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Archive for August, 2014

So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Genesis 4:6-7

The Onset

When God asks, Cain, “Why has your countenance fallen,” it is the first allusion to depression in the Bible. What makes it such a significant reference is that in this short passage we are able to examine the cause, the consequence, and amazingly, God’s cure for the disorder.

Before depression sets in, the Bible discloses that Cain was a selfish, prideful, and faithless man. The account in Genesis bears witness to this. Cain and Abel present offerings to the Lord and God was not pleased with Cain’s for the aforementioned reasons. While all of Cain’s traits contributed to the objectionable circumstances, the primary issue was his faithlessness.

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain… Hebrews 11:4a

The thing Abel did, he did by faith, and since God declares in Romans 10:17 that, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, ” we know that both Cain and Abel had communication with God. Regrettably only Abel was obedient — Abel did well (in his faithful obedience) and Cain did not do well (in his faithlessness).

The Cure

“Do well.”

In the context of the story, we know that ‘do well’ does not mean to execute good deeds, work hard and redeem yourself, or even pull yourself up by the boot straps. deThe reality of doing well is to employ the faith God has given, obey His word, and as a result you will be accepted. You may be interested to know that he word ‘accepted’ here in the Hebrew is seh-ayth and it actually means to be elevated or lifted up. One might even say that you will be ‘un-depressed’ by the healing hand of God.

In steep contrast, God warns that ‘sin lies at the door’ for those who reject the cure, the consequences of which bring you lower, intensifying the despair. In other words, how deep (and low) you go is a choice you make. Odd as it may seem, the medical community does not really dispute the inference. According to them, when you are depressed the serotonin level in your brain drops.

Did you catch that?

The drop in serotonin is not the cause of depression, but a symptom; it comes as a result of being depressed, or in this case, choosing to refuse the cure when depression is in its earliest phase. In other words, depression is not chemically induced, but can be chemically sustained as the patient declines the cure. In cases where the chemical change is severe, it stands to reason that medicine(s) are sought to bring a brain back ‘chemically’ to where decisions can be made intelligently, but even then we should not discount God’s power to restore (that’s my testimony).

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. Romans 1:28

If like Cain a person refuses to repent and do well, that one will be handed over to a debased mind, in this case depression. God is not mocked and we will reap what we have sown. God lets us go to attain that which we fervently pursue. We do not have to look very far to witness this. The world abounds with curses not imparted by God, but rather self-imposed by means of personal faithlessness. Historically, as Cain murders his brother, he fulfills the prophecy declared by God only one sentence before—sin reigns in the faithless heart.

 

 

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Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God : the powers that beare ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Romans 13:1-2

Therefore, Know Ye the Law!

A friend of mine shared these assorted case law’s that are applicable to open-air oappreaching and I wanted to share them with all my evangelical friends. I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list, but there are some pretty good citations here. Perhaps it might be wise to have a copy on hand to share with anyone (police or otherwise) who would like to squelch your free speech. I’m posting these for informational purposes only. Please be responsible and do your own research and do not rely solely on this data. I am not a lawyer. I provided clickable links so you my delve further into each.  As always, go out in the Spirit, and not your flesh.

Leafleting, Preaching, & Displays

We have the right to pass out literature, to preach, and to displays signs on public areas. Coates v. Cincinnati 402 U.S. 611 / Edwards v. S. Carolina, 372 U.S. 299 / Furr v. Town of Swansea, F. Supp 1543

We have the right to exercise our religion and to speak in all quintessential public forums. Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 474 / U.S. v. Grace, 461 U.S. 171, 176.

Public Access

We have a “guaranteed access” to streets, parks, and other “traditional public forum,” and mere inconvenience to the government will not outweigh our free speech interests. Hague v. C.I.O. 307 U.S. 496.

Offending Others

Our freedom of speech may not be prohibited merely because it offends some listeners. Cantwell v. Conn, 310 U.S. 296 / Simon & Shuster v. New York State Crime Victims Bd, 502 U.S. 105 / N.Y. Ties v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254.

A city may not consider the listeners reactions when permitting free speech activity. Forsyth County v. The Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123.

Hecklers do not have veto power over a speakers right of free speech, and police must control a crowd rather than arrest the speaker in order to maintain order. Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536.

We have the right to be protected by law enforcement, if the crowd is offended by what we are preaching, and becomes hostile. Hedges v. W.C.U.S.D. No. 118, et al. 9F.3d 1295.

Amplitude 

We have the right to be loud enough to be heard. Saia v. New York, 334 U.S. 1948.

Permits

Permits are not allowed to be used to restrict a speakers right of free expression, and permits may not be used as a prior restraint on free speech. Kunz v. New York, 340 U.S. 290.

Gathright vs. City of Portland, 9th Circuit, affirming that just because a private group leases or permits space in a park or other traditional public forum, they may not then preclude your gospel preaching from that venue at that time.

Law Suits

A free speech lawsuit is a Federal case, and allows to sue police officers and/or guards in their official capacity, and as individuals. Freedom Restoration Act, Title 42, Section 2000aa.

A free speech lawsuit will subject the police and others involved, to pay our damages and all of our attorney’s fees. 42 U.S.C. && 1983 and 1988.

Malls

Calif Supreme Court help that the Calif Constitution protects speech & petitioning, reasonably exercised, in shopping centers even when the center is privately owned. Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980)  447 U.S. 74. No. 79-289. Argued March 18, 1980. Decided June 9, 1980.

Shopping malls and their common areas. The commons areas outside each individual privately  owned store is “public fora” (a public area used for “communicating thoughts between citizens and discussing public questions,”)

(Hague v. CIO, 307 U.S. 496. 515 (1939)    The City of Los Angeles tried to restrict free speech activity in a particular part of a park at the famous Olvera Street, which was mainly used by merchants. The 9th circuit said otherwise.

Gerritsen v. City of Los Angeles, 994 F. 2d 570 – Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 1993

*I am not a lawyer. I am Christian trying to operate within the parameters of the law. This post is not intended to be legal advice. Please know the laws where you live and do your best to evangelize accordingly. Oh, and exercise your religious freedom before you lose them. 

 

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If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

“It is not so much as prayer changes things, but prayer changes me and I change things.” Oswald Chambers from, ‘My Utmost For His Highest.’
~

It could be rightly said that when we pray we are not petitioning the Lord to change His mind, but rather that He changes our minds so that our desires line up with His. meWe know this in part because God said, “For I am the LORD, I change not.” As we approach Him with a subjected mindset [in prayer] it will be revealed to us in a most practical way that He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’ This recognition strengthens both faith and relationship, and consequently we are transformed. In the Oswald Chambers’ quote, he said, “And I change things,” but I sense he recognized that God is the changer of things and we are just His yielded vessels.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

Prayer keeps us connected. To suspend prayer is to sever the branch to which we are affixed and to hinder prayer is to effect a withering death. As it pertains to His will (and our change), we are simply the conduit by which His blessings flow. If we fail to yield there will still be fruit, but it will be attributed to someone else. In other words, God’s plan will be achieved regardless if we are involved or not. However, God wants us onboard, engaged, and motivated; He wants to bless us as He blesses; He wants to transform us as He transforms. As we are prayerfully connected, both heart and circumstances will be altered.

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And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29

We Know

Reflect upon what God has already done.

Now top that off with the reality that He has predestined our Spiritual inheritance: Christians are by faith children of God (non-Christians are not His children; they are His yet-to-be adopted creation). This isn’t some kind of Calvinist/predestination mumbo-jumbo (I consider myself neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian); the relevant facts are that our Father, having the ability to see both the end and the beginning (and everything in-between simultaneously) knows who His followers will be and pre-ordains them. Therefore, Christians in a very real sense, have been covered before they even knew who Jesus Christ was. Looking back, we can now identify with His mission and having been called according to His purpose; it all makes sense.

They Know

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:18-21

What about the fate of the unbeliever?

The same destiny theology applies, but in reverse: that person is condemned to a God-less void. Why? Because they have rejected Jesus and His grace all the way to the grave. It’s called the unpardonable sin; given a choice, they chose unwisely (take note: God knows them and we do not).

God’s Word gives us the reason for their errant behavior, and it’s not due to a lack of theological or intellectual understanding (the Gospel is the simplest of messages; so simple a child can understand it). No, his reasons are purely selfish: he loves sin more than anything else and rejects the only One able to spare his life. God has not condemned this man as much as he has condemned himself.

Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:30

What Else Do We Know?

We know the word glorified in this verse is in the past tense. Our glorification, although not established on earth, is perceived to have already occurred in the eyes of the Father. Those who are in Christ are seen as God’s children and the offenses we have committed are supposed to have never occurred. God sees us clothed in the righteousness of His Son; a sinless state. If we can realize this truth and take it to heart, suddenly our praise and service will no longer be a fleshly endeavor to gain favor with the Lord. In so doing our praise and service is based on position rather than proposition. Positionally, we’re beneath the spout where His blessing continually and consistently flow out. Occasionally we may choose to reposition ourselves (moving away from the ‘spout’), but hopefully that occurs less and less as we mature in faith.

If it’s True For You, Then It’s True For Them Too

Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Mark 8:22

If God sees me in my glorified state, then that means (gulp) He sees every other Christian in the exact same way. What does this passage from Mark’s Gospel have to do with that issue? Immature Christians (immature in a treefavorable sense) tend to view other Christians like trees. We’re often stumped by their behavior, we leave them alone, or we cut them down. Occasionally we even see other believers as dead wood; mere obstacles on our spiritual path.  If God sees them in their glory, why do we see them otherwise? Doesn’t Jesus want us to see them as He sees them: heirs to the greatest inheritance of all time? Is it not audacious to criticize Christ’s bride?

As long as all Christians are in the same book, we don’t have to be on the same page. I remember once criticizing a brother in Christ for the manner in which he shared the Gospel. He wasn’t violating any Biblical ordinances, but I made the mistake that so many of us make: he wasn’t doing it the way I would do it. Here’s the irony – I wasn’t doing it.  Naturally, the Holy Spirit was quick to convict me. Wouldn’t you know it, I now come across Christians who don’t like the way I do it.

Oh how true the verse…

“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

Back to the Book

That’s not to say we cannot judge, correct, or admonish our brothers and sisters in Christ. Quite frankly, if we’re aware of errant theology or impious behavior and we don’t offer correction in a Biblically prescribed manner, we’re culpable. So while it’s true we can all be on different pages, it’s vitally important we’re all in the same Book. The truth of Scripture is the narrow path with which we must always align ourselves.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Ephesians 4:32 & 4:15; Galatians 6:1)

Sheep Herders

Do you see the flock or men walking as trees? Are you critical or supportive of their words and deeds? Could it be said you’re trying to put square sheep into treeeround holes? Are you able to delegate and facilitate the efforts of the flock corporately and the sheep individually? Has that one sheep actually gone astray or is she really deep within a niche God has carved out for her? Are you offended that some sheep are being led by the Holy Spirit and not you? Is it possible that congregationally there is not enough missional opportunity and some sheep don’t have a place to flourish in their faith (for God’s glory, of course)? Is God revealing that the nook He carved out for them is possibly an opportunity for the church as whole? Can you recognize body parts and their functions? Is everyone in the same Book?

“For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-20)

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Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

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