Flag Day

What makes a flag important? So important that one would even die for it? Or keep fighting when it waves? Or salute it during peaceful times? Or ensurAmerican-Flag-hoisted-wavinge it flies in honor?

What makes a flag this important? And why do we honor it one designated day a year?

It’s not the material it’s made out of, or its initial value. It’s not the one stitching it at its seams. It isn’t that it can be made into a smaller version, or even a large highly noticeable one.

No… A flag like this is important for one reason – what it represents!

This flag represents freedom. It stands for truth and justice, and an opportunity for all who embrace it to pursue happiness. This flag has history steeped in blood and sweat and tears. It offers liberty to those who will draw near to claim it, but it requires something of us too.

This flag requires allegiance – to ideals that shaped what she stands for, to foundational truths that brought her into existence, to values she has maintained since her birth, and to an understanding that she submits to her Great Providence.

She doesn’t speak a word and yet when she waves so proudly high in the air, she proclaims with the greatest mighty voice ever known to man:

THIS LAND IS MINE! THIS LAND IS FREE!

Are Christians Really Perfect?

“You just think you’re so perfect.”

Have you ever said this to someone or had someone say it to you before? Often these words arise out of frustration, jealousy, and feeling judged. Could it be that the accused is acting like they are perfect or better than anyone else? Perhaps. But so often, this person had no intention of coming across that way. So is it perceived by one person or does the person saying it have personal reservations of guilt or feeling lesser worth?

One of the issues we tend to have in life is always trying to measure up or just be better than so-and-so. But maybe that’s the problem in life. Maybe we’re comparing ourselves to the wrong standard.

Any Christian worth their salt will not only realize but also fully understand that they are not perfect – and quickly admit such. But what if they don’t? What if they seem to live in such a way that makes you feel “judged” or feel imperfect? Some would say that it’s wrong for Christians to live so as to make another person feel so unworthy or in a way that they don’t think they could ever measure up enough for God to want them. But are Christians really doing this intentionally or is this feeling only perceived?

Well…Let’s take a step back first. It might help to gain some perspective on the situation. Back when God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, God Himself was present in the garden with them. They were created perfectly, and were able to enjoy walking and talking directly with God, even in His very presence.

Then Satan entered the scene… More than just deceiving Eve, he was intent on destroying whatever God created and loved. And he succeeded, to a degree…at least for a time. He convinced Eve that she would know what God knows – and she and Adam got more than they bargained for! (Btw, let’s be clear on this… Eve may have been deceived by Satan, but Adam knew full well what he was doing when he chose to eat that fruit along with his wife.)

In Genesis 1:26, it says that God wanted to “make man in [His] image”. What does it mean to be made in God’s image? This is important to understanding the earlier questions we asked.

To be made in God’s image means that we have been given attributes that are like and similar to God’s. This is also why we find “good people” in the world around us, even among the non-Christians. God’s image is made up of love, joy, patience, holiness, justice, forgiveness, righteousness, kindness, goodness, trust, loyalty, faithfulness, strength, zeal, courage, mercy, grace, truthfulness, wisdom, understanding, and many, many more!

Every human being since the beginning has been given a “stamped” image of God’s qualities – they may be of varying degrees of each component, but many of God’s own qualities are there. The difference is that God’s attributes are perfect, while ours lack perfection. And the primary reason for this tarnishing is sin.

Sin separates us from God, but it also works to destroy and dismantle the image that God “stamped” in us when we were formed at our beginning – after conception and long before birth. Without God and a strong/solid connection to Him, this image that is part of us will continue to erode until it is gone. And this is where the problem begins.

You see, the standard of perfection is God and His attributes. When we compare ourselves to Him, we don’t measure up. And that’s the part that Christians understand, we need God’s righteousness and perfection so we can measure up to Him – and we can only find that in Christ and His salvation provision. And once a person becomes a Christian, they have just made a commitment to live more like God – like our Savior Jesus Christ – each and every day – but even this does not make a Christian perfect, except in God’s eyes through Christ.

If you’re still with me here, I am saying all of this to get to this point: A Christian striving to live like Christ is not focused on being better than you (at least they shouldn’t be); instead, they are focused on becoming better than they were yesterday or the day before towards the goal of becoming more like God in every way. And this goes towards reforging that initial image that God “stamped” in each of us into a new and perfect image once again.

You see, Christians are NOT perfect – not in the least – but we are forgiven by God of our sins and being remade into His likeness or image little by little each day. As a Christian myself, I will be the first to tell you that I am not perfect, not even close. I mess up and make mistakes every single day. Pick a day and I’ve made some kind of blunder that day – one that God would not be pleased with. But I try and I’m still trying to act more like Him every day – and that is the goal.

I’ve heard it said too many times: God doesn’t want anything to do with me. OR I’m not good enough for God to want me.

Nothing could be further from the truth! The reason non-Christians feel this way is often because of their past or because they think they aren’t as good as Mr. Christian over there. And you know what? This is Satan trying to deceive YOU this time. Your measurement or comparison should never be with someone else, but instead, with only Christ.

God knows our frame. He knows that “all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is why Jesus came to earth to pay the price that sin demanded. He is the only perfect One and the only One who could have.

The truth is… Not one person on this earth – past, present, or future – can measure up to God or be worthy enough on their own (even one “tiny” sin disqualifies us).

The truth is… God has a plan and wants YOU – mistakes and all. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past. The question is… Do you want forgiveness? Do you really want to be loved by the God of the universe? Do you want a chance of becoming perfect? He has the solution.

The truth is… Christians and non-Christians alike sin every day, but God will forgive Christians and cover them in His righteousness. Christians are perfect but only because of and in Christ – He makes all the difference.

Clashing Views

In the one corner, we have the dominating heavyweight, while in the opposing corner the championed victor of times-past vying to reclaim his title once again….

Kickboxing is an extreme sport requiring intense preparation and focused attention of your opponent. Whoever wins the rounds and the match overall is the one who knew his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, prepared for the contest, and took advantage of strategic shots.

In our culture and society today, there are similarly two worldviews that are equally at such odds with each other. While people may be fighting about politics, racial injustices, discrimination, sanctity of life, definition of marriage, and the Middle-Eastern wars plaguing us, all of these issues are merely symptoms and expressions of a much larger battle that’s going on in our world today. While each of these topics is important, these things really boil down to two worldview differences that are starkly at odds with each other. Neither can co-exist happily with each other, and so clashing views and chaos continue between nations and between individuals and groups of people.

What are these worldviews, you ask?

Simply understood, they are….Evolution and Creation.

creation-vs-evolution-4On the one hand, the world began by chance and humans evolved into the dominate species on earth to make decisions as they see fit and developed their own equations of right and wrong. This worldview makes mankind the ultimate source of authority. Therefore, whatever we feel is right to do or whatever we agree we should do is right – in our own eyes. There really is no such thing as wrong unless we collectively deem it that way – and even then, our opinions and perspectives could change years later making what was once considered “wrong” now okay. In essence, “standards” in this worldview is a moving target that changes by the decisions of mankind, and whoever may have the greatest power or influence at that time.

On the other hand, the world began by the hand and voice of a great and wise Creator God who gave mankind rule over the world He designed and established. In this worldview, God is the author and the source of all authority. He is the One who established the standards of right and wrong, and our laws ought to be formed in line with His. Our lifestyles, behaviors, and decisions should be squarely structured in adherence to His statutes of right and wrong. In this worldview, our opinions are of little consideration as we accept His royal laws as our own. In this worldview model, “standards” are based on the laws and rules by a single source of authority – God – that does not change with the whims of mankind.

So which worldview is correct?

To answer this question, one must begin analyzing evidences about the beginnings of this earth. Scientists and professors are often cited as siding with Evolution as the method by which we gained our existence. But…did you know that not all scientists and professors believe this way and that they even have evidence to support Creation, evidence that may even be more convincing? The reality is that our world had to have come into existence in one of these ways, not both. Only one of these worldviews can be accurate – again, not both.

Why is that?

Well, the Bible clearly teaches that it was God who created the world in six 24-hour days and then rested on the seventh day. Evolution – whichever theory you choose – takes thousands to millions of years to progress through each phase. Some would argue that God created the world as we know it through the use of evolution, but that can neither be proven nor is compatible with the teachings of the Bible. Therefore, we are still left with only two contrasting possible methods by which the earth – all it contains and everything beyond it – developed into the life-sustaining environment it is today.

To prove or disprove one worldview or the other in a short article as this would not be possible. However, we will revisit these clashing views in future articles – and we must – because nearly every topic, law, moral principle, and personal decisions develop out of our belief system that finds its basis in one of these worldviews.

Which worldview do you believe is true and why?

Happy Independence Day!

July 4th is known for cookouts and grilling, summer activities, and – of course – fireworks!

Declaration of Independence article
Declaration of Independence

But what is the background of this historical holiday? Why do we even celebrate this day? I hazard to guess that many – so many – of our younger generations are quickly forgetting the sacrifices of the past and neglecting to fight for and preserve the freedoms of today. Our school systems have been evolving over the recent few decades to eliminate the historical beginnings of the United States. And they aren’t the only proponents in the demise of our legacy. We could throw into this mix our politicians and special interest groups too.

Independence Day is the day the Founding Fathers risked their wealth, families, freedoms, and their very lives to establish a new nation and sever all ties with England and its tyrannical King George III by signing a document known as the Declaration of Independence.

For what reason? There had long been disputes between the Thirteen Colonies and the King of England for his mistreatment and misconduct towards the settlers of this new land. Some of these were social injustices, while others were failing to meet the basic needs of the people and establishing laws that were blatantly unfair and burdensome. The freedoms, for which these patriots and their older generations had sought and come to the new world for, were now under attack; and the very thought of oppressive rule by England – from which they had fled for this reason – was no longer a life they were willing to endure.

Today, we find ourselves in a world where citizens are fighting each other over monuments, flags, the color of our skin, and ethnic backgrounds, when we are losing the freedoms prior generations have fought so bravely and selflessly to preserve. Instead of dividing over the things which we disagree, we should be uniting over those things we have in common. As Americans living in the United States, we are citizens who should be united with each other on the basis that we are Americans – people who have come from all corners of the world to form a new nation, a new culture and class of people.

Perhaps – on this Independence Day – we would do well to remind ourselves of WHY we celebrate this day. It’s not just another holiday. It is the birthday of the nation we live in and enjoy! It is a reminder that freedom is fought for, died for, and maintained by those who desire to preserve and keep it. Freedom is desired by all, given to none, and kept by only a few – and it can be lost quickly if we aren’t being diligent to protect it.

To all my fellow Americans, Happy Independence Day!

I encourage you to please take a few minutes today to re-read the Declaration of Independence by clicking here. You will be glad you did.

The Essence of Truth

Truth is a remarkable thing.

It can validate or correct. It can cause happiness or result in a broken soul/heart. It can create unity among a group of individuals or divide those who accept versus reject it. It might be hated or loved. And it might be obvious and known by all or you might need to search and hunt in order to find it, regardless it is always there.

Truth seems to be one of those things in life that takes a position where some may never venture yet is respected by those who recognize it. It encourages openness with everyone it comes in contact with and doesn’t disappoint the one who embraces it.

There are many in this world who seem to think that there are two types of truth – one for you and one for me. Or there are others who believe truth is relative to the situation of the moment. Both of these are far from being accurate.

Truth is absolute. It does not bend to the notions of man nor does it twist with a bias thought. Truth is – quite simply – truth. It has no care or concern for another’s feelings, what liberty may be benefited or infringed, or whose life it will destroy or honor.

Truth in its purest and rawest form simply states what is true.