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Past and Future (via Ginrich’s Blog)

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Another gem from Ginrich.

Phil 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I was sitting on a porch looking out on a lake.  I looked at that same lake a few decades ago.  Back then, it was a Boy Scout Camp and we were considering buying it and turning it into a retreat center.  God took us a different direction and we forgot about the camp.  Now, decades later, we ar … Read More

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Coming Together (via Ginrich’s Blog)

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Mt 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Heb 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.   In youth group we gathered around a round table and, without using hands, blew a ping-pong ball trying not to let it go off the table around us.  Each time the ball went off the table the person ne … Read More

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Why I Refuse to Recite The Pledge (And You Should Too)

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The Pledge of Allegiance: National Pride or Socialist Garbage?

The Pledge

In and of itself, the pledge of allegiance is an innocuous little thing. It basically reaffirms ones love of this country – or at least it sounds as such.

USFlag.org: I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

It even claims one nation under God in an attempt to quell any issues about an otherwise secular pledge being recited by Christians. Eisenhower is even quoted as saying that:

USGovInfo: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

Unfortunately, I believe anything done by politicians to be suspect. At the time we were in the cold war with the God-less communists (mainly the Russians), we were in the midst of McCarthyism, and we were just out of the Korean Conflict (1950-1953). A sound-bite is a sound-bite whether it be 2011 or 1954.

The Author

Francis Belamy, the man credited with penning the original pledge, was a former Baptist minister who left the ministry to pursue his socialist agenda, one that his brother Edward Bellamy also had.

New York Times: “As Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer note, the original author of the pledge was a former Christian Socialist minister who hoped to redeem the United States from its class and ethnic antagonisms. Interpretations of its meaning have been growing more conservative, not more liberal, ever since.

The author in question was Francis Bellamy, cousin to the novelist Edward Bellamy, whose “Looking Backward” offered the 19th century’s most popular vision of a future welfare-­state utopia. In 1892, after abandoning the ministry, Francis was working at The Youth’s Companion, a mass-market magazine aimed at schoolchildren.” (keywords being “welfare-state utopia”)

Socialist Garbage

This is a man who was thrown out of a church he pastored because his views were too socialist. This is before the advent of even 1920s Germany, much less Hitler and his Nazi party. Why should we, as freedom lovers, recite this twice amended pledge to socialist ideals. While I applaud his ideas of unity, I am sickened by his attempts to use the pulpit to try and further those views. I am sickened by his marketing the pledge to children first, as if he were trying to over come adult objections by getting the kids to like it (who would become adults themselves in due time).

Here is my appeal to you:
If you are American, if you love freedom, if you want to really honor our servicemen and women, than I urge you to reject the Pledge of Allegiance. I urge you to reject its socialist author and his agenda. I have no problems embracing freedom, nor pledges of loyalty. The Bible is rife with them and they took different forms. Some nationalistic pride is fine, but as a Christian, this isn’t my home. My home is being prepared has been prepared for me in Heaven. Don’t be distracted by dead people who got at least this one thing wrong. I thank God I live in what is still the freest country in the land. I thank God everyday I have the freedom to do as I please. There are Christian brothers and sisters being killed, raped, tortured, and arrested around the world because of faith. There are nonbelievers suffering starvation and agonizing pain while I sit in an centrally heated home. I have all this because God blessed a group of men nearly 200 years ago who worked to lift us up from under the thumb of a tyrant. Let’s not trade one tyrant for another. Squash the pledge, squash socialism, and squash those who would dare try to take to me what God has so graciously given.

God’s Will 5 (via Ginrich’s Blog)

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A nice little thought for the day, almost a devotional.

John 7:16-18 Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone desires to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it is of God, or I speak from Myself. He who speaks of himself seeks his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of Him who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. Once we have addressed the desire to do God’s will, how do we learn what His will is?  Jesus said we need to know … Read More

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Struggles

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Struggling With Life

Struggling With God

I’m far from being like Jacob, who wrestled with God all night (Genesis 32:23-25) in what must have been a sight to behold, but I still struggle with God. Conviction over sin that I gave into a few mornings ago, trying to stay true to the fast while at the same time not getting into a legalistic state of mind, trying to hear from God during this fast. It’s not that I’ve been extremely busy or anything, I’ve spent a good deal of time in the Word. Quite a bit more than what I did last year and I’ve got a bit out of it, but I’m feeling overwhelmed and distant. Knowing He’s there doesn’t help when you can’t feel your Daddy or hear what He’s trying to say.

Not Deaf To Everything

I have heard from God on certain things, but not what I proposed to focus on during this fast. I’ve tried to pray about what we are corporately fasting for, and for my personal purpose. I’ve heard on some other things, or just felt His blessing in endeavors I’m engaged in (my relationship with Carla, a healing of several acquaintanceship, and some other things) but it seems just when I’m really starting to hear from Him regularly, He’s gotten quiet. I know He’s still speaking, but I’m having a hard time just being still (Psalm 46:10).

In The Still of the Night

Being still is probably the hardest thing for me to do, though today I’ve been pretty still physically, and I’ve tried not to get too stirred up but, it seems like I’m always doing something. How do you folks “be still”? Set aside time? I can’t do that without constant interruption, especially if I’m trying to spend time communing with God. Leave the area? I can’t do that without getting interrogated when I get home, though I at least get something out of it. So I take what I can when I can. Today it hasn’t been much, but I got a little something out of it.

No, this fast has been a real struggle spiritually. As I wrestle with this and other issues for the rest of the fast, just keep me in your prayers. Prayer works and God listens to all His children and, if we are praying in His will, our prayers are answered with abundance. Praise God for all He’s done for such an undeserving wretch like me.

“Fast” Food Recipes

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Fast Food

Good Food

The following are some recipes that I’ve come across that taste great and can be used with the Daniel-style fast. Bon appetite!

Simple Fried Cabbage

Cabbage, eighths, and the eighth’s in half
EVOO
Salt
Pepper
White vinegar
One small onion, julienned

Cook in a lightly oiled (EVOO) cast iron skillet, put salt and pepper on the bottom of the pan.

Place in as much cabbage and onion as the skillet will hold. saute on medium-low to medium heat with no more than one-eighth cup vinegar until tender.

ENJOY!

Asparagus and Mushroom

One bunch fresh asparagus
EVOO
Salt
Pepper
Two big portabella mushroom caps

Rinse asparagus, cutting off the woody bottoms afterward
Take the portabella caps, clean and slice thickly

Put the asparagus in a large mixing bowl with the mushrooms. Drizzle with EVOO, salt and pepper to taste, toss, bake in the oven at 400F for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Are You My Friend?

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Title: Are You My Friend?
Scripture References:
John 5:53-58; 10:10; 15:12-17
1 Corinthians 13
Mark 14:36
Ephesians 1:4
Galatians 3:26-29
By: Joseph A. Nagy, Jr.
CopyFree (F) January 2011
http://owl.apotheon.org

Christ’s definition of friend: Unrelenting love for one another (John 15:12-17).
We can never hope to totally live up to that or emulate His level of friendship. The best most of us can hope for is someone we can trust and share some good conversation with, perhaps even someone we can trust with secrets and our ideas on what we believe about conducting more intimate relationships (not necessarily with each other, mind you). The worst some of us wind up with are two wildly different definitions (Christ’s and our own) and therein lies a world of hurt.

Underlying all of that, though, is Christ’s definition which is most poignantly defined in the above mentioned verse. First, we start out with unrelenting love.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

None of us are even capable of loving anyone near that much. We just don’t have the capacity, even if we had the will. Our bodies, our minds, cannot even begin to comprehend the love that God and Christ have for us (John 3:16). Even Paul can only write about a smidgen of what is love (1 Corinthians 13) and its importance. How can we, who are imperfect, begin to understand the perfect love of Christ and God, much less reflect that in our own lives? We are given direction with God’s full knowledge that we will be imperfect in our attempts at being obedient. We fall, we stumble, prayerfully we look up and ask God for help and go at it again.

If the first part of Christ’s definition is unrelenting love and that’s near impossible, how much harder is the next part of the definition: being self-sacrificial even unto death.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Christ, again, not only spoke it, but He lived it when He was unjustly tried, scourged, and crucified for our sins and to what end? That we may have life through Him (John 6:53-58) and not just for a little while, but abundantly (John 10:10). Christ sacrificed Himself for us, so that we may live, because He LOVES us. Does an enemy willingly die for his foe that the foe may live? Do even the ants not willingly give their lives so that their queen might live? How much greater is the love from the one who created us for Him to come to earth, live as a man in a man’s body and die a sinners death so that our debt may be paid in full – a debt we could not ever repay. Are you willing to lay down your life for those you call friend?

It’s really starting to get hard to call someone a friend now, isn’t it? Unrelenting, sacrificial love. How can you love someone so much to do those two things as Christ has done them for us? It doesn’t get any easier, though, so don’t take off your boots.

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)

Friendship is dutiful. You do for your friends and do not expect anything in return. Does your friend need help? As a Christian, if you truly consider someone a friend, you will be burdened to help them as you can and are led. You do it not expecting even so much as a “Thank you.” You do it because it’s exactly what Christ did for us. Again, we have Christ as are example and the provider of our definition. Christ loved God so much that even though He would have gladly given up the job, He did his Father’s will (Mark 14:36). When have you suppressed your own desires to do something for a friend, no matter how much it would have inconvenienced you?

Unrelenting, self-sacrificial, dutiful love. I told you it was getting hard yet Christ continues to build upon this definition of what it means to be a friend.

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Friends are equals. One is not greater than the other. They hide nothing from one another. I could quote from all the Gospels where Christ has made known to His disciples and those around Him what the Father has made known to Him. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are full of examples of Christ trying to fill the people with God and empty them of religion. Do you treat your friends as equal to yourself? Greater than yourself? Lesser than yourself? Christ, as part of the Holy Trinity (or Triune if you prefer) could have lorded His relationship with God and the Holy Spirit over everyone, He could have made them feel inferior (as we all are), He could have robbed them of their dignity. Instead He always treated them as students and then friends. He made them feel welcomed. He answered their questions and subjected Himself to their touch. By living in a body made of human flesh He humbled Himself and did so without a second thought.

Unrelenting, self-sacrificial, dutiful, equalizing love. There is only one more part to this definition, this model, that Christ has set forth for us and we can find it in these two verses.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” (John 15:16-17)

We have been chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4), as Christ choose the apostles, and how we treat each other was so important that Christ Himself made a lesson out of it and modeled it for us so that we may use a concrete example in our treatment of others. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not been as good at this as I could have been. I’ve let the enemy use my own hurt in certain situations to perpetuate that hurt in some vain attempt at justification for how I felt. It only wound up in more hurt and ruined relationships.

Christ and God throughout the ages have modeled for us the true meaning of friendship. Sometimes it was hard to recognize, as tough love is always hard to accept when you are on the receiving end of the “tough” part. The best we can do, though, is to model ourselves after Christ and God and let ourselves be led in our friendships, whether they are just for a season or longer lasting. When we stumble – and we will stumble, from time to time – know that God is there for us. He’s not going to condemn us (though we might be in need of some form of chastisement), but love on us as He always had. Unrelenting, self-sacrificial, dutiful, equalizing (Galatians 3:26-29) love.

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