Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Real Christian Courage

Would you risk your life to protect a member of another religious group? It takes courage to jeopardize your own safety to help a family member or a good friend. What does it take to do the same for someone who could be considered your enemy? This kind of courage is on display in the Central African Republic, where a group of Catholic Priests face threats from Christian militia as they work to protect their neighbors.

Sectarian violence is tearing the Central African Republic (CAR) apart. Trouble began in CAR when Islamic rebels called the Seleka toppled the government. Once peaceful villages where Christians lived alongside Muslims were attacked. A number of Christians were killed before the Seleka were driven from power. Christians then turned the tables attacking their fellow countrymen, killing Muslims and driving them out of their homes. Near the town of Carnot many who fled for their lives have found themselves at the mercy of a local church which has opened its doors and become home to around 800 Muslims.

With more Muslims arriving daily the church has refused to shut the gates, becoming a refuge for those who survived when the anti-Balaka stormed Carnot in February. Once inside the Muslims rely on the walls of the compound and a group of peacekeepers for their safety. How long this church will remain a safe haven is unknown as armed militiamen have threatened to burn down the church if the Muslims do not leave. The militia is currently stockpiling gasoline in preparation for carrying out their threat, which is not limited to just the building or to the Muslims within.

One of the priests associated with the church has spoken of being threatened when he walks in the village. With threat both to personal life and to church property the people who run this church continue to minister, taking opportunity to show Christian love to their neighbors. No, the people they are helping are not believers in Christ. I suppose for some knowing this would make it easy to simply turn them over to the militiamen outside the gate. But Christian ministry is not always about the easy way. Ministering under threat of death takes real courage and conviction.

I hope you will join me in praying for the Central African Republic and for the church near the town of Carnot. As you pray remember to thank God for those who have the courage to minister under the most difficult situations. Then ask God to build this kind of courage in your heart: the courage to obey Him no matter the risk.

(Description of the situation near Carnot is based on a report posted at Washingtonpost.com.)

Monday, February 03, 2014

Did You Remember to Pray for Your Leaders?

Last week while watching President Obama deliver his State of the Union speech I found myself feeling like I was missing out. No I am not jealous of those who sat in the House Chambers on Capitol Hill. What I was missing was an opportunity to obey a biblical command, one which I had followed in the past but have become lazy in doing. Seeing the President, Vice-president, Speaker of the House, and so many other federal officials was a reminder that I, as well as all other Christians, should be praying for our nation’s leaders.

I Timothy 2:1-4

We are called to pray for the people in government no matter their political affiliation. It does not matter if we agree with them or if we think they are good people or not. We are to pray for them, including in our requests calls for their spiritual eyes to be open. God desires all to receive the gift of salvation and we need to see beyond political philosophy. We need to see souls in need of the salvation of our Lord.

I, like many other Christians, was too lazy to follow this command of the Lord. It is time for me to obey. Others allow their political agenda priority over love for their fellow man, especially when the fellow man was elected to office. Whatever the reason it is not an acceptable excuse for ignoring the Bible’s call to pray for our leaders.

So did you remember to pray for your leaders?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII

February 2nd, 2014 6:30pm on Fox

Seattle Seahawks (13-3) vs. Denver Broncos (13-3)

With the conference championships in the books I am 6-4 with my picks. So the good news is I am finally above .500. The bad news is another football season is almost over. But we should have a great game to end the season, both conferences sending the team with the best record to win all the marbles. I hope the weather will not be a part of the story and as of right now it does not look like it will be.

If weather is not a factor the advantage shifts slightly to the Broncos and the sentimental favorite Payton Manning. However, while Manning may not face any weather issues he and the number one offense in the league will face the number one defense. One of the greatest offensive minds will face one of the best cover defenses in the game (yes I do think Richard Sherman is one of the best cover corners in the game). But these are not the only units which will have a say in this game.

The Seahawks’ offense is good. With their defense playing at such a high level, they have not been called on often to be one of the best. The same can be said about the Broncos defense which has benefited from being aligned with the highest scoring offense in the league. I think the matchup of Seahawks offense against Broncos defense will be the key to the game. This is where I give the Seahawks the advantage. I think the Seahawks win their first Super Bowl championship.  I am not giving a score on this one as I am not sure if it will be low scoring or a shootout. Either way it should be fun to watch.

What do you think?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Do Christians Search for Truth?

From time to time I read blog posts and articles written by professed atheists. I find it interesting and at times challenging to see how those who do not believe in any god view life. In reading these posts I find some recurring themes. One in particular has started to bother me. Often I see atheist declare how they are searching for truth. I applaud them for this noble pursuit. But this seems to imply that others are not searching for truth. And while Christians are people of faith, our faith should not keep us from the search for truth.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)

A guide is someone who leads you, directs you or gives you advice in how to arrive at a destination. Jesus promised his followers a guide who would direct them to “all truth.” This implies that we are on a journey of sorts where the end result is that we will find truth. Of course this means we need to follow with the idea being that we seek truth and our God via His spirit guides us in our search.

I admit that some who profess faith appear to be brainwashed. No comment as to whether or not appearances are deceiving. But there is a difference between having faith because something is true and believing no matter what. Christian faith should be built on a foundation that starts with the testimony of the Spirit of Truth as to the nature of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:15-18). And while there are things which Christians accept by faith we should do so because we have found the one giving the testimony to be credible.

Real Christians do search for truth. As we find truth we allow it to affect how we live our lives. When atheists say they are searching for truth, followers of Jesus should be able to honestly say, “So do we.”

Friday, January 17, 2014

NFL Conference Championships

I am still holding at .500 for this year’s playoffs. That would be an outstanding baseball batting average but it stinks when talking about football games. I am going to try to run the table in these last three playoff games.

New England Patriots (12-4) vs. Denver Broncos (13-3)

Brady vs. Manning: Yes I am looking forward to this matchup. But I also recognize that this is not the same Brady/Manning matchup of the past. Both men are bringing very different teams with them to this game. Brady brings a team that proved last week that they can run the ball, scoring 43 points without Brady throwing a touchdown. And while Manning carries a large part of the offensive load he has the support of a decent running game as well.

These teams are close in just about every category. I think the team that can best establish its running game will win. I think that team will be the Broncos 45-42.

San Francisco 49ers (12-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (13-3)

If you like defense this will be the game to watch. These defenses will make it difficult to score. And in a big defensive matchup the crowd noise in Seattle will become a big factor. But there is another factor which will dictate this game. That factor can be described in two words: Marsawn Lynch. If Lynch gets going he will carry his team to the big game. With Lynch carrying the ball I think the Seahawks win 17-10.

I see a Super Bowl matchup of the Broncos vs. the Seahawks. Assuming they can avoid a blizzard the big game should be interesting. What do you think?