Enter your email for Billonie Sandwiches delivered right to your inbox!

12/8/15

A Christian Response to Islamic Terrorism and Gun Violence (Protect, Pray, Preach)

Every other day there seems to be a new news story of Jihadism, mass shootings, or ISIS beheading someone because they won't play ball by their rules. To cap off the sad news stories, we have a President and Congress who seems absolutely aloof and removed from the fears of every day folk.

As a Christian, a husband, and a citizen of the United States, I began to wonder, "What ought my response be to these perilous days?" I believe there are 3 main things that will deter terrorism, curb lack-luster lawmakers, and conquer radical Islam and gun violence. Let's explore them.



1. Protect
To effectively deter terrorism, curb lack-luster lawmakers, and conquer radical Islam and gun violence we must responsibly utilize our 2nd Amendment rights. This includes being vigilant (see something, say something).

I am not advocating the use of force to accomplish anything. I am however advocating the legal use of arms in protecting your family and country. The goal is to never, ever have to use them.

As a Christian man, I consider it my responsibility to look after my family and those who cannot look after themselves. I used to think a shotgun at home was enough, and that may be so for some. But for years now, I have been a Hoosier concealed carry permit holder. And I carry more than just the card.

Let me be clear. I do not want my community to turn into an OK-Corral with a bunch of deputy wannabes toting firearms with the safety off. Let me be clearer. I do not want my community to look like the bad side of Chicago or the south end of Paris.

The answer to gun violence is not to take away guns from the good guys. If I meet Jihadi John in Indy and it comes down to me or him... hey, I plan on it being him.

If I am taking a walk in the park with my wife and Lunatic Larry opens fire, I would prefer have a fighting chance.

Fidgety Frank is less likely to break in and steal my Ny-quil and TV if he knows I am armed with more than a cell phone.

I have a couple buddies who are in law enforcement. I love and respect them. But I know they can't be everywhere I am. But I am everywhere where I am.

Be responsible. Take the required training. Learn to safely, legally and effectively operate a firearm.
 


2. Pray
I don't mean to over-spiritualize everything. Thankfully, the Bible backs me up on this. It says to not worry about anything but pray about everything. To ask God for what we need and thank Him for all He has done and then we will experience His peace which is far greater than we can ever understand. Check out Philippians 4:6-7 for that.

How should we pray? We ask God to fill us with His power in order to live like Jesus: Full of love, compassion, and wisdom. We ask God to protect our country, community, and family. We ask that there would be a Christian awakening, or revival. That way the same Biblical principles we know cause positive and powerful change for us will permeate our whole culture again. We ask God to lead our leaders.

Here is a wonderful prayer we can pray. It is the final verse of that great anthem of the country, "America:"

Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of liberty
To Thee we sing
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light
Protect us by Thy might
Great God, our King!


Bet they don't sing that verse in school anymore.

3. Preach
How do we eradicate darkness? Turn a light on, for crying out loud!

We tell God to leave our school systems. He does. We tell God to leave our public squares. He does. We tell God to leave our government, and He may be on His way out. Take God out of an area, and there will be a major void. Guess who fills that void. Really, guess.

The prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament said this: "When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God?... Consult God's instruction and the testimony of warning. Of anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God."

Allow me to paraphrase: Folks start looking for answers from boneheads and neglect asking God. Then darkness starts creeping in and morning time seems to never come. Then they get mad that God won't help when things get real bad. Example: the recent major news magazine that had as their front cover: "God isn't going to fix this."

Thankfully, at the beginning of chapter 9, Isaiah continues, "Those walking in darkness have seen a great light; and those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned... for to us a child is born, to us a son is given... he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

So to make darkness run we have to turn on this "great light." His name is Jesus. As Christians begin to preach the good news of Jesus' arrival, perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension into Heaven and imminent return, darkness will get scared, fight tooth and nail, but ultimately flee.

How can you preach the Gospel? Ask God to show you ways you can. It starts by living a holy life so when you actually use your mouth to speak about Jesus, people won't be turned off. Talk to your pastor and church family and friends about ways you can change the world by simply sharing the hope of Jesus.






If you're reading this and you're not a Christian, the fact that you made it through all that religious talk says a lot about you.  I think it says you are thinking there may be something to all this Jesus stuff.  Good news for ya:  you can know Jesus in a real, personal way.  Just talk to him (yeah, it will seem weird at first) and ask him to help you out every day.  Start reading the book of John in the Bible to learn more about him.  It is my sincerest of beliefs that Jesus is the absolute answer to these troubling times.

I'd love to read your comments!  Post them below.  I'll respond ASAP.

11/24/15

When Jesus Shared His Breadstick

Piping hot, buttery, golden brown, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, a hint of garlic.  Breadsticks.  Doughy shafts of carbohydrated joy.  How do you make a breadstick better?  Dip it in something, like cheese.  Everyone likes breadsticks.  Even Jesus!

The text is John 13:18-30.  Jesus is kickin' back with his buddies.  Back in this time, folks would recline back on the floor (sometimes on a cushion) near the table, which did not rise up very high like tables today.  It seems informal.  Jesus usually is informal.
--
One time my sisters and I visited a church that did Communion (Read this for a good understanding of Communion) different than we were used to.  We were used to the tiny individual cups and little unsalted oyster crackers.  This church practiced dipping a chunk of bread in a goblet of juice.  My sister, clearly in culture shock, grabbed the goblet from the pastor's hands and took a healthy swig from the beautifully embellished cup.  I giggled hard.  No one judged her, they were a kind church.  But we did all have a good laugh after service!
--
Toward the end of this Last Supper with Jesus before he was to die, there wasn't much giggling.  They may have had great conversation up until this point...  Jesus turned serious,

"Remember the scripture in Psalm 41, where it says the 'one who shares my bread has turned against me?' "

Uh oh.  Here are the closest friends of Jesus... all sharing bread with him!  Hearts dropped and pulses picked up as they began to speculate.  Jesus spoke on.

"I'm not talking about all y'all; I know who I chose.  I'm telling you this before it happens so when it does, you will believe that I am who I am."

The Bible then makes a clear point in verse 21 that Jesus was troubled in his spirit before he spoke next.  Can you imagine knowing the future?  Actually seeing ahead in time to find one you dearly loved would bitterly betray you to be murdered?  That is what Jesus saw.  He continued plainly,

"One of you is going to betray me."

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss of words.  Who would betray their best friend and Lord?

There was some chatter, eye glances, and whispers.  Finally John, who was leaning up against Jesus as they let their last supper settle, asked discretely, "Jesus, who will betray you?"

"The one who I share this bread and dip with."

Jesus then grabbed a piece of bread, dipped it, and handed it to Judas.  OK, wait.  I gotta pause here.  This is strangely intimate.
--
Look, I do not share my cheese dip.  I don't know if you will double-dip, have dirty hands, or what.  Yet Jesus shares with Judas.  Jesus, the thrower of the feast, the main man at the party, serves Judas, the guy who is gonna have Jesus killed.  Some say the master of a feast would share his dip with the honored guest.  Judas... honored guest??

This is Judas' chance!  His shot at redemption.  Jesus knows Judas is about to hand him over to the murderers, but still offers him redemption... honor.

It is as if this one gesture said,  "Judas, you have messed up big time and you're planning to mess up again, but I still love you.  Won't you skip your selfish ways and just love me back?"

--
Jesus says to Judas, "What you're gonna do, do it quickly."

Maybe I'm reading into this verse too much.  I believe Judas didn't want to see Jesus viciously murdered.  I think Judas wanted to have him arrested so he would be forced to do some mega-miracle and save himself and establish an earthly kingdom.  After all, if Jesus would be arrested, Jesus could save himself, set up a kingdom and Judas would have a prominent spot since he was a disciple.

Judas missed the whole point.  Jesus needed to save humans not from external emperors but from their own sin.  The only way to do this was to be a perfect, sinless sacrifice.  Not by setting up an earthly kingdom.  That will come in the future.  For now, Jesus had to save people from Hell.

So when Jesus said, "Do what you are gonna do quick" I think there was an option there for Judas.  Jesus may have been saying,

"If you are going to betray me, do it now so we can get it over with...
but if you are going to turn from your evil ways and follow me again, do it now."

11/21/15

Wanna Peace of Me, ISIS?!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”


Jesus spoke those words a couple millennia ago, but don’t they seem more true every day?  John recorded them in his gospel, chapter sixteen, verse thirty-three.  In this world you (yes, you) will have trouble.

ISIS.  Islam.  Jihadists.  Terrorists.  Al Qaeda.  The Taliban.  Mohammad.  Allah Akbar.  Jesus.

To be honest, I did not enjoy typing those words.  But typing Jesus after them felt like spraying a fire with an extinguisher.  Isn’t there a stark contrast between Mohammad and Jesus?  Let us consider Mary Magdalene.

Many Muslims practice female genital mutilation to keep women from experiencing sexual pleasure.  Many Muslims require strict dress guidelines and head coverings for women.  Many Muslim women are raped and/or forced into marriage at ages as young as nine years.  When women are raped, if they report it, they are often beat for being “promiscuous.”  In Muslim courts, a woman’s testimony is worth only half that as a man’s testimony, anyway.

Mary Magdalene had seven demons.  Some assume she is the same woman who “was a sinner” (Luke chapter seven, thirty-six through fifty), which many assume meant she was a hooker.  Jesus met Mary Magdalene, and with his authority sent the demons she had packing and she began to follow him.  Jesus did not force her to follow.  She willingly followed a man who loved her in spite of her demons and past.  Jesus made no conditions besides, “Just follow me and see what I do for you.”

Why wouldn’t she love the guy who saved her life?  It was not a humanly romantic love.  It was the undying gratitude of grace-saved girl who was on her way to hell until Jesus stepped in.

Sometimes, all hope seems totally lost.  At a time when it seems like radical Islam rules the world, a savior is whispering your name.  He saying, “Shh, calm down.  Take my peace.”

In John chapter twenty, verses eleven through eighteen, Mary is approaching the burial site of Jesus.  How could he die?  He raised others from death… he spoke hope and joy… he calmed storms and multiplied food for hungry folks and opened blind eyes and mended broken hearts and saved people from hell… yet there was the tomb up ahead.

As she got closer, her heart dropped, eyes opened wide, and pulse beat hard in her ears and chest.  The grave is opened!  She began crying, hard.  Oh, Mary.  God loved you so much!  We read how God sent two of his angelic messengers to calm her heart.  They sat on the grave-table where Jesus had lay.  “Why are you crying?”  They asked her.

“They took Jesus away!”  Can’t you hear the hopelessness in her voice?  She turned away from the tomb and then saw another man.  He asked the same.  “Why are you crying?”

She supposed this guy was the grave-site gardener.  She begged him, “Sir, if you took his body just tell me and I will take care of it!”  Anxious frustration probably leaked through her words.  The body of the only one who ever could care for her with a perfect and undying love was dead, but now even his corpse was gone!

Then the man spoke her name.  “Mary.”

Have you ever burnt yourself and then put ice on the burn?  Isn’t it amazing how the coolness  quickly brings relief and the pain melts away?  I bet that is how Mary’s heart felt as she heard that familiar voice whisper her name.  The man was Jesus.  He is alive.

I am crazy enough to believe Jesus is saying your name right now.  Can you hear him?  He wants to calm your heart.  He is not dead, he is alive, kickin’, and ready to give you his peace.   “Peace be with you.”

Questions about God?

GotQuestions?org