WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

A MANIFESTO FOR MY BLOG. Some have told me that when they see my posts that rebuke and warn, they wonder, “Mario, what is your problem?”  I do have a problem, but it is not what they think.  I am not negative, nor am I fearful.   I have not given up or given in.  None of those things are my problem.  My problem is of a different nature.

My problem is that I serve a God Who is limitless in power and wisdom, and His excellence infuses me with zeal to declare that we can be better, and we can do better, as a church and as a nation.

I see no place for compromise.  There is no reason to accept the slavery of the God-haters.  We are not supposed to sit down and shut up.   A weaker church with a smaller voice is not the new normal—it is blasphemy.

I believe Satan doesn’t stand a chance.  An amoeba would have a better chance of surviving on the surface of the sun than Satan has of surviving against God.  I believe that prayer and worship kills the devil’s lies.  I oppose any decision, by any leader, that is based on fear or unbelief.

Back in the day, we didn’t scare as easily.  Formerly, pastors didn’t have to seduce people into serving God.  We didn’t back down and we didn’t let ourselves starve on the table scraps of watered-down preaching.

I miss the days when the church was not the court jester to America, but was the conscience of the nation.  The church was a firewall against intellectual dishonesty, injustice, and depravity.  I miss those days.

But I am not railing because I am afraid those days are gone forever—it’s just the opposite.  I see no reason why we can’t have them back.  My resolve to bring those days back fuels my rebuke of pastors and secular officials alike.

Speaking of rebukes—let me clarify why I rebuke our leaders.  My rebukes are rooted in my conviction that America is a miracle.   We did not make ourselves great.  God made us great.  When you try to “fundamentally change America” and make her pro-late term abortion, pro-Islam, anti-Israel, anti-marriage, and anti-Christ, you are messing with God, and you need to know it.  You need to be rebuked.

When I rebuke our elected officials, I am not abandoning my call to the Gospel, I am preaching the true Gospel.   Look at Acts 3:14-15: “But you denied the Holy and Just One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of Life, Whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.”

Peter unleashes a stinging charge that includes rebellion, because they denied the Holy One; perversion, because they chose Barabbas; and murder because they killed Christ when He was innocent.  Peter did all of this in the middle of a soul-winning sermon!

Don’t tell me, “Well, that was different.”  How can it be different?  Peter was giving the public and their leaders a tongue lashing for committing state sponsored murder, for engaging in tyranny, and for lying about it.  There is no difference.

But there is a big difference between Peter and many American preachers.  He did not worry that he would look hateful or unloving by leveling these charges.   He was not preaching to ‘make nice’—he was preaching to make disciples.   That is the ultimate love.

Peter also knew that the fate of Israel hung in the balance.  He was calling his nation back from disaster.  That is the same duty of every vessel of God in America: To call America back from disaster.

So let me ask you a question: What do you preach when you see history repeating itself?  No nation has ever done what we are doing right now that did not end in either a dictatorship or a totalitarian state.  Should I be silent?

Can you deny that Islamists are murdering Christians?  Can you deny that Democrats don’t care?  Do you see the Deep State cancelling our freedoms illegally?  Do you deny that our Constitution is being trampled upon?

The accusations of anger and extremism aimed at my writings begin to evaporate when you answer those questions honestly.   If anything, I am being too tame in confronting this disaster.

So the next time you wonder what is wrong with Mario, remember this:  My writing is driven by equal parts urgency and faith.  I cannot hold back because the fate of this nation hangs in the balance, and I cannot hold back because I know that my God loves America and is mighty to save.

BREAK THE HEAVINESS

The constant barrage of terrifying headlines and mainstreaming of perversion vexes the child of God.  These verses from Second Peter have never been more relevant than now: “and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment…” 2 Peter 2:7-9

Angry debates, violent rioting, filth paraded in the streets, Christian leaders renouncing their faith, persecution, and constant bad news can drain the sanity from our souls.

Not only this, but we are forced to keep all our enormous frustrations inside of us. While stupidity and wickedness get a megaphone—wisdom and righteousness get duct tape over their mouths.

These are the times that rob inner peace—that bring intense restlessness—that drain all the color and enjoyment from our life.

These are the times Jesus warned us of—and that He gave us direction for.

First He said, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.” – Luke 21:17-19

Talk about mindless hate! Both the liberals and the feminists have incredible bias for Islam and sheer hatred for Christ and Christianity. It is mind-bending.  It makes zero sense.  Yet that is exactly the kind of irrational hatred our Lord predicted. It is weariness to believers who share their faith openly.

Then Jesus said, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34)

The dumbest thing anyone ever said to me was, “When you come to Jesus, your problems are over.”  I never had problems until I met Jesus!  I kept wondering, “Why am I being attacked?  Why am I being shot at from all directions?  Why do I meet stiff resistance every time I try to do something meaningful for Jesus?”

Does this sound familiar? You walk through life, minding your own business and wham!  A co-worker rages at you for no reason. Money evaporates.  Your health fails.  Loved ones abandon God.  Someone makes an irrational defense for wickedness. A confluence of demonic attacks falls on you.  Life has never felt so cruel and unfair.

At the apex of one of these attacks, something happened to me.  A terrifying thought became a glorious thought, “SOMEBODY IS MAD AT JESUS, AND THEY ARE TAKING IT OUT ON ME!”  Suddenly, I felt qualified to fight back. And I felt profoundly honored.

Think about it!  A soldier does not go to war because he has a personal grudge against the enemy.  He didn’t declare war—his nation did.  He is not responsible for the battle plan—the military is.  He is not paying his own way to the war—his government is.

Let’s take a look at the things that are not the soldier’s responsibility:  The training he needs; the weapons he uses; the food and shelter he requires; the assignments he receives—these, and a host of other things, are not his responsibility.

“What soldier ever serves at his own expense?” (1 Cor. 9:7) “…No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (2 Tim. 2:4)

The soldier does not create the organized army.  He does not carry the weight of how the war will be won. If he sits in the foxhole feeling alone and unfairly attacked, it is because he has forgotten who he is and why he is being attacked.  He has taken the battle into his own hands!

But when he remembers that he was recruited—when he recalls that he is not alone, but part of a victorious army, and all he is called to do is obey orders, it changes everything!

When we take the attack personally, we lose hope.  But, when we say, “The battle is not mine, it’s God’s,” we cannot be defeated.  Let’s stay out of things that do not concern us.  Let’s keep our conflict in the hands of God.  We must discern when we are operating in our own strength and by our own wits.

Remembering your attacks are not personal is plainly seen in these verses where Jesus speaks about conditions in the last days:  Luke 21:12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of special persecution, and you will be dragged into synagogues and prisons and before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 But as a result, the Messiah will be widely known and honored.  14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.

newspaper headlines

When they were arrested, it felt personal. When they were dragged to court, it felt personal.  But when they were asked to speak, it became God’s battle and Christ was glorified!  He gave them the words and the courage to speak.  He even told them not to prepare words beforehand.  That means that we are not to devise ways of fighting back.  It means we will get what we need, when we need it.

Paul experienced the same thing: Philippians 1:12 “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…”

Right now we have a presidential election that embodies everything that is wrong with our nation.  It is a hair-pulling, maddening, terrifying, and draining moment for believers. We must put the battle back in God’s hands and let Him replenish our peace and our joy.

Never forget! We have the best message humanity has ever heard, and the best Book ever written.   We have the best Captain in the universe!  We have the all-powerful Holy Spirit, Who has been sent to aid us.   We have access to power, strategy, and wisdom.  All of this, and more, will direct our fighting.

Is someone mad at Jesus, and are they taking it out on you?  What an honor!  What an opportunity!  Whenever Satan comes at you, let Jesus come at him!

The first time an angel stares at you in heaven with wonder and admiration for your service to Christ, you will know why your trials were worth it all.  The first time you hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” you won’t remember the suffering, the trials, or the battles.

No wonder Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  -Romans 8:18

Hallelujah!  –