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Sorry Chick-fil-A, this isn’t your fight

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By now most of America and beyond has heard the news about Chick-fil-A issuing a statement saying they will no longer support certain charitable groups such as The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

According to the press release from the company the restaurant chain has decided it “will deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger”. Noticeably absent is any mention of faith-based groups, long a recipient of Chick-fil-A’s generosity.

Almost immediately after this press release, Christians came out of the woodwork accusing Chick-fil-A of caving in to the relentless pressure from the LGBT community. On the surface, that is exactly what it looks like has happened.

Reading the entire press release however leads one to believe otherwise. As any company has the right to do, Chick-fil-A says it has decided to go a different direction with it’s philanthropic endeavors by contributing $9 million dollars in more specific ways. [1]

Only time will tell the whole truth. Personally, I would like to believe that they did not in fact cave to external pressure, and are simply changing their course in mid stream.

The pessimist in me however believes that the company grew tired of the constant fear of boycotts and picketers,(along with an unending stream of negative publicity) and decided they had had enough.

Seriously, who could blame them if they did?

Now, all of this fuss over chicken nuggets (granted, the tastiest chicken nuggets on the planet) has always been blown out of proportion. Of course, it is no secret that the LGBT community would rather see every Chick-fil-A restaurant go bankrupt then continue to operate it’s business on Christian principles.  This is after all a spiritual battle, not a fight over who has the best chicken sandwich.

Just as obvious is the fact that had Chick-fil-A and Jesus never been mentioned in the same breath, they would have been thought of in the same manner as KFC,Zaxby’s, and Popeye’s. Just another chicken joint.

I think we all get that.

What concerns me far more than a systematic attack on a Christian-based restaurant chain however is the fact that Chick-fil-A has been forced to the forefront in defending Christianity. Why is that a concern you ask?

It is a concern because it is NOT the responsibility of Chick-fil-A (or any other business)to defend Jesus, Christianity, or the Church.

That responsibility falls squarely and solely on the shoulders of the Church, the Body of Christ. That’s you and me beloved.  Yes, the very same ones who couldn’t wait to criticize Chick-fil-A. Who, by the way, were noticeably absent when they could have used our support.

Yep, that’s you and me beloved. Quick to judge, so slow to defend.

How sad is it that a national restaurant chain is forced to defend not only it’s foundational operating beliefs, but the whole of Christianity itself while the church sits by silently? Aside from a recent post by Franklin Graham, I am unaware of any Christian leaders taking up the fight to proclaim the gospel alongside Chick-fil-A in the face of unbelievable hostilities.

Am I the only one that wonders when the famous TV preachers are going to remove their hand from your wallet and get back to preaching the WHOLE counsel of God? [2] As the days draw darker shouldn’t God’s anointed rise up in power and authority to confront the sins of our day? After all, that is exactly what our spiritual predecessors did!

Defending the faith is of course a very unpopular thing to do. It always has been. It cost eleven of the twelve Disciples their lives. Additionally, history has recorded that defending the faith has cost millions of believers their lives through various persecutions, inquisitions, and genocides. Sadly, this continues unabated in many parts of the world today. [3] [4]

The Church should be fearless and tireless in its efforts to proclaim God’s word to this generation. All of God’s word, not just a selective few “feel good verses”. She should not be hiding behind the counter of a chicken restaurant, afraid to declare what “thus says the Lord”.

These are dangerous days, even hostile days for Christians everywhere. Whether fighting over the right to operate a business based upon Christian principles or simply desiring to live one’s faith in a peaceful manner, the cost to do so is increasing daily.

I have said for many years that the day would come here in America when Christians would be largely on their own in the fight against the forces of darkness because the institutionalized Church would not have the courage to do so.

Don’t look now, but that day is at hand.

Be encouraged, in Jesus name!

Ron

 

[1] The complete news release from Chick-fil-A can be read here.

[2] Acts 20:27

[3] Read the 11th chapter of Hebrews (verses 35-37) for a detailed description of what many have been forced to endure while defending the faith.

[4] https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

 

Sometimes ministry is all about the little things

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This morning my wife and I came upon a family in the parking lot of a McDonald’s that were in a bad situation. We noticed them right away as we pulled into the drive thru, and it was apparent that they were distraught over something. Their minivan that was pulling a small U-Haul trailer had broken down, leaving at least 7 people, 4 of which were very small children, stranded far from home.

When we drove around the restaurant after picking up our order, we pulled up next to them and saw that the hood of their minivan was open. The look on the faces of the adults said it all, and if you’ve ever been in such a predicament, you can appreciate their situation.

I got out of the car and asked one of the men if they had help on the way, and he responded by saying “no sir, we have no one to help us, and we don’t have any money”. He mentioned something about a fuel leak, and by the strong smell of gasoline it was obvious he was right.

In the few seconds I had spoken with him I was able to assess their situation a little better, and it was clear that these little children were frightened. They were also hungry, as one little boy was quick to tell me. These kids were obviously from ‘less than affluent means’ because none of them had shoes, and only the little girl had a shirt on.

I told the man I couldn’t fix his car, but if he would allow me to, I would love to buy them breakfast. You would have thought I offered to give them something of great value, he was that appreciative. When I mentioned breakfast all the kids spoke up and told me they were hungry, which tore at my heart so much that I wanted to hug each one of those children.

I handed the man enough money to buy them all breakfast, and almost in unison those little kids started thanking me, as did the adults. I told my wife later that I hoped that the next person who was supposed to help them would also be right on time, because I just knew the Lord would touch someone’s heart to assist them.

As I was saying goodbye to them, I told them God would bless them with the help they needed. Pulling away, I looked in my mirror and saw all 4 kids being led into McDonald’s for breakfast, and I couldn’t help but think about the old McDonald’s commercial that says “I’m, lovin’ it”. Can it get any better than that?

Real Ministry really is all about the little things!

Be blessed,

Ron

Am I my brother’s keeper?

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Many of you will no doubt recognize that question, taken from the Genesis account of Cain and Abel.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Cain was angry with his brother Abel because his brother’s offering was acceptable to God, while his own was rejected. In a jealous rage, this is what happened:

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:8-9

We know that Cain asked this question as a means of deflecting attention away from his guilt for having murdered his own brother. He basically told God “how should I know where he is, it’s not my job to watch him, is it?”

Ever since then, it’s a question that individuals have been asking themselves whenever needs arise, whether man-made or natural. It is a question that probes at the heart, and our answers reveal a lot about how we feel about our fellow man.

In a perfect world, there would be enough of everything to go around. There would be a job for every able-bodied person. The issues of hunger, sickness, and poverty that now plague the world’s society’s would vanish.

It doesn’t take a sociologist(or a theologian)to look around and determine that we are not living in a perfect world. That world existed for a very short time in a place called Eden, a place where the only two humans on the planet existed.

In our modern world however, things are quite a bit different. In this less than perfect world, there are a lot of people that are in dire need of help. The notion of a perfect world to them is the stuff of fairy tales.

It may be the hungry child down the street, or the immigrant family trying to cross the threshold into what they perceive as paradise, or a thousand other desperate situations.

Regardless, the numbers of people who have reached the point of helplessness in their quest for survival is nothing short of staggering. So much so that one could make the case for not even trying to find a viable solution to this seemingly impossible situation.

But how do you tell the desperate, the hungry, and the hopeless that their plight is too big to bother with? How do we look them in the eye and say they are not worth the effort?

Sadly, there are an ever increasing number of people who believe just that, that the problems are too large and complex, and besides, it’s not us but “them”. But is that how loving, civilized society’s are to function?

Poverty in the U.S. alone affects over 40 million people. An additional 95 million are living at ‘near poverty’ levels. How can this be ignored? And what of the rest of the world, all of which is far worse off than the United States? [1]

My contention is that we as a society, particularly a society founded upon Christian principles, do indeed have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves.

Otherwise, ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘only the strong survive’ become the new laws of the jungle and it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves.

Is that what any of us really want?

All of us, irregardless of political, religious, or sociological backgrounds are inextricably linked together by a common bond: the need to have enough food to eat, clothing to wear, and a roof over our heads.

When you really think about it, the question of “Am I my brother’s keeper” is actually more relevant today than it was in the days of Cain and Abel.

In the world that Cain and Abel lived in, there were only four humans upon the earth. Four, as in Adam,Eve,Cain, and Abel. Four souls.

In our world, we have a far greater challenge before us.  At last count, there were over seven billion people living on earth. While some will contend that the numbers are too great for anyone to have any kind of positive impact upon, I say that God is equal to the challenge.

He just needs a few willing vessel’s to step up and say that “yes, I am my brother’s keeper”.

Something to ponder, I trust.

Be blessed,

Ron

[1] For a detailed look into the poverty crisis in America, please go to povertyusa.org.      Here you will find an enormous amount of data, broken down into many different categories that will help you better understand how severe the problem is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness…

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“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.”  [1]

This fourth Beatitude is one that I particularly love because I believe it establishes one of the foundational requirements for Godly living. In it, Jesus used two of the strongest human needs, hunger and thirst, to express the passion with which we should pursue God.

Have you ever been so thirsty that it seemed your thirst just couldn’t be quenched? Did that stop you from drinking still more? Of course not! Even if it meant drinking several different things you were determined to quench your thirst.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.  [2]

Sometimes when I’m hungry, I’ll go to the cabinet and stand there looking inside, trying to decide what it is that I want to eat. I may grab this or that, and as soon as I’ve eaten it I’ll know that I made the wrong choice, so I’ll try something else.

In much the same way Jesus is describing the hunger and thirst for righteousness that we are to have. The desire for more of Him should permeate our being, as an insatiable appetite does for those that have not eaten.

David said O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You
….[3]

As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, O God…[4]

deer in the lake

anilogics.com

This type of intense longing is exactly the type of hunger and thirst that Jesus is talking about. It means we do not approach the Lord with an attitude of indifference, but rather a passionate zeal to know him and his ways.

To hunger and thirst for righteousness means we must make a conscious decision about which part of us gets fed. If we desire the things of the world more than God, those things will destroy our hunger for the righteousness that Jesus is speaking of in this Beatitude.

This is very dangerous because if we allow our zeal for God to be swallowed up by the pleasures of the flesh, we will spiritually die.

He who pursues righteousness and loving devotion finds life, righteousness, and honor.[5]

My prayer for all is that we are passionate in our search for a closer walk with God, that we develop a hunger and thirst for righteousness that can only be filled by Him.

Be Blessed!

Ron

 

[1] Matthew 5:6

[2] Psalm 107:9

[3] Psalm 63:1,2

[4] Psalm 42:1,2

[5] Prov. 21:21

From a child’s perspective

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I recently had an enlightening conversation with a friend of mine, and as we were talking he told me about something interesting that occurred in his church’s Sunday school class.

Being one of the teachers of 1st thru 5th grade students, he frequently tells me about some of the things the kids say and do, and I must concur that “Kids Say the Darndest Things”.

On this particular Sunday morning, it seems the lesson was on “Worry”. The gist of the lesson was that each child was given a piece of paper with 15 words listed on it. All of the words involved things you might worry about as a child.

The kids were instructed to circle the five things they would be most worried about from the list that included:

  • the death of a friend or loved one
  • forgetting your homework
  • getting lost
  • fear of the dark
  • being hungry

As each student turned in their paper the teacher tallied the scores, and the results were somewhat surprising. The #1 selection was the death of a friend or loved one. This is understandable, considering the trauma of such an event.

What was very surprising however was that the 2nd most popular selection was being hungry. Especially intriguing is the fact that none of the kids in his class know what being hungry feels like!

How sad is it that little kids who have never missed a meal worry so much about going hungry? What exactly does this say about our society? What does this say about our priorities as a nation? Better yet…

What Would Jesus Do?

Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them; and the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven” belongs to such as these. And after He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.…   Matthew 19:13-15

Children are precious in the eyes of the Lord. Is it because our adult eyes no longer acknowledge the Lord that we are blind to this fact?

As a nation, we have rejected God and His plan for right living. In its place we have chosen instead to be inundated with 24/7 images of adultery, drugs, murder, prostitution, greed, abuse, divorce, and every conceivable type of debauchery imaginable.

And our children are growing up in these same homes, listening, wondering, and worrying if one day they too will feel the pangs of hunger, if they haven’t already.

If I’m being honest here, I sometimes wonder about the seeds we adults have planted in the minds of our children. The horrible things that we have exposed them to must surely be an affront to God.

Little kids are smart, much smarter than we like to give them credit for, and they instinctively know when things aren’t right. Given the opportunity, how long do you think it would take our children to prioritize the hunger problem in America?

It’s a crying shame that we as adults don’t have the same heart as they do.

Ron

 

America is a Hungry Nation

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Americans are hungry.

Hungry for God.

Hungry for love.

Hungry for decency.

Hungry for morality.

Hungry for something to eat.

That’s right, Americans are also hungry for something to eat. The wealthiest nation on the planet struggles with a hunger problem. So much so that 1 in 8 people are struggling with hunger.

Would it surprise you to learn that 1 in 6 children are also struggling with hunger? Or that 1 in 4 African American children are hungry? Additionally, 43% of households receiving SNAP benefits(formerly Food Stamps)have children. If you’ve ever been a hungry child, and I have, this is staggering.

A quick glance at the Food Insecurity Map from FeedingAmerica.org shows just how pervasive the hunger problem is in America.

food insecurity map

If you click on the Food Map link above, it will take you to the Feeding America website where you can input your own demographics and see firsthand what the Food Insecurity Rate is in your area. Or you can simply hover over any state and see that particular state’s F.I.R.

Children are particularly vulnerable to hunger and the subsequent effects of poor nutrition. Unbelievably, 86% of the counties with the highest rates of child food insecurity are rural. What makes that statistic so unbelievable? Food is grown in rural areas!

African Americans, Latinos, Whites, Seniors, Urban Americans, Rural Americans, all are struggling with providing enough food for their families to eat. Right here in America!

Now, we can argue all day long about how and why we are in this predicament. And I’m quite sure we all have our opinions about America’s priorities. The fact is none of that matters to a hungry child.

None of that matters when our elderly citizens have to make the choice between buying medicine or food. Neither does any of that matter to the family that has to choose the poorest quality of food just to be able to afford to put something,anything, on the table.

The recent “Great Recession” may be but a memory to most, but to the tens of millions of Americans that are still reeling from the effects of unemployment,stagnant wages, and the ever increasing cost of living, it is a nightmare that won’t go away.

The point I want to make is that we can do better! We throw away 25% of the food we buy in America. Every single one of us tosses a pound of food each day in the garbage. Food that could go a long way in eradicating the hunger problem.

I encourage everyone to become better educated about this serious problem in America by going to FeedingAmerica.org and learning what you can do to ensure that our children, indeed all Americans have the opportunity to secure healthy,nutritious food for themselves and their families.

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

A Wedding Invitation That Demands a Response

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Nearly everyone loves to receive an invitation to a special event. Whether it’s a family reunion, a Christmas party, or perhaps a wedding, these invitations are normally met with a high level of excitement and anticipation upon receiving them.

Of all the different types of invitations, it seems as though weddings rank at the top of the list. For some, it’s the romance that makes the day so special. For others, it’s all about seeing old friends and the opportunity to catch up on each others lives.

For a lot of people it’s all about the Big Event, especially those who are still dreaming of having their own wedding one day. Ladies especially are fascinated by weddings, and the bigger the better. Who can forget the grandeur of the royal wedding of Princess Diana for example? Princess Diana

Speaking of weddings, did you know that there is soon going to be a wedding the likes of which this world has never seen, one that YOU have been given a very special invitation to? Did you know that? Well, it’s true!  wedding invitation

Amazingly, as “over the top” as the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana was, it pales in comparison to the upcoming wedding known as “The Marriage Supper of The Lamb”.

Best of all, you’ve already been sent an engraved  invitation!

You see, nearly 2000 years ago, your invitation was engraved in the hands and feet of Jesus. Cruel Roman nails left their scars, evidence for all to see that He was indeed the risen, crucified Christ. An engraving unmatched by anything the greatest artist or sculptor could ever envision.

And here is why all of that matters.

One day, all this hurting will be over. The day is soon coming when child abuse will be a forgotten horror never to be heard from again. As impossible as it may seem, the day is coming when hunger pangs will never again be felt in a little child’s belly.

Diseases of the most hideous kind will no longer have a hold on our bodies, as the day is soon to come when all sickness will disappear. Those who languish in torment and pain will one day be freed from their chains of misery.

How can this be, you ask? Listen to the words of hope and encouragement recorded by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation when he was in exile on the island of Patmos.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” ‘ Revelation 19:6-9

“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb”. Jesus bids all to come to this marriage supper. The invitation containing the nail prints of His hands has been sent out to all of humanity.

Yes, you have been sent an invitation, for Jesus leaves no one off of His guest list.

Today, you have a decision to make. The invitation that Jesus has sent demands a response.

Will you say “YES” to His invitation?

Be blessed,

Ron

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