Episode 42: The Hope We Have

Listen to the podcast HERE

– Begin Transcript –

Welcome to the show, folks. We’ve been talking recently about the concept of love, and it’s one of many words today that is misused and tossed around out of context until its meaning is unrecognizable. Another term that is often misrepresented is the word, hope. If we listen carefully – with discerning ears – to those who spread this word on really thick in the political arena, we notice it being used to appeal to people who have lost a sense of hope. But in this arena, when uttered in an attempt to win votes or sell you an idea, the word is bereft of any real meaning. It is spoken in vain, devoid of worth, empty.

When hope is rendered in such a way, it becomes nothing more than fluffy terminology – something that sounds good but, in the end, means nothing. This has often been the result of political figures using the term for their own purposes, in empty campaign slogans, and to promise things they never intend to follow through on. Problem is, too many people fall prey to this. Too many people consider their source of hope to be the government. “If we can just elect these people into office, they’ll solve all our problems.” This is how governments get so big and intrusive and powerful and oppressive – people lose real hope and begin to place all their trust in government to save them.

Today, we will deal with this topic and remind ourselves that our true source of hope is not a politician or a government program – no, the hope we have is found in Jesus. And our trust is in the Lord. I’m Stace Massengill, and this is the Kingdom Hero Blogcast…

– Show Intro –

I’m sure you remember in 2016 when Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. Forget all the party-line political aspects to this, I’m just talking about the reactions of people reliant upon leaders in government to save them and make their lives better. Remember all the downcast faces of the Hillary supporters who were utterly devastated that she had lost? They were crying, screaming, and acting as if their entire world had just come to a tragic end. They were fearful – mainly due to the lies they were fed my the media – that Trump would destroy all of accomplishments of former President Obama, and that the country was doomed.

And even though the world didn’t end, and Trump actually got us out of wars and bad trade deals, he definitely took the country in a different direction – and that still made people on the left think he was the wrong person for the job. Regardless of any good that he did – which the media refused to speak of – people were unhappy that he was making government less intrusive. Many folks would rather be dependent upon government than to take responsibility for themselves. That’s just a fact. But now let’s flip the script, because it’s not just those on the left who tend to put way too much faith in people in power.

Since Trump has left the Oval Office, and Biden has assumed the role of POTUS, we cannot deny that there are plenty of people on the right who have appeared to lose hope. No, we don’t see all the ridiculous crying and screaming that we saw from Hillary’s supporters 4 years ago, but there are those who were supporting Trump that seem almost as devastated that he’s no longer in office. And most of these are afraid that Biden is going to undo all the good Trump accomplished, as he’s already made strides to undo some of it.

What we’re talking about here is misplaced hope. Too many of us tend to invest an unhealthy amount of faith in man – who is flawed – rather than in God – who is completely incorruptible. Yeah, Trump did an incredible amount of good – despite the constant opposition from his many enemies – and we were hopeful that he would remain office another 4 years and do even more. But is it possible that some of us forgot that our hope is not in man? A lot of the posts I’ve seen from folks would seem to indicate that they think our nation is doomed now that Biden is in office. But wait a minute, isn’t God still on the throne?

The truth is that we, as long-standing citizens of the most FREE nation on the planet, have such a narrow view of what real oppression is like. We are spoiled as Americans, having been born into all these amazing rights and liberties, and we take most of them for granted. We don’t know what it’s like in this country – yet anyway – to be rounded up and executed for our faith. We don’t understand the concept of persecution like many in other parts of the world. We’ve become so spoiled by our freedoms, in fact, that we feel entitled to them and even more. And all a politician has to do is promise you something else that you think you deserve and ought to have, and we grow even more dependent upon them. They become our source of hope, and we become less and less free.

Taking on a worldly view, we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are independent. But it’s not that we’re truly independent because we become dependent on this government program and that government bail-out and government subsidies and government-run healthcare and so on. So what is it that we think we’re independent from in this worldly view of things? God. That is the tragedy of mankind’s modern arrogance – that he thinks he no longer needs God. “I can just rely on this government benefit. I deserve it anyway. I’m entitled to it.” But little to no thought is given to what happens when that government you’ve put all your hope into decides that you’re not essential to its purposes and cuts you off.

Hey, don’t tell me that can’t happen. Were you paying ANY attention in 2020? Here was this virus with a 99+% survival rate, which was used as a political tool to undermine the greatest economy we’ve ever seen. Despite the incredibly high survival rate, it was hyped up and used to cause widespread panic, and our own government committed serious oversteps of its power. Mandates, lockdowns, and useless restrictions were put into place – supposedly for our own good. But those restrictions caused countless businesses to lose revenue and ultimately close down. If you weren’t deemed as essential, you were simply our of luck. I know this first-hand because I lost my job during this time when the company I worked for was forced to shut down permanently.

We saw in the last year just how easily this kind of thing can and did happen. And you’d better believe it still can and will happen again. So do you really want to put all your hope into a government run by flawed and corruptible men and women? Do you really think that they have your best interest in mind? Or wouldn’t you rather place your trust and dependence on the God who created you and truly does have your best interest in mind? The God who formed you in the womb with a plan and purpose for your life? The God who redeemed us to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, so that we could have REAL HOPE for eternal life? No politician – of any party – can ever offer you that.

– Break Transcript –

Scripture has a lot to say about hope. In the book of Psalms, David asks himself this question:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

~ Psalms 42:5, 42:11, 43:5 [ESV]

Again, how downcast do we allow ourselves to become when our candidate doesn’t come out on top? Yes, whether we think the election was legitimate or rigged. Where is our hope? In the man? In the election process? In the powers of our government? Or are we hopeful in God, who cannot be ousted from His rightful place in heaven?

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

~ Romans 5:2 [ESV]

This passage tells us that it is through Jesus that we have been given access to grace, and it is this grace that sustains us – not a government program or subsidy. God is our provider, not some politician. And we should be rejoicing in the hope we have in Him, rather than being all negative and acting like we’re all in big trouble now that so-and-so is president. How short-sighted is that thinking?! And how pitiful if our hope is based on who’s in office rather than on He who is on the throne of glory.

Do we really have to remind ourselves of where our hope lies? Time and time again, we can find ourselves acting like we’ve forgotten this most basic of biblical lessons. When we lose a battle or our plans somehow fail, we revert to our carnal nature of doubt and hopelessness. For Christians, that should never be. But when it does, we need to remember these truths.

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever…

Psalm 146:4-6 [ESV]

See, eventually we all die and return to the ground from which we were made. Whatever plans we may have had for the future will fall by the wayside, but God’s plans always see fruition. When our hope is in the Lord our God who made everything – including us – His blessings on us are assured, both during and after this life. Our faith can endure in spite of all circumstance if our hope is in Him. If bound to this life and the corruptible things within it, hope will fail us. But that doesn’t happen when our hope is in the eternal.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Titus 2:11-14 [ESV]

So this scripture says that God has given us His grace – the grace to live this life in a righteous manner despite the ungodliness around us – and He brought the gift of salvation for all people. This is to be our hope. Not material things. Not any of the ungodly or worldly desires of the flesh. Instead, we are to renounce such things, living our lives in obedience to God and in waiting for our “blessed hope” to appear. What is that? The promise of glory, the return of Christ, and the deliverance from this life into one that is eternal. In light of this, our hope is in Him, and we ought to have great zeal to do good works in His name.

Furthermore, we should realize that any hope in things of this world is a fading or passing hope because this world is passing away. That is a dead hope, which is really no hope at all. In a world that denies God, the belief is that after this life is over, we’re done. That’s it. We just cease to exist. Our hope is not a dead one, but a living one, with faith that we will live forever with the Lord.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…

1 Peter 1:3-4 [ESV]

Again, we see that OUR HOPE is grounded in the gift of salvation through Jesus and the promise of everlasting life. Because of what Christ did for us, we hold on to a living hope – and we have an inheritance that will not perish, cannot be defiled or corrupted or plundered, and will never fade away. Our hope is not merely in this life, but also in the one to come. And it is Jesus Himself who is our ever-present, living, and eternal hope.

– Break Transcript –

This is why, as believers, we should stand out from other people in the world. He have a hope that can’t be squashed. You can hope for a better job, a better car, a nicer house, or for a certain person to be elected to an office. But when that thing you hope for doesn’t happen, you can end up losing all hope if you’re not careful. Your ultimate hope can’t simply rest on the things of this life or on a human being who can fail you. That’s a recipe for a miserable existence. You’d better get used to disappointment if that’s your idea of hope.

But no, we should be different. As Christians, the world should look at us and go, “Why are they always so hopeful? How on earth are they smiling and happy? What is it that keeps them in such a good mood even when things are going bad?” Because your positive witness to them will lead them to say, “I want whatever it is that they have.” And then, we can introduce them to Jesus – our everlasting source of hope.

And when the opportunity to witness comes, we need to be ready. They’re gonna have doubts. They’re gonna have questions. They’re gonna need to hear from your experiences that there is real hope in Christ. And God’s Word tells us to always be ready to give reason for the hope we have.

…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…

1 Peter 3:15 [ESV]

When offering our reasons for this hope in Christ, the manner in which we speak to the non-believer is crucial. We can’t just say, “Well, I’m a Christian, so I have real hope.” Where’s the explanation in that? Where’s the God-like love and compassion? No, our witness needs to be genuine, personal, and have real-world application to the life of the one we’re sharing Jesus with. More like, “Well, this is where I was when I found a better way. This is how beginning a relationship with Jesus changed my life. This is the hope I have and why I have it. This is how God made Himself real to me. And this is something you can have, too.” And fill in the blanks there with your own personal story of how the Savior gave you a hope that endures every circumstance.

We live in a world that seems to be without hope. It’s a world that too often puts its trust in corruptible things and people. Sometimes, we ourselves fall into this carnal trap. But there IS hope. And this hope is for all mankind. Christ came to make things new, to save the lost, and to redeem us to the Father. And the hope He gives us isn’t merely for this life.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:19 [ESV]

Indeed, the hope we have is not rooted in the temporary things of this world, but in the eternal things of the life to come. We have the hope of salvation, yes, but it’s also a hope of everlasting life – a hope that there’s so much more to our existence than what this life has to offer. There is a life to come that will last forever, where everything will be renewed, and where we’ll have new and glorified bodies that will never succumb to disease or death. THIS is the hope we have. And it is available to everyone who would believe in Jesus, accept His gifts of salvation and eternal life, and follow in His ways. And unlike most campaign promises, God’s promises are “Yes” and “Amen.”

– End Transcript –

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Episode 41: Stay or Go? Making Sense of the Social Media Exodus

Listen to the podcast HERE

– Begin Transcript –

A couple of episodes back, we talked about the purging of conservative voices by Big Tech. But there has been a voluntary exodus from several of the big social media platforms, as well. Many people who are fed up with the censorship are opting to leave Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, in favor of less restrictive platforms like MeWe, Parler, and Rumble. Of course, Parler users were stripped of their voices when Apple and Google dumped the app from their smartphones and Amazon kicked the popular platform off of their web servers. Parler may be back at some point after being forced to build their own servers from the ground up, but the cancel-card has been played – and so a lot of the disenfranchised are trying to unplug themselves from those who have been stifling their free speech.

While I understand the frustration and even the utter disgust some folks are experiencing, and I’ve considered disconnecting myself from media giants like Facebook and Twitter, I believe there is more to consider here. There are several simultaneous attempts going on right now to separate us socially. These efforts are being waged on multiple fronts. We talked in the last episode about healing the divisions between us, but how can we do that if we give in to the pressure to just up and leave all the outlets that want us as conservatives gone anyway? Aren’t we playing into their hands and allowing them to divide us further by leaving their platforms on our own?

Then there is the matter of how these Big Tech companies gather tons of personal data about us and sell it to advertisers for marketing purposes. They can get away with this because, simply by having an account with them, we have already given up our right to keep that accessible data private. Where we shop, where we eat, what our favorite music is, our marital status, the number of family members we have, our photos, where we live – all this stuff and a lot more is trackable online and companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter have access and share every last detail. Now, THAT kinda makes ya wanna go off the grid, doesn’t it?

Stick around. I’m Stace Massengill, and this is the Kingdom Hero Blogcast.

– Show Intro –

Long before all of this heavy censorship started happening, I thought many times about deleting my Facebook account. My reasoning back then was all about just wanting to unplug. I began to realize how much of my time was being spent on social media, and it was disturbing. I started trying to think of ways to ween myself off of it, but it quickly became obvious that this had developed into a full-blown addiction. Worse than that, Facebook had become a monster that had its tentacles in almost every major aspect of my life. Suddenly, deleting my Facebook account showed itself to be a virtual impossibility.

There are probably 20 things I do in service to my church that are dependent upon my access through Facebook. We have Messenger Groups through Facebook that I use for communication with – for example – my Audio Visual Crew. We have a Facebook Church Page AND a Group Page there for communicating with regular attendees. The church website is interlinked through Facebook. It’s all so interconnected that, if I were to delete my account, I’d lose administrative access to all that church stuff I’m involved in. Not to mention, the church also has a Twitter account.

So for me, simply leaving Facebook is NOT currently an option. And, as I said, voluntarily removing my own conservative voice from the platform would be playing into their hands. Shouldn’t I rather remain there and continue to offer an alternative view – a conservative and a Christian view – for as long as I can? If I am going to be a witness for Christ, I need to be where the mission field is. When they try to censor me for speaking the truth, should I just give up and leave? No, I don’t think so. Why should I make it easy for them to silence me?

Matthew 5

(Jesus speaking) 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

In other words, we should not shrink back from demonstrating righteousness to the world. Many will surely revile us for it, give us a hard time, even make fun of us – but when that happens, we are to count it as a good thing to be hated for Christ’s sake.

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

Now let’s apply this to concept of being salt through our social media accounts. There we can do more good than we realize just by living out a Godly example in front of others. If we simply remove ourselves from the picture, who will be salt for those who need it?

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

We should be like that city on a hill that can be seen far and wide. If we remove ourselves and our light from those who need it, who then will be the light that helps them to see the truth?

When you look at it this way, you start to see that a lot more good can come from remaining in an area – or a social network – than from abandoning it. That’s kinda like conceding defeat and granting territory to the enemy. Now, if they steal that ground from you and kick you off or censor you – that’s on them. But willingly giving it up to them? I just can’t see how that’s a viable option.

I will say this, though. I have opened up alternate accounts with other platforms – namely, MeWe and Parler. But that serves two purposes: 1) Those are my backup plans for if and when I get tossed from Facebook and Twitter. 2) By having accounts on other platforms, I’m widening my horizons and deepening my mission field. I’ll admit that I was once all for dumping the big social media giants in favor of the other guys who don’t censor my content. But now, no. Leaving a mission field to be taken over by the enemy? Nuh-uh. Not me. I’m not ready to sound the retreat.

– Break Transcript –

Okay, what about all the data mining done by these big companies? They get access to pictures and all kinds of personal information through social media and web tracking – how can I hope to maintain any kind of privacy? Now THAT is a good question, and there ARE answers – if you’re willing to pay a little something for the service.

But before I get into that, I know there are a lot of you saying, “What? Something else to cost me money?” Hey, I feel ya. You may not want to shell out your hard-earned income, but that depends on how important it is to you to hang on to some semblance of privacy. I’ll build the case for this in a bit, but right now I wanna give you a few tips that won’t cost you anything except some time.

Limiting your exposure to the internet is key, but that seems more and more difficult to do nowadays. We do pretty much everything online. Banking, shopping, communicating, paying bills – you name it. So let’s start with your smartphone. If you’re like me, every photo you take with your smartphone gets automatically uploaded to a web server so that you don’t lose it. Google Photos is one of the more common apps that does this for you. However, once Google has this access to your photos, it’s potentially accessible to anyone and everyone online. Wanna put a stop to that? Go into your phone’s settings and disconnect or discontinue Google’s access to your photo gallery.

Let’s talk about social media’s access to your photos and information. When you sign up for, say, a Facebook account, the sign up process that you are prompted through will guide you in such a way that – if you’re not paying very close attention, which most people don’t – you’ll be giving Facebook access to everything you do there. The default settings give them permission to gather your pictures and other data for whatever purposes they see fit. And if you’ve already been with them for a while, they don’t seem too forthcoming or user friendly when it comes to changing those privacy settings. But given a little time, you can go into those settings – making sure you investigate every nook and cranny – and change what information is visible to who. Still, it’s a tedious process to make any real changes, and it might be easier to delete the account and start over from scratch.

Obviously, this is not ideal. There are ways to limit what stuff can be seen, and you can do it for free, but it can take a lot of time. There are plenty of us who just don’t have the patience for all that. This is what sometimes makes me want to just delete every social media account I have and avoid all of it. But, oh yeah, I can’t delete my accounts and still do what I do for the church. Besides, getting rid of all your social media accounts would only be part of protecting your data. You’d also have to get rid of all your search history, shopping history, browsing history, all the tracking cookies on your computers and smartphones – and on and on it goes. Today, it is pretty much impossible to completely unplug.

That’s where certain pay services come in. What do you know about VPNs? If you’re like most people – absolutely nothing, right? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and this is something that can mask/hide/encrypt everything you do while connected to the internet. There are many different companies who offer this service. For a relatively small monthly, 6-month, or yearly fee, you can have a VPN protect all your online devices – smartphones, tablets, computers. Now before I start sounding too much like a commercial here, hey, I’m just saying that you might find it worth your while to look into it. I won’t bore you with a bunch of details about how a VPN works, but aside from keeping your data safe and private, there are other benefits to using one as well. But, I’ll let you do the research on that.

The point is, for most of us, our data is already out there. It’s kinda hard to put the genie back in the bottle, so-to-speak. But if you really want to get serious about protecting your privacy, anything that’s truly effective and worthwhile is gonna cost you something – period.

– Break Transcript –

So… Stay or go? Given all we’ve discussed today, you may be thinking that you’d have been better off if you’d never opened a social media account…or an Amazon account…or if you’d never bought a smartphone…or a computer. But these technological gadgets and modern marvels and tap-to-buy services are just so convenient, right? And once you have it, you very rapidly become so dependent upon it that you can’t imagine not having it.

A long time ago, it was automobiles. And indoor plumbing. Then it was electricity. And radio. Then television. And stereo sound. Then color TV. And high-definition TV. And, oooh, surround sound. Then home computers. Not so long ago, it was pagers. Then mobile phones. Eventually, it was smartphones – which is essentially a powerful computer that fits in your pocket. With each new thing, there quickly came the feeling of, “How on earth did I EVER do without this!?!” And so, separating ourselves from it doesn’t seem possible.

There are some things that we could do without. And if we had no choice, we’d find a way to survive without these modern gizmos we’ve become so attached to. All it takes is one strong EMP blast. An electromagnetic pulse would knock out everything electrical – temporarily, at least. Can you imagine how most of us would respond to something like that? Especially the youngest generation who’s had smartphones and computers around for literally their entire lives. “Dad, the wifi is down.” “No, it’s not just the wifi. it’s everything electrical.” “Well, can we watch TV?” “Uhm, no. That requires electricity.” “Ugh. Can I drive over to Janie’s house?” “Nope, the car won’t run either.” Talk about mayhem.

But as long as we have these conveniences, we’ll keep using them. It’s part of our reality now. This is the way it is. And privacy is becoming less and less of an actual thing. If you feel compelled to erase your online existence, good luck to ya. That won’t be easy, if even possible. If you want to delete your Facebook or Twitter accounts, that’s your prerogative. But it’s not the most practical way to get back any privacy you’ve lost. And if you’re motivation for joining the mass exodus from social media giants is political or out of frustration with all the censorship, again, it’s your prerogative. But in the midst of all the cancel culture, why would you cancel yourself?

If our voices are to be heard, leaving Facebook or Twitter isn’t the answer. If you were a missionary to, say, South America, and you met with some opposition there… Would you just up and leave? Would you give up and abandon the mission field just because of it? Or would you pray harder and seek for God’s wisdom and the courage to endure? Don’t give up the fight, my friends. Remain steadfast in the faith, no matter what the opposition says or does.

Ephesians 6

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Folks, don’t give in, and don’t give up. Put on God’s armor, pray and ask Him to help you stand up for what’s right – to be salt and light to the world, just as He has commanded us. And when you’ve done everything else you can do…hold firmly to your faith and to God’s promises. Refuse to be moved or shaken by all that’s going on around you – and simply STAND.

– End Transcript –

Listen to the podcast HERE

Episode 40: Bridging the Divide

Listen to the podcast HERE

– Begin Transcript –

Welcome to the Kingdom Hero Blogcast. I’m your host, Stace Massengill. On this episode, I’d like to build on some of what we’ve been discussing in the last couple of shows – that is, keeping things in the right perspective and trying to see others the way God sees them, and hopefully, showing more love and grace to those around us – particularly, the ones we tend to be at odds with. We want to recognize that our true enemy will use any and every tool at his disposal to try and cause division, especially within the church. If he can cause a falling out between brothers and sisters in Christ, it gives him an opportunity to destroy and demolish our efforts to grow the Kingdom. So how do we stop this? How do we recognize what’s really at work when we’re in the heat of debate or argument with our fellow believer? And how might we apply this to the divide between us and those who may not believe, but instead staunchly oppose us? How can we hope to overcome the things that tend to separate us? That’s the topic of today’s show… Let’s get to it.

– Show Intro –

Having been in the church practically my entire life, I have seen time and time again when petty disputes have caused giant rifts within the body of believers. It’s always a tragic thing when it happens. It doesn’t have to stem from some huge philosophical difference of opinion; it can be about something as minor as what color carpet is used in the auditorium. Seriously. The smallest of things can trigger a ridiculously large argument that the devil uses to tear the church apart. He absolutely loves doing that.

Let me give you a common scenario… Let’s say the worship team is practicing for the Sunday morning service, and a couple of the team members have differing ideas of how a song should be done. Or, they disagree about who should sing lead. Or maybe, they just have personalities that sometimes rub each other the wrong way. This is even more common when there are several family members serving together on the team because our filters are more likely to be off when talking to family. I’ve seen it a lot, even between my own brother and myself. Whatever the dispute in this scenario, if it is allowed to go unchecked and uncorrected, it can not only adversely affect the spiritual atmosphere of the practice session, but it can even cause one or more team members to storm out and never return. This would have devastating effects on the rest of the worship team, and those waves can ripple into the rest of the church and cause more damage.

Now in this particular scenario, one of the first things that needs to happen is that, the entire praise team should be made to remember why they are there. It’s not about opinions, and it’s not about any individual on the team. It’s about Jesus. The worship team exists for a specific purpose – to bring the congregation into an attitude of worship to God, and to lead them in praises to Him. It is a privilege and a solemn duty to serve in such a capacity, and so it should be treated that way. Everything else is just noise. Anything that causes discord is to be avoided or squashed when it happens. And this translates to any other situation where division arises in the church.

Sunday school teachers may argue over the curriculum, church board members may disagree about leadership decisions, or someone who attends regularly might get upset that someone else is sitting in their seat. It’s really sad the things that we will sometimes let get in the way of just coming to church and worshiping our Savior as we ought.

So what can we do to avoid that? Or what can we do to fix it when it happens? Yeah, we have to recognize it as an attack from hell – but how can we make sure our perspective is such that we CAN see it for what it really is? What are the symptoms to look out for when a potential source of division is approaching? And what are the core causes?

One benefit of having been in church for the better part of 50 years now is that I’ve learned to recognize certain situations that arise as possible triggers of division. That being said, I can still be blinded in a given moment by my own circumstances. Remember the instance I recently shared with you about getting corrected by my pastor when I spoke some words in response to a musician at church? This man made a comment that set me off a little bit, and I replied with a smart-elic tone, “I know dude, I’ve been doing this for over 30 years.” In that moment, I succumbed to my own pride and spoke in a way that could have angered or hurt my brother in Christ. Thankfully, my pastor was there to help me see my error. But how many times have we allowed pride or personal circumstances to cloud our vision and then used words or a tone that we shouldn’t have used?

So here, we have recognized a couple of core causes of divisive disputes: pride and short-sightedness. These are common, and they’re inter-related. How can we avoid these things? Number one – persistent prayer. Especially if you see that these are things that you struggle with more often that you’d like to admit. Daily one-on-one time with God is essential to every believer, and we need to be asking Him to help us with our communication skills and how we relate with others.

And if you’re really having a hard time with pride and failing to see how your words affect those around you, go deeper. Don’t just pray. Fervently pray. And fast. Spend time seeking God’s assistance in this matter. Wait for Him to speak to your heart. He might compel you to pray for that person you keep butting heads with. Perhaps you need to alter your perspective. Let God lead you. And don’t let up your prayers until you have an answer. Demonstrate to God (for your own benefit) how important this is to you, and ask Him to help you show grace in those times when that person pushes all your buttons.

1 John 4:20-21

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

You may say, “I don’t HATE him. I just don’t get along with him.” Realize there’s no middle ground here. If you don’t hate your brother in Christ, then you love him, right? You know we’re called to love one another. You know that the Bible tells us that’s how people will know that we are Christians – when they see our love for one another. But when that person gets on your last nerve, do you respond by showing the love you have? Or do you bitterly and pridefully respond in a way that seems more indicative of hate?

Think about this… Love is like a healing balm that mends what’s broken and binds up what’s wounded. Hatred, on the other hand, breaks and rips apart that which should be undivided. The one you practice is the one that you will cultivate and perfect. Which one are you practicing? Love? Or hate?

– Break Transcript –

So far, we have brought to light some things within our own attitudes that can cause division: pride and short-sightedness. But there are other things that can be sources of division. Today we see things like class-warfare, politics, and race causing large chasms between people. How do we bridge those divides?

The same concept we just talked about should be the answer to that – LOVE. But it seems to be even tougher sometimes to love someone who appears to be so diametrically opposed to us. When we know there’s something we should be doing, but we are struggling to do it, what is the appropriate tactic? We mentioned this earlier. If you’re having a really hard time doing the right thing, go deeper. Get more determined about it. Pray harder. Fast. Fervently seek God’s help, and don’t let up until you get what you need. Show the Lord you truly want to do His will, and ask Him to help you do that.

Now you may say, “I’m doing all I know how to show grace and love to this person, but he is just so stubborn.” Understand that it’s not up to you to change that person’s heart. You may not even be able to convince him that you love him and don’t view him as your enemy. Your responsibility as a Christian is simply to love, show grace, and let the Holy Spirit do the work that you can’t. We are seed sowers, but it is the Spirit if God who waters those seeds and causes them to grow. We can’t allow ourselves to be discouraged when we don’t see the change we hope for. Leave that in God’s hands. Just love.

Keep in mind Jesus’ parable of the sower…

Matthew 13:3-9

“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

When we sow – when we truly show the love and grace of God to everyone, regardless of how they treat us – we must realize the end result of our sowing isn’t up to us. As I’ve said, it is the Holy Spirit that does the work after we have done what we are supposed to do. But it is also largely up to the fertility of the soil in which the seed lands. If that person we treat as we ought doesn’t possess the receptiveness or the depth of good soil, his or her heart may remain hard and unchanged. That seed may not ever grow there at all. But in our charge to love others, there is no exception.

And, besides – love is unlike any ordinary seed. To love is divine. Love is the kind of seed that has success where others do not. Whether or not we ever see the end result, love is more likely to cause lasting change in people’s hearts than anything else. Even when it falls on ground that is hard and dry, love has the innate ability to break through the toughest of surfaces. And when the Holy Spirit waters that seed, miraculous change can happen. Why else would Jesus tell His disciples that love is the greatest commandment? There is power in it that can conquer anything – including the hardened heart of someone who seems to disagree with you on everything.

Matthew 5:43-46

(Jesus said in the sermon on the mount) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you (only) love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

Here again, we see that we are not only to love those it’s easy to love, but we are also to love those that it seems much harder to love. There is greater reward in it. And moreover, this passage says to pray for those who persecute you. That’s not easy either, but that’s what Jesus tells us to do. God doesn’t withhold the sunshine or rain from the unrighteous, and so we shouldn’t withhold love and grace from anyone – no matter who they are.

Whatever things tend to divide us, we can bridge the divide with love – real love – the Agape love that God has for us in spite of our flaws is precisely the kind of love we should have for everyone else. Nothing else we possess matters as much as that. We can be rich or poor, republican or democrat, black or white, or anything in between. Love is our most important attribute.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

This passage from the Love Chapter very clearly states that, without love, all the other talents and abilities and riches and accomplishments just fall flat and amount to nothing. You may have enough wealth to be financially set for life, but if you don’t have real love in your heart, you will never be truly happy. You might possess the greatest singing voice of anyone who ever lived, but if a Godly love for people isn’t a part of your character, your voice may as well be like the sound of braying donkeys. I could be the CEO of a large company that does business around the world, or the president and leader of a mighty nation, but that will count for absolutely nothing when I face eternity – all that will matter then is whether or not I followed Christ’s example in showing love, both for God the Father and for my fellow man. And without love, I will never bridge any divide.

The things that separate us are many, but only ONE thing can foster unity – and that’s LOVE.

– Break Transcript –

This concept that we’ve been discussing today – that love is the thing that can bridge the gaps and overcome the things that separate us – this is a central theme in the Word of God. In fact, you can’t talk about the things of God without talking about love. You cannot say you have a relationship with God unless you possess love. The two are inseparable.

1 John 4:8

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The old testament book of Deuteronomy speaks of the need to circumcise your heart when talking about loving God. As you likely know, circumcision can be quite painful. And the necessity for having a circumcised heart means there has to be a cutting away of things like pride and a self-serving carnal nature that impedes our ability to love like we’re supposed to. Anything that gets in the way or prevents us from having love in our hearts is also precluding us from truly having God in our hearts. Again, God is love.

So, how do we know that love can really build a bridge? Where’s the evidence of that? When in scripture do we see that being the case? As I just said a moment ago, this concept is a central theme in the Bible. In fact, it’s at the very heart of the gospel message. That message is a message of the great love of God.

1 John 4:10

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

This word, propitiation, indicates that there was a price that had to be paid to redeem us from sin. The cost of sin is death, and Jesus paid that price for us when He took up the cross and suffered the humiliation of crucifixion. This act put us back into favor and good standing with God the Father, and that was the ultimate act of love. That love bridged the divide that sin had caused between us and God.

Romans 5:8

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This is a sacrificial love. It’s an ever-lasting love. It’s a selfless love. What Christ did on the cross is the greatest example of love we could ever have.

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Think about this. How willing do you think you would be to give up your life for someone who is an atheist, a rank sinner, someone who’s guilty of crimes worthy of death? By all rights, that person deserves to die. But suppose you were given the opportunity to sacrifice yourself in that sinner’s place. Now perhaps I could imagine myself in this hypothetical situation and think, “I’m right with God, so if I die, I’ll be with the Lord. And this man who doesn’t know Jesus would have a chance to get saved.” Sure, I could think that. But in matter of fact, nah, probably not. I dare say, to my own shame, that I would likely not feel terribly inclined to step in and say, “Hey, let me die in his place.” But that is exactly what Jesus did for us.

The bar is set pretty high, my friends. The love that we are commanded to have is an awfully big thing. It’s a tough row to hoe for anyone who’s more focused on self than on others. It’s a difficult concept to grasp for those who care more about winning an argument than winning a soul. It’s hard to love someone if you’re judging rather than witnessing. But that Godly, self-sacrificing kind of love is exactly what is needed to overcome the things that separate us and bridge those divides that seem otherwise insurmountable.

Love really is the answer, folks. It doesn’t matter if the chasm is caused by differing opinions within the church body, or if it’s caused by differing political views. The division might be due to opposing social stances, or even something as ridiculously petty as skin color. Whatever it is, love is the key to mending every rift – no matter how huge it may seem. The world has its own way of doing things, but we are to hold ourselves to a higher standard. As Christians, we should be bridge-builders. And love is the way to get it done.

If you are struggling with hurt feelings between you and a fellow believer, or if you are having difficulty finding it within yourself to show grace and love to that person who pushes all your buttons, talk to God. Pray hard. Commit to a fast with the intent to seek God and His will. Demonstrate your willingness to change yourself and to be molded by the Lord – not to prove something to Him, but for the sake of disciplining yourself. Fervently pray, read God’s Word, and seek for answers. Ask Him to fill you with love for your fellow man, even for those who oppose you. And determine yourself to not let up until you get what you need.

I feel led today to close this episode with prayer. So, please, pray with me now…

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great love. Thank You for sending Jesus to die in my place. Thank You for demonstrating this concept of love as an example to me. Now Lord, I ask that You would continue to mold me and make me into the man of God that I should be. I ask for Your help in living a life that is pleasing to You. Lord, let me show the same abundance of love and grace to others that You have so mercifully shown to me. And when I encounter a divide, give me the strength and courage and the depth of love to build a bridge, God. Help me to be a peace-maker, a seed-sower, a bridge-builder, and a soul-winner. And please help me in those times when I feel the pull to pridefully argue with my brothers in Christ to remember my place – that it’s not about me but about You, and that love is the more excellent way. Let me see others the way You see them, and with the measure of love that You have for them. Thank You, Lord, for hearing my prayer. And may my spirit always be ready to give You praise, for You are so worthy, God. You are my King and my source and my provider, and I give You glory. In Your Holy name… Amen.

– End Transcript –

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Episode 39: Cancel Culture – Kissing Free Speech Goodbye

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– Begin Transcript –

Welcome to another edition of the Kingdom Hero Blogcast. I’m your host, Stace Massengill. It appears that the purge has begun. Big Tech wasted no time after the certification of the electoral votes (illegitimately or otherwise) confirmed Joe Biden as the next president. Even though it was antifa members posing as Trump supporters that stormed the capital building – waved on in by DC police, who are bought and paid for by the left – Trump was blamed, and platforms Facebook and Twitter immediately suspended his accounts indefinitely. Indeed, the cancel culture we’ve been seeing for some time now is pushing into full “purge” mode. Conservative voices have been muzzled in the recent past, but now it seems to be rapidly escalating.

It’s not enough that these leftist entities are kicking conservatives off of their platforms, but they want to silence us completely. Efforts are being made to ensure that our voices have NO outlet that isn’t controlled by these Big Tech companies. Apple and Google have both gotten rid of Parler, for example, which is similar in format to Twitter but doesn’t censor your posts according to leftist standards. And rest assured, folks, this is only the beginning. The left does not believe in free speech, rather they want to promote their narrative only, and anyone who opposes them is labeled antagonist, racist, hateful, and gets censored outright. Period.

But freedom is a concept that runs deep in the heart of the average red-blooded American. It is a notion that cannot easily be stomped out. True freedom isn’t something that’s found in any of our founding documents. In fact, it’s a state of mind that can never be taken away. We’ll talk about this and more on the show today, so stick around!

– Show Intro –

I want to start this show by reading a few comments I have here from people in America who are frustrated and disheartened by what’s been happening lately in our country. And these are pretty typical of those of us on the “right” who consider ourselves to be conservative and simply want our values to be held as high and recognized as just as legitimate as anyone else’s views. Let me just read you some of these…

“This system is broken.. I’m tired of being bullied and being told that my logical thinking is wrong.” – Krystle

“I don’t trust anyone in the government or news.” – Michelle

“Unbelievable that they called this a riot when for the past year they called ANTIFA and BLM a peaceful protest.” – Rob (regarding Jan 6 gathering in Washington, DC)

“The very large majority of the protest was peaceful but no one talks about that.” – Sheila (about same)

“Still believe it was ANTIFA dressed up.” – Doctor V (regarding the so-called assault on the capitol building)

“WATCH THE VIDEO A POLICEMAN LET THE PEOPLE IN IT WAS A SET-UP BY THE DEEP-STATE” – Anderson

In fact, I did see the video that clearly showed some DC police waving protesters on up toward the capitol building. It did seem to be organized and allowed to happen for the purpose of painting Trump supporters in a bad light. Make no mistake, the people who were attempting to breech barricaded doorways were NOT representative of the 75 million people who voted for Trump – but that’s what they want everyone to think.

And there is a clear double-standard when it comes to the mainstream media’s reporting of BLM and Antifa riots as opposed to any of the peaceful protests or gatherings of true Trump supporters. Remember just a few months ago when the reporter was saying, “Yeah, it’s mostly a peaceful protest,” while cars and buildings were on fire behind him? This was the same incident – a BLM riot – in which retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn (a 77-year-old black man) was shot and killed while he was trying to prevent the looting of local businesses. They called that a peaceful protest? Really?

But this is no longer new. We know this happens all the time – this double-standard – and there isn’t much that surprises us anymore. And people are tired of it. They’re fed up. But at the same time, there has been this attempt to keep us quiet. The leftist propaganda complex – the mainstream media – has been attempting to condition us for years and years to accept without question the narrative they put before us, and we’re supposed to treat it like gospel. Don’t dare speak out against it or try to provide a logical reason for believing anything to the contrary, lest you be lambasted by them for being an idiotic simpleton who’s been duped by the radical right-wing.

And everything they on the left accuse their opponents of doing is exactly what they themselves are doing. They accused Trump of colluding with Russia, when it was Biden who boasted about his own collusion with the Ukraine on behalf of his son Hunter. They have accused Trump of inciting violence, when he has explicitly called for peaceful activity from his base – meanwhile, it was those on the left who were calling for violence and unrest. Examples? Here ya go…

On 8/15/2020, Democrat Rep. Ayanna Pressley called for targeting GOP officials with “unrest in the streets.” [cut 1]

In June of 2018, Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters openly encouraged people to bully Trump cabinet members and tell them “you’re not welcome here.” [cut 2]

And remember when Hillary Clinton defended the violent rioters who were burning and looting in October of 2018? [cut 3]

Here’s Democrat Cory Booker in July of 2018. [cut 4]

Let’s go back to February of 2017, here’s Democrat Senator Tim Kaine. [cut 5]

Right after Trump was sworn in as POTUS, this was Madonna speaking on January 22, 2017, about wanting to blow up the White House. [cut 6]

Still more hatred here from actor Alec Baldwin, who called for overthrowing the government of Donald Trump. [cut 7]

And this stuff just goes on and on. We don’t have the time to play every example of this vehement garbage from the left – we’d be here all week. Comedian Kathy Griffin released that video of herself holding up what was designed to look like the bloody severed head of President Trump. Joe Biden himself said he wished he and Trump were in high school so he could take him out behind the gym. Suffice to say, they can totally get away with things like this – but when a Trump supporter so much as looks at one of these people, they start saying they felt threatened or intimidated by those hateful Trumpsters. It’s ridiculous.

Anything and everything those on the left want to say or do is perfectly fine and is to be considered an exercise in free speech. But for those of us who disagree with them to hold opposing views, there is no freedom of speech. Remember what happened to Roseanne? Her tweet, if posted by anyone on the left, wouldn’t have made any headlines. But since she was an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, she was accused of being racist and ABC fired her from her own newly revived TV show. That’s cancel culture. And it’s a cancerous disease that is infecting and spreading rapidly through our society. If allowed to continue, it will no doubt destroy our way of life entirely.

– Break Transcript –

Now, here’s a question: Since Trump is slated to be out of the White House within the next few days anyway, why are democrats so hell-bent on silencing him now and even talking impeachment again? What do you suppose they are afraid of? What possible threat can he be to them now? Perhaps a better question: What dirt might he have on them that they are desperate to keep hidden?

The corruption in DC has existed for longer than many people may think, and the recent election fraud is only the latest example. It’s been like this for a very long time. The corruption on both sides of the aisle isn’t a new thing by any means. But it was Trump who started shining a light on a lot of it. He was elected to “drain the swamp.” And he did expose some things, but the corruption we’ve seen only scratches the surface. Because of this, the establishment-types – democrat and republican alike – have fought hard against Trump from the outset.

You know you’re doing good when you catch flack from the opposition. And for the last 4 years, Trump’s opposition has been unhinged. As soon as he was elected, they fought him. False claims of collusion, phony accusations that he was a Russian asset, the fake dossier, the impeachment proceedings, with lie after lie they tried to take him down. He came out of all of it, exonerated, clean, and still they fought him. We just heard moments ago some of the seeds of upheaval and unrest his enemies tried to sow during his presidency – let’s hear all of those again… [cuts 1 – 7]

And there was so much more. They hated Trump more than anyone ever hated anyone ever before. They didn’t try even once to work with him on anything. They fought against him at every turn, the media painted him as a racist and a bully, and he survived it all. Unlike the typical corrupt politicians who made millions of dollars as career politicians, Donald Trump put his millions aside and took absolutely ZERO dollars as president, donating every bit of his presidential salary to charities. Unlike the typical corrupt politicians who flip-flop their stance on issues, Donald Trump’s love for his country was a constant his entire life and into his presidency, and he remained firm and unwavering in his principles.

Is Trump perfect? Absolutely not. But none of us are. People who criticize him for his shortcomings ignore his incredible achievements. Greatest economy in US history, lowest unemployment in US history, job growth so great that even minorities were enjoying the lowest unemployment rate ever. He brokered peace deals that no one ever thought possible. North Korea, the Middle East, everyone was willing to come to the table. The wall that everyone said couldn’t be built went up to secure our southern border. Every promise he made, he kept, unlike any politician before him. In fact, he wasn’t a politician at all in the traditional sense – and THAT’S why people voted for him!

People are sick and tired of the corruption and the direction our country was headed before Trump. And his opponents had no way to legitimately overcome the will of the people. So, yes, I believe whole-heartedly that they cheated. A rigged election is the only way to explain all the discrepancies and odd happenings during the 2020 election. Hundreds of sworn affidavits and testimony of fraudulent activities – all very real, but all very ignored by the mainstream media and refuted by phony fact-checkers paid by Big Tech. People know it, and they are right to be upset by it. But when we speak out about it, we get censored and cancelled and labeled as liars and troublemakers.

So, what are we supposed to do? One thing is certain: We can’t be silent. But there is more to consider here than the corruption of man. Again, that’s been around since Eden. Throughout history, we see where man has allowed himself to be corrupted by greed, power, and carnal desires. It’s not new. But we should be careful that our focus isn’t simply on fighting back. We have to understand that the evil that exists in the world isn’t just a physical enemy that we can punch with a fist or shoot with a gun. Yes, as Christians, we know this very well, but we tend to push that knowledge aside when we get enraged by sociopolitical issues. Everything becomes emotionally driven, and we must avoid that.

All the terrible things we see happening today that are caused by the actions of people in power – there is a sinister influence at work behind the scenes. The forces of wickedness in the spiritual realm are tugging at the puppet strings of those we see doing awful things. When we recognize that, we can begin to formulate an appropriate strategy. And there is instruction for this found in the Bible. It’s like the soldier’s handbook we got in basic training. It tells us everything that we need to know, battle tactics, how to defend ourselves, and how to overcome the enemy.

I have said previously that, the majority of the battles we face in this life will be won from our knees in prayer. Is there a time to wage a literal war against tyranny? Certainly. But we need wisdom to do the right thing in the right time. And our source for true wisdom – the wisdom above any other – is found in our relationship with God. In order to keep the right perspective when facing adversity, we need daily doses of God’s presence in our lives. This goes back to what I discussed in the last episode on prayer and fasting. Give that a listen if you haven’t already.

Similarly, our true source of freedom isn’t found within the founding documents of the USA – no, it’s found in that same relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. No matter what else happens in life – if we lose the rights afforded to us in the Constitution, or whatever – nothing and no one can ever take away what we have in Christ. God’s Word assures us of this.

John 8

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

It is precisely because Jesus – the Son of God – has set us free (truly free) that we are “free indeed.” No government, no politician, and no tyrannical rule can ever change that. Furthermore, regarding any currently prevailing evil and corruption that we must deal with here and now, Paul said this…

Romans 8

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Though we may be subjected to hard times and trials, it will not last. As children of God, we will be set free from all that bondage and corruption. True freedom comes from our Father, and His glory will be revealed to us in due time. And since we have this true spiritual freedom now that no one can take away, we should rejoice in it everyday, regardless of what else is going on.

Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

In this knowledge that we have such freedom in Christ, we should never allow ourselves to submit to any yoke of slavery ever again. This includes the bonds of sin, the old law that was fulfilled by Jesus, and also that which takes place in the battleground of our minds. We shouldn’t regard the oppression of an over-stepping government, or any other trials, as to be greater than the freedom we have in Christ. Nothing is greater than that. The Son has set us free, so regardless of worldly tribulations, we are still free indeed. THAT needs to be our focus. That freedom needs to be our reason to keep on smiling and rejoicing every day! NO. MATTER. WHAT.

– Break Transcript –

Look, I know it’s easy to let all the nonsense we see happening in our nation drive us nuts. It can make us furious, anxious, and deeply troubled. But we don’t have to let it get the best of us. Step back, with God’s Word in hand, and put it all in proper perspective. And if you’re having a tough time doing that, spend more time alone with God. Fast. Pray. Devote time to having one-on-one communion with Him. Be quiet. Be still. Listen. Meditate on His Word. Get away from the TV, social media, and all the things that hinder you from being at peace. Just be with God and let Him speak to your spirit. Wait for it.

Here’s another thing. When you feel yourself getting angry or frustrated by something some politician said or did, take a prayer time-out. Stop and realize that God sent His Son for the sins of all mankind – even that corrupt politician who seems beyond hope. Pray for him/her. Really pray. There is an eternal soul at stake. God loves that person as much as He loves you. Show the love and grace that He has shown you by interceding on that politician’s behalf. This takes a bit of effort, but it might make an everlasting difference. Do this often enough, and you may start to see people more as God sees them.

You see, while cancel culture runs rampant in our society and threatens to destroy free speech, we still possess the freedom we have in Christ. Further, there is one type of free speech that no one can ever take away from us as Christians – PRAYER. Even if they forbid us from praying out loud one day, they can’t stop us from praying in our hearts. This communication with our Creator is the best kind of “free speech” we can have. It was bought with the blood of Jesus, our Savior, and it’s a right that cannot be revoked by any government on earth. So don’t let cancel culture get you down. We have access to God the Father on a heavenly platform that Big Tech can’t censor.

I wanna close with these three passages from the Word of God…

2 Peter 3

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

2 Timothy 3

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.

Luke 12

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

So rest assured… God sees. He knows. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Satan’s lies and schemes will not be the last word. Our present troubles won’t last forever. Glory is coming, and when that day arrives, everything that is hidden will be exposed. The corruption, the lies, the wicked things done in secret – all will be made known. And vindication will be absolute. Meanwhile, trust God.

I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just sayin’.

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Episode 38: Prayer and Fasting – Between You and God

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– BEGIN TRANSCRIPT –

Welcome again to the Kingdom Hero Blogcast. I am your host, Stace Massengill. In this episode, I want to discuss the importance and the benefits of fasting. We’ll look at different ways to fast, how it isn’t just about abstaining from food, and also the relationship between fasting and prayer.

With all the social and political upheaval going on, why would I choose now to talk about the topic of prayer & fasting? Well, there IS some precedent – January is typically a month when many Christian churches will focus on fasting. It’s the beginning of a new year, so it’s a great time to remind ourselves of the biblical reasons for doing this. But also, the fact that there is indeed so much unrest afflicting our country and the world right now is precisely why we need all the more to turn our eyes and our hearts toward heaven and seek God. Prayer & fasting is of paramount importance to us in this present time.

So stick around, folks. There has probably never been a more pertinent moment in history to refocus ourselves on what’s truly important and on the One that we should turn to in this current hour. As always, I encourage your feedback. If you want to send me your comments on any given topic, please do so by going to the website – kingdomheroblog.com/contact [repeat] – or you can choose to leave a voice message at anchor.fm/kingdomhero/message [repeat]. For now, let’s hunker down and do this…

– Show Intro –

We’re going to be relying heavily on passages from Matthew 6, so if you’d like to get that handy, go ahead. But before we dive into the scriptures, let’s look at where we are currently here in the stuff happening in the USA, and hopefully we will see just how applicable the topic of Prayer & Fasting is right now.

Here we are, a week into 2021, and there is some major social and political unrest going on within our nation. There has been heated debate about the elections and the likelihood of fraud. The implications of that are frightening to some and angering to others. There is a distinct divide occurring and many political – as well as societal – issues that have been brewing for years. A great number of people seem to believe that these things are all rapidly coming to a head, and it’s thought by some that yet another revolution may be coming.

In light of all this, it seems to many of us as Christians that we are caught up in the midst of the most chaotic time of our lives – and perhaps, in our country’s history. Some of us, then, could be finding it difficult to know how we ought to respond to these turbulent times. If there are those of us who truly feel that our nation is slipping down a steep slope toward socialism, for instance, should we advocate for taking back our country at any cost? Do we hear the drumbeats of impending revolution and think a violent revolt is the answer against an oppressive and controlling deep state? Or do we struggle with the idea of sitting back and allowing this perceived evil takeover of America?

While we read in God’s Word that “the battle is the Lord’s” and tend to think that we Christians probably shouldn’t be trying to take matters into our own hands, how do we reconcile that with history? If the patriots of the 1700s hadn’t fought a revolutionary war against the oppressive British king and his army, we wouldn’t have a nation today. If we hadn’t fought a war against Hitler and the Axis powers in the 1940s, we might not have a country today either. There are times to stand firm and fight, right? But – at the same time – how do we know whether or not we’re facing one of those times in history?

The reality is that, in this current age, there is rampant disinformation being spread. Historically, this was always a tool used to influence people. But today, with the internet and all the modern ways anyone can influence anyone elses thinking, we need a lot of wisdom to discern who’s lying to us and who’s telling the truth. We need a standard that we can rely on. We need a perspective that transcends our own limited worldview. More than ever before, we cannot afford to lean on our own understanding. This, my friends, is why we have to turn to God – for His guidance, His wisdom, His perspective, and His understanding.

And that leads us to our topic of Prayer & Fasting. But we need to also come to a true understanding of what these concepts are really about. As we have learned before, our true enemy – satan – perverts and counterfeits everything of value. There’s not much I can think of that’s more valuable to a believer’s walk than prayer and fasting. We’ve discussed in the past the importance of prayer, but on this show I’d like to talk about how it relates to fasting. So, where do we start? Let’s go to the Bible and make sure that, when we engage in something as important to our walk as fasting, we are doing it in a manner that is right and thereby effective. We will soon see that, if it’s done the wrong way, it becomes useless to us.

We’ll get specifically into prayer and fasting in a bit, but Matthew 6 begins with a very poignant concept that is echoed throughout the chapter. Verse 1 says this:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”

This verse speaks clearly about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. And there are plenty of applications to that. The verses that follow talk about giving to the needy, for example. Obviously, supplying the needs of those in need is a good thing – it’s something that we definitely should do. But if I give to someone only to be seen doing it by others, hoping they we think highly of my generosity, that’s a prideful act of self-exaltation. We talked some about that in the last episode. If I’m giving for the purpose of my own glorification, there is nothing Godly in it. My actions wouldn’t be seen as faithful by God, and there is no heavenly reward for that.

It’s important to establish this upfront, before diving into prayer and fasting, because we must have a firm foundation to build on first. And from these first few verses of Matthew 6, we see that – not only are we to do right things for right reasons, but also – these things are between us and God. If others see us doing right, perhaps they will be inspired to do similarly – and that’s all well and good – but having others see our deeds should not be our motivation for doing them. Our motivation when helping others can’t be selfish or it’s counterproductive. Further, there are crucial parts of being a Christian that are meant to be between us and the Lord.

Moving on down through this chapter – and remember that this is Jesus who is doing the talking here – we see next where the Disciples are instructed in how to pray. Here we see the Lord’s prayer given as an example of how we ought to address God the Father with respect and praise, acknowledging His holiness and authority, bringing our petitions, and so on. While these verses illustrate the manner in which we should pray, we need to also keep it in the perspective established earlier. When talking to God, it is a conversation between us and Him. He should be our focus. Others hearing our prayer isn’t something that should enter into the equation. Prayer is a personal thing.

That leads us to the concept of fasting. The two things are deeply related. As we will see shortly, the act of fasting should help bring us into a closer and more focused communion with the Lord. And again, it is something that must be done in the right manner and with the correct motivation in order for it to be effective and beneficial for us.

– Break Transcript –

So far, we’ve learned that it’s not enough to do right things, but we need to do those right things for the right reasons. Now we come to fasting. What does the Bible say about how we ought to fast? Well, let’s look on down in Matthew 6, where we’ve been focusing today. In verses 16 through 18, we see once again see that our motivation plays a huge role. Much like the first 4 verses of the chapter told us that we shouldn’t give to the needy only to be seen doing it and be praised by our peers, this passage has Jesus dealing similarly with the concept of fasting. He says…

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Now obviously, there were those then who were making a show of their fasting publicly. Jesus speaks of hypocrites who made themselves look all tired and weakened from their fasting so that it would generate the “awws” and pity and looks of admiration from those who saw their feigned devotion. This is similar to how some people today will post their good deeds or fake devotion on social media in order to be seen by their peers. They do it for the recognition and praises of others, seeking validation for their selflessness. But this is not how we should be. Again, fasting is a personal thing which is between you and God. The passage we just read tells us that, if we are only seeking accolades and the adulation of our peers, then that empty gratification is all the reward we will ever get. What is more desirable for us is to please our Father and gain His favor and His reward.

The theme which resonates throughout this chapter of Matthew is one that reminds us where our priorities should be. Rather than being self-seeking and prideful, desiring to be revered and praised by others, we should be seeking after God and His will and His righteousness. The rewards of this life on earth are often appealing to our flesh, but fasting is about denying the wants of the flesh in favor of renewing the spirit within us and drawing us closer to God.

So ask yourself, what are the things in this life that tend to distract you from spending time alone with God? What stuff, even if it isn’t bad in itself, can become a barrier to a deeper connection with the Father because that stuff seems to preoccupy so much of our time and focus? These are the things that we should regularly take time away from in order to refocus on communing with the Lord. That’s the heart of fasting.

We tend to think of fasting as being about food, and it certainly can include that. But food isn’t the only area in which we can fast. Watching TV shows and spending vast amounts of time on social media can become addictive distractions that get in the way of a closer walk with God. There are plenty of things that we could cut out of our daily routine that would clear up more time to devote to seeking God’s face. And it’s good for us to recognized what those things are and to make changes accordingly. But there is a unique relationship between our food intake and our spiritual well-being to consider.

Often times, we turn to food for the wrong reasons. Eating when you’re hungry or in need of nourishment is one thing, but many people have real issues with eating food in an attempt to cure emotional needs or to calm anxieties. Sometimes, we just eat food because it’s there. I often have the bad habit of eating a snack simply because I’m watching a game or something on TV, and the two things just seem to go together. But it’s the act of consuming food that gives us a sense of satisfaction. Not just a physical satisfaction, but an emotional or psychological one. And yes, the satisfaction of food can become our substitute for doing things that would be much more beneficial to us, like exercise. Ah, but exercise is a discipline. Well, guess what? So is fasting.

The act of fasting from food doesn’t merely deprive us of sustenance. No, it refocuses us to lean on a spiritual sustenance. This denial of the flesh for the sake of the spirit puts us in a place where our reliance upon God is again in the forefront of our minds. It tends to bring us into an attitude which is more conducive to hearing from God, as well. The spiritual benefits of this go far beyond the physical benefits of consuming food. It helps us realize our need to consume the Word of God, as well as our need of Him in general.

Granted, there are health reasons why abstaining from food might be problematic for some people. In those cases, there are still ways to fast. Perhaps abstaining from one meal, or cutting back meals to a light but healthy snack, or any number of other methods. The point is to commit to an act that refocuses our minds and spirits on God and devoting time to Him in prayer and meditation on His Word. In some way or another, anyone can fast. And we must discipline ourselves to do it for the benefit of our spiritual connection to the Lord. It’s not to be seen suffering through the process for the sake of getting a pat on the back from others, but rather it is a deep personal act of devotion between you and God.

– Break Transcript –

Our discussion about prayer and fasting has greatly been about how these are things that are between us and God. They’re not for the recognition of others. They’re not about getting noticed. And as we’ve moved through this passage in Matthew 6, we have seen a central theme of doing these things for the right reasons – that we should be seeking a heavenly reward from the Father rather than an earthly reward from our peers. Moving further in this chapter, we see Jesus drives this point home. In verses 19 through 21, He says…

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The treasures of this world, as stated earlier, can seem desirable to us. But we just learned when talking about fasting that it is preferable to discipline our flesh in favor of aligning our spirit to be in tune with the Holy Spirit. These verses suggest that what a person desires reflects the condition of his/her heart. If I desire the praise and admiration of man, that’s where my heart lies. That’s my treasure. But the treasures of this world are subject to the elements of this world. They are fleeting. They can decay or be destroyed. They can be taken.

If I do something to be noticed by men, someone else can do something to take that attention away. But when I focus on pleasing God and doing His will, nothing can diminish the reward He has waiting for me in heaven. And God isn’t fickle like man is. He’s not gonna reduce my heavenly treasure just because someone else pleases Him, too. It’s not a competition with God like it is with man. And He has plenty to go around. He has the vast riches of heaven to generously bestow upon His children. And He wants bless us.

But there’s another aspect to this which bears mentioning. The attitude of the heart that we just touched on holds a deeper truth. Jesus talks about this in verse 24…

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Now He mentions money here, and we usually think of this scripture solely from the vantage point of money being the big bad of this scenario. But I tend to believe Jesus was using money as one example of what was really the main thrust of this passage. We can’t serve two masters. God is who we should serve. No one and nothing else. Not money, not material things, not the treasures of this world, and not ourselves. This goes back to doing right things for wrong reasons. Whether it’s giving to the needy or fasting or whatever, when we make a public show of it to gain the accolades of other people, then our motives are purely self-serving. That means we are placing our own desires above God’s will and trying to be masters of our own lives. But if we’re serving ourselves, we are not serving God. We can’t serve both.

Finally, let’s bring all this home. How does everything we’ve talked about here in Matthew 6 apply to our lives today in light of all the civil unrest we see going on around us? We can lose our focus easily when we see high-level corruption in our government. We can quickly become preoccupied with all the rioting and division and talk of oppressive government lockdowns and overhyped viruses. All the stuff happening today can make your blood boil and make you question everything. Where should we stand on the issues? How far should we go in the name of preserving our nation? Dear God in heaven, what do I DO!?!

There’s an answer for that in the closing verses of this chapter. We read in verses 25 through 27, Jesus says…

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Now, I’m no stranger to anxiety. And I know that there is plenty going on in our country and our world today that can cause us to be anxious. But Jesus tells us plainly here that anxiety serves no purpose. It doesn’t make things better, only worse. If our focus is on everything bad happening, we can’t see any of the good, and we’ll be distracted from doing the things that we ought.

You might say, “Yeah, but what about the corruption and election stealing and the threat of rising socialism?” And while I may think there are some very real and looming issues to be dealt with, I also have to believe this: If the time comes when revolution is the only recourse we have for preserving our nation, surely it will be obvious and no questions about it will remain. But in this moment, I must trust that God is still at work, and His will cannot be thwarted. All these worries and concerns which seem so big to us are minuscule to Him. Instead of worrying, the words of Jesus in verses 33 and 34 say…

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing, and even security] will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Again, this is all about refocusing ourselves on the right things. He tells us to seek after the kingdom of God FIRST. The kingdoms of this world rise and fall. It has been that way throughout history. And while it may be a cause for some concern to us, our focus should be on the things of God first and foremost. We have to trust that God will take care of the things that we cannot. But that’s hard for us to do when we don’t know what’s coming next or how God plans to work things out. How do we get some peace here and now? How can we lay aside all these worries we have and just trust in God? The answer to that lies within allowing ourselves to become more in tune with the heart and Spirit of God. How do we do that? Through prayer, through fasting, and through communion one-on-one with Him.

– End Transcript –

Listen to the podcast HERE

Episode 37: Accept Rebuke Graciously, or Reject Correction Stubbornly?

Listen to podcast HERE

– Begin Transcript –

Welcome to another Kingdom Hero Blogcast! On this final episode of the year 2020, we’re gonna look at an important topic for those of us who call ourselves Christians. As many people prepare to head into a new year, they often make resolutions – things they intend to do or quit doing, goals to lose weight or eat better, or perhaps a pledge to simply live life more to its fullest. A lot of those well-meaning resolutionists (to coin a term) end up giving up on those goals they set before the new year gets past the first two or three months. But this is a perfect time to talk about something that we all, as professing Christians, should strive toward… Improving our walk with Christ, and in so-doing, improving our witness to those around us.

Have you ever received a rebuke or correction from someone? Of course! At some point in our lives, we all get set-straight by our parents, our employers, or perhaps even by our peers. What about when it comes from a spiritual leader in our lives? How do we receive that rebuke? Do we take the correction to heart, or do we rebelliously reject it?

[movie clip: “You must choose, but choose wisely”]

This is the topic of our show today, and as always, I invite your feedback, thoughts, and opinions. Send me a message through the contact form on my website at kingdomheroblog.com/contact – again, that’s kingdomheroblog.com/contact. And standby as we close out the year with a bit of soul-searching. Stick around… I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just sayin’.

– OPEN THEME –

I have to be honest here, THIS is one of those topics – again – that I personally have struggled with on numerous occasions in the past. Having served in the church for decades now, there have been a few times when a pastor has called me out on something that I was doing that I shouldn’t have been. As a young man in my mid-20s, I recall being corrected in church by a man who was my pastor at the time. Whether or not you’d agree with him doing that publicly is actually irrelevant. The point is that I was in the wrong, and he was well within his right as my spiritual leader to rebuke me for it. Now at the time, I didn’t like it too much. I kinda resented it. I was young and still rather immature in my Christianity, so I initially focused way too much on how his correction made me FEEL. Still, he was right, and I eventually came to realize that.

Let me give another example of what I’m talking about… A man serving as an elder in the church was once faced with a situation where he had to choose to either do what is biblically right or do what he wanted to do. I highly respected this man and called him “friend,” but that never came into play. He chose poorly, let’s just say, and so some correction was called for.

[movie clip: “He chose poorly”]

There is a very clear way – according to scripture – to handle matters like this in the church. That biblical protocol was followed to the letter, and still this man refused to do what was right. By the instruction in God’s Word, the end result was that he was stripped of his leadership role in the church. He wasn’t kicked out of the congregation or anything like that, but he could no longer serve as an elder.

This was a hard thing for everyone involved. The pastor and other elders followed what the Bible says, and in the end had no choice but to do as the Word instructs. They didn’t enjoy it one bit. No one liked what had to be done. But it was the right thing to do. People who profess to be Christians may be flawed and stumble on occasion, but when that corrective instruction is brought into play, we must make a choice: Do what’s right, or deal with the consequences of going our own way. And in the end, isn’t that what this life’s journey is all about? We learn as we go, and when we are faced with an open rebuke for doing something wrong or something that is unbecoming as a Christian, we have to make a decision to do right or go our own way and suffer the result.

But, I don’t want to jump ahead – we’ll come back to that thought later. Let’s look at what the Bible says about correction. Even from our youth, we are instructed of right and wrong and we get corrected along the way. We read in Proverbs 13: 24…

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (or “he who loves him disciplines him early.”)

This is referring to the rod of correction. Another passage says that “The Lord chastises those whom He loves.” Meaning that He corrects those He loves. Again, it’s one of those things that we know but have to be reminded of over and over. In 2 Timothy 3:15-17, it says…

…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

See, correction is an integral part of our existence, and our growth, and our walk with a Holy God. Being Holy Himself, He requires us to be Holy. That means we allow Him to mold us, shape us, and build us into the men and women of God we’re supposed to be. It also means that we have to accept His correction graciously, as a child wanting to please the Father. As children, we often would tend to whine and complain about being corrected. But as full-grown adults who are claiming to be Christians, we shouldn’t be whining and complaining when we get that correction. We should be happy that He loves us enough to say, “Hey now, what you’re doing isn’t gonna fly. You’re my child. You need to do better.”

Some of you are parents yourselves, so think of this for a moment from the parental perspective. When you chastise your kids, your intent isn’t to make them feel bad in general. Your intent is rather to make them feel bad about doing wrong as a means of encouraging them to do right. Come on, if we’re doing something we know isn’t pleasing to God, then we OUGHT TO immediately feel bad about it – right?! So yeah, when you discipline your child, you want them to know deep down that what they did isn’t acceptable behavior. You are instilling within them that conscience that – yes – makes them immediately feel bad about doing wrong, so that they can learn to not repeat that mistake in the future. And that’s exactly what God does when He corrects us. He does it because He loves us. He does it because He knows we can do better. He corrects us to help shape us into mature men and women in Christ. And let me just add this – we are NEVER too old for God’s correction.

– Break Transcript –

Let’s talk a little about some different ways that God can choose to correct us. He can do it directly though the Holy Spirit. If you have grown even a little bit in your Christian walk, then you have likely been rebuked right away by the Spirit of God living within you when you did something you shouldn’t have. When the Holy Spirit bears witness with your own spirit in one of these occasions, you hear that little voice inside you say, “Whoa there, you really shouldn’t have done that.” You can call it conscience or whatever, but that is a direct result of the correction of God being applied to your life.

Alternatively, He often will correct us through some person in our lives. It could be someone we admire and respect, a friend, a co-worker, a boss, or a spiritual leader like a pastor. Now I remember working at a restaurant, being in the back kitchen, and saying something I really shouldn’t have said while trying to be funny – when a friend and co-worker turned to me and said, “Really, dude? Is that how a Christian should act?” Ironically, the guy saying this to me wasn’t even a Christian himself, but he knew that I was, and he rightfully called me out on my inappropriate attempt at humor. He might have just been busting my chops, but I was immediately convicted because I knew that I could not defend my unfortunate words. In that moment, I suddenly realized that my witness as a Christian was seriously lacking, and I had to respectfully admit to him, “You know what, man? You’re right. I shouldn’t have said that. I meant it as a joke, but it actually wasn’t funny at all, and I’m sorry.” It was very humbling, to say the least, but being corrected should always make us humble ourselves.

How about getting a rebuke from a pastor? I’ve already mentioned one of the times that happened to me personally in my mid-20s. But even more recently I was lightly chastised by my current pastor. Understand, I’m 50 years old, and my pastor is considerably younger than me. That doesn’t matter, of course, but it’s one of those things that satan will use to drive a wedge of resentment between you and a spiritual leader if you give him the chance.

What happened was, we were at praise team practice one day and I was in the AV booth running the sound board. One of the musicians – a gentleman of more years than I – made a comment to me about a concept of sound engineering that I was well aware of, and my response came out a bit less than respectful. I said something like, “I know, dude. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years.” The pastor was within earshot and immediately said to me, “Whoa now, let’s not be a smart-elic,” or something to that effect. Now I could have taken further offense and rebelled toward my pastor (who I love and respect), but I thankfully knew better. I apologized, and that was that.

When faced with correction from a spiritual leader, we can sometimes allow ourselves to get our feelings hurt – which is NOT the intention or the purpose of correction. The truth is that those hurt feelings are actually a result of pride. The Holy Spirit convicts us, and then the devil whispers words in our ears that lead us to believe that we were wronged by the one who rebuked us. No, no. My pastor was right to correct me, and he did it in a way that I knew he was simply trying to de-escalate a conversation in which I had responded badly. He pointed out my error to me, and I apologized. Honestly, I was grateful that he’d done it because my words could have otherwise been hurtful to the musician I’d spoken them to – who happened to be another man I love and respect and call “friend.” Sometimes we just do dumb things and need someone to help us take a step back and see where we went wrong so we can correct it ourselves.

Another thing about correction is that it can happen anywhere and at any time. In today’s modern technological world, our witness as Christians can be on constant and full display online. Whether it’s a video we upload, something we share, or a social media post, or even a podcast like this one – it’s easy to let our carnal side come out and be seen or read or heard by people all over the world. When we do that, when we allow our fleshly nature to obscure our God-given righteousness – the righteousness afforded to us by Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross – when we show a worldly side of ourselves to others instead of a Godly side, it does serious damage to our ability to reach people for Christ. Who’s gonna listen to someone talk about Jesus when that same someone is acting more like a sinner than a saint? Sure, we’re not perfect -YET. But don’t let that be a crutch. If we are truly letting Jesus be the King of our lives, calling ourselves Christians, shouldn’t we be allowing God to correct us so that we can be effective witnesses for Him?

If I were to – as I admittedly have in the past – post something on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, and it was something off-color or lewd or vulgar or otherwise demonstrative of being more worldly than Godly…and then my pastor or other spiritual leader were to see it and comment below it, saying, “Hey, brother. That’s not being a good witness,” or words to that effect… What would be my response to that? Would I get offended or mad about it? Would I reject that rebuke outright? Would I ignore it? Would I make an excuse? Would I let the enemy whisper in my ear and think to myself, “How dare he publicly correct me!” Would I allow my feelings to be hurt because of pride? Hopefully, I would do none of those things.

But all to often, we push aside the opportunity for spiritual growth in favor of being prideful and rebellious. That’s a natural progression, by the way. Pride leads to rebellion, and then that rebellion leads us to separation from God. Remember the saying, “Pride comes before the fall.” Do you know – really understand – what a dangerous thing pride can be? Here are a few synonyms for the word pride: ARROGANCE. CONCEIT. HAUGHTINESS. SELF-EXALTATION.

Now think about how such an attitude is seen by God. The Bible says that He “resists the proud.” In the face of Almighty God, how can we ever allow ourselves to be so arrogant – so conceited and haughty – that we would exalt ourselves or our own will to supersede His? That’s rebellion, folks. That’s like telling God, “Hey, talk to the hand.” Worse yet, it’s like giving Him the finger and saying, “You know what, God? I’m the king of my own life. I’ll just go ahead and do what I want, okay?” Who among us would dare say something like that to God? But that’s just what we’re doing when we rebelliously reject His correction.

We really need to be careful not to respond badly to a righteous rebuke. And that’s true whether it comes directly from God Himself or indirectly through an intermediary. If God is dealing with you about something in your life that needs to change – whether it’s an attitude or whatever – realize first of all that He wouldn’t bother to correct you if He didn’t love you. And that’s huge. Don’t just gloss over that point. I want you to hear that again and let it sink in… God would not bother with correcting you if He didn’t LOVE you.

Friends, the love of God is not something to take lightly. His love is amazing. It’s unconditional, unwavering, and it’s completely unlike anything else you will ever experience. It’s a hard thing to grasp, but we ought to spend more time trying to understand just how deep and wide and high and awesome God’s love for us really is. If we did that, really made the effort, then we would likely stumble a lot less. If we put our pride aside and stopped to realize God’s motivation for correcting us is indeed His incredible love for us, then we would probably accept His correction and repent and align ourselves with His will. Don’t ya think?

And then also remember this: When He corrects us, He is training us to be righteous followers of Jesus. Correction is one of the ways He equips us to do His work. What’s the goal? Winning souls for Christ. By correcting us, He helps us to be effective witnesses. We cannot hope to accomplish The Great Commission – to reach the world with the Gospel – if we are stuck in our immaturity as Christians. If we’re still on milk like babies, rather than daily consuming the meat of His Word, how can we witness to anyone? If we are rebelliously rejecting God’s correction and training, how can we ever hope to train anyone else in the ways of Christ? It simply can’t be done. We need His correction, and we need to be able to accept it graciously and with a humble heart and with a teachable spirit.

– Break Transcript –

I touched on this earlier when I said: We learn as we go, and when we are faced with an open rebuke for doing something wrong or something that is unbecoming as a Christian, we have to make a decision to do right or to go our own way and suffer the consequences. That’s what this journey through life, our Christian walk, is all about. It’s a training ground. Are we trainable? Or are we simply determined to go our own way? When I was in Basic Training in the Army, I saw young men get washed out because they were untrainable. For one reason or another, they couldn’t hack it. Either they were unwilling, had too much pride to allow themselves to be shaped and molded by the drill sergeants, or they were unable physically – which doesn’t apply to our training as Christians because God equips us with everything we need. But I saw a lot of mostly 17-year-old boys at boot camp who were just too stubborn for their own good. At that age, a lot of us tended to think we knew a lot more than we did, and many of these guys just said, “no, I wanna go my own way.” The book of Proverbs plainly tells us an important truth about this – in two different verses, it actually says the exact same thing. Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 both say the following…

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

I mean…THAT’s pretty clear. As we go through life, there are many occasions when we come to a crossroad or situation where we have to decide which way to go. We can go our own way, or we can go God’s way. Most of the time, if we’re honest, those two ways are totally different. Our carnal nature is gonna pull us one direction when we should go the other. This scripture says it in a manner that’s easy to understand – there’s a way that seems right to us, to our flesh, but that way will lead us to death. It will lead us away from God. When His correction comes, we can either accept it graciously, or we can reject it rebelliously. The choice is ours to make. One way leads to His favor and keeps us in His will and on the road to everlasting life, and the other way leads to a spiritual death and separation from God for all eternity. We need to make certain to choose wisely.

[movie clip: “You have chosen wisely”]

In scripture, we see plenty of examples of people making bad choices and it leading to their demise. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were totally destroyed by God because of their sin. In Acts chapter 5, we read about Ananias and his wife Sapphira, who sold a piece of property, holding back a portion for themselves but LYING and misrepresenting the portion they gave to the temple as though it were the full price they were giving so that they would seem more righteous and generous by the people – they were each struck dead by God Himself for this egregious act. But we also read about when people heeded the words of correction and were spared God’s wrath. Remember the story of Jonah and the whale?

Most people recall the amazing story of how Jonah initially refused to do as God instructed him – he didn’t want to go preach to the Ninevites because they were so sinful, so he hopped on a boat headed in the opposite direction. That was the bad choice. And God sent a storm that threatened the ship, so they all thought “God is mad. We need to throw someone overboard to appease Him.” They had a skewed idea of God, but Jonah knew why God had sent the storm – he had disobeyed the Lord. Then they all drew lots to see who should be thrown out of the boat, and Jonah got the short straw. So, SPLASH! Into the water he goes, only to be swallowed up by a huge whale. See how one bad decision, going against the will of God, can wreak all kinds of havoc on your life?

So Jonah spends a few nights in the belly of the beast – literally. And he prays to God. He’s sorry for disobeying the Lord. OH BOY, is he sorry! And God sends the whale to cough Jonah up on the beach of – guess where? – Nineveh. You can read this for yourself in the Bible – the book is called “Jonah” – I mean, it’s not hard to find. And so Jonah goes on to preach to these awful sinful Ninevites that God is gonna rain down His fury upon them because of their evil ways. That’s when something happened that Jonah didn’t expect…

See, these wicked people of Nineveh actually took Jonah’s words of impending doom to heart. They heard him preach about this Holy God who demands holiness and they began to feel convicted. The story goes on to say that they even repented of their wickedness. This was the good decision. Many stripped their clothing off and began wearing sack-cloth. They sat in ashes, weeping and truly regretting their sins. Their humble attitudes changed the heart of God. When He looked and saw how sorry the people of Nineveh were, how they discarded their pride and put on humility, how they repented and turned away from their sin…He had compassion on them. Instead of destroying them as planned, God spared them. And we can learn a valuable lesson from that.

Of course, there’s more to the story and to the book of Jonah, and I would encourage you to read it for yourself – especially if you never have before. But I think the point here is pretty clear: The choices we make in this life can literally mean the difference between destruction and deliverance, and it truly IS up to us. God gave us free will. I’ve heard people ask, “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” But He doesn’t send people to hell, people choose their own eternal destination when they choose to either accept or reject God’s Son who came to deliver us from sin and from death itself. And while God is indeed loving, He’s also holy and righteous. More than 600 times, the word holy is used in the Bible – so it must be of some importance. And more than once, God says, “You shall be holy because I am holy.” Our choices indicate whether or not we are willing to be more like Him.

So, when you are faced with a righteous rebuke – a correction from God – whether it comes directly from the Holy Spirit or from a friend, colleague, or pastor… How do you choose to respond? And what does your choice say about you and your willingness to become more like Jesus? Remember again, God corrects you because He loves you. And also remember how the Ninevites responded to Jonah’s words by putting aside their pride and taking on humility instead. How willing are you to do the same?

As we move into a new year, I sincerely hope you will give this matter some serious consideration. I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just sayin’. May you have a very happy and blessed new year!

– END Transcript –

Listen to podcast HERE

Episode 36: Our Freedoms vs Our Calling

Listen to the podcast HERE

– Begin Transcript –

On recent programs, I’ve largely defended the Christian’s right to argue in the political arena. I’ve stated that speaking out on moral issues is part of our purview, even when those issues are politically charged. We have a duty to the truth, to be sure. But I feel a need for clarification. While there are definite matters to righteously be at odds with, we should not be continually at odds with people. Our focus as Christians ought not be on winning arguments, but on winning souls. So how do we separate issues from individuals? How can we live at peace with men while still giving the devil hell? Also on this episode, we’ll look at what happens when our unique American perspective skews our religious views, plus I’ll get some biblical insight from a man I deeply respect – my pastor and my friend, Aaron Zielinske – so stand by, folks.

– Show Intro –

I wanna talk about something on today’s show that, admittedly, I personally struggle with quite often. And hopefully, this will be of great benefit to others who have perhaps struggled similarly. We all know how easy it can be to allow our traditions to get entangled with our belief system. Traditions tend to run very deep, and they get ingrained within our psyche to the point that they can even affect our view of Christianity.

As Americans, many of us draw heavily upon traditional concepts like our sense of patriotism. We value our heritage very highly, and we consider that to be a good thing. We love our liberty, we honor our military, and we hold our freedom in the highest regard. Indeed, we can be our most passionate about things like our American pride and love for the red-white-and-blue. And – make no mistake – this is all true of me. I love my country, I’ve served in its military, and I’m very big on defending freedom. I’m not knocking any of that… per se.

Where I think it can become problematic is when we allow these strong feelings and our own sense of American culture to infiltrate our beliefs as Christians. We tend to think of these two things to be closely related. We reinforce that by pointing out that the USA was founded on biblical principles. And it is indeed true that our Constitution does echo many scriptural truths believed by a large number of our country’s founders. But from there, things can get a bit skewed.

We sometimes start thinking of our Constitutional rights as though they are biblical in nature – as though those rights are given to us by God Himself. I’ve said this myself, and we are quick to point out that we are “endowed” by our Creator with “certain unalienable rights – that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These are stirring words found in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, thus deeply embedded in our minds as fundamental and foundational truth. But does that make it scriptural? Like a lot of people, I always thought these concepts were pretty much gospel, when in fact, they are uniquely American.

While I hold freedom in high regard and celebrate that I live in the USA, I also must realize that Americanism and Christianity are not mutually exclusive. My view of Christianity has been shaped in great part by my American culture, so I need to recognize my source for actual biblical truth ought to be in scripture rather than the founding documents. I’d better look to see what the Bible really says about things like rights and liberties, and then perhaps I can have a more solid grasp of what true Christianity should look like.

So then, what does scripture say about “God-given” rights? To explore this further, I have some excerpts from a recent sermon by a man who is my pastor, my friend, and a former US Marine, Aaron Zielinske. Here is some of what he had to say on the topic…

Pastor Aaron:

See scripture surprisingly doesn’t say much about rights. Well it’s only surprising to Americans because we’re so hung up on our rights. We love our rights. In fact, that’s why there’s a bill of rights. Because when they first wrote the Constitution, and it was ratified, some states kind of held off on ratifying the constitution until they were given word that even after we passed this, we will introduce some amendments to further protect the rights of individuals, and only then would those remaining states sign on. So after the constitution was passed the first thing they did was worked on “which rights do we want to secure our people with against a corrupt government?” And that’s where the Bill of Rights came from. It wasn’t an original thing, they were all amendments.

But scripture rarely mentions them. In fact when when we look at it, we only see two rights that are specifically stated, “these are your rights,” and they’re both in John’s writings. In Paul’s writings every time he mentions a right, he’s saying that “I’m not making use of this right that I have because it benefits others for me to not.” Scripture speaks more of setting aside our rights for the benefit of another than it does touting “This is my right so I can do whatever I want with it.” Even Jesus set aside his rights, we see that in, in Scripture.

The two rights that we see – John chapter one verse 12… “To all who did receive Jesus who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” You have that right. You have the right to become a child of God, and no one can take it from you. Satan can’t take it from you. Nobody, no other human can take it from you, no government can take it from you, even if they persecute us, they kill us, they disband churches, they burn them to the ground, they can never take our right to be children of God. Can’t do it. Nobody can take that away from us.

The second right we see John mentioned is in Revelation. And this is beautiful. He says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to eat, or to the tree of life, that they may enter the city by the gates,” that’s talking about the New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven. Nobody can take your right to the tree of life in Christ. Nobody. No matter what they do, no matter how corrupt the government, no matter how ruthless a persecutor, they cannot take your right to the tree of life. Will never happen. Impossible. Cannot happen.

But that’s it. You don’t even need your whole hand to count how many rights were insured and guaranteed in Scripture. You only need two fingers: the right to be a child of God, and the right to finish that out by partaking of the tree of life. Those are the rights we have.

Stace:

That’s pretty clear. So then, the idea that our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are God-given does not seem to be supported in scripture. That notion, while it sounds great, is based in our American culture rather than in the actual Word of God. So we would be wise to differentiate the two.

– Break Transcript –

Let me reiterate that I am not knocking patriotism or American traditions and values. There’s nothing wrong with rights and freedoms, but we should keep in mind that our American liberties are subject to change. Meanwhile, our liberties in Christ transcend beyond that. Our rights in Jesus cannot be taken away like our rights as Americans could. Should we fight to preserve our American freedoms? I believe so, yes. But we should NOT hold those things in equal or higher regard to our walk as Christians. We have a calling in Christ which is greater than anything else in this world. And we need to be careful that our prideful attitude as Americans doesn’t hinder our calling as Christians.

Now, what I’m about to say might seem like an unrelated topic at first, but I want you to indulge me for a moment as I make the point that our rights to do things are not nearly as important as the need to do what is right. Let’s look at what is a hot topic for many of us – flag burning. What on earth does that have to do with any of this? Hear me out…

We’ve seen people within our own country engage in protests against the government. Peaceful protests are an established American freedom. But some have gone so far as to burn or otherwise destroy the flag of the United States. It can be argued that they have the “right” to do this. And as much as I personally detest flag burning myself, I would have to agree with certain other veterans I’ve heard who stated, “I fought for their rights.” Now a lot of people say such an act should be illegal. I disagree. If we value freedoms equally, we must then grant that someone who burns the American flag indeed has the right to do so. However, I would also argue that it’s very misguided and ignorant.

The American flag, despite what some would have you believe about it being a symbol of oppression, is actually a symbol of our freedom. So by destroying that symbol, the flag burner is actually cutting their own legs out from under themselves and trivializing the very freedom they claim to possess. Having the RIGHT to do something is not nearly as meaningful as having the wherewithal to do the right thing in this situation. In fact, when we place our rights above all other things, it can lead us to some rather unfortunate circumstances…just as Pastor Aaron recently preached…

Pastor Aaron:

Knowing that you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it. See now that’s maturity. Maturity is not “well I know I’m free to do this, therefore I should do this, and therefore it’s good for me to do this, and it’s right and it’s beneficial for me to do this.” Not necessarily. See knowledge is great. I love knowledge. We strive in our preaching and teaching and leadership to be intellectually sound, to give healthy instruction to give solid teaching. We want to be honest with those things and genuine in what we present, but knowledge is not an end in itself. Knowledge is a means to the end of being more like Christ and knowing him more, glorifying him more in our lives and therefore loving him and loving others more. Our knowledge should lead us toward a greater life of love. That’s what knowledge should do. If not, it’s just tragic. It truly is a tragedy, to know so much that you’re hurting yourself and other people because you’re failing to let that knowledge lead to love.

Stace:

And this is what brings us back to our calling as Christians. We aren’t called to beat people over the head with facts to the point that it insults and repels them rather than drawing them into a greater knowledge of the Lord. No, we’re called to REACH the world with the Gospel. So while knowledge is good, we have to be wise in how we share that knowledge with others. If we’re not careful, we’ll just come across as pompous know-it-alls who are gloating in our vast accumulation of knowledge. We can’t reach people like that. And, as stated earlier, we can get so hung up on our rights that we fail to do the right thing by people. Listen to Pastor Aaron as he talks about this conversation from 1st Corinthians chapter 8…

Pastor Aaron:

But knowledge leads to another trap, not just knowledge itself but there’s a trap of rights. See, they, they go on and they think, well, sometimes the word freedom and rights, it’s the same word in Greek, and they’re saying you know, “we’ve got the freedom to do this,” and they’re encouraging others to take make use of their freedoms, and Paul even grants it. He says that to “take care that this right of yours does not turn in to a problem.”

See, Paul has been working this issue and they see that their knowledge shows them what they’re free to do. But we can’t let it be a selfish motive of freedom and a touting of my rights, “I have the right to do that I’m free in Christ to do that.” That’s not the issue. And again, it’s not that rights are bad. Rights are not a bad thing, but they can’t be our emphasis or our grounding for why we do, “why did you do that” – “because I have a right to do that.” And does that mean it was a good decision? “But I have a right” – okay, but was that a good decision? Saying you have a right doesn’t answer if that was a good decision. I mean, sure, you have the freedom to do it if you want. But that doesn’t mean it was a good thing.

And I think maybe this even more than knowledge is the challenge for us as believers in America, because we are big on rights. We love rights, and we have a right to like our rights. Right? The Bill of Rights. That’s a constitutional document. It’s not a scriptural document. The Bill of Rights gives us more rights than scripture does. And sometimes we conflate the two, we think that those are God given rights when they’re really not. Then we take something like the Second Amendment – we have the right to bear arms. That’s a constitutional right that we have as American citizens. And as long as you’re an American citizen and the Constitution has the Second Amendment, you have that right. If the Constitution is ever changed to where the Second Amendment is done away with, you no longer have that right, because that’s a constitutionally given right, not a God given right. And there’s a difference between those two things.

And as American Christians, we have to do the hard work of wrestling with what is Christ, and what is the Constitution of the United States of America. And that’s a challenge, because we’ve been raised with Americanism – this idea of the gospel being blended with the American way and the American dream. We have to fight that. We can’t let things get hung up on rights. The reality is, the rights that God has given us, nobody can ever actually take away. No matter what they do they cannot take it away because they’re internal realities of our relationship between God and other people. And those, nobody can touch those. They can’t do it by force, even the government could come in by force and take your guns. They can’t come in and take your walk with Jesus away. Nobody can do that.

Stace:

So now that we’ve addressed the difference between our American rights and our rights in God, how do we accomplish our calling? How can we keep the issues we battle against separate from our charge to witness to others for the cause of Christ? Perhaps one of the hardest things we have to do when fighting for what we believe is making sure we’re not bringing that fight against people.

I often quote the scripture from Ephesians 6:12 that says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” But how often we seem to forget that people are NOT our enemy. And while we should speak out regarding injustices, there comes a point when we must recognize that the largest battles will be won from our knees in prayer rather than brought about through verbal argument. We are quick to take up arms or to argue with people about what we think is right, but we should be even more quick to seek the face of God in prayer and allow Him to bring about His will in a way that all the glory will go to Him rather than to us.

– Break Transcript –

So many times, I have said this: Our chief duty as Christians is to demonstrate the great love of God to the world. Yes, we have the Great Commission. Yes, we are supposed to reach the world with the Good News of Christ. But the best way to do that was exemplified in the life of Jesus. Did He spend vast amounts of time arguing with those who disagreed with Him? He rightfully put the Pharisees in their place on a few occasions, but not through argument. He knew their hearts. He knew they wouldn’t receive His words. So what did He do instead? He openly demonstrated the will of the Father through His actions. He showed that it was good to do good on the Sabbath, even if that involved the “work” of healing. He met needs. He challenged the status quo, not through direct opposition, but through acts of love.

And love is what this all comes down to. While we must stand up for righteousness when it comes to dealing with issues, we must act in love when it comes to dealing with people. Love is how we reach people. Love is what opens doors that might be slammed shut by arguments. We have to put aside our pride, our sense that “we’re right and they should be made to see this” – that attitude will never win hearts and minds, let alone souls. There is indeed a “more excellent way,” and that way is LOVE. In the end, love is what will triumph when everything else has failed.

This means we may need to even put aside our own ideas of what our rights are in favor of showing love to people, rather than humiliating them for the sake of proving that we’re right. The concept of setting aside “what I have a right to say or do” to instead reach people with love is a key point of scripture. It’s what Jesus did when He went to the cross. He would have been within His own rights to call legions of angels to defend Him, but He didn’t. He could have rightly maintained the glory of His heavenly station, but He set it aside for the good of mankind…to save us…in the ultimate act of love of dying for our sins. With more on this, here again is Pastor Aaron…

Pastor Aaron:

We see the same with Jesus in Philippians two. One of the most amazing passages of his humility, doesn’t use the term “right” but this is what he’s doing. “He did not consider equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus had the right to all of his attributes as God. And yet he chose to set aside all of those things to come as a human. What we’re celebrating on Christmas day, he was born in a body, freely surrendered himself to a human existence. In order to deal with sin. The most amazing setting aside of rights, you’ll ever see. But he did it in love.

So just to say “I have the right to” is not a good primary reason for doing something. We may well have rights and Paul doesn’t deny that they don’t have the right to eat food. But he said “Don’t let this right of yours be a stumbling block to other people.” We can’t let that be a trap towards selfish motives and self centered thinking it’s all about, “I can do this because I have the right and it’s all about me me me me me.” That’s not where we want to be.

So finally, let’s look at the triumph of love. See there’s a reason why Jesus said the two greatest commandments are both about love: love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength with all of your being love him, and to love your neighbor as yourself. If you just love God and love people, you will never sin again. Think about that. And we think about all the things that are sinful according to Scripture, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Think about how much there is to do or to not do because he even says that to not do the good we ought to is sinful. “Gosh, this is rough.” But if we just love God. And we love people, we’ll honor him with our life at all times.

Love is the only basis for doing what we do and why we do it. Love has to be the ultimate motivation for our decision. See love truly builds up. Where knowledge just puffs up, well love builds up. Love is like going to the gym and taking protein and having a healthy diet and exercising and, and you build up real muscles that really make you strong, and then you really can do certain things. You’re not just puffed up thinking that you can, you actually have real strength to do with, love does that, love builds up.

And love doesn’t just build you up, it builds other people up. See, that’s the difference, in somebody’s puffed up knowledge they do something that causes someone else’s downfall. But when you’re operating out of love, you’re built up and strengthened and so is your brother or sister because you’re not doing things that lead to their downfall because you consider them. And you think about them. And you, you don’t just make it for selfish reasons. And so rather than destroying your brother and sister by your amazing knowledge, you actually save your brother or sister because you’re treating them with kindness and respect in love. And that’s the basis for why we do what we do.

And Paul says look if, instead of going to the idol’s temple, you’re like “man I, my brother actually is falling because of this, let me just eat at home.” No big deal. Remember you’re not better off if you do eat, you’re no worse off if you don’t. So, what’s it matter? Just do the right thing. See too often when we come to these type of debatable issues we say “well, it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t, so I can.” True, but if it doesn’t matter if you do or don’t, why do you feel the need to? It doesn’t matter, right? So just don’t do it. Just avoid those things, walk in love. So we can just always ask the question, “Is this okay for me to do? Am I free to do this? Do I have a right to this? Is this true, according to what God says about me in Scripture?” That can’t be our primary way of thinking.

We have to ask other questions like, “if I do this, what will God think about that? How will this affect my walk with God?” That’s the first question. And if you come down saying “well I don’t think that will affect my walk with God at all,” great. That doesn’t mean rush into it. Secondly, you should ask, “how will this affect other believers? How will this affect my family? How will this affect my husband, my wife? How will this affect my children? How might this affect my parents? If I do this, how would this affect my neighbors? How would this affect my employer? How would this affect my employees? If I make this decision and other believers find out about it, how will it affect them? Will it affect them? What would the influence be? What would the impact be?” Do we ever think about how our decisions affect other people? Those are the things that we have to do, because then and only then are we truly operating out of love.

So I want to encourage you guys make choices based on your love for others, not just on what you know to be true. And what you may or may not actually have the right and freedom to do in Scripture. Just because we’re free in Christ to do something doesn’t mean that we should, because love is the only one that leads to genuinely Christ like decision making.

And this is for you. This is where the real hard work is for you. See, I don’t know, all of your lives and I can’t be involved in all of your lives and honestly it’s enough struggle in my own life, I don’t want to try to live anybody else’s life. But every one of us has to take this word about love, rather than knowledge or rights, and see how does it affect our life. I want to challenge you guys to take time in your prayer times to ask God, “Lord, what is, what is the motivation for my decision making in life? Am I really operating in love for you and in love for others?” The holy, the application piece is between you and the Holy Spirit. Ask him, ask him to lead you ask him to show you, areas where you’re making decisions for the wrong reasons, for the wrong motives.

And again, I’m not saying that you’re right or wrong or what those decisions are in your life – that’s between you and the Lord to wrestle with those types of things. Some things are genuinely debatable matters that, hey, you could choose to do, or you could choose to not do it, it doesn’t matter. Some things you absolutely shouldn’t be doing, some things maybe you absolutely should be. But let God be your guide as you learn to walk in love towards other people in all things.

Stace:

Amen. Let God be your guide. And may love be your motivation. Don’t let your freedoms or rights become a stumbling block and get in the way of your calling as a child of God. I’d like to thank my good friend, Pastor Aaron Zielinske, for allowing me to incorporate his sermon into this program. And thank you for listening.

– End Transcript –

Listen to the podcast HERE

Episode 35: Covid is Real; the Crisis is Not

Listen to the podcast HERE

– begin transcript –

Hello, and welcome to another Kingdom Hero Blogcast. Before we get started with today’s show, I want to invite you to support this program and the ministry of GCM (Great Commission Ministries). If you’d like to partner with us and help keep this podcast going, please go to kingdomheroblog.com/support. That’s kingdomheroblog.com/support, where you can use PayPal to safely and easily send your gift of any amount you like directly to us. Again, just go to kingdomheroblog.com/support [repeated] – and your gift will be greatly appreciated.

Everywhere we look nowadays, we see people who have been frightened into or guilted into wearing a facemask. In the last episode, we just lightly touched on the fact that all the restrictions were originally supposed to be over after about 2 weeks or so of flattening the curve. But here we are now, many long months later, and the masks and other restrictions remain – even though we definitely flattened that curve a long time ago.

What do the numbers really tell us about the deadliness of the Chinese virus? Why does all the hype and panic persist? What possible motive for keeping us in fear could those in power have? This episode will take on these questions and more. Get out your calculators – we’re gonna do the math. Stand by, folks… I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just sayin’.

– SHOW OPEN –

So, something happened this week that really made my blood boil. I’ll get to the specifics of that in just a bit, but first, let’s look at some actual numbers from the World Heath Organization’s own website. Do you have your calculator out? I invite you to check my math for me, if you like. And please, go to the WHO website and check out the numbers for yourself. They do update and change ever so often, but the following numbers I’m using are as of 7:09pm ET, December 4th – or last night, as I record this program.

ACCORDING TO THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION’S OWN WEBSITE:

In the USA –
out of 13,759,500 “confirmed cases” of CoViD-19
there are 271,233 deaths
that’s a death rate of 0.01971…or 1.97%
By the WHO’s own numbers, the covid death rate in the US is less than 2%

Globally –
out of 64,603,428 confirmed cases of CoViD-19
there are 1,500,614 deaths
that’s an overall death rate of 0.0232…or roughly 2.3%
By the WHO’s own numbers, the covid death rate worldwide is less than 2.5%

So according to this, the overall survival rate if you happen to get covid is about 98%. You have a 98% chance of surviving covid if you catch it. That’s a pretty high survival rate for something that’s been made out to be some terrifying killer. Now, to certain groups of people – mainly the elderly – covid can be more of a risk because of other underlying health issues that might make someone’s immune system weaker or less capable of fighting the virus. On the flip side of this spectrum, however, typical healthy people – like most of us – who are not in a higher risk group are less likely to even catch it and have practically zero chance of dying from it.

Is covid real. Yes, of course. Has it indeed killed a lot of people? Yes, it has. But the percentages do not at all warrant the extreme steps that have been taken. More people die from Heart disease or from cancer than from covid. In the USA alone – according to the CDC, and you can check their website – heart disease kills 655,381 people per year, and cancer kills 599,274 people per year. But in the year since this Chinese virus was released, it is reported to have killed just 271,233 people in the US. Certainly every one of those lives were important and their deaths were tragic, but those covid deaths numbered less than half of those from either heart disease OR cancer. And nearly all of those covid deaths were among high risk groups like the elderly.

And THIS is IF we could even believe the WHO numbers to be accurate – which I don’t. I KNOW they’re exaggerated. I KNOW that many deaths listed as covid deaths are in actuality NOT covid deaths. How do I know this? I’m glad you asked that question. And this is the frustrating thing I learned of earlier this week. My own late father’s cause of death was listed on his death certificate as COVID. And I know that is completely false. He had struggled for the last few years with dementia and in the last few months began to deteriorate rapidly. He was well on the road to death, and we all knew he didn’t have much longer to live. It wasn’t until the second week of October that he was supposedly exposed to someone with covid when he was placed in a care facility.

We all visited with him there, before learning of a possible covid case at that location. We got very close to him, as family of a dying loved one does, loving on him and kissing his head and face. The next day, we were told that he’d just tested positive for covid, so we all took the precaution of self-quarantining ourselves for a couple of weeks due to our close exposure with him. If he actually did have the virus, it never became apparent. He was asymptomatic, never showing any signs of the sickness. Still, he was dying because of his dementia battle and his body beginning to shut down. He passed away in our family home on October 21st, again surrounded by all of us. None of us had shown any symptoms, including dad.

Meanwhile, after quarantine, the rest of us were all tested and our results were all negative. None of us, not even our 80-year-old mother, had caught covid – which led me to think that dad might never have even had it. But it most definitely is NOT what killed him. He was dying long before his possible exposure and never showed symptoms. Covid had nothing at all to do with my dad’s death. So that cause-of-death listing on his death certificate is completely wrong. And I don’t believe it was merely a clerical mistake. It’s a known fact that hospitals and care facilities get paid more money from the government when the patient’s cause of death is listed as covid. This is a very real motive for fraud. And it has happened in thousands of other cases across the country.

So with this in mind, it is my assertion then that the covid death rate is even lower than the low percentage it stands at according to the WHO. This makes the survival rate even BETTER than the already high 98+% I mentioned earlier. With a survival rate so high, why then are we panicking and mandating masks and shutting down places? Why do some governors think it’s a good idea to prohibit churches from gathering but allow strip clubs to remain open? How much of this nonsense has to go on before we realize that our liberty and way of life is at a far greater risk than our chance of dying from the Chinese virus?

Now I could spend a great deal of time explaining how the vast majority of current mask users are either wearing masks incorrectly or wearing the wrong kind of mask, which makes the practice itself quite pointless. If you’re wearing a mask in a way that does not cover all of your mucous membranes – mouth, nose, and even eyes – then that mask is not protecting you. If it’s a surgical mask, it’s designed for a sterile environment (like an operating room) and only filters the air you exhale – making it only somewhat useful if you yourself are sick, but it’s completely useless if you are healthy and want protection from what you inhale.

If you’re simply wearing a cloth mask, it doesn’t filter anything at all. All it does is trap moisture from your own breath – moisture that turns to mildew within 20 to 30 minutes and puts you at risk of inhaling that mildew if you wear it for a prolonged time. The same risk arises with surgical and other masks when they are not replaced with a clean mask every half hour. Only the N-95 mask is designed to protect the wearer from inhaling contaminated air, but it offers no protection to those around you if you are sick and exhaling the virus. That mask also does not shield your eyes from possible exposure, and it isn’t designed to be worn for extended periods of time either.

Like I said, I could spend a lot of time explaining the ineffectiveness of mask-wearing as most people tend to practice it incorrectly. But the fact still remains that EVEN WITHOUT masks, social distancing, and all of these pointless restrictions, you still have better than a 98% chance of surviving the virus IF you happen to get infected. On average, you have an excellent chance of being affected little to none by this so-called crisis. Meaning, it’s not really a crisis after all. Covid is real, yes. But a crisis, it is certainly not.

– break transcript –

So the question remains… If CoViD-19 is NOT really the big-bad that we’ve been lead to believe, then why have they lied to us? Why would they get us all in a panic where people are bulk-purchasing stuff like toilet paper, Lysol, and sanitizer? Frankly, I’m not sure what toilet paper is supposed to have to do with covid anyway, but that’s just the lunacy of some people. Like when winter first shows up in the south and we get so much as a snowflake, there are certain people who will instantly freak out and go buy up all the milk and sandwich bread for some reason…presumably to make yummy milk sandwiches, I don’t know. But back to the point – why are we being made to fear a virus with such a high survival rate? It boggles the mind.

This is where we can get into conspiracy theories and a lot of nonsense, but there is a simple and logical explanation. What possible motive could those perpetrating the virus as a crisis have? Control. That’s it. Plain and simple. Fear is a highly effective means of controlling people. Fear is widely used all the time to do this. Fear of failure causes many people to not try things. Fear of being unhealthy can be used to make a lot of people buy supplements, exercise equipment, gym memberships and other “health” boosting products. Fear of dying is often used to get people to purchase everything from pills to life insurance. Fear is a big motivator, and anyone wanting to control you will most certainly use it.

The Bible talks at great length about instances when people did things out of fear. Throughout history, kings and tyrannical governments have used fear to control the populous. And our enemy, satan himself, plays on our fears all the time to try to influence us to do things we shouldn’t – or to not do things that we should. It is no great leap or stretch to think that there are many in our government who’d like to control what we do, where we go, who we vote for, what we wear or eat or think. That’s not a conspiracy theory. That’s the reality in which we live. And yes, they are utilizing fear to control us.

There are indeed many of those within our government who have been using the covid pandemic to enact changes they’ve wanted for decades. They have used these covid scare tactics to change the way we behave, how we think of our own safety, and whether or not we meet up with family and friends or gather to worship. They tried to cancel Thanksgiving gatherings, for crying out loud! No doubt, they’ll do the same thing with Christmas in an attempt to keep us from celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. Not to mention the psychological effect of wearing a mask everywhere – you lose your sense of self, your sense of individuality. If you don’t think there’s a real and sinister agenda behind all of these efforts to control us, then you are just fooling yourself.

I’d like you to consider for a moment California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent policy, banning singing in church. The restriction literally states that, “Places of worship must, therefore, discontinue singing and chanting activities…” – Now, hold on a minute. Absolutely nowhere within our US Constitution do we find the power of any government official to instruct churches or people of faith on whether or not they can sing or lift their voices in worship. To the contrary, the original intent of the First Amendment is to protect the autonomy and sovereignty of the church, keeping the government OUT of the church’s business—especially in how we worship. But unfortunately, Governor Newsom has “assumed” the power to interfere with his state’s churches and how they conduct their services. And no, this is not merely an isolated incident.

This clear violation of the believer’s religious liberties cannot be allowed to continue. The church has a higher calling. Whereas the Bible instructs us to obey the authorities placed over us, there is a rather important exception to this. When the governing authority tells us to do something we know from scripture is wrong – or to not do something we know is biblically right – God’s law will always trump man’s law. Telling a Christian “you are hereby prohibited from singing and worshiping” just will not fly. It is contrary to what we’re told in scripture. Sorry, but…you very simply can’t restrict a person’s freedom to worship as he/she sees fit. Forget about it. Oh, you can try. But as we’re seeing in California, there are plenty of Christians who are standing up to this immoral and unlawful attempt to control them.

I mentioned on my last show the passage in the Bible telling us that we are not given a spirit of fear. But a great many of politicians – like Gov. Newsom – would use fear to control us. When in reality, not only are we not supposed to succumb to fear, the very fear they are trying to use against us is baseless. It’s founded in lies and exaggerations. It is literally a fear built upon an overblown and over-hyped viral outbreak. This virus is only a threat to a very small handful of people – statistically speaking – who are in a very high risk category. For more than 98% of those who actually get infected with covid, there is no reason to fear because they’ll survive it with little to no trouble.

Fear, as the song says, is a liar. We can’t allow it to control us. Ever. Period.

– break transcript –

So often, people tend to see someone like myself as a radical or an enigma of some kind. They will ask, “Why aren’t you more afraid of this thing?” And quite honestly, whether we’re talking about the Chinese virus or someone claiming to be a witch – which I have encountered in the past – or whatever, I am not prone to fear because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Does that mean I don’t take precautions when needed, wear a seat belt, avoid dangerous places? No, of course I will do those things to be safe. But what it means to have Jesus in my life is that I don’t need to worry about or fear the unexpected, much less the threat of harm from something that most of the time is harmless.

“What!? You’re saying that covid is harmless?!” Not quite, don’t twist my words. I’ve made it very clear that this virus is dangerous and even lethal, but mainly to a small portion of high-risk individuals. Most people never catch this thing. And among those who do, better than 98% of them survive. Those are facts that keep me from fearing this thing – but more than that, I don’t fear what tomorrow may bring because of Christ’s influence on my life. His influence is not one of fear, but of love. His influence on me doesn’t allow fear to gain a foothold in my life because – as it states in 1 John 4:18…

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Not only is the love of God perfect – as experienced through a relationship with Jesus – but that perfect love has the power to repel and cast out all fear! That’s amazing! His love is so powerful and all-consuming that it leaves no place for fear to take up residence. How awesome is that?! Furthermore, having Jesus in my life brings even more than this perfect love. It also brings peace. Peace of mind. A peace that surpasses understanding, as we see in Philippians 4:7…

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That peace He gives provides a shelter and a shield that protects and guards our hearts and our minds. Protects us from what? From FEAR, of course – among other things. So a relationship with Christ brings perfect love and peace. But that’s not all! No, Jesus also brings light. And His light makes all the difference in the world. Check out what He says in John 8:12…

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

As followers of Jesus, we don’t walk in fear or that place where fear chooses to dwell – in darkness. Instead, we walk in the light and have the light of life within us. What does that mean? The light of life can be seen in people who just seem to have a glow about them. You see them, you see their radiance and love of life in the their smile and in the way they walk and talk, and you know they have something about them, something special, a joy that makes them beam. The opposite of this is seen in people who lack that light of life, looking all down and depressed, fearful of everything, afraid to even live life, no spark, no twinkle in their eyes, as if something is missing from their lives. That something they’re missing – that’s Jesus. That’s the love, peace, and light that He gives.

So what then are we to do? How should we live our lives while knowing that Jesus is in us, bringing peace and love and light? How ought we to respond to those who would try to put us in bondage with fear? We should remain steadfast in our walk with Christ, allowing His light to lead the way. We ought to continue doing what we know is right and just, in spite of any edicts or governmental measures to restrict our worship of the God we serve because His law is above that of man. And we should not – under any circumstances – give in to fear. We are no longer to be slaves to fear. In fact, we have the authority in Jesus to tell fear to take a hike.

To all of you, don’t fall for the hype and the scare-tactics that have been used with CoViD-19. Inform yourself of the facts. Get away from the mainstream media and their lies. I recommend outlets like NewsMax, Epoch Times, and One America News. I also recommend Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA. But more than anything, I highly recommend the Word of God. Soak yourself in it. Spend more time reading the Bible and less time watching TV or numbing your mind and your senses with social media. Get into the Word, and let the Word get into YOU. And remember that fear is a liar. So realize when people are using fear to control you, they are lying to you.

I will leave you with this passage from Joshua 1:9…

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Go with God, my friends. And keep on keepin’ on. I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just sayin’.

– end transcript –

Listen to the podcast HERE

Episode 34: Whatever Happened to Civil Discourse?

Listen to the podcast HERE

– begin transcript –

Welcome, everyone, to another Kingdom Hero Blogcast. You know, there once was a time – at least, I think there used to be a time – when people were a little more civil with one another. No, I know there have always been arguments and even times when people let their sinful nature get the best of them. Yes, since the time of Cain and Abel, there has even been murder. But when people had a simple disagreement, it didn’t always have to turn into a big deal. It didn’t have to come to blows. Folks could debate an issue from opposing sides and still go home as friends. Even if in the end there was no middle ground to agree upon, two people could agree to disagree and leave it at that. I’d respect your right to believe as you do, and you’d respect my right to believe differently than you. Peaceful coexistence and cooler heads could prevail. But sadly, that time seems to be behind us. There no longer appears to be room for civil discourse among many in today’s society. Now, if you disagree with someone, they accuse you of hate and prejudice. Instead of friendly debate, they choose to personally attack and even mock you for believing something contrary to their preferred personal truth. We see it everyday in our current culture. Freedom of speech is only good when you agree with the popular narrative. If you don’t, then your speech is curtailed. You are censored. You are cancelled. You are essentially banished from the public forum. On this episode, we will challenge that mentality. And we will take back, reclaim our rightful place at the podium. We cannot and will not be silent any longer. We owe more than that to our predecessors and to our posterity. Standby, folks. I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just saying…

– open theme –

My apologies for the month-long hiatus. As many of you no doubt know by now, November was a very busy month for me personally. We buried my father, we began the grieving process, and then the family had a somewhat somber Thanksgiving in Tennessee – the first of many holidays without my dad, so it’s been a tough time for us. We miss him, and I’m sure this feeling won’t go away anytime soon – if at all in this life. But we are all moving forward, and it’s time to get back to living our lives now.

And speaking of getting back to living our lives, this is yet another bone of contention among many people today. 2020 has been tough for most all of us, and that is an understatement. The pandemic, the shutdowns, the job losses, the lost wages, the mandates and restrictions, the masks – ALL of it. And it’s taking its toll on the populous. People are tired. People are upset. People are anxious. People are depressed. Suicide rates are up. Morale is down. Even among our kids.

I read an article recently about a young boy who had otherwise been leading a normal, healthy life before the mandated school closings. After months of virtual isolation, not being able to go hang out with friends and play and just BE a little boy, he became depressed. The signs were subtle, and before his parents could notice the change in his demeanor was truly serious…it was too late. A child, a young boy not even yet in his teens, in a moment of misguided desperation, he hung himself. And that family lost a precious life – one that had barely begun to live.

This tragedy could have been avoided. It SHOULD have never happened. But you don’t hear about stories like this one because it goes against the popular narrative that the government knows what’s best for all of us – that we somehow are just not smart enough to take care of ourselves – no, we need some wise politician to tell us how to live, where to go and not go, and when it’s safe or unsafe to gather with family and friends. But did they take into account the adverse effects of all the stay-at-home orders?

How did we get here? How did “let’s close everything down for a couple of weeks to flatten the curve” – how did that turn into month after month after month of mask-wearing and “oh, now we need to shut everything down again” and “we need mask mandates in public, at home, in your cars, and everywhere” – WHAT?! How did this happen, and how did WE – as free American citizens – LET this happen?

A big part of the reason so many were quiet as restriction after restriction chipped away at our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? I’ll tell ya. We have been so inundated over the past several decades with this absurd notion that government is our savior. Whatever happens, whatever troubles come our way, the government will save us! They’ll get us out of this mess, we just have to obey. Comply. Do whatever they say because THEY know what’s best, right? Unemployed due to the pandemic? No worries, there’s a government program for that.

Nevermind the fact that the pandemic didn’t make you lose your job – the government’s overstepping overreaction to the pandemic is what caused you to lose your job. Oh, but, shhhh! No, there’s no place for facts like that here – that violates our community standards and guidelines or some other such nonsense. And THAT’s why so many remained so silent for so long – for fear of being shushed, mocked, ridiculed, laughed at, silenced, censored, and shut down for having an alternate opinion from our all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-caring governmental overlords. They understand better than we do, so we should just be complicit and let them decide how we should all live our lives to best serve the greater good.

[Hot Fuzz clip: The Greater Good]

But it is NOT for the greater good that we keep quiet. It’s not for anyone’s good that we keep our facts and opposing views to ourselves. Oh, our opponents on the left would LOVE it if we’d just shut up. But society as a whole will suffer without some kind of standard and moral compass. And not just ANY kind of standard will do. We have to declare the truth – immediately, unashamedly, and continuously. Immediately, as in whenever and wherever lies are portrayed as truth, they must be refuted. Unashamedly, as in without hesitation and with boldness to insure swift justice. And continuously, as in relentlessly and without ceasing, to constantly beat back the schemes of the wicked. Oh yeah, there are definitely wicked schemes at work when it comes to keeping the populous docile, unarmed, and complicit…like sheep. Believe it.

– break transcript –

Here we are – almost a month after the election – and we still don’t have a definitive handle on who really won the race for president. Of course, the popular narrative is that Biden won. But then, it was also once the popular narrative that Trump colluded with Russia. “We have proof” they said. “The evidence is overwhelming” they said. As it turned out, those were lies. There was no proof, and no evidence was found, but they kept telling us that for nearly three years.

Now, there seems to be mounting evidence of fraud taking place in this election. But what we’re told is exactly the opposite. The same people who once warned us about the threat of outside influence in our country’s elections are now saying that it just can’t happen. Facebook constantly reminds us that “There are laws in place that prevent election fraud.” Since when has any law actually prevented a crime? People who are determined to speed, steal, or kill aren’t stopped from doing so just because there’s a law against it. They just try not to get caught. Twitter claimed – as did other liberal outlets – that “There is zero evidence of voter fraud.” They said their “fact-checkers confirmed” this. But how can they possibly confirm such a thing? Courts decide what is actual evidence and if it’s admissible, not so-called fact-checkers.

And when has there ever been ZERO evidence of voter fraud anyway? Are we supposed to believe that – though mankind has always found ways to subvert the laws of the land, and people’s proclivity for cleverly and covertly doing evil things is rampant in every other aspect of society – THIS, this one thing, election integrity is beyond man’s desire or ability to circumvent? Just how dumb do they think we are? I’m having a hard time grasping that anyone with an IQ above that of a box of rocks could keep buying all the nonsense the left is selling us.

You KNOW that they wouldn’t hesitate to cry “foul” if the shoe was on the other foot. We put up with four years of them doing nothing but calling Trump a bigot, a misogynist, a Russian agent, and anything else they could think of with not even a shred of real proof – despite efforts to manufacture evidence and manipulate public opinion through the media. Now they want us to just ignore Sidney Powell, Rudy Guilianni, Jenna Ellis, Lt. General Thomas McInerney, and all the witnesses and signed affidavits that strongly suggest that the election was rigged in favor of Biden. But that’s what we’re up against any time we dispute anything with the left.

When they don’t get their way, they throw tantrums. They riot. They loot. They burn down buildings. If we see an injustice and so much as speak out about it, we’re lambasted as trouble-making idiots. You don’t agree and go along with what they say is the truth, and you are labeled an anarchist and a radical right-winger. Don’t you dare ask a question that challenges the status quo. Don’t dare quote facts or cite evidence to these people on the left. We are being conditioned to avoid even explaining our beliefs or opinions or concerns when it contradicts what they want us to think.

We’re supposed to just keep silent and believe that none of the well-documented stories about Dominion voting machines and Hammer & Scorecard and vote-flipping software are actually true. We’re expected to believe there was nothing odd or fishy about the ceasing of ballot-counting in the middle of the night … in four major cities … which just happen to be run by democrats … and just happen to be located in key swing states. And somehow, a man who repeatedly filled stadiums at his rallies was beaten by the incoherent career politician who didn’t even campaign and couldn’t fill a dozen circles in a high school gymnasium.

[Biden clip: “Come on, man!”]

– break transcript –

I wanna bring all of this back to reality here. Let’s look at everything that’s going on in our nation, and in the world for that matter. The pessimistic doom and gloom outlook comes easy. It does. But that’s not for me. And that’s not the kind of outlook we’re supposed to have as Christians. As believers in God, we should remember that God has a plan – a perfect plan – and His plans will not be thwarted. Is it in God’s plan for Trump to remain in office another four years or for Biden to become president? I honestly don’t know. But I DO know this with absolute certainty… My life as a follower of Jesus will not be impacted by who is sitting in the Oval Office. My life and my state of mind are determined by who is sitting on the Throne of Heaven.

Now I’ve heard a lot of talk from some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve heard some things that don’t set right with me regarding the state of the world and so-called prophecies of things to come. When those things don’t line up with the Word of God, I have to reject that stuff. A preacher recently claimed to have a dream about coming doom, but whereas his prophecy was heavy on terror and woe, it was lacking on biblical guidance. When I hear people in churches saying, “We need to start stock-piling provisions like food, water, and even ammunition,” I have to rebuke that. Where is the scriptural precedent for that? Where in Jesus’ teachings did He advise people to store up weapons?

Here’s a bit of an unpopular narrative: Jesus told Peter that “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Now understand, I am all for our right to protect ourselves. I’m a big supporter of the 2nd Amendment. I own a gun for protection, and I know how to use it. Does that mean I don’t trust God to protect me? No, quite the opposite. But He gave me good enough sense to know there is wisdom in taking precautions. However, I don’t own a gun because of fear. Fear is not my motivation. It doesn’t even enter into the equation. I’m not “living by” the gun. It’s a tool I can use to protect my life and my stuff. But being led to stock up on guns, food, etc., is living in fear. That’s a bit more than just being cautious, don’t ya think?

So if I were of a mind that I thought I should stock-pile food, water, guns, and ammo – my motivation would be one of fear, and this would demonstrate a lack of trust in God. The Bible very plainly tells us that “we are not given a spirit of fear, but of peace and a sound mind.” That kind of fear is not from God. I will do whatever I can to be wise, to be safe, and to even be cautious…but I refuse to be fearful. Whether it has to do with someone breaking into my home, or some global threat, I will not live my life in fear. And no, I certainly am not going to be terrified of a virus with a 99.97% survival rate.

There are evil forces at work in our world that want us to live in fear. There are politicians and bureaucrats who want to keep us in fear, and in subjection, and dependent upon government benefits to survive. But I refuse to be what those powers and principalities want me to be. I am a child of God. I am covered with the blood of the Lamb. And no weapon formed against me will prosper. God’s plan will see fruition. His will is going to prevail. I stand on His promises, and so my outlook is not one of doom but of victory. These are not just empty platitudes or Christian sayings – this is what I believe, and so it ought to be how I live my life.

And hey, after all the legal battles and court rulings are done, if Joe Biden does become president, that won’t affect my outlook on life either. As a matter of fact, let me say this… As Christians, we need to be praying for Joe Biden. Not just the people we like, and not just because we’re suppose to pray for our enemies. No, make no mistake – Biden is NOT our enemy. Nancy Pelosi is not our enemy. Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumar, Adam Schiff – as dirty as some might be, we were once no better. God loves them as much as He does you or I, but hear me on this: We need to pray for Joe Biden for other reasons…

1) Joe Biden is not a well man. He is elderly. He is obviously mentally compromised. Despite what the democrat party would have you believe, Mr. Biden is struggling physically and mentally. I’ve seen his health deteriorate over the last couple of years, and I can’t help but notice the similarities to how my dad’s health began failing. Joe’s battle with dementia is clearly evident, and though it’s been a source of jokes, it’s a serious issue. For this, the man needs our prayers.

2) Since Biden’s mental decline has been so obvious and yet so unacknowledged by those in his own party, it is equally apparent that he is being used. These people don’t care about Joe. He’s simply a means to an end for them. They are using him to get radical leftist people like Kamala Harris in power to advance a socialist agenda. If Biden were to become president, he would likely soon be declared mentally unfit for office. Truth be told, he probably doesn’t have but a year or two left to live anyway. And I don’t say that with any ill intent. I just see his declining health somewhat mirroring that of my late father. The signs are there, and it’s easy for me to see. So again, he needs our prayers.

So, to wrap this up… We honestly cannot afford to sit by and allow injustices to go unchecked. I say this a lot on my show, but it bears repeating over and over again because we need to hear it, and we need to be reminded that we are supposed to be salt and light to this world. When salt is in a dish, it doesn’t tolerate blandness. When light is in a room, it doesn’t tolerate darkness – it obliterates it. We’ve been told for so long that we have to be tolerant. But there are some things that we shouldn’t tolerate – cruelty, murder, rape, or any other injustice. Good does not tolerate evil. It overcomes it.

Witness an injustice…don’t be silent. Speak out. Hear a false claim…don’t bite your tongue. Refute the lies with truth. Yes, even in the face of incivility. Even the violent resistance of the uncivilized doesn’t stop our duty to the truth. See a need…don’t ignore it. Fill it. Do what is right, and uphold the righteous. And pray. Pray that God’s light will continue to illuminate those dark places, that the wickedness done in secret will be exposed for all to see, and pray for lost souls – especially those of people in leadership, so that they will follow the will of God for our country and our world. I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just sayin’.

– end transcript –

Listen to the podcast HERE

Episode 33: My Dad’s Final Sermon

Listen to the Podcast on Anchor

– BEGIN TRANSCRIPT –

As I reported to you at the end of my previous show, my father passed away on Wednesday, October 21st at about 2:40pm central time. Earlier in his life, he had been a preacher. As a child and young man, I heard him preach many a message.

In the last truly coherent conversation with our dad, he said, “We ain’t got nothing made if we can’t get to the point where we love everybody. What we don’t agree with is between them and the Lord. We’re just supposed to love ’em.” During his soft-voiced, and tearful little sermon, it felt like he was making peace with God, with us, and anyone he felt he might not have taken the time to ‘love instead of judge.’

Less than three weeks later, he was promoted to his heavenly home. His final little sermonette held within it a simple yet fundamental truth, and it’s what everything else boils down to in the end. If you don’t have love, you don’t have anything.

In this special uninterrupted blogcast, we’ll examine that unifying message of love, and we’ll say goodbye to a true Kingdom Hero – Troy Massengill.

– SHOW INTRO –

A familiar passage of scripture provides the backdrop for this basic lesson. It’s known as “the love chapter.”

1 Corinthians 13 states the following…

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

It’s in these first three verses that my dad’s final sermon was based. His words echo these verses. No matter what else we say or do or become or accomplish in this life, if we don’t love everyone – accept them in spite of their flaws – then all our efforts are in vain. Clearly, love is the most important thing that we can do and possess – and it’s also the hardest concept to grasp. The next verses tell us exactly what love truly IS, what it ISN’T, what it DOES, and what it DOES NOT DO…

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Now that – ALL of that – can be a pretty tall order for many of us. Having patience with people is one of the most difficult things we tend to struggle with in life. And that’s just the FIRST quality that love possesses! Add all the other aspects of love – kindness, absence of envy or boasting or arrogance or rudeness – and it only gets harder for us. Enduring all the heartache someone might cause you and still loving them is not a fleshly characteristic, but a Godly one. And the verses that follow make it clear that this character trait is not something temporary. It’s not something you do only for a time…

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 

What’s it talking about there? When the perfect comes? Well, when Jesus comes, it will mark the beginning of something new. Old things will pass away, and everything will be made new. Another scripture says that, when we see Him, we will be like Him. We will be made perfect like Christ on that day of His return. Likewise, we must be ready to give up the old ways of our flesh NOW, and prepared to take on His new and perfect ways. It’s just like growing up, as this passage reads as we continue…

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This is a lesson that we, unfortunately, have to be reminded of from time to time. All too often, we allow our differences with others to become walls of separation that jade our attitudes toward them. But we shouldn’t be doing that. In fact, I wanna read part of a news article to you. This is an example of how that even some of the perhaps more “worldly” among us can show the right attitude regarding their fellow man, despite having very different worldviews and political beliefs…

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2020/10/marvel-stars-defend-chris-pratt/amp#aoh=16035110612332&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s

Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Renner, and director James Gunn are among the Marvel stars who have stepped forward to defend Chris Pratt after the actor experienced backlash and criticism online for his perceived conservative political views. In spite of their own left-leaning political opinions, they stood behind Pratt’s right to hold different beliefs.

And listen to this – this is what Robert Downey, Jr., had to say…

“The ‘sinless’ are casting stones at my brother, Chris Pratt,” Downey wrote Thursday on Instagram, in a post that was endorsed by Renner. “A real Christian who lives by principle, has never demonstrated anything but positivity and gratitude… AND he just married into a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value. If you take issue with Chris… I’ve got a novel idea. Delete your social media accounts, sit with your OWN defects of character, work on THEM, then celebrate your humanness.”

Powerful words there, from Ironman. And this is so true. Members of my own family have very different opinions about things, varying political views – we most definitely do NOT see eye to eye on certain topics. But that does not mean that we hate each other. Our opposing views do not stop us from loving one another, nor should they. And certainly we as Christians have to guard our hearts from being so cold that we allow differing opinions to preclude us from loving our fellow man.

Now on my show, you will occasionally hear me speaking my personal opinions about people who believe differently than I do. You’ll for sure hear me speaking out against some who hold views that clearly oppose scripture. But let this one thing be absolutely certain: I do not ever wish to convey the notion that I hate or wish ill will to anyone with whom I may disagree. No matter what my opinions are, I have to line my actions up with scripture. I am charged by God’s Word to LOVE those people and pray for them. If I truly believe that someone is in the wrong and in danger of going to hell, I’d better be praying that God changes that someone’s heart and soul before it’s too late.

Scripture is crystal clear on this message, as was my dad’s little sermonette. There is no room for middle ground or any gray area. Love is not a mere suggestion. It is a commandment. And it is the GREATEST commandment. Matthew 22:36-40 plainly tells us this. One of the Pharisees – a lawyer – tested Jesus and asked Him point blank…

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus didn’t mince words on this issue. Love is the greatest command we’re given, and every other command is contingent upon it. Of the Ten Commandments, the first few are all about loving God, and the rest are about loving our fellow man. It’s not up for debate. Yet this crucial message is probably the toughest for us to come to terms with.

The fact that this was the theme of my dad’s thoughts so near the end of his life is not mere coincidence. I’ve heard of some others who spoke similarly shortly before death. Of every lesson we learn throughout our lives, this one is the most important. Deep down, within our spirits, we know it’s true. It’s written in the core of our being – woven into our DNA. Love is the language that everyone understands, and it is the essence of the heart of God. Realizing that during our final days of this life is certainly poignant, but it’s something that we should strive to live out every single day of our lives.

So, my father’s final little sermon struck a chord with me – as it did with others in my family. And now we have to prepare ourselves for what could be almost a whole year of firsts – our first Thanksgiving without Dad, our first Christmas without him, New Years, July 4th, and so on. Though these may be trying times, and though some tears may occasionally fall, I know that we will often think fondly of Dad’s last message to us: We don’t have anything made if we don’t love people. Truer words were never spoken.

In closing, I offer this tribute to my dad – Troy Massengill – a real Kingdom Hero who served Jesus to the end. He ministered to many people during his life, both in preaching the Word and in singing God’s praises. He won souls for the Lord. He prayed for the sick. He baptized new believers, including myself. He gave comfort and encouragement to the downcast. He loved his wife faithfully, and he taught his four children to love one another. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he was good example to us, and I was blessed to have him in my life. He will be greatly missed from now until we see him again. ‘Til then…I love you, Pop.

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