A Reason for the Hope

Reason for the Hope

A Reason for the Hope

1 Peter 3:14–16 says:

“14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (KJV).

A more modern translation of the same reads:

“If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath” (The Message).

Or more conventionally:

“14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, 15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame” (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

I was prompted to write this post because of what I had been reading online with regard to attacks on the Christian faith. I have noticed more and more how hostile people become when they write a post confronting a believer online. They always want to know why or what is the Reason for the Hope we hold to. I’m not terribly surprised by this but it struck me for some reason how savagely some people will attack your faith. The question then is how should we respond? What is a reasonable answer for the hope we hold in our hearts?

A recurring theme by many nonbelievers, atheists in particular, is that Christians are stupid individuals, gullible, easily duped by fairy tales and made up stories. They attack with vigor the existence of the Almighty and anyone who subscribes to a belief in His presence and His gospel is a fool. Many times I have seen them attack the sanity of Christians and demand a Reason for the Hope we have in our hearts for what Jesus Christ has promised. They routinely posit that our arguments for the existence of God, our faith in Jesus Christ or our desire to follow Church teaching is based on fallacy and error, that we err because we cannot prove our case in any natural sense. They seek proofs based in science and the scientific method and when we do not offer any, they take this as a sure sign that we have not a foot to stand on.

I Peter 3:14-16 admonishes believers to be ready to respond to critics and unbelievers and to do so with humility and a meek heart. Our response should be reasoned but without malice. The essence of the passage in my opinion is that we must be ready at all times to defend why we love our Lord and why we place our hope in Him. We should be able to explain why we love Him. We should be able to say why our hope for eternal life, a better life, a happier and more fulfilled life, both now and in the hereafter, rests with Him. What is the Reason for the Hope we have?

The passage doesn’t tell us to argue with unbelievers. The passage doesn’t say that we are to fight against people in word or deed about their skepticism. We are instructed to give a Reason For the Hope we have. Here is why I think the passage tells us to give a Reason for the Hope we have or defend our hope in Christ with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:16): anger is a fear response. Anger is provoked out of weakness and insecurity neither of which should a Christian harbor if they are resting in Jesus Christ who has not given us the spirit of fear but of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). You argue and fight with someone when you only rely on yourself and you feel over matched. You don’t fear when you are confident of the outcome or when victory is already guaranteed right? So the passage is about resting in the sure knowledge of your salvation; thusly, you don’t have to fear and argue with unbelievers about this faith you have. You can respond in humility because you know what you have received and you realize what the opposition is missing out on, that God’s grace would so abound in your life as to bathe you in eternal life when you rightly deserved death and this is humbling.

So minus fear, we are free to speak of our heartfelt love for Him who first loved us. We are free to discuss the bloom in our life since coming into the truth and hearing the good news. We can give our Reason for the Hope we have in Jesus Christ in confidence. We are free to defend our right to embrace the free gift of God. Bottom line is we believe because we have a free will and God has graciously given to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) so that with what little we have, we can gain all!!
So don’t take these attacks personally. You have a right to believe in God and no one can take that away from you. Share your joy with whoever asks, share your hope and love with whoever questions you, but never fear that your answer will be inadequate. There is no wrong answer to the question of why you believe in Jesus Christ!! Also remember this one last thing. I Peter 3:14-16 does not instruct us to defend God!!! The Father is more than able to defend Himself. He has that well covered I believe. All He asks of us is to share our hope with them that don’t have hope. Speak from your heart and take comfort in His grace. Your Reason for the Hope and love you have for God will be sufficient for the task.

Manhood Foolishness

Juanita_Story3Manhood Foolishness

by

Juanita Story

From sinew to bone, from my eyes to yours, I am struck by this thing called manhood!

The halls ring all day long with the caustic sound of your half-truths and lies.

Shades of a man that once was are in evidence everywhere.

Upon the desk, scattered and painted with the fine caress of dusts’ playful anguish, I can see it all.

Piled high now, your unkept words, your wayward responsibilities laughingly haunt my dreams.

Such arrogance.  Such bravado.  Such shame.  Yet you find glory in the hunger pains of those too weak to say enough, too weak to stand for themselves, too young to understand.

This then is your glory and your legacy.  Yours is a heritage now begun under the clouds of deceit and cowardice.

There is no pause button here.  Life has no more time nor riches to waste on what should have been glorious days of love and births and songs sung without hope’s loss…

I for one cannot abide your silence yet I crave your absence.  I desire this void be filled with another more worthy than you.

I cannot teach you to love yourself.  What fields of folly called you away on that day of learning is lost to me.

I cannot put steel in your spine.  The water damage is too severe to repair.

I cannot give you sight.  You poured too much hate into those soulless sockets.

I cannot open your understanding.  Ears closed and capped with lies and whispers of false pride prevent further hearing though truth sings as loud as the siren song of a thousand space shuttles.

From sinew to bone, from my eyes to yours, I am lifted by this thing called womanhood.

Go Home Charity

Juanita_Story4Go Home Charity

by

Juanita Story

Charity begins at home. What if you don’t have a home? What if every door knocked upon denied you respite? What if only the soles of your feet could tell the story of your departure?

Where then is charity? Where is she when only the painful comfort of blacken asphalt remembers your name? Where is she when black eyes and crows call you cousin and friend? Where is charity when the dew of night’s fallen mist is your blanket?

Come now to me lover. Explain your absence. Explain my broken heart.  Come now to me my champion.  Pull my hair and release my darkness.  Explain your travels.  Explain the means of your great escape.  Take me down and reveal my tear.

If the sounds of her Nubian experience frighten you, disarm you, make you pale with regret, then charity has found her home. Open wide and welcome her in. Her chains rattle for but a moment. Her back is yet unbowed. Glistening is her many sorrows but she has found her home. Pull back the curtain and watch her dance in the firelight of a new tomorrow.

Charity begins at home and home is where her heart was.  She is out there, somewhere.  Her heart is at home, out there, somewhere.

Charity is home. Her company is well fed. Their beds are warm and well slept. Charity is alone.

Patience, Love & Time

Relationships 4by

Shanti

“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because you’re combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.” Lisa Kleypas, author of the Blue-Eyed Devil, revealed the secret that was so visible but disguised by my own finite understanding. A quote that finally made sense after many confused attempts to find “the one.” Because I was single with the wrong mindset, a life-changing opportunity was able to rise. Patience, love and time exposed themselves; three clever attributes that forced me to comply whether I liked it or not!

I was never really into the whole relationship/dating thing. As I got older it seemed like that’s all people talked about. It felt like there was a breed of relationships forming; a cycle of “falling in love,” fights, arguments, the up and down roller coaster of l o v e, of course, and then breaking up after a couple months, confused by what love really is; the typical relationship. I, on the other hand, had the chance to observe these faultless disasters. I enjoyed living my life single! I was happy knowing that I was free! Free, to be emotionally unattached to anyone I found attractive. Free, in knowing that I didn’t have to worry about the restraints of someone else’s emotions. No monogamy just me. Ah yes! Emotional freedom, what an awesome feeling! Although, I was surrounded by those who didn’t have this same privilege. I was devoted to caring only for myself. I guess you can say I was a little selfish but with good intentions. I didn’t want to waste time with someone I felt wasn’t going to be in my life for very long. I took pleasure in watching those close to me face the inconsistent, functionally dysfunctional aspects, relationships failed to mention; every daunting and heartbreaking, yet gratifying, animated moment they enjoyed that made them feel so alive! Yes, it all made “perfect sense.” So, I continued on in my observation.

After a while of observing, the happiness started fading away slowly, but surely and Relationshipsboredom came into play. I blame the adorable couple I went to school with because I witnessed true love. This couple whom I thought would be like everyone else and end faster than the speed of light; one of life’s great opportunities to prove me wrong. I watched this couple and it was real. Real love! Not like one of those annoyingly, cute romance movies. I couldn’t believe it!  At that very moment the scales began to fall off of my eyes. It felt as if a build up of emotions that had been buried so deep had suddenly awakened and invaded my heart and captured my soul. I wanted to feel what they expressed so heavily. Sooner than expected, I made the decision to find out for myself what the big deal was about being in a relationship. If I was meant to have someone to love and to hold, to care so deeply for and receive that in return, well then I guess I was all for it.

Of course, in my life things just don’t turn out the way I expect it to. I came to learn that if eager to find love I would look in all the wrong places. I grew weary and impatient. I was sick of waiting for my soul mate; my knight in shining armour; my true love. I wanted to do anything. I wanted to be anyone if that meant that I could finally know what real love is. Disregarding good intentions, now I was just selfish. After a couple years of merciless and frivolous searching, I came up empty-handed, or in my case empty-hearted. I dated and mistakenly went into every relationship thinking “this is it! He’s definitely the one.” WRONG! I was defeated by loves’ harsh laws and walked with my head held down. Casually, I made the decision to continue my journey alone. I chose to go back to the way I used to be, unfortunately this time it was different. My heart cried knowing that I had no one to connect with; that empty feeling that burned deep down wanting to be filled with the consuming power of love. I felt deceived, hurt, and lonely; like I was a living melody of an awful song.

Subsequently, after feeling depressed because I was unsuccessful at finding love, time was now on my side. Nonetheless, life has a way of enlightening us when we feel we’re at our lowest point. Now here is where patience, love and time plays a unique role in my life. I came to the realization that since it wasn’t quite yet my time to find love I’ll have patience if that means being able to be myself and loved for my flaws, if it means letting go of the illusion of a perfect man but hold on to the man that is perfect for me, than I choose to take my time and wait patiently for my true love.

Patience, love and time have their ways of bringing us back to reality. The insanely genuis way they work is if all three are together. It’s difficult to have one without the other. You have to have all three because you know what they say, “one’s company, two’s a crowd but three…

…three’s a party!!”

Assisted Suicide: A Right or a Wrong?

Assisted Suicide

Assisted Suicide: A Right or a Wrong?

“Matthew Donnelly loved life. But Matthew Donnelly wanted to die. For the past thirty years, Matthew had conducted research on the use of X-rays. Now, skin cancer riddled his tortured body. He had lost his nose, his left hand, two fingers on his right hand, and part of his jaw. He was left blind and was slowly deteriorating. The pain was unrelenting. Doctors estimated that he had a year to live. Lying in bed with teeth clenched from the excruciating pain, he pleaded to be put out of his misery. Matthew wanted to die now. His pleas went unanswered. Then, one day, Matthew’s brother Harold, unable to ignore Matthew’s repeated cry, removed a .30 caliber pistol from his dresser drawer, walked to the hospital, and shot and killed his brother. Harold was tried for murder.” – by Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez

The title of the paragraph cited above is Assisted Suicide: A Right or a Wrong?  It was retrieved from Santa Clara University, The Jesuit University in Silicon Valley, website published in the fall of 1987.  This article was published 26 years ago.  Do you think an answer was ever found? For some perhaps, but to others I doubt it.  What struck me was the actual question.

It wasn’t the question being asked in the first place that caught my attention.  No, it was how the question was phrased.  Is assisted suicide a Right as in a civil or human right?  Or, is assisted suicide a Wrong as in an offense or injustice?  What the question didn’t as was, is it right or wrong to assist someone in taking their life?  The presumption here may be that this moral question was already settled in the mind of the authors; therefore, the only question remaining was whether such action was protected under the constitution or prosecutable.

For me, the moral question is settled.  I harbor no confusion over whether suicide is right or wrong, and I have peace with my position.  I have often commented to friends and family that when my body quits working please don’t let machines take over the work my heart and brain should be doing.  I am hopeful that my decision reflects my hope and faith that someone other than the man in the mirror holds the reins over my life.

But what about assisting someone else to terminate their life?  Each of us will have to stand before the judgment seat of the Almighty (my belief and opinion) and answer for the decisions and actions we took in this life.  So if I take my life, I have to deal with that at some point.  But does this change the nature of the judgment I may face in the after-life when I have to answer for taking someone else’s life?  At first blush I want to say yes, my judgment should be harsher since I am acting in the place of God and ending someone else’s life.  I am taking that decision away from the Righteous One; however, is this any different if I take my own life?  Am I not taking that life and death decision out of His hands, or rather aren’t I taking the time and place and means of my termination out of His hands??

You might say an Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient God cannot have any decision taken or usurped from Him.  But free will undercuts this argument because each of us has a free will.  So while our decision to terminate as well as the when and how are already known by God, the right to execute our will is still reserved for us.  Given this then, it would appear that the final judgment we will face might be ever the more frightening since such a decision reflects the antithesis of faith, trust, and hope in Him as our Sovereign Lord.  Free will it seems is the problem.  It was in garden during the most critical decision making dilemma in human history and it will be at the end of life.

Assisted Suicide 2

Reading the article paragraph provided in this post again, one can readily hear the pain and anguish such a decision caused both Matthew and Harold.  Is Assisted Suicide a Right or a Wrong?  Matthew’s pain should not be discounted nor that of his family.  I have no doubt that there are hundreds of situations just like this that occur across the nation all the time.  How could anyone look Matthew, or anyone else in a similar circumstance, in the eye and tell him/her/them that they need to finish out their life course regardless of how much suffering they experience?  Isn’t doing so putting us in the position of God, dictating how the person in suffering is to live and for how long?

Someone might argue why is it humane to end the suffering of a dog mashed in the street, or a cat that’s been burned beyond recognition or a horse that broke its leg making money for a human master but not the suffering of a fellow human being?  How can Assisted Suicide be wrong?

A counter to this argument might be that it is the master to whom this right is reserved.  We human beings have dominion over all the earth.  We do with the creatures whatsoever we will because we are their master.  The artist has every right to mold the work of his hands as he sees fit, to build a monument with beauty or purpose or neither.  Perhaps then this is our answer.  We have a Master and to Him is reserved the right to do whatsoever He wills with us.  As we are the clay and He is the Potter, who are we to say to Him, yes or no or maybe?  If the clay is to be discarded or re-made, let it be He would did first mold us make that decision and not we ourselves.

If neither argument is suitable, how then is the question, “Assisted Suicide: A Right or a Wrong”, to be answered? 

The Storm’s Debris

Storm3

The Storm’s Debris

I was just sitting at my desk and I’ve been pondering something I thought I’d share here.  I have a very good friend that is battling something now.  It’s pretty heavy and very emotional.  They shared with me some of what they are facing and at first glance it’s very heart breaking…at first glance or from the outside of faith looking in that is.

While I was sitting here I was thinking of how I could apply what I’ve been learning and sharing on this blog about the Law of Faith.  I spent some time with this individual sharing some of the dynamic thought changing ideas embraced by Law of Faith thinking and a spiritual posture.  It dawned on me that what my friend is going through is an example of how the 4th dimension works.

I shared a few keys from Dr. Cho’s book as well as a few verses from the bible with my friend but they were not positively receptive to them.  I didn’t go into great detail because it’s just too much to share in one setting, especially when the receiver is emotionally distraught.  I was listening for any leading from the Holy Spirit and He showed me what was going on with my friend.  They were in crisis and that storm had their full and complete attention!  All the debris being tossed to and fro by that storm totally blinded my friend to some of what I was saying to them.  It was very heavy, the amount of baggage and “stuff” hanging around their neck was daunting.  I began to see why my words weren’t taking root.

Remember, the realm of spirits (lower case) or 4th dimension is not just about the activity of the Almighty.  There is good and bad in the 4th dimension and the key to remember is that the 3rd dimension can be directly impacted by the 4th; therefore, if I speak negatively about my health and see only death in my future guess what?  I am ushering in death.  I am causing effects in my 3rd dimension body because of what my words are creating in the 4th dimension!!!!

Storm

This is what my friend was doing.  These emotions were allowing all kinds of negative words and thoughts to manifest…and my friend didn’t even realize it!  I could see it in their eyes.  The tears were flowing and those tears were acting as a lubricant, further sliding their vision into a very dark, hopeless place!

The bible says that without a vision the people perish (Prov 29:18).  But if you only see the negative and the dark side of things, you will experience the same result as if you had no vision!  I just can’t say this enough, it is essential that the words of our mouths match the vision we seek!  I told my friend to focus on seeing a different outcome than the darkness they were focusing on.  I told them to start affirming a new vision for a positive outcome, to speak it, and do it regularly.  I am firmly convinced that God wants us to speak in the affirmative, to tap the power of His presence and in thereby doing we give Him glory!

I am going to focus, affirm and meditate on the complete and total restoration of my friend’s health, both emotional and physical.  Let these words I type be acceptable in your sight, “O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalms 19:14).

You Are Not Alone

You AreYou Are Not Alone Not Alone

I received a phone call just the other day from a very dear friend. She was very distraught, hurt, and I could hear the fear in her voice as she shared with me the issue troubling her. Of course I will hold private the content of our conversation but I will share with you the one element I cannot get out of my mind. She was afraid.

She wasn’t afraid for her physical safety or anything like that, but she was scared for her future. She was hurting on the inside and the tears crowded our conversation from time to time. It was very difficult to listen to because I have a very close connection to her. We’ve been friends for a very long time. She’s a good hearted person and hearing her heart being wrenched into pieces was very hard. I wanted to reach through the phone and hug her.

We prayed together and I offered what words of comfort I could but it got me to thinking later after the phone call. What is it that people, people of faith, actually fear or worry about? Sure, there are a myriad of things under the sun that can happen and create fear in someone’s heart… but should it? Should we have fear in our hearts? My question has nothing to do with whether we can be scared or frightened by something. I’m a motorcycle rider and believe me I get scared from time to time when I’m out on those California highways!!! I think fear is a very human emotion. If you live and breathe I doubt you can escape it over the course of your life. No, what I’m talking about is what happens when one peers into the future. There is a difference I think between the fear you have when you think you hear a sound outside in the dark of night and what you might feel when you realize that your nest egg is gone. The difference isn’t just one of time either. One seems to go deeper. My friend’s fear was centered on what she thought or believed she was going to lose. It was a fear that was digging into the morrow of her spirit and soul. I could hear this very clearly.

If you are a Christian, then you have most likely heard the verse in Psalms 34:17-20 which says,

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

Very comforting in my mind are these words…but then again, this appeal will vary from person to person. In my friend’s case, she wasn’t focusing on the promises spoken in this passage of scripture. What she was focusing on was a void, a pending tragedy that she had no control over. She was forgetting about what her faith taught her. The turmoil she was going through was, in my opinion, designed to do just that and prevent her from accessing the resources set before her. This happens to us all in some respect or to some degree. The difference is what we actually believe about ourselves and Him who called us to victory and prosperity.

I believe the key to staying positioned in such a way as to NOT lose sight of God’s promises to us is attitude and relationship. We must believe what He has said to us. This is attitude. We can improve our attitude by fostering our relationship with Him and other like- minded individuals. The stronger our relationship the more unshakeable our attitude will be. If you have the mind that is unshakeable, then you will always recall passages such as Psalms 34:17-20 when the noise of life attempts to distract you from your purpose. This is what I am praying for with my dear friend. I am reminding her of who she is and who our Father is. I am also reminding you my dear reader that you are not alone. No matter what you face in this life, you are not alone. Let that thought comfort you and help you seek clarity during the rainy season.

I am also going to eat a large helping of this for myself! I have been sitting on the fence with respect to the Empower Network. There are other products available in the network that I can sell as an affiliate but I have been dragging my feet unsure about what ramifications await me lol. I have been looking down the road and feeling a bit fearful about failure! So now it’s time to practice what I preach, pray, and dive in. We will keep you posted!