in part, has caused a double standard with congregants wherein lives outside the local bodies are less godly and more carnal. This is to say that many of these in the Church are Sunday saints and often barely that. As such the State of the Church is weakening because the Great Commission has been changed from going to all the world and teaching the Gospel to bringing the world into the Church by compromising the Gospel.
And there are hosts of other matters in the Church that need to be addressed just as they were addressed by Paul. Schisms in the Church caused unnecessary divides just as they do today. With this, the Church needs to lay aside petty differences in order to further the Gospel while using the love of Christ to embrace each other so that the world can see the love we have one for another and be positively affected by it. This love means that there is no fornication it the Church. Lies will become a thing of the past as the truth becomes all the more paramount with the true and living God at the helm. This will result in respect for the people of God as pastors and ministers work tirelessly to hone their prophetic skill thereby pointing men to the foot of the cross.
It is absolutely true that the State of the Church is strong and that many are being brought into the fold. Likewise, there are problems that need to be addressed in that strong things, even the church, need to be maintained so that the strengths do not become weaknesses. Let us, then, lay aside the carnality which seeks only to uproot that which is holy and pick up the ways of righteousness which serves to bolster and undergird a strong a prospering Church.
Again I Voted for Freedom
Yes, I did it again. I found my way to the early voting polling place recently. You have heard the story of how I did this very same thing in Baltimore a couple years ago. Yes, I voted early because I bemoan those long lines and loud people. What I bemoan even more is the lack of freedom that some seek to impose on this wonderful nation. With that I had no choice but to return to the polls as had been in the past in order to cast my mark for freedom. Yet before my vote was cast I paid attention to what was going on. I listened to the arguments of the contestants and knew that again I had to vote for freedom.
This is another matter that had to be taken personally. This is because there remain some in these United States of America that choose not freedom. Consider the many fights over individuals flying the United States flag on their property. This is a flag that resembles a free land. The red stands for the shed blood of those before us while the white stands for the purity of a free people and the blue for the loyalty of same. Well, I have had my fill of those who attack those choosing to express patriotism by flying the flag of the United States of America. That is a flag that I joined the Marine Corps to fight for. It is that flag that I learned to respect as a boy scout. It is because of the flag that I again voted for freedom.
As important as that flag is there is one thing more important than the flag that some want to trample upon. You see not only I am a natural born citizen of the United States I am also a staunch Christian to which I make no apologies. The Bible is in fact the Word of God and it is upon that Word that I stand. And when some tell me that I have to keep my Christian worldview to myself my freedom is greatly infringed upon. Even more Romans 6:7 declared that “He who the Son has set free is free indeed.” Well, I choose to walk in that freedom. I choose to wear that freedom on my sleeve and I will not hold back the truths of the word of God simply because some choose not freedom. While I love my country I love my God even more so once again I voted for freedom.
There is another document that affords me freedom. In fact much of the freedom by this document comes from the freedom of the Word of God. The Constitution of the United States of America specifically affords the citizens (not illegal immigrants) specific freedoms and specifically limits the government. A big government is not the mark of a free people rather a small government that allows freedom to live and breathe without the hand of a tyrannical government making and forcing decisions that have nothing to do with freedom. My vote went toward a small manageable government not one seeking to dictate my every move. Yes, I enjoy the freedom to worship and all other freedoms afforded by the Constitution so that again I voted for freedom.
In order to have freedom one must first have life. If life is prematurely snuffed out then there is no freedom. This is why I stand for those who would be killed before they are born. These people are not choices rather that are human beings that have been formed in the wombs of their mothers. How dare we decide who should live and who should die? How dare we abort simply because that new life would be an imposition? That unborn person deserves to be free and for that unborn person I voted. Life and freedom most definitely go hand in hand so again my vote was cast for freedom.
Economic freedom is another that only builds a strong people. The idea of raising the minimal wage (for which no such idea can be found in the Constitution) serves only to push some out of employment while raising the costs of goods and services. That is not freedom. That will only pull freedom from some and redistribute wealth to those who were pushed out of the work force. Instead I voted for the freedom of the free market wherein businesses are not over taxed. I voted for the freedom of hardworking people setting the course for their only lives. I voted for the freedom of energy independence. I voted for a nation to be prosperous and competitive in every possible way. I will not give in to the idea that economic freedom is tantamount to the love of money. So because I want economic freedom for me and mine again I voted for freedom.
The list of freedoms I voted for are nearly endless. I love the Lord Jesus Christ and the entire Godhead and I will fight for the freedom to worship until I can fight no more. I love my country and vowed to defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic. I voted to secure the freedom of a free loving people so I encourage one and all to join me in not just a right but also a responsibility as again I voted for freedom!