Megan Lebo

"Just be. Its what the world denies you" – Brandon Heath

Category: To Stand…

On hate, hypocrisy, and love…

I find it difficult to reconcile the complexity of emotion surging in my blood, barreling through me like river waters through canyon walls. When is it ok to choose anger over grace, boldness over passivity? At what point are we allowed or even commissioned to venture beyond the boundaries of tolerance into the territories of justice.

Hate has no reason and hypocrisy no shame.

The voices of those who cry out for tolerance and acceptance, the ones who demand the freedom of individuality, now demand of others not tolerance and acceptance but compliance and change. They fight not for the freedom of individuality but for rule and uniformity.

There exists not one individual on the face of this earth whose views are left untainted by personal belief and conviction. Unbiased, in the context of individual thought and intention is a false descriptor. It is impossible to maintain an unbiased opinion when it comes to personal beliefs. We all have a moral compass that guides our decisions and our perceptions.

To demand the closure of a business based solely on the fact that they are a business of faith and choose to channel their profits into faith based charities and organizations is morally and ethically corrupt. To demand of a people not tolerance but full on support of a lifestyle they cannot uphold, whether for reasons religious or personal, denies our freedoms not just as Americans but as human beings.

Do churches walk into gay bars demanding that a portion of their proceeds be given to religious organizations? That would be absurd! So to demand that a place be boycotted and shut down because of religious affiliation should be considered bigotry and persecution.

Now I am not ignorant. I am fully aware of like actions that come out of so-called church environments. WestboroBaptistChurch, whom we have all become familiar with in the last few years, is a prime example of a people filled not with the love of their creator but with hatred and evil. I am also aware of other church environments and individuals who profess to be warriors of the faith but in fact only act in ignorance and emotion.

So what is our answer? How do we stop spinning these circles? At some point we need to just agree to leave each other alone.

Both sides.

So to those who do not embrace faith I say, “live your life!” Continue to fight for your cause in a way that will not infringe upon my freedom as person and an American. Share with me whatever truth you hold on to but don’t force me to embrace or support your lifestyle because I have every right to disagree.

To the church, I simply direct you to Romans 1:18-32. A wise believer knows when to fight and when to finally lay down the sword. As the passage makes clear, even God eventually gives people over to the lusts of their hearts. We need to ask ourselves if the time has come to turn our backs and leave the world as a whole to its own self destruction. Because Christ’s kingdom is ours through our salvation in Him, we will not have dominion over the kingdom of this world.

With that said, we are still responsible for sharing Christ’s love and salvation with people. While we may lay down our efforts for changing the course of our nation or our world as a whole we should NEVER give up on the individuals that God has or will bring into our lives to minister to.

So I say, be gracious and full of God’s love, share with those whom God places in your path, and leave the rest to their ways. Speak up, be bold and fight for your freedom but turn your backs on Sodom lest you yourself be caught up in their judgment.

Read the book of Ephesians and be encouraged! “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

Our Great Commission…

It amazes me how quickly I become a victim of my own emotions.  Emotional reactions can often be devastating, leaving you backtracking in regret and feeling foolish.  It is always better to wait until the dust of your emotions settles before speaking on something that incites extreme emotions in not only yourself but in others as well.

The dust has settled.

As I have said before we live in strange times.  Times when everyone does what is right in his own eyes.  There is no longer one moral compass that defines what is right or wrong for the collective body.  According to the world we no longer have a choice about who we are as individuals.  We were born that way.  And because we were born that way that means its good right?

What most people don’t realize is that, yes, we were born that way and the Bible tells us so.  But that does not mean its good.

Genesis 8:21 says “…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth…”, Jeremiah 17:9 says “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick…”,  Psalm 51:5 says “behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.

We were all born that way.  We were all born into sin and corruption.

Because we are born into depravity we have to actively fight against the lusts of the flesh.  And the reality is that we are incapable of fighting the battle of our flesh successfully on our own.  Holiness is not born out of our own efforts but out of the righteousness that was imputed upon us through the blood of Jesus.

As a believer in Christ and the Word of God I do not agree with immoral lifestyle choices whether that be homosexuality, gender reassignment, adultery, abortion, or even cohabitation outside the walls of marriage.  I have becom increasingly concerned with the direction that our nation is going and the depths of depravity which we have now reached.

And yet I am torn.

Can we as Christ followers actually expect morality out of those who choose not to recognize the only true moral compass, that is, God’s Word?  Is it really our place to fight against the immorality of a world without salvation?  Morality cannot be found outside of who God is.

We cannot demand Christian character out of those who do not know Christ!

I am not saying that we should lay down our fight.  No.  I am saying we need to pick up a different weapon.

The only way we can fight immorality is by being the image of Christ to the world.  Hearts need to change before we can expect actions and lifestyles to change.  The change has to be from the inside out not from the outside in.

Romans 1:21-32 says:

“For even though they know God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four footed animals and crawling creatures.  Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, adn worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.  Amen.  For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural funchtion for that whcich in unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them”

Because we as Christians understand the ways of God and what He desires out of His creation (holiness, and righteousness) we often begin moral crusades that while rooted in good intentions and passionate convictions can be a devastating witness to the Character of God.  The most effective witness to a lost and dying world is to display the life that has been given to us by the one who put it in us!

It is the act of living out the change that has occurred in us through His blood that either draws or turns away those who hear.  And while we grieve along with God over those who turn away it is their choice and we simply have to pray that God will be merciful in the end and bring them to saving faith in Him.

 

Why I had to end your life…

Please don’t look at me that way

I want you to hear what I have to say

I want to try to help you see

What having you around would have meant to me

Please don’t cry but understand

That you were just never part of the plan

I had dreams and hopes for life

So many things to see and feel and do

My house, my man, my other kids

There was just never room for you

Please don’t look at me that way

You’re not hearing what I have to say

I couldn’t imagine giving any more love

The little family I already had was enough

We wanted to travel, fix the house, and change careers

That would have never happened with you around here

We were done, moving on and gaining ground

You only complicated the scene

I thought you would eventually come around

And understand what having you here would really mean

Please don’t look at me that way

Don’t you understand what I’ve had to say

It was my choice not yours to make

You have no right to tell me it was a mistake

Your strange and unwelcomed intrusion

Would have only brought fear and confusion

Why are you being so selfish

Don’t you see what your life would have done

Derailing what was already established

Restarting a race I had already run

You’ve got to stop looking at me that way

I have told you all that I have to say

I can’t take it back or make it right

You never had the chance to win this fight

But you’ve seen how you’ve stirred up so much strife

And that’s simply why I had to end your life

Why I love Israel…

I read an article this morning on msnbc.com that was discussing how the evangelical community is tightening its embrace on Israel.  The author introduces to us an American Christian family who currently resides in Jerusalem and plays host every Friday night to “lone soldiers” as they are called.  These are young men and women who travel from foreign countries to serve in the Israeli army.  Every Shabbat they join with these young people for the traditional Shabbat meal and wine.

I just returned a few weeks ago from New Zealand where I met and fellowshipped with another such family who plays host to Israeli travelers on the weekends, providing Shabbat dinner and a place to sleep.

So many people including the author this article attempt to try and explain this connection, this love that Christians (and more specifically evangelicals) have for the people of Israel.  This particular author proceeds in giving her own evaluation of the reasons behind the desire for Christians to connect with Israelis; and not just Israelis but the Jewish population as a whole.  In one statement she says:

“The broad backing for Israelis in part grounded in a widely held evangelical belief that the existence of a Jewish state is a prerequisite for the second coming of Jesus.”

That statement at its core is essentially true. The Scriptures clearly establish the existence of Israel as a complete entity prior to the second coming of Messiah but what the author seems to miss, as do others who evaluate the Christian faith from the other side of the wall, is that scriptures merely show us what WILL happen, not what needs to be done IN ORDER for certain events to happen.

One of the great joys that I have found in my personal walk with God is the understanding that God’s will is going to come about whether I choose to be involved or not. But he does ask me (as He does the rest of us) to become active participants in the work he has already begun.

She also draws in the widespread belief that part of the love that Christians have forIsraelstems from a widespread fear and hatred of Islam.  Munther Isaac, an instructor at Bethlehem Bible College states:

“We definitely believe that they (U.S.evangelical leaders) are Islamaphobic and that is hindering them from having the right approach toward Islam.”

He continues:

“The more we demonize Islam in our talks, in our books, in our sermons, the more we polarize them…it’s like feeding the enemy and empowering the more radical voice, and we shouldn’t do that.”

Once again this is a sad and very small view of how the majority of Christians look at the world.  It is true that there are small sectors of those who claim the name of Jesus (Yeshua) who in no way represent what the Bible calls righteousness.  And unfortunately these are the ones that the world loves to focus on.  (Which I find ironic seeing that most of the world would so quickly step in and stand up for Islam saying that most Muslims are not radicals, most of them are peaceful and good.  Yet when addressing Christians the same courtesy is never extended.  But that is another entry entirely.)

If you visit the website of the International Mission Board, which is one of the largest evangelical mission organizations, you will find that so much of their outreach is in countries that are considered Muslim countries.  I have listened to the hearts of many a missionary who express a deep rooted love for the Muslim people.  These are individuals who grieve over the darkness that consumes a people who do not posses the joy and light that Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, brings.  I have heard so many accounts of Muslims coming to faith through dreams and visions.  My point is that God desires and longs for the hearts of ALL men and therefore asks those who believe to go out and be witnesses even to the remotest parts of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)

So to claim that Christians or evangelicals as a whole possess a hatred and phobia of those who practice Islam is tunnel visioned and inaccurate.  I ask those who have listened to the false claims of the world and the media to seek out the truth and discover instead the deep love that Christians have for the people of the world.

Well that sums up my introduction.

So what about this strange connection, or bond if you will, that Christians experience with the Jewish people?

Is it to hasten the coming of the Messiah?  Is it so God will bless us because we blessIsrael?  Are we simply trying to “convert” people like so many throughout history have done?

I love Israel.  I love the Israeli people.

The only way I can answer this question about why Christians feel drawn to the people of Israelis to express and share with you the understanding that I have gained from the Word of God and to share with you His own heart for Israel as is revealed in the Scriptures.

God’s Salvation began with Israel.  He called them out to be His people.  He separated them from the rest of the world and called them peculiar, set apart for His Glory.  They were called out to be the sole witness to the world of the One True God.  Throughout the whole of Scripture the world has been described as having two different peoples: the Jews and the Gentiles.  Those of us, all of us, who are not born Jewish are considered Gentiles.  Jesus (as the western world calls Him.  Yeshua to the those speaking Hebrew.) was born a Jew.  He was a descendant from the line of Judah, just as the Old Testament prophesies said that the Messiah would be.  He came to Israel, to the Jewish people and it was the Jewish believers, the ones he had revealed Himself as Messiah to, who were the first ones to spread the good news of His salvation to the rest of the world.  We, the Gentiles, are the wild olive branch that has been grafted into the vine; and while the corporate rejection of God’s ultimate plan for atonement (Yeshua; Jesus) was something that grieved the very heart of God, it was the only way to bring salvation to the rest of the world.  It was God’s divine plan all a long.

As Gentiles we now have the great responsibility to carry the message of salvation until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  Romans 11:25 says:

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery– so that you will not be wise in your own estimation– that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

A partial hardening.  God is not finished with Israel!  Though the hearts of the people of Israel have been hardened for a time, and a veil has been placed over their eyes, there will come a day when every Gentile who would believe will believe and that great harvest that begun 2,000 years ago will end.  On that day God will once again open the hearts of His people!  (Isaiah 11-12)

Why do I love Israel?  Because God loves Israel!  We are brothers in the same family.  Gentiles and Jews, while different in identity, are purposed to ultimately one day be united again in our Father’s house.  And in the end, when Israel once again carries the banner of salvation through Yeshua the Messiah we will gather together as one body in pure unadulterated worship to the Lord who is sovereign over all!  For He does not forget his promises and he does not break His covenants.

So for all of the believers out there I encourage you to continue sharing Messiah with the world!  Share with the Muslims, the Atheists, the Hindus, and the Buddhists; for the fullness of the Gentiles has yet to come.  We possess the message of eternal life so out of love share it!  But don’t forget our brother,Israel, whom God still loves and will one day draw back into the fellowship of His family!