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Do Something Eternally Significant With Your Life & Legacy

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If you like solid Bible teaching and want to enjoy God fully, you’ll appreciate the Courage Matters App, available on iTunes and Google Play. If you’re near York, Pa, come visit us on a Sunday at GenesisYork.com— and be sure to introduce yourself. This is all made possible by generous listeners, readers, and supporters like you. Please consider giving towards Courage Matters to ensure our nation has the opportunity to hear the message of TRUTH and LOVE. You can donate by clicking the “Give” tab on CourageMatters.com or on the Courage Matters app.

Special Advent Podcast: God’s Timing Is Perfect

Sloooooow down! Think you know all there is to know about the birth of Jesus Christ, it’s timing and significance? Think again. God is always on time and delivers what He promises. This is a fantastic podcast to listen to while you’re driving, exercising, cooking, etc. CLICK HERE to listen all at once or break your listening up into two 28 minute segments. You’ll be glad you did, because it will help you appreciate the amazing miracles of Christmas like never before. Don’t forget, you can listen on the go with our free Courage Matters App! In this in-depth look at the first coming of Jesus Christ, you will:

1. Understand that God’s promise of a Savior, a Messiah, is first made in Genesis 3. You’ll be amazed at how the birth of Jesus Christ fulfills Old Testament prophecies.

2. Have certainty about the identity of Jesus Christ and what this means for you. You’ll appreciate the real meaning of Christmas all year long.

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3. Experience a real boost in your faith and have a renewed appreciation of God’s love for YOU. This is a huge, life-changing thing, because when you understand His love, you will find Him irresistible.

4. Move forward in your walk with God, going to a deeper, higher place.

What do you think? Isn’t it amazing how God’s timing is perfect? This is truly a message you’ll want to share with your friends, to help them grow, too.

If you like solid Bible teaching and want to enjoy God fully, you’ll appreciate the Courage Matters App, available on iTunes and Google Play. If you’re near York, Pa, come visit us on a Sunday at GenesisYork.com— and be sure to introduce yourself. This is all made possible by generous listeners, readers, and supporters like you. Please consider giving towards Courage Matters to ensure our nation has the opportunity to hear the message of TRUTH and LOVE. You can donate by clicking the “Give” tab on CourageMatters.com or on the Courage Matters app.

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Shunning God and Banning Butter Knives

SHUNNING GOD & BANNING BUTTER KNIVES:
THE ROOT DETERMINES THE FRUIT

The hair on the back of your neck stands up. You’re sitting in a nice restaurant on Friday night with friends and family, laughing, enjoying a great time together. It’s been a long, difficult week, and you’ve looked forward to this evening for days. As you unwind, enjoying some of the most important people in your life, a man and a woman walk in. There is nothing overtly suspicious about them, but your “spider sense” kicks in, telling you something is wrong. Rationalizing your senses, you regain composure and mentally rejoin your party – until everything unravels. Your hunch was right. The suspicious man pulls out a large, stainless steel butter knife, approaches an unsuspecting diner and takes the diner’s life. The suspicious woman follows, pulling out her own butter knife and takes out another diner. In an instant the once happy scene turns into one of carnage, as one-by-one, the butter knife wielding couple go from table to table, repeating their terror. It’s obvious that if you do nothing, your fate – and the fate of your friends and family – will be the same. What do you do?

“A huge movement is underway to ban God and faith. We have been attacking God – and we are surprised at the rise of evil? We should not be shunning God. We should be flocking to Him.”

There’s a great deal of talk about new gun legislation and gun confiscation. Some people should not have guns – but some people absolutely should. No doubt, we could use a more detailed look at some of the loop holes on gun laws. But there are also a great deal of loopy ideas about gun laws and gun confiscation that miss the point entirely. Cain killed Abel – and no mention of a gun is found anywhere in that account(Genesis 4). People who want to kill people will find ways to kill people. What we need to do is promote love so that it overcomes hate. The best way to do this is to focus on the cause of violence, not the symptoms. History teaches us that the cause of evil is the human heart.

“Murder begins in the heart – and the best way to deal with the heart is to get God involved.But we keep making it clear that we don’t want anything to do with Him. Ironically, we’re getting what we want.”

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So, what would YOU do in the above scenario?

FIRST, let’s deal with the obvious obstacle: it’s hard to believe that a butter knife would be the cause of such terror. (It’s hard to believe a butter knife could be the cause of such terror). You’re right. Truth is, butter knives are not the real problem. This is proven by the fact that they are issued as standard dining hardware for diners around the world, and the overwhelming majority of people know how to handle a butter knife. This is because they are law-abiding, level-headed people who simply want to get down to the brass tacks of conversation and dining. Is the butter knife really the problem?

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SECOND, you could close your eyes and recite “serenity now” over and over again. You could try to take a trip to your “happy place,” but that won’t transform the current scene into a happy place. People other than you are being taken out. Closing your eyes and turning your head won’t help any of the victims. If you really care about other people you will immediately think about their lives, not just your own. Closing your eyes would be irresponsible and completely selfish.  If you don’t care about your fellow diners in this scenario, you should be ashamed of yourself. And, if I can appeal to our selfish motives, that butter knife wielding couple will eventually make their way to your table, and you will be next.

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THIRD, you could devote your life to anti-butter knife legislation, butter knife confiscation and the demonization of butter knives. You could also devote yourself to legislation banning martial arts, boxing, wrestling, archery and more. But would doing so address the heart of the matter – which is the human heart? And, will your philanthropic plan do anything to change the urgent, pressing scene you and fellow diners now face?

Suppose, in a perfect world, you succeeded in banning the purchase, manufacture and possession of all butter knives. This would make you feel some sense of satisfaction, for a while – but would it keep people from getting butter knives illegally? And, suppose people intent on hurting others simply shift their methodology and begin using forks to take out innocent lives. Are you then going to shift your focus to the banning of forks, too?

Where does it stop? Evil is an exceptionally creative force. We kill people every day, not with butter knives, but with the weapon of our words – and even thoughts. Jesus said, “If a man even looks with lust at a woman, he has committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). The heart, teaches Jesus, is the real weapon. And this is precisely the point.

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FOURTH, you will do what you surely won’t enjoy doing, but you will do it for the sake of others, not merely for yourself. Given the painful choice between allowing overtly evil people to harm those who are innocent, you will intervene – with your own butter knife. But then you realize that this is impossible – because you pushed for the ban on butter knives and succeeded. Instead, you reach for your fork – until you recall that you were successful in banning forks, too. In your frantic quest to protect the innocent, and to fend for your own life, too, you reach for the bread, realizing it’s still legal and widely available. But the slices of french bread are no match against the illegally obtained butter knife that came against the other diners and is now coming against you. If you had focused on the heart of the matter, which is the human heart, you might have found a butter knife in the moment you really needed one. And, you may have even reduced the instances of people seeking to obtain butter knives and forks illegally.

Here’s the point, my friends:we need a massiveand thorough shift in where we are placing our attention and efforts. While we keep de-emphasizing the importance of God and faith, we are experiencing a rapid rise in the instances of evil. Why? Because we are fixating on the fruit and not the root. We are focusing on and attacking the wrong thing. Murder begins in the heart – and the best way to deal with the heart is to get God involved. But we keep making it clear that we don’t want anything to do with Him. Ironically, we’re getting what we want.

A huge movement is underway to ban God and faith. We have been attacking God – and we are surprised at the rise of evil? Come on, people, this should be obvious. Our problem is that we are fighting God when we should be running toward Him and promoting Him like never before. Come on, people, the problem should be obvious. We should not be shunning God. We should be flocking to Him. 

All fruit comes from the root, and the root issue is the human heart. Banning and demonizing butter knives is to miss the point, entirely, at a time when we really can’t afford to miss the point at all. Is a hand gun merely an offensive weapon? And suppose, we banned all handguns, rifles and ammunition everywhere. Would that address our real issue? Remember, Cain killed Abel with his heart and hands. Cain had a human problem because he had a God problem. The same is true of us. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are guns our real problem? As we see growing hostility against God, Christianity, the Bible and nearly all public expressions of faith, is it a coincidence that society is becoming increasingly angry, hateful and violent? Or, could it be, that the heart has always been – and will always be – our greatest adversary? Could it be that the real need of the hour is actually a return to God – or perhaps a turning to God for the very first time – so that we really get to the heart of the matter?

What Does the Bible Say About Guns, Ammo and Carrying a Firearm?

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Recent events in San Bernadino and Paris have our heads spinning. They also have kicked the “spin machine” into high gear. Emotions are raw, loud and proud. A good number of people are offering what they claim the Bible says is THE stance on guns, ammo, owning firearms, carrying and potentially using them. Many are offering what they insist is the ONLY position every Christian should have about guns and ammo in these turbulent times. Some propose stricter gun laws and even confiscation, while others advocate not only owning firearms, but also carrying them at will, being ready to respond should a situation merit the use of force. Who is right and who is wrong? What does the Bible say about guns, ammo and carrying a firearm? What is a Christian to do – especially in the midst of these crazy, increasingly violent times? And, what does the Bible say about the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution? Moreover, does God even care about the Second Amendment?

The truth is, none of the extremist views circulating about guns, ammo, carrying firearms, or the Second Amendment,  have overtly biblical support.All of us need to stop hiding behind our Bibles in the thick of the arguments. We need to stop being pompous proponents of our views in the name of God. It drives me batty (and perhaps it drives you batty, too), when I see liberal and conservative Christians blasting each other, speaking in condescending, arrogant ways toward each other. We are embarrassing ourselves – and moreover, we are embarrassing the Jesus we all say we’re representing.

Each side claims their views stem from a “love” for others and that they are “concerned” for the well-being of everyone – but in the process they often slam, slander and shame the other side. The manner of our talk often betrays the claims of love. If we have to remind each other that we love each other, it’s a pretty good indication that we don’t really love each other.

A Few Things to Bear In Mind As We Debate the Right (Or Lack of a Right) to Keep and Bear Arms:

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  1. Just because there is not overt biblical teaching about gun ownership and gun usage doesn’t mean the Bible is silent on the matter. When the Bible is silent, common sense and wisdom are imperative – and biblical principles are to be followed. What we need is a LOT of common sense and wisdom, not smart-aleck quips that drive up Follows and Likes on our social media platforms. Under scrutiny, extremist views about guns aren’t biblical – at all. They are filled with emotion, personal bias, and a good measure of misunderstanding and stereotyping that all converge for a perfect blend of . . . confusion. This only ends up exacerbating an already blazing debate.The heart of the matter is not a bullet or a firearm. The heart of the issue in the gun debate is . . . the human heartThere are biblical principles and examples to guide us in thisdiscussion. God is the author of common sense and the very embodiment of wisdom. To reject these is completely contrary to our being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Those who follow God – in humility – will demonstrate both common sense and wisdom. And, they will do so without slamming, slandering and shaming opponents.
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  3. There are significant, life-and-death lessons from history we should be investigating and revisiting – with eyes and minds wide-open. But it seems that today we are more prone to forget history. We are not letting history teach us – and those who forget history are bound to repeat her errors. Are we paying attention to the lessons of history, or pretending we live an an altruistic, fantasy world that exists in movies, novels and poetry? Lessons from history are lessons for lifeThink long and hard about who is going to make the decisions about gun ownership. Who will determine who owns guns, how many guns can be owned and under what circumstances – if at all? What happens if the decision-makers, while beginning with noble motives, go astray? What if we find out down the road that their preliminary, persuasive talk about love and peace was actually a ruse to gain control and obliterate all opposition? It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. In fact, it happens all the time.
  4. We can – and should – have courageous, healthy, humble, common sense, wisdom-filled debates about guns and ammo at this key time in world history. But if the debate keeps raging as it has begun, we’ll only fan the flames of fear, hatred and division – none of which are productive, God-honoring or reflective of what it means to be a Christ-follower, or anyone else for that matter.
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  6. Understand that your conclusion about guns, whether or not a person can own and/or carry a firearm,  and who makes these decisions for the masses, may one day directly affect your own life and perhaps the lives of people you know and love. This is no place to be cute, arrogant or stupid. Your participation in the debate must be marked by tremendous humility, reverence for God and reverence for the life He created. It must be marked by a clear understanding of history and the heart of humanity. To do otherwise would betray the very reason we’re supposed to be having the gun debate in the first place – out of love for God and love for each another. Without these, we’re already on the wrong road.

For the rest of this week I’ll be blogging about what the Bible says about guns, ammo and the potential use of firearms. I’ll be blogging about the Christian response in an increasingly violent world. You may be surprised, irked, upset and comforted. But by the time we’re done, you may breathe a little easier. You may even be converted, for the best. 

What do you think about guns, ammo and owning firearms? What about their use? What’s a Christian to do? Who should make the decisions? Who will hold the decision-makers accountable – and how? 

Life of Christ #90: Your Golden Opportunity

Keep Your Cool. Stay the Course. Follow the Leader. This is how you can live in the midst of the increasingly crazy world we live in – once you understand what Jesus says about life in the “End Times.” How are we supposed to live while we wait for Jesus’ return? Listen to this message and you’ll keep your cool, stay the course and follow the Leader. Share it with your friends and help them do the same. Don’t fret, go down rabbit-trails or get distracted. Ignite your life with this life-ALTARing message and you may never be the same.

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