Featured

Jesus Faces Nazareth’s Cancel Culture

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

It seems like everyday that I hear of someone or something being “cancelled.” A celebrity or regular person, corporation, an old movie, song, or statute offends someone’s delicate sensibilities and it must be cancelled. The offending person or object must be scrubbed from the internet and the fabric of existence. Careers and lives are ruined and outrage ensues until the rage mob is distracted by the next shiny offending object to come along. And the process starts all over again.

Although the “cancel culture” seems to be a toxic byproduct of Social Media, cancel culture is as old as time itself. Conquering political and unfortunately, religious armies have long attempted to erase the history and culture of their vanquished foes. The changing moral and political landscapes of our world seek to silence all opposition because winner must take all, because it is “our message and only our message will be broadcast to the masses.”

Solomon was spot on in his assessment of the cyclical nature of existence, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NKJV).

So, until Jesus comes back, the attacks and cancellations will remain, only the offended parties will change.

The Lord Jesus faced opposition throughout His earthly ministry, even His crucifixion and death were attempts of the establishment to silence the Lord and His message. Our Lord’s resurrection stands as a triumph and a resounding victory! Hallelujah!

Our world today still attempts to cancel Jesus, attacking His divinity and the exclusivity of believing solely in Him for salvation. Jesus is still upsetting the so-called establishment 2,000 years later. However, Jesus is coming back to set things right once and for all.

How did Jesus handle the rejection or the attempted “cancellation?” I want to look at one particular instance mentioned in all the Gospels.

Jesus’ ministry has been established and He returns to His hometown of Nazareth. I am relaying the story from Luke’s gospel. Jesus teaches in the synagogue out of the book of Isaiah, what we would call Isaiah 61:1-2, which states:

“The Spirit of the Lord God upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath send me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…” (KJV). See also Luke 4:18-19.

Jesus stated that the words of Isaiah were fulfilled that day in the crowds hearing (Luke 4:21).

The crowd became belligerent with Jesus:

“And all there bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22).

Matthew’s Gospel adds, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” (Matthew 13:55-56, KJV).

The people in the synagogue began to attack Jesus’ identity. The crowd wanted to “cancel” His message because they knew Him and His family. In the crowds eye’s this carpenter’s son whom they knew His whole life could not have such deep spiritual revelations, let alone fulfill the words of the prophets.

“But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”(Mark 6:4, KJV).

The Gospels of Matthew and Mark record that Jesus did not perform many mighty works because of the town’s unbelief. Jesus healed a few people, but not the numbers He did elsewhere. Luke also records how the mob wanted to harm Jesus, but He managed to escape them (Luke 4:28-30).

In our day, a celebrity is often greeted with cheers and applause from their hometown, maybe even a parade, but not Jesus. Here was the Son of God, God in the flesh, performing miracles, teaching deep spiritual truths, healing the sick, and many other deeds the people of Nazareth should have been thrilled to hear about, but they attempted to silence Jesus because of their offense.

Have you ever faced opposition because of your belief in Christ or you took a stand for what is right? Continue in your faith, continue standing up for the truth, because the people of our day do not want to hear the truth, like the people of Nazareth that Jesus came to town. Jesus made no apologies about who He was or His mission and neither should you if you are standing up for Christ and what is right. God bless you.

Featured

Jesus, the Door to Salvation

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

Could you imagine life without doors?

Modern life would be even more chaotic if we didn’t have doors. People would come and go into your home or business, jeopardizing your and your family’s safety or even your livelihood.

Doors, in one form or another, date back to ancient Mesopotamia. In the Bible, doors also serve as a metaphor for our spiritual lives.

When you think of a door, you think of an entry way or a barrier. If the door is open or unlocked, you can move freely from one room to another. If the door is locked, you either need a key or someone to let you inside.

Jesus taught deep spiritual truths using everyday objects- seeds, candles, and coins to name a few. Jesus also used doors to illustrate spiritual truth.

Doors and Prayer

“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father, who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:6 (NASB).

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” -Matthew 7:7 (NASB).

Jesus is the only door to God

“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.'” -John 10:7-9 (NASB).

We must open our doors to Jesus

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” – Revelation 3:20 (NASB).

Despite what culture teaches, Jesus is, was, and forever will be the only way to eternal salvation. In these Last Days, we must remain alert at the door, for there are many impostors and false prophets who wish to do us harm. We must stand watch and be alert at the door, waiting for the return of our Lord. God bless you all.

Featured

Dealing with the Spirit of Heaviness

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

We all from time to time get weighed down by the demands of life. You try to balance your spiritual, familial, relational, and professional obligations while seemingly standing on one leg and juggling, life can get a bit stressful. I get it.

Or maybe if your personal life is fine, you find yourself stressed out by the world around you- a global pandemic, lawlessness and violence in the streets, a looming economic downturn, and escalating tensions in the war between Russia and Ukraine that could result in a global conflict. How much more gasoline can we pour on this out of control fire?

I know in times past, I’ve had a tendency to withdraw inwardly when faced with an overwhelming situation or situations. I’ve shut down while going through the motions of life. At times it felt like I lost power and was running on a back-up generator to keep the essential operations going. Ignoring a problem will never solve said problem nor will retreating into drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or anything else. Even though the problems we face may be scary and complicated, we must face them nonetheless.

We are not alone when facing our problems. For Christians, we can rely on the strength of Christ and the Holy Spirit. There are also family, friends, and wise counsel we can seek when it’s too much.

The Bible has a word for when we are weighed down by the stresses of life- heaviness. To be more specific, God’s Word has eleven words for heaviness.

Perhaps the most well known of the heaviness passages is Isaiah 61:3:

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”(KJV).

The Hebrew word for heaviness in Isaiah 61:3 means feebleness or obscurity. In other words, the passage indicates that someone lacks the spiritual, physical, or mental strength to overcome a problem or that someone may not see hope in the darkness, their view is obscured. Luke 4:18-19 tell us that Jesus read the verses above Isaiah 61:3 when He taught in the synagogue in Nazareth.

What are some other symptoms of the spirit of heaviness?

-A spiritual heaviness may bring about physical sickness (Psalm 69:20),

-Heaviness may bring on depression or grief (Psalm 119.28, Proverbs 10:1, 14:13).

-A spirit of heaviness also brings along anxiety (Proverbs 12:25).

-Heaviness may brought on by trials or persecution (1 Peter 1:6).

-However, not all heaviness is bad because there should be times that we come to God and confess our sins, fast, and pray about the burdens we have for the lost and other people. (Ezra 9:5, Romans 9:1-2, James 4:8-10).

In order for us to properly deal with the spirit of heaviness, we must be in right relationship with God. If worshipping and reading the Bible seem like chores during heavy seasons, that is when we must lean in all the more to God. We must also starve ourselves of the lies of the world and feast on God’s truth. We must turn away from the negativity and all worldly things which seek to bring us down. We must withstand the devil’s attacks with the Word of God. Put on your armor and prepare for battle.

“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; He will come and save you.” (Isaiah 35:3-4, KJV).

God bless you all.

Featured

Proverbs 29:11-Wise and Foolish Conversations

Photo by Nitin Arya on Pexels.com

We live in “The Age of Rage,” where just one statement on Social Media can spark a wildfire of venomous hatred and cancellation. Living in the age of technological instant gratification allows us to give our “hot take” on the topic of the moment. However, do we ever question the wisdom of giving someone a piece of our mind?

The Book of Proverbs provides us a path on how to live a life of devotion and wisdom. Solomon and the other writers of Proverbs make their points by contrasting the actions of the fool and the wise man. For instance, let’s examine Proverbs 29:11.

“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterward.” (Proverbs 29:11, KJV).

This verse states that the fool does not hold back when giving in to his thoughts or emotions, while the wise man holds back. If someone is making a grave mistake or is in danger, then yes, we should speak the truth and speak up. We should always speak truth at the appropriate time and not be so concerned about “winning” the argument. We must be careful about speaking out in anger or allowing our emotions control us. Words can’t be taken back. We must exercise self-control and not be so quick to respond to what we hear and see. Let’s get all the facts.

“Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known.” (Proverbs 14:33, KJV).

Before we engage with someone, we must ask ourselves, “Is this a productive use of my time?” If you are responding to a post on Social Media, I would argue the answer is no. We must not allow ourselves to be roped into pointless arguments that will not change anyone’s mind.

“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” (Proverbs 26:4, KJV).

As we go forward, let’s so wisdom and discretion in picking our battles. Be careful in choosing the proverbial hill you want “to die on.”

The Greek philosopher Plato agreed with The Bible when he said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

God bless you.

Featured

Is Inflation a Sign of the End Times?

Photo by John Guccione http://www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. inflation rose 8.6% during May 2022.1 Regardless of your political affiliation, we all feel the pain of inflation. Higher gas prices, higher food prices, higher housing costs, and higher energy costs are side effects of inflation. I’m not an economic expert, but I know that continued inflation will create severe economic hardship, which will affect the middle and working classes the most. Beyond higher prices, pandemics, and supply chain issues, could this inflation be a sign of something worse to come?

The Book of Revelation describes a harrowing time to come shortly. Revelation chapter six deals with the opening of six of the Seven Seals. The first four seals are commonly referred to as “The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.” The first horseman rides in on a white horse and goes out to conquer (Revelation 6:2). This horseman is clearly the Antichrist, who will come to power before Jesus returns. The second horseman rides a red horse and makes war on the world (Revelation 6:4), which will result in the death of untold numbers of people. The third horseman is going to be my primary focus.

“And when opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beast say, A measure of wheat for a penny , and three measure of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5-6, KJV).

The sequence of events so far is the Antichrist comes to power, war breaks out, and there is hyperinflation and food shortages. The word “penny” in the King James Version does not give an accurate description as we understand penny. The word should be translated denarius, which equaled a day’s wages. The New American Standard translates penny as denarius and the NIV simply translates it as a day’s wages.

Imagine for a moment that it took a day’s wages to buy a loaf of bread or other essential foods. Now try to pay your bills or housing payments when it took everything you made today to buy bread. Wheat and barley were essential everyday items for the First Century people, as they are for us today. So if people are unable to afford food, then many people will go hungry and die of starvation, which leads into the fourth horseman, who rides on a pale horse, the rider is identified as Death (Revelation 6:7-8). One of the ways Death kills people of the earth is hunger, or famine.

The world’s economy is in freefall and it looks like we are heading to a global recession. It may get worse before it gets better. However, global leaders seem either unwilling or incompetent to fix the current economic climate. The question comes what is this leading to? Once again, the Word of God provides us with the guidance and understanding we need to get through these times and the times which lie ahead. We are so close, brothers and sisters, we must remain vigilant, watching the times and seasons. Stay encouraged and await the return of our Savior. God bless.

1https://www.bls.gov/cpi/latest-numbers.htm Accessed 11 June 2022.

Featured

What Does Jesus Say About Virtue Signaling?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“I voted.” “Stay home, save lives.” “Mask up.” “Get vaccinated.” “I stand with Ukraine.” “I stand for the flag and kneel at the cross.” “Praying for this place that suffered such and such tragedy.” “Hashtag this. Hashtag that.” These are just a few examples of the messages with which we are inundated on Social Media. The term “virtue signaling” is now part of our daily lexicon to describe such actions.

According to Dictionary.com, virtue signaling is defined as:

“The sharing of one’s point of view on a social or political issue, often on social media, in order to garner praise or acknowledgment of one’s righteousness from others who share that point of view, or to passively rebuke those who do not.”1

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong with supporting a cause. If you vote, great. If you decide that wearing a mask or getting a vaccine is best for you, then go for it. Praying for our communities and for people around the world is a great starting point. However, we must examine our motives when letting our views known. Are we just jumping on a bandwagon to get likes on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Are you feeling social peer pressure because you haven’t chimed in on a topic? Do you just want to “raise awareness” without actually putting in any effort to help the cause or situation? Why do you even care what your Facebook friend from three jobs ago thinks about your stance on a vaccine or international affairs?

As The Bible tells us, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NKJV).

Thus, virtue signaling is nothing new, it’s just the name we call in in the 21st Century. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed such behavior regarding giving, prayer, and fasting, which can provide us with insight on how to navigate our lives.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:1-2, NKJV).

Jesus then raises the standard for us as He explains: “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:3-4, NKJV).

Jesus goes on to explain how we should pray and fast in the same manner (Matthew 6:5-18). Jesus says when you, which means there is an expectation of being charitable, prayerful, and fasting. However, Jesus teaches us not to do things for the approval of people. Public opinion is fickle and the social causes go out of style faster than the latest fashion trends. Don’t chase trends, but follow Jesus. Don’t do it for the likes and follows, do it for the Lord.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17, NKJV).

God bless.

1 https://www.dictionary.com/browse/virtue-signaling Accessed April 24, 2022.

Featured

Of Tyrants, Tyranny, and Freedom in Christ

Photo by Katie Godowski on Pexels.com

Tyranny is one the most destructive forces ever unleashed on the world. Throughout history, Tyrants such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, and Vladimir Putin to name a few have sought to murder, oppress, and destroy the lives, spirits, and minds of anyone who oppose their ideologies. These sick and twisted regimes believed they had the right to rule over a free people.

In the 20th Century alone, it has been estimated that 100 million people died at the hands of tyrannical dictators and regimes. At the time I’m posting this, the war between Russia and Ukraine is raging into another week. War crimes have been committed by the Russian army, as thousands of civilians- men, women, and children have been murdered. I watched in horror the clip of a Russian tank running over a car full of Ukrainian people. The Ukrainians in the car posed no threat to the tank- the car was just traveling in the opposite direction of the tank. The car was flattened within seconds; Lives were taken for no reason.

Praise God for the resolve and fight of the Ukrainian people, who are doing their best to fight back against a better equipped army. By some accounts I have read, that worthless pile of garbage Putin has become frustrated with how long the invasion is taking, as he miscalculated the resolve of the Ukrainian people to stand up against their invaders. Freedom is a God-given right to all of humanity, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV).

In the midst of the Russia-Ukraine war, the possibility of a second Cold War is brewing between the United States and Russia, something I remember well growing up during the Reagan Administration. If the madman Putin gets backed into a corner, the threat of nuclear war looms large over humanity. A full scale nuclear war would reap destruction upon the world greater than all of history’s wars combined.

However, we must remember that God is in charge, as the Psalmist wrote, “…But it is God who judges: He brings one down, He exalts another.” (Psalm 75:7, NIV).

We must also remember that Jesus warned us of such events: “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:5-8, KJV).

During these times, we must keep a clear mind and remember to pray. Continue to stand strong in the faith and keep your eyes on Christ. God bless you all.

Featured

Arise from the Regret

“…Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”

Ephesians 5:14, KJV.

The older I get, the less stuff I want. Stuff piles up and gets in the way. Stuff has to be maintained, cleaned, and stored when not using it. I don’t need any more stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for what I have in my life. My basic needs- food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and money to pay my bills are met and I know that’s a blessing. I’ve lived through my share of hard times and I appreciate the lessons learned along the way.

However, there is one gift that eludes me- peace of mind. I take my defeats and mistakes very personally, I always have. In my middle age, I live with a nagging regret over my choices. It’s hard to get over failure. I’ve learned from failure, but its ghost continues to haunt me.

Yes, I am a Christian, and I know that God has forgiven me, yet I still live with the pain. It seems that I’ll be walking the road until I cross the bridge to eternity. I just have to accept that failure is part of the process. As the wise Jedi Master Yoda once said, “The greatest teacher failure is.”

I can’t change the past, I can only go forward. That goes for all of us. No matter how badly you and I have jacked it all up, we have daily opportunities to start again. The voice of regret may be speaking to you, but if you keep moving forward, that voice will become a distant muffle. Keep walking.

Arise. What a powerful word. If you read Scripture, especially the King James Version, you will find this great word. Arise is always followed by some action, whether by us or God. I must arise this day and go forth. Arise, my friend and go forward. Arise and walk past the regret, the same, the losses, and the failures. May God bless you.

Featured

Vipers

Photo by Jan Kopu0159iva on Pexels.com

By Michael W. Raley

A brood of vipers have taken over the world.

The vipers lie in wait for their next victim,

Ready to inject their deadly venom.

However, these vipers don’t slither around on their bellies:

They walk among us.

Ready to attack at the slightest offense,

One viper’s venomous bite is enough to send you into toxic shock,

But more and more of the vipers will seize the opportunity

To strike and bring you down.

These vipers are never satisfied,

As they are constantly on the hunt for their next victim.

Vipers, like all snakes, cannot be reasoned with

As they are snakes by nature.

It would be best to avoid the viper’s den

And keep yourself out of harm’s way.

However, if you encounter the vipers,

Remove them from your life

And arm yourself with the antivenom

Of peace of mind.

Featured

More Dangerous Doctrines and Pandemics

When the Covid-19 pandemic started in 2020, I shared and discussed a clip from televangelist Kenneth Copeland “blowing the wind of God” on the virus. As biblically unsound and dangerous as the Prosperity Gospel Cult with the likes of Copeland and his ilk are, the pandemic is beginning to show how people are worshipping at the feet of big government.

A cult-like infrastructure has been set in place because of the pandemic. The government knows what’s best for you and your family. Don’t question the official narrative, even if the narrative has changed, because you are spreading misinformation. Force your beliefs on other people, no matter the personal costs to them. And most importantly, do not under any circumstances, question our motives or possible medical side-effects to the vaccine. Sounds like cultish behavior to me.

However, New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently spoke at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, NY and invoked God, Jesus, and the apostles in order to encourage people to spread the word about the vaccines.

I cringe any time a politician invokes the name of God or Jesus because I’m cynical and skeptical of people pandering to get a vote. If Governor Hochul thought she could get votes from a Mosque or Buddhist temple, she’d co-opt their doctrines as well.

I will let the governor’s speech speak for itself. This transcript is from the New York Governor’s site. Here’s the link: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/rush-transcript-governor-hochul-attends-service-christian-cultural-center.

“We are not through this pandemic. I wished we were but I prayed a lot to God during this time and you know what – God did answer our prayers. He made the smartest men and women, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers – he made them come up with a vaccine. That is from God to us and we must say, thank you, God. Thank you.  And I wear my ‘vaccinated’ necklace all the time to say I’m vaccinated. All of you, yes, I know you’re vaccinated, you’re the smart ones, but you know there’s people out there who aren’t listening to God and what God wants. You know who they are.

I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say, we owe this to each other. We love each other. Jesus taught us to love one another and how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live, I want our kids to be safe when they’re in schools, I want to be safe when you go to a doctor’s office or to a hospital and are treated by somebody, you don’t want to get the virus from them. You’re already sick or you wouldn’t be there. We have to solve this, my friends. I need every one of you. I need you to let them know that this is how we can fight this pandemic, come back to normal and then start talking about the real issues that we have to – fighting systemic racial injustice which exists today and if there is a denier I will take you on every day because I’ve seen it, I know it exists and we’re not going to have a blind eye to this ever again any longer under my watch. That is my commitment to you.” [Italics mine].

Here is a link from YouTube with the speech as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXaP76musWM.

During these last days, we must be hyper-vigilant concerning the false doctrine going out into the world. Here we have a politician in a church, encouraging people to follow here and spread her message. Why did no one in the church object? Why was she not shouted down we she told people to “be her apostles?” I’m afraid in our day and age the Church has gone soft and is more than happy to be intermingled with the government.

I’m not telling anyone to get the vaccine or not, that’s your choice. I’m not a Republican or Democrat, I am deeply concerned of politicians standing brazenly in a pulpit, invoking God and telling followers of Jesus Christ to follow her and spread the message of government. These are perilous times. Stay awake.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, KJV).