Honor is Dead.

What does it mean to be honorable?

I think about the word Honor a lot. What does it mean to be honorable. My favorite author, Brandon Sanderson dives into this in his popular series, The Stormlight Archive, which I HIGHLY recommend. Brandon deals with the idea that “honor is dead” and while Sanderfans everywhere know that there’s more to that statement than meets the eye, let’s just say that this statement has been haunting my thoughts about giving people political refuge.
In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, the US is faced with either admitting or rejecting refugees from the ISIS threat. Many people are vehemently against this. Some would have no qualms about admitting any and all refugees our system can sustain. Other people would have no problem admitting refugees, as long as they are not Muslim. This has caused no small amount of political posturing, and Facebook ranting.
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Image source: www.ibtimes.co.uk
Back to honor, though, I believe that we as a country have lost sight of something.
 This nation used to be honorable.
This nation was built on the foundations of life, liberty and religious freedom. We believed in the unalienable right to live. We did our best to fight injustice. We were seen as the land of opportunity because ANYONE could come here to make a better life for themselves. We became the melting pot of the world because we encouraged members of all walks of life to make this place their home, regardless of race, religion, creed, or social status. This sentiment was expressed perhaps best by Emma Lazarus in her poem The New Colossus: 
 
 “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

   Those beautiful words adorn one of the greatest symbols of our nation’s heritage, The Statue of Liberty. This monument is the very embodiment of welcoming strangers into our midst.

Now, all of you who are against America accepting refugees for one reason or another are probably frothing with anger and ready to accuse me of welcoming attack by terrorists. And while you might be right, I’d implore you to consider two things: Honor and Christ.

Being an honorable person means that you conduct yourself honorably not only when people are also honorable. (i.e. You can take refuge in my homeland as long as you are a model citizen and put no strain on us socially or economically.) But Being honorable mean being a person of honor ESPECIALLY when the other party may not act according to your moral or social code. (i.e. You may take refuge here, not because you will behave, but because I believe I’m bound by honor to do the right thing.)

Honor does not care what the other party does or doesn’t do. Just as in our conventions of war, if the enemy stoops to using chemical or biological weapons, we do not. Why? Because we do not believe that these are acceptable in a “humane war”. (If there can be such a thing.) We uphold what we believe to be right, no matter the actions of our enemies.

I, for one, would hope that if the tables were turned, that someone would welcome me in and allow me to take shelter from people who want to destroy me.

Maybe honor is dead.

I have been absolutely disturbed by the amount of Christians who have been so insistent that we either not take any refugees, or that we should screen them by religion. The latter of which would be constitutionally reprehensible in a country where we believe that discrimination on the basis of religion is a cardinal sin. But more importantly, I know that the majority of people who read what I have to say are Bible-believing Christians. So with that in mind, I’m going to say something offensive. (Shocker, I know.)

I believe that Jesus would be disappointed by this.

Jesus and his ministry were the very pinnacle of acceptance. Jesus believed in radical inclusivity. This is evidenced by the people he surrounded himself with. While Jesus may have come from a blue-collar family, he had the respect and credibility and social standing enough to be named “Rabbi” by other Jews. He was considered, even by his adversaries to be at least a Prophet of God. Even so, he didn’t shy away from people who were the social pariah of his day. He spent time with tax collectors, and prostitutes. He included people of low social standing into his inner circle. He associated with sinners and the unclean.

The greatest part of this is that he still does this. Maybe many of us have forgotten, but Jesus reached you. He knows all of the horrible things you’ve done and still he reaches out to you. He even has the ability to touch dangerous people.  In fact, statistically, he’s doing just that in the middle east. Christian conversion is at an unprecedented level in countries like Saudi-Arabia, Iraq, and even Syria.

The most astounding thing about all of this is that God, in his sovereignty isn’t waiting for us to do what he commanded us to. In the midst of this horrible situation where the enemies of Christ are rising up to slaughter the innocent, God has created a way for us to not only offer political refuge, but also to be the only expression of Christ that these people may have ever seen. We have the opportunity to reach out to a people group that may have never have been available to us. We could welcome them to a country where we have real printed Bibles, in excess. Ones that they wouldn’t be executed for having in their possession.

The sad truth of the matter is that there is nothing stopping terrorism from taking place in the world. We have seen this evidenced by the recent bombings in Beirut and Paris. We could close our borders, but then I’d have to bring up how many people currently come into the U.S. every year illegally already. No, I’m convinced the only thing rejecting refugees would serve to do is stopping us from showing love to people who are in desperate need of it.

I know that many people will disagree with me. That’s okay, I’m not expecting people to agree. I only wonder if you can take the time to ask yourself if there is still honor in america? Is there still honor in you?

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Just Give Up.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

So, I have heard this scripture preached a million and a half times, most of the time it is is preached in regards to mourning or death, usually focusing on verse 4. But tonight, I feel God has something different for us as we read this passage.

In high school, I was always a bit of a bookworm. I was admittedly quite an underachiever, but I’ve always had a passion for books, which fueled a desire to become a literature teacher. I will go ahead and spoil the ending for you here and say that I have not pursued that passion as of yet. Now, I promise there is a reason for that digression, so please bear with me.

I’d like to bring your attention to verse 6, in which King Solomon makes a statement that makes me just a bit uncomfortable to be honest: “a time to search, and a time to give up”. In America, we are taught that only quitters give up. We are taught that giving up is the pinnacle of shame. But here in the scripture, we see God giving us the okay to give up. . . now everyone go ahead and say this aloud with me: “WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!”

Well, I think that here is a huge Biblical principle here that we need to apply to our own lives. The name of the law is the Law of Reciprocity, but we’ll just call it the law of give and take. Simply put, it means that if you give something will be given back to you. We see this repeated in scripture over and over again. As in Malachi 3, the famous tithing chapter, where God says that we should give our tithe, and then he will bless us abundantly.

So, you may ask yourself how this all relates. The answer is quite simple. We have to give up sometimes to find what we weren’t looking for, which is God’s best for us. I know that beyond the shadow of a doubt that if i had pursued a career in teaching Literature I would have been happy for a time, but only just a short time. I was called to be in ministry, which is what God had for me, it was what I wasn’t looking for. When we can find it within ourselves to give up what we want, we can find what we didn’t know we needed. The best part is that God does know what we need.

The best example I could ever give of someone giving up something dear is that of Jesus Christ. In John 19, we see a beautiful example of the worst deal ever made. At verse 30, most translations read something like this: “He gave up His spirit”. Yes, Jesus gave up something. He gave up His own desire to live. A perfect man gave up his life for a world full of imperfect people. The only one who deserved to live, gave up himself so that we could live with him, in him, and through him.

It is a part of the impeccable character of God to be generous. He doesn’t have to give anything to us in exchange for our obedience, but he does anyway. Jesus received eternal glory, having the “Name above every other name” for giving up his will. We can find ourselves when we give up our ours.

What are you holding on to that is holding you back from receiving God’s best for your life?

I am the wolf.

{I was so scared of Jesus, but he sought me out. Like the cancer in my lungs that’s killing me now. And I’ve given up hope on the days I have left, but I cling to the hope of my life in the next. Then Jesus showed up, said “Before we go up, I thought that we might reminisce. See, one night in your life when you turned out the lights you asked for, and prayed for my forgiveness.”
“You cried, wolf. The tears they soaked your fur. The blood dropped from your fangs. You said ‘What have I done?’. You loved that lamb with every sinful bone. And there you wept alone. Your heart was so contrite. You said ‘Jesus please forgive me of my crimes. Sanctify this withered heart of mine. Stay with me until my life is through. And on that day please take me home with you.'”} Matt Theissen.

So seldom do words shake me to the core, as these have. I do confess that I am not dying of lung cancer, like the man in this song. But I have felt the struggle that is so evident in this lyric.  I have been the wolf, devouring the heart and life of Christ with every misplaced word, and thoughtless action. Not to mention the endless amounts of pain and heartache I’ve caused to those dear to me. 

I know that I’ve given a lot of pain to people, but I’d be lying if I said that was what grieved me the most. It is knowing that in my vast imperfection, my severe depravity, I have scorned the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The all knowing, all powerful, all loving God of the universe who, for the sake of his creation, wrapped himself in all our weakness. He, who knew no sin and yet became sin for us. 

I have been guilty of throwing away the grace that I have never deserved. I have used this grace as an excuse to do whatever I pleased. I have stood in contempt of the Cross of Christ. And yet, I have still been accepted by a father who longs for nothing more than to see me reconciled to him. 

I am the wolf. My fangs have ripped apart the lamb. I have tasted the blood that would wash me clean. In the rare moment of clarity when I realize what I’ve done, I see the monster I am. Then the realization hits me; that the only one I was created to love, has allowed me to trample his gift in the dirt. 

It is more than a crisis of self. Its a crisis of truth. The truth that supercedes who I am and what I’ve done. The truth that causes the sun to rise every morning, that lights the night sky with stars. This truth fills every breath with new hope and promise.  This truth is this: God so loved us that HE GAVE. He gives us every moment. He gave us every yesterday, every today and will give every tomorrow. He gives the promise of new life every autumn, letting the world rest for winter. He gives the fullfillment of that promise with each spring. 

But so much more than all that, He gave us His self.

It’s times like this, when I look back on what I’ve done, that I am so glad that God doesnt believe in giving people what they deserve. 

“Every breath is a second chance.” – Jon Foreman

It’s my hope, that as you read this that you can identify with the hope that Christ brings. I only have my words, to share stories of transformation. He, however, deals in the business of miracles. He transforms hearts, and changes lives. He also wants to begin a life together with you. 

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The Breaking of the World

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I’m a major fantasy fiction buff. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure for me because FF is where I get to indulge my inner nerd. I’m currently reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan which is a fantasy geek’s dream, fourteen books of non stop adventure and intrigue. I’m only four books in and I’m completely hooked!

There is a major theme in the book that at some point a major cataclysm took place that ruined everything in existence, literally. They called it the “breaking of the world”.

I can’t say that I’ve seen the powers that be rip the very ground apart and and lay waste to everything that was, but I’ve seen evidence that our world has been broken too. I’ve seen buildings crashing to the ground with people inside in the name of religion. I’ve been there as families of soldiers cry as the bodies of their loved ones are laid to rest. I’ve witnessed families ripped apart by divorce. I’ve seen children who are the victims of abuse cry and wonder what they did to deserve their ordeal. I’ve known great people who have fought cancer for years and in the end lose the fight. I’ve known normal people who, through a series of bad decisions, become unrecognizable to those that knew them best.

Continue this Tale!