Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why the Hatred?

Our Bible study class is an education of great value. Our instructor is a man who dearly loves reading non-fiction books, especially in regards to religion. In addition, he has introduced us to very thought-provoking studies, some even on DVD’s, one of which is The Truth Project. That series was produced by Focus on the Family out of Colorado.

In our various lesson series, we studied Revelation using both the Bible itself and a book written many years ago by a long-time preacher with the church of Christ. His book, “As a Lamb Slain” is not in any stores, but copies are available through the author’s family. It was that study of Revelation that turned my attitude about Revelation completely in the opposite direction.

Prior to that study, I had always considered Revelation to be a book of “gloom and doom” and I just didn’t even want to read it. Unfortunately, as I came of age, it wasn’t long before I was out on my own and not attending the church I grew up in. Thus, I never had the chance to sit in on a study of Revelation as an adult.

Revelation is NOT a book of prophesy. At least, it is not by the definition that many of us want to use today. I think I’ve written about this before, in that when Revelation refers to “prophesy” it is using the definition of “teaching,” not foretelling future events.

The Truth Project was the next major study I was a part of and it is also an eye-opening video series of approximately 13 hours of lessons. It is set in a college classroom and the instructor, one Del Tackett, does an excellent job of putting a whole different perspective on Bible study.

We have also watched and discussed a video series (66 episodes, I think) by R.C. Sproul called Foundations. R.C. Spoul kind of describes himself as a student and teacher of “reformed theology.” While I remember the term, I don’t exactly remember the definition, so I won’t butcher that for anyone. If you are interested, I think he even has a book on that subject.

Anyway, we are now in a study of the book of Acts. Besides our teacher, we also have another in our class who is our former preacher, and another who is a student of original languages, particularly Greek and Latin. Obviously, with that mixture of brilliance in the room, we have some very interesting discussions.

We have recently discussed something that has bothered me in the past, and I now have an answer. I’m finally getting to the part that directly refers to the title, “Why the Hate?” Why is it that in our day and age, both the nations of Israel and the United States are subject to such hatred from other countries and cultures? Why is it that both Jews and Christians are hated so much for their beliefs?

Over the centuries, the Jews were kept in bondage, chased from their homeland and settled in other countries and were reviled by the leaders of nations and the people of those countries despised them for so long and even attempted to wipe them from the face of the earth. Even today, people in the countries of the Middle East wish to drive them into the sea.

Today, in America and abroad, both Jews and Christians are hated in spite of the good things that we try to do with and for those other countries. One specific reason for hatred of the Jews is based on the Palestinian issues. But, that is a discussion for another day because many today don’t know why the Palestinians are truly in bondage, and who is really responsible. That needs more research before I tackle it.

Regardless of the fact that Americans spilled their blood to help the Muslim people in the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, we are still hated by many Muslims. Regardless of what we do or how much financial and other aid we provide, we are despised.

Within America itself, Christians are disliked by many of other faiths and those of no faith at all. There are constant attacks, especially in the courts because of the “separation of church and state.” Well, the Constitution says nothing about “church and state.” The First Amendment provides that Congress will establish NO religion, NOR INTERFERE WITH THE FREE EXERCISE of religion.

However, I believe that the crux of the problem with other countries, cultures, religions and those of non-religion is because of the word “exclusivity.” In the Old Testament, God refers to the children of Israel are to be His people and He will be their God. In the New Testament, there is this verse at John 14: 6:

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Old Testament refers several times to the nature that the children of Israel will be His people. So, it would be natural for those not of the Jewish faith to be aggravated because they weren’t Jews and didn’t want to be. And Christians suffer at the words and actions of those who don’t think that they should feel special because of John 14: 6, in spite of the fact that those words were said by Jesus himself.

There are those, and they are many, that are uncomfortable with the idea of “judgment” and that they will be judged at some time. They wish it to be that because of their good deeds that punishment, if there even is a punishment, will not befall them for not believing in the teachings of the Bible. They wish to be comfortable with the knowledge that all they must do is not do evil.

I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it many times more; I am not God, nor can I determine what He will do at the Judgment. He could very well grant those with good deeds a place in paradise. All I can do is to follow the teachings of the Bible in the way that I live my life and the way I worship Him. It is my belief that it would be better to err on the side of doing what He wishes, rather than risk the punishment should He decide I didn’t abide by His Word.

Welcome From Jesus

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