The “War on Christmas”- Almost Laughable!

I, like many, have been hearing a lot about this “war on Christmas” lately. It seems that for the past several years, this topic almost dominates the social and even political conversations that go on in our society. Everyone from the President of the United States to the fellas at the barber shop is talking about how there is a “war on Christmas”!

After searching though the search engines of the internet to see what might be being said about all of this, and you know that what is on the internet is always trustworthy, I found an enormous amount of political debate about the meaning of Christmas and what should and should not be acceptable forms of celebration during Christmas, often referred to know as the Winter Season or Winter Holidays.

Since I am a Christian and a Preacher, I suspect that most would expect this blog post to be the typical defense against the attack or “war on Christmas”. Well, I am quite sure that most will be disappointed by this post if that is the case.

The entire idea of a “war on Christmas” is almost laughable if you ask me. Especially when looked at from the perspective of the believer, those who call themselves Christian. The Christian is a person who is confident in the truth about Jesus being the Christ. The Christian is a person who is sold out to the absolute truth about the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary for the purpose of giving Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of all.

For the Christian, the responsibility and expectation given to them as disciples of Jesus is to show the World what God has done in your life. This is how the Christian is to be the witness. Many times in the accounts of the Bible when a person was healed they went everywhere telling everyone about what Jesus did for them! This is what it means to be the witness to the world for the Kingdom of God!

It is not the Christian’s responsibility to prove that God exists. It is not the Christian’s responsibility to prove that Jesus is the Christ. God does not need our proof. It was Jesus Himself that provided evidence to Saul on the road to Damascus.

It was Jesus all throughout the gospel of John that provided proof of His Lordship to the Pharisees and the rest of the Jews. It was God who raised Jesus from the dead and proved to the entirety of existence that He Is!

No, the Christian’s role in the Kingdom of God is to bring glory to the King! We do that by being faithful to what we believe about Him and His plan of salvation to all who likewise believe! Love God and Love people. That is what is to be focused on!

For the Christian, loving God is all about worshiping Him and serving Him as ambassadors! Part of that is taking time to stop and acknowledge that thousands of years ago, a baby was born as a fulfillment of God’s promises! Acknowledging that without this baby, who was God in the flesh, there is no hope for humanity as far as any relationship with our Holy God!

Too many of us are spending all of our time trying to force others who are not believers to accept our ways or traditions at Christmas. I mean, really! Look at Daniel for example; here is a man who was taken from his home, culture, and even an attempt to change his religion/faith was attempted.

Did he put out a bunch of news flyers about a “war on Christianity”? No! He simply continued to be faithful to what he believed about his God. Sure, he was ready to “defend” his actions, although I would look at that as being prepared to give reason for your beliefs!

Where did this idea of a “war on Christmas” begin anyway. Surely the rest of the world is experiencing the same type of social and cultural debates about Christmas and even Christianity. Let me suggest that what is now called the “war on Christmas” is indeed the same as what is referred to as “the war on Christianity”. This has been happening since Adam and Eve were lied to and gave into temptation!

The enemy, Satan NOT PEOPLE, has always been trying to destroy God and the ones that He loves! A few headlines in the news are saying that Donald Trump is winning the war on Christmas, and that we are once again allowed to say “Merry Christmas”. Other articles and blogs show that Henry Ford began a campaign against Christmas in defense of Jewish and other religious holidays being left out back in the 50’s.

As long as we are pointing fingers, why don’t we say that the “war on Christmas” was started by King Herod during the time of Jesus’ birth found in Matthew chapter 2. Or we could blame the King of Egypt who sought to kill all the male babies which, had he been successful, been the end of God’s plan of salvation!

As long as we are blaming, we would have to look at every person who stood in the way of or tried to stand in the way of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus! This is why I say that this so-called “war on Christmas” is laughable. What is happening in society today is nothing new! God’s true enemies have been trying to stop His plans since the beginning of the world! It is a hopeless pursuit on their part.

Let me finish by pointing this out. The only real war that is going on is the war against the faith of human beings. The battle field is in the minds of each person, and the heart/soul be the spoils to the victor!

Therefore, Christian, do not be fooled by the ways of the world as those ways broadcast some absurd propaganda intended to lead everyone to believe that any one person or group of people have the power to change any part of the absolute truth about Christ! NO! Christmas and your celebration of it, is totally up to you!

Our President, the President of the USA, can publicly give society permission to say “Merry Christmas” or some other person which the world gives authority can instruct society NOT to say, “Merry Christmas”. It will not change how I celebrate Christmas.

I personally do not hold ill feelings toward anyone who does not believe what I believe about God. Nor am I offended by anyone who even protests my faith. No, I feel compassion and concern for them. No, it is not that I have no concern about others being offended by my actions, yet when it comes to how I and my household love God and love people, yes, there is a limit to my participation in the manners in which society seems to demand of all of us.

“If it is disagreeable in you sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will sere: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”                                Joshua 24:15

Christian, do not let the world dictate what you are about at Christmas or any other time. The only way to truly have a Merry Christmas is to love God and love people in a way that honors God and brings glory to the Kingdom of God!

To Give or Not to Give- That is a Good Question

 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35 (NASB)

Often times in bible studies and just casual conversation, I hear people bring up the topic of discerning when to give to those who ask. Usually this question refers to those who are seen on the street holding the cardboard sign which is intended to explain their situation. Other times, people will call or arrive at the church office wanting some assistance with something.

I personally believe that this “dilemma” is born out of a torn heart. Many Christians genuinely want to help those in need. I mean, if we are genuine Christians, then it would be in our hearts to show love and compassion for the needy. On the other hand, Christians are people and people don’t like to be taken advantage of. When it does happen, and it seems to happen often, it king of leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

Some respond by cutting off all benevolence to anyone, after all that would only be fair and safe, right? Others take the attitude that they will just give what they can always, leaving the receiver in God’s hands. Many leadership meetings at churches have been spent discussing this matter. Ultimately, churches and Christians alike really want to help those in need and minister to them, yet at the same time do not wish to be taken advantage of and allow some to steal from them.

As I address this issue, let me make it clear that I personally to not have a concrete, “this is what to do” answer. What follows is just my two cents. I pray that it is helpful.

First, we see in John 13:35, among many other places in Scripture that the Christian is one who loves others. In fact, that is how we are to be distinguished from the rest of the world. Jesus even taught that we are to love God and love others. I will submit that loving God and loving others is not something that the Christian strives to get better at and achieve, rather it is what is in us. It is who we are.

The Christian is one whom in the Holy Spirit has taken up residence. Even though the trinity cannot be explained completely, we can know that the three are one. Therefore, since God is love,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.     1 John 4:7-8  (NASB)

and the Spirit of God is God, then we can conclude that love is in the believer. This is why the Christian has this “dilemma” in our hearts when it comes to showing love and compassion to those who present themselves in need. I think that the first point of focus would be with self. We Christians would do good to ask ourselves, who is making the decision as to whether or not a person is genuinely in need or not?

The question that we usually ask ourselves almost immediately is, does this person really need help? Or, is this person being honest, or are they just making up a story to get the help they are asking about? My not so favorite one that some have asked is, how do I know they won’t go buy drugs or alcohol with what I give them?

To 99% of the people in the world, it seems that those questions are legitimate questions. However, for the Christian, we must remember that since the Spirit of God is living in us, our approach may be different. I am not saying that it is wrong to think about those questions, however, I am saying that they should not be out guide to reach the conclusion to the “dilemma”.

Second point. I do not think that the Christian is “obligated” to give to everyone who presents a need. The scripture is clear that we are to help others when we have opportunity and the means. Along with that, I will submit that the Christian has a responsibility to be good stewards of that which God has entrusted in their care.

I do not believe that God desires for the Christian to be taken advantage of. Nor do I believe that God desires the Christian to be taken for a fool. After all, we are ambassadors for the Kingdom of God to this world. We must look at benevolence of any kind as an investment. An investment in the work of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus taught a lesson using a parable about a wealthy man leaving his wealth in the care of three men. Each having the same responsibility. Two were successful, the other failed. The two that succeeded increased the wealth of the Kingdom because they feared their master and thought to do what he would want them to do. The third, on the other hand, was more afraid of failure than the master. He did what he thought was best and did not consider what the master would have him do.

The same is true here for the Christian. The Master, our Lord, has given us His valuables. We have the responsibility to be stewards of that wealth. That wealth, by the way, is His love, the gospel of Christ, Salvation. This should lead us to the question, why does the scripture teach us to give when we can give?

I often try to insert into those conversations about this matter the answer to that question. At least what I believe to be the answer. It is two-fold really. First, but not foremost, the scripture teaches us to give because that is what love is. If love resides in a person, then compassion will rise to the surface. Second, and foremost, the scripture tells us to give because of John 13:35. The world will know the Christian because of the way we love.

As far as knowing when not to give or be taken advantage of. I often think about Acts chapter 3.

“But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”               Acts 3:6 (NASB)

Here Peter and John were presented with a man in need. It so happened that this man had a genuine need. However, they did not give the man what he asked for. Instead, they invested in the Kingdom of God by giving him what was most valuable. The result was that the crippled man encountered God and the world around them was impacted greatly by the witness! If you don’t believe me, go read it for yourself.

The point that I am getting at here is this. There are times to give and there are times not to give, that is when it comes to the things of this world. When it comes to giving the love of God, there is never a time not to give. For the Christian, the key is to seek guidance from the Master. “What would Jesus do?” even though that has become a cliché, it still rings true.

The letter to the Galatians instructs us to keep in step with the Spirit. That means that we are not making the decisions. I know, that is hard to accept, but it is the way the Master set in place. The Holy Spirit will guide us away from poor investments with the Master’s wealth, and make us aware of the good investment opportunities for the Kingdom of God.

I hope I have explained this well enough that you all can see that it is a matter of making disciples in everything we do. We help the needy in hopes that they will encounter God and His Kingdom, whether they are Christians or not. We help the Christians who are in need for the purpose of getting them back in the Kingdom work force, and we help those who are not Christians for the purpose of exposing them to the love of God! So, we must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit when it comes to helping the needy in this world.

Oh, one last thing. God does not expect nor desire anyone to become needy for the sake of helping those in need. Give what you can, when you can. If you have not the means, seek the Lord for other ways to help. Peter and John told the crippled man, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give you.” Acts 3:6. If we genuinely have the Spirit of God living in us, then we always have something to give.

We should offer that whether it is received or not.

 

The Spirit of Christmas- is it really in the air?

““The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭1:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Over the generations that Christmas has been celebrated, many times the “Spirit of Christmas” has been mentioned, talked about, or even taught about. There have been stories and books written, even movies made about the “Spirit of Christmas”.

The question might be, what is the “Spirit of Christmas”? Furthermore, is it the same for everyone or is it something that means something different for every individual? I think you will find that there are many answers offered and opinions given, whether called for or not.

Since I am a Christian, it should be obvious that my answer to the general question would be that the “Spirit of Christmas” has to do with the presence of Jesus. After all, Matthew’s gospel points out that they called Him Immanuel, which means “God with us”. The presence of God is what every Christian should be experiencing even when it is not Christmas. For those who are not Christians, well let me just point out that God’s presence is always there, one only need to surrender to Him.

““Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We can see in the gospel of Luke as the Angels spoke to the Shepherds about the birth of Jesus. Notice that they are promised that on earth there will be peace to those on whom his favor rests. It is kind of an amazing thing to notice. The peace of Christ being given to those who will notice it. Those who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that His death and resurrection were sufficient for the sins of man!

If asked, there are not many people in this world who would say that they do not want peace. Since Christmas is about the birth of Jesus in the flesh, it makes sense that there would be a keen awareness of His peace or His Holy Spirit during the time of celebrating His birth. After all, it marked the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise in chapter 3 of Genesis.

It seems that during Christmas time, after Black Friday, and the hustle and bustle of what the season has become in our society, on Christmas Day, everything seems to slow down. Most everything is closed up, many people are in their homes with their families and nothing else is happening but Christmas fellowship and eating stuff.

It is no wonder that many people feel an extra strong sense of the “Spirit of Christmas”! That Spirit of Christmas is simply the peace of Christ and the comfort in knowing that indeed there is a Savior provided by God! Only if we all could be so attentive to that Spirit those other 364 days of the year!

Now, I realize that not everyone believes what I believe to be the truth about Jesus and Christmas. I realize that Christmas for those, has some other meaning. I cannot possibly fathom what that could be or that it would have any real meaning for them. However, this is the case for many. I will say, the fact that there are people who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ and do not celebrate Christmas for what it truly is about, does not change the truth about God or Jesus born in the flesh. It certainly does not change the presence of God and His Kingdom in this world.

Maybe, the truth of the matter is that people all over the world are experiencing the presence of God , or the “Spirit of Christmas”, in a powerful way during the Christmas time, some realizing that it is God’s Holy Spirit and others completely oblivious or rejecting the truth. Either way, for the Christian, it is one of the best times to let the light of Christ shine brightly in our lives! After all, what a better time to be the witness than the time when many people are noticing what is referred to as the “Spirit of Christmas”!

Merry Christmas ya’ll!

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Black Friday and Christianity- Can They Go Together?

Every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, retail stores begin their Christmas sales. They are offering low prices for all of the things that most likely will be on everyone’s list. Resulting in mobs of people waiting hours outside the stores, sometimes in freezing cold or rainy weather.

Once the doors open at midnight, it is on! The mad rush of the mob is unleashed and it is every man or woman for themselves. This is madness as its peak in some places. People acting in ways that they would never even think of acting any other time of the year.

Women staying up through the night, not even painting the barn (putting on makeup). From store to store, checking off items from their lists as they go. Filling one cart and tying it to a second in order to continue taking advantage of the great deals that are offered. All so that their families can have the best Christmas ever!

As I am typing out this blog, I myself am thinking about some things I want to buy. I myself prefer to do most of my shopping online. Especially on Black Friday. But that is just me. Others may see it as a time to share in an experience with a family member or maybe be able to afford some things that otherwise would not be able to.

As with everything, there are pros and cons. But the question I present here is, is Black Friday for the Christian? Can a Christian take advantage of the sales and at the same time, refrain from some of the aggressive, selfish, mean, and more than competitive activities that go on over some of the items in the stores?

As I stated before, Black Friday shopping is not my thing. However, that does not mean that that is my answer to the question at hand. The way I see it, if a Christian can stand in line in the cold, race around each store, stay up all throughout the night, max out credit cards or spend the entire Christmas budget, and still donate to Fill The Boot when the fire department is standing at the traffic light raising money for Muscular Dystrophy. Then by all means, knock yourself out! Not literally.

The Christian must keep in mind that at all times, the Spirit of God is to be our guide and we are to keep in step with the spirit. In all things we do, we must be led by the Spirit to present a proper witness for the Kingdom of God, even when there is only one ipad pro left on the shelf and 37 people are reaching for it at the same time.

How does the Christian maintain the proper witness in that situation? I don’t know, as I said before, I do not go to the stores on Black Friday. This is why we must be led by the Spirit. Some might ask themselves, “what would Jesus do?”. To answer that question, we would have to answer the  question as to whether or not Jesus would participate in Black Friday shopping.

I will say however, that the Christian cannot simply disconnect from living in this world. Part of Jesus’ prayer in chapter 17 is that God will spare us from the evil in this world. Not that we would be removed from this world. Therefore we must keep in step with the Spirit!

I personally do not see scripture condemn shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving day. Nor do I see any scripture forbidding us from taking advantage of sales and being wise about spending the money provided by the Lord. Yet, I will leave you with this portion of scripture which I hope will be helpful as the season goes on;

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is  not in them. For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 

1 John 2:15-17

 

Faith Beyond the USA

Each time I write about topics involving the United States of America, I feel it necessary to begin with sort of a disclaimer about myself as a citizen United States of America. I will say that I am a citizen because I happened to be born in Lamar County Alabama.

49C6A344-E574-4A09-8B4C-CF96122B1515Having grown up in the USA, I am proud to be a part of this great nation. Since 1971, I have experienced many freedoms and been allowed many rights that many others do not receive around the world. I love my country and believe I would die for it if need be.

When I write thoughts for this blog, they are intended to be those that offer words from a Christian worldview. Realizing that not all of my fellow citizens hold to the same faith or values, I do not hold anything against those who disagree with me. There are many issues in our world today as well as right here in the USA.

Times, from my perspective, are sometimes scary or concerning in terms of the future. I wonder about my son and his future or his children, should he have any. What will these United States be for them. I am certain that things will not be the way they were for me. Time has a way of changing everything.

Sure, there have always been battles, political, moral, religious, and social. In the middle of it all, I cannot help but think about the fact that their has never been a nation, kingdom which has lasted. What I mean is that all great nations and kingdoms eventually met their end over time. Will that be true for the United States of America?

Not too long ago, I would have adamantly said, NO, it’s not possible! It would never have been possible, in my mind, that the USA would not exist with all it’s greatness and freedoms it affords it’s citizens. And then, 09/11.

It seems that everything changed after the attack on that date, 09/11. Suddenly, there was a glimpse of vulnerability here. Don’t get me wrong, I still think we are a powerful nation and it would take a great force or forces to change that, if even possible without ending the world all together. No, I am much more concerned about “self destruction”.

Many things have happened over the years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The latest world event that causes these concerns is the thousands of people who are walking toward the southern border of the United States with the intent to simply walk into this country without regard to any laws or respect for our fellow citizens. All the while waving flags representing their native country.

Whether or not this news event is really happening the way it is being reported or even happening at all, it still causes me to ponder. Without getting into the details about that situation, I will point out that it does create quite a moral dilemma for some. Sparking debates across the nation and even the world.

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Photo: Fox News

A person in our church asked me what my thoughts were about what should be done about the matter.

Should the USA protect our border from invasion? Should we consider the people who are in the group which is coming? What is right and what is wrong? The truth is, being an American and a Christian comes with great challenges. Not that Christians from other parts of the world do not have their own challenges.

For the American Christian, it would seem that there is a real moral dilemma at hand. But when pondered on and prayed about, it really is not that difficult to sort through. The USA is my home. What would most people do if people came into their home uninvited? My answer to what I believe is the right thing to do for the American, as well as the Christian can be found in a prior blog post, “Violence and the Kingdom of God”. 

I brought all of this up because I really think it is important for every Christian who is a citizen of the United States of America to think about the possibility that the nation could one day be no more.

God forbid this should ever happen, but the question should be, what does it mean fo the Christian if it does? Will it change your faith? Would your relationship with God be any different? Does your Christianity depend on your citizenship in the USA? Will God be you God with or without these “United” States of America?

The fact is that most people do not think about how the world changes and how it might affect who we are in Christ. Most people go about their day expecting that their world will be the same as it was yesterday, after all, it is what we believe that we “deserve” right?

All the while, there are those in the world that would just as soon destroy this nation along with those who are standing guard against our enemies, here and around the world that keep our freedoms intact.

The reality is this. There are many great people who are what we call decent. Not all are Chrisians by the way. There are also many people who are not nice, rather wicked and evil in fact. People will not be forced into peace! The very thought of that is absurd.

No, if there is to be peace, it must be chosen by all. This is why God does not force anyone to accept His love. Forced love is not love.

”Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NASB

That scripture reference in Colossians is mainly speaking to the believers and how they are to live at peace with one another. However, Paul gave instruction to those in Rome;

”If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Romans 12:18 NASB

The point being with this entire post is that being a Christian ought to be the first priority. Yes, being a citizen of the United States of America has it’s responsibilities, but the Kingdom of God is greater!

Yet at times, we seem more concerned with protecting this great United States of America than protecting and standing firm in the Kingdom of God. Can we do both? Yes.

Are we doing both? I’ll let you answer that.

Same World, Same Conflicts, Same God!

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ” Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, Then turning toward the north, The wind continues swirling along; And on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, There they flow again. All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one might say, “See this, it is new”? Already it has existed for ages Which were before us. There is no remembrance of earlier things; And also of the later things which will occur, There will be for them no remembrance Among those who will come later still.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:1-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Never forget who you are. Wise advice given by many who have been around the block more times than others. Over the years, or generations, cultures change as well as political and social atmosphere. Yet as was found stated in the 1st chapter of Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

Indeed, life may not be the same as it was yesterday, last year, or in our early days, but this is the way the sand flows through the hour glass. I too have found myself looking at the world and the events in it with great concern,sorrow and even anger at times. Regardless of my own personal worldview, beliefs, and political stance which all contribute to my own reaction. Which by the way is true for everyone.

The core of the problem is that people, all created equally by God, simply cannot find peace among ourselves. It seems that every people group, nationality, religion, political party, and even individual have some feeling of oppression, or persecution from most of the rest of the world. We scream out our complaints throughout social media until they pour out into our homes, workplaces and community streets. This goes on and on until we get distracted by the next offense or wrong doing against us.

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In the middle of it all, we all are fighting for the freedom to be who we are. Sometimes the problem is that most of us have forgotten, or at least from time to time forget, who we really are. For example, I just read an article titled: “Even ‘Sons of Belial’ Can be Saved” written by Christian Post Columnist Rev. Mark H. Creech. I will quote this article as follows;

Antifa (Anti-fascist) are the very opposite of what they claim. They are the fascists – radical authoritarians characterized by despotism. These groups are like the “sons of Belial” described in the Old Testament, a phrase used for characterizing worthless, wicked, lawless, godless, idolatrous persons. They speak out against hate but personify it in their words and actions. They argue for equality, but marginalize, silence, and persecute anyone who differs with them. They are “scoffers,” hardened and at ease with their sin. God is not a part of their thinking. They believe his sovereignty is a kind of slavery from which to be freed.”

The statements made by Creech in this article some will agree with and others will not. I share this article to show that people often begin with a passion for what they believe and associate themselves with a mission accordingly, only to become something different.

I am using Rev. Creech’s comments to point out Antifa as one example out of all the many. The entire article is about that group and how they are not presenting themselves according to who they say they are. This is the point of my quoting him in this blog post.

No one, or group of people, have ever been able to truly stick to who they present themselves to be, not 100% of the time. No, not even the church! From Adam and Eve to Abraham and all throughout the New Testament accounts of the church there have been failure after failure when it comes to presenting who we are in Christ.

That is not to say that the Body of Christ has failed, I am simply pointing out that people fail from time to time. Every kind of people in every generation, nothing is new under the sun!

All of this to bring me to this point. The question must be for all of us is how do we do a better job at being faithful to who we are? Christian or not, this is the question we should all ask. However, since I am a Christian, I can only answer for myself and offer advise to other Christians who may believe the way I do.

I have recently started teaching through the book of Acts at the church. Although we are only in the 4th chapter at the moment, one major theme has demanded the attention of my mind and heart. As I study these people, who filled with the Holy Spirit, begin to function in their world in a way that they never had before, I am convicted as always.

These people, Peter and John as well as others, actually lived what they believed. Not because they tried real hard, but because they believed and submitted themselves to the Holy Spirit, they were able to BE the Kingdom of God in their world which was not unlike the wold we live in today.

Chapter 4 of Acts stands out at this moment due to the reaction of Peter and John as they are confronted by the powers that could have them thrown in jail and possibly killed. Yet they were bold as lions and wise as serpents when preaching Christ even to those who hated them the most! They did not stand firm in who they were, they stood firm in who Christ was and still is!

Sometimes, those of us who believe what Peter and John believed forget what they preached. Many times we find ourselves engaged with the rest of the world in an effort to prove that what we believe about Jesus is true and that what we believe is right. When  that is not at all who we are in Christ! When this happens, we surely have forgotten where we started.

We find ourselves in the same shoes as the likes of, to use Rev. Creech’s example, “Antifa”. What we present to the world is not at all who we believe we are, or are supposed to be! The sad part of it all is that who ever is guilty of this, usually cannot or will not see it as truth about themselves.

Rev. Creech’s article is simply making the point that was made by Peter and John in chapter 4 of Acts. Jesus died for all. Every person we come in contact with is who we are to somehow “preach” to. Even those who are given over to the ways of the world. Especially those who are given to the ways of the world! The key is to remember that Peter and John, and the others, did so while filled with the Holy Spirit!

When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?””

“But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.””
‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:7, 19-20‬ ‭NASB‬‬

That is who the Christian is. According to our faith, we are those who are saved by grace. Filled with the Holy Spirit with a task of sharing the Kingdom of God with the world. When we are true to that, we then can be guilty of allowing the Holy Spirit do great things in the world!

What the Preacher Learned After Becoming a Police Officer

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority:whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

1 Peter 2:13-17

I have been Preaching now for over 10 years. The early years of my life were spent like everyone else, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I had done everything from bagging groceries, back when employees did that for you, to working in factories, warehouses, construction, and even driving tractor trailers.

Officer A.L. Gilmer
Chaplain/Officer A.L. Gilmer WPD

After getting into full time mission work, youth ministry, prison ministry, men’s ministry, and various other aspects of ministry, I found myself in Eastern North Carolina as the Preacher of a church in Martin County. After a few years there, I found opportunities to volunteer as Chaplain for the local Police Department. I had already been involved with the local fire department so this seemed to just fit in with my desire to be connected with the community.

Most people who know me well, will acknowledge that I am a person who rarely will do things the way most people would do things. This would prove to be true even in this case. I mentioned that I learned some things along the way in life, and in the ministry opportunities I had experienced. One of those lessons is that it is impossible to minister to people if you do not know them or understand what is happening in their lives.

So in this case, I decided that if I am to be the Chaplain of the Police Department, as well as the Fire Department, I needed to know what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. Most importantly, I wanted to know the effects of all of those things on them and their families. The only way to do this was for me to become a cop!

To make a long story short, and get to the point of this blog post, I enrolled in the B.L.E.T. (basic law enforcement training) program at Pitt Community College, I was an over 40 male in a class with 30 some 20 something men and women. After about 4 months, a lot of hard physical work, sleepless days, and awesome support from classmates, I was sworn in as a Police Officer with Williamston Police Department. 

Just like every other officer, I went through field training and then began filling in shifts when needed for the department. I did not work full-time, I simply volunteered my time so that I could stay committed to my duties as the Preacher for the church. By doing this I found myself smack in the middle of the lives of some of those who protect the public from harm day and night!

It was not what I expected, however it was challenging and exciting and stressful at times. Not only do I get to contribute to helping these officers when they are doing their almost impossible jobs, but I also get to help the community in a way that I never could before. To top it all off, I often found myself being able to talk with the officers in the county and be available as the Chaplain. Which was the main goal in the first place. 

So what did I learn after becoming a police officer? Well, out all the many things I learned about people, Law Enforcement, and myself, the one thing that stands out quite often is what we were warned about during the first day of B.L.E.T. class.

“You will lose friend, and people will look at you different.” That is what we were told by our instructors about becoming police officers. At first I did not believe it. But after I was sworn in and especially after people saw me wearing the police uniform, I found that it was true. It could not be ignored.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, looked at me in a different light. I do not believe that I “lost all my friends” but everyone treated me differently. Most of the time in what seemed to be a negative way. Most, do not even realize that they are doing it. Some do.

What I had not noticed so much until then was that this same thing was true after I was ordained to become a Preacher. Especially after I accepted a position with the actual title “Preacher”! Even then, everyone I knew suddenly had a different perspective about who I am, and it showed in how they behaved around me. 

Officer Gilmer
Chaplain/Officer A.L. Gilmer WPD

I have found so many similarities in being a Police Officer and being a Preacher. To give you a short list; There are times when everyone loves the Police. The same is true for the Preacher. There are times when everyone hates the Police. The same is true for the Preacher.

Everyone wants to say they are friends with the Police. The same is true for the Preacher. Nobody wants the Police invited to their parties. The same is true for the Preacher. The Police officer has one of the most stressful, disrespected, thankless and in the trenches dirty jobs. The same is true for the Preacher.

When society as a whole feels happy and safe, the Police Officer is praised and celebrated. The same is true for the Preacher. When the Police Officer does his/her job and exercises authority, the offender resists and fights back. The same is true for the Preacher. The fact is that there are good and bad Police Officers. The same is true for the Preachers. 

So what this Preacher has learned by becoming a Police Officer is that people have a deeply rooted problem with authority! We have had it since Adam and Eve, and we always will. That is why we need God’s solution, Jesus on the cross. 

Oh, one last thing I have learned that Police Officers and Preachers have in common, they both get up everyday and prepare to do it all over again, regardless of how the day before went. Because it is who they are! 

God’s Speed.