Killing Terrorists?

I admit: the murderous persecution of Christians in the Middle East is an ugly thing. I’ve seen photos that make me want to throw up, and I've heard stories that make me want to send an army to the Middle East to bomb them back to the stone age.

I’ve been talking to other believers who have been arguing in favor of responding to terrorist violence with a violent (eg military) response. I understand that there are good and responsible arguments that can be made for using force against terrorism.

I'm not saying we should or shouldn't. I suspect that there are good arguments on both sides of that conversation. I am fortunate in that I don’t need to have the answer to that particular question.

However, I’ve been observing that when the Church faced its first terrorist, God didn't kill the terrorist. In fact, that terrorist, a maniacal Pharisee named Saul, became the apostle Paul, the greatest evangelist for the Kingdom of God in the history of the planet.

I'm not saying, "use force" or "don't use force" against terrorists.

But I think I'm ready to say, Whatever you do, pray for their conversion. Pray for a Damascus Road experience for whichever terrorist group has your attention right now.

If it is true (and it is) that "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church," then there is going to be a revival of epic proportions in several places in the Earth as soon as those seeds hatch.

We'll need passionate people to lead it, and we'll need more of them than we have now.

Shoot them or don’t shoot them, as your conscience leads you. But for Heaven’s sake, do pray for them. Pray for their conversion. Pray that they meet the God of the Universe. And pray that he uses them in His Kingdom, like he used Paul.

That’s a response to terrorism with a good track record.


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Help! Get Me Outta Here!

Have you ever been stuck in a situation that was really hard to put up with? Maybe it’s a job with long hours, no respect, lousy pay, no growth opportunities. Maybe it’s a relationship you can’t escape: parents, spouse, neighbors, co-workers. Whatever it is, you know things are not like they ought to be, and you seem powerless to change them.

It’s hard in that place. It’s easy to get disgruntled, angry, bitter in that place: why isn’t God changing this? It's like he doesn't even hear your prayers on this.
Here's my experience, my testimony: I spent a bunch of years disgruntled in a lousy job, and I surely didn't thrive. I complained to God and man about legitimate issues, blatantly illegal issues. I ended up doing the job poorly, and the boss noticed. Yikes.
I realized that I was letting my job be the thing that determined the state of my soul: my circumstances were the thing that determined whether I had joy or depression, whether I was thankful or ungrateful. Yikes again: I decided I wasn’t OK with somebody else controlling me.

I took positive steps to change my attitude. The job didn't change; if anything, it got worse. But I looked for places to rejoice (often the people) and ways to excel (one big one came through an on-site accident: weird how that worked). I went out of my way to perform that lousy job to the best of my ability, while submitting to their stupid and unreasonable limitations. More, I went out of my way to be positive and encouraging to the people I worked with, and with myself.
Time went by. A couple of years later, my job was pretty much the same, but I was happy and thriving and doing my job well. The boss noticed, and talked about promotion, but even more, Father noticed, and he released me to the next opportunity: I was not released from the prison until I overcame my own soul in the midst of it.
It seems that he wasn't willing to bail me out when I'd given up: he doesn't reward disgruntled
ingratitude. God’s ways do not include giving in to our petulant temper tantrums and continuous whining. He rewards faithfulness, especially in tough circumstances. He always has.
That appears to be his way throughout scripture: he rewards those who are faithful, whether with great gifts or with small ones. This is also his way: he always saves us through the difficulties, never from them.

It’s when we’re faithful in the midst those difficult circumstances that he is free to reward us, not before.


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The Commandments of Christ

I've heard John 14:15 quoted many times in reference to obeying some of the laws of the Old Testament:  “If you love Me, keep My commandments." Or they've quoted John, 15:14 "You are my friends if you do what I command."

The verse is thrown out as a prooftext: "You have to follow the commands of God!" though nobody's expected to follow all the commands: they don't promote blood sacrifices or stoning sinners. It's just an attempt to coerce believers into submitting to their own favorite part of the Law.

This is an attempt at control: whether from ignorance or malevolence, this is an attempt to wield the Law, as it has always been wielded, to exercise control over you: "You must do what I say you must do, because of this verse!" This is part of "the curse of the Law." And implicit in it is "If you don't do what I say, you're guilty!" and this is the rest of "the curse of the Law."

Let's look a little closer, shall we, at what Jesus said? Jesus doesn't say, "If you love me, keep all the commands of the Law," or even "If you love me, keep this particular group of the Law's commands."

What does he say? "Keep MY commandments." Keep the commandments that Jesus has given. Not the commandments of the Law: the commandments of Jesus!

What did Jesus command? Let's pull out a concordance and look, shall we?

Jhn 13:34
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Jhn 15:12
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Jhn 15:17
This is my command: Love each other.

You're welcome to look it up yourself (; these are actually the only commandments that Jesus gave. It's pretty clear that, while he has commanded it several times, he only gave one command: love each other.

So yeah: if you love Jesus, keep the commandments he gave: they're all about love each other. That's it. This isn't about obeying the law, or about religious traditions, or about dietary requirements or even a command to "do good works."

It's about loving each other.

It probably is appropriate to point out that love - true ἀγαπάω love - is a pretty big topic. It's all about pursuing their good over your own good, and that's a costly love that will itself require much of us. But the command is love; the command is not about submitting to the Law, either the Old Covenant Law, or the rules that someone is trying to control you with.

Brothers and sisters, the Law is dead. Long live the command of love.

Changing Our Focus in Corporate Worship

May I be blunt?

Some among us need to be less concerned about singing the lyrics on the screen, and more concerned about giving voice to the words welling up from inside them.

I was taking a young lady shopping, and she needed to visit some beauty supply shops. You may not suspect this, but I don’t often find myself looking forward to reasons to visit beauty supply shops. So I parked outside and took a nap.

In my five-minute nap, I dreamed, and God met me and spoke to me in the dream. He talked about some people among the Body whom He called “psalmists.” Yeah, I know it’s not the normal way we use the word.

I’m sure there are other definitions, but in this dream, a psalmist was someone whose worship is best when they’re using their own words, not when they’re singing words – even “anointed” words – written by other people with other histories with God.

I could hear Father’s concern for his children who are this kind of psalmist. It seemed to me that this wasn’t something that we were ready to hear before, but now it’s time, and he said,

“Some among us need to be less concerned about singing the lyrics on the screen, and more concerned about giving voice to the words welling up from inside them.”

May I encourage you: worship with the words that are in YOUR heart. If the words on the screen communicate what’s in your heart, great! Use the words on the screen.

But if those words don’t reflect your heart, then don’t use them. Don’t make a scene, but use the words that speak for your heart, even if they’re words that nobody else is using.

Worship isn’t about conformity, is it? It’s about connecting with – it’s about exalting – the King of Heaven with our whole heart, soul and strength. Use the words that do that for you.

Fixing Our Eyes on the Good.

There have been some remarkable discoveries in physics recently, particularly in the realm of quantum mechanics (sub-atomic particles: the tiny things that make up every piece of matter in the universe): Oversimplified: The very fact of observation changes reality.

(This video does a pretty good job of explaining this. The first 5 minutes give you the basics.)

The physicists’ conclusion: “The very act of observing [subatomic particles] caused the wave function to collapse and create the existence of matter.” In other words, observation creates real matter.

This has epic implications: what we observe becomes real. In fact, physicist Anton Zeilinger declares that “What we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure [or observe].”

Let’s describe this in Kingdom vocabulary: it clearly suggests that sons of the Most High create reality not merely by their words, but also by simply paying attention.

This gives greater understanding to passages like Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Applying quantum physics to Scripture, this explains WHY we are directed to dwell – to observe, to fix our attention on – good things: because our observation of them causes them to manifest more completely in the physical realm.

By extension, the reverse is also true: if we do NOT give our attention to things that are negative or evil – we call them “bad reports” – then we do NOT help those things become reality. What we don’t pay attention to never becomes as real as the things we do pay attention to.

So one of the ways that we accomplish our task of “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” is in Hebrews 12: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

But the current research in quantum physics has learned even more: just observing subatomic particles not only causes them to actually exist, but it causes them to have already existed, prior to observation (around the 7:00 point of the video), or sometimes, in the future.

I hear this as both a powerful encouragement to focus our attention on good news, on things that are “worthy of praise,” and a clear articulation of WHY we need to pay attention to good things.

As Dr Zeilinger says, This is “a very, very deep message about the nature of reality, and our role in the universe. We are not just passive observers.”


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