Moving Sites

I’m moving to http://www.kendallmccullough.com which will be running soon. Please follow me there. Thank you!

Advertisements

Summer update

Time to get real, get personal, get intimate. My thoughts on writing continually evolve, which makes it hard to write much. My past thoughts on my blog was that my posts would be special, that they would be well done, and they would move from one post to the next intentionally and flow logically one after another. But honestly that’s not how my brain works…at all. Actually my thoughts do not flow in words, sentences, paragraphs, or any semblance of communication. Thus, the difficulty in writing. Shaping, manipulating, translating, and making our thoughts intelligible for everyone else to identify and relate to. But that is the goal in writing: to be understood, to be heard, to relate with others, and to make a difference in the world. For us writers, writing helps us process our own thoughts. I believe those who stick with writing truly begin to understand that it is a gift that we have been blessed with and that it is our duty to utilize this gift to the best of our ability. Otherwise we’re squandering and burying it in the dirt, and that is not something God intends for us.

 

Ok enough with the writing rambling. About my life recently.

 

God has been blessing me so much. I recently, semi-accidently obtained a mentor. I have been thinking about getting one for a long time. But, as often is the case, I did not know how to go about finding one so I just didn’t try. Thank God for being strong where I am weak. I play basketball with my mentor every week with a group of guys. I talked to him and learned that he is in a leadership role at the biggest charismatic church where I go to grad school. I wanted to know more about charismatic Christianity so I asked him if he wanted to meet and talk about it. He was very open and willing to do that. However, it was during the school year, I procrastinated, and basically waited a long time before asking him to actually do that (all the way until the summer). We had a great meeting, he challenged me to study a bible passage and meet him the next week. I did that and we met once more. He asked me, without my prompting if I would like to enter a mentorship/mentoree relationship and I quickly agreed. Turns out he had been looking for an opportunity outside of church to pour into younger men just as I was looking for an opportunity to be mentored.

I also have found a Godly friend and accountability partner. I met him at church, became friends with him, and found that he was also looking for accountability. Our relationship has been very helpful and encouraging. I am sad he is going back to his home college in the fall, but I am confident that our friendship will not end.

I went to the gym the other day (as I am fond of doing) and my friend (whom also plays with the group of guys that my mentor is a part of) showed up. Afterward he invited a group of us guys to go to supper. We got to know one another at supper and he invited us to a men’s group studying the Bible that he had just started. I also quickly agreed to this as I have been looking for a men’s group as well.

At the beginning of the summer I joined a men’s study group at my church (which has been fantastic), but this week is the final week. So joining the men’s group studying the Bible was the perfect timing.

Looking back this summer I can clearly see the fingerprints of God all over my life. Because of his direction and blessing I have been confronting my sins, getting accountability, pressing into the word, growing closer to God, and finding open doors left and right. It’s been truly an amazing thing to experience. I do have some anxiety about wrapping up the summer the way I need to, preparing for the fall. I know that life will get more difficult with classes, deadlines, work, and just the busyness of life. But I also know that I am in a much better place mentally and spiritually than last year when I started grad school. I am a lot more prepared. I know that if I keep being faithful to God, that he will guide me true. Whether I experience worldly success is not important, but that I go along the path that the Lord leads me on. I know the only way I can do that is pursuing God. Finding a great support system with my church, my mentor, accountability partner, men’s group, etc. have all been essential in keeping my heart in the right place and staying disciplined in my walk with God.

I abhor personal, intimate, overly-detailed writing about myself, that I don’t believe is relevant to the big picture or other people’s lives, but I’m trying to conquer these feelings. My writing is first for God. So I’m giving him praise for what he has done for me. Second, my writing is for myself. To practice the gifts, he’s given me and organize my brain (relatively enough). And third, for you, to keep whoever is interested, informed in my life. And hopefully it helps you in your own life in some way.

I feel like I always say this in my writings, but I sincerely hope to write more often. I will try to vary my posts up (don’t worry my brain naturally loves variation) from personal updates, to creative things, to theological/philosophical posts, to current events/culture/worldview posts, and who know’s what else? So if you don’t like one, then maybe you will like another. Enough with the perfectionism holding me back from writing. Enough with my fears holding me back. Enough with writing just for other’s sake and not my own (or God’s). God bless. Have a good night.

What Truly Matters

We had arrived. Where were we? At a children’s home in Kenya, Africa. We were there to paint the schoolrooms and build desks for the abundance of skinny children playing in the dirt around the compound, which was surrounded with 8 Ft walls. We had come from America, the land of wealth, to bless the lowly, these poor orphans in need. We had come to bless them. I had no idea. The next week proved how wrong I was.

The next seven days we did our best mission impression, but the natives out-blessed us at every turn. In our honor they killed and cooked their best food for us, prized rare chicken meat. They also provided expensive soda in our honor. The volunteer workers and teachers at the children’s home were paid very little, they suffered a hard job, trying to parent and manage throngs of orphans coming and graduating from the orphanage. Yet they always looked after us. One woman even washed my cousin’s feet because they were dirty. Every afternoon the children would be released from class and come running to play with us ‘muzungus’ (white people). They would marvel at our white skin and thin hair. We played basketball with them or spun them around by their arms. They never stopped laughing and smiling.

In the evening we would gather inside and sing worship songs together. They would teach us African songs and we would teach them American songs. On Sunday many people gathered together to worship. Different groups got up to sing for us. They were very lively and energetic. They had our mission team get up and sing, admittedly less passionate and lively than they were. The service went on, astonishingly lasting four hours in the heat. They were not going to shortchange God!

We come to bless the Kenyans, but truly they blessed us far more. What struck me the most about them was the joy and peace they contained within their hearts, despite having very little and living a rough life. They did not go around complaining that Americans had much more than they had. They were just thankful that we came; they enjoyed our fellowship. They taught me so much. Joy does not come from possessions or even living a #blessed life. Joy comes from knowing and pursuing God. Joy comes from being thankful for the good things, not focusing on the bad things.

In a culture that has everything, Americans want more. With technology, we have never had life easier, yet we are never satisfied. We are always discontent. Our focus is often on ourselves and how others have more than we do. Whether it be money, fame, beauty, talent, privilege, etc. there is always someone with more and that’s just not fair. We could do with a bigger perspective. Let’s not forget what’s most important: loving God and loving each other.  Let’s be thankful that we live in the top 3% of the wealth in the world and work to spread the blessing to others.

 

original_url: DADE8306-D504-43A7-BDC1-7C7D7D55A6C2

A search for the Sublime

 

Sublime – of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.

All my life I’ve been searching for the Sublime, the mystery behind the mundane. I know there’s more out there in the universe than the surface level physical world that assaults our eyes. I know this because science, history, English, Philosophy, religion, etc. has explored them. I have experienced the sublime firsthand in sunrises and sunsets, in everyday miracles and grace given undeserved. I have experienced the sublime by way of the feeling of peace in the presence of great evil and danger.

But I want more. I want to peel back the layers of common everyday thoughts and actions to explore purpose, meaning, spiritual, and imaginative realms.
I have come far in my journey. Heck, I’ve read over 600 books in my lifetime, the majority of them being fiction. My desire for knowledge, wisdom, and truth has no bounds. There is a thirst within me that has not been quenched. I know that this world does not contain the living water that satisfies because the earth is not my home. To be more accurate, I am not even searching for a what, but a WHO.
My dilemma is that at times I’ve given up on this world, felt disconnected from life, and have suffered the consequences in my soul. I’ve felt lonely and empty, disenchanted and confused, wayward and apathetic…the list could go on. My problem is that I’ve become lost in the sin of this world and forgotten my purpose for this life.
I’ve separated the spiritual from the physical. Yes my thirst will not be fully quenched on earth, but I can find peace and contentment. How do I do this?
1. By loving God and loving others more than myself
2. By discovering my God given talents and investing in them to produce more fruit
3. By connecting with this world in order to bring God’s kingdom here and now on earth
The spiritual, mental, and physical is all woven together; truth, meaning, and contentment is not in one but in all. The key is balance in all of them.

 

Beyond The Shadowlands

eternityThe name of my blog “Beyond the Shadowlands” is a reference to CS Lewis’s The Great Divorce. The “shadowlands” is a term Lewis invented to describe the world as we know it. Lewis explained that while the earth contained elements of heaven, it was a shadow of its true glory. Heaven was like earth unblemished from sin. In The Last Battle (The 7th and Final book in The Chronicles of Narnia series) Narnia is destroyed and all those who followed Aslan entered heaven which looked like Narnia only more. The new residents found that their five senses were all heightened, colors became more vibrant, food become more luscious, smells became more intoxicating, energy became boundless, Narnia grew. The Narnia they once knew was now oddly familiar and strangely alien all at once. They realized that all along that the Narnia they once knew was just a reflection, a shadow, of the true reality they lived in now.

In this blog I hope to to discover glimpses of eternity  in my musings. I hope to strike at the truth contained under the veil of sin in this world. Though darkness shrouds our minds and hearts, God has provided us everything we need to follow him.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. -2 Peter 1:3

I hope you will join with me in discovering what is beyond the shadowlands so that we may live full, abundant lives and reflect the light of Christ.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. -1 Peter 2:9

Exploring the Wild West of the future: Virtual Reality

A new frontier is approaching that has the potential to reshape society forever. Virtual reality is the next level of the technology age. Like the internet, virtual reality has sky sweeping possibilities and will most likely evolve more quickly and many more different ways than we can imagine today. However, just like the internet, virtual reality has many cons as well as pros. Scientists may hail this new world as another step toward utopia, the reality is that human corruption is inescapable. So in order to best utilize this new tool, society must advance with caution and wisdom, instead of repeating the mistakes the public dispersal of the internet created. We have all heard of virtual reality, but what is it? How is it used? Where is it going? What are the implications? In this article we will explore all of these questions and more.

What is virtual reality? Virtual Reality is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real, or imagined, and simulates a user’s physical presence and environment in a way that allows the user to interact with it. This not only includes sight, but also has the potential to include touch, hearing, and smelling. Virtual reality is usually accessed on a computer screen or a special virtual reality headset.

Virtual reality today is mainly used for video games, but it is also utilized for practical purposes as well. Virtual reality technology has been used by Google in their street view, the military to train for combat situations, in medical education to train nurses and doctors as well as help patients heal from PTSD.

Virtual reality in the future could evolve in so many ways. Virtual reality could expand within the entertainment industry to include TV, movies, and sports. Virtual reality could become the next social network. Minecraft is a good example of a user-created world based on a limited number of options. Combine this with virtual reality, better graphics, and shared users, the potential is endless. Plus, the factors of smell, touch, realistic sound, etc. and the popularity could be staggering.

But virtual reality coupled with shared user interface does not have to be limited to entertainment. Virtual reality could be used in education. Imagine being able to take classes in bed. Your avatar is already dressed, you’re already at school, and you have to make minimal effort to do classwork. No need for pens and paper. A keyboard or fingerpad will suffice.

Businesses could also implement virtual reality. Huge, international businesses could use virtual reality to include everyone at the same place. Engineers, scientists, marketers, etc. could all implement virtual reality. Stores could transition to be completely online. Why would you need to go somewhere when you can see, touch, and interact with employees online, and have everything ordered to your front door?

Virtual reality has the potential to change our society. If virtual reality successfully implements some of the above ideas into society, then life will shift even more to the virtual from the physical. Since virtual reality could become so life-like, creative, and potentially useful, it could become highly addicting. While users could potentially create and interact together in virtual reality it still could not totally replicate reality and therefore create damaging isolation between individuals. Virtual reality will heighten the physical sedentary and obesity in our culture. Virtual reality will also heighten the need for instant gratification, short attention spans, and the false sense of control.

While the widespread implementation of virtual reality has yet to be realized, it might not be that far into the future. As our culture progresses into the technological age we must be engaged and thoughtful so that we control our technology instead of letting it control us.


Sources:
The future of VR with advertising:
http://www.curbed.com/2016/4/5/11368816/ikea-kitchen-design-app
VR description and history:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality
SEO keywords:
http://tools.seobook.com/keyword-tools/seobook/?keyword=virtual+reality

 

2/7 Musings

Last few days – getting in and out of a rut

Today was a weird day. Friday my Dad and I stayed up till 2 AM because we watched the movie the Revenant until 1:15. This caused us to sleep in late Saturday. I didn’t end up taking my Adderall until 2PM yesterday. I suspect that is the reason for why I couldn’t sleep until 5AM. This caused me to oversleep and miss church. Then I was very sluggish all day and didn’t get much homework done. I’ve been a little sad after my Dad left because it reminded me of the community I had back home that I do not have here in Waco. Because I didn’t get homework done early I did not go to any Superbowl parties so that I could stay home and do homework. But because I was sad and still feeling sluggish I procrastinated and didn’t get much homework done.

Basically the point of all this is 1. Its important to do the right things to live a productive and full life. One mistake can compound into another 2. I need to focus and get myself out of the rut instead of dig deeper which I have a tendency to do. I think one of the main reasons I do this is because it is easy to get caught up in the moment, or stuck in a mind frame when you are ADHD. And it is easier for everyone to do what is easy, what is shallow, what is negative, then the opposite. So basically I have to work extra hard to be present and intentional in life. That is something I’ve been learning (essential to survival) in grad school being on my own.

Now to get out of this rut I need to do some productive things. The first is writing this post. The second will be looking at my planner and writing down tomorrow’s schedule. Those two things will help me to de-stress my mind so I do not overthink and dwell in the negative. This will prepare me to be able to sleep and handle tomorrow well so that I can make up for my lack of production this weekend. Anyways enough on that.

writing plans:

I’m going to be doing a lot of writing in the future. 1. I have two research papers in school. The first one is my independent on 1984 by George Orwell and its use in America today. My second one is going to have something to do with Christians in China during the 20th Century and how they lived out their faith under Communism. 2. I’m going to continue writing these daily posts that no one reads or cares about. Its good for me. It helps me process my thoughts, encourages me to live well, and helps me plan for the future. 3. I think I’m going to examine my writing once a week and write more reader friendly post on one specific topic. Hopefully other people will read those. I have many ideas already stored.

I guess that’s enough writing for tonight. See you guys tomorrow!

 

 

2/6 Musings

I said I wouldn’t do it, but of course, I’ve done it again. I’ve set too high expectations of myself and therefore, I have not blogged very much at all. In order to remedy this, I’m going to try to journal every day. This section of my blog will be my daily thoughts, what I’m going through in life, etc. This will be my mind dissemination or brain dump if you will. It’s less for whoever reads my blog and more for myself. My other parts of my blog will be more focused on the reader. So feel free to skip this section. It will probably be much more random and wordy than most will want to read.
Fatigue/ADD:
I’ve been really fatigued. I’m not sure how long I’ve had this problem. I know that I really noticed it starting last semester in grad school, continuing onward to this semester. It’s frustrating that I don’t know why. I try to drink lots of water, get exercise, go to bed at a good time, and eat fairly healthy. Lately I’ve been consciously eating more meat. But I haven’t yet figured out what the problem is. A couple of years back I was diagnosed with ADHD, though I had suspected for a long time that I had it. I began taking Ritalin and when that stopped having an effect on me, Adderall.
Since 2012 I have been taking Adderall 20mg XR every day in the mornings. It not only helps me focus, but it helps me have more energy. I believe the reason for this is because the human body is controlled by the brain. The heart keeps the body running, but the brain tells it how to function. An ADHD person’s brain has a chemical imbalance. Their brains are running a thousand miles an hour and many things can distract it. Thoughts can distract thoughts, things they see, here, smell, touch, can distract them from what they were focusing on. At a social event their eyes and mind is bouncing around like a ping pong ball. Thoughts take energy. So the ADHD individual consumes much more energy than the normal person does. When an ADHD brain is stimulated the person can become much more hyper than the normal person, but when the brain is not stimulated they are more likely to be fatigued and feel sluggish than the normal person. ADD medication, such as Adderall seek to correct this chemical imbalance. The extended release releases the medication slowly throughout the day so the effects are long lasting.
Adderall has helped me have more energy, which in turn, has helped me focus more easily. Adderall not only helps my brain slow down in the daytime, I also believe it helps slow my brain at night. Which of course helps me to sleep better and feel more rested in the morning. I recently ran out of Adderall for a day and felt horrible. My doctor told me this is a good sign because it shows the medicine is working and doing its job. What I am wondering, is if my body is adapting to the medication, and if so, if I need a higher dosage. I sure hope not though, I would hate for my body to continually adapt to the medication and for me to keep having to take higher and higher dosages to stay ahead. I hate having to take medication in the first place, but I understand that no matter what I do personally, I cannot change the chemical imbalance in my brain. Medicine or supernatural healing is my only remedy in that regard. Anyways, I will hopefully talk to my doctor when I come back to Lubbock and find a solution.

The Character of God

This is the fourth opportunity I’ve been given by my pastor to speak at my church. I hope you enjoy and that it blesses you.

“Good evening. A month ago my pastor asked me to speak and I agreed. I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to this church full of people who taught me so much wisdom and showered so much love on me growing up.

I have been busy with papers in grad school so I decided to adopt this sermon from one of my essays. When I told my pastor what my sermon was going to be about he of course recommended a book for me. The book he gave me, Your God is too Small by J.B. Phillips was very helpful as was another book I read called The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. If you haven’t already guessed, my topic tonight is about who God is and who God is not. When I went to Summit (an apologetic camp) 2 summers ago as a student we recited this Tozer quote every morning during Bible study, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Our understanding of God is important because it guides how we live life. Likewise, it is important to know what God is not so we do not fall into the trap of acting out of a false belief of God. During this Christmas holiday I think it is important to remind ourselves of the characteristics of God in order to foster thankfulness and worship toward God.

God is not-

God does not expect perfection from man. Though we fall short of his glory, he still loves us and encourages us. He does not want perfection from us, but only for us to try our hardest and strive to grow in him.

God is not a God of escapism. God does not hide us away from reality so we can cope, but instead he is our anchor that we rely on, so we can be content and confident in life no matter what happens.

God is not a simple God, He cannot be put in a box – God is not a denominational God, or a God that only works in the church. He does not fit our finite human idea of him. He’s bigger than us.

God is –

Love:

1 John 4:16 “God is love.” In The knowledge of the Holy Tozer is quick to point out that this does not mean literally that God IS love, but that love is an essential attribute of God’s character (98).

God’s other characteristics tells us more about his love. For instance, God is self-existent so his love has no beginning; because he is eternal, his love can have no end; because he is infinite, it has no limit; because he is holy, it is spotless purity; because he is immense, his love is incomprehensibly vast. The very nature of love is active, creative, and benign. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 says. So therefore, love must give of itself, whatever the cost may be (agape Love). “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17).

Just:

God is a just God. God defines justice because he is perfect and sets the standard of morality. We celebrate Christmas because Jesus came to die for our sins because He wanted a relationship with us. Because of His holiness and justice we could not have a relationship with Him without atonement for our sins being made. God is compassionate because he is good.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Mercy:

God is also merciful,

“Both the Old and the New Testaments proclaim the mercy of God, but the Old has more than four times as much to say about it as the New. We should banish from our minds forever the common but erroneous notion that justice and judgment characterize the God of Israel, while mercy and grace belong to the Lord of the Church (Tozer 90-91).”

 

According to Tozer, God’s character is constant so he never changes from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Tozer claims that in order to receive mercy we must first know that God is merciful. We must believe that God’s mercy is “boundless, free and….available to us now in our present situation (92).”

Immutability:

God’s nature does not change. God remains consistent throughout the scriptures. God has no need to change because He is completely mature and perfect in every way. Man, because of his imperfection, is ever changing. Yet he desires the unchanging and mourns the decay of the changing in the world. But, God does use change to work toward a process of perfection. Tozer concludes,

Holiness:

God is Holy. Isaiah understood holiness and his lack of it. In Isaiah 6:5 he said, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah understood how holy God is and how he views his people. Tozer points out that,

“We have learned to live with unholiness and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing. We are not disappointed that we do not find all truth in our teachers or faithfulness in our politicians or complete honesty in our merchants or full trustworthiness in our friends. That we may continue to exist we make such laws as are necessary to protect us from our fellow men and let it go at that (103-104).”

 

Tozer believes that man, even while fearing God’s power and admiring his wisdom, cannot imagine his holiness. It is possible to have truth in the mind, but not the heart. Man can only learn about Holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mystery:

God is mysterious. God is hard to know because we as humans understand what we already know, what is in this world. However, God is not from this world, he is both spiritual and physical. He is greater than us and he is divine. People only know God by what he has revealed in this world. Humanity cannot understand or comprehend what he has not revealed. The writers’ of the Bible use many comparisons (God is like…) to describe him, but these are not descriptions of him. Language cannot describe or comprehend him, for he is beyond words.

“…high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown… (Ezekiel 1:26-28).”

Tozer explains why humans struggle with the concept of God,

“Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need Him. We want a God we can in some measure control. We need the feeling of security that comes from knowing what God is like, and what He is like is of course a composite of all the religious pictures we have seen, all the best people we have known or heard about, and all the sublime ideas we have entertained (Tozer 8).”

 

The desire to know God comes from something he put deep inside of man, “deep calls unto deep (Psalm 42:7).” This desire can only be satisfied by looking at God’s son Jesus and through the revealing of the Holy Spirit. Tozer contends that God does not reveal his nature through reason, but through faith and love. While man has no answer to the question “what is God like in himself,” there is an answer to “what has God disclosed about himself that reason can comprehend.” These things are what God has revealed to the world, his attributes.

Wisdom:

The Bible declares the wisdom of God: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. … He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him (Daniel 2:20-22).” ‘His understanding is infinite,’ says the psalms (147:5). God gave man wisdom, but it is secondary to God’s and that is the reason that Romans 16:27 refers to God as “only wise.” The Bible defines the wisdom of God as being pure, loving, and good.

“All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined. An infinitely wise God must work in a manner not to be improved upon by finite creatures (60-61).”

Jealousy:

In Deuteronomy 6:14 God warns the Israelites not to follow false gods or he will destroy the Israelites because he is a jealous God. Jealousy seems like a purely negative emotion, but it actually can be used for good. God’s jealousy is a form of his love for his creation. He wants a loving relationship with everyone and will pursue that wholeheartedly. Anything that becomes an idol or more loved by an individual will be a source of jealousy to God. This is good for man because man will only truly thrive and experience life within a relationship with God. God’s punishment of war to the Israelites wasn’t solely because he was angry and vengeful, but because he wanted the Israelites to wake up. God wanted to remind the Israelites how much they needed him and how important a relationship with him is. God also wanted to remind the Israelites that true life is only found in him and that the temporary pleasures they were pursuing ended in death. God would rather have a short term, punishment here on earth for his creation, than an eternal punishment in the next life.

So in review God is full of grace, guidance, love, justice, mercy, holiness. He is constant, wise, jealous for us, and mysterious. Knowing these things about God gives us confidence that we can weather the trials of life and help others in need as well. Reviewing the attributes of God fosters a spirit of thankfulness and love toward God. Keeping in mind the character of God helps us prioritize life and grow closer to God. I am thankful that we serve a powerful, forgiving, and graceful God. Thank you!”

Persecution in America

What is the definition of persecution in the Bible? The prophets, disciples, and Jesus were mocked, beaten, tortured, and killed for their faith. Can we claim the same in America? No, of course not.
American culture is shifting more and more towards secularism. We are seeing many Christians react in panic and anger. How dare our religious freedoms be taken away?! I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight for these things but we should keep the bigger picture in mind.

We enjoy more religious freedom today than most Christians have had throughout history. We are a long way from experiencing true biblical persecution. But even if we were experiencing this type of persecution would it be a bad thing? Let’s go back to the Bible.

“God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:10

“Persecution can be good because (1) it takes our eyes off of earthly rewards (2) it strips away superficial belief (3) it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and (4) our attitude through it serves as an example to others who follow. We can be comforted knowing that God’s greatest prophets were persecuted (Elijah, Jeremiag, Daniel). The fact that we are being persecuted proves that we have been faithful; faithless people would be unnoticed. In the future God will reward the faithful by receiving them into his eternal Kingsom, where there is no persecution.”-Life Application Study Bible

One of the big reasons nonbelievers are critical of Christians is their lukewarm faith. As the battle lines are drawn out in this country thank God for the oppurtunity to be tested in our faith. Let us not respond with anger and fear, but rather love and truth so that nonbelievers may see us reflecting God and not our own sinful flesh.
Where is Christianity growing the most? You might be surprised to learn that the top 20 countries are in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia where Christiand are being persecuted the most (https://discipleallnations.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/the-top-20-countries-where-christianity-is-growing-the-fastest/ which references global christianigy.org)

I believe God is preparing to seperate the wheat from the chaff in America (Matthew 3:12). Where will you stand? I know where I want to stand. I am striving to live in authentic Christianity. Let us pray that God continually reigns in our hearts and that we would embrace the trials in this life in order to grow in our dependence and faith in him.