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The Problem and Solution of the World

5799440Sometimes we’re shockingly reminded of the evil in the world. I sat in our office listening to my supervisor read aloud the articles from the attack in Paris as it unfolded. In defiance and support, people on Facebook rallied with profile picture changes and threats. I sat, rather unsurprised, considering it all.

It’s a problem that starts with the darkness in an individual’s heart (Romans 6:19) that multiplies exponentially with every person added to the world. We all struggle with it and tragedies happen when someone gives into it like in Paris.

“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7: 14-20 NLT

The only way to eliminate evil is to remove free will from everyone. No one has the freedom to choose love or hate. However, with our autonomy in place we’ll continue to fight against it.

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am!” Romans 7: 21-24

Have you ever been in a moral dilemma or had to choose between the lesser of two evils? In a quiet moment faced the darkness inside of you. Or had to apologize for hurting others? What can be done about it?

Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” Romans 7: 24-25

You kill it before it kills you.

 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,  for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Romans 3: 22-26

“In fact, it says,

“The message is very close at hand;
    it is on your lips and in your heart.”

And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:  If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10: 8-10

Jesus takes the punishment due to you and me freely if we let him. To get an idea of how radical that is, consider this: remember how you felt seeing the Paris attack. Now you find yourself the judge in the terrorist’s trial and their future is in your hands. They’re evidently guilty, no evidence is needed to even be presented, and they stand in front of you awaiting your verdict.

What would you do to them?

Instead of death or prison, imagine you served their sentences for them and then pardoned them. Insane, huh? They don’t deserve it and they should die. “For the wages of sin is death…” as recognized in Romans 6: 23.

What if they are sorry, promising they wouldn’t do it again and truly meant it? Punishment is due, a debt is owed, and so would you take that upon yourself and pardon them? That is what Jesus did for anyone willing to turn away from his or her dark nature and follow him.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5: 6-10 NIV

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8: 1-2 NIV

Then begins the process to pull us out of our holes called sanctification, something I go into →here. Except we don’t do it to earn anything or pay back a debt. We do it in gratitude. Imagine your largest debt. How thankful would you be if someone paid it off free and clear?

As the old nature is diminished and the new is being revealed we see our responses are changing. Impatience gives way to patience, unforgiveness gives way to mercy, and hate gives way to love, and so on. Two things are happening that deal with many of the world’s problems.

  1. First is our identity struggles, especially in a highly individualized culture like mine. That problem is settled for me now. I am not defined by what I do, have done, or live for something temporary that will be dust in the end. I may not always be a writer, I won’t always have my family, but I will always be a new person in Christ, an adopted son of God. Because I want to do this, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” I can give myself more easily to writing, family, and friends. My identity does not hinge on that so I can be fully there.
  2. Secondly, if we loved our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) like Jesus commanded, we would not do anything to hurt them. The Golden Rule makes sure we cannot use ‘neighbor’ as a loophole. The entire Moral Law that is in the 10 Commandments is encompassed in those two commands and the Golden Rule puts it into action. You wouldn’t kill, take advantage of, or want what others have if you loved like you’re supposed to. If you do, then you’re being disobedient. Doing it would end many problems in the world.

It’s hard, impossible even, and when a true follower of Christ fails, it results in becoming repentant. Then they grow from it. We have help from the Holy Spirit, though.

“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature] So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8: 3-17 NLT

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Romans 8: 26-27

The problem of evil is solved by first realizing the darkness in our hearts. The fact we

recognize it means we acknowledge a transcendent, objective good. Because it is a transcendent perfect standard, we cannot reach it ourselves. Knowing this, God made the way for us. Jesus, either as Savior or Judge, solves the problem of evil; it is an unavoidable choice.

Humanity: The Common Denominator

Listening to a visiting missionary one evening, I heard something that stuck out to me about human nature. He was showing videos of some of the countries he had gone into and in one, we saw where Buddhists had destroyed one of the churches. A little later, we saw where in another country there were some other Buddhists who regularly cooked a meal for the kids at another church. People from the same group, who were doing two different things with different intentions.

Weeks ago, an individual walked into a black church, visited, and was welcomed by them until he left. Then later, he returned and killed nine of them. Pictures soon surfaced of him holding the battle flag of the armies of North Virginia and Tennessee during the Civil War, popularly known as the rebel flag. Now it appears that an element in society is trying to scrub anything to do with the flag or the Confederacy off the map.

The thing is, it is a symbol that has different meanings to different people. To go after it is seen as an attack on their identity, like when someone goes after your political party, or sports team that you align yourself with. It is not flown in battle anymore; now it is a symbol of heritage that was co-opted by racists. Like the Buddhists, I mentioned earlier, one group was committing vandalism; the other was working with a different religion in peace to care for children. By which group is the whole to be judged?

The problem is not symbols or what identity we choose for ourselves; the problem is we as humans. Case in point, Bill Cosby had the reputation for being a wholesome actor – recently he admitted to drugging women. It is individual people that are the problem, despite what we want to label ourselves.

It is as old as humanity, The need for a moral code to guide is as old as humanity; the need of it actually reveals the darkness in our hearts. Jesus pointed it out in Matthew 5: 17-28, we have the capacity and desires to do wrong. As a man makes a life-long commitment to a woman in marriage, that he will forsake all others, yet acting out a sex scene in his mind about the woman next door proved that the desire to break that commitment is there. Someone cuts you off in traffic and wanting nothing more than to choke them for it shows the desire to hurt another person. Take a two-year-old throwing a tantrum, hitting and biting their parents, then replace them with an adult doing the same thing; the difference is the ability to hurt while both have the same intent.

That nature in us is called the sin nature in the Bible. The best analogy I have seen for it is comparing it to cancer. The sin nature is inherent in the same way cancer cells are our own cells turned against us. The first ends in eternal suffering and the second to physical suffering. We go see a doctor about both of them.

A book I was reading-the name escapes me-had a chapter on how Jesus operated. He approached everyone as if they were sick and he had the cure, forgiveness. It was not a prescription to keep these 10 commandments to be cured any more than a strict diet change destroying the cancer cells. He puts the cancer of sin into remission until it’s cut out, and out of gratitude people started to change their lives.

It is summed up like this in Luke 5: 31-32:

“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

What is wrong with the world?

We are. We are all sick. The Good News is the doctor is in, and he is accepting patients free of charge. It is as simple as admitting he is Lord, believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and you will be saved. Your trust, aka faith in your heart that he paid for your sins in your place, is what justifies you, to paraphrase Romans 10: 9-10. He did it for me. You can read Year of the Prodigal to see the before and after of my case.

Go see the doctor.

Why Is It Taking So Long For The Book?

Cover by Ronin and Ralkski (ralskiart.com)

Cover by Ronin and Ralkski (ralskiart.com)

Ronin’s Journey has been taking a while to write and I would like to explain why. I have four other commitments along with writing it, and keeping the blog updated; full-time husband, full-time job, Wicked Jester, and volunteering. Writing fills the spaces it can; fortunately, work does not require me to think so the time waiting on the presses to open is filled with writing, research, and finding shirt quote/quote ideas for WJ.

Then there is the writing process itself. Since the accident, I have kept a journal that I write in almost daily. After a week passes, I will look at it again with fresh eyes to see what stands out that I want to expand or delve deeper. I am almost constantly introspective and digging deeper into what sources I can find to help me understand. To help me process it I write it out into essays in a notebook. The weekly excerpts I posted a while back and current blog posts came from that.

For the book, I have to go back to the relevant journal entries in an attempt to put the reader into my shoes at the time. Then guide them towards the direction I went showing the lessons, tools, what worked, what did not, for them to try on their journeys. I tend to get wordy so I write it out on paper first, and then type it later to make it flow better. From there it goes to the Grammar Goddesses/Editors, Audrey, and Nay.

When I get it all back and correct my manuscript it will be formatted for an E-Book on SmashWords. Money from the sales will go to a rotating list of gun safety programs so I will not see a dime of it. That is why it has been taking longer than usual; I want to get it right.

Freedom Isn’t A Utopia

I am about to dab into politics again, only to retreat into the underlying issue. Recently my Facebook feed exploded about the story of a baby burned by a stun grenade during a drug raid. Armchair quarterbacking ensued; I wonder how many considered what information the police had. The stories cited that an undercover office bought drugs from the location, noted the presence of weapons. That escalated the situation to a level where people could die. That is the reason for intimidating body armor, flash-bang grenades, and choosing to come after everyone is probably asleep; using overwhelming less-lethal force to neutralize so lethal force is not necessary.

Having said that I will now say this, I have written about my stance on the drug issue before, legalize them. It is your body to do what you will with.
Now, with the issue of laws, most ignore the ones they do not agree with. Traffic laws are a good example of this. You speed, or drive drunk, you know its illegal and hope you are not caught. However if you disrupt the peace or safety of other people, you are going to get someone’s attention, and you know this. Any person you bring into it that does not have a choice is a burden on your soul and responsibility. You want the freedom to do what you wish; you have to bear the responsibility of your actions and the consequences of when someone does not agree with you.

Freedom is not a utopia.

Where Did The Political Posts Go?

I am sure the lack of political posts was noticed if the site traffic statistics are any indication with kettlebells and the Constitution’s Preamble getting the most hits. Reason for that is politics just do not grab me the same way they used to, with most discussions becoming emotional and accomplishing nothing. From my studies in human behavior once it gets emotional, our limbic system kicks in while the neocortex checks out. Politics and religion trigger four social problems if approached emotionally that has to be dealt with before addressing the real human issue logically.

First problem is ‘status checking’, who are you and where do you fit, navigating the mine field of insecurities, rules and culture to face the next issue…who’s in charge. For someone active in politics and not just discussing it, that is a problem. First they have to find their place or forced into it (especially if they have different ideas), the human version of ‘doggy butt-sniffing as Rory puts it’. What happens when someone challenges you? I feel insulted, personally. That is just my ego kicking in and it needs to quiet down so the grownups can work. Egos lead to the ‘hierarchy problem’, so to solve that issue you have to make the other person’s ego feel better. If not you plow into the ‘that’s not how we do things around here’ problem, and it is a monster.

How things are done becomes the identity of the group, whoever identifies with it, which causes any change to be seen as an attack. For example, look at the two major political parties in the U.S., they are recognized by how they address the issues the party pushes (any prevailing issue during a 24 hour news cycle). When you challenge that you put yourself on the fringe of the group you’re in, which causes the fear of alienation from the next issue…’you don’t belong here’. Then it becomes easier to marginalize and discard someone as a threat to ‘the group’.

All of this is to protect the group, to keep it going, and it’s tiered on many levels. The different levels have different values to a particular person. I am speaking generally. Starting with a country overall, that is the largest group identity people use normally. Then the smaller parts of the country, states, provinces, etc., followed by what race they are if they even claim a race. Things people have no choice in, followed by some they do, like sports teams and political parties, then the special interests they are passionate about.

All of these groups are fighting for and over where people fit (classes, special interests), who should be in charge (election years, appointments), and making their worldview into laws that others conform to because that’s how we do things here and if you disagree you need to leave. A constant battle to implement worldviews using the tyranny of the majority through the voting booth. The problem is that politics on a national scale it is hard to make any real change happen, since everyone is defending their territory. It has to be done on a smaller scale till you reach a level where you can take on the larger scale of the issue while being careful not to fall into the same cycle of status problems with your solution. Until then focus on the issues you have a direct effect on, use a holding action on those you have little control over and insulate yourself from the ones you cannot effect.

 

The Majority Isn’t Always Right…

Watching the battle over gay marriage in my state this past week led to Arkansas’s Supreme Court to issue a stay on the marriages. So I wrote this when I shared the news link here

“Hopefully this is temporary and the Supreme Court overrules the tyranny of the majority. When it comes to issues of equality you cannot say you’re for freedom if you’re unwilling to let others love their lives as they see fit so long as no one is physically hurt.

Freedom doesn’t hinge on how you feel about something, it stands alone righteous and true. That’s what makes it grand.”

captain_america_by_alijameel-d4djqje

I Have The Right…

This has been rattling in my head and I cannot find a place for it in the book.

RIGHTS.

What it is that like all laws, its paper. People follow them as long as it is convenient for them. Force or threat of it, keeps them in line. You have no rights or sovereignty unless you are willing to stop someone yourself. Anything else is negotiable.

You don’t have a right to life, the only reasons you’re still breathing is that someone hasn’t decided you’re worth more dead than alive and made you fight for it. Natural laws, food, water, and shelter. You don’t get those from anything other than your own initiative or from the graces of another.

There is no entitlement in nature.

The right to defend yourself, it is only (like all ‘rights’) a nonverbal, social agreement. What you do have is an ability, like all animals. Rights mean nothing to overwhelming force. You set a boundary, enforce it while hoping you prevail if someone tests it.

You have nothing unless you are willing to fight or work for it. All the rest is negotiation and social games until someone pulls the trigger.

Rollercoaster Summer

It’s been an insane summer for myself and Abyss Press. 

Tried a limited run of shirts that were well received and will be brought back in one form or another.

Then an extremely low note, tragedy struck my family when we lost my godson in an accident. From that I set aside the ‘Breakdown‘ book project and started the book tentatively titled ‘Meditations‘ as a form of therapy and hopefully help for others who are soul searching. I revisited the Forging Ronin series when life showed me what my real priorities are.  It will be Abyss Press’s first ever standalone E-Book.

Then at the latest Wolf Fest I was chosen by the pack to be one of the co-owners of Wicked Jester while Thorin leaves to focus on his writing career. This doesn’t mean Abyss Press goes away, it’ll benefit greatly from what I learn from working at Wicked Jester.

Here’s to new beginnings!