An overblown smile - but not fake

An overblown smile - but not fake

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Assault on Marriage - Why?

They say hindsight is always 20/20. Obviously you can’t go wrong with a statement like that. It’s always easier to assess something when it’s over and done with. As a man in my forties, I still have enough viable brain cells left in my head to recall a time when things were much simpler. We didn’t have very many distractions back then. I’ve compiled a quick mental list of some of those ‘simpler’ things here for your reminiscing pleasure. Keep in mind that this list belongs to me, specifically. Some of the things I mention here may spark a memory or two in your mind. Others may not have an effect on you at all. You also have to keep in mind the demographics of my childhood. Let me preface this by telling you that I grew up in New England – the state of Connecticut, to be more specific. We enjoyed all four seasons of calendar weather to its fullest force (I use the word ‘enjoyed’ here loosely). Many of the traditions in this area of the country may not be the same as the traditions you share in your end of the world. I know this to be true in my own experience - as I moved here to Florida five years ago after spending the first thirty six years of my life up there in the ‘blue’ states. So here are some of those things from way back when:
I can clearly remember a time when your neighbor down the street would call your mom on the phone to tell her that you were doing something wrong or shady. Or even better, this neighbor would stick her head out the window and yell at you, herself – saving your parents the trouble. These things were more than acceptable. Try doing this today and see what kind of reaction you may get from the parent who tells you to “mind your own business”. I also remember a time when going to McDonald’s was a family night out – as there was only one McDonald’s in an entire ten mile radius. I also recall being deathly afraid of the wrath of dad when me or my brother did something really stupid that warranted a beating. You knew it was coming – it was just a matter of ‘when’. I can also recall a very large piece of furniture in our living room that housed not only the television, but also the turntable and the stereo system – complete with extra needles for the turntable arm and one of those plastic 45 speed adapters. Side note: This stereo system also boasted a switch for 78 speed records (Remember those things?) I swear those records were about as thick as grandma’s china plates and impossible to break. This whole unit weighed about 1500 pounds, give or take a few hernias. I can also recall going to the drive-in movie theatre from time to time. What a concept: Never having to leave the comfort of your over-sized, wood paneled station wagon while still getting to watch a full-length motion picture – all while listening to it through this tiny little speaker that hooked onto your window. Nothing quite like Dolby mono-synthetic, un-surround sound.
Those are some of the common and materialistic things we dealt with in our childhood. These next things are more along the lines of – shall I say – a moral and common sense standard. I can clearly remember a time when roughly 95% of all my friends had two parents in their home. And of those 95% who did have a two parent household, 100% of those unions contained a man and a woman. There was never any doubt or question as to whether the institution of marriage needed to be ‘defined’ in any way, shape, or form. Although the majority of my childhood was spent in a catholic school, I knew from my public school friends that simple privileges such as the reciting of the pledge of allegiance every morning – was commonplace. We had no ‘gay’ friends - or at least – anyone who was willing to admit to desiring that lifestyle. This list of things can go on and on into all sorts of areas if we wanted it to – but I need to stop here and hone in on something: The God-created, institution of marriage. I have to ask the question: Why is the sacred institution of marriage under attack more so now than ever before? Apart from the obvious answer (the devil hates marriage and will do anything to tear it apart), I believe the real reason lies within the hearts of each individual. The Bible tells us that God’s word is like a double-edged sword – cutting to the hearts of all men (Hebrews 4:12). If a person does not possess the Spirit of God within them, then they are not a saved Christian – and therefore cannot perceive the things of God to begin with (1 Corinthians 2:14). So why is marriage under attack? Very simple: The unsaved world desires to do their own things apart from God. Add to this the fact that a lot of people hate the idea of commitment or perhaps ‘tying themselves down to just one person for the rest of my life’ – and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. This idealism has unfortunately found its way into Christianity as well. You don’t know how many times I’ve seen strong believers in the Lord give up on their marriages because they simply grew tired of trying and fighting for their marriage. It doesn’t help the cause much when folks from our side of the fence are contributing to the problem.
So what can we do as Christians to save the institution of marriage? First of all, pray. We need to be on our knees daily – lifting up not just our own marriages (for those of us who are married), but also those around us who may be struggling with their own relationships. The second thing we should do: Reach out with the love of Jesus Christ to those in need of marriage repair. Perhaps praying with and talking with them as a couple. Maybe suggesting some sort of counseling. The third thing we should do: Vote for the right people at election time. If you’re like me and believe in the sanctity of marriage, then make it a point to vote for the people who line up with your ideals and Christian precepts.
I realize this blog was quite long today – I apologize for this as I usually try my best to keep them short and to the point. For those of you who took the time to make it this far, I thank you. May the Lord Jesus Christ be praised in all of this – and may the sanctity of marriage regain its strength in our dead and dying world – so that it can be a commonplace memory for our kids and grand kids someday down the road.

-Primo Apuzzo

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Gospel - Plain and Simple

For as much as we think we know or understand something, sometimes it’s a good idea to re-examine our claims and take a refresher course. Most airline pilots are required to go back into the simulator once every few years for retraining. A dedicated IT person will always look to increase his or her knowledge concerning the inner workings of the computer world. A dedicated theologian will make the time to continue his studies in order to teach others from the Bible or even to defend the faith in apologetics. Truth is, no matter what the area of expertise we live in, the better we need to become in that area in order to strive for perfection. Of course, this is not to say that any human being will ever be perfect in what they do best – even the best make mistakes. What it does mean is that we should strive to better ourselves at all times in what we do best already. One thing I learned recently from a leadership course that I took in our church: We need to develop those God-given skills that we do have - and not concentrate on the ones that we don’t have. That philosophy (thank you, Dr Jimmy Knott) has helped me tremendously in these past six or seven months concerning the skills and talents that I do have. I no longer worry about the things that I’m not good at – knowing that the Lord distributes gifts to everyone and not everyone has the same ones. With all that said, please allow me to flex that exhortation muscle that the Lord has given me as a Christian. I will keep this very simple – even though I know the majority of my reading audience is very intelligent and can probably handle much more than a simple message like this. So if you are a born again Christian already who has been saved by the blood of the Lamb, bear with this and take it as a glorious reminder (or refresher) of the faith that we share – and of the eternity in heaven that has been promised to us. If you find yourself on the other side of the fence and somehow by the grace of God are reading this, my biggest prayer is that the Holy Spirit would soften your heart and allow you to be receptive of the truth, grace and love of almighty God.
Shortly after the Lord God created mankind, we sinned against Him and broke the open fellowship that we once had in the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3). This was that all-important point in human history where God did three things: Cursed man, cursed the devil (the serpent), and promised salvation from the curse of sin. As time began to roll on in history, God revealed Himself to us through His prophets and through His written and spoken Law. All of these Laws were simply a precursor to what was to come: Salvation through a Savior – the Messiah – the One who would re-bridge the gap between God and man. Two thousand years ago, He arrived in the form of a new born baby. He came to this earth just as the Scriptures said He would: By way of a virgin – and miraculously through the Holy Spirit – without the need for any intercourse. He lived a perfect, sinless life – as He was all God and yet, all man at the same time. At the age of 30, His ministry officially began at His baptism (Matthew chapter 3). His mission was simple: Preach the gospel (the good news) to the Jews first – God’s chosen people. What was this good news? God had now provided a means of escape from His wrath against sinful man by sending Himself (Jesus) to die for our sins exactly as God said He would in the Scriptures. According to God’s own Word, without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:21-23) – and that ultimate sacrifice had to be perfect and without blemish – and Jesus Christ was just that for us.  
This however, is the best news of all: Once Christ died for us and paid the price for sins, He didn’t stay dead – He is risen! He now sits at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf. Imagine that – the God of the universe interceding for you and me. Keep this great truth in mind as well: Jesus’ mission was to preach the gospel to the Jews first (Romans chapter 1). The majority rejected Him and the gospel – and now it (the good news of salvation) is available to all people everywhere (Gentiles as well) – and this is the simple yet, glorious message for you: You too can be saved from God’s impending judgment upon all mankind. There is one simple step you must take: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (grace) and you WILL be saved, period. There is a day coming when the Lord will judge the creation – and all those who reject this message of love and hope will not be spared from His wrath. You MUST believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. There is no other way to heaven (Acts 4:12) There are absolutes in this world and there is a moral standard given to us by our Creator, God – and here is the most important absolute of all: The truth is the truth whether we believe it or not. You can’t create your own truth to suit your needs or to mold God into something more comfortable or fluffy for your own liking. God never changes and neither does His Word. I say these things to you in the name of Jesus Christ and with His love. I urge you to repent and turn to Him before it’s too late. I love you

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fighting Temptation With God's Word

Sometimes the best way to prepare a Bible lesson intended for children is to try it out on adults first - This way here all of the criticisms can be flushed out of the way, quickly. Kids are a lot less critical; but also seem to have better memories than we do at times – remembering every last detail of something you may have promised along the way. I wont go verse by verse here like I will with the children tomorrow night, but I will hit on the important parts. Here is our text:
Matthew 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
There’s a lot going on here in a short span of Scripture. In the chapter before this, Jesus’ ministry officially begins with His baptism. He was commissioned by the Father to now begin His three year ministry – leading up to His loving, redemptive act on the cross and again at the grave. These verses present somewhat of a quandary, when you think about it: As Christians, we firmly believe that Christ was indeed, God incarnate – that although He was 100% God, He was also 100% man. This is a formula that is impossible for our finite, human brains to swallow or even attempt to wrap around. Regardless of what we think though, this fact (that Jesus was Deity incarnate – or God come in the flesh) remains the absolute truth. This is one of the foundations of our faith. This also begs the question, “If Christ was God in the flesh, how can He possibly have been tempted to do anything wrong since He was without sin?” This is a good and fair question that I get from time to time from all sorts of people (saved and unsaved). This is the conclusion that my feeble mind has come up with: Our Creator, God tested His Son, Jesus before sending Him out into battle for three years. Was there an absolute ‘need’ for Christ to be tempted and tested for worthiness? I believe the Scriptures point to an answer of ‘no’ to this. However, if Jesus Christ is to be our perfect example of how to walk in this flesh on a daily basis, then all that happened to Him first will certainly happen to us as well. I’m not talking about death by Roman crucifixion for all believers here – look what the Bible has to say about the afflictions of Christ: Hebrews 4:14-15 “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."Did you happen to catch that last part? He was tempted in all points just like we are – yet was without sin. Does this mean that the Lord Jesus Christ had the capacity to sin? This answer may be just one man’s opinion here but – I think the answer is a resounding ‘no’. Yes, He was in the flesh – but He was still God in the flesh – and it is against God’s nature to have anything to do with sin. I believe the lesson here really isn’t about whether or not Christ had the capacity to sin but rather – taking into account what Jesus did when He was tested: He fought using the Scriptures.

This is the main point of the text that I will try my best to make the kids absorb tomorrow night. Jesus Christ’s greatest defense against the fiery arrows of Satan was the Scriptures. It is so important for us as believers to know, love, cherish, study and meditate on the Bible. This is not to say that memorizing all 66 books of the Bible is a requirement of the Christian faith – because it’s not – and quite frankly, kind of impossible to do so. But it is important for us to know how to be ready to give a defense of our faith – knowing that we wont always have all the answers. We also need to remember that Satan himself knows the Bible – and trembles at its truth – and will try his best to twist God’s word to his own liking. (Notice how Satan quoted a Scripture in the text from above to Jesus – and twisted it out of context. Jesus answered with another Scripture immediately, using it in correct context).So the bottom line out of all this? We can use God’s word to fight temptation – and the only way we can use it is by knowing it – and the only way we can know it is by reading it and studying it and asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance for complete understanding of it. So I ask myself today, “Am I doing this as much as I should be?” Ponder that, my fellow believer – and be ready at all times.

Be blessed in Him today.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

None More Important Than This Day........

What could be the best and most effective way to start off an article about Easter? We could name the usual suspects such as Passover, Good Friday, The Passion of the Christ and so on and so forth. Since this blog is coming from my heart and my mind, I thought we would do it my way: By starting off with the creation story from Scripture. Genesis 1:1 simply states, “In the beginning, God…….” stop right there. This is what I need to establish up front before anything else: God always was, God always is and God always will be. He is eternally existent throughout all time and space. Simply put: He has no beginning and no end. This truth presents an impossibility to those who don’t know the LORD personally. The finite human mind cannot perceive of something being eternally existent. We tend to think linear: As in a straight line which connects point A to point B. To us, it’s just not possible for the line between A and B to extend beyond A in a negative direction – it has to start somewhere. This is not so with God – He always was. He not only extends beyond point A – He also dismisses any chance of a point B. In linear nutshell terms, God would be an eternal, never ending line in either direction. Allow me to blow your mind even more here: God is not only the straight line – He is also existent throughout all of the other lines that intersect our linear line of God. In other words: Think ‘spherical’ for a moment. Imagine a very calm body of water. Now drop a huge rock right in the center of the water and watch what happens: You’ll notice all of the waves emanating outward from the point of impact like radio waves. This is how God eternally encompasses His creation. Only difference is: God doesn’t emanate like radio waves – He’s everywhere already – He is omnipresent.

I make mention of all this for good reason: For as much as we may try to, no one can ever fully understand Almighty God. For those of you who share my faith and are saved Christians, you know full well already that at the precise moment when you said ‘yes’ to Christ and became a saved believer , God the Holy Spirit came to live and dwell within you – and sealed you for all eternity (Ephesians 1:13-14). Heaven became your eternal home at that moment. This same Holy Spirit who seals you until the day of redemption also guides you into the truth at all times. Whether or not we are being receptive to Him when the truth is being told is another matter altogether. I can write a full blog just on discernment alone. The Holy Spirit not only guides us into the truth, but also prompts us to do things in our daily lives and all for the kingdom of God. He also pokes us and convicts us when we’re doing something wrong. I certainly cannot speak for all Christian men when I say this but – remember the last time you found yourself flipping through the channels late at night maybe after the wife had fallen asleep – only to stop on that one program that had a screen full of bikinis? (No doubt, it was either Telemundo or Univision……) The longer you may have stayed mesmerized on that channel, the more the Holy Spirit began to convict you and say to you, “Um sir… may want to either turn this off or turn on Sports Center rather quickly”. If this happens, then this is probably a sure sign that the Spirit does live within you. If there is zero conviction and you shrug it off as simply “being a man”, then you may want to get before God and make sure you’re really a believer.
So what does all this have to do with Easter? Good question – sit back, relax and prepare yourself for my tangent of an answer. Only a perfect and Holy God could have made a way for us to get back in favor with Him. For those of you who may read this today and you do not know the Lord personally (in other words: if you’re not a Christian), please allow me to tell you a brief story. This story is true and the characters are real. How do I know this? The main character of the story lives within me in the Person of the Holy Spirit and confirms it to me every single day. Here it goes: God created the heavens and the earth roughly 6,000 years ago. Shortly after creating the first two people in history, they sinned against God by disobeying a direct command: Do not eat from the tree in the midst of the garden or else you will die. Before this downfall, Adam and Eve had perfect fellowship with God. They walked with Him, they talked with Him – He was their God and they were His people. There was nothing hindering the relationship between them. After they sinned, God cut them off from His personal fellowship with Him. After proclaiming curses on the man, the woman and the serpent (the devil who tempted them to sin in the first place), He also made a promise: He would someday make a way for them (humanity) to return to the same fellowship that they once had. He would require a blood sacrifice – but not just any sacrifice. It (or He) had to be a perfect sacrifice. It had to come from a perfect sacrificial Lamb. So throughout the generations, God manifest Himself to His prophets and kings. He laid down a series of 613 laws throughout the ages. All of these laws and festivals and sacrifices merely pointed to one thing: The coming of Yeshua – the Messiah – the One who would deliver the people from their sin. So about 4,000 years after the fall in the garden of Eden, God knew the appointed time had come. He sent Himself in the form of man. He sent God the Son, Jesus Christ. The sacrifice had to be a perfect one; therefore Jesus Christ lived a life that was sin-free. He was fully God yet, fully man. He had to be fully God in order to be perfect – and He had to be fully man in order to shed blood for the propitiation (or satisfaction) for sins. About 30 years into His life, Jesus’ ministry of redemption officially began. He began to tell people that the only way to God was through Himself. He chose His disciples who would eventually be the foundation of Christianity as we know it today. Three years into His ministry, the leaders of the day began to hate Him because of the way He was seemingly turning the Word of God on its ear. What they didn’t know was that He was fulfilling it right before their eyes. Just like the Scriptures had said, He was taken and crucified. He died a horrible death. He took on the sins of the world at that moment on the cross. The moment He gave up the ghost and died, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. This veil housed the Ark of the Covenant behind it. The ark was blocked from public view as no one was allowed to come near it or else they could die. Once per year on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the high priest would go in there with blood sacrifices to ‘make atonement’ for the peoples’ sins – until the next year. What Christ did on the cross completely wiped out the sacrificial system. He has now become our eternal high priest. But here’s the most important part of the whole story: He didn’t stay dead – three days later after they placed His body in a cave-tomb, He rose again! Jesus has now given mankind the opportunity to get back to God and have that fellowship with Him that Adam and Eve once had. Christ literally became the bridge that connects God with man. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what Easter is all about. It is resurrection Sunday! Without the atoning life, death, burial and glorious resurrection of our Lord, we would all still be dead in our sins and on our way to hell.
So the question is: Which category of man do you fall under: Saved or unsaved? There are only two kinds of people in the world: Those who are going to heaven (Christians) and those who are going to hell (unsaved). If you do not know the Lord like we do, there is still time and hope for you. All you need to do is repent and believe. Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ did all these things to save you from what we all deserve: Eternal damnation in hell. If you take one thing from all this today, let it be this: God loves you and wants you to know Him personally. He also wants to welcome you home into heaven someday. Please come home to Him – He waits with open arms ready to do nothing but love on you. Happy resurrection day. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For of Such is the Kingdom of Heaven

For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven

Tucked between some teachings concerning divorce, celibacy and how difficult it is for a rich man to enter heaven lies an obscure section of Scripture found in Matthew 19:14. The verse goes like this: But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (KJV). I have to admit that I didn’t fully understand this verse when I first read it many years ago. Even after re-reading the Bible for a second and even third time through, the meaning of the verse didn’t quite stick for me. I had a basic understanding of it passed down to me through some well-versed folks who came into my life through the years. The general meaning always given to me was this: In order for us to enter heaven, we must first possess the innocence of a child. That interpretation seems to appease the masses – who then move on to bigger and more important topics such as “it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle……” and so on and so forth – found in the very next section of Scripture. No doubt, many more conversations and Bible studies can be created from the story of the rich young ruler than can be gleaned from Jesus’ line to His disciples concerning the children. What I would like to do in this short devotional today is simple: Give you a different perspective of what it means to possess the “innocence” of a child.

First of all, I must ask the question: Is any child completely innocent? For any parent reading this today, you know immediately that the answer to that is a resounding “no”. Without opening a side-bar can of worms here concerning an “age of accountability” or anything of the like, let me state the obvious: Everyone is born in sin and iniquity. This is one of the foundational truths of our faith – and the main reason why we all need a Savior. Without sin, there would be no need for us to be saved from anything. The question of whether or not children are counted as righteous until they are old enough to understand the gospel remains a mystery to me – I wont touch that one other than to acknowledge the fact that we’re all born in sin. Can of worms officially closed – moving on.

We all know that any child left to his or her own self has the capacity to get into all sorts of mischief – some more than others (insert me here when I was a kid). Let’s face it: Any adult left to his or her own self has this same capacity as well. The difference between the adult and the child in these matters – the adult knows better (or at least, should know better). So what exactly did Jesus mean by His statement, “for of such is the kingdom of Heaven”? Let me break it down this way: Have you ever watched children playing on a playground? Years ago when my oldest daughter was about 5, we would go somewhere where other kids were playing. We had never even met these other children or their parents before and yet – my daughter went right over to them and began to play as if she had known them for her whole life. Didn’t matter what color they were, what language they spoke, if they had turbans on their heads, if they had a cleft palate, if they had down’s syndrome – none of this mattered. Now I can’t make this claim about all children as some are more shy than others but – most kids take to other kids without any prejudice or preconceived fear when it comes to play time. Why is this? Is it because these kids haven’t lived long enough to experience rejection or hatred? Perhaps they are too young to realize that there are many crooked people in this world who want nothing more than to cheat them out of something? Bottom line: The longer we live in this sin-sick world, the more we realize how badly we need Jesus Christ to deliver us from sin. Kids aren’t fully aware of the perils of life yet – which in turn, gives them every reason to love and trust folks whom they’ve never even met.

As I have grown in grace these last few years, the LORD has allowed me to experience the innocence of children. I work side by side with kids on a weekly basis now at church. God has revealed to me exactly what it means to possess the innocence of a child. I see it every time they say “hello” to me or give me one of their trademark “flying” hugs. They don’t know about my sinful past – and frankly, they don’t really care. They just want to be loved on for that short time that we have them. This is what it means to have the innocence of a child – one who holds no grudge or prejudice. They reach out to me with trust and confidence. 

I need to close with this: God commands perfection in order for anyone to cross over from this life and on into heaven for all eternity. We must be found innocent and without blemish before we can sit and feast at His table someday. In and of ourselves, this cannot be achieved. But by faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone – we are now counted as righteous and worthy to enter into His presence. The LORD no longer looks at our past sins – but instead, runs to us with more than just a flying hug. He runs to us with the promise of unending love and eternal life in Heaven with Him. May Jesus Christ be praised!      

Monday, April 11, 2011

Diversity: Why too much of it can be harmful

A few years ago, I had the privilege (and I use the word lightly here) of working for the Walt Disney Company. It was a short-lived career due to the fact that the wages earned there are simply not enough to sustain any viable human being for more than a few days. This is a quagmire that still baffles me to this day: How a multi-billion dollar, world-wide entity such as Disney can pay its cast members so far below the minimum standards after what they pull in on a yearly basis. Can you say, “Wal-Mart”? As usual, I need to digress back into the main point here so as not to go too far off the track. I make mention of my short-lived Disney career for good reason: The topic of diversity. Every Disney employee (whoops, I mean ‘cast member’) goes through what is known as ‘Disney University’ on their first day of work. Simply stated, it is an 8 hour orientation of how everything flows at the big D. You get to do all sorts of fun things like stand up in front of a room full of 200 strangers and tell them who you are and where you’re from and why you want to work here so bad. I have no problem dealing with large crowds when it comes to certain things (music, entertaining, teaching, etc). This however, bugged me – and somehow I still managed to make them laugh with my answer. (When asked why I desired to work for Disney I simply replied, “Who wouldn’t want to work for a rodent? They’re just too cute, man”).

All that aside, one of the things they put us through that morning was a slightly-veiled form of diversity training. Whether anyone believes it or not, everyone has an agenda – even if they say they don’t. A video began to play up on a big screen – the scene opened up with these two women who were Disney cast members working behind the same counter (some kind of gift shop, I suppose). One was an older woman, the other was a young, twenty-something girl. They portrayed the older woman as an annoying Christian who was trying to share her faith with the younger girl (who seemed to be getting frustrated). The older woman pestered the younger girl many times about ‘getting saved before it was too late’. The point of the video was pretty clear: Working here, you will come across many different people of many different faiths and beliefs – basically, keep your faith to yourself while on the job. Why they chose to use my faith as a prime example spoke volumes to me at the time – why not use Islam as an example in your badly-produced videos instead? Perhaps Disney was afraid of the possible violent repercussions of such a thing from that so-called religion of peace? This annoyed me at first according to everything I hold to as a born again Christian. I later realized that even though I am called to share the truth of the gospel whenever I can, perhaps there are chosen times and places ordained by the Lord to do so. Even though this diversity training bugged me at first, I can sort of understand where Disney is coming from in doing this. Diversity in the work place is to be expected.

As a Christian, I am called to not only be a loving person towards all people; but also a patient person regardless of what they hold to. It doesn’t mean that I need to check my God-instilled truths at the door every morning before work – the truth needs to be defended at all times and at any cost – it simply means that we need to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting when necessary. Should this same diversified mindset be carried into the church? Absolutely not. The Bible is crystal clear about matters of ‘being in one accord’ when it comes to the core issues of our faith. A house divided against itself cannot and will not stand. We can agree to disagree on the non-essential matters of the faith (timing of the rapture, predestination, election, whether or not Christ wore LL Bean or Timberland sandals, etc). But the things that are etched in stone in the Scriptures, (virgin birth, Deity of Christ, the resurrection, His ultimate return, salvation through Christ alone, etc) – those things we simply cannot waiver on. There can be no diversity within the church walls when it comes to the essential matters of our faith.

I really hate to bring this up but I have to and for good reason: There is a certain car that is in our church parking lot every Sunday – I see it almost all the time. They have a bumper sticker on the back of their car that simply says, “Diversity”. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if it weren’t for the other obvious, glaring issue here: Each letter of the word ‘diversity’ is in the shape or symbol of a different faith…..with the “T” being the cross of the Christian faith. You have no idea how much this irks me as a believer in Christ. In my flesh, I want to just get out of my car and rip this thing off so bad. But in my Spirit, I know that the person who put that sticker there is a creation of God, too…..just like me. So I need to love them regardless of their misunderstanding. Let me close by saying this: As the body of Christ, we cannot tolerate different beliefs of the core issues of our faith within the church walls. Just like in the Old Testament, all sin must be purged from the camp in order for the Lord God Almighty to bless us abundantly. I’m not saying that we need to implement capital punishment and stone everyone who does this – we abide under the new covenant of grace now (and thank God for that). But we do need to take a stand in Christ whenever someone tries to bring some ‘new teaching’ into our midst. I need to repeat this: We cannot allow diversity in the body of Christ when it comes to the essential, core issues of our faith. By the way, in case you were wondering: I did manage to share my faith with a few cast members while I was there at Disney – and they loved the fact that I was bold enough to do so at the time – even though they didn’t agree with me. But here’s the key: I didn’t pester them. I suppose working for the rodent wasn’t all that bad after all.

-Primo Apuzzo