Two Kingdoms

I find myself increasingly torn over the political issues that have plagued us lately.  Suddenly, it’s wrong to believe a certain way in our nation, which has freedom of religion written into its foundational documents.  In many cases, it’s considered “politically incorrect” to hold a Christian worldview.  The hypocrisy of the “PC” movement so painfully evident that I am simply baffled that more people don’t see it.  But I digress.  My purpose in writing is not political.  At least, not in the manner in which you are probably thinking.  Now if you consider the relationship between two kingdoms, or conflicting sets of ideologies, or citizens of one nation residing in another nation, then perhaps this is a political post after all.

To begin, I would like to take a moment to address the overwhelming plague of Biblical illiteracy in the Western Church.  Those of you who say something is “okay” when the Bible clearly says that it is not, shame on you.  Those of you who pick and choose what verses of the Bible you like and disregard the rest, shame on you.  Those of you who take passages of the Bible out of context to fit into your own preconceived idea of what you think God is or should be, shame on you.  God is who He reveals Himself to be.  You don’t need to interpret what He is from the Bible.  And let me tell you, the Bible probably doesn’t fit into your political agendas as neat as you would like to think it does.  The prime example, and probably the most abused subject in the Bible, is the issue of judgment.  Non-believers and watered down Christians scream and shout that it is wrong to judge and that our own Bible tells us not to.  Wrong!  It does, in fact, tell us to judge.  It merely instructs us on how we should judge.  For instance, the non-believer is condemned already (John 3:18).  This means, for these individuals, that no further judgment is necessary.  Their specific sins are of no matter to us, whose only mission at this point is to spread the Gospel.  Now regarding those who call themselves Christians that knowingly live in sin, this is another matter of judgment entirely.  And our judgement on them is tougher.  Iron sharpens iron.  All I am stressing here is know what it is that you say you believe.  Read your Bible.  Flee from false doctrines, especially those that are easily identified by a basic understanding of the Bible.  In this day in age, where so many resources are literally at our fingertips, you have no excuse.

With this in mind, how do we interact with a world that greets us with a scorn that increases day-by-day?  I believe that this, in part, is our own faults.  As a society that was based on Christian ideals, we have compromised over and over again.  Now many people are living however they like, contrary to how the Bible says we should live.  What ever shall we do?  Actually, I have a more appropriate question.  Why should we expect nonbelievers to live their lives according to the Bible?  Is it really that surprising and shocking that people who have shunned the Bible do not care what we have to say about how they should be living?  Think about this a moment.  Take as long as you need.  We attack their choices in life whether it be drug habits, sex life, alcohol abuse, use of language, etc.  Fill in the blank with whatever doesn’t agree with you.  But therein lies our mistakes.  This is where we as Christians falter and fail.  This is where we push them away.  Ladies and gentlemen, the problem does not lie with their life choices.  The problem lies with their world view which acts as the foundation in which they have built all of their ideals on.  You cannot merely trim the limbs of a tree and expect it to fall.  You cannot hurl rocks at the towers of a castle and expect to breach the walls.  You have to cut the tree at the trunk and sever it from its roots.  Crack the foundation of the castle and it will crumble.  You must understand that there are two kingdoms in coexistence.  The Christians are of one Kingdom, and the nonbelievers are of an entirely different kingdom.  How can we in our right minds expect members of one kingdom to follow the commandments and ideals of another opposing kingdom?  The simple answer is that we can’t.  As much as I love my nation, the United States of America, it is not of the Kingdom of God.  So why should I expect it to pass and enforce laws based solely on Biblical principals?  While I admit that I would love to see that, it is simply illogical to expect it.  Before you can expect others to follow Biblical principals, they must first leave their kingdom and become a citizens of God’s Kingdom.  Allegiance must change before a lifestyle will change.  And for those that say that their allegiance has changed yet their lifestyle has not, well, the proof is in the pudding as they say.

I’m sure that everyone has seen those “coexist” bumper stickers.  Then there are those that scream and shout for unity.  It all sounds like common sense on the surface.  It sounds like a great idea.  Why should we not pursue such an idea?  Lets delve deeper into the issue and find out.  While I wholeheartedly believe in the idea of coexistence, this idea does not seem to hold the same meaning for some.  The fact that we all exist and live amongst each other already shows that we coexist.  True, there are some that don’t want to coexist, but my point here is not to single those groups out.  We’ll leave that others to do, since there are already so many that point their fingers so well.  We can all live peacefully together, and yet not agree on all things.  We can all live amongst each other, and at the same time refuse to approve of each other’s life choices.  Because to believe that every singe person in our vastly growing population will agree on everything and accept each others life decisions is complete and utter foolishness.  It will never happen.  Where’s the math majors?  What are the odds of that happening?  But we can go about are lives and treat each other like human beings, practicing courtesy and common respect.  This idea I am all for.  Where do I sign up?  As for unity, where is there unity for the Christian?  It should be in the Body of Christ.  What does that mean?  It means that, while we live amongst the world, we will never have unity with it.  It is impossible to do so as a Christian.  Read Matthew Chapter 10.  Christ Himself said that he brings division.  Think about it.  We as believers are called out from the world.  We are called to be lamps in the darkness, a city on a hill, the salt of the Earth.  We are not a part of the darkness.  The separation of light and dark is one of the most clearly defined divisions.  Christians are called to walk with Christ.  We are called out from the nations to be a people set apart for Him, even to the point of pursuing holiness before happiness.  In fact, the word “holy” in Greek (hagios) literally means different and set apart?  This implies that for the Christian, there can be no unity with the world, as it means to those who are calling for it.  We may walk the streets of one kingdom, but we are citizens of a different Kingdom.  We are here temporarily.  While we’re here, we simply invite as many as we can to join us in our Kingdom.

While we’re in this world, this other kingdom, we have a mission.  The Great Commission.  While I’ll humbly admit, I don’t always work towards the Great Commission.  I do understand the importance of it.  I also understand what it is like to feel discouraged, when our society grows more and more hostile towards proselytizing.  Let’s take a look at the examples we have in the Bible.  Enoch preached for hundreds of years before being taken up.  Noah preached the whole time he built the ark prior to the flood.  Yet only his family believed.  God Himself, in the form of Jesus Christ, preached for several years prior to His crucifixion.  Yet people still did not believe.  So the Biblical patriarchs preached with little conversions.  And God Himself preached to the crowds, and was crucified by His own “priests.”  What does that say about us when we witness to others with little success?  So do not be dismayed.  First you must define success.  We are not able to convict the heart of another.  Many will not accept the Lord, and that is heart-breaking.  So we cannot define success by an action that is not within our ability.  So what is it?  The answer is spreading the Gospel.  That is what we are called to do.  So in doing so, we succeed in fulfilling the scope of our mission.  The Holy Spirit convicts the heart.  The Holy Spirit makes the “plant” grow.  We are to merely cast the seeds.  Humble yourselves, embrace your inadequacies, and then leave the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Keep these things in mind.  Do not be a part of this growing apostasy and Biblical illiteracy.  Know what you believe.  Read your Bible.  Do not expect someone to change their lifestyle without first addressing the foundation of their worldview.  Do not expect them to live by Biblical principals when they are nonbelievers.  Seek out proper coexistence, but never compromise where your faith is concerned.  Always remember that you are a people set apart from the world as followers of Christ.  Do not forsake Him, because He did not forsake you on the cross.

 

Ever Onward, Brothers and Sisters

-JCH

 

The Greatest Gift, Remembered

I’m haven’t really had a chance to write in a while.  I apologize for that, but life happens.  But I was thinking about this week and the coming Easter holiday, and decided that there is no better time or subject to write about.

When thinking about God, I sometimes follow a particular train of thought that helps me put things in perspective.  Do you know those websites or apps that compare the size of objects in space?  It starts by comparing the size of the Earth to the moon and the closer planets.  Then you scroll out and compares the size of the Earth to the outer planets.  Then it compares Jupiter to the Sun.  Then goes on to compare the size of various stars that make our sun look tiny.  After the stars it shows nebulas, galaxies and galaxy clusters, and eventually it shows the known universe.  It really is an awesome thing to see, and it humbles you.  It really shows how insignificant and small we really are in this great big universe.  But that is just the creation.  I then expand my feeling of awe when I think of the One that created it all.  He, being not bound by His vast creation, and is omnipresent, is bigger still than all of it.  Bigger in more ways than we can comprehend.  The power He has to create it all is baffling, yet it is all done at the mere command of His voice.  As I meditate on these things, I truly get a sense of just how awesome God is.  Even so, I acknowledge that itself as an understatement.

After I have put creation in proper perspective, I move on to God’s interaction with His creation.  I think of how we will swat a fly with out a second thought, because a house fly seems so insignificant to us.  It’s very lifespan is nothing compared ours.  Then I remember our little spec of existence in creation, and the vapor in the wind that our lives are.  God could look at us like we do flies.  And as the Creator, He has every authority to “swat” us as He pleases.  But what does He do instead?

Picture God in His position of greatness over all of creation.  Now He willingly stepped out of that position, to take on the insignificant human form, as Jesus, on our tiny spec of a planet.  God Almighty, the Great I AM, the Creator of that huge vast universe we spoke of earlier, got down on His knees in human form and washed the feet of His followers.  This being considered at that time a base task for the lowliest of servants.  Think about that a moment before continuing.

Jesus then willingly let Himself be beaten, insulted, shamed, and executed.  Executed by one of the most sadistic methods mankind has ever concocted.  He lived a perfect life.  He did no wrong.  Consider that next time you say life is unfair.  And in that moment in time, He was looking up and down the corridor of time and taking all of our sins and accepting the punishment for them.  He had our names on His mind.  He was thinking of His followers.  He was thinking of me.  He was thinking of you.  For God so loved YOU that He sent His Son, so that if YOU believed in Him YOU would not perish.  Because if we do not accept His sacrifice, then we ourselves must bear the punishment for our own iniquities.  And we do not possess the power over death and therefore cannot conquer it.

Think about the vastness of the known universe.  Think about the greatness of the Creator of that universe.  And remember this Sunday just how small He willingly made Himself, and what He subjected Himself to.  All because He loved us.  He loved us not because of what could become, but He loved us in our sinful state.  Because it is in our sinful state that He first calls to us.

The words here really do not do justice to what I feel when I follow this train of thought.  Awestruck wonder seems to fall short of the mark.  This week, I will remember how Jesus loved such a small insignificant spec in His creation enough to become human and experience a painful death so that I might live.  How will you remember Him this week?

 

-JCH

Happy New Year

The new year has arrived.  In this time, there are many who are beginning their resolutions.  Some are planning to lose weight or eat healthier.  Some are going to try quitting a bad habit of some sort.  The determination between each individual varies.  Some succeed, and some do not.  So what resolution have you set for yourself?  What goal is important enough to you that you should try and change yourself to achieve it?

Yes, I have a few resolutions.  Not just because it’s the new year, the inclination better myself just happen to come at same time.  Convenient.  I too plan to lose a little weight this year, and maintain my goal weight if I achieve it.  I too plan to become a little more fit by exercising more and eating healthier.  I have educational goals this year as well as occupational goals.  However, what might there be that exceeds these goals in importance?  The answer to that is prayer.

Prayer I think trumps the rest of my goals.  I wish to pray more.  I wish to pray harder.  I will pray for my country and the coming changes with the election year.  I will pray for the leaders of this nation as well as others.  I will pray for my family and friends.  I will pray for the lost.  I will ponder over the mission that lies before us all.  The mission of getting the gospel out into the public.  I will pray for compassion so that I might see people as Jesus sees them.  I will pray for boldness so that I might act on that compassion.    What could be more important than spreading the seeds of the gospel?  What greater thing is there at stake besides eternity?  What greater urgency is there besides the condition of a soul that enters eternity?  Jesus considered these things worth dying for.

So what are your goals this year?  What is important enough to you that you should act on it?  And by achieving such goals, what will you gain?  How lasting are the results?  Months?  Years?  A lifetime?  Eternity?  Show the world what is important to you by striving for the goal.  Consider your most important goal, and you will find where your heart lies.  With prayer and conviction, follow your heart and you will never stop striving to achieve that goal.  And stay confidant that if your goal is within the will of the Father, you will achieve that goal as He has promised.

Consider your goals this year.  Seek the will of God in earnest.  Seek the will of God in reading His word.  Seek the will of God in prayer and meditation.  And when you’ve finished, consider your goals for the year once more.  Take note of any priorities that may have shifted.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope 2016 brings you many great things and new opportunities.  God Bless.

-JCH

Welcome To My Site

Good day to whomever may be reading this!  Welcome to my new site.  I’m new to this, so bear with me as I learn the ropes to managing a blog site.  I am looking forward to writing a little more , and doing so on a broader platform than I’m used to.  I am also hoping to hone my writing a bit, as it has been ‘hit and miss’ lately.

So please check back later.  I hope to have some posts coming soon.  In the meantime, take a look around my site.  If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I would be glad to hear them.

-JCH