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. 

The Result of Faith is Always VICTORY!

“What too many athletes fail to mention…. ‘My hard work, conditioning and practicing is what got me here’” – An unmentioned Facebook friend.

To be quite honest, when I first read this quote I was baffled, even angered, if I may. The ignorance to me was astonishing. However, I quickly found myself in a state of remorse, not because the thought disagreed with my perspective or because it ridiculed a professional athlete who was not ashamed to give God glory after a hard fought victory in the second biggest football game of that players’ season. No, I was saddened because in a country and world TEAMWORK and HUMILITY is promoted, someone was annoyed enough by the glorification of Jesus that he would rather have heard Ray Lewis talk about himself and boast about his own work ethic rather than, in humility, give glory to God.

You see, Ray Lewis is not an average athlete by any stretch of the means. He’s one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the sport of football and he is also one of, if not the hardest working athlete in all of sports and Ray Lewis knows this about himself as well. Yet what Ray Lewis also knows is that he did not create himself and he also knows that the Patriots, who lost to the Ravens on Sunday for a chance to play in the Super Bowl, worked just hard, conditioned just as hard and practiced just as hard if not harder than his team. Ray Lewis knows this because it was just a year ago that his team was on the losing side of the same game to the same team, and after that loss Lewis didn’t hang his head, he didn’t say he should have worked harder, because he knows how hard he works on a daily basis. The message he delivered to his team after a heart breaking loss was this “God doesn’t make mistakes…we did what we were supposed to do, we played hard, we fought hard and we played as a team…God is going to bring us back here next year, so it is our responsibility to put in the work.” In a game that the Ravens lost due to a missed field goal, Ray Lewis knew the only reason they lost was because that was the way God drew it up. Not because they were outworked, out coached, out smarted or out conditioned; simply because the Creator and Life giver had a different plan. Lewis knew they had VICTORY whether the score board showed it or not, according to Lewis they did what they were supposed to do, they played like a team in unity and because of it they would be stronger the following year.

Ray Lewis knows how hard it is for a team to make it through the regular football season and knows that no matter how much or how hard a team works, there’s the little things, known as the intangibles, that teams must get to go their way. These aren’t skills, nor are they necessarily things that can be practiced throughout the week. So while 90 percent of athletic competitions are based on preparation and skill, there is 10 percent where faith must be applied. Ask Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith if it was his work ethic and conditioning that provided him the strength to play in a Monday night game earlier this season shortly after he received word that his brother had died. He will tell you it was God and God alone.

Because while we are natural beings who can produce natural strength, endurance and knowledge; we are also spiritual beings. The first chapter of the book of Genesis in verse 26 we read that though we were created out of dirt (Genesis 2:7), life was breathed into us by the Creator, God Almighty. Therefore, life does not exist without the breath God gives us; there is no strength, endurance, knowledge or skill, without the breath of God.

Therefore, I was saddened to hear such a remark that reveals the true state of our country. In a season when the leader of the country promotes hope and equality, we beg for arrogance and self-centeredness. We long to hear others talk about their own work and how decorated they are by their own achievements, on a day when even the president urges the nation to promote others rather than themselves, our world proves to be tainted by sin which produces pride, arrogance and ignorance.
Therefore, when we have the privilege of hearing an athlete humble himself and give glory where glory is due, we should rejoice! For the TRUTH is that without the breath of Life, which comes from the Living God, we are nothing! Literally!

What’s Your Reward?

 1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

– Matt. 6:1-8

 

What is that we seek? Do we seek the approval and/or recognition of men? Or do we seek to be acknowledged by Christ?

Most “Good Christians” who know the lingo and have bought the t-shirt would answer with the latter, without even acknowledging that by answering with latter they are seeking the former. In other words with our attempt to seek attention from Christ we really seek the attention of people but give it a cute cover by saying we are seeking the acknowledgment of Christ, as if He doesn’t already KNOW US.

Truly an epidemic across the globe, too many Christians who in their fleshy longing of acceptance put their trust in works, rather than the work that has already been completed. Don’t get me wrong, we as Christians should act out our faith, I also strongly believe that we should not hide our faith and should be vocal. However, it is also apparent that the case my be at times that Christians become defeated or lose motivation when the acknowledgement does not proceed the deeds.

You see giving and all the other charitable works we do as the body of Christ are great, but is it possible that in doing good we lose focus of why we are doing these things? I believe that in the scripture Jesus hits on some key points, that if we are not careful, we can easily overlook. He who gives to be acknowledged, speaks to be heard, and prays to be honored among men have already received their reward. Yet most people who do so are not content with this reward, because the reward they say they are seeking is that which only the Father can give, but yet when only the Father is looking, they become defeated.

It is no secret that perseverance is one of the seven things the Apostle Peter mentions for the blueprint on living a fruitful life.

The Christian life is a matter of repentance, justification and sanctification. Acknowledging that we are broken, accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, being brought back into relationship with God and caring our Cross to spread the Gospel. Therefore the works we do are simply the cross we bare, our rightful duty as being heirs of the Kingdom of God. If we seek to do such works, it should be for the Kingdom of God, to spread the Gospel and see lives be changed. Not so our Pastor or leaders can see us, not so we can be given a promotion in church ministry and not so others can perceive us as being “Holy”.

The thought stated that those who seek acknowledgment from Christ is equivalent to seeking acknowledgment from men, is stated because Christ already knows us. He created us, to think that we can catch His attention is frankly denying that He is who He says He is, which is all-knowing.

Christ died for us, so that we can know Him. To think that we can grasp God’s attention through our charity is backwards. Christ has been there and done that, He’s is the CEO of all charities established, because He laid the framework of charity, by caring the cross to Calvary, so that you and I can KNOW HIM.

Guys, do charity and do good, because what Christ has done for you is good. Not because you want more blessings, honor and/or rewards on earth, but simply because YOU KNOW CHRIST.

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.”

I Have A…. Vision?

Ezekiel 1:1-3 (ESV)

“1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2 On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, 3 the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.”

There are times when people feel led to do certain things, some have good reasons, some have selfish reasons, others say they have no reason and then there are those who do things and make decisions for Godly reasons. Well what is a Godly reason? A Godly reason is when God speaks yo you, through visions (as we see in the passage above), through His Word (Bible), and prayer (meditation). When He does speak He will confirm and continue to tug at your spirit.

Then the devil creeps in and attempts to keep you from following the vision God has given you. We begin to doubt and second guess our decisions. We ask God for another sign or vision. Then He follows through a second time and we continue to doubt. However, as we see here with Ezekiel, he was receiving visions from God and then the Lord speaks to us, through the scripture to sure up our doubt. The scriptures say, that the HAND OF THE LORD WAS UPON HIM. It does not get any clearer than that. Ezekiel was receiving vision, direction, instruction, whichever allows you to understand best and the hand of the Lord was upon Him.

Whenever the Lord sends you into a certain direction or gives you a specific vision, there is no need to doubt or second guess, because when the Lord speaks to you, HIS HAND IS WITH YOU. Therefore, there is no need to fear, because when HIS hand is with you HE will provide the resources and equip us with everything we need and more! Walk with your God given confidence today, trusting that God will provide the rest! God bless.

Don’t Tell Me What To Do

Jeremiah 3:7-8 (ESV)

” 7And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.”

Learn from other peoples mistakes, is one of the most infamous life virtues. It’s a saying told to us during our childhood by our parents, grandparents, and school teachers. It is a saying a I remember hearing many times from my high school U.S. History teacher, “if the U.S. would’ve learned from their previous mistakes we could have avoided this war. What I didn’t know growing up as a child is that it is a virtue taken right out of the Word of God.

In the scripture above the Lord is expressing His anger with the nation of Judah during the time when Israel had been split into two regions, north and south. Israel was experiencing extreme persecution because they were the worse of the two regions, yet Judah was not able to recognize the mistakes of Israel and change their ways to avoid destruction.

It’s comical at how true this is to our daily lives, many times we see others struggle and go through hardship and rather than learning from their mistakes we walk down the sane path they did. We laugh when our elders try to steer us in a safer direction, thinking we can take on the world, then we come to a point in the road, usually after fall into a booby-trap, where we realize we should have taken the advice that was given to us.

Troubles are inevitable, but destruction is avoidable. To do so one must SEEK the Lord and secondly listening to the wise instruction of our elders. The fact is that many of our elders have gone through some troubles and have valuable instruction to give us, we must be open to receive it. God Bless.