Just wanted to drop a quick note that I recently started a new YouTube channel: Retro Book Reviews.
A Christian’s Thoughts on Gun Control
I want to talk about guns. Guns are a controversial topic in today’s world, especially in the United States. Mass shootings, school shootings, or just everyday inner city violence always provides an opportunity for a politician or talking head in the media to cry out for more gun control.
“We need stricter gun control laws!”
“We need to take away AR-15s!”
“We need to ban assault rifles and assault pistols!”
The fact is there are already strict gun laws on the books, Federal and State. There have been assault weapons bans passed by Congress (1994). There is the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, none of which has prevented one criminal from shooting someone else. Every day there are also numerous stabbings, people beaten to death with objects, and other ways people have used to end someone’s life. I never see anyone calling for knife or baseball bat control, do you?
What all of this legislation and political grandstanding fails to do is address the wickedness of the human heart. Cain killed Abel with a rock. The object used is irrelevant. What’s in the heart? Only Jesus Christ can truly deal with the human heart. A criminal does not respect the law- that’s why there are criminals. One more gun law or the establishment of another gun free zone will not prevent a tragedy because of the utter evil and wickedness that lies within a depraved human heart.
Am I against all gun laws? No. I believe there should be age and mental health restrictions as to who can own guns. For example, you don’t want a small child or someone with a long history of serious mental illness to get their hands on a gun.
Now that I’ve shared a heavily partisan response, what should be the Christian response to guns? I believe that guns, like money, television, the Internet, cars and so on are not inherently evil, it’s what it is used for. If I work a job to make money and support my family, money’s fine. However, if I use money for illegal and corrupt purposes, that money’s is bad. If someone has a legal right to own a gun to protect their family and property, then they should express that right as outlined in the Constitution. If a career criminal uses that same gun to kill or rob, the gun is being used for wicked purposes. The proper or improper use of an object relies solely on the personal responsibility of the user.
Prior to writing this post, I did a cursory search of “Christians and gun control” and I found lots of posts and articles on the topic. No matter which side of the gun control debate you’re on, you will find multiple articles to support your position. I grew up around guns. I learned to shoot guns at an early age, but I was also taught the proper safety and respect for firearms. Guns are not toys. Guns are not a way for you to settle an argument nor to get respect or “street cred.” Gun ownership is a heavy and serious responsibility.
WWJD, or in this case, what does Jesus say about personal protection? Luke 22 tells Luke’s version of the Last Supper and Jesus’ time in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest. Jesus gives His disciples some advice:
“And He said to them, ‘When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?’ So they said, ‘Nothing.’ Then He said to them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors’ For the things concerning Me have an end.'”(Luke 22:35-37, NKJV).
Jesus is contrasting the times he sent out the twelve and the seventy to preach the Gospel (Luke 9:1-6 and 10:1-4, respectively). Jesus sent the disciples out with nothing, but now things are going to change. Jesus was going to die on the cross, resurrect, and ascend into heaven. Jesus’ time on earth was limited and He was preparing the disciples for when He would not be with them.
Notice that Jesus told them to buy a sword if they did not have one. The type of sword Jesus is referring to would be considered a long knife or a dagger. Jesus knew the roads were dangerous, full of robbers and bandits ready to rob, injure, and possibly kill travelers along the way. (If you remember, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the traveler was beaten and robbed along the road).
Jesus warned us about the lawlessness of the Last Days and how the earth would be full of violence as it was in the days of Noah. I believe that there is a globally concerted effort to disarm legal and responsible gun owners at the expense of dealing with crime. While many jails across this country seemingly have been installed with revolving doors so criminals can go back out, local, state, and federal governments are placing the average law-abiding citizen and their family in harm’s way. I believe it is a time for Christian men and women to stand-up for their God-given rights before they are taken away. I will leave you with a quote from President Ronald Reagan:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day, we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free,”
Proverbs 29:11-Wise and Foolish Conversations
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.
Is Inflation a Sign of the End Times?
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.
What Does Jesus Say About Virtue Signaling?
“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).
1 https://www.dictionary.com/browse/virtue-signaling Accessed April 24, 2022.
Of Tyrants, Tyranny, and Freedom in Christ
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.
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.
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).
Mark 4: The Parables and the Storm
Jesus often taught in parables, short, simple stories that illustrated deeper spiritual truths. Jesus’ parables dealt with topics familiar to His audience- seeds, pearls, wayward children, money, among others. The parables of Jesus still hold deep meaning 2,000 years later. Jesus’ parable of the sower as told in Mark chapter four is used to teach us about the mindset of the disciples.
Mark chapter four takes place early in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus has chosen His twelve disciples. The crowds were also starting to follow Jesus at this point.
“And He began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto Him a great multitude, so that He entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.” (Mark 4:1, KJV).
Beginning in verse three, Jesus tells the parable of the sower (this parable is also found in Matthew 13:1-5 and Luke 8:4-10). I’ll summarize the parable to discuss one aspect and how it related to the disciples. Jesus taught a sower went out to sow seed and the seed landed by the wayside, stony ground, among thorns, and good ground. The seed by the wayside was eaten by birds, the seed on the stony ground quickly sprang up, but died out just as quickly, the thorns choked out the seed, and the seed on the good ground brought a harvest. However, Jesus did not explain the deeper meaning of the parable to the crowd, simply saying, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:9, KJV).
Jesus was alone with the disciples and they asked Him what the parable of the sower meant. Jesus explained that the sower sowing the word of God (the seed) and the types of ground represented how different people respond to the hearing of the God’s word. Jesus took the time to teach other parables to the disciples.
Let’s take a look at the seed that fell on the stony ground.
“And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time; afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” (Mark 4:16-18, KJV).
Later that same day, Jesus told the disciples to journey to the other side of the sea. While on their journey, a storm came up on the water. We know at least four disciples- Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen by trade and possibly experienced storms on the water, but they did not respond like experienced fishermen. The disciples were acting like the seed sown on the stony ground, as they began to be fearful and lose hope.
The disciples found Jesus asleep during the storm, but they woke Him up.
“Master carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38, KJV).
Just like the seed on the stony ground, the disciples were going through affliction (the storm) and became offended at Jesus. “How can you sleep at a time like this. We’re going to die! Do you even care?” Keep in mind, even in the early days of Jesus’ ministry, the disciples had witnessed miracles and heard the same teachings as the crowds, but the word had yet to fall onto that good soil, where these men would take the Gospel and take Jesus’ teachings far and wide.
Even when we don’t heed God’s words as we should, God is still merciful to us. God loves us and helps us in the midst of the worst of storms.
“And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39,KJV).
Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, but I believe that this storm was a turning point for the disciples. I believe that some of that seed had found its way from the stony ground onto the good soil, where it reaped a harvest that is still being reaped this very day.
As each of us face our own storms in life, allow God’s word to become deeply rooted in your spirit; so that we may be like Christ, having peaceful rest during the storm. God bless you.
Last Days Violence
“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”-Genesis 6:11, KJV.
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” – Matthew 24:37, KJV.
The nationwide spike in violent crime sickens my spirit. The morning headlines are filled with murder, shootings, riots, gang violence, and people brazen enough to loot stores in broad daylight. Major cities all across this country- New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Indianapolis, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and many others have become the Wild West, something akin to Dodge City or Tombstone. Criminals are immortalized as saints while the police are defunded and demonized. Spineless prosecutors fail to prosecute criminals, who only get out of jail to commit more crime, sometimes violent acts. And don’t get me started on the opportunistic politicians who spew their toxic venom of division and hatred.
We are living in the Upside Down, with a bit of the Twilight Zone thrown in for good measure. I believe these are the last of the Last Days. Our time parallels the time before the Flood. God is love and God is merciful, but there is also an end to God’s patience. When God pronounced judgment upon Israel and Judah in the Old Testament, it was never an immediate judgment, as God gave the nations time to repent. However, when Israel and Judah refused to repent and continued in their wicked ways, God had to punish them. As our world drifts further from God, we are getting closer to judgment.
“Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”- Isaiah 5:20, KJV.
Violence entered the world the minute Cain took a rock and murdered his brother, Abel. The means and weapons have changed, but the darkness of the human heart has remained the same. Abel’s blood called out to God and today’s bloodshed calls out to God. Our world has become so desensitized to violence, we often read the headlines and don’t give it a second thought. Have we grown so cold to the human condition? Have we allowed righteousness to be snuffed out like a candle? Have we strayed so far from God and His word that evil has filled in the gap? I believe we have and Jesus stated so in Matthew 24:
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax (grow) cold.” -Matthew 24:10-12, KJV (parenthesis mine).
Jesus’ statement certainly describes our time, but we must not be hopeless. Our Savior and God loves us too much to leave us as orphans who have no comfort (John 14:18). In the midst of His Matthew 24 discourse, Jesus gives us a promise:
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”- Matthew 24:13, KJV.
Brothers and sisters, we must not allow this darkness to overtake our societies or our spirits. We must endure the hardship as soldiers of Christ. We must speak the truth to power; we must shine the light in the darkness. We must say enough is enough to the fearmongering of our elected leaders. During the Covid-19 pandemic, tyrannical local and state governments shut down in-person church services, as churches were not deemed an “essential business.” I don’t recall much push back from the American churches. Think about it: you could have walked into a grocery store, a liquor store, a marijuana dispensary, or taken part in a riot, but you couldn’t go to church in person. I believe this was a sinister plot on part of the global elites and the world governments they run to remove all hope by destroying institutions billions of people hold dear over a virus with a high survival rate.
This attack on our civil liberties must not stand. A wicked and godless government will no longer dictate when and where I can worship my God. Our true liberties were bought and paid for by Jesus Christ. As an American, I also believe in every amendment to our Constitution. We must wake up from our spiritual slumber, out of our zombie-like states, as the times are serious and we need steadfast Christians.
“Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” -Ephesians 5:14, KJV.