Changing the Mind

When I was a young man living in New York City we never had of the amount of gun violence you see now.  You might say that’s because there were not that many guns around.  I would have to disagree with you.  During the late 1960’s and early to mid 1970’s the proliferation of weapons on the street was substantial.  Almost everyone I knew carried a knife, myself included.  And, I had a number of friends who carried handguns for protection.  Some of my High School classmates carried guns even at school.  I went to a private Catholic High School where a number of students came from the Lower Manhattan/Little Italy section of the city.  You can fill in the blanks for yourself as to what “family” affiliations they had.  I still remember the moment while getting ready for gym class that a .45 caliber 1911 handgun slid out of one of my classmate’s pants pockets.  He gave me a quick look to see what I would do.  A simple nod of the head as I turned away was my way to telling him that I wouldn’t say anything.  I knew who he was, what his father did for a living and that having that gun was a necessity for him.  In the four years we went to school together he never pulled the gun on anybody and nor did anyone else who we knew that carried.  Neither had anyone of us who carried knives, some as early as grade school, gone on stabbing sprees or used it in a crime.  It was simply a way of life.

Violence and even death was also a way of life.  One of my classmates was killed by a rival gang in Chinatown for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was a slight, soft-spoken member of the group who didn’t carry a weapon.  He was protected by his cousins and friends.  On this particular afternoon he was by himself when he took a shortcut home through Chinatown.  The price of that mistake was a knife piercing his chest and bleeding out on a city street.  As we sat in a memorial service that week in the school gym most of us were stricken and distraught by the loss of one of our own.  Needless to say, his family dispensed justice on the gang of youths who murdered him.  In one event 5 teens were dead within a week – my friend and the gang members who killed him. 5 young lives snuffed out by bad choices and a hardened lifestyle.  But, that was the end of it.  No more retaliation and no further police involvement.  No copycat events or nonstop media coverage.  It barely garnered one paragraph in the newspaper and a brief report on the nightly TV news.  We never forgot about it but didn’t fixate on it either.  And, we knew it could happen again.  That was life in New York City during those days.

I don’t share that to justify it or condone it.  I share it to show that life was just as dangerous back then. What we didn’t have was a generation of youth with no sense of consequences for their actions.  We all knew that one action could, and would, create a ripple effect of subsequent actions that would not only destroy our lives but those of loved ones as well.  Television and films have indoctrinated our youth over the last 2 decades that the answer to everything is violence and that there are no consequences for their actions.  Violence now is stylized and those who can do it well are glorified.  Hollywood has also diminished the true nature of violence for ticket sales and television ratings. Video games have played their part as well into the desensitizing of our society.  First person shooting games as well as those filled with violent gore are best sellers.  Brains are being hardwired for violence and desensitized to it as well.

And, while I will agree with you that the majority of people know better than to act out what they see in real life there are a small percentage that don’t.  It’s that small percentage we see regularly in the news who have lost the reasoning ability needed to understand the consequences of their actions .  Instead of seeing honest and transparent discussions about the cause of such violence we see politically charged rhetoric about an inanimate object instead the hands that wield them.  The news headlines are filled with more calls for gun control but no calls for dealing with the people who use them in a constructive, proactive manner. Interestingly enough many of the voices crying out for change are the very ones who profit from promoting violence in their films, television shows or video games.  The do as I say don’t do as I do mindset of Hollywood is part of the problem in my opinion.

We need a long hard look at the cause of the violence we are seeing today. We need to examine the influence of media and the dysfunction of the home to find answers.  Monsters aren’t born they are formed.  Why is that happening so much these days?  As long as we fixate on the lifeless weapon of choice we will change nothing.  Evil will always find a way to manifest and anger will always find a way to fulfill its desires.  Will society stop the angry polarizing rhetoric to do that?  I do not think so.  That genie is out of the bottle.  Which is why many of us want the ability to protect ourselves and our families against such events.  We want more done by those who are qualified to protect us and our children.  We know that law enforcement is reactive to events after they happen.  We also know from the Parkland School Shooting in Florida that not all law enforcement can be trusted to protect our children.  Thankfully the majority of the first responders are trustworthy. However, all it takes is for a few to be derelict in their duties and we see the outcome of such blind dependency. From that same event we learned that laws and policies won’t protect our children and that gun free zones do more to endanger us than to protect us.  As long as our children and certain parts of our society are sitting ducks for violent, extremist behavior these events will continue.  And, I shudder to say, they will increase.

If terrorists, criminals and the criminally insane know that no one will stop their actions there is no deterrent against them from acting on them.  They know that they will receive be made famous by the media and politicians they will continue to make the choices for the twisted glory it gives them.    From the time that Cain killed Able with a rock nothing has changed.  Bad things happen to good people and evil acts out whenever it can sometimes for selfishly ridiculous reasons.  We need to change ourselves, our society and our focus on such matters.  We need to understand why these choices are being made with such frequency and do all that we can to be proactively prepared to stop them or respond to them.  Instead of soul-searching for legal or political answers we need the soul changing and a transformational mindset in our youth.  Stop the divisive rhetoric and start the real discussions for real emotional and spiritual change in our society.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Eternal Reality Check

Yesterday, April 30,2018, it was announced that Dr. Chuck Missler passed away at the age of 83. And while I am saddened at his passing I realize that he lived a long life, is reunited with his wife and sons and more importantly is with his Lord and Savior in Paradise.

Dr. Missler was a unique man who I had the pleasure of speaking to on a podcast many years ago.  He helped fill in the blanks in areas of Biblical knowledge and never ceased in his search of the scriptures.  In his final years I was disappointed in his choice of speaking engagements and the people he shared those stages with.  Be that as it may, I realize those things no longer have meaning to him.  There is only one reality I believe that interests him and that is the reality of Heaven.

The Apostle Paul was a student of the great teacher Gamaliel, the Pharisee of all Pharisees, and a man knowledgable in the Word.  However, after many years of arguing and causing riots in synagogues and cities he came to the conclusion that he resolved to know nothing more than Yeshua as crucified Messiah and the only thing saving him from being the wretched man his flesh desired him to be was Messiah Yeshua as Lord.  He knew that knowledge puffs up and the only great thing we can offer is the Love of God in Yeshua His Son.

Nowadays, it seems that the Church is looking for the next rabbit hole to dive down for the latest and greatest exciting new teaching.  There is only one eternal reality worthy of such effort – the Blessed Hope and eternity with Him.  Eternity itself is the greatest reality check we could ever experience.  As knowledgeable and brilliant as Dr. Missler was I believe that standing in the presence of the Lord gave him all the answers he needed.

Knowledge and intellect is what people are seeking in these end times when in truth they should be seeking the One who has all the answers.  Everything else is worthless in my opinion.  And, as stated, is my opinion.  I have a “no rabbit hole” rule these days.  My mind, heart and spirit is fixated on eternity and the One I will spend it with.

Eternal Value

As I begin my withdrawal from social media I’ve discovered that many of the thoughts/topics that filled my mind no longer seem interesting to me.  Of course, much of the time was consumed with obtaining information for topics on a regular podcast I did for almost 8 years.  Now that I no longer do that particular podcast I’ve come to realize that the time consumed in research no longer appeals to me.  The revelation has been that although my efforts to inform and reveal insights to the listeners were sincere, the information itself had no eternal value.  It changed minds, gave knowledge, may have touched a heart but didn’t change, heal or repair a soul.  It had no eternal value.  My desire now is to focus on things that have eternal value.

Philippians 4:8  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Colossians 3:2  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Beautiful sunshine

RJ Grund

Anti-Social Media

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As we see the exposure of social media for the trojan horse it was always meant to be we have to decide what to do.  Do we sever all ties and shut down all of our accounts?  Do we ignore the information flooding out about the deceptive practices of the social media giants?  What do we do?

I don’t have an answer for you.  I can only answer for myself.  And, after prayerful consideration, I am moving away from the social media giants.  Is that too little too late?  It probably is.  What we are learning now about Facebook’s data collection practices of all Facebook members and even non-members, we have to realize that the horses are out of the barn.  Even so, we must close the barn door anyways so as not to keep the predators out.  To do nothing at all is as foolish as entering the quagmire to begin with.  Once you realize you’ve stepped into quicksand you don’t just sink to the bottom and die.  You fight with all your might to extricate yourself and get free.

You have to ask yourself the question – has social media helped you, hurt you or do nothing at all?  All the time spent on social media acting “social” really is deceptive.  All of the people you are connected to on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. aren’t really your friends.  Some may be but most are total strangers that you’ve now given access to your personal and family life.  In fact, you don’t really know if they are who they say they are.  Maybe, like me, you’ve reconnected with friends or family you lost touch with. That seems to make this all worthwhile but truthfully all it did was make it easier.  A little more effort expended in finding a home or email address, mutual friends/family or a simple Google search (which brings another set of questions too) may have done the same thing.

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As you see, there really is no simple answer to this quandary.  What is simple is the fact that all of the social media giants have sold our data to third parties.  It’s how they offer their sites for “free”.  Aldous Huxley and George Orwell had visions of this type of society.  They just didn’t think it would be this easy.  And, they most certainly didn’t think their fiction would become a blueprint for these events.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts and comments.  All comments will be monitored.  Any profanity, abuse or off-topic interaction will be deleted.

Richard

Conformity

 

“Character is always lost when a high ideal is sacrificed

on the altar of conformity and popularity.”

Charles Spurgeon

 

John 12:42 ( NKJV ) Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 

In the above scripture we see that many rulers believed in Yeshua/Jesus but because of their fear of being put out of the synagogue, they did not confess that they believed in Him.  Their fear of man and man’s reaction to their choice kept them from being open about the faith.  They were conforming to the expected norms of their society instead of being open about their beliefs.

What is conformity?

Conformity – behavior or thought that is socially acceptable or expected; agreement, correspondence, or similarity in structure, manner, or character.

In the Spurgeon quote, we see what happens when we sacrifice our ideals for acceptance.  We lose our character and integrity.

Psalms 29:5 tells us that fearing people is a dangerous trap.  In the KJV and the NKJV the word for a trap is “snare” which is a hook or a noose.  Generally, it means something that is elevated off of the ground so that once the target is hooked it cannot get any footing to escape.  So, when we give into the fear of man, of what people think about us we lose our footing and cannot get away.  We cannot take a stand for the things we should.  We become powerless.

One of the best examples of this other then the above scripture and the story of Nicodemus coming to speak to Yeshua/Jesus at night so that no one could see him is the Apostle Peter after the Lord has been arrested in Luke 22:54-62.

We see in this part of scripture that as the Lord is being led to the house of the high priest Peter follows at a distance (verse 54).  He wanted to be with the Lord but his fear kept him in the courtyard with the crowds that had gathered.  In verse 56 we read where a servant girl recognized him as a follower of Yeshua/Jesus.  Because of fear he has lost his integrity and commitment to the Lord and denies he knows Him (verse 57).  He tried to fit in with them but once you know the Lord you cannot fit in no matter how hard you try. I wonder what was going on inside of Peter at that moment.  In a split second, he denied he even knew Him.  Did he duck his head and try to hide?  Probably.  But when the enemy sees you compromise he smells blood, your blood, and the demonic sharks begin to circle you.

In verse 58 another person notices him and says “You also are one of them.”  Instead of proudly saying “Yes I am!”  he says “Man, I am not!”  It most likely got easier the second time.  Compromise always does.  For an hour no one said anything to him except his guilty conscience speaking inside his heart and the voice of condemnation in his ear.  By now Peter is probably bound up by fear.  Fear for the Lord’s well being, fear about what would happen to them and fear that he would be found in the courtyard and punished as well.  I will bet it was the longest hour of his life and just like the enemy to back off just enough to catch you off guard.  And then comes the final slip of the knot.  The final wrap of the snare around Peter’s ankle.

Luke 22:59-62 ( NKJV ) Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” 
But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 
So Peter went out and wept bitterly. 

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.

In a split second, Peter’s heart was broken because he knew that not only had he let the Lord down but he knew the Lord saw it.  When their eyes met no words needed to be spoken.  What did he see when he looked into the Lord’s eyes.  Sadness?  Sorrow?  Disappointment?  It’s not like the Lord didn’t know he was going to do it.  He had told Peter so only hours before.

Luke 22:31-34 ( NKJV ) And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

By these words we know He knew Peter would fail the test –  and when you have returned to Me.

Verse 62 tells us so much more then our English language can say.  In the original Greek that was translated into the KJV in 1611, it says that Peter didn’t just weep.  The words used for “wept bitterly” means he sobbed and wailed violently.    You know what that is.  Gut wrenching, violent chest heaving sobs.  The kind of sobbing where you cannot catch your breath and it hurts so bad that death would be pleasant.  Peter had looked into the eyes of the Man who for three years had not only been his Master and Teacher but also his best friend and knew he had let him down.  How would you feel if you knew He was watching you at your moment of conformity?

Adding to that pain was the knowledge that John was inside with Yeshua/Jesus.  In John Chapter 18 we read that John had gone in with the Lord while Peter waited fearfully outside.  He was supposed to be the leader and the strong one and he was outdone by the youngest of the disciples.  This would be a sad ending if we didn’t already know that when the Lord rose from the dead an angel told the women who had come to dress the Lord’s body in Mark 16:7 to tell the disciples and Peter (bold letters mine) to meet the Lord in Galilee.  How cool is that?  The Lord wanted to make sure Peter knew he was welcome.

You see the Lord knows your failures.  He’s seen the end from the beginning and He knows where and when you will fail Him but He’s already making a way for you to return to Him.  He didn’t stay to Peter “if you return to Me” He said, “when you have returned to Me.” He’s already made a way for you when you fail that test.  An angel is waiting to be dispatched to remind you where to meet Him.

No matter what you’ve done He’s letting you know you are welcome to come back.

If you understand what happened to Peter, you can understand why he never backed down again.  He was bold for the Lord and set his heart to never let the Lord down again.  We see that in his answers every time he was arrested and told to stop preaching about the Messiah.  We see it in his boldness after the Upper Room.  He stood up in a public square filled with thousands of people, maybe millions of people, and preached the first sermon of the New Church.  That boldness was born from brokenness and sealed by love.

Where are you right now in your walk with the Lord?  If push came to shove would you stand up for Him and His Word or would the fear of man ensnare you?  How easily do you compromise or confirm when the risk is your livelihood or acceptance from people who you want to impress?  Is there anything in this World that can keep you from boldly and publicly saying ‘YES!” when they ask “are you one of them”?  Or, will you drop your head, hide your eyes and deny Him by your words or your actions?  Just sitting in a pew isn’t enough.  We are called to live it for everyone to see.

Matthew 5:14-16 ( NKJV ) “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

You might be saying “I want to be like this, but I don’t know how!”  What is your fear?  What could it cost you to take a stance for the Lord?  Is that cost worth what it does to you inside?  Is it worth giving up your character for?  Is it worth losing your footing and being ensnared by that fear?  Only you can answer that question.  Personally, I don’t know any other way to live.  I have to live with that Light shining no matter what the cost.  I love Him so much for what He’s done for me and how much He has loved me that I believe I would have been like John.  I would have marched into Caiaphas’ house with Him and been standing at the foot of the Cross too.  He died for me.  Can I do any less than live for Him?!  But, even if I were like Peter I know that He will be waiting for me to return and embrace me with open arms as He did Peter in John Chapter 21.

Find out where your thoughts and decisions have led you to conform.  Ask the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit to change the way you think.  That’s what the Apostle Paul, who knew all too well the cost of following the Lord, meant in Romans 12:2.

Romans 12:2 ( NKJV ) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

Romans 12:2 ( NLT ) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

When you do you will feel that rope slip off of your ankle and you will be set free from the snare of this World and what people think about you.

You will never be the same!

Shalom & Blessings,

Richard J Grund

 

 

 

Lessons Learned from Irma

Hurricane Irma, which formed on August 30th and dissipated on September 13th, was the most powerful hurricane since Hurricane Dean in 2007. It was the most intense storm since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  It had sustained 185 mph winds for 37 hours.  That makes it the strongest and the longest sustained intensity on record.  Hurricane Irma spent more time as a CAT 5 hurricane than any other storm in recorded history with as much cyclone energy as an entire Hurricane season.  It inflicted catastrophic damage in the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina.  The death toll has risen to 82 with an estimated 62 Billion Dollars in damages.  Millions are without electricity in Florida and the Caribbean.  I was without power for a sweltering 7 days and 8 nights. Some may be without power for weeks or even months.  And, in the midst of it all, there were lessons to be learned from Irma.

When you strip away the “toys” and wealth and the perks of society, we are all the same.  Whether you spent your time in a home, hotel, or shelter we were all people in need.  Some of the worst destruction was seen by those who supposedly live the “good life” with a home on the water.  Movie and music stars saw their Million Dollar vacation homes on Caribbean Islands treated just as disrespectfully by Hurricane Irma as every other home in its path.  Who you were or how much money you had meant nothing to those pounding winds and waves.

I was raised to believe that no one was better than anyone else.  We all put our shoes on one foot at a time and until I hear of someone being able to jump into their pants both legs at once, that goes for pants too.  What makes us different is the lies of this world and the manipulation of society.  Children don’t see skin color as a difference until someone tells them it is.  Societal status is inflicted up us to keep us “in our place”.  And, none of that comes from God.  if we measured ourselves by Him and His Word we would know that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.  We would also treat each other accordingly.

Not having the electricity to keep the TV on or my laptop charged forced me to limit time on my devices to listen to Him more.  Sometimes it takes being still to know that He is God and that we need Him.  I suspect some people prayed during Hurricane Irma that had not prayed in a while.  Events like Hurricane Irma force us to be plugged into Him and not into an outlet.  Was it uncomfortable?  My mind told me it was but in truth, it was no less uncomfortable than life before technological comforts.  We talk about the “end times” but do we consider that the fear, trials, and stress of Hurricane Irma (and those that come afterward) could just be a prelude and preview to the end of days.  I have considered all of the above and more.

What have you learned about yourself and this world during the last week?  Whatever it was, hold on to it and keep it close at hand.  The power is flowing once again to distract you away from the simplicity of a life whose heart, mind and soul are set on God.  He rewards those who diligently seek Him and want to be with Him.  And, all I truly want, is just to be in His presence.  That to me is my reward.  And, when I am doing that it causes me to appreciate the things of value in my life – family, friends, and pets.  Everything else is replaceable.

Thank you, Hurricane Irma, for reminding us of what really matters.

 

Exposure

 Ephesians 5:11-14 11  Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12  It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13  But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14  for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Messiah will give you light.”

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The Apostle Paul was referring to the depraved practices going on in the Ephesus caves.  Bacchanalian orgies and rituals were being done in secret and some in the church either knew about it or were still participating in them.  The new Believers in Ephesus had come out of that darkness (Ephesians 5:8)

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Notice that he doesn’t say anything about the workers of darkness but instead focuses on the darkness itself.  Darkness is the absence of Light and is exposed when the Light of Truth is shined on them.  

Expose (Greek: elengcho) means to reprove, rebuke and testify against.  It’s a verb and therefore indicates action.  And the Light in question is the fiery Light of the Holy Spirit:  John 16:8 (NKJV) 8  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The Spirit of Truth is one of the greatest weapons against the powers of darkness.  And, again, that means we must act to do so.  Do not be fooled though and think there will be no reaction from the enemy.  No, the enemy will be fierce in its reaction and we should be ready for it.  It HATES being exposed.

John 3:20-21 (NKJV) 20  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

We are seeing this now in the world as the battle between Light and darkness rages on every level from politics, media, religion and societal values.  And, as verse 14 of Ephesians 5 mandate WE MUST WAKE UP!

triumph-of-evilSilence and inaction is implied consent. And, that cannot continue.  As those who live in the Light we must shine that Light into the darkness and expose it.  Confront it.  Rebuke it.  Or, allow it to triumph and become defeated by it.

So, my closing thought here is this, Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV) 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.

Stand firmly in place.

Dig those heels in and SHINE!

Richard J Grund