December 13, 2004

What Compels us? Force and Fear or Our Weakness and God's Love?

What compels you to do anything in life? Does forcefulness persuade you?

It may for a time, but in the long run, you will grow to resent the use of force aimed at you.

If someone tries to manipulate you with fear, will that compel you to do anything?

Again, for a time it may. But some time afterwards, resentment and bitterness will take over and stop you from doing the very thing that fear motivated you to do in the beginning.

There are many people who have turned their backs on God. Some of these people chose to because they were at some point in their lives forced to go to church or to take part in other religious actions that they wanted no part of.

Christianity is not a religion of force but many misguided Christians have demonstrated it as such.

You cannot force your views upon another and go against the very will that was given to them by God and expect any good to come from it.

I was never forced to attend church and I never felt forced to live for God.

I consider myself very fortunate that I was not forced to do these things by my parents or by anyone.

I had some friends who were forced to go to church and they were not happy and they did not feel the freedom in their lives that I did. I recall one friend of mine who had fights with her parents and grandparents practically every other Sunday over the issue of going to church.

I felt sorry for her for having to go through this.

I thought it was too bad that a parent would force their child to go to church. Her parents were very devout Christians and my parents were not living for God and therefore not pushing their beliefs upon me, their child. Of course I felt freedom where my friend felt only pressure. I felt at the time that there were other issues between my friend and her parents. There is also another thing I remember. It was the way I felt, knowing that it must have been hard on her to understand my desire to go to church and live for God and her not having that same desire.

I understand why she didn't. She was Forced and I was not. God does not force any of us to do anything we do not want to do.

I'm sure there are many of us who felt forced to act in a certain way or to agree with a certain view held by church members. I can recall that pressure I felt from church members to agree with their views, etc.

But I did not agree with them on issues that went against what I knew to be the truth as outlined in the Bible. This has caused me to not be very popular with many Christians.

Why must anyone try to sway others to believe something that only they themselves feel so strongly about? This is on line with manipulation.

We should not ever seek to control anyone on any issue. We should seek to get the truth of God out to the multitudes of people who are lost. That should be our desire and objective.

I believe that if we as Christians would just live our lives the way God tells us to live, love others and truly seek to help those in need, those actions alone would show the love of Christ and there would be no need for anything else. It is our actions and our words that are supposed to express who we serve. Not what we say absent of good fruits

The pressure, petty manipulations, and the lack of total faith in God to preserve those who are his.

These are some of the key reasons why I seldom attend church now. Things have not changed since I was a teenager with the exception of an increase in deception and merchandising. Many church members and those in authority in the Christian churches still attempt to force their will upon others around them. It's all about control. Jesus was not about control, he was about teaching the truth along with faith, love, mercy and compassion. A free will is a horrible thing to lose. If you lose your free will, you are no better than a mindless robot.

From the Parents to the Children

I have never forced my children to go to church. They either go or they don't. Now on this subject, I have Christian friends who disagree with me. That doesn't bother me, and I am not hostile toward different views. I believe that my decisions about how I raise my children comes from my upbringing somewhat.

I was not forced to attend church by my parents, so I did not feel that particular pressure. All of us are affected to some degree by how we were raised and what we learned earlier in our lives. What I have tried to do in my life is to teach my children the principles of Christianity at home first and not to rely on the church to indoctrinate them.

The church does not need to do for my children what I was told by God to do myself. I think that many Christians are too content with forcing their children to go to church and learn through the leaders there instead of teaching them at home. The problem is compounded for many of these kids because as the parents are sending the kids on their way to church, the parents never attend and that is wrong. It's a double standard. The parents in many instances forcing their kids to do what they are not willing to do themselves.

Children always pick up on this and will rebel accordingly. I feel as though I was given a gift in not having Christianity forced on me in my younger years and am sure now that I am older that this had much to do with my endearing faith later in life.

Fear as a Motivator and Spiritual Burnout

A spiritual relationship with God based upon force and fear will go nowhere. I can hear many Christians out in cyberspace right now who are disagreeing with me. But let me ask you a question.

Do you find it comforting and uplifting to have a relationship with another person that you fear or who attempts to force their personal beliefs on you? I personally do not. Why should we then find it acceptable to have a relationship with God based upon fear or force or both?

When anyone forces religion upon another based upon fear, the end result is not good.

I had friends that made the decision to accept Christ as their Savior simply because they were fearful that if they didn't, they would go to hell. At that time in my own life I was learning much and caught up with my own new relationship with God and so I didn't have the time nor knowledge that I do now to discuss the subject of force and fear in relation to Christianity. But I remember that the majority of preaching by their pastors and parents was geared toward the fear issue in regards to salvation and living a godly life. Many of those friends of mine did not last long in church and suffered spiritual burnout as a result. Spiritual burnout happens when you are working at a fevered pace to live the Christian life. You grow tired and weary and give up. It is at this point that some completely turn their backs on God and decide that they will no longer serve him. But others find that spiritual burnout is a positive turning point for them. In reality, suffering from spiritual burnout is the best thing that could happen to a person caught up in the cross hairs of religion. We are not able to live a life dedicated to God in our own power. It is only by the Spirit that we are able to live a life that is fulfilling and that brings glory to God. We have a responsibility to turn over our lives to him, we alone must make that choice, but it is HE and not we ourselves who keeps us all the while we are submitted to him as his obedient children.

I should know because I suffered from spiritual burnout. And when I was finally spent and had nothing left in myself that I could cling to in order to live the life God and others expected me to live, that is when I gave up and told God, "I cannot live this life, I cannot do anything without you God". In my own power I have nothing to offer, nothing to give anyone. Take me and use me for your glory, with all of my weaknesses, you're welcome to them as well and see if you can do anything about them. Just take them and allow me to have strength through you. I had to realize how truly weak I was while at the same time recognizing God as my tower of strength.

That is coming clean with God, that is what leading the Christian life is truly all about. It is not about attempting to be something you are not. It is not about putting up false appearances. It is not about forcing our beliefs upon others, it is about each one of us personally making a decision based upon the truth of the Gospel and allowing God to be God in our own lives.

Who Keeps Us?

Anyone with eyes and understanding can read the bible for themselves and conclude that Jesus was not about FORCE or FEAR. So where does this twisted thinking come from?

During my years of being a Christian as well as listening to other Christians,
I am convinced that it comes from a lack of faith on the part of those who are supposed to be teaching and leading us.

They believe that if they do not instill fear in us, mixed in with a dab of force and crack that spiritual whip that we will not live a life that is centered upon God given morality.

What they neglect to understand is that it is God himself who keeps us and has patience with us during our walk with Him.

They neglect to understand that it is not by might, nor by power, but it is by his Spirit that we are kept in his care.

So whether it be pastors or parents, they feel it is their responsibility to BRING US INTO the kingdom of God and then to KEEP us in a position of submission and control and in order to accomplish this, they use Fear and Force. They will do or say what they feel they must in order to assure themselves that we are living for God and that we stay on the right and holy path. I have seen this my friends. I have seen this type of fear and force in action.

I am not saying this is right, but it does happen this way much of the time. I've seen it at work. This is why many have felt negatively toward Christianity for years.

We must learn that it is God who keeps us by his Spirit, but we have a hand in making the wise choices that lead to our submission to him. Nobody can force you to submit to God. But it isn't for lack of them trying. Man likes to believe that he has control of things, even if it is just a little control, that is better than none at all. But submission to God is entirely in each of our hands and a choice that we must make individually every day of our lives. Only we have the power and the choice to submit to God, keep ourselves humble with God's help and to follow him. These choices will lead us toward our own spiritual progress. Another person's spiritual progress we have nothing to do with apart from building up one another instead of tearing each other down, and being willing to help one another. When it comes to telling people what to do and how to manage their lives, we have no business being caught up in another's spiritual life.

We should be there when they ask for help, prayer and our opinions based upon the word of God. But aside from these things, we should never allow force to take up residence in our hearts and lives in any manner.

Preventing the Pressure

I have found some things helpful. I tend to stay away from a majority of churches and I stick to studying what the Word of God says and applying it to my own life. In addition to these I pray a prayer almost daily that God by his Spirit would keep me humble. I feel the world very desperately needs God's people to love them and to care for them. If our light is supposed to shine in the darkness, then what are we doing keeping to ourselves in the churches? I never understood that.

But isn't it ironic that nowadays, there are many in the churches that are in darkness?

I have seen much foolishness in the Body of Christ spanning over 30 years. This has helped me to know a scheme from the real thing and the truth from error. I don't claim to know a lot. There are many more out there that are more knowledgeable than me. There is still much I do not know and I am on a journey just like everyone else in this life. I do not expect to be perfect when I am taken out of this world and into the next. If I know more next year than I did the year before, I am quite content. I don't struggle to gain much knowledge. I take life as it comes at me. Leaning on and trusting in the God that made me. Living life tends to make all of us more resilient and knowledgeable as every day and year passes.

I find that many Christians do not want to admit it if they don't know an answer to a question put to them by unbelievers. Why can't people just admit that there are some things that they don't know? Whether you are a Christian or an unbeliever, not any one of us can claim to know all things. The only one who does know all things is God himself. But many Christians fear that if they do not know "all the answers", it will make God look bad. This is ridiculous thinking. It does not make God look bad if we don't know all the answers. We are his people, we are humans and he is God. If someone asks me about something I don't have a clue about, I will tell them that I don't know. God has given us what he wanted us to know in the Bible, and the rest will be answered by him at a time of his own choosing. Who are we to demand all answers to all things anyway?

A Time to Fear God

In conclusion, there is a time to fear God

Those who have totally rejected God and cast him and his truth aside based upon the adequate knowledge they have had of him should fear him. These should indeed fear the judgment of God because those who knew the truth openly defied God's truth and they chose instead to discard his love and count it as nothing. They also counted the sacrifice of his Son as nothing, those who do these things should fear God. Sadly, many are too far along in deception and darkness for it to matter to them that they have rejected the one who made them.

Only God knows if you have come to the point in your life in which you've had chance after chance to turn to him and have decided to stay in your pride, stubbornness and rebelliousness.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But here again, God gives us the choice to believe in him, to serve him or not. While it is so very wrong for anyone to try to force their beliefs upon another, ultimately you are all responsible to pick up the bible and gain knowledge that God and not man has provided for you. There will be no excuse for those who do not do this. Nobody will be able to say in that day when standing before God at the judgment, "Well, I was taught wrong by preacher such and such and that is the reason why I rejected Jesus Christ". Although it may be true that preacher such and such was teaching you contrary to the Word of God, you KNEW to go to the source which is the Word of God. Some do not know to go to the source instead of trusting in man to tell them the truth. Well, now I have cleared that up for a number of people and I stand on record as having told you.

Maybe I will be the only one you will come across that has told you this.

Go to the source and trust not in man! Go to his Word that he has provided for you.

God is angry if you have been given the truth, have understanding based upon that truth and you still choose to reject him. He does have long patience with us, it's true, but it is a dangerous line you are crossing each day you spend in rebellion towards God. But even that rebellion is yours and has not been forced upon you, it is chosen by you and you alone.

Has the Holy Spirit spoken to your heart? Have you been turning a deaf ear and heart to him? These are the reasons to fear God.

It is only through our brokenness, admitted weakness and desire for a way out of our shattered lives that compels us to give up and trust in God. This is why pride is a killer. This is why pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Our pride blinds us to these truths.

We must see God's strength and power as greater than our own because it truly is. We must realize our own frailties and weaknesses. We have no need to rely upon God if we believe ourselves to be strong and fully capable of managing our own lives and directing our own steps.

December 1, 2004

This King - Conquerors Christmas Page

This King Jesus

Our Savior's entrance into this world took place in a stable, not a palace. This was the King whose majesty would never be recognized by his wardrobe or influential friends. Instead, this King would be loved one moment and mocked the next. This King's home was not of this earth, yet he loved the people of this earth.

This King desired that all would learn of him and be saved from their sins through faith in him.

This King had many attributes that drew multitudes of people to him.

This King was the King of compassion, and all who crossed his path experienced this abundant compassion firsthand.

This King announced that his kingdom was not of this world when men approached him to make him a King.

This King knew what his mission was for his time here on earth and with his face and spirit set like flint, he set out and accomplished that mission.

This King's mission was to save all that were lost. To bind up the brokenhearted, to heal those who were sick and hurting, and to release the prisoners born into this world out of the shackles of sin, death, hell and the grave.

This King's life brought honor and glory God.

During this King's time on earth, there were vast numbers of Religious leaders. All of these religious leaders had one thing in common. They loved to rule the people, the common man. They wanted to be held in admiration by the influential as well as the common man. They also loved the most important seats in the temple and to be called "Master" by those who listened to them.

But for all of their rules and regulations, they couldn't keep the law and couldn't do what they were instructing others to do.

But these religious leaders would not admit to this King that they were unable to keep the law. They felt that keeping up the appearance of doing right and being righteous by their own power was good enough, though they would never admit that.

This King gave up all of the splendor of Heaven to walk the roads of Jerusalem, teaching all men about the Love of his Father.

This is the King who said "You without sin, cast the first stone" to those who were ready to kill the adulterous woman.

This King healed the deaf and gave sight to those who could not see.

This King endured being mocked, beaten and crucified just so that you and I would be free.

This King did not fear those who would have him crucified and end his life on this earth.

This King endured the cross and arose on the third day from his earthly death, triumphant!

All of this was the enormous price he was willing to pay.

You might ask why would this King pay such a price? What would move this King to give his very life? Friend, there would be only one reason for him to do these things for you and me. It was because of the great love he had for humanity.

And even after all of these things were done for you and I by this King, he would not allow us to be without help in this world. He even sent us his Holy Spirit after he ascended into heaven.

Without gifts, and absent of decorated trees, would you still have much to celebrate on Christmas Eve?
You would if you knew in your heart what the meaning of Christmas truly is.

Christmas is not about sales reports that department stores generate.

Christmas is not about bright lights and tree ornaments nor brightly decorated packages to open on Christmas day.

It is not even about that traditional family Christmas feast. All of these are the traditions of men.

The only way to know what it is all about is to hear the story of that first Christmas so long ago, documented in the Bible.

Luke 1: 31-33

The Angel speaks to the Virgin Mary:

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Joseph and Mary

Joseph and Mary would find no vacant room for them in the inn.

They instead stayed in a stable.

Shepherds nearby were watching over their flock when an angel appeared unto them.

They were told by an angel of the Messiah's soon arrival into this world.

Luke 2:8-14

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 1

4 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2: 41-52 Jesus, the Boy

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

May you reflect on the giver of all gifts this Christmas.

Jesus Christ

He loves you more than you could imagine. There is no way to express in words how large his love is for you.

He even came into this weary world in order that every man and woman would know the way to eternal life.

He was crucified for our sins and the chastisement of our peace was upon him.

God the Father allowed all of this because of the great love he had for you and I.

Merry Christmas and God bless you.