Leap of Faith

I remember a few years ago having a vision. I was standing on a high cliff on the top of a mountain and a voice whispering in the wind seemed to be telling me to jump. Logic was disagreeing with the voice. Logic told me if I jumped I would fall into the abyss and never be heard from again. Logic told me I shouldn’t be anywhere near the cliff, let alone considering to jump. However, part of me felt like jumping and seeing exactly what might happen. Part of me knew I would not be free unless I jumped. For some illogical reason I felt like if I jumped I just might fly.

This vision came at a time when I was leaving organized church. I had already deserted a few key doctrines held by the church, such as woman not being able to hold a position of leadership and the belief in eternal damnation where all who were not Christian were destined to go. I felt like I had already jumped. I was in the process of falling into the abyss and wondering when God was going to come and give me flight.

The actual jumping part was not hard for me. I didn’t know where I would go if I jumped but I knew I wanted no part of where I was at. I hated how we as the church seemed to think “faith” was just about making it to a building every Sunday morning and going to one or two small groups during the week. I hated the double standards of the church, how they preached for us to help the needy and love our neighbors yet had hardly any ministries supporting those areas. We were told to rebel against abortion but did nothing to help those babies who were being born under abusive situations. We were told to rebel against homosexuals and their lifestyles without ever trying to understand who those people were. The idea we were supposed to give our offering to support our pastors salaries also bugged me. Being told this money was going to God seemed to be slightly misleading. Very little of the money seemed to be making any difference what so ever. The organized Church was just supporting the constant routine of coming on Sundays and a few nights during the week to talk and agree with a bunch of like minded people.

So there I was falling into the abyss, finally liberated from all the double standards and hypocrisy of the Church. When was God going to catch me and give me flight? When was I going to finally be free? I had been waiting, and falling, for quite a while before I finally realized, my God would not tell me to jump if he did not already think I could fly. It was up to me to choose to rise up and fly above the mountains. Then I realized, the hard part was not the jumping or “letting go”. What was difficult was the “being free” part, aka– flying.

Letting go of doctrines and organized Church has opened up many things for me. I feel free now as if I can look into any religion and talk to any type of race or class and find good fruit in them. However, the hard part is being able to choose to take advantage of this new freedom. I personally find “flying” to be quite difficult. Maybe it is because I am scared of heights and rather have something solid below my feet so I don’t need to rely so heavily on God. Letting go of doctrines and structured religions forces one to need to rely on God more. If you stop relying on God you will just fall into the abyss. Flying away from where you have felt safe and going to new places with different philosophies and views is scary. During my flights I have seen some of the pain and suffering my ignorance has created. I have seen how blindly holding onto one view can deeply effect other peoples views.

We will not get anywhere unless we choose to let go and start relying on God. Being open is the only way we are really able to be free. However, it is important we do not be rebellious of one established view only to fall into another.  We also should make sure we are not jumping off a structured view only to fall into the abyss. Where ever there is life there is also Jesus. True freedom is only achieved when you are able to fly and see life in all the places it reigns. God never wanted us to get stuck in one point of view. God is infinite and we will always be learning more about Him. I have not yet come across a person who does not have some kind of knowledge on who God is.

If you want nothing to do with this world then jump and go into the abyss. If you want to feel safe and comfortable stay on solid ground and don’t jump. If you want true freedom and to make a difference then choose to jump and fly above the mountains. You will need to see things that might hurt and offend you. You will need to rely on a God who might feel all but absent at times. But things will not change unless we stop nailing each other down and choose to search out the one True God; who can be found in every person and religion and who is whispering for you to take the leap of faith and rely completely on Him.

(This post is part of a Synhcroblog I am doing. I apologize for being so late on this post, I was supposed to have it done about 4 or 5 days ago. Anyway, better late then never and here are the links to the other synchroblogs)

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The Passion of Evil

One of the greatest needs for Christianity is to truly take a look at how powerful and full of passion evil is. I look at the mass amounts of murder and abuse, that happen in this world and can not but help to feel weak compared to all that evil. The passion of evil is getting stronger.

People have done truly “great” things with evil. Pick a small subject like sports. Mark Magwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, are only a few people who have done great things by going an evil and selfish route. They broke some of the greatest records in baseball. They have all been idolized and have been well paid for their success. The problem is they have tarnished their reputations and the sport by taking illegal steroids to enhance their body and stats. Mark Magwire even admitted he was using steroids throughout his career and during his famous record breaking 70 home run season.

I, being a huge baseball fan, am very sad over what these people have done to the game. But, their passion for evil compares little to those who commit mass murder, who keep the child sex slave industry thriving, or those whose hearts are so turned toward money and worldly possessions they forget about humanity all together.

The passion of evil is getting stronger and it finds its roots in greed. We all have the tendency to be greedy. Americans are experts at the trade. Yet most of us do not even see our greediness. The fact is we Americans expect to have indoor plumbing and electricity. We want our own bedrooms and more than one bathroom. Most of our families have more than one car, and at least two TVs. We own more than one pair of shoes, a closet and dresser full of clothes. We have our own computers and cell phones and MP3 players, not to mention CDs and DVDs and… All this wealth, compared to the rest of the world, exposes our greed. But the sad truth is that barely touches the surface.

The people who are not bound by slavery, starvation, or violence, who can truly make a difference in this world, seem to be stuck. We seem to be stuck. We have bought into the philosophy that, “we only need to worry about ourselves.” We have told ourselves, “If I am not part of the problem, I do not need to worry about the solutions.” Even Christianity has become more of a safety blanket then armor for battle.

The passion of evil is getting stronger and the passion for good is getting weaker. Many Christians seem to be saying it is too late; the passion of evil is a sign of the “end times” and we can not do anything about it. So instead of stepping up and changing the world, they have been rendered inactive through their own belief system. Some even seem to want to see the world destroyed.

The passion of evil is getting stronger. So, how can we fight this passion, we see evidenced in people like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Kony? History has taught us about Hitler. He was not going to stop until he took over the world. Tragically, I can not help but be in aw of people like Hitler and Kony.

Joseph Kony has inspired thousands to follow him and forced others to comply. He is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in Uganda. He used guerrilla warfare to establish and maintain a theocratic government he claims is based on the Christian Bible and the Ten Commandments. Since 1986 Joseph’s army has adducted a estimated 30,000 children and displaced more then 1.6 million people. There have been hundreds upon hundreds of families that have been ripped apart and slaughtered because of the passion of evil in this man.

The passion of evil is getting stronger. Alone, we have little power compared to the evil in this world. Yet, despite the darkness I see a light. No matter how overwhelming evil gets there will always be a light.

The light is God, and He has not given up on this world. He is a flame that wants to ignite us with goodness, love, and compassion. He calls us to fight, to put on our armor and pursue the dreams He has given us.

Just fending for ourselves is not good enough. The only reason Hitler was stopped is because millions of good people stepped up to stop him. Evil will not stop itself. It must be stopped by good. God has planted a light in all of us, a desire to do good and follow Him. We can no longer hide the light, we must let it shine.

The passion of evil is getting stronger. How will the light respond?

Faith

“The emptiness in your heart will only be filled by Christ” is a comment usually made by Christians when talking to non-Christians about God. Sadly, very few Christians are close to knowing what the statement means.

I have been talking about Hell lately, or the lack of it. The doctrine of eternal Hell (which I do NOT think is biblical) brings many frustrations up for me. One of the greatest frustrations I have is what the concept of Hell does to our concept of salvation and evangelizing.

Many Christians think that there is a black and white line. We either believe in Jesus or we do not. So many Christians think it is a perfectly good answer to say that the only way you will be fulfilled is by “accepting Jesus into your heart”, without going into any more detail of what that means or how to really do it. With the doctrine of Hell, we create a “in or out” concept of salvation. You either know God or you do not. This “in or out” concept creates a sort of evangelizing where the Christians think that they have complete truth and non-Christian views are completely false. Thus we Christians are able to ignore the non-Christians while trying to throw our beliefs at them. We as Christians do not allow ourselves much growth. The concentration is on whether you are in or you are out, rather then on the continual growth of our faith.

Our unwillingness to see what may be true in another person’s faith is yet another reason why someone would not be too interested in Christianity. Christians have become a bit “holier then thou” based on the principles of their beliefs. I personally would not be interested in a friend who did not care about what I had to say because they thought I was completely false and deserving of an Eternal punishment. Through out the years I have found out that true friendship can not be built on a relationship that only goes one way. If you do not consider the person who you are talking to as significant, it will show.

I refuse to think that Jesus took pity on us because we were completely evil. I think that Jesus saw good in all of us and that is why He chose to save us. When I look at friends who are non-Christians I can not help but see some of God through them. I have been taught my whole life that they are nothing without becoming “Christians“, but I see the opposite in front of my eyes. I have just as many non-Christians friends as Christian friends that help at the local food bank, are kind to those around them, and seem to be following their God given dream.

I want to break the concept of one group being more superior then another. That line of thinking will not help either our evangelizing or our personal growth in our own faith. I am tired of Christians thinking answers like , “The emptiness in your heart will only be filled by Christ”, are good enough. The truth is that many people who claim to be following Jesus are not and many people who have not even heard of Jesus are choosing to follow Him. Truly following Jesus goes farther then just a few words. It is a life walk and everything needs to be taken into consideration.

Faith is a constant growth, not a black and white line. Just telling a friend, “you must choose Christ”, can NOT be good enough anymore. We need to know what “choosing Christ” means. We can no longer ignore the evidence of God in those around us, just because they have not claimed themselves as Christian. Shallow outside looks will not suffice we need to be willing to look deep into someone’s soul. This will call for you to be willing to open up to others just as much as you want them to open up to you.

Accepting Christ means that you are accepting what he did. The revelation of what Christ did on the Cross is simply indescribable. It has been a constant journey for me. I see more and more of the power of Jesus’ sacrifice every day, it is a revelation that will never end.

Accepting Christ, also calls you to act. I am accepting Jesus’ sacrifice through the way I am choosing to live. It is more then just a few words, it is about picking that belief up and choosing to walk with it. I have a responsibility to follow Him, for He is alive.

I think that everyone sees part of the revelation of Jesus Christ. When I see people pursuing their God given Vision such as art, writing, film, medicine, etc… I see them pursuing Jesus. We can NOT ignore God in others anymore. When it starts to be more about discovering God and less about who is right we will begin to see true change in this world.

It is true, “The emptiness in your heart will only be filled by Christ”. But, we need to be willing to look into what that means. And we can no longer deny faith where it clearly stands.

Easier Said Then Done

“It’s not that I don’t want everyone to go to heaven. I do!”, is the sort of line I get A LOT when I am talking to a fellow friend about the doctrine of Hell. I have been warned numerous times to be careful that I am reading the actual Bible rather then what I want it to be saying. For some reason almost every person I debate with about the Doctrine of Hell, seems to think that they would be just fine and even want everyone to be saved, “just that is NOT how God works“.

So I might be one of the only Christians that does not know whether or not I “want” everyone to be saved. I mean I guess I could say something like, “I want everyone to be saved!” out of ignorance, but I do not feel like it rings true. There are and have been some really evil people out there. Can we really say that we want someone who is responsible for the murdering of thousands if not millions (Hitler, Caesar, Kiangsi Kahn, etc…) to be saved? Can someone look at a man who is raping their daughter and say that they still love them? Sorry that I bring up horrific images, but they get more and more common every day.

I was walking home from work the other day and someone screamed at me, scaring the HIBAJEEBIES out of me. It was around midnight and they were doing it just for “fun”. I personally did not think it was “FUN”. I was angry and was tempted to throw a rock at their back window (10 year baseball pitching experience). It is sort of funny, because what I was doing before those people interrupted me, was praying.

When I say that I believe that God has everlasting love for even the least of us I am talking about a truly AMAZING thing. To love, is a very hard thing to do. To have everlasting love, is something that I can not come close to putting my head around. Love demands for you to be selfless and humble. Two qualities even “Christians” have a really hard time with.

Instead of throwing the rock, I chose to pray for the people who yelled at me. It was HARD!!! I needed to grit my teeth and work hard to find meaningful words to pray for these people. It is easy to say something but often it is really hard to actually mean it.

I am not an expert at loving. I have a very hard time trying to love those who are even the closest to me (sometimes they can be harder to really love). I think that everlasting love is something ONLY God can do. It is not a small thing to say that God has EVERLASTING love. But He does.

Even though we might falter, even though we might not believe it or accept it, Jesus loves us. He loves us to the point that we put Him on the cross and He still asked God to forgive us. Jesus will ALWAYS be there for us. This is something I can not say about myself.

I think that the true risk and the hardest thing of all is to be able to love those who do not deserve it. Believing that all will be saved is HARD (at least for me), but it is also exciting. It gives me hope for mankind and compassion for even the most evil people. I am a man with faults who will miss his chance to love some people who might need it, but I serve a God who loves without restriction and without measure and whose bond can not be broken.

The Little Drummer Boy

There are so many wonderful stories I have heard in my life. Some of the greatest stories I have ever heard are about Christmas. It is a tradition in my family to watch the movie, It is Wonderful Life, every Christmas. I must say the story and message never gets old and I enjoy it, each time I watch it. I have also enjoyed stories like, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Nutcracker and many versions of A Christmas Carol. These stories are always fun to re-visit and I find great examples from all of them of what Christmas should be all about.

Of all these great Christmas stories I have seen through out my life there is one that trumps them all. It is about a Boy and a gift he gives to a King. The Little Drummer Boy has inspired me as few things have in life. It is a simple story about a Boy named Aaron, who has lost all hope for humanity. His father and mother were killed by bandits and his house was burned to the ground. Aaron was forced at a very young age to live and provide for himself. He only sees humans as selfish thieves who care nothing of others. The only friends he has are three animals he was able to save from his house, a camel, a donkey and little sheep.

Before Aaron’s Parents died, they gave him a drum. This drum became his most cherished belonging and he learned to play magnificent songs with it during his travels. Long story short, through some unfortunate events, Aaron’s small sheep gets mortally wounded in a town called Bethlehem. Distraught, Aaron thinks of three traveling Kings he had meet earlier and goes to them for help. When Aaron finds them, he sees the kings laying three great gifts inside a manger. The gifts were Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

Quickly Aaron runs up to one of the kings and pleads with him to help his friend, the sheep. The king looks at the sheep and tells the young boy that there is nothing he can do. He then tells the boy that the only one who can help his sheep is the king among kings laying in the manger. First Aaron doesn’t understand, then he realizes that the great gifts these three kings had given were for a baby laying in the manger. Aaron looked up to the king with tears in his eyes and says, “I don’t have any gifts for a king”. The king then tells Aaron, “Go and look upon the new born king”.

Then Aaron did something that we all MUST do, something that is crucial to bringing on Salvation and Revival to this world.

Aaron played his drum.

This baby king laying in the manger was indeed Jesus. After playing Aaron realized that his little sheep was completely healed. Aaron realized that his hatred toward humanity was wrong and found hope through baby Jesus.

This story has touched me in so many ways. I find myself in Aaron’s position a lot in my life. I have been given a magnificent gift to play through the love of my God. But, often I play the instrument for myself and only find hatred and contempt toward humanity. I mean, there is a lot of reasons to be mad at humanity. Society in general has bought into the lie that you can make fun of someone without hurting their feelings, most people are more interested in what the world can do for them and not what they could do for the world, and I see Christianity used more and more as an excuse to preach and not listen.

Why not just give up? Why not just use my instrument for myself? I personally have been hurt by the world, I have been tricked into thinking that people cared for me when they just wanted to take advantage and I have seen again and again Christian friends use Christianity as a excuse to ignore me. I truly feel as though most of my friends are not worthy of the gift I have been given.

But, then I begin to realize that my instrument is not for those who are worthy. For I was not worthy of the gift that God gave me, so many years ago. Gifts are given not out of judgment but out of love.

I do not give up on this world because my God has not given up on me. The instruments we have been given are meant to be played at the feet of our king. I will play my “drum” for my king. I will let my music be heard from the tops of mountains to the valleys of darkness. For God is the maker of my instrument and I have been commanded to let it be heard.

The Impossible

Some people just can not get a clue. They are told and told that it won’t work and it isn’t possible but they just won’t quite.

Gandhi is a fine example of someone who does not get it. He was told and told again that peace could not win wars. He was brutally beaten several times because he was not willing to put up his hands to fight. He was taken to jail numerous times because he would not stand down for what he believed. Gandhi literally starved himself so that his people might stop fighting. Millions told him that he was trying to do the “impossible”.

A young man from Kansas named Walt Disney was just as foolish. He came to Hollywood with the idea that people would be entertained by moving drawings, in fact he wagered all of his money on the belief that an audience would be willing to watch a full length cartoon. People called the Idea “The Disney Folly”. Nobody thought that people would be emotionally moved by simple drawings.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was another person who was said to be ignorant. He told the world that blacks could work as equals with whites. People told him that he asked for the impossible and that he was blinded by a dream. Martin payed the ultimate price for his “ignorance”. On April 4th 1968 he was murdered.

What made these people sacrifice so much for things that the world thought were so obviously impossible?

A glance at these people and one might see what they are doing to be IMPOSSIBLE. But if we are willing to look deeper into the lives of people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Walt Disney, we begin to see something most of the world is afraid to acknowledge. We begin to see Hope.

Hope is often shunned by the world because it requires us to become active and leave our comfort zone. It requires us to be willing to fail and push through our faults. Hope is a dangerous thing because like King we can end up paying the ultimate price.

But something like hope, can make the impossible, possible.

Naive, Clueless, and ignorant people like Gandhi, King, and Disney are the people who have inspired me the most. Today they are looked up to as some of the greatest people to ever live on this earth.

Walt Disney was told that moving drawings would not entertain a audience but he still chose to make the first full length animated movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A movie that is now hailed as one of the greatest films of all time. Gandhi was able to lead millions to independence and drive out the English army by making his words and actions sharper than any sword or louder than any gun. Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to spark a generation into excepting equality instead of segregation and blood shed.

Hope and inspiration are dying words. Today more and more things are becoming impossible. Solving world hunger, purifying the world of sexual molestation, and stopping violence may be naive and ignorant dreams. Hundreds of millions of people would say that they are IMPOSSIBLE to resolve. And yet,… those who are willing to dream, do the impossible.

The time is now to define our dreams with actions more powerful then our definition of Impossible. What is possible has no limits when you are willing to hope and choose to act on the dream God has given you.

Revival

I often am told about Revival. I have been told that is usually comes in great gatherings and during Church conferences. This might be true. But it is not where it starts and it can’t be were it ends.

I think that revival is crying out in ALL of us. I see it while I am walking by people on the streets and I feel it in the Schools and Churches. They are calling for something they do not yet have. Most of them are crying out for something they do not yet understand.

I have realized that revival is meant to be far more then just a short term thing. Revival must be something that lasts. Something that doesn’t just change the outside but changes the heart of an individual.

Often the philosophy of this nation is that, “The bigger, the Better”, when it comes to revival. We also need to be told again and again that revival is coming. I actually hear more about revival coming then see it when it actually comes.

Revival is the restoration of life. This is a powerful notion. But, revival is often called for more then it is really wanted.

If you encounter TRUE revival you will need to be able to do something that the world has all but given up on.

You will need to wake up.

“Waking up”, is a harsh notion. If you truly wake up and choose to LIVE, you will have to be willing to see how DEAD the world is. Imagine the scene in “The Matrix”, Neo (the main Character) seeks revival and chooses to wake up from the program he has been put to sleep under. When Neo wakes he is devastated to see the millions of people who are still asleep and he finds that he is week and defenseless because he had never actually used a muscle in his body before. This is often the case with true revival.

Often I want to choose to stay asleep, then I won’t need to see the genocide in this world, you won’t need to care about the millions of woman choosing abortion. If you choose to stay asleep you will be able to forget about the kid who is not excepted. If you stay dead you are able to avoid conflict and debate and you are able to drown out the cries of this nation.

When you are asleep you don’t need to truly worry about your gifting. There is no obligation to learn more and get better at what you do. Criticism is easily neglected and fluff (or false praise) is all that matters.

I often think of God and how he is the DEFINITION of LIFE. I often think of how sad things might make Him. To see the world and see the true pain millions are going through because of starvation. To see the hearts of men giving up on those in need.

With LIFE you must be willing to feel and this can be a very painful thing.

There have been many of those days that I have woken up energized and ready to go. I have felt like I could change the world and move mountains with my faith. I have felt like I could speak to nations and cast vision throughout the land. But the feeling isn’t the actual revival.

I think Revival is being alive enough to be able to see, and being willing to do something about what you see. When you truly choose to be REVIVED, you will be able to find your vision and you will be able to see what God has for you. The problem is that REVIVAL calls for action in the good times and bad.

You are alive so you can do something on this earth. Because you are alive you are subject to feeling. You will be able to feel the greatness of life along with the sorrows of life. No matter what, you still must choose to pursue your calling and bring action to your words.

Revival is the only thing that can bring on true change. If you choose to be revived you will find that life can be fulfilling. There is a power in being able to truly feel, truly see, and TRULY be able to make a difference.

Revival is like a spark. With a spark you can light a nation.