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!

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.”

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.

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!

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.