Slavery That is Real Today

Slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century here in the USA. The ripple effect from open crime of slavery that existed has never stopped “rippling.” There is an effect from every cause, a reaping of the seed that is sown, and this nation, though many feel that the loss of 600,000 plus individuals in the civil war paid the price for the sin, some still remained enslaved by bitterness and resentments from that dark time in history. They cannot be free from the anguish suffered by their ancestors at the hands of slave owners and slave traders, to which some would say, “why not forgive and forget?” We cannot identify, having never experienced the horrors of being ripped out of your home, and placed among strangers that regard you as one of their farm animals. This is hard to forget, harder to forgive, but with God all things are possible.
There is a slavery that disregards race, gender, heritage, or privilege. This slavery is not physical slavery, chains placed on our hands and feet. This slavery effects senators, representatives, CEO’s, homeless, middle-class, the poor and the rich. This slavery is voluntary, and driven by desire for more, from trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” so to speak. This slavery is indebtedness. Statistics show that 45% of Americans are literally bankrupt, and could not survive financially for two weeks without a paycheck. 72% of Americans could not go 90 days without pay. We are driven by the temptations of “Madison avenue” ads and the “latest” in fashion. The whole of society makes this point clear, if you want to be accepted, you must have the latest. The anguish felt by families and individuals from the weight of debt, may never compare to the physical slavery suffered in the past, nonetheless it is real, and drives people to do crimes, and in some extremes…end their lives.
“The rich rules over the poor; and the borrower is a servant to the lender.” Prov.22:7
The message is, and has been over the past few years is, get out of debt! that is easier said than done, but with God all things are possible. Our only hope is His help, but He will only help the one who is willing to change, it seems. It is prayer, rejecting what the gang says is “in,” and the willingness to do whatever it takes to be free of this new slavery. The desire to no longer have to have the best, or as much as my neighbor, the determination to say no to our personal wants are the steps to freedom out of the deep mire of heavy debt.
 There is something terribly wrong when a couple making well above a six-figure income combined is being choked to death from indebtedness. And to think that you cannot give to important charities, and worthwhile projects, though you make good money is sad. It is for us all to make the decision to say no, to skip over the so-called “great deals” that can start the steps to freedom from this slavery. It comes down to being a good steward over the things God has given us. It all belongs to Him ultimately, He lets us have the opportunity to have even more when we show ourselves faithful over what we have now. Ask His help now, and be determined to be emancipated from this slavery once and for all. And one last thing. Pray for those enslaved physically in the world today. There are reportedly 27 million slaves in this world, more slaves than anytime in history. We don’t see that because we aren’t looking or are too worried about our personal problems, like heavy debt. And even though slavery was abolished in this country over a hundred years ago, the wounds still need to be healed. God can heal us.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

The Bread, The Cup, and Unforgiveness

Holding resentments against others can cause me a lot of unhappiness. Unforgiveness is the number one reason for spiritual immaturity, hindering my relationship to God, and having clarity to see my own part in the problems of life. I really try to guard against grudges knowing that if I want to be forgiven, I must forgive. I become super-keen in self examination when it comes to partaking of the sacraments in Holy Communion. I take this spiritual practice very serious.

…and when He (Jesus) had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you: do this in rememberance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 1Cor.12:24-25 (NKJV)

So what does this have to do with forgiveness? It has everything to do with forgiveness. As a believer, if you’re holding unforgiveness toward another, DO NOT take communion. People say this often concerning a grudge they carry; “I forgive them, but let me tell you what they did to me”… Needless to say, they haven’t forgiven at all. The fact that this resentment toward another is living rent-free in your head means you won’t let it go. You still have ownership of the grudge. Forgive and forget. It’s hard but with God’s help, you can do it.

You may say, communion is nothing more than a ritual, no one takes it serious. If we take the scripture literally, then we take the sacraments seriously. Paul tells us why we take this practice in sincerity in the following verses.

Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will br guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him take of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner, eats and drinks judgment unto himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 1Cor.12:27-31 (NKJV)

It is our lack of understanding what we as Christians are to be about. We are about forgiveness, love, mercy, and the “O” word…obedience. We want all of the benefits of God without obeying the manufacturer’s handbook. Taking Holy Communion must be a serious matter, Christ was broken in body, beaten with many stripes beyond recognition, for our healing. He was put to the brutal death on the cross, giving His life’s blood, so we can live, really live. Taking this ritual in an off-handed way is a reflection of our spirituality as lukewarm and as though it meant nothing at all. It meant everything! Jesus said to do this in remembrance of Him. We do this practice once a year in some churches, once in a while in others, weekly in yet others. Is that how often we remember Him?

That sounds condescending on my part, doesn’t it. That is not my purpose at all. The point I am aiming to make is that we should see that all our religion, is merely religious acts if we are not portraying Christ to the world. They are meaningless if we live with unforgiveness, anger, if we are deceitful, perverse in our manner of speech. In other words, live according to the world’s standard. I heard recently, another Christian say after they overheard yet another christian drop an “F” bomb, “that’s just the way people talk these days.” I am not unforgiving toward the man for thinking that talking that way isn’t wrong, yet I wonder, maybe the passages that tell the follower of Christ to not speak in a profane manner, and all of the dozens of other passages aren’t serious.

 Let’s be serious. We have come to a place in this country, that the Cross of Jesus is under constant scrutiny directly because of Christian behavior, Christian division, and Christian apathy. It is often hard to tell the difference in unbelievers and believers. The secular world has no confidence that the religious take their belief serious. We’re divided by many petty doctrines that have nothing to do with redemption, and the ones that are extreme, are the worst, thinking they are the chosen few that God will take to heaven. If that’s where you attend…run for it! Not really, but give this thought, all of those thinking they’re the “ones,” should spend time with the four Gospels, and the conversations Jesus had with the Pharisees. The greatest killer to the believer is apathy. Apathy toward understanding the tenets they follow. Many believers aren’t savvy to the reason Christ died, or what the reason God had in requiring blood. We have to fix this. Foreign countries are sending missionaries to America to evangelize this country, you know, tell us about Jesus. We really need it.

I hope you are concerned as much as I am. I was one of the followers of Jesus that had no idea what Jesus was all about. It took me a long time to see many truths from endoctrination in the gospel of man, to the gospel of Grace through Christ Jesus. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith