Friday, May 22, 2015

When Did Prejudice Begin?

Prejudice is an ugly thing. As we've seen in recent days it can lead to abrupt actions that make no sense whatsoever. It harms. It insults. It ostracizes. No one likes or deserves to be on the disliked side of it.

So the question is why can't we stop it?

I think prejudice can't be stopped because it's been around for so long that it's ingrained in us. You may think it started during the years of the slave trade. Or shortly after the Civil War when the slaves were free, but I'm here to speak to a different time.

Open your Bible and you'll find that the Philistines, or Sea People, were a hated group of people. All nations disliked them, not just the Israelites. On the other hand the Jews were disliked by all the nations around them because they fought and won wars in quite a variety of ways, when they were in right standing with God.

But then the Jews had their own prejudices. None of them liked the Samaritans, descendants of Abraham who refused to acknowledge Jerusalem as the Holy Place. The Jews didn't speak to them and they didn't speak to the Jews. Knowing that makes the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) and Jesus speaking to a Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) even more significant. Sadly, it doesn't end there. Galileans were also despised by non-Galilean Jews. Why? Because they tried to keep the peace with the Romans and tried to speak Latin and Greek. Today we could compare it to a backwater-hillbilly trying to speak Chinese or Arabic to appease the modern language demands of a foreign captor.

Did it stop there? Of course not.

Through the centuries European countries fought over boundaries which lead to likes and dislikes of neighbors or fellow Europeans. Having lived there I know this. Some of these prejudices are held for fellow countrymen and some are for other nationalities. And because the countries are old the dislikes are often based on actions taken by a country or region many centuries ago. I could list who doesn't like who but that might not serve any real purpose other than to divide.

And, let's not forget what's happening in the Arabic countries today. Those factions that are fighting are all rooted in the same faith. Ouch. They're fighting each other. They're so dead set on having everyone follow their "faction" that they're willing to destroy cities and people to do it. They are so blinded by prejudice that they'll bring harm to anyone not with them.

Sadly, it's not too different from what we've seen in this country. People fighting for a supposed victim and in their rage they destroy the property and lives of their neighbors to make a point. Blinded action making no sense at all when you step back and ask the question, "Why did they do that? What purpose did that serve?"

The truth is, if you stop and think about it every culture, every nation can find someone who dislikes them. And they can find someone they dislike. No one is free of a prejudice. It's sad but it's true. If only we could see that we are all different, with various ways of taking on life.

Our enemy is not in the people who are different from us. Our enemy is the one who wants us to think we need to destroy others because they are different or because they don't like us. Our enemy is the prejudice instigator whom we cannot see. And as long as we give into it, prejudice will continue to exists.

How do we individually make a difference? We need to ask God to help us tolerate and work with those we have a hard time understanding or living around. We need to ask God to let us see others the way He sees them. Attitudes will change.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Word For Safety in Hebrew

Weeks ago I wrote a post about warning. I don't want to seem to be fixated on this topic but there is scripture, Ezekiel 33, that speaks of the watchman sounding the trumpet to warn the people. Let me just say I am not the main watchman, but I feel a certain responsibility to inform you of one of the watchmen. Listen to his alarm and sounding of the trumpet.

I know you're thinking the media makes things sound bad enough as it is and you don't need or want to hear about anything else. To this I say, "Just hear me out." For those of you thinking there is nothing to take warning over then I have two books for you to read, The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah. Thanks to my sister I have read both of Jonathan Cahn's books. 

These books are a bit prophetic but not in a "this is what will happen out of the blue" kind of way. Cahn looks at our past as he warns of the path our nation is taking. Both books look at 9-11 as being part and key to what lies ahead for this nation and the world.

When 9-11 occurred I remember hearing the media report how religious leaders were shouting that the attacks happened because of God's judgement on the sins of the nation - with the leaders always pointing to the nation's current immoral acts. But Cahn doesn't bring these under scrutiny. He comes from a totally different perspective.

In The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn compares the U.S. to Old Testament Israel. The scary part is the identical paths taken by both nations. It'll give you chill bumps. The Harbinger is an easy read and not only compares what happened on 9-11 and the aftermath to ancient Israel, but also to George Washington's inaugural day activities. If you ever doubted that one could have anything to do with the other you should read this book.

The Mystery of the Shemitah takes a different approach. I found it to be a more difficult read because of the detail and form of warning. In this book Jonathan Cahn does a marvelous job of taking past events and what we as a nation have experienced financially, including 9-11, placing them on the Jewish calendar and showing their correlation to our neglecting God's year of rest. You may think there's no connection, but I'm here to tell you there is. In fact, this book takes you from chill bumps to hair raising.

So when news or books like this scare you, what should you do? Pray, right? Well, Anne Graham Lotz has issued a call to prayer for our nation, May 15-23, which is also mentioned by Joel Rosenberg in his blog. All of us attend different churches which vary from each other in superficial values but we all believe Jesus died for us. Let us stand united on this front and bow our knees asking God to guide us in bringing our nation to Him.

Remember there is always hope.

To this statement I have one final comment that I hope will uplift your spirits. Near the end of The Mystery of the Shemitah Cahn shared an interesting tidbit of information. In Hebrew the word for safety is yeshua. If it sounds familiar it's because it is. This is the root word for Yeshua... the Hebrew word for Jesus. Every name has a meaning, but I never wondered about the name of Jesus and it's meaning... safety. No matter what comes our way in future judgements for our nation or world, we can find safety in Jesus. Have you sought Him? Or, become right with Him? Yes, then you are saved from worry over any coming calamity.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Be A Light

The first weekend in May I attended the Gateway Women's Conference, Pink Impact, in Fort Worth. What an incredible time of worship and teaching I experienced. I want to share how the teachings from a variety of speakers (including Kari Jobe, Jimmy Evans and Missy Robertson) came together.

The subject was light. We need to be a light to others, but also we need to allow God's light to shine in the dark places of our inner being. If we allow God to shine His light inside our inner man we will find a freedom from whatever was previously held as an embarrassment. And the best part is enjoying a better relationship with God.

Two presenters spoke of emotional/mental healing taking twenty-one days of mental exercises to change your perspective on life and attitudes. The key is remembering that the mind is separate from the brain and it is the mind that leads the way for the brain to change how it reacts to life. While it would take too long to cover all the initial steps I will say that blessing your enemies and the people who hurt your feelings is a major part of that. And when you are done you will find you are a unique wonderful person with a clear mind filled with clear thoughts. If you're interested in this you can go to the following websites: Jimmy Evans and Dr. Leaf

But if you think you can't be used of God until you're perfect, you're wrong. God uses everyone in any way He chooses. You don't have to do something extraordinaire before you impact others for the cause of the kingdom. In fact, as Missy Robertson put it, "God uses the ordinary and broken to do the extraordinary." If you don't believe her look at some of the heroes of the Bible.

It's important to keep our eyes on our current battles and not start worrying about future battles or seasons of life. If we take our focus off what God has for us today, in this moment, then we might lose some of the promise God has for us. Take courage and stay put, stay the course, God's still working.

A Biblical example of this was found in the book of Esther. Esther's Uncle Mordecai made himself available to her by staying at the gate wherever Esther was, first at the gate of the harem then at the king's gate. Years later when the king realized he never honored Mordecai for saving his life, the king knew exactly where to find Mordecai. Don't give up on the course God has placed you on or you may miss the opportunity of change that He will bring your way.

And when life gets even crazier than it already is, don't worry that God has forgotten you and your needs. He didn't forget about the widow and her son or the prophet Elijah in 1Kings 17. First, God has ravens bring bits of food to feed the prophet then He extends the meager food supplies of the widow. God doesn't need much to work with, He just needs something to work with. Keep doing what God has shown you to do. God can't act on earth until his people do something.

To drive that point home Pastor Tim Ross pointed out the randomness of how Elijah raised the widow's dead son back to life. Verses 17-24 tell us this story. Elijah, after praying to God and receiving no specific directions, lays on top of the widow's dead son - how random and awkward is that? The point made was that God doesn't do something on the earth unless He does it through us. In this instance, God used the random act of Elijah which resulted in the revival of the son. All because Elijah did something.

I would like to end with the prayer example Jimmy Evans gave us (I tweaked it slightly).

Dear God, Thank you for honoring my efforts 
and letting Your light to shine from me to others.
I need the Holy Spirit in my mind today. 
And if something is coming my way give me 
the emotional grace and spiritual grace I will need. 
Lead me in all truth as I put on a garment of praise.
Thank you. Amen.