Chris Dorner and The Cross

“7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”

– Isaiah 53:7-9 (ESV)

 

Let me start by saying that in no way do I condone or pardon any of the in humane acts that took place at the hands of Christopher Dorner. I believe Christopher Dorner received his due fate, which was written by his own actions.

With that said, I also do not condone the ignorant remarks being used to portray Dorner. If we take a step back, put our emotions to the side and look at the bigger picture that may be unfolding before our eyes, we may be able to reason with the pain Christopher Dorner was experiencing.

Sure, thousands of people have lost their jobs over the past year, some due to the economy, some due to corruption. However, I can say with a firsthand experience that the sting of being wrongfully terminated by the people who are supposed to be protectors of the innocent and upholders of truth, leaves a very painful sting!

Picture a man pulled over to the side of a road on a night that 95 percent of people are experiencing a routine night of traffic on the way home from a normal day at the office. Yet for this man the future of his family rests in the hands of men who are being presented with a blatant lie, charging an honest man who day in and day out protects the innocent and stands guard among a prison full of fugitives. For the man pulled over, a decision needs to be made, does he allow the legal system, which has proven to be faulty multiple times beforehand, make the final decision of the fate his and his families future? Or does he ensure the well being of his family by taking his own life? – Most of us read a story like this and feel sorry for the wrongfully accused officer and rightfully so! Being accused, charged and terminated because of the ignorance of others is a tough pill to swallow, ESPECIALLY when the ignorant are the police forces who are supposed to be preventing corruption and ignorance. 

Had Dorner taken his own life, as my dad once contemplated doing, after he was wrongfully terminated by our beloved state officials, the United States would be raging havoc and ridiculing the Los Angeles Police Department for their corrupt agency, as they have been criticized in the past. However, Dorner took a different route, a route that included seeking revenge and bringing more unwarranted sorrow to many families. Dorner made a HUGE mistake by seeking revenge and taking matters into his own hands, however the point is that this was the result of a bad decision of an individual who was treated wrongfully to begin with. 

My dad was one decision away from being Christopher Dorner, Christopher Dorner may have been one decision from taking his own life before ultimately going on a Rambo-esque rampage. The point is that SIN is dangerous and seeks to destroy!

If only I had the opportunity to speak to Christopher Dorner before his rampage, I might have been able to share some hope with him. Because you see there was in fact a situation very similar to the charges that were brought against my dad and Christopher Dorner. There was a man who was innocent on all accounts. A man whose life mission was to stand for truth, share love, fight for justice and bring people to life. Yet, was treated horribly. When asked to defend himself, he refused; when spit at, he did not lash out; when sentenced to death, he stood quiet “As a lamb led to the slaughter…” He bore the wrath of human injustice so that others may be free!

The man was Jesus, The Christ. A man who not been proven guilty before the judge, but yet was wrongfully terminated. Yet, this wrongful termination gives us the strength and courage to respond the same way to injustice. Had Dorner realized the sacrifice Jesus made, he may have chosen to react differently. He would have known that his name and reputation was already being preserved in Heaven, that his Father in Heaven would seek justice and have the last laugh. Had Dorner realized how desperate we all are for a Savior, he may have put the gun down, the same gun that my dad held to his head before realizing Jesus had already taken his place!

You see the public is quick to call Dorner a coward, just like the public was quick to call for the death of an innocent man, Jesus. Just like the public was quick to laugh at a man being whipped, tortured to his death, given vinegar as he begged for water. That public is the same public today who looks at a man who was wrongfully terminated and believes that death was the only fate for this man. Who calls Dorner a coward, after Dorner willingly risked his own life as an officer, who willingly enlisted as a Navy reserve… again his death was warranted and just, but was his death the solution to the problem or a band aid placed over a gash?

The gash is sin, the sin that leads to people being wrongfully terminated, the sin that leads to people making bad decisions that hurt other innocent people. The ONLY solution to this problem is for us as imperfect people to see our desperate need for a perfect Savior! Because at the end of the day the only way we can win the battle against ourselves is to kill it with a renewed spirit, a spirit and new life that is only attainable through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because the death penalty Jesus received is enough strength and encouragement to bear the injustice that comes our way and lead others to life, is through the bearing of our own injustice and looking to our Savior for rightful justice. 

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Blinders

24Put away from you crooked speech,

and put devious talk far from you.

25Let you eyes look directly forward,

and your gaze be straight before you.”

Proverbs 4:24-25 ESV

Let your eyes look directly forward. It is amazing what we can do when our eyes are constantly looking forward. Think about it, during a race, horses wear blinders and most of us may not even know why. However, horses wear blinders because the Jockey’s don’t want them to get distracted during the race. The horse is there to run its own course, not to worry about what the other horses are doing in the other lanes, that is the Jockey’s job. The Jockey is there to guide the horse, to tell him when to run faster, the Jockey is there to watch the other lanes and control the pace of the lanes.

I do not find it ironic that we, in life, are told to have the same perspective. It is stomach aching how many times we as believers get ourselves caught up in drama and/or gossip that does not involve us. We become so consumed with everyone else’s life that we lose focus of our own purpose in life. God has set us all in our own lane, to run the race he has set for us and he tells us the best way to pleasing him is to keep our eyes looking forward.

In this chapter the author is urging the readers to listen to the wisdom and insight he is providing, meaning God is urging us to listen to the wisdom he has provided to through his word. Yet we never seem to be satisfied with what God has to offer us, thus we always want what other people have or listen to what other people are saying, as if what they have to offer is more satisfying. In Proverbs 4 the flow is, listen to wisdom or beware of the dark path you may end up walking down. It’s amazing how quickly good Christians can take a turn for the worse by getting entangled in other peoples business, other peoples relationships, marriages, bank accounts and desires.

God has set us on this beautiful earth to worship him, to glorify him and run the race he has given to us. Paul tells us in his epistles that no soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits (2 Tim. 2:4) and he also tells us to press forward toward the upward goal for our life (Phil 3:14).

It is clear, God has set us on a path to bring him glory, to reflect his character, God has called us to run and let him do the guiding and protecting. Let God worry about what is going on around you today and trust in him to lead you on a path of righteousness.

True Christianity

True Christianity. It is far too common to find a “Christian” or should I say a “self-proclaimed” Christian nowadays. There are plenty of people in our country who label themselves as Christian. However, this is more of a defense from Catholicism, Mormonism and Jehovah Witnesses, than it is a statement of their beliefs. Dare I say a true Christian should approach their walk with Christ without the title.

When we label ourselves as Christians we put ourselves in a category, not that Christianity is a bad category to be apart of but the scary part is allowing the category to paralyze and separate us in a way that does not represent Christianity’s true beliefs.

Many self-proclaimed Christians do so to ostracize themselves from the religious talk that hovers around our society, you know the conversation you’re never supposed to bring up with friends and family because it might cause division. It is more a defense or deferral from accountability, resorting to the freedom of Christianity. A freedom from the Law of Moses for salvation, but is commonly used as a crutch to exercise a prodigal lifestyle. Which is a complete contradiction to the label of being a Christian.

A true Christian lives in a way that does not look for the easy way out, doesn’t look for the short cuts, doesn’t wait for somebody else to move, but takes the love and truth that Christ left for us and spreads it through actions and words, when needed. Christians in today’s society are more concerned with how other Christians will perceive them, rather than others seeing the image of Christ through them. When Christians worry about their own image, they begin walking in circles trying to clean up their own mess and reject the opportunities to preach the gospel and make disciples.

Christians become paralyzed by labeling themselves Christians by allowing the label to do all of the talking, “Why don’t you party?” answered with “Because I’m Christian.” Wow, that was a great example of spreading the Gospel, right? Wrong, while I am by no means stating that we should participate in such gatherings, we should have a stronger answer than simply stating the label of our beliefs. It was not until Acts 11, when Paul and Barnabas were labeled Christians to begin with. On top of that it was not a self-proclaimed label, but one that was given by the people based on their actions. James 2:26b (ESV) states that “…faith apart from works is dead.”

I strongly believe that our salvation is through faith alone, however this gift we have received should encourage and empower us as recipients of grace, to spread this message which provides freedom to all of those weighed down by the burdens of addiction, poverty and death. Jesus himself says in Matthew 16:19 that the message of the gospel has the power to loosen the chains of death and set people free in Christ. Yet we don’t act as if we hold this power, dare I say that we don’t want the responsibility that comes along with this power.
Christians today have become consumed with the pleasures of this world, rather than being obsessed with the world to come. Christianity today needs to consist of people not looking at one another’s weak spots, but rather picks up the slack for one another for the sake of the gospel. The joy, peace and hope we have in the world to come, the return to perfection and fullness of harmony, in being reunited with the creator. By unwarranted grace we were saved and made new, while there may be times when he/she feels unworthy of the gift that has been given to us. However, we best pay tribute to our savior by receiving this grace and reflecting His image for all to see.

Matthew 5:13-16
“13“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Embracing The Fire

Daniel 3:12-30 (ESV)

“There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.t But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.t But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,t their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set asidet the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”

As Christians, it is rather easy for others to see Christ in our lives when times are good. When our finances seem to be overflowing, there is no conflict with friends or family and it feels as if every decision is the right decision. Were constantly listening to worship music, were the loudest ones during worship at church, were tithe and give an offering that’s greater in monetary value than others and we are constantly telling others how much we love Jesus. We feel ready to lead the outreach ministry because there is a fire burning inside of us that we feel can never be put out.

Then we are thrown into a FIERY FURNACE. During this time are we still as vibrant and energetic? Do we continue telling people how much love Jesus or do we begin to condemn Him for our troubles? Nebuchadnezzar said that while the men were in the fire he was able to see a man that looked like the son of God. How amazing is that? During a time of fear and anguish, the persecutor was able to see Jesus in the lives of the men. Ask yourself a question, during times of persecution can others see Jesus in you?

Gold is put through fire to be refined or be made pure. As Christians, we need to be able to embrace the fires we go through and accept them as situations of purification. While the fire is extremely hot, there are two things we can be sure of, if we do not condemn HIM. 1) HE will be by our side and 2) When we make it out, we will be purified. It’s almost a natural instinct to beg for comfort during times of trouble, challenge yourself to TRUST IN THE LORD during your next journey through the FIREY FURNACE. When you embrace the Fire, Jesus embraces you! God Bless.

When Sin Stares You In The Eyes

Daniel (1:8-13 ESV)

“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

Daily we are faced with tough decisions, decisions that test our FAITH and BELIEFS. We live in a “Fallen World”, a world in which has become corrupted in almost every matter. The enemy has taken all the wonderful things God created and has found a way to pervert them. Whether it’s music, television, books, the way we think, see and speak, have all become victims to this DEADLY EPIDEMIC.

The fact is that the enemy will do whatever it takes to separate us from our RELATIONSHIP with God. It started in the garden of Eden and has gradually become worse. Any new technological advance, invention or new communication advancement that comes about, becomes corrupted before we have the opportunity to use it. The ability to SIN IS AT THE CLICK OF A BUTTON.

Daniel was faced with a situation many of us are faced with on a daily basis, he was living in a new land, under the control of a king who did not worship the same God as Daniel. However, Daniel was given favor by the Lord and was being honored for the Wisdom and Knowledge God had given him. He was being taken care of and then the enemy attempted to sneak in and separate his relationship with the Lord. Daniel was given the opportunity to eat a five course meal, or in our terms a Ruth Chris steak with all the sides he could scarf down, however Daniel knew the meat had been offered to idols and was not going to risk any form of separation from God. So he kindly denied the meat. The part that I love is the Chief Eunuch’s reaction. He was assured that if Daniel did not eat the same type of food as the others then he would not receive enough nutrition and would surely look different. I love this because that’s the same reaction we, as Christians, receive when we kindly say “No, thank you I don’t _____”, you can fill in the blank, drink, smoke, party, have sex out of wedlock. As Christians we always get the “crooked” eye from people when we choose to stick to God rather than give in to the perversion. Others give in to the temptation because they simply do not want to be looked at different, or as the Lord calls them “chaff, being tossed to and fro.”

What choice do we make daily with sin staring us in the eyes? Do we choose to avoid corruption and separation from God or do we choose to avoid separation from The World? Daniel chose to separate himself from the world for the sake of his personal relationship with God. My question to you today is, Are you willing to do the same? I know I am. God Bless.

One Way Street to Destruction

Ezekiel 6:3-7 (KJV)

“3And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God; Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places 4And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols 5And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars 6In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished 7And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”

When I was in the fifth grade I remember having a discussion with one of my friends about the reality of God. He was just as your common day atheist, with no substance to support his reasoning for there being no God. As our conversation began to escalate he ended the conversation by running to recess yelling “if God is real let Him strike me with a lightning bolt!”

I remember feeling sorry for a kid who was, at that time, my best friend. I had known him since kindergarten and I remember thinking that he was going to have a rude awakening one day. I didn’t think he would get hit by a lightning bolt but I knew God would get his attention someday. How exactly does this happen?

The passage above gives a description of one of the ways the Lord will grab our attention. He will take everything that holds your “so-called” happiness and cast it down. In those days it was altars, idols and images. In our day it’s bars, celebrities, homes, and finances. The world will run to a bar for a “quick pick me up”, reality television to feel better about their own lives, homes for stability and finances to buy whatever they believe will make them happy. These high places will never be able to hold the weight of the true joy that we long for.

Ever notice that when people begin to lose their homes and/or jobs they run to church. While they are definitely running to the right place, it doesn’t have to take situations like the Children of Israel were faced with to submit our lives to the Lord. As Matt. 6:20 reads, “lay up your treasures in Heaven”, because when your treasures are in heaven, so is your heart.

The Lord gets upset when your heart is stored in anything else but Him. So be forewarned, if your trust, happiness and/or stability is relying on anything other than God you are going down a one way path that leads to destruction. Rather than getting to a braking point, take the necessary steps to put God first in everything. God bless!

Follow The Leader

1 Peter 5:5-11

“5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

As humans we have the tendency to attempt to keep situations in control. If there is a problem we desperately seek for a solution assuming that it is within our own power to turn around certain situations. There are a variety of self help and do-it-yourself books that are accessible with the click of a button. As humans we are reluctant to look inward and find the root of the problem. We would rather cover the holes or wounds inside with a patch, rather than being transparent and having open heart surgery. The fact is that many of our actions stem from experiences we’ve faced throughout our lifetime and rather than presenting these situations and feelings to the Lord, we “bottle” them up deep inside of us. Then the harsh emotions that dwell inside of us begin to control all of our relationships and daily habits.

The scripture says to HUMBLE yourself before the Lord and cast your ANXIETIES (worries, stresses, etc.) before HIM, so that in the right time (due season, the time he has appointed for you) HE can life you up! When we become transparent and allow ourselves to be vulnerable before the Lord, we remove our hand from interfering with the work that GOD IS TRYING TO DO IN US.

Our Father in heaven sees our pain, worries and all other anxieties. He is also more than willing, capable and faithful to provide, we must first be willing to say “Father I can’t do it by myself.”.

There will be moments in our life when we are given a leadership role, whether it be in ministry, work, at home or whatever other setting you might be able to think of. This role does not mean that you are capable of doing the task all by yourself, but God is giving you some responsibility because He is confident YOU will rely on HIM! There are too many times in life when we attempt to be perfect and accept anything less as failure. Lean unto God and lay the anxieties before Him, so that He may exalt you in His perfect timing. God bless!