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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Confessions of a Christian Worship Leader

I lead worship music on Sunday mornings.

I hear the argument often, or maybe I notice the articles more now that they apply to me, about which type of music is best for worship.

I suppose in a general sense, any music we offer to God for His glory, not our own, could be considered worship. Yet, with our modern options, the decision becomes more often about which style of music is most suitable. We treat it as though God is looking down, saying to Himself,
"I hope they don't play that Tomlin song again," or "I hope they play Amazing Grace today."

My impression is that God is not worried about if the drums were too loud, or if the song choice didn't quite flow as intended. He's proven this to me numerous times. I can plan and plan all I want, but if God is ready to move, He will push me right along with Him. He has blessed me with a talent, and with a desire to lead His people into worship. This is my privilege, to offer back what I am able to One who gave it all for me.

Each week I choose the songs for the upcoming Sunday. I wish I could say there was a set process for this, but I tend to look for similar music keys, and songs that could flow into one another. I also like to revisit songs for which I have fond recollection. Though, if I lean too far into nostalgia, I am in danger of making the worship about what I want. If the goal of the worship leader is to lead the congregation in worship, there should be a balance of music that leads both the congregation and the leader into a similar state of worship.

Yet, there is no way to please everyone. And, why are we trying to please anyone, if our ultimate goal is to offer our praise and worship to Christ?

Admittedly, I get bogged down in wondering what the congregation wants sometimes more than I seek what Christ would want. It's those Sundays that a noticeable difference occurs. There is something off. There are people in our congregation who I can sense are put off by certain songs. It's the nature of personal preference. Songs may speak more to some than others. If I begin to focus on a an individual's experience, I am at risk of falling into concert mode, trying to please that individual more than God. It has happened, and I am aware of it in the midst, but find it hard to break out. If we honor God with our worship, He will permeate the congregation and lead them. God is the true leader of worship. The praise team is the vessel by which God chooses to manifest His majesty, as His people give him honor and praise.

The Sundays that I thought I had it all together, and perfectly planned out, God has shaken things up a bit. It's these instances that remind me that while being prepared is important, ultimately letting God take control will lead into a much deeper state of connection with our Lord.

Is there a correct style of music? The traditionalists would argue hymns over the songs of today, and the modern worshipper would want to table those dusty old hymns in favor of a more emotionally charged, intense musical experience. A "concert for Jesus" if you will.

Week after week, I find myself torn between the two. I am given a lot of freedom with music choice. Our pastor will occasionally make a suggestion, but ultimately leaves it to me. While this freedom can be nice, it can also be hindering, as I may get in my own head about song decisions.

For example, this Sunday for the second time during my tenure at this church, we are doing a traditional hymn service (my choice). It is a throwback to the old style of worship. Some might think it odd to do this. In a church that is seeking to bring in a younger demographic, and to grow in general, is it perhaps risky to play such old melodies? I truly think not. It is a tribute to those theologically marvelous tunes upon which our modern worship is grounded (however far from one another they might sound these days). We couldn't have Tomlin, Hillsong, or "insert contemporary Christian artist here" without the hymn writers.

There is a simplicity to the classic songs that is undeniable.

Honestly, this post is more to get my musings on the page, not to answer the question of which style is better. I would encourage my brothers and sisters in the faith to not ever let a personal preference create discontent within the church. There can be no meeting everyone's preferences. And, there is no need. If we can give the honor to God, letting go of the fallen tendency to people please, then by His power, all will be led into worship, and He will receive what He is due.

Contemporary, traditional, or something in between, when we sing whole heartedly to God, He is pleased. Give Him praise today!

"Sing to Him a new song, play skillfully, and shout for joy..." (Psalm 33:3)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Fast and the Furious- How to Watch the Series

They get progressively better-stick it out!

I'm going to stray from the normal writing a bit here, to touch on something of interest to me, having now finished the full set of "Fast and Furious" movies.

I was still in high school when the first movie came out. I remember seeing it with my friend Tyler, who was way more into cars than I was. I'm pretty sure we recognized the bad acting, and somewhat cheesy plot line at the time. All I really remember is everyone pulled out of the parking lot that night trying to peel out and show off their basic cars, in an effort to imitate the movie.

When 2 Fast 2 Furious came out, I recall seeing it more out of obligation (I don't like leaving parts of a series unseen if I've seen one). I recall being more entertained with the addition of Tyrese Diggs in the part of Roman. He added a nice layer of humor to the series.

It was after this point, though, I lost complete interest in the series.

About a year ago, in an effort to collect some digital movies, I bought the Fast and Furious bundle on iTunes (having secretly always wanted to see the newer additions). By this time, Furious 7 had been in and out of theaters, and had received fairly good reviews.

I watched FF1 and FF2 again, but stopped a few minutes into Tokyo Drift. About a  week ago, with some time on my hands, I decided to finish out the series (still skipping Tokyo Drift).

FF4 was pretty good, and re-established the flavor from the first movie. It also introduced some intriguing new characters, and a few interesting plot points. I moved on to FF5, and found it to be the best in the series up to that point. With the addition of Dwayne Johnson (the Rock)'s character, the series took on a whole new flavor. More than just wild car driving, it became almost Jason Bourne in its action sequences and gun fights. Added to that was the trademark crazy driving, and the combo worked.

Mentally, I considered that perhaps this was the beginning of a better "trilogy" of these movies. At this point I was still ignoring Tokyo Drift, the 3rd movie in the series.

FF 6 ended up being the best of the entire series in my opinion, if for no other reason than it brought back all the great characters from FF5, and included the most insane/over the top (CGI I'm sure) stunt I've seen in movies recently. For the record, FF6 and FF7 are basically two movies tied together in plot line, much like FF4 and FF5 tie together.

Now, what I realized only today as I pondered the series as a whole, is that chronologically, Tokyo Drift (FF3) actually did have a place in the series, and contained events that did tie back into the other movies (albeit loosely).

Now, I'll have to go back and watch FF3 to get the full cohesion there, but basically the chronological order of the series becomes the following:

Fast and the Furious (FF1)
2 Fast 2 Furious (FF2)
Fast and Furious (FF4)
Fast Five (FF5)
The Fast and Furious 6 (FF6)
Tokyo Drift (FF3)
Furious 7 (FF7)

Events taking place after FF6 and before FF7 directly relate to events found in Tokyo drift, despite it having been released years earlier. Apparently there is a special feature on one of the discs that bridges the gap with a short film, so I'll have to hunt that down for clarity. But, basically one of the main team members in FF5 and FF6 ends up having a role throughout FF3 and somewhat in FF7.

So, there you have it. The Fast and the Furious series is actually somewhat well thought out, and a cohesive universe as a whole. It's also interesting to note that as the movie progress Dom (Vin Diesel) becomes more and more superhuman, as he begins surviving some pretty crazy stunts by time we get to FF6 and 7. It's an interesting transition from tough guy racer in FF1 to essentially Super human tough guy in FF7.

So, are the films a bit cheesy? Yes. Is the acting a bit sub-par? Yes. But, would I recommend checking all the movies out? Most definitely.

Having seen them all now (Save Tokyo drift which I will watch soon), I can say that they just get more and more interesting as they progress. What starts as somewhat entertaining street racing films, became essentially spy thrillers with cars by the end of the series. And, it has good closure in FF7 (though more movies are planned)- so for a series as a whole up to this point, it wraps up well.

I would suggest, now that I'm more informed, watching the movies in chronological order.

It's possible to break them into pairs or trilogies mentally to help distinguish as well.

FF1 + FF2





Anyway, I know this is a departure from the usual, and probably only interesting to a select few, but occasionally I like to put something like this out there for the benefit of anyone who cares.

Hope it helps. They mature as they progress, and become more like all out action movies than just street racing movies. Though, cars and car stunts are always a big part of them.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Vocal Evangelism as an Essential

"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him [of] whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'" (Romans 10:14-15)

Christians need to be vocalizing the Gospel. I'm not the best at this, but I'm working on it. I tend to do it better in writing. But, as the verse above suggests, how will those who do not believe hear the message of Christ if Christians are not vocalizing that message?

The kingdom of God tarries while the number of those chosen from eternity past are brought into the faith in Christ. We do not know how many that will be, except that as long as we are here on earth, that number has not been reached. Therefore, evangelism (the vocal, sometimes uncomfortable kind) is really a Christian essential, despite often being treated as a non-essential.

If we treat it as non-essential, we ignore Christ's own words in His commission to the disciples to spread the Word to the ends of the earth. Christ died that men and women from all nations and tribes across the earth might believe and be saved. Though, not everyone on earth will be saved, and many will still reject Christ.

Yet, we do not know God's mind, or the heart of the unbeliever. How will they call on Christ if they have not heard the good news? How will they hear the good news if someone doesn't preach it? And, if it is the pastor's job to equip and make disciples, it is really the disciples (Christians) who are meant to be the hands and feet reaching out to the lost on a day-to-day basis.

So, let us treat evangelism as an essential. Some will say, "it is better to live the gospel by our actions," but who has ever come to saving faith in Christ by watching someone live a moral life, yet not hearing the message of Christ? No one. We can be compassionate, kind, and representative of a moral life, and in fact should as followers of Christ, yet we must also be vocalizing the gospel message to the lost.

Preach the true Gospel of Christ crucified for our sins as propitiation to satisfy God's wrath against sinful man. And preach the grace and mercy found in that sacrifice, as any who call on the name of the Christ will be saved. Those who repent of their sin, and put full faith in the finished work of Christ, are saved. Without the sacrifice, there could be no mercy- no forgiveness. We must establish the tough news of everyone having a sin problem, before we can explain the good news found through salvation in Christ.

I'll work on my vocal evangelizing confidence, and I hope my Christian brothers and sisters will too. It is essential that we tell the world of the coming King.

Let us fulfill our essential Christian calling and reach the lost for Christ.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Preach the Full Gospel

"...If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?" Penn Jillette (Atheist)

As we can see in the quote above, Penn at least respects those who at tried to witness to him, despite remaining in unbelief.

With this in mind, isn't it more loving to speak the truth (with gentleness and respect), even if that truth is going to be offensive to someone, or outright rejected? 

Yes, it is. But, our culture does not like to hear truth. Expressing Biblical Christianity (instead of the watered down version our culture is mildly aware of) is always going to be met with challenge. The Gospel is only good news, after the bad news of sin and God's wrath is shared. 

We barely use words like "wrath" or "sin" these days in our watered down Christian churches. We speak the good news without hesitation, but do not always present the full Gospel picture.

The Bible says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Until we understand just how offensive sin is to a Holy and Just God, we cannot begin to comprehend why His wrath would be "revealed against unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18). We cannot comprehend why Christ needed to die in our place as atonement for sin. We need to hear the bad news for the good news to be good. 

Be bold, Christian brethren. We preach Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23), an offering for the sin of the world, propitiation for our sin (1 John 2:2), and payment to satisfy the wrath of a Holy God. Though God is not the originator of sin, His curse on creation and mankind after their initial sin, broke fellowship (Genesis 3:17). Yet, even in such a curse, he offers a prophesy of one to come who will reunite fallen creation with its Creator (Genesis 3:15). This is manifested in Christ. 

The Old Testament fathers believed in God's promise of one to come, and it was counted to them as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3). For none ever achieved fellowship with God through works or righteous attempts alone, but always with faith and repentance (Acts 20:21). The combination is necessary. 

Truthfully, our generation, nearly 2000 years after Christ now, has the full benefit of God's revelation, found in scripture. We are without excuse if we see this truth and reject it. We cannot claim to have not heard (which was not even an excuse pre-Christ). Therefore, those who have knowledge of the Gospel and still reject it, harden their hearts towards God. Eventually, God will give them what they want, and finalize the hardening of their hearts, as He did with Pharaoh in the book of Exodus (Exodus 4:21; Romans 9:18). At that point, there is no turning to Christ, and the individual is condemned, of their own choosing, to eternal separation from God's grace and goodness in Hell. 

So, plead earnestly with those who do not know Christ, yet plead even more earnestly with those who have heard the message, but turned away from it. For their accountability to God is greater than the one who has not heard yet heard the Gospel. Their rejection is of higher penalty than the one who has not yet heard (though that individual would also still be under God's wrath without Christ). 

The truths of scripture appear foolish to those who would reject Christ, and turn their backs on their Creator (1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Yet, even in this foolishness, there is hope that perhaps the Holy Spirit can convict and bring them to repentance. Even those who seem most lost, may at some point turn around. For this reason, we continue to plead earnestly with the lost, praying that God's grace may still be reserved for them. We do not see on this side of the veil those who God has set apart for Himself. Therefore, we must preach the good news to everyone who does not know Christ, even those who seem to have fully rejected Him. For, in most instances, we do not know whether or not that person has hardened their own heart fully, or had it hardened by God. 

As Penn Jillette said, it would be wrong for the Christian who believes those without Christ will go to Hell, to not do their best to convince the unbeliever to turn from that fate. The ultimate acceptance or rejection is in God's hands, but we are called to be the messengers of the good news of Christ. 

Be bold, and preach the Good news in it's complete form. Do not forget why we are separated from God to begin with, and do not water down the Gospel to appease sensibilities. Preach earnestly the Word of the Lord to those who are perishing and pray their hearts be opened and turned to the Savior who would stand in their place, and accept the wrath set apart for them, that they might have eternal fellowship with the God who loves them. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Focused on the Truth

Let me share my heart.

In 2012 I was theologically on fire for God and focused on writing to share His truths as best as I was able. Often in my life I have hit these "seasonal highs" for lack of better terminology. It seems every time though, it gradually gets stolen away. My focus shifts, or someone challenges something I say, and being unable to persuade my cause, I lose heart.

In 2013, one of my toughest years so far, I still began with an intense focus on God. In the midst of our heartache, I confirmed my commitment publicly by being baptized and acknowledging Christ as Lord formally (though I would argue my justification in Christ had come before this time).

As I learned more about the Bible and Christ, I drew ever closer to God. Yet, somewhere along the way I again lost focus. I hit a dry patch and stopped writing and studying. 

It's been said, and I would argue this is Biblical, that the closer we draw to God, often the more attacks we experience spiritually. Paul says in Ephesians 6 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but spiritual powers. Satan has managed to snatch My focus a number of times in my life.

A few years back, I helped lead a lecture on false gospels, and had done immense prep beforehand, as it was my first public teaching of God. Almost immediately after, though, I still recall I hit another dry period. All the intense focus leading up to that lecture disappeared, or I'm inclined to see now, was snatched.

I have been in positions of service within various churches (often on praise teams or through missions) over the years, and it seems after a season each time, my focus is again snatched.

I do not believe it is evidence of not having been saved, as I have that assurance, so diligently sought over the years. I know my purpose in life is to glorify God. Yet, I wonder sometimes why I have not been more bold in speaking of the Gospel.

In writing, with time, I present ideas that upon re-reading often seem as if someone else was holding the pen (typing in this age). I look back on some of what I wrote and I can see God was working through my writing to help convey His message.

Lest I sound arrogant, I am not meaning to imply that my words are "God breathed" or "Scripture," only that God seems to have given me a gift of teaching, that I tend to display better in writing.

Over the years some things that have held me back are, increased distraction from Television, video games and other entertainment. Also, fear of upsetting the family balance by challenging some of the preconceived notions my family holds towards Christ. And, wishing to see many friends understand the truth. For there is no denying the truth of the Gospel.

My commitment to its truth is strong, yet I fear conversations with those who don't believe. I fear conversations with family members who claim belief, but show none of the fruit of true belief.

The term Christian is already being used in many apostate churches, and congregations which have long since fallen asleep. God's pressing on my heart has been to earnestly seek to make sure my brothers and sisters claiming Christ really understand what that means, and really have given their lives to Him. But, they call me arrogant. They ask how I know that "my way" is correct, as if I was preaching some Gospel I made up! I preach Christ and Him crucified. I preach repentance and faith in Christ as the only means by which anyone can be saved from the wrath of God. I wish Christians understood that they are saved from the wrath of the very creator of whom they sing. Had He not come among us and died the sacrificial death required for our sin, we would all be without hope, destined for separation and hell. But God, in His great mercy, put on flesh and willingly laid aside some of His power to live a sinless life, that he might be presented on the cross before Holy God as a sacrifice that could cleanse our sins once and for all. God's wrath was upon Him at the cross, yet He saw it through to completion, that we might become His adopted sons and daughters. That we might have His righteousness credited to us, so that our lives made up wholly of sin, storing up wrath against ourselves for judgment day, could be created anew, born again, and be covered by the righteousness of Christ, second person of our triune God, the agent of creation who now holds it together by His power and majesty, the King above all Kings.

I do not want to lose focus. May the enemy not steal away my passion in this hour, or those to come. May I be a vessel to bring the Gospel to those who have not heard it, and even to those who claim to know it and do not. So, that on the day of judgment, I might stand before Him and hear, "well done good and faithful servant..."

May I be bold, without fear or wavering spirit. May I not be caught up in the distractions of this world. May the Holy Spirit call His elect by words given through me,that those who were called might be chosen and that the conviction of the Spirit might renew their hearts for Christ.

May those whom I love as family and friends have willing ears, and may their hearts be opened to the truth, as the blind man regains his sight, so may they see God's truth anew.

Would that those closest to me not deter me from whatever God will place before me to accomplish. Would that they support me and offer what comfort the Spirit doesn't already provide.

For I am convinced, though day jobs may be needed to eat and get by, that no man or woman can have any greater calling than to live for the Lord and seek His will and the service which He has prepared for them from the foundation of the world. 

As the enemy's hold gets stronger on this earth, as governments topple and churches go apostate, may Christ's true body rise up to proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth, until the number of chosen has been fulfilled.

May we wish for His kingdom to come, even in our own lifetime. What a joyous day to be carried off in the Lord. Yet, even as those who hoped for that day before us did not live to see it, may we not give up on our earthly work in the meantime.

May I heed the Spirit's direction, and speak boldly the good news of Christ's resurrection. May it all be so. No more distraction, no loss of focus, and no fear of those who have no power over my body or soul, in Jesus name, join with me please. Amen. 

Christians and Salvation

A quick word on salvation.

My Christian brothers and sisters are aware that we are saved by grace alone, not of works correct (Ephesians 2:8-10)? I would hope so. The Bible tells us that if we want to be saved by works of the law, of our own effort, then we will be judged by that same standard (Romans 3:28; Galations 3:10). If we wish to be saved by the law, we must keep every point of the law, for if we stumble on even one point, we have not kept the whole law, and cannot be in fellowship with God (James 2:10).

The whole purpose of the law up until Christ was to prove that no one could ever achieve God's standard by the law. And, even those under the law, were saved by their faith in God's promise of the coming savior (Romans 4:3-8, Hebrews 11:1-40). Therefore, if that is the measure by which one chooses to be judged (as many world religions do), we will never attain fellowship with God, and will be condemned by our own works, which the Bible says are as "filthy rags" to God (Romans 2:12-16; Isaiah 64:6; Galatians 5:2-6).

We must both repent of our sin, and put our faith in Christ as our atoning sacrifice, and propitiation of our sins (1 John 2:2-6). In common terms, Christ paid the penalty on the cross so that by His blood we might be saved, through faith, by God's mercy, but not of works, lest any should boast. Yet, by His blood we are saved, and as a product of that saving grace, we are compelled to be obedient to God, and follow His commands. Not, to earn our salvation, but as a product of His adoption of us as sons and daughters, wishing to please our Father.

But, trusting on His sacrifice, and still trying to somehow earn God's favor, negates the purpose of His sacrifice. We can't have 90% faith, and still try to squeeze in 10% works of our own doing. It must be 100% trust on Christ's atonement, or we are setting ourselves up to be judged according to the law, of which, as mentioned above, no one can successfully meet the standard.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, do not lower Christ's sacrifice by thinking anything we could ever do on would amount to anything in God's sight. We are saved by grace alone, in Christ alone. Yet, James tells us faith without works is dead (James 2:14-18). Do our actions seek to honor God and follow His command? If not, then we do not actually have Christ, for by faith in Christ, the product of that faith is manifested in good works, and a kingdom focused mindset.

This is basic Christianity, but I get the impression that many of those who would call themselves Christians, do not fully believe this. It is a doctrinal essential, so to ignore this truth, one might as well call themselves something other than Christian (in the sense that we are saved by Christ).

We must test our selves to see that our salvation is true, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling (2 Cor 13:5-7). This makes it apparent that it is not as simple as just signing a card, praying a prayer or walking an aisle.

In our hearts we must turn from our sin, and let the Holy Spirit renew us, justified by our faith in Christ alone. Thus we are then a new creation, the old passed away, and the new desires only to please God, and seek out His will for our lives. For what better purpose on this earth could there be than to do the will of God, and be in His service for the kingdom? Though our rewards are often found on the other side of the curtain, we can have great assurance of our place with God by seeking His will and bearing fruit (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Bearing fruit of good works is the product of a renewed life in Christ, not the method by which any can earn salvation. 

We do not want to be false Christians, thinking we are saved, when in fact we are not. (Matthew 7:21-23 contains one of those most frightening passages for Christians, and we must read it as a cautionary tale that there are clearly some who think they are of the faith, and actually are not.) Test yourselves brothers and sisters, and work out your salvation (Philippians 2:12-13). Understand why you believe what you believe, and be ready to give an answer with gentleness and respect to any who would ask of the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

Let that be an assured hope, and let our lives bear fruit as much as 100 fold (Luke 8:8), for we seek to run the race to the finish, and receive the prize on the other side (1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul speaks to this as the goal of the Christian life. We must endure to the end to show our faith was true.

Test yourselves brothers and sisters. Are you a butt in the seat on Sundays and nothing more? Or, do you honestly seek to honor Christ, and seek His will in your daily life? If not, you may still be in the faith, but not maturing as one should. We must desire to mature in the faith, seeking "meat", not milk (Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 3:2). As we grow, God often test us to see that our dedication is true. Though nothing we can actually do would earn salvation, we know that as we grow in our renewal through Christ Jesus that God will develop us and causes us to grow, thus bearing more fruit for the kingdom.

May we continue assured in our salvation, bearing fruit unto righteousness, and let our actions for Christ as loud as our words.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fear (In light of current events)

I want to be honest. Lately, I'm afraid. More than any other time in my life, I'm afraid. 

A decade ago it wouldn't have crossed my mind to be uneasy going to a movie theater. Now, each time I enter one I have exits planned and I find myself (unfortunately) judging people out of fear.

With the recent attacks in Paris, I'm reminded that right before our Cancun trip this year, the incident on the beach that killed so many had me afraid even to go relax on the sand. 

There is so much terror in our world, and I think if we're honest, regardless of our politics or faith system, there is an air of uncertainty that is hard to fully write off.

But, I'm smart enough to know that not every Christian is represented by Westboro, the KKK, or Nazi Germany. Those are all examples of hijacking a religion. It happens with gangs as well, who put on the cross bling and pray to the saints before shooting up a convenience store.

I know that just as those are not representative of my faith in Christ, so too terrorists are not representative of Islam as a whole. They've hijacked it, and use it for justification, but it is not the true Islamic faith they follow.

I'm afraid, but I don't want this fear to lead me to condemn or generalize a whole people or faith group; Christian, Muslim or otherwise.

I'm sure many Muslims feel just as frustrated by those killing in that religion's name as many Christians have felt throughout the ages being looped in with the KKK, or to a lesser degree Westboro. Those are simply the first examples to come to mind.

Regarding my fear, My Christian friends will say to trust God to take away the fear. And to a degree, for my own faith, that will help. But it does not fully address the issue. I think as a means of dealing with this crazy world, there are perhaps other, practical solutions.

I'm beginning to understand that living out the loving aspects of our faith systems (or simply our ethics as the case may be) is the only true way to bring people together, instead of tearing them apart.

On my team at work there are Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Jews, and I'm sure a whole host of non-categories, and each of us get along and care for each other as coworkers.

This then must be the model for the world. Our differences will always exist, but we cannot become afraid of those differences. We can embrace them and love, or at the very least be kind, to one another. 

I may be afraid because of events in the world, but I'm learning  that alleviating that fear will come, at least partially, from embracing and loving all those around me.

I can't stop a terror attack any more than I control whether or not I'll wake up each day. But I think I'm going to choose to go forward with a healthy respect for our differences. It may not be the way most would go, and I may not perfectly execute this path, but it's the only way I know right now to let the fear go, and embrace love.

*These are my personal reflections, but feel free to share or pass along if you want. Maybe it can help someone else feeling the same.*