Racism: Such an Ugly & Hateful Characteristic of the Human Race

Racism is such an ugly and hateful characteristic of the human race. Anyone who possesses this trait is not a true follower of Jesus Christ. People like this are hearing the voice of the evil one, who is Satan himself. I recently heard a woman on television state that she could never forgive a person who burned a cross on her front yard. I can certainly understand her feelings. For one, my uncle was murdered. It was very hard forgiving that young man that murdered my uncle in cold blood. Whether it is a racial violent crime of just a trespass against us, God commands that we forgive one another. Yes, according to Christ Jesus, we are to forgive those who trespass against us.

Let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 (English Standard Version), “Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Our debts are not just debts to a creditor. According the Kings James Version, the word is “Trespasses.” This means wrongs such as offenses, actions that anger people, and sins against others. If we cannot forgive others, then how can we expect Christ Jesus to forgive us? Certainly, burning a cross on someone’s front lawn is a vile and cruel gesture of hatred. So is murdering an innocent man for a few dollars with a sawed-off shotgun. The fact remains; sin is sin, regardless of the severity!

Jesus came into our world not to condemn it, but to offer salvation to it. It was through His Love that He crawled up on that cross and allowed mankind to murder Him for our trespasses against God, the Father. Christ Jesus died for you and me. If we call ourselves a “Christian,” then we are commanded to forgive one another for past transgressions. Hatred is an evil characteristic to teach children so that they will grow up to hate a person of a different skin color. Look at Leviticus 19:17, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” Hating others causes you to sin and remain in sin until you ask forgiveness. Matthew 5:43-48 states, “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 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.46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Now that we know that unforgiveness is against God’s law, how can we get from racist anger to being able to love our neighbor as ourselves? The first thing is to acknowledge your anger to God. Pray that Christ Jesus will forgive you of your wickedness. Then, ask Jesus to come into your life and live through you. The power of the Holy Spirit is stronger than the evil of Satan. You cannot be a true Christian if you have hatred in your heart for anyone. Hatred is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is not a fruit of being a Christian.  Once you have confessed with your mouth to God that you are a sinner, lost without Christ, and then you ask Christ Jesus to forgive you, He will. If you open your heart up to Christ Jesus, He will transform you, even if you are the vilest person that has walked the face of the earth. Christ Jesus took all your evil stuff already to the cross so that if you accept Him and believe that he is the Son of God, you will be saved from death, which is hell. But here is the thing that is most important that you must understand. If you still have hatred in your heart for Black people or White people or anyone that is not the color that you are, you are separated from God. You are allowing Satan to rule your life with evilness. Coming to Christ means that you have surrendered it all to God, that you are allowing God to change your heart so that you will be capable of loving others.

Once a person has come to Christ, then God’s love is able to fill his or her heart. There is no room for evil. There is only room for growth in Christ Jesus to become a more mature Believer in Jesus Christ. Therefore, if one thinks that they are a Christian and then cannot forgive a racist who has burned a cross on her front lawn, and she will never forgive him, even if he has asked for forgiveness, then that person who does not forgive will be separated from God based on Scripture. Please see Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” See Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 17:3-4, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Matthew 18:21-22; 35, “Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

As followers of Christ Jesus, we are required to forgive, even racists. If we do not, then we cannot expect God to forgive us. If people claim to be a Christian, but state they struggle with hatred, then I would question whether they have ever have come to Christ with a repentant heart and have received salvation through Jesus Christ. Therefore, in order to be righteous in God and righteous in Christ Jesus, we MUST FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER. That is the way of the Father and the way of His SON, JESUS CHRIST.

Joseph T. Lee © October 30, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Advertisements

Tropical Storm Philippe: Downgraded to a Remnant

Good News! According to the National Hurricane Center, Philippe has been downgraded and has dissipated over the Western Atlantic. The remnant has been absorbed by a frontal system and is moving NNE at 46 MPH as of 5:00 PM EDT. The location is about 290 miles South of Cape Hatteras, NC. Maximum central pressure is 991 mb with maximum sustained wins of 60 MPH with gusts up to 69 MPH. The storm is expected to stay off the coast and no landfall will be expected. Tropical force winds will extend out up to 230 miles from its center. This storm will produce rough seas. Small craft warnings are in effect.

Identity Theft: A Growing Epidemic in the United States

I am a victim of identity theft. You can say that I have become an expert in how to salvage the fallout once the theft has been discovered. My name and Social Security Number was stolen in 2016 and it has literally taken months to lock down everything. Most likely, my information was compromised through a data breach. As a victim, my story comes to you first hand. I have even assisted the police in the investigation of my own theft. The picture posted above is an actual surveillance picture of the suspect that attempted to obtain a credit card in my name at Target in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Identity theft is a growing epidemic in the United States. Identity theft involves anyone who steals your personal information from your name and Social Security Number to your credit card numbers. This is a faceless crime but has serious ramifications against the victim. An identity thief can attempt to steal your credit, money, Social Security benefits, Medicare benefits, IRS Tax Refunds, obtain a drivers license in your name, and the list goes on. These thieves can literally destroy your life and they have no conscience in what they are doing.

Legislation needs to be placed in force to make it a felony to steal another’s identity regardless of the amount of money involved. Thieves should receive stiff jail sentences when they commit these crimes.

Not only are these thieves local, but also international identity thieves have set up call centers overseas to scam people out of their money. Many times, these overseas call centers call on a spoofed telephone number. Calling on a spoofed number means that they call a legitimate telephone number and then they capture that number. When they make outbound calls, they disguise their own number with the legitimate number, making the person called believe that it was from a local cell phone or business. Many of these calls are coming from Russia, China, Nigeria, Costa Rico, and other Caribbean countries.

Last year, a Hispanic male attempted to obtain a credit card in my name at Target in Wake Forest, NC. I am fortunate because I had credit monitoring with my bank. The fraud was detected and then I was notified. Then came the daunting task of filing all the reports as well as contacting the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, The Federal Trade Commission, The Internal Revenue Service, The Social Security Administration, all of the credit bureaus, my local police department, and the Wake Forest Police Department.

My recommendation is that when you discover that you are a victim of identity theft, call the police department first and file a report. Often times, these departments are inundated with these types of crimes and many times they may take an informational report. I have even heard where some officers will not even take a report. If this occurs, you must politely insist and ask for a supervisor. A police report must be taken if the crime occurred in Virginia or if you are a resident of Virginia. In my particular case, since I live in Virginia and the initial crime occurred in North Carolina, I had to report the crime to an officer in Wake Forest, NC. I then filed a report with my local police department for informational purposes. This, in turn, established the fact that a crime had occurred against me. Once I filed these reports, I contacted the Virginia Attorney General’s Office with the appropriate paperwork and obtained an Identity Theft Passport, which means that I now have an extra layer of protection indicating that I am a victim of identity theft and fraud.

The next step was to file an Identity Theft report to the Federal Trade Commission, which in turns notifies the IRS, Social Security Administration, and Medicare. The next step is to notify the Credit Bureaus. Once one letter is sent to any bureau along with copies of your police reports and credit reports, the receiving bureau will notify the remaining two bureaus of your identity theft. You may request a lock be placed on your credit. If anyone attempts to obtain credit in your name, the creditor is required to call you to verify. If they do not and the creditor is defrauded, the creditor has no recourse against you according to the credit bureaus.

While all of these procedures are good at resolving the destruction the thieves have caused against you, please understand that you will need to be your own advocate. The crime is so frequent; you will need to insist on police reports. You will be the one making the contacts to get your identity put back into place. You may have identity theft protection in your homeowners’ insurance policy; make sure that you read the policy. Your coverage may only reimburse, but you are the one who must do all the work.

There is another type of identity theft known as credit card theft or fraud. Most recently, someone got a hold of my VISA Card number, expiration date, and three-digit code on the back. They went into a Food Lion and attempted to purchase items with my card number. The sale did not go through because the suspect did not have any identification. Once this transaction occurred, my card company contacted me and wanted to know if I was in Food Lion in another city. I was not. They immediately closed the card and reissued it. We have a picture of the suspect. I rarely use this card, so we can narrow it down to a few places that I used it in the last month. The police believe that the thief was someone who works at a store in which I used my card. They apparently skimmed my card and then made a card with my name, card number, expiration date, and three digit-code. These thieves are good at stealing so trust no one with your information.

Here is my advice as to how you can protect yourself from identity theft. The first is to never carry your Social Security Card with you. If you lost your wallet or purse, someone has your Social Security Number. Second, if visiting a doctor’s office, at check-in, they may ask for your Social Security Number. The Attorney General’s Office in Virginia tells every victim to NEVER disclose his or her Social Security Number to a doctor’s office or any other office. If they insist, ask to speak to a manager and advise them that they have your insurance and drivers license. They do not need your Social Security Number. Third, when paying for a meal at a restaurant, follow the server to the register. Don’t be so trusting of strangers with your financial information. Fourth, NEVER use your debit cards in any stores, restaurants, gas pumps, or merchant; especially if they are walking away with your card. You do not know if they are taking a picture of your card or skimming it to steal your money. Once your money is stolen right out of your bank account, it may take days or even weeks to have it placed back in from your fraud claim. This will tie up your hard earned money. The fifth and final thought is to not use a debit card EVER online. Use a credit card. You will have the protection of VISA or Mastercard if you do. It’s easier to replace a credit card than to replace stolen money from your checking account.

If the police are fortunate enough to catch the identity thief, be prepared to prosecute them. Be willing to press charges. These people need to be brought to justice and be punished for stealing. Their theft can destroy the lives of hard-working Americans who are just trying to make it from payday to payday.

Joseph T. Lee, © October 29, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC

Tropical Storm Philippe Has Formed: Heavy Rains & Flooding Expected

A new tropical storm has formed and is moving through the Straights of Florida tonight and into Southern Florida. As of 8:00 PM EDT, Tropical Storm Philippe was moving N at about 28 MPH with a wind speed of 40 MPH. The pressure was at 1002 mb.  The location of this tropical storm was about 50 miles north of Havana Cuba. According to the National Hurricane Center, Philippe was a tropical depression and had recently strengthened to a tropical storm. Although the storm is moving North, it is expected to turn Northeast, crossing the Everglades and stay in the southernmost parts of Florida. It is expected to move towards the Bahamas and then be well off the coast of the Carolinas by Sunday evening. Once it hits the cold waters of the Atlantic, it is expected to dissipate or be absorbed by another system. Heavy rainfall can be expected regardless of the track. Tropical force winds are expected across southern Florida tonight and tomorrow. Expect heavy rains and flooding as well. The history of this storm has caused severe flooding in Cuba.

Joseph T. Lee © October 28, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC

Which Is More Foolish: Millennials or Preaching to Them?

I enjoy driving, maybe not as much as some, but probably more than most.  However, when I was young I wasn’t all that interested in learning how to maintain cars; consequently, I learned some very expensive lessons.  For example, engines must have 3 essential liquids if they are to run very long; they are fuel, oil, and coolant.  When it comes to engines, only having 2 out 3 is a very bad thing.  Of course, if you had to choose one of these essentials to run out of, then the best choice is gas.  That’s because once your run out of it then all you have to do is add more and you’re back on the road.  But if you run out of oil or coolant and keep driving, then your engine will freeze up and be ruined.  That, my friends, is a costly repair, so costly it may even mean that your car is totaled, depending on its value.  When it comes to driving there are some things that are essential if you want stay on the road.  The reality of “essentials” is everywhere in our lives, but occasionally some think it fashionable to challenge their importance, and those who do so inevitably run the risk of ruining the very things they claim to value.

Recently I read the online article titled “10 Church Activities That Need to Go.”  Keeping up with current trends in ministry is important, so this article piqued my interest.  The last item on the list of things that churches need to jettison was “sermons.”  First of all, that someone would make such a suggestion, or that an “online Christian media leader” such as Crosswalk.com would allow it to appear on their website is symptomatic of the spiritual decline and biblical illiteracy of our time. Nevertheless, I can relate to the problem that Millennials are experiencing in many of today’s churches, which is that pulpits are filled with people that they aren’t worth listening to because they really have nothing of significance to say.  Regrettably, what occurs in many pulpits today amounts to little more than religious speeches.  Ironically, the solution promoted by the author, Lindsey VanSparrentak, is to simply get rid of sermons altogether rather than replacing pastors that are ungifted, disinterested, or poorly trained with respect to effectively communicating God’s word.  It’s kind of like what we are experiencing with respect to the NFL and the protests during the national anthem.  Some have actually suggested that the “solution” to this controversy is to stop playing the national anthem before the games.  Now there’s a thought.  

Regrettably, VanSparrentak apparently is unaware that she’s attacking God’s primary method for casting vision, educating, evangelism, and discipling the church at large. Paul made it clear that God has ordained the method of preaching to bring people to faith (1 Cor. 1.20-25).  Moreover, the Spirit inspired Paul to tell his disciple Timothy, and by extension all future ministers, God’s charge to “Preach the Word!” (2 Timothy 4.1-4).  God has ordained that preaching the scriptures is a paramount method of communicating His word to His people.  And, at the risk of being obvious, sermons are the product of Christian preaching, plain and simple.  And to be clear, we are talking about preaching, not “sharing,” “suggesting,” “informing,” or “lecturing” about God’s word.  To preach means to “publically proclaim” the good news of the gospel; to forcefully assert with conviction the truth of God’s word; and to implore God’s people to conform to His will.  To put it another way, preaching is not the dissemination of recommendations and suggestions, it is publically announcing the word of God “in and out of season.”

Nevertheless, VanSparrentak’s justifies doing away with sermons in the church in favor of adopting more effective educational methods because apparently even universities are moving away from lecture based education models.  First, writing as a professor I must say that this is certainly not the case, there is no mass movement in higher education away from lectures as a foundational educational tool. Regardless of VanSparrentak’s assertion, even if it were true, she has unfortunately made a category mistake.  The church is not a university, and God has ordained that what may work in secular institutions does not apply to the body of Christ, which is the church.  And is precisely Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 1.20-25.  In this text Paul explained in emphatic detail that God has chosen what the world deems foolish (i.e., preaching) in order prove wrong what it views as wise and erudite (and this includes whatever educational models Millennials are currently advocating). Moreover, the greatest spiritual renewals throughout human history came about with sermons being a major method used by God to reach both his people and the lost.  Moses, the prophets, Ezra, Peter, Paul, Chrysostom, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Whitefield, Wesley, Edwards, Moody, Spurgeon, Graham, Criswell, and Falwell all regularly preached sermons and were used greatly by the Lord. And lest we forget, even Jesus preached sermons; so I ask, what would Jesus do?

I must admit, however, I can relate to VanSparrentak’s frustration with the educational ineffectiveness of many of today’s churches.  If you are only listening to one sermon a week, and you are not involved in any relevant small group Bible studies (the operative words being “relevant” and “Bible”), nor are you being discipled by someone of greater spiritual depth and biblical literacy (which is probably the experience of the majority of those attending church), then you are probably seeing very little spiritual impact for Christ in your life, your church, and your community.  And that is especially true if your church is being held captive by weak lay leaders that tolerate inept pastors giving sermons devoid of scriptures.  If that is your experience, then only the Lord can help you.  Nevertheless, the Lord himself used several different educational methods throughout his ministry, one of which was regularly preaching the word of God.  Of course he reached people while also utilizing different instructional methods as well, teaching them both individually and in small groups, as well as engaging in interactive “ask and answer” discussions.  Consequently, if we know how Jesus engaged in ministry, should we excuse ourselves from doing any differently?  Should not our Lord provide for us the educational models that we should practice and master? The problem is not that the time for sermons has expired, the problem is with those pretending to be preachers and/or with those tolerating their irrelevant Bible-less sermons.  

Without question, preparing and communicating weekly sermons that are fresh and relevant is a difficult task.  Moreover, communicating God’s will to those living outside of it makes preaching a more daunting task. So daunting that many pastors have become jaded; consequently they provide “sermonettes” that are entertaining, less threatening, and harmonized with the greater dominant culture.  In other words, many pastors tend to sanitize their sermons of things that our unbelieving culture finds offensive.  In today’s churches, pastors dare not sacrifice the world’s sacred cows; consequently, they have unwittingly become cattle protectors instead of shepherds.  The result is that they have ceased being effective spiritual leaders; consequently, they have stopped providing reasons for anyone to listen to them.  I generally do not recommend books in my blogs, simply because I find that most people aren’t all that interested in reading substantive books.  Nevertheless, I’m recommending one that is on my top-ten list of books to read for both layman and those preparing for ministry, and it is Stott’s book Between Two Worlds, and I recommend that you read its first edition (i.e., 1982) instead of its politically correct revision.

Ministry is difficult enough, and it is made even more challenging when people uncritically accept man-made premises about how to do God’s work. There are some things that God has ordained as essential to biblical ministry, and one of these essentials is the preaching of sermons.  To those who have made the mistake of concluding that sermons are no longer foundational for effective ministry, but instead are actually an impediment to building relevant churches, all I can say is that you are building your houses upon sand.  While your “groups” may grow and enjoy the momentary success that comes with being fashionable and popular, they will not last.  They will not endure simply because they are not built upon the foundation of God’s wisdom. As Paul put it, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.”  Ministries built upon man-made wisdom are not biblical ministries, and if your church is not built upon the foundation of God’s word, then one has to wonder if it is truly a church at all.

Dr. Monte Shanks, © 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.

Deer In The Headlight

Most recently, I had an encounter with a young man who said he wants what his girlfriend has. As I was speaking with him, I asked him if he had any spiritual beliefs? He said that he did. He said that he was a Christian. Then I asked him a point-blank question to determine if he really was or was saying it because he wanted me to think that he was. I asked him “How did you become a Christian?” What did you have to do to become a Christian?” His response was almost priceless as he stared at me and could not even move his lips. He looked as if he were a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck! He could not respond because he had no clue of how he became a Christian. As I delved a bit further, he still did not comprehend the actions one must take before they become a Christ Follower.

His first response was that he met his girlfriend and he decided to go to church with her. Therefore, his first response was “salvation by association.” Unfortunately, no one can become a Christian by association. It does not work that way. Then after many analogies given by my wife, he stated that he was “interested” and wanted to believe. But he still could not tell me the three simple steps of becoming a Christian. Unfortunately, we are seeing this all over the United States because these young people do not know the simple steps of coming to Christ. With the great number of churches in America, why aren’t we doing a better job in sharing our faith? Is it because of the politically correct and not wanting to “offend” anyone? I would rather not be popular and tell someone about the saving grace of Jesus than to find out they were killed driving down the road and having the guilt of never saying anything to them!

As born again Christians, our faith is not private. Our Christ died a very public torture and crucifixion and suffered greatly for our sins. How can we remain silent and not share the most precious gift with another human being? Therefore, to share the three simple steps in becoming a Christian, one must know the steps themselves. The Bible is very clear on this. These are the three simple steps: Believe, Confess, and Ask Forgiveness of one’s sins. One is to believe and then confess their wrongs and their sins to God. Then they are to pray and ask Jesus to forgive you and to come into your life. And once one does these three simple steps of faith, He will send His Spirit to dwell in the person and guide them in their walk with Christ. Three simple steps: Believe, Confess, and Ask Forgiveness.

Let’s review some Scriptures that substantiate this requirement.

  1. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
  2. Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death (hell), but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. John 3:3 – “In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
  4. John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
  5. Romans 10:9-11 – “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
  6. 2 Corinthians 5:15 – “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”
  7. Revelation 3:20 – “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

If you believe these scriptures and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Son of God and has risen from the dead, you will be saved. You must acknowledge that you are a sinner. You must ask forgiveness of your sins. Are you willing to surrender your life to Jesus Christ and invite Him into your heart? If you are, then pray this prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I have sinned against you. I want forgiveness for all my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. Father, I give you my life to do with as you wish. I want Jesus Christ to come into my life and into my heart. This I ask in Jesus name. Amen.”

I hope that those who do not really know Christ as their savior asks Him in. You cannot get to heaven on your Grandmothers, Parents, or your Girlfriends coat tails. If you have never prayed a prayer like this, and never have had a heart change, according to scriptures, you are not saved and not a true Christian. I pray that those who are not will make a commitment to come to know and accept the saving grace of Jesus!

(Subject matter and prayer taken from William Fay’s “Share Jesus Without Fear.”)

If we never take the time out and ask people what they had to do to become a Christian, then are we really showing the love of Christ to them? Are we loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind? Are we loving our neighbor as our self? If we never ask people about how they came to know Christ, then we are not doing what Jesus asked us to do. We are not loving our neighbor, our loved ones, and our friends. Then there will be millions that have the “Deer in the Headlight” look!

Bibliography

Fay, William, and Linda Evans Shepherd. Share Jesus Without Fear. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1999.

Joseph T. Lee © 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC