FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
KNOWING WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT – VIII
I have a couple more categories I want to touch on, and then I plan to summarize when we are finished. This week we are looking at Anarchism, populism, antisemitism, relativism. May the Lord continue to give us His wisdom and understanding.
WHAT IS ANARCHISM – by Andreas Wittel
Whenever public protests ignite into violent behavior, the mainstream media are often quick to refer to “anarchy” and to “anarchists”. Those who are referred to as anarchists are protesters who demonstrate destructive and violent behavior and engage in battles with the police. In this narrative, anarchists are lawless hooligans and anarchy is all about chaos, destroying property and hurting people. One example is the Million Man March in London. This event was indeed organized by a number of anarchist groups and fortunately, there were limited outbreaks of violence. The equation of chaos and destruction with anarchism is about as productive as the equation of circles with squares. It is a crude and bizarre misrepresentation and accomplishes nothing but more damage.
What is anarchism anyway? It is a radical and revolutionary political philosophy that supports an aggressive and independent society. While there are many definitions and many anarchisms, most would agree to the definition formulated by Peter Kropotkin. This definition is in an article which Kropotkin was invited to write for the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. According to Kropotkin, “Anarchism is a name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government. A harmony in such a society being obtained, not by the submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a society.”
WHAT IS POPULISM? By Uri Friedman
No definition of populism will fully describe all populists. That’s because populism is a “thin ideology” in that it “only speaks to a very small part of a political agenda,” according to Cas Mudde, a professor at the University of Georgia and the co-author of, “Populism: A Very Short Introduction.” An ideology like fascism involves a holistic view of how politics, the economy, and society as a whole should be ordered. Populism doesn’t; it calls for kicking out the political establishment, but it doesn’t specify what should replace it. So it’s usually paired with “thicker” left- or right-wing ideologies like socialism or nationalism. Populists are dividers, not uniters, Mudde told me. They split society into “two homogeneous and antagonistic groups: the pure people on the one end and the corrupt elite on the other,” and say they’re guided by the “will of the people.” The United States is what political scientists call a “liberal democracy,” a system “based on pluralism—on the idea that you have different groups with different interests and values, which are all legitimate,” Mudde explained. Populists, in contrast, are not pluralist. They consider just one group—whatever they mean by “the people”—legitimate.
This conception of legitimacy stems from the fact that populists view their mission as “essentially moral,” Mudde noted. The “distinction between the elite and the people is not based on how much money you have or even what kind of position you have. It’s based on your values.”
Given their moral framing, populists conclude that they alone represent “the people.” They may not win 100 percent of the vote, but they lay claim to 100 percent of the support of good, hardworking folks who have been exploited by the establishment. They don’t assert that the neglected people who back them should be kept in mind by political leaders just like all other citizens; they claim that these neglected people are the only people that matter. Populists only lose if ‘the silent majority’ (shorthand for the real people) has not had a chance to speak, or worse, has been prevented from expressing itself,” explains Jan-Werner Muller, a professor at Princeton University and the author of, “What is populism?” Hence the frequent invocation of conspiracy theories by populists: something going on behind the scenes has to account for the fact that corrupt elites are still keeping the people down. If the people’s politician doesn’t win, there must be something wrong with the system.
One might expect this argument to fail once populists enter government and become the establishment. But no: Populists—ranging from the revolutionary socialist Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to the religious conservative Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, have managed to portray themselves as victims even at the height of their power, blaming their shortcomings on sabotage by shadowy domestic or foreign elites. The notion of one virtuous people and one vile elite is a fiction, even if it does reflect real divisions and power dynamics in a given society. “There is no single political will, let alone a single political opinion, in a modern, complex, pluralist in short, enormously messy democracy,” writes Muller. It’s not that populists have some special mind meld with the masses. Rather, populists put words into the mouth of what is after all their own creation. As an example, Muller cites Nigel Farage, the former leader of the populist UK. Independence Party, who called Britain’s vote to leave the European Union a “victory for real people,” as if the 48 percent of British people who voted to remain in the EU were somehow less than real or, rather, questioning their status as members of the political community.
WHAT IS ANTISEMITISM? By: ADL – Fighting hate for good
A hatred and hostile attitude and behavior toward Jews just because they are Jewish. Racial discrimination and racial prejudice against Jews. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews. Hostility toward Jews dates to ancient times, perhaps to the beginning of Jewish history. From the days of the Bible until the Roman Empire, Jews were criticized and sometimes punished for their efforts to remain a separate social and religious group – one that refused to adopt the values and the way of life of the non-Jewish societies in which it lived.
The rise of Christianity greatly increased hatred of Jews. They became seen not merely as outsiders but as a people who rejected Jesus and crucified him despite the fact that the Roman authorities ordered and carried out the crucifixion. By the high middle ages (11th-14th centuries), Jews were widely persecuted as barely human “Christ-killers” and “Devils.” Forced to live in all-Jewish ghettos, they were accused of poisoning rivers and wells during times of disease. Some were tortured and executed for supposedly abducting and killing Christian children to drink their blood or to use it in baking matzoh – a charge known as the “blood libel.” A large number were forced to convert to Christianity to avoid death, torture, or expulsion, though many secretly practiced Judaism after their conversions. (In recent times, the Catholic church and other Christian churches have rejected these anti-Semitic falsehoods.) In the 18th century, as the influence of Christianity began to lessen during the Enlightenment which celebrated the rights and possibilities of men and women to a far greater extent than ever before. This religiously based hatred of Jewishness gave way to non-religious criticism: Judaism was attacked as an outdated belief that blocked human progress. Jewish separatism was again targeted. As European countries began to take modern shape in the 19th century and national pride grew, Jews, who were still usually deprived of civil rights and lived throughout Europe as outsiders, were subjected to further hostility. This hostility resulted at times in deadly persecution, as in the late-19th century Russian pogroms violent attacks on Jewish communities with the aid or indifference of the government.
At the same time, in response to the decline of Christian belief and the growing number of Jews beginning to join the mainstream of European society (a trend known as assimilation), anti-Semites turned to the new “racial science,” an attempt, since discredited, by various scientists and writers to “prove” the supremacy of non-Jewish whites. The opponents of Jews argued that Jewishness was not a religion but a racial category and that the Jewish “race” was biologically inferior. The belief in a Jewish race would later become Germany’s justification for seeking to kill every Jewish person in lands Germany occupied during World War II, whether the person practiced Judaism or not. In fact, even the children or grandchildren of those who had converted to Christianity were murdered as members of the Jewish race. The Holocaust, as this systematic mass extermination between 1939-1945 is known, resulted in the death of six million Jews – more than a third of the world’s Jewish population. While the rise to power of the Nazis (Germany’s leaders during World War II) in the 1920s and 1930s involved numerous social and political factors, the views that helped turn anti-Semitism into official government policy included belief in the inborn superiority of “Aryans,” or whites; while also upholding that Jews destroyed societies; that Jews secretly worked together to gain control of the world; and that Jews already controlled world finance, business, media, entertainment, and Communism.
In the half-century since World War II, public anti-Semitism has become much less frequent in the Western world. While stereotypes about Jews remain common, Jews face little physical danger. The hatred of Jewishness and the conspiracy beliefs of past eras are for the most part shared only by tiny numbers of those on the fringes of society (although as the World Trade Center and Oklahoma bombings showed, even a handful of extremists can carry out acts of great violence). There are exceptions, of course: disagreement over policy toward the State of Israel has created opportunities in which the expression Zionist support for Israel as the Jewish homeland is often used as an anti-Semitic code word for “Jew” in mainstream debate. Holocaust denial and other recent re-writings of history — such as the false claim that Jews controlled the Atlantic slave trade lie about the events of the past in order to make Jews seem underhanded and evil. More seriously, many nations in Europe and in the former Soviet empire are struggling, mostly due to unsettled or chaotic economic and social conditions, with movements opposing “foreigners” including recent immigrants and traditional enemies. These movements champion racial or national supremacy and call for the type of charismatic, authoritarian leader that historically persecuted Jews and other minorities. But while parts of Europe remain caught up in racial unrest, the Middle East is home to the harshest anti-Semitism in the world today. Nazi-like language is regularly expressed by the media and governments in the countries that oppose Israel and the West. And as dozens and dozens of terrorist incidents have demonstrated, there are many in Middle Eastern countries willing to act on these beliefs.
WHAT IS RELATIVISM? BY: Matt Slick
Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual. This means that all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are truths that are relative to the individual. Under the umbrella of relativism, whole groups of perspectives are categorized. Cognitive relativism affirms that all truth is relative. This means that no system of truth is more valid than another one and that there is no objective standard of truth. It would, naturally, deny that there is a God of absolute truth. Moral/ethical relativism believes that all morals are relative to the social group within which they are constructed. And, situational relativism also referred to as the ethics of right and wrong are not based on absolutes but rather are dependent upon the situation.
Unfortunately, the philosophy of relativism is pervasive in our culture today. With the rejection of God and Christianity in particular, absolute truth is being abandoned. Our pluralistic society wants to avoid the idea that there really is a right and wrong. This is evidenced in our deteriorating judicial system that has more and more trouble punishing criminals, in our entertainment media which continues to push the envelope of immorality and indecency, in our schools which teach evolution and “social tolerance,” etc. In addition, the plague of moral relativism is encouraging everyone to accept homosexuality, pornography, fornication, and a host of other “sins” that were once considered wrong but are now being accepted and even promoted in society. It is becoming so pervasive that if you speak out against moral relativism and its “anything goes” philosophy, you’re labeled as an intolerant bigot. Of course, this is incredibly hypocritical of those who profess that all points of view are true, yet reject those who profess absolutes in morality. It seems that what is really meant by the moral relativists is that all points of view are true except for the views that teach moral absolutes, an absolute God, or absolute right and wrong.
Some typical expressions that reveal an underlying presupposition of relativism are comments such as: “That is your truth, not mine;” “It is true for you, but not for me;” and “There are no absolute truths.” Of course, these statements are illogical, which I demonstrate in the paper “Refuting relativism.” Relativism is invading our society, our economy, our schools, and our homes. Society cannot flourish nor survive in an environment where everyone does what is right in his own eyes, where the situation determines moral truth, and that lying and cheating are okay as long as you don’t get caught. Without a common foundation of truth and absolutes, our culture will become weak and fragmented.
I must admit, however, that there is validity to some aspects of relativism. For example, what one society considers right (driving on the left side of the road) another considers wrong. These are customs to which a “right and wrong” are attached, but they are purely relativistic and not universal because they are culturally based. Child rearing principles vary in different societies, as do burial practices and wedding ceremonies. These “right and wrong ways” are not cosmically set in stone, nor are they derived from some absolute rule of conduct by some unknown god. They are relative, and rightly so. But, their relativism is properly asserted as such. It doesn’t matter what side of the road we drive on as long as we all do it the same way.
Likewise, there are experiences that are valid only for individuals. I might be irritated by a certain sound, where another person will not. In this sense, what is true for me is not necessarily true for someone else. It is not an absolute truth that the identical sound causes irritation to all people. This is one way of showing that certain aspects of relativism are true. But, is it valid to say that because there is a type of personal relativism that we can then apply that principle to all areas of experience and knowledge and say that they too are also relative? No, it is not a valid assumption. First of all, to do so would be an absolute assessment, which contradicts relativism.
Furthermore, if all things are relative, then there cannot be anything that is absolutely true between individuals. In other words, if all people deny the absolute truth and establish relative truth only from their experiences, then everything is relative to the individual. How then can there be a common ground from which to judge right and wrong or truth? It would seem that there cannot.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
KNOWING WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT VII
What is modern American conservatism? – By Alfred S. Regnery
Over the past half century, conservatism has become the dominant political philosophy in the United States. Newspaper and television political news stories more often than not will mention the word conservative. Almost every Republican running for office—whether for school board or U.S. senator—will try to establish his place on the political spectrum based on how conservative he is. Even Democrats sometimes distinguish among members of their own party in terms of conservatism.
Although conservatism, as we know it today, is a relatively new movement—it emerged after World War II and only became a political force in the 1960s—it is based on ideas that are as old as Western civilization itself. The intellectual foundations on which this movement has been built stretch back to antiquity were further developed during the Middle Ages and in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England and were ultimately formulated into a coherent political philosophy at the time of the founding of the United States. In a real sense, conservatism is Western civilization.
The basic foundations of American conservatism can be boiled down to four fundamental concepts. We might call them the four pillars of modern conservatism:
The first pillar of conservatism is liberty or freedom. Conservatives believe that individuals possess the right to life, liberty, and property, and freedom from the restrictions of arbitrary force. They exercise these rights through the use of their natural free will. That means the ability to follow your own dreams, to do what you want to (so long as you don’t harm others) and reap the rewards (or face the penalties). Above all, it means freedom from oppression by the government—and the protection of government against oppression. It means political liberty, the freedom to speak your mind on matters of public policy. It means religious liberty—to worship as you please, or not to worship at all. It also means economic liberty, the freedom to own property and to allocate your own resources in a free market. Conservatism is based on the idea that the pursuit of virtue is the purpose of our existence and that liberty is an essential component of the pursuit of virtue. Adherence to virtue is also a necessary condition of the pursuit of freedom. In other words, freedom must be pursued for the common good, and when it is abused for the benefit of one group at the expense of others, such abuse must be checked. Still, confronted with a choice of more security or more liberty, conservatives will usually opt for more liberty.
The second pillar of conservative philosophy is tradition and order. Conservatism is also about conserving the values that have been established over centuries and that have led to an orderly society. Conservatives believe in human nature; they believe in the ability of man to build a society that respects rights and that has the capacity to repel the forces of evil. Order means a systematic and harmonious arrangement, both within one’s own character and within the commonwealth. It signifies the performance of certain duties and the enjoyment of certain rights within a community.
Order is perhaps more easily understood by looking at its opposite: disorder. A disordered existence is a confused and miserable existence. If a society falls into general disorder, many of its members will cease to exist at all. And if the members of a society are disordered in spirit, the outward order of society cannot long endure. Disorder describes well everything that conservatism is not.
The third pillar is the rule of law. Conservatism is based on the belief that it is crucial to have a legal system that is predictable, that allows people to know what the rules are and enforce those rules equally for all. This means that both governors and the governed are subject to the law. The rule of law promotes prosperity and protects liberty. Put simply, a government of laws and not of men is the only way to secure justice.
The fourth pillar is belief in God. Belief in God means adherence to the broad concepts of religious faith—such things as justice, virtue, fairness, charity, community, and duty. These are the concepts on which conservatives base their philosophy. Conservative belief is tethered to the idea that there is an allegiance to God that transcends politics and that sets a standard for politics. For conservatives, there must be an authority greater than man, greater than any ruler, king, or government: no state can demand our absolute obedience or attempt to control every aspect of our lives. There must be a moral order, conservatives believe, that under-girds political order. This pillar of conservatism does not mean mixing up faith and politics, and it certainly does not mean settling religious disputes politically. It also does not mean that conservatives have a monopoly on faith, or even that all conservatives are necessarily believers. Each of the four pillars is closely related to all the others. Liberty, for example, is considered a gift of God and must be protected by the rule of law. The rule of law itself is dependent on the natural law—a transcendent law reflected in every orderly and civilized society, demarcating good and evil. Tradition and order are best reflected by our common law—a law developed over centuries by reasonable people in their everyday lives, which sets the rules for social order consistent with the past. And tradition is an important dimension of belief in God. What could demonstrate tradition and order more fully, for example, than the Old Testament and the history of the Jewish people, or the doctrines of the Christian Church?
THE FOUR CITIES
Another way of understanding these four pillars is to see them in terms of the historical origins of the conservative tradition. Russell Kirk, who is probably the preeminent conservative scholar of the twentieth century, often spoke of the four cities in which the foundations of Western civilization—and so, of conservatism—were laid: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and London. Our own Philadelphia in the late eighteenth century can then be seen to represent the culmination of a great tradition.
The first city is Jerusalem – where the concept of a transcendent order originated the understanding that true law comes from God and that God is the source of order and justice. From Jerusalem came one of the most essential ideas of conservatism—that man does not have all the answers, that there is a power greater than man to which we owe our lives and everything that is good. The Hebrews in the Old Testament taught that God made a covenant or compact with His people; He decreed laws by which they should live, and from that revelation, we eventually developed modern ethics and modern law. The idea of compact forms the very basis of our modern political order.
The second city is Athens – where the ancient Greek philosophers, particularly Plato and Aristotle, described the basis of the social order—what was required for people to live together and to thrive in society. Ethics and politics are, they believed, at the root of man’s existence: ethics is what establishes one’s character, and politics is the means by which human beings can achieve the good life. Aristotle, whose writings have had a profound influence on conservative thought, understood the needs of the individual and his relationship to the community. Man is a political animal, he taught and only recognizes his talents and how to use them for the common good if he is part of a community. The Greek philosophers, however, added nothing to the argument for liberty; in fact, Greek philosophy tended to advocate total subjugation of the individual by the state.
The third city in this progression is Rome – where we learn of the highest form of government, the republic, and the use of the separation of powers and checks and balances for the control of political power. Rome also provided the very idea of the rule of law—how the law was necessary to preserve order and liberty, and how it needed to be reliable and consistent. Until the Roman republic collapsed, Roman statesmen such as Cato and Cicero also taught us about virtue as a necessary restraint on the passions of men, vital for the preservation of liberty. The Roman Empire, which followed the republic, taught little about individual liberty, of course, but a great deal about the use, and abuse, of power.
Finally, there is London – where the teachings that helped to establish the foundations of modern conservatism stretched from the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century and beyond. The foundation was laid by the Magna Carta in 1215 and evolved into the concept of the common law and the idea that the law applies equally to all, whether the king or the lowliest commoner. The Magna Carta and the common law also taught the concept of the permanence of the law—the principle of the supremacy of law, meaning that an enduring law exists and must be obeyed by all men. William Blackstone, a professor at Oxford and later a judge, published his Commentaries on the Laws of England in 1765; he argued in that massive work that natural law was the basis of all law and was rooted in Christian ethics, and he declared that man had innate rights to personal security, to personal liberty, and to private property. But Blackstone also argued that these rights were not absolute. In society, you had to give up certain rights as the price for the mutual commerce that you enjoyed. Call it a social contract; it is a fundamental doctrine of American politics and central to conservative philosophy.
The influence that British political thinkers had on conservative philosophy could fill many books. Among those whose thought is central to conservative philosophy are John Locke, John Stuart Mill, David Hume, and very importantly Edmund Burke. Burke was Irish, a member of the House of Commons, and is probably the closest thing we have to the intellectual father of modern American conservatism. Among his most important contributions to conservative philosophy are his views about the wisdom of tradition and order. He believed that the wisdom of any one individual is minuscule compared with the collective wisdom accumulated by our ancestors over the centuries.
To Burke, habit, instinct, custom, faith, reverence, prejudice—the accumulated practical knowledge acquired through experience—is more important than abstract speculation. Tradition, in other words, is vital for a good society. And if laws are reasonable, Burke believed, the benefit of the security they provide compensates for any deterioration of an otherwise abstractly “perfect” freedom. It is not law and tradition as such that are to be feared, but arbitrary laws and arbitrary government. Burke also taught that the most important political virtue is prudence—the art of calculating the eventual results of policies, of avoiding extremes, of shunning haste.
THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT
The ideas that came from Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and London were all alive in the minds of the men who gathered in a fifth city, Philadelphia, in 1776 and again in 1787, in order to draft, debate, and eventually adopt the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Our Founders had studied the Bible; they had read the classics and the British political writers; they knew the history of Western civilization. Weaving together the best elements of that tradition, they formed what would endure as the greatest experiment in the history of a political community founded on the concepts of liberty, morality, and justice. In this way, our American Founders were also the founders of the American conservative cause. The Declaration of Independence dissolved the relationship between the American people and Great Britain and established a new, sovereign nation—the United States of America. The Declaration set out the moral vision of the new nation and articulated a theory of what a legitimate government should be. It then spoke in quite specific terms about how Britain had violated those principles.
Many of the early Americans had left Europe because they had been oppressed and wanted the freedom promised in the New World. They wanted to worship as they saw fit, to speak their minds, and to earn a living freely. But over the years, British rule began to undermine American liberty. The Declaration lists twenty-eight abuses by the king—taxation without consent, denial of trial by jury, denial of religious liberty, freedom of speech, and more. The social contract had been broken—by the king—so the colonists declared that they owed no further allegiance to him. The Declaration’s most memorable passage encapsulates the most basic beliefs of our Founders: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Here the Founders are affirming that natural law is a higher law than that made by men, one that establishes the difference between right and wrong. The Declaration goes on to say that to secure our God-given rights, “governments are instituted by men”—in other words, natural law is the foundation on which all legitimate man-made law is built. It then says that the only legitimate governments are those that operate by the consent of the governed and that the governed have a right—again, God-given—to change the government or abolish it. Put another way, the Declaration says there is no divine right of kings, no absolute power of government. Instead, all rightful power in government derives only from the people. The Declaration makes it clear that we are born with these rights, which means that every person has equal rights. The only legitimate function of a government is to secure these rights, and, again, only with the consent of the people. So the Declaration limits the power of the government not once but twice: once by its purpose or ends (the securing of rights) and once by its function or means (our consent).
Eleven years later, the U.S. Constitution was drafted and ratified by the thirteen states. The Constitution was designed to be the supreme law of the land—the law that constructed a new government and spelled out how it would work. The Constitution reflects the principles of the Declaration. The dilemma the Founders faced was how to create a government that would be powerful enough to protect the rights affirmed by the Declaration from both internal and external threats while also providing sufficient checks and balances so the new government would not have so much power as to overrun those rights. The Constitution establishes the three branches of the federal government—the executive, the legislative, and the judicial—and delimits the powers of each. It sets forth the role of the states, recognizing in the states a power to do things that the federal government is not specifically tasked with doing. It gives the citizens of the United States various ways of protecting themselves against abuses of government power. It clearly enumerates the powers of the federal government and gives it none that are not enumerated.
The Constitution also establishes a powerful system of checks and balances so that no branch of government would become too powerful. First, through the doctrine of the separation of powers, each of the three branches checks the power of the other two. For example, there are two houses of Congress that must agree on any legislation. Any bill passed by Congress must then be signed by the president to become law. The president can also reject the legislation through a veto, though Congress has the power to override his veto by a super-majority. And the courts can review anything that either Congress or the executive branch does and rule it unconstitutional, outside the scope of the law. To further limit federal power, the Constitution establishes the idea of federalism by recognizing the legitimate powers of the states and insisting that all power not specifically granted to the federal government belongs to the states. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, taken together, were the work not of a moment, an hour, or even a lifetime, but of two thousand years of Western thought, political struggle, and hard-won knowledge about political power and the pursuit of liberty. These two documents have rightly been called the most perfect, and most successful, conservative documents in the history of the world. Consider how these two founding documents of the United States reflect the four pillars of conservative thought:
First is the concept of liberty and the necessity of protecting liberty from the abuses of state power. The Founders recognized that government was necessary but also recognized that unless its powers are strictly limited, government can threaten the freedoms it was established to protect. The Bill of Rights ensured that our most essential liberties could never be infringed by the U.S. government.
Second is the rule of law. To protect the freedoms recognized by the Constitution, a fixed and certain rule of law was necessary. As the Founders saw it, a system in which the ruling power could alter the Constitution and the law as it pleased, and thus expand the scope of its authority, was a system in which freedom was always imperiled. Thus, in America, there can be no rule by arbitrary decrees, and justice is settled by fixed rules and duly authorized judges. The Constitution can be amended, but to do so is an arduous and cumbersome process that requires both houses of the Congress to approve the amendment by a two-thirds majority, and three-quarters of the states need to approve as well. So the Constitution was the ultimate bedrock law of the land, providing certainty and predictability to the American people, the safety of the rule of law.
Third is order and tradition. The Constitution was the culmination of nearly two thousand years of Western civilization and Western thought. Further, the Founders recognized that government was needed to provide defense, administer justice, and otherwise supply a zone of order in which people could safely go about their business. The Constitution established the idea of continuity and stability of leadership and provided an orderly process for choosing leaders, making laws, and administering the new republic.
And finally, belief in God. Both documents reflect the great reverence of the Founders and their understanding of the Bible. The Declaration of Independence opens by proclaiming that men are “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights, continues by speaking of “the laws of nature and nature’s God,” and ends with an appeal to “the Supreme Judge of the World.” The Constitution, although less explicit, recognizes the liberties discussed in the Declaration and protects them as almost sacred. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights also makes religious liberty our “first freedom,” reflecting the Founders’ view that the free exercise of religion would have a positive effect on the workings of government. Sadly, the Founders’ concept of religious liberty has now been turned on its head by a grossly errant Supreme Court. It is no wonder that many conservatives now call themselves constitutional conservatives, why the Tea Party has adopted the Constitution as its standard text, and why the conservative legal community has resurrected the Constitution as its fundamental document. The Constitution sets forth the basic tenets of modern American conservatism in clear and unambiguous language; it is brief but complete, and still stands as the bedrock of American conservatism. If you are ever asked what conservatism in America stands for, you can say it stands for what is in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and you will have given as good an answer as possible.
How, then, are these principles reflected in the conservative movement as it rose to prominence over the past half-century? In 1945, as World War II drew to a close, America was culturally a conservative country but politically not conservative at all. The government had grown to dominate the economy through both wartime emergency measures and the programs of the New Deal. All three branches of government were controlled by left-leaning Democrats. Communist Russia had been our ally during the war, and “Uncle Joe” Stalin was still considered a benevolent figure. Our other major ally, Great Britain, was largely a socialist state. Opinion makers were pretty much in agreement concerning politics and economics. In short, the liberals were in control. But within a few years after 1945, conservative intellectuals began to speak out about what they viewed as a dangerous drift of the United States toward socialism. First of all, there were libertarian economists, led by Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, who defended the virtues of capitalism. Hayek argued that socialism was the road to serfdom. Only free-market economics could rebuild Europe and enable the U.S. to combat the growing Communist threat from Russia. These libertarians advocated limited government instead of socialism, self-reliance instead of the welfare state, private property and entrepreneurship instead of central planning. Chaos, they wrote, was the only real alternative to a free economy—chaos and global poverty.
A second group of thinkers believed that the primary threat to the West was the spread of Communism, advancing from both the Soviet Union and China, which exerted their influence geopolitically and also attempted to subvert the American way of life internally. Communism represented everything abhorrent to Western values: it was tyrannical, radical, socialistic, and atheist. It used terror, deceit, and subversion to achieve its ends and was determined to force its ideology on the rest of the world. Communism’s goals included the destruction of tradition and order in the rest of the world, and it routinely defied the rule of law. Conservative anti-Communists also believed that liberalism was a progenitor of Communism. Because liberalism and Communism shared the same substantive goals, liberalism was more often than not complicit in Communism’s spread. These conservatives were appalled at the peace settlement that followed World War II, particularly the fact that most of Eastern Europe had been handed to the Soviet Union by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. They were concerned about the problems they anticipated from the growing strength of Soviet Russia, the fall of China to Communism, and the lack of will on the part of American liberals to stand up to the Communists. They were also concerned about internal security—the fact that the federal government had been infiltrated by Communist agents and other leftists to the detriment of our national interest. The anti-Communist movement became a mainstay of American conservatism and attracted more people than any other part of the movement.
A third group was concerned with the need to maintain American values. They were focused on tradition and faith and the preservation of Western civilization and culture. They saw a growing threat from permissiveness and vulgarity. They believed in ethics and honor, in the importance of the church, and in the need for traditional education and higher learning. In short, they were concerned about the decline of the West, and they thought the way to reverse that decline was through an appeal to tradition and order. Among these traditionalists were writers such as Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr., and Richard Weaver. None of the three groups of postwar conservative thinkers was concerned with ideas merely as an academic exercise. Instead, they advanced practical ideas that challenged the status quo. They wanted their ideas to change the world. They lamented what had happened to the United States, and indeed to the rest of the world, during the first half of the twentieth century. They believed that cultural and political liberalism was at odds with American ideals at home and abroad, and saw that liberalism’s assaults on individual liberties, limited government, free markets, and Western culture ran counter to everything they believed in.
Over the next fifteen years, many of the conservatives who would dominate the stage for the balance of the twentieth century developed their views through books, articles, and lectures. In the process, they set the stage for the upsurge in conservative politics that would follow. By the early 1960s, conservative organizations were being formed, magazines and book-publishing companies were organized, and the beginnings of a “movement” emerged. In 1964 Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator from Arizona and the country’s most popular conservative politician, was nominated to head the Republican ticket for president. Although he lost, his campaign solidified the conservative movement politically, introduced thousands of young conservatives to national politics, and transformed the Republican Party from a middle-of-the-road party dominated by Easterners into a more conservative party largely dominated by the South and West. It is important to understand the driving force that compelled American conservatives to become practically engaged in the worlds of politics, education, the courts, the culture—namely, the force of reaction. Conservatives believed they had no choice but to fight against what was happening in their country and in the world, and what was happening was largely the result, in one way or another, of the Left. Things were going wrong and needed to be fixed: the advance of Communism, the expansion of the welfare state, over-regulation of free-market capitalism, the growing power of labor unions, activism in the courts, sexual permissiveness, crime, the breakdown of the family, the deterioration of the schools and of the churches. What the Left saw as progress, conservatives saw as decline—and in reaction, they searched for practical solutions.
During the next two decades—the 1960s and ’70s—conservatives became increasingly influential in politics, conservative organizations grew, financial resources were developed, new periodicals were founded, and a vibrant youth movement in colleges and universities became prominent. In 1980 Republicans nominated, and subsequently elected, Ronald Reagan, the most conservative politician ever to have reached national standing in American politics. American conservatism had emerged as an intellectual movement in the 1950s, had become a political movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and then, with President Reagan, a governing movement in the 1980s. Along the way, the conservative movement built a coherent philosophy that still exists today. And it is no exaggeration to say that most of today’s prominent conservatives—whether politicians, academics, activists, donors, or writers—got their start, in one way or another, working for Ronald Reagan.
While the particular issues we face today may be different from those of the past, the four pillars of modern American conservatism remain robust. Conservatives universally advocate a return to limited government, for as Ronald Reagan used to say, a government that can give you everything you want can also take away everything you have. Conservatives advocate free market capitalism, less regulation of economic activity, and fiscal responsibility. They also favor entrepreneurship and lower taxes to spur economic growth. Conservatives work to restrain activist judges in an effort to restore the rule of law. Social conservatives today work to shore up family values. They oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, and sexual permissiveness. They also advocate strengthening traditional standards in education, and a larger role for religious faith in public life.
On foreign policy issues, conservatives have recently been divided. Traditionally, conservatives have believed that war should be avoided if at all possible but that a strong national defense is nevertheless vital. Peace through strength, if you will. But a new strand of conservatives joined the movement in the 1970s and 1980s: the so-called neoconservatives. Many of these were former Democrats, liberals on domestic policy but anti-Communists and hawks who made common cause with other conservatives toward the end of the Cold War. Neoconservatives tend to be more willing to use military power for purposes other than simply defending American interests. Still, there are really no clear lines of demarcation between the different branches of conservatism, and in fact, most conservatives don’t fit neatly into one or another camp. Almost always there are enough genuine similarities in outlook such that, wherever they come from, conservatives can usually work together for the broader cause. As long as we remain faithful to the four pillars of conservatism, the order of liberty, morality, and justice that we have built will stand firm.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
KNOWING WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT VI
This week we will take a brief look at four more “isms” that are related to politics and religion but I wanted to mention a couple of things before we begin. Do you believe there are definite factors which persuade us and cause us to embrace certain ideas and views? I am convinced there are several but allow me to mention two. Number one: There is no doubt our social and economic situation is a direct influence on our political views and many times our spiritual ideas. For example, if we have created and manage our own company which includes not only being proud of our accomplishments but also carefully watching our financial growth, we will be more likely to believe in capitalism and free enterprise. Why? Because these two philosophies are quite often with being associated with the Republican party. Republicans believe a person should have the right to create their own wealth without the government interfering. On the other hand, if we are raised in federal housing and are familiar with receiving social assistance, we are far more likely to support and vote democratic with an attraction to socialism. If a person is financially secure, they are not as excited about the re-distribution of wealth as a poor person who has nothing invested in the system. Wealthy people believe they have been diligent to bring their visions to fruition by hard work and determination. Many of those who have little feel cheated and are at a disadvantage. This resentment can turn to desperation. Democratic and Socialistic politicians are notorious for sympathizing with the poor because their high numbers can most certainly affect elections.
Number two: The second element that must be considered is how an individual was raised. This is not always the case because there are children who grow up and adopt completely different views than their parents but we cannot ignore the large number of situations where children follow their parents. In this country, we can clearly see with our friends and family how this has proved true. We know that Catholics and all other denominations teach their children according to their own interpretations and opinions and fully expect their children to follow in the path which has been provided for them. Granted, many children do not really care about politics or religion and it is very easy to just accept and go along with what their family believes. However, even those who do take their beliefs seriously, most of their decisions are based on trust and confidence in those they love to know the truth. For example, in Middle Eastern countries, we know that children are trained in most cases “forced” to obey Islam and those who refuse are cast out of the family permanently. As in all religions, the family views are taught as absolute truth and that all other ideas are false. I dare ask the question, but if you and I were raised as a Hindu, would we not be a devout Hindu today? Christians, just like all religions, believe that most everyone has the opportunity to hear the message of their belief system and thus all people will choose what they want. In this case, it would only be by the grace of God’s mercy or predestination that anyone would receive the invitation to God’s great salvation. If we are only embracing a certain conviction because our parents and grandparents thought it was correct, we are not actually experiencing a personal spiritual relationship with our God but only going along with someone else believes.
There are many other components that must be considered in our journey from where we started as a child to where we are now as an adult. Hopefully, the Holy Spirit has been a major influence in our life instead of it being purely emotional and situational. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we will be judged for what we believed, what we said and what we did for the Bible says, “What a man thinks in his heart so is he.” In this day in which we live, there are many opinions and ideas swirling around us and it would be wise to not only know what is being accepted and promoted in our society but to also know and be willing to stand for what we believe. Humans are carnal creatures and usually accept ideas based on how it affects them. If someone is gay, it only makes sense they will vote on a candidate that promises to fight for gay rights. If a person is against abortion, it only seems logical they will vote for someone who promises they will fight against abortion. This is why it is rare to find anyone that will truly cling to God’s Word. Who wants to pray all the time? Who wants to be purified by God’s refining fire? Who wants to take up their cross and be crucified? Who wants to suffer for Christ? We could go on and on but I know you understand what I’m saying. Clever people have attempted to twist the Bible and make God seem to say things that He did not mean – ALL in the name of money and pleasure. The world is so hostile toward God, that if we are serious about following Him – we will be hated. People will hate us for our politics, they will attempt to discredit us, humiliate us, persecute us and call us everything under the sun to destroy our intelligence and integrity. On the other hand, if we agree to compromise what we know is right and join forces with the evil and wicked masses, they will accept us as one of their own. The Christian life is very difficult and only a few will agree to God’s conditions. Let us continue with our study.
WHAT IS CENTRISM? by cpadmin
Centrists don’t have party lines. Centrists believe that solutions are more important than bias. While there is no set rule for what a Centrist is, there are some generally accepted guidelines that seem to depict the Centrist mode of thought. Centrism is a political ideology based on reason and pragmatism considerate of short and long-term thinking – Centrism is not defined by compromise or moderation, it is considerate of them. Centrism is about achieving common sense solutions that appropriately address current and future needs; support the public trust, and serve the common good with consideration of risk and capacity in the context of these needs. Modern definitions sometimes conflate Centrism with moderation but the Centrist Party tenets generally oppose moderate views. Let’s just call moderates “moderates” and Centrists “Centrist.”
Centrism is not about doing what is popular, it is about doing what is right.
Centrism is not moderate but rather supports strength, tradition, open-mindedness and policy based on evidence not ideology.
Centrism is not about compromise but rather allows for it as reasonable.
Centrism is not a belief. It is an open book to an unfolding situation. This does not mean it is moderate, but that it is considerate of changing circumstances that may require reconsideration based on the intelligence available, and reason itself.
Centrists are independent.
Centrists argue based on reason and context to define the relevance of a given point.
Centrists tend to be pragmatic and avoid extremes whenever possible. Of course, an extreme may be a required action so luckily Centrists tend to exercise reason in an application.
Centrists tend to dislike special interest influence and unfair practices. They don’t appreciate spin from candidates or news organizations.
Centrists tend to believe that if we dealt with the facts and concentrated on working together we could fix a lot more problems than two polar opposite parties constantly embattled in their own agendas and ideologies.
Centrists seek accountability in governance.
Honor & Integrity. Centrists tend to believe that political spin erodes the integrity of the vote and certainly that of the politician. Moderation has more in kind with compromise than working toward the best solution. The reality of modern politics is that compromise is the status quo. This leads to policy that is not based on pragmatism but rather on the needs of compromised points of view. The goal is not to compromise, but rather pragmatism based on reasonable considerations, short and long-term. In other words, decisions and policies based on the best answer, not the compromise between two flawed perspectives that are ideologically opposed. When necessary, compromise, but fight for reason and present the case to bring others closer to the most pragmatic solution or policy.
Centrism is a political ideology that falls directly in between the left and right political extremes. Centrist ideology stresses practical and realistic solutions without the partisan problems associated with solutions from Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and others. Centrists also believe that the government serves as a means to keep individual liberties in check. Centrists, however, are not a mixture and ideological stances from left and right. CENTRISTS espouse a “middle ground” regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose political extremes, and emphasize what they describe as practical solutions to problems. A centrist may say something such as the following: Abortion should not be legal except only in certain situations such as the woman having conceived during rape, incest, or if in danger of dying during delivery.
If our current president is not the answer to this nation’s problems, what is? Warriors on one side inevitably call forth warriors on the other, and that just means more culture battles, more barbarism, more dishonesty, and more dysfunction. The people in this camp we will call moderates. Like most of you, I dislike the word moderate. It is too milquetoast but I’ve been inspired by Aurelian Craiutu’s great book “Faces of Moderation” to stick with this word, at least until a better one comes along. Moderates do not see politics as warfare. Instead, national politics is a voyage with a fractious fleet. Wisdom is finding the right formation of ships for each specific circumstance so the whole assembly can ride the waves forward for another day. Moderation is not an ideology; it’s a way of coping with the complexity of the world. Moderates tend to embrace these certain ideas:
The truth is plural. There is no one and correct answer to the big political questions. Instead, politics is usually a tension between two or more views, each of which possesses a piece of the truth. Sometimes immigration restrictions should be loosened to bring in new people and new dynamism; sometimes they should be tightened to ensure national cohesion. Leadership is about determining which viewpoint is more needed at that moment. Politics is a dynamic unfolding, not a debate that can ever be settled once and for all.
Politics is a limited activity. Zealots look to the political realm for salvation and self-fulfillment. They turn politics into a secular religion and ultimately an apocalyptic war of religion because they try to impose one correct answer on all of life. Moderates believe that, at most, a government can create a platform upon which the beautiful things in life can flourish. But it cannot itself provide those beautiful things. A government can create economic and physical security and a just order, but meaning, joy and the good life flow from loving relationships, thick communities and wise friends. The moderate is prudent and temperate about political life because he is so passionate about emotional, spiritual and intellectual life.
Creativity is syncretistic. Voyagers don’t just pull their ideas from the center of the ideological spectrum. They believe creativity happens when you merge galaxies of a belief that seems at first blush incompatible. They might combine left-wing ideas about labor unions with right-wing ideas about local community to come up with a new conception of labor law. Because they are syncretistic, they are careful to spend time in opposing camps, always opening lines of communication. The wise moderate can hold two or more opposing ideas together in her mind at the same time.
In politics, the lows are lower than the highs are high. The harm government does when it screws up — wars, depressions — is larger than the benefits government produces when it does well. Therefore the moderate operates from a politics of skepticism, not a politics of faith. He understands that most of the choices are among bad options (North Korea), so he prefers steady incremental reform to sudden revolutionary change.
Truth before justice. All political movements must face inconvenient facts — thoughts and data that seem to aid their foes. If you try to suppress those facts, by banning a speaker or firing an employee, then you are putting the goals of your cause, no matter how noble, above the search for truth. This is the path to fanaticism, and it always backfires in the end.
Beware the danger of a single identity. Before they brutalize politics, warriors brutalize themselves. Instead of living out several identities — Latina/lesbian/gun-owning/Christian — that pull in different directions, they turn themselves into a single-celled organism. They prioritize one identity, one narrative, and one comforting distortion.
Partisanship is necessary but blinding. Partisan debate sharpens opinion, but partisans tend to justify their own sins by pointing to the other side’s sins. Moderates are problematic members of their party. They tend to be hard on their peers and sympathetic to their foes.
Humility is the fundamental virtue. Humility is a radical self-awareness from a position outside yourself — a form of radical honesty. The more the moderate grapples with reality the more she understands how much is beyond our understanding. Moderation requires courage. Moderates don’t operate from the safety of their ideologically pure galleons. They are unafraid to face the cross-currents, detached from a clan, acknowledging how little they know. If there is ever elected a person who is not awed by the complexity of the world, but who filters the world to suit their own narcissism, then woe to us because such a person is the opposite of the moderate voyager type.
WHAT IS PLURALISM? By the kosmopolis institute
Within pluralism, we can distinguish process – and content perspectives. Pluralism as process refers to ways of recognition. Democracy and democratic processes are crucial in the practice of pluralism defined as a process of recognition. Pluralism as content refers to diversity, to differences in values and beliefs. Promoting pluralism does not mean prescribing any specific way of organizing society or political system. It means opening spaces for dialogue and enhancing human dignity and equality. People should be respected for what they have reason to value. As a first central element of pluralism, the knowledge program recognizes that there are diverse ways of realizing the individual’s right to determine the course of one’s life and his/her relation to culture and identity. The principle that people should be respected for what they have reason to value in their lives is an aspect of Pluralism which promotes active engagement with diversity
1. Pluralism is not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity.
2. Pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference.
3. Pluralism is not relativism, but the encounter of commitments.
4. Pluralism is based on dialogue.
Pluralism is not a ‘universal’ value, but a pluralistic notion itself. Although the significant value of democratic processes and respect for Human Rights are at the heart of our understanding of pluralism, we depart from an understanding that pluralism, democracy, human rights, and diversity are not perceived as ‘neutral’ or ‘universal’ concepts. In non-Western contexts, in particular, pluralism is often qualified as ‘liberalism’ and seen as a liberal political theory which is intrinsically linked to related key concepts, such as the neutral and secular state, the separation of state and religion, the distinction between the private and the public sphere etc. Last decades many of these core themes of conventional wisdom about liberal democracy have been seriously challenged and Human Rights appeared not to be globally accepted values.
Realizing the challenges and the reservations and objections that exist in the South, the terms “pluralism” “democracy” and “fundamentalism” the need to create dialogical spaces to arrive at conceptual clarity becomes apparent. This knowledge program wants to open spaces for ways of theorization that emerge from both mainstream and alternative practices of pluralism at local levels in the South. We expect that opening such spaces for other than liberal ways of conceptualizing pluralism will create new opportunities to enhance the understanding of practices of pluralism in the context of the complexities of our times. Biiku Parekh is quoted, “Pluralism is more about creating relations than about defining and defending differences.”
WHAT IS OMNISM? by: Got Questions
Omnism is, in simplistic terms, a belief in all religions, and those who hold this view are referred to as Omnists. As with any term, there are variations in exactly what omnism means and the extent to which it should be applied. For the most part, omnism does not imply literal acceptance of every single religious claim as true. Rather, Omnists generally perceive some level of truth or specific truths in all religious faiths. Omnism would assert that all religions share a common goal and a common ability to achieve those shared ends. Logically and Biblically, however, omnism fails to survive tests for truth.
While the terms omnism and omnist might be uncommon, the concept they embody is reflected in an image that pervades modern society: “Coexist” bumper stickers and icons. These images adapt the symbols of various religions to form the letters of the word C-O-E-X-I-S-T. In this way, the icon suggests an inherent equality, value, and shared truth to all faiths. As an expression of religious pluralism, the “Coexist” theme is the essence of Omnism.
As with most philosophies, Omnism is not entirely wrong in every facet. There are elements of truth in most religions—if there were nothing at all true in a religion, nobody would believe it. It’s not wrong to say that many of the practical aspects of major faiths are similar. However, what Omnism fails to recognize is that, where religions differ, they do so in fundamental, crucial, and contradictory ways. Different religions may be superficially similar, but they are inherently, fundamentally incompatible.
TRUTH IS NOT RELATIVE, so when two religious faiths make competing claims, one or both of them must be wrong. There cannot be one unique God and millions of deities. There cannot be an everlasting hell and universal salvation. Christ cannot be the ONLY WAY to God and only one of many ways to God. We cannot attain heaven through faith alone and through good deeds or rituals. We cannot be limited to one life and experience reincarnation. More importantly, religions make claims about the basis for human morality, our relationship with God, and our eternal destiny. Those are not subjects that we can simply shrug off or ignore for the sake of political correctness.
The claim that all religions and all religious beliefs are actually true is an irrational and self-defeating position. Is there some truth to all faiths? Yes, but there are also deep-set, irreconcilable differences. The typical mid-range view of an omnist, in practice, is not irrational; it is simply incorrect. Not all religions lead to God, not all religions teach the truth, and not all religions are worthy of an equal level of respect, even in a secular setting. Whether referred to as omnism, declared with a “Coexist” bumper sticker, or stated as “all paths lead to God,” a simplistic view of pluralism is indefensible. While an omnist might mean well, there is no substance to his view, and it cannot be applied in any meaningful way.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?
KNOWING WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT – PART V
This week we will take a peek at what “left-wing” “progressive” and “liberal” political views mean. There has always been a major divide in our country when it comes to politics. The right-wing ideas and the left-wing ideologies have been opposed and we can see the chasm is growing wider. As we have been reading for the few weeks, the opinions and views of many people are difficult to identify when it comes to specifics and this is because there are “mixtures” of beliefs. In general, we have noticed that left-wing views are associated with supporting the Democratic party but this is not always the case. On the other hand, right-wing conservatives are many times also driven by their Christian principals but again, this is not straight across the board. To me, the word “liberal” causes me to think of leniency or more open-minded and compromising, while conservative implies staying with traditional values and a strict moral conscience. How do you interpret these opposing views? I have thought for quite some time, this battle also has much to do with the age of the generations. For example, it seems the older people are clinging to the old-school philosophies they were raised with. Parents and grandparents are a huge influence and many of the older generation (50 plus) are still holding strong to the values they were taught and there is a very small chance that any of these individuals will change their views. On the contrary, the younger slice of society (especially the 20 to 40 age group) have been heavily persuaded by liberal education and indoctrinated by a growing left-wing agenda promoted and enforced by the rebellious and carnal world of media. These left-wing persuasions include a consistent mockery of Jesus being God and a refusal to consider the Bible as the absolute truth. Atheism is growing very strong and sadly, the younger ones are being convinced that religion is just an emotional crutch for the weak and uneducated. The question is: what will happen as the older generation passes away? If the majority rules (and it usually does) we can actually see the future and it is not very encouraging. As the liberal progressives out-number the conservative Christians, we can know where we are heading. As the Bible talks about the days of Noah, we should be fervently praying for God’s mercy on the world and what we can do to help warn the lost.
How did we end up here? What happened? We can all agree that much of what we are experiencing in our society today has been brought in and confirmed through our government. I know there are other factors to blame but when our congress and senate are filled with ungodly and wicked people, that nation will suffer moral decay. Instead of a moral legal system enforcing and protecting the rights of the innocent, we now have a corrupt government that protects the criminals and heathens. Our government makes all the decisions every day about how we live and what is socially acceptable. It’s true, the people of this country have the freedom to vote and elect the candidates they want to represent what they believe and obviously many people want a liberal government. So how else can we believe that these are the law-makers are responsible for what our nation is today? Evidently, there are masses of people that are very pleased with where we are and where we are headed. I spoke to an 83-year-old lady the other day and she was very excited about the possibility of impeaching the president and restoring a liberal left-wing agenda for the nation. Nonetheless, whatever we believe, the blame falls on the voters as they have made this country what it is.
How can we change things? Can the Christians in this country make a difference? Is it too late for the Christians to rise up against evil and vote in Christian leaders? Change has always been the battle cry for political transformation and voting (and prayer) are the vehicles. However, since votes are counted and the ones with the most votes win like we said earlier, it all comes down to what the majority of the people believe and what they desire. If the greater percentage of the people want abortion, prayers removed, and same-sex marriage, then this is exactly what we will have. Free-will has been given by God but also included is judgment for the consequences of sin. We can argue until both sides are exhausted and it will not change anything. The problem is the same as it has been since the beginning of time and that is the heart of mankind. When men and women have a heart for God they will follow His Holy Spirit and respond to His voice. When people disregard God and do whatever they want, and only care about what feels good and makes them happy, it is only a matter of time before they fall. We cannot predict everything that will happen in the future but we can interpret somewhat that the world will continue down the path of selfishness and pride and God’s people will be a small remnant of believers who will stand in faith for absolute truth. Will the persecution of Christians increase as time goes on? Yes. Will the world continue to grow more violent and aggressive against God? Yes. Jesus is coming and is going to face the armies of the world because they hate Him. With His infinite power and authority, He will once again destroy the world because of sin. This is not being critical or negative, this is simply revealing the reality of life and what is coming. This is not blaming everything on a particular group or movement because we are all sinners and have failed miserably. The simple truth is that we have read God’s prophecy and know that Jesus is returning to judge and destroy the wicked. Mankind has always been naturally deceived and only by God’s grace are there any who have been or will be saved. It is by God’s mercy that our eyes can be opened and it is only with our humility and obedience can we be considered a recipient of His glorious salvation. Let us continue with our study.
LIBERALISM – By Merriam Webster commentary. What does it mean to say that a person is a liberal, or to say that a thing may be described with this word? The answer, as is so often the case with the English language, is “it depends.” Liberal shares a root with LIBERTY and can mean anything from “generous” to “Loose” to “broadminded.” Politically, it means “a person who believes the government should be active in supporting social and political change.” The title Liberal can be traced back to the Latin word liber (meaning “free”), which is also the root of LIBERTY (the quality or state of being free) and LIBERTINE (one leading a dissolute life). However, we did not simply take the word liber and make it into liberal; our modern term for the inhabitants of the left side of the political spectrum comes more recently from the Latin liberalis, which means “of or constituting liberal arts, of freedom, of a freedman.”
We still see a strong connection between our use of the word liberal and liber in the origins of liberal arts. In Latin, liber functioned as an adjective, to describe a person who was “free, independent,” and contrasted with the word servus (“slavish, servile”). The Romans had artes liberales (“liberal arts”) and artes serviles (“servile arts”); the former were geared toward freemen (consisting of such subjects as grammar, logic, and rhetoric), while the latter was more concerned with occupational skills.
We borrowed liberal arts from French in the 14th century, and sometime after this liberal began to be used in conjunction with other words (such as education, profession, and pastime). When paired with these other words liberal was serving to indicate that the things described were fitting for a person of high social status. However, at the same time that the term liberal arts were beginning to make 14th century college-tuition-paying-parents a bit nervous about their children’s future job prospects, liberal was also being used as an adjective to indicate “generosity” and “bounteousness.” By the 15th century, people were using liberal to mean “bestowed in a generous and openhanded way,” as in “poured a liberal glass of wine.” The word’s meaning kept shifting. By the 18th century, people were using liberal to indicate that something was “not strict or rigorous.” The political antonyms of liberal and conservative began to take shape in the 19th century, as the British Whigs and Tories began to adopt these as titles for their respective parties.
Liberal is commonly used as a label for political parties in a number of other countries, although the positions these parties take do not always correspond to the sense of liberal that people in the United States commonly give it. In the US, the word has been associated with both the Republican and Democratic parties (now it is more commonly attached to the latter), although generally, it has been in a descriptive, rather than a titular, sense. The word has—for some people, at least—taken on some negative connotations when used in a political sense in the United States. It is still embraced with pride by others. We can see these associations with the word traced back to the early and mid-20th century in its combination with other words, such as pinko: Pinko is a pejorative (a derogatory term) coined in 1925 in the United States to describe a person regarded as being sympathetic to communism, though not necessarily a Communist Party member. It has since come to be used to describe anyone perceived to have leftist or socialist sympathies.
The term limousine liberal, meaning “a wealthy political liberal,” is older than many people realize; although the phrase was long believed to have originated in the 1960s, recent evidence shows that we have been sneering at “limousine liberals” almost as long as we have had real limousines. Even with a highly polysemous word such as liberal we can usually figure out contextually which of its many possible senses is meant. However, when the word takes on multiple and closely-related meanings that are all related to politics, it can be rather difficult to tell one from another. These senses can be further muddied by the fact that we now have two distinct groups who each feel rather differently about some of the meanings of liberal. One of these definitions we provide for liberal is “a person who believes that government should be active in supporting social and political change” In all of these definitions it is up to every individual to choose whether liberalism is a good thing or a bad thing.
WHAT IS PROGRESSIVE THINKING? – By John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira
People often ask what, exactly, do progressives believe? Over the past few years, we’ve worked with several groups, representing a cross-section of leaders from think tanks, philanthropic organizations, and environmental, labor, youth, civil rights, and other progressive groups, to try to distill progressive beliefs and values into a clear language in one digestible resource. Our approach is built upon the ideas of generations of progressives from Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama: everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does his or her fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. As progressives, we believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at a decent, fulfilling, and economically secure life. We believe that everyone should do his or her fair share to build this life through education and hard work and through active participation in public life. And we believe that everyone should play by the same set of rules with no special privileges for the well-connected or wealthy. The book is divided into sections outlining the overall progressive story, foundational beliefs about government, the economy, and national security, and the application of this framework to contemporary issues. It also includes a number of useful speeches and essays that show progressive values and beliefs in action throughout our nation’s history. In terms of values, Progressive Thinking breaks down the four pillars of progressive thought as follows:
1. Freedom. In terms of our political foundations, the most basic progressive value is freedom. This also happens to be one of the most contested values in American life. Progressives have a two-part definition of freedom: “freedom from” and “freedom to.” First, we believe that all people should have freedom from undue interference by governments and others in carrying out their private affairs and personal beliefs. This includes our rights to freedom of speech, association, and religion as well as the freedom to control our own bodies and personal lives. Second, we believe that all people should have the freedom to lead a fulfilling and secure life supported by the basic foundations of economic security and opportunity. This includes physical protections against bodily harm as well as adequate income, economic protections, health care and education, and other social provisions…
2. Opportunity. Complementing our commitment to human freedom is our belief in opportunity. Like freedom, the concept of opportunity has two components: one focuses on political equality and the other on economic and social arrangements that enhance our lives. The first component of opportunity prohibits discrimination against anyone based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious faith or non-faith, or disability. It also means embracing the diversity of American society by ensuring that all people have the chance to turn their talents and ambitions into a meaningful life, not just the rich and powerful or dominant racial and ethnic groups. The second component of opportunity involves the conditions necessary for people to be secure and to move up in life — health care, education, a decent job, labor rights, a secure retirement…
3. Responsibility. Along with freedom and opportunity comes responsibility — personal responsibility and the responsibility we have to each other and to the common good. Personal responsibility requires each of us to do our part to improve our own lives through hard work, education, and by acting with honesty and integrity. Responsibility to others and to the common good requires a commitment to putting the public interest above the interests of a few and an understanding that strong families and communities are the foundation of a good society. It means working to achieve greater social justice and economic conditions that benefit civil society broadly. It demands an open and honest government and an engaged and participatory citizenry. This requires pubic investments in things like transportation and trade, innovation, a skilled workforce, courts to protect patent rights and contract agreements, public safety and other measures that support the creation of wealth and help to make individual prosperity possible. It also requires progressive taxation, meaning those who have and earn more should pay more to help support the investments in things like schools, transportation, and economic competitiveness necessary to advance the interests of all. A key component of responsibility involves ecological and social sustainability. This requires on-going stewardship of our land, water, air and natural resources, smart use of energy, and the responsible consumption of goods…
4. Cooperation. Rounding out these political values which are primarily directed at the rights, opportunities, and duties of individuals is the basic progressive value of cooperation. Cooperation is the foundation of our most important social institutions including our families, our communities, and our civic and faith groups. Freedom without cooperation leads to a divided society that cannot work together to achieve common goals and improve the lives of all. Cooperation as a value requires that we try to be open-minded and empathetic toward others and that we are accountable for their well-being as they are accountable to us. Progressives believe that if we blindly pursue our own needs and ignore those of others, our society will degenerate. Successful families and communities cannot exist without cooperation. We also value human interdependence on a larger scale and accept the importance of looking beyond our own needs to help others and find global solutions to global problems.
As progressives gear up for inevitable fights over taxes, budgets, and social policy, we shouldn’t forget about the importance of values in explaining who we are and what we want to achieve. We believe in freedom with opportunity for all, responsibility to all, and cooperation among all. We believe that the purpose of government is to advance the common good, to secure and protect our rights, and to help to create a high quality of life and community well-being. We want decent paying jobs and benefits for workers and sustainable economic growth. We want growing businesses producing the world’s best products and services. We want an economy that works for everyone, not just the few. We want all nations to uphold universal human rights and to work together to solve common challenges. This is what a progressive America looks like.
WHAT ARE FAR LEFT POLITICAL VIEWS?
The far left refers to the highest degree of leftism in left-wing politics. The far left seeks equality of outcome and the dismantlement of all forms of social stratification. Far leftists seek to abolish all forms of hierarchy, particularly the inequitable distribution of wealth and power. The far left seeks a society in which everyone is provided equal economic and social opportunities, and no one has excessive wealth or power over others. The far left typically believes that inegalitarian systems must be overthrown through a revolution in order to establish egalitarian societies, while the center-left works within the system to achieve egalitarianism. In societies that tolerate dissent, far-left groups usually participate in the democratic process to advance their goals. The far left demands radical changes to dismantle unequal societies, including confiscation of wealth that is concentrated in a small elite, and redistribution of that wealth in an egalitarian manner (which means relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities).
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 37 – PUBLISHED 9/15/18
KNOWING WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT IV
This week, we are taking a look at three more different political views. Nationalism, Marxism, and Communism. Most of us have heard these terms being used in the news and this is just a refresher to make sure we have a better understanding of them. We will notice that Nationalism has become a very popular “hot-topic” and also the cause for much disagreement. The current administration wants to protect our country and “take care of our own” which is being interpreted as racial hatred toward the rest of the world. Can the idea of one country rising up to be the greatest, wealthiest, and most powerful in the world generate an unhealthy pride or is it a simple matter of being wise? Then if you will notice, Marxism and Communism are enemies toward God and do not regard religion as being a personal relationship with the living Creator of all things. May the Lord continue to give us wisdom and understanding as we continue moving forward.
A brief explanation of the differences between nationalism, patriotism, sectionalism, and jingoism
Nationalism has a number of near-synonyms, each of which carries its own distinct meaning. “A feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries. This can develop into an arrogance which can lead to racism, prejudice, and even hatred.
Patriotism is similar insofar as it emphasizes strong feelings for one’s country, but it does not necessarily imply an attitude of superiority.
Sectionalism resembles nationalism in its suggestion of a geopolitical group pursuing its self-interest, but the group in question is usually smaller than an entire nation.
Jingoism closely resembles nationalism in suggesting feelings of cultural superiority, but unlike nationalism, it always implies military aggressiveness.
NATIONALISM – by Virginia Matteo – Nationalism is an ideology that gives a nation a sense of unity by imposing on them the same set of identities (for instance linguistic, historical, cultural). Especially peculiar to nationalism is defining the nation against an other inside or outside of the state borders. However, this short definition by no means exhausts all the complexities of nationalism. So much so that some post-modern scholars insist on using the plural “nationalisms” to do justice to the whole spectrum of experiences. It matters, for instance, whether we are talking about a nationalism in 19th-century Europe or a nationalism in post-World War I India. Nationalism has a subjective dimension to it. Members of a nation usually feel a sense of unity that in certain circumstances may go beyond class inequalities; it is particularly the case when the nation has a common enemy, be it a colonizer, or be it a specific minority group. In nationalist rhetoric the nation is frequently conceptualized as a fraternity that somehow holds a privileged position in the world.
But what is “nation”? Benedict Anderson came up with perhaps the most famous definition; he sees it as an imagined community because the overwhelming majority of its members never personally met each other. This community is envisioned as both limited (by its borders) and sovereign (it has the ability to self-govern). Border control is one mechanism of maintaining national identity by “protecting” the nation from dissolution in other cultures. In many cases, immigrants are seen as a different tribe or people, against which the nation defines itself.
Additional information by – Anne Sraders – The word “nationalism” has been in the news a lot lately, from talks about trade wars and immigration to reports of racism and violence. But, what is nationalism? And how is it different than patriotism? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, nationalism is defined as “loyalty and devotion to a nation, especially a sense of national consciousness,” and “exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.”
Historically, nationalism has been used to define and explain everything from radical political and militaristic movements like Nazism to strong protectionist policies controlling modern foreign policy and economies. While patriotism (an easily confused term with nationalism) is perhaps harmless (like that exuded on the 4th of July), nationalism is more sinister in nature.
Nationalism centers on a country’s culture, language, and often race. It may also include shared literature, sports, or the arts, but is primarily driven by cultural associations. And, it promotes the nation at the expense of others. Nationalist countries or leaders don’t join international organizations or associations, and maintain a superior view of themselves to the detriment of other nations. Nationalism has a positive view of conquering other nations as it sees itself as the ultimate nation. Any ideologies that undercut, oppose, or contradict the nation are rejected. Nationalism, in its extreme forms, has led to wars, genocide, the Holocaust, and, more specifically, the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia in the 1990’s.
Nationalism vs. Patriotism
Nationalism is not the same as patriotism. While patriotism is a bit more of a vague word to describe the love and devotion to a country, its ideals, and values, nationalism is more the promotion of a nation’s culture, language, and supremacy above others. In this sense, nationalism is often race or ethnicity-driven, which can have dangerous implications. Patriotism can be seen in things like the singing of the national anthem or the dedication service men and women show through their heroism. This is far less ideologically destructive than nationalism and doesn’t necessitate the same devotions.
Nationalism vs. Tribalism
TRIBALISM is the “tribal consciousness and loyalty, especially exaltation of the tribe above other groups,” which is similar in nature to nationalism. However, there is a great deal more specificity in cause in tribalism than in nationalism. While nationalism is confined by country borders, language, or other things like ethnicity, tribalism can be defined by common cause, religion, or traditions. Although up to some debate, examples of tribalism can include the KKK. However, in 2014, the Huffington Post even called political parties like liberals and conservatives “tribes,” claiming that “America’s new tribalism can be seen most distinctly in its politics. Nowadays the members of one tribe (calling themselves liberals, progressives, and Democrats) hold sharply different views and values than the members of the other (conservatives, Tea Partiers, and Republicans).” While it can be easy to confuse tribalism and nationalism (as they are often in association with one another), there are important distinctions – namely, the confines of the nation itself.
Nationalism in the Past
Historically, nationalism has used the economic, political, and cultural spheres as a means to promote the well-being and superiority of a given nation over that of all others. Nationalism was first used in the 18th century as a common way to define and promote a nation according to “ethnographic principles.” Although the Roman Empire had some nationalistic aspects, they were much more in favor of a so-called “world-state,” spanning nations under one banner. By the 18th and 19th centuries, however, the French and American revolutions sparked a new age of nationalism that promoted a unified nation and its political and economic interests namely – capitalism.
While Europe was in a state of political and ideological war with those like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Napoleon shaping nationalist ideals in France and Otto Von Bismarck unifying Germany in 1871, nationalism began taking on stronger implications. And, alongside the strong sense of national identity came the more dangerous ideas of racial and national superiority. Fascist regimes like those of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler used the economic and political turmoil of the early 20th century to subjugate individualism to the needs of the nation by banking on national identity and tradition. Most notably perhaps is the nationalism exhibited during World War II by the Nazi party in Germany. Hitler’s Nazi party hinged on the ideals of the superiority of the Aryan race and the German peoples’ supposed cultural, intellectual, and militaristic supremacy to all other nations. The Allied nations were ultimately successful in stamping out the nationalist threat from countries like Italy and Germany, but the rise of global organizations to combat nationalism, like the United Nations, have come with their own problems.
MARXISM – By Randall Niles – Marxism is an economic and social system based upon the political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. While it would take veritably volumes to explain the full implications and ramifications of the Marxist social and economic ideology, Marxism is summed up in the Encarta Reference Library as “a theory in which class struggle is a central element in the analysis of social change in Western societies.” Marxism is the antithesis (direct opposite) of capitalism which is defined by Encarta as “an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods, characterized by a free competitive market and motivation by profit.” Marxism is the system of socialism of which the dominant feature is public ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
Under capitalism, the proletariat (blue collar workers) own only their capacity to work; they have the ability only to sell their own labor. According to Marx, a class is defined by the relations of its members to the means of production. He proclaimed that history is the chronology of class struggles, wars, and uprisings. Under capitalism, Marx continues, the workers, in order to support their families are paid a bare minimum wage or salary. The worker is alienated because he has no control over the labor or product which he produces. The capitalists sell the products produced by the workers at a proportional value as related to the labor involved. Surplus value is the difference between what the worker is paid and the price for which the product is sold. An increasing immiseration of the proletariat occurs as the result of economic recessions; these recessions result because the working class is unable to buy the full product of their labors and the ruling capitalists do not consume all of the surplus value. A proletariat or socialist revolution must occur, according to Marx, where the state (the means by which the ruling class forcibly maintains rule over the other classes) is a dictatorship of the proletariat. Communism evolves from socialism out of this progression: the socialist slogan is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.” The communist slogan varies slightly: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
What were the Marxist views of religion? Because the worker under the capitalist regimes was miserable and alienated, religious beliefs were sustained. Religion, according to Marx was the response to the pain of being alive, the response to earthly suffering. In “Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” (1844), Marx wrote, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world, and the soul of soul-less circumstances.” Marx indicated in this writing that the working class, the proletariat was a true revolutionary class, universal in character and acquainted with universal suffering. This provided the need for religion.
COMMUNISM – By Randall Niles – Before we answer the question, “What is Communism?” it may be good to first compare it to communism with a small “c.” The system of thought called communism is an ideology summarized in the neat-sounding maxim, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” A study of communism could lead one into the fascinating and divergent attempts throughout history by groups to walk in the light of the above principle — attempts both secular and religious, some benign and some malignant.
Like the big elephant examined by the group of blind men in the old Indian story, our understanding of communism would vary greatly depending on which portion of the beast we touch. But if we think of communism as that bulky beast of the jungle with many strange parts, Communism with a capital “C” would be the tusk- perceived as a sharp and dangerous spear by its fearful examiner.
Modern-day Communism is based on the writings of two German economists, Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels, who answered the question “What is Communism?” in their collaboration, “The Communist Manifesto” published in 1848. In it they declare that many problems in society are due to the unequal distribution of wealth. To bring about happiness and prosperity for all, the distinctions between the rich and poor of society must be eliminated. And since the rich will never give up their goods or status voluntarily, a rebellion of the poor working class – is necessary. Thus, Communism is a distinct socio-political philosophy that is willing to use violent means to attain its goal of a classless society. If capitalism is defined as a social system based on individual rights (and individual wealth), then communism is its direct opposite. Communism believes in equality through force. In its system, individual rights are ground to powder and used to build its idol of absolute government control. It is indeed like the tusk of the elephant. It is sharp. It is dangerous. And it has gored millions of men in its rage through history.
Communism embraces atheism and dismisses religion as “the opiate of the masses,” a system designed by the rich and powerful to keep the poor in their place. But Communism’s quest for a classless society is bound to fail. As Frank Zappa, ‘60s rock star, succinctly said, “Communism doesn’t work because people like to own stuff.” Furthermore, someone has to hold the money bag even in a communist-style society. And whoever holds the bag becomes not only a target for those looking on but for the subtle interior demons of pride, avarice, and self-preservation. If there will always be the poor, then there will always be the rich. There will always be division, the haves and the have-nots, and any attempt to establish a classless society this side of heaven, particularly through the violent and godless ways of Communism, is destined to frustration and failure.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 36 – PUBLISHED 9/8/18
KNOWING WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT III
This week we are taking a look at Socialism and Capitalism. We are hearing more and more about socialism and some are saying the Democratic party is drifting toward this worldview. This subject is another key area that we need to understand before we make judgments and talk about it. Let us be knowledgeable so that we can be more informed about what is happening all around us. We will probably not be able to comprehend all of it, but we can at least improve our political comprehension somewhat. How do you feel about socialism? Do you know the difference between socialism and capitalism?
SOCIALISM – By Kimberly Amadeo – Socialism’s mantra is, “From each according to his ability” and to each according to his contribution.” Everyone in society receives a share of the production based on how much each has contributed. That motivates them to work long hours if they want to receive more. Workers receive their share after a percentage has been deducted for the common good. Examples are transportation, defense, and education. Some also define the common good as caring for those who can’t directly contribute to production. Examples include the elderly, children, and their caretakers.
Socialism assumes that the basic nature of people is cooperative. That nature hasn’t yet emerged in full because capitalism or feudalism has forced people to be competitive. Therefore, a basic tenet of socialism is that the economic system must support this basic human nature for these qualities to emerge. These factors are valued for their usefulness to people. This includes individual needs and greater social needs. That might include preservation of natural resources, education, or health care. That requires most economic decisions to be made by central planning, as in a commanded economy.
Socialism is an economic system where everyone in the society equally owns the factors of production. The ownership is acquired through a democratically elected government. It could also be a cooperative or a public corporation where everyone owns shares. The four factors of production are LABOR, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, CAPITAL GOODS, and NATURAL RESOURCES. Socialism’s mantra is, “From each according to his ability – to each according to his contribution.” Everyone in society receives a share of the production based on how much each has contributed. That motivates them to work long hours if they want to receive more. Workers receive their share after a percentage has been deducted for the common good. Examples are transportation, defense, and education. Some also define the common good as caring for those who can’t directly contribute to production. Examples include the elderly, children, and their caretakers.
Socialism assumes that the basic nature of people is cooperative. That nature hasn’t yet emerged in full because capitalism or feudalism has forced people to be competitive. Therefore, a basic tenet of socialism is that the economic system must support this basic human nature for these qualities to emerge. These factors are valued for their usefulness to people. This includes individual needs and greater social needs. That might include preservation of natural resources, education, or health care. That requires most economic decisions to be made by central planning, as in a command economy.
Workers are no longer exploited since they own the means of production. All profits are spread equitably among all workers, according to his or her contribution. The cooperative system realizes that even those who can’t work must have their basic needs met, for the good of the whole. The system eliminates poverty. Everyone has equal access to health care and education. No one is discriminated against. Everyone works at what one is best at and what one enjoys. If society needs jobs to be done that no one wants, it offers higher compensation to make it worthwhile. Natural resources are preserved for the good of the whole.
The biggest disadvantage of socialism is that it relies on the cooperative nature of humans to work. It negates those within society who are competitive, not cooperative. Competitive people tend to seek ways to overthrow and disrupt society for their own gain. Another related criticism is that it doesn’t reward people for being entrepreneurial and competitive. As such, it won’t be as innovative as a capitalistic society. A third possibility is that the government set up to represent the masses may abuse its position and claim power for itself.
Some say socialism’s advantages mean it is the next obvious step for any capitalistic society. They see income inequality as a sign of late-stage capitalism. They argue that capitalism’s flaws mean it has evolved past its usefulness to society. They don’t realize that capitalism’s flaws are endemic to the system, regardless of the phase it is in. America’s Founding Fathers included promotion of the general welfare in the Constitution to balance these flaws. It instructed the government to protect the rights of all to pursue their idea of happiness as outlined in the American Dream. It’s the government’s role to create a level playing field to allow that to happen. That can happen without throwing out capitalism in favor of another system.
Examples of Socialist Countries:
There are no countries that are 100 percent socialist, according to the Socialists Party of the United Kingdom. Most have mixed economies that incorporate socialism with capitalism, communism, or both. The following countries have a strong socialist system. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark: The state provides health care, education, and pensions. But these countries also have successful capitalists. The top 10 percent of each nation’s people hold more than 65 percent of the wealth. That’s because most people don’t feel the need to accumulate wealth since the government provides a great quality of life.
Cuba, China, Vietnam, Russia, and North Korea: These countries incorporate characteristics of both socialism and communism.
Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Mozambique, Portugal, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania: These countries all expressly state they are socialist in their constitutions. Their governments run their economies. All have democratically elected governments. Belarus, Laos, Syria, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, and Zambia: These countries all have very strong aspects of governance, ranging from healthcare, the media, or social programs run by the government. Many other countries, such as Ireland, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Belgium, have strong socialist parties and a high level of social support provided by the government. But most businesses are privately owned. This makes them essentially capitalist. Many traditional economies use socialism, although many also still use private ownership.
Eight Types of Socialism:
These types differ on how capitalism can best be turned into socialism. They also emphasize different aspects of socialism. Here are a few of the major branches, according to “Socialism by branch” in the basics of philosophy.
Democratic socialism: The factors of production are managed by a democratically elected government. Central planning distributes common goods, such as mass transit, housing, and energy, while the free market is allowed to distribute consumer goods.
Revolutionary Socialism: Socialism will emerge only after capitalism has been destroyed. “There is no peaceful road to socialism.” The factors of production are owned by the workers and managed by them through central planning.
Libertarian Socialism: Libertarianism assumes that the basic nature of people is rational, autonomous, and self-determining. Once the strictures of capitalism have been removed, people will naturally seek a socialist society that takes care of all. That’s because they see it is the best for their own self-interest.
Market Socialism: Production is owned by the workers. They decide how to distribute among themselves. They would sell excess production on the free market. Alternatively, it could be turned over to society, which would distribute it according to the free market.
Green Socialism: This type of socialistic economy highly values the maintenance of natural resources. Public ownership of large corporations achieves this. It also emphasizes public transit and locally sourced food. Production focuses on making sure everyone has enough of the basics instead of consumer products one doesn’t really need. This kind of economy guarantees a livable wage for everyone.
Christian Socialism: Christian teachings of brotherhood are the same values expressed by socialism.
Utopian Socialism: This was more a vision of equality than a concrete plan. It arose in the early 19th century, before industrialization. It would be achieved peacefully through a series of experimental societies.
Fabian Socialism: This type of socialism was extolled by a British organization in the late 1900s. It advocated a gradual change to socialism through laws, elections, and other peaceful means.
CAPITALISM? By – Sarwat Jahan and Ahmed Saber Mahmud
Free markets may not be perfect but they are probably the best way to organize an economy
Capitalism is often thought of as an economic system in which private actors own and control property in accord with their interests, and demand and supply freely set prices in markets in a way that can serve the best interests of society.
The essential feature of capitalism is the motive to make a profit. As Adam Smith, the 18th-century philosopher and father of modern economics said: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Both parties to a voluntary exchange transaction have their own interest in the outcome, but neither can obtain what he or she wants without addressing what the other wants. It is this rational self-interest that can lead to economic prosperity.
In a capitalist economy, capital assets—such as factories, mines, and railroads—can be privately owned and controlled, labor is purchased for money wages, capital gains accrue to private owners, and prices allocate capital and labor between competing uses. Although some form of capitalism is the basis for nearly all economies today, for much of the last century it was but one of two major approaches to economic organization. In the other, socialism, the state owns the means of production, and state-owned enterprises seek to maximize social good rather than profits.
Pillars of capitalism
Private property, which allows people to own tangible assets such as land and houses and intangible assets such as stocks and bonds;
Self-interest, through which people act in pursuit of their own good, without regard for sociopolitical pressure. Nonetheless, these uncoordinated individuals end up benefiting society as if, in the words of Smith’s 1776 Wealth of Nations, they were guided by an invisible hand;
Competition, through firms’ freedom to enter and exit markets, maximizes social welfare, that is, the joint welfare of both producers and consumers;
A market mechanism that determines prices in a decentralized manner through interactions between buyers and sellers—prices, in return, allocate resources, which naturally seek the highest reward, not only for goods and services but for wages as well;
Freedom to choose with respect to consumption, production, and investment—dissatisfied customers can buy different products, investors can pursue more lucrative ventures, workers can leave their jobs for better pay; and
Limited role of government, to protect the rights of private citizens and maintain an orderly environment that facilitates proper functioning of markets. The extent to which these pillars operate distinguishes various forms of capitalism. In free markets, also called laissez-faire economies, markets operate with little or no regulation.
In mixed economies, so called because of the blend of markets and government, markets play a dominant role, but are regulated to a greater extent by the government to correct market failures, such as pollution and traffic congestion; promote social welfare; and for other reasons, such as defense and public safety. Mixed capitalist economies predominate today.
The many shades of capitalism
Economists classify capitalism into different groups using various criteria. Capitalism, for example, can be simply sliced into two types, based on how production is organized. In liberal market economies, the competitive market is prevalent and the bulk of the production process takes place in a decentralized manner akin to the free-market capitalism seen in the United States and the United Kingdom. Coordinated market economies, on the other hand, exchange private information through non–market institutions such as unions and business associations—as in Germany and Japan.
More recently, economists have identified four types of capitalism distinguished according to the role of entrepreneurship (the process of starting businesses) in driving innovation and the institutional setting in which new ideas are put into place to spur economic growth.
With State-guided capitalism, the government decides which sectors will grow. Initially motivated by a desire to foster growth, this type of capitalism has several pitfalls: excessive investment, picking the wrong winners, susceptibility to corruption, and difficulty withdrawing support when it is no longer appropriate.
Oligarchic capitalism is oriented toward protecting and enriching a very narrow fraction of the population. Economic growth is not a central objective, and countries with this variety have a great deal of inequality and corruption.
Big-firm capitalism takes advantage of economies of scale. This type is important for mass production of products.
Entrepreneurial capitalism produces breakthroughs like the automobile, telephone, and computer. These innovations are usually the product of individuals and new firms. However, it takes big firms to mass-produce and market new products, so a mix of big-firm and entrepreneurial capitalism seems best. This is the kind that characterizes the United States more than any other country.
The Keynesian critique
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the advanced capitalist economies suffered widespread unemployment. In his 1936 General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, British economist John Maynard Keynes argued that capitalism struggles to recover from slowdowns in investment because a capitalist economy can remain indefinitely in equilibrium with high unemployment and no growth. Keynesian economics challenged the notion that laissez-faire capitalist economies could operate well on their own without state intervention to promote aggregate demand and fight high unemployment and deflation of the sort seen during the 1930s. He postulated that government intervention (by cutting taxes and increasing government spending) was needed to pull the economy out of the recession. These actions sought to temper the boom and bust of the business cycle and to help capitalism recover following the Great Depression. Keynes never intended to replace the market-based economy with a different one; he asserted only that periodic government intervention was necessary.
The forces that generally lead to the success of capitalism can also usher in its failure. Free markets can flourish only when governments set the rules that govern them—such as laws that ensure property rights—and support markets with proper infrastructure, such as roads and highways to move goods and people. Governments, however, may be influenced by organized private interests that try to leverage the power of regulations to protect their economic position at the expense of the public interest—for example, by repressing the same free market that bred their success. Thus, society must “save capitalism from the capitalists”—that is, take appropriate steps to protect the free market from powerful private interests that seek to impede its efficient functioning. The concentration of ownership of productive assets must be limited to ensure competition. And, because competition begets winners and losers, losers must be compensated. Free trade and strong competitive pressure on incumbent firms will also keep powerful interests at bay. The public needs to see the virtues of free markets and oppose government intervention in the market to protect powerful incumbents at the expense of overall economic prosperity.
Economic growth under capitalism may have far surpassed that of other economic systems, but inequality remains one of its most controversial attributes. Do the dynamics of private capital accumulation inevitably lead to the concentration of wealth in fewer hands, or do the balancing forces of growth, competition, and technological progress reduce inequality? Economists have taken various approaches to find the driver of economic inequality. The most recent study analyzes a unique collection of data going back to the 18th century to uncover key economic and social patterns. It finds that in contemporary market economies, the rate of return on investment frequently outstrips overall growth. With compounding, if that discrepancy persists, the wealth held by owners of capital will increase far more rapidly than other kinds of earnings (wages, for example), eventually outstripping them by a wide margin. Although this study has as many critics as admirers, it has added to the debate on wealth distribution in capitalism and reinforced the belief among many that a capitalist economy must be steered in the right direction by government policies and the general public to ensure that Smith’s invisible hand continues to work in society’s favor.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Part 35 – Published 9/1
KNOWING WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT II
I am very interested to know and learn what is going on in the world of religion and politics. It’s very hard to block out the world and avoid the information that is all around us. We basically have three choices: 1. We cannot watch any news and live in isolation as a hermit. 2. We can walk around spouting our opinions to everyone when we do not really know what we are talking about. 3. We can become informed and at least know who is who and what is happening in order to be wise in our views. If we do not know who these people are in the world and what their groups believe, how can we understand if they are right or wrong and good or bad? It’s true there is much deception and most people are not what they seem but this is a perfect place to demonstrate our spiritual discernment and ask God to open our eyes to the truth. It is with unbiased research, prayer, meditation and careful observation that can give us the sensitivity and understanding we need. We must remember that those with whom we disagree, we must have God’s love and forgiveness as our highest priority.
Sin is the root of every deception and every abomination under the sun. One of the most deceiving topics in the natural world is freedom. I have said for many years that freedom has always been seen as a desirable environment in which to live but most people are confused as to what type of freedom I am referring to. Freedom “IN GOD” is the submission to His authority and its blessing is the result of our obedience to His will. God’s spiritual freedom brings peace, joy, and security but man’s idea of freedom brings chaos and corruption because it is a rebellion against God. Man’s freedom is based completely on the lust and desire for pleasure and to do whatever pleases the flesh. In heaven, there will be so such thing as human freedom because there will be no sin. In our present world, people are filled with resistance against God and their goal is built upon the vision and passion to do whatever they want without anyone interfering. This type of carnal freedom is what caused the great flood and Sodom and Gomorrah and will ultimately destroy every society who embraces this philosophy from the inside out. As the world continues to drift further from God, every Christian should be concerned about a steady increase in the demand for carnal freedom and the growing unashamed violence against those who believe in God’s authority.
It is very clear that our society is becoming more violent. The hatred level is rising and sadly this is going beyond verbal attacks and now producing a call to action including violence. Racial hatred is out of control and along with political and social differences are stoking the fires of a global spiritual war that is very real and dangerous. Where are we headed? Will America be destroyed by civil war? Will rioting, and gangs break out into streets to kill and destroy those who do not embrace the devil’s agenda? I realize that most people know the basic definitions of today’s political/social terminology but I just want to make sure we are all on the same page. “Right-wing” is generally considered conservative in their philosophy, religion, and politics. This includes a strong religious association with God and the Bible. “Left-wing” is seen as being more progressive and liberal in the worldviews. Progressive is used to describe someone who is an advocate of changing the old ways of thinking and implementing new ideas of social reform. So, when you hear someone declare they are “progressive” or a progressive liberal they are saying the old ways are outdated and wrong and need to be replaced with fresh modern ideas that are more relevant to an evolving culture. There are left wing democrats who are religious but their interpretations allow them to also make room for humanistic worldviews. I also want to add that “ANTI” means to oppose and is used in our next subject.
Our next group is called – ANTIFA and is short for ANTI-FASCISTS. Of course, “ANTI” means to oppose or be against and in this group, they claim to be against fascism. I’m sure that many of you have heard about them in the news and unfortunately, it appears they are here to stay and are growing in numbers. They are militant in nature and identify themselves as activists while in my opinion, it is not being unreasonable to consider them hoodlums, rebellious criminals, and violent terrorists. (As we learned last week about what a Fascists, you might want to go back and refresh your memory). Here is another definition, “The Antifa movement is a conglomeration of left-wing autonomous, self-styled anti-fascist militant groups in the United States. The principal feature of Antifa groups is their use of direct action, aggressively harassing those whom they identify as fascists, racists or right-wing extremists. Anti-fascism is opposition to fascist ideologies, groups, and individuals. The anti-fascist movement began in a few European countries in the 1920’s, and eventually spread to other countries around the world.”
These are the individuals that show up when someone they disagree with is trying to make a speech. They hold signs, shout, throw things, and try to disrupt the speaker with many times causing the speaker to give up and cancel their speech. Even though these people claim to be fighting for the freedom of speech, they are actually being hypocritical of their own views by not allowing others to speak. We hear about the beauty and the need to have tolerance but the liberal left is one-sided when it comes to respecting and tolerating views that are opposite of their own. Conservative Christians are now the targets of these hate groups who are trying to abolish and silence the voices of spiritual truth. When it comes to the Christian followers of Jesus, the Lord does not want His people to physically fight against the world but rather to wage war in prayer and intercession. This should be a guideline to discern whether or not a person is following the Holy Spirit in their actions. Those who return hatred for hatred and violence for violence are not demonstrating the character or instructions for the Christian life. Self-defense may be the exception but for the most part, Jesus was humble and meek even when facing persecution because His nature is love, mercy, and forgiveness. While it is true that ideologies like the neo-Nazi’s, white nationalism, racism, antisemitism and populism (which we will look at later) are controversial views, they are producing radical extremist that aggressively confront the Christian and right-wing conservative movement. My question is when will churches and Christian seminars and evangelistic meetings be the target of deadly violence? Where is this hatred going to stop and is this public persecution against God’s children going to be controlled by the government or allowed to continue in the name of freedom? Is this socially accepted form of terrorism the beginning of the coming tribulation and will these hate groups be the ones who martyr and accomplish the violent agenda of the anti-christ against Christians?
WHO OR WHAT IS ANTIFA? By Jessica Mendoza
Antifa (pronounced either AN-Tifa or an-TEE-fa), is short for anti-fascist or anti-fascist action. It refers to a loose collection of far-left-leaning and anti-racist groups, networks, and individuals. The majority are anarchists, but affiliates range from far-left factions, including socialists and communists, to citizens spurred to action by the election of President Trump and upset by what they perceive as state support for white nationalism. Uniting them is a “desire to physically confront white supremacists in the public square,” says Mark Pitcavage, the senior research fellow at the nonprofit Anti-Defamation League (ADL). They also associate with opposition to homophobia, sexism, and the kind of capitalism that gave rise to the Occupy movement, among other progressive ideologies.
Where do they come from?
Antifa strategies draw from the clashes between militant leftists and fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain in the 1920s and 30s writes Peter Beinhart for the Atlantic. “Their conviction is that the Nazis never would’ve taken power in Germany, and similar movements wouldn’t have taken power elsewhere if people hadn’t ceded the public square to them,” Mr. Pitcavage says. The idea saw a resurgence in the 1970s and ’80s when skinheads and neo-Nazis began to penetrate the punk scene in both Europe and the United States. German anti-fascists in the 1980’s gave the term its modern connotation, while the Anti-Racist Action Network – a similarly deregulated association that was influenced by anarchist principles – became, in the ’80s, ’90s, and the early 2000s, the core of Antifa in the US, said Mark Bray, author of “Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook,” in an interview with the book’s publisher, Melville House. “It wasn’t really until West Coast Antifa shut down (alt-right commentator) Milo Yiannopoulos at U.C. Berkeley, however, that the term gained the mainstream attention that it has now,” he noted.
Q: How do they operate?
Antifa groups have no formal structure or national leadership. Instead, they rely on local organizations like By Any Means Necessary, which originated in Detroit, and Rose City Antifa, in Portland, Ore., to engage people in direct action: anything from pressuring venues to cancel events held by white nationalist groups to tracking and exposing racists and neo-Nazis both on- and offline.
But the disruptive presence of Antifa at these groups’ public gatherings has drawn the most attention – and criticism. Anarchists, who make up the bulk of Antifa affiliates, tend to see the state and its structures as vehicles for oppression. To them, it’s more the streets and less Congress or the courts that serve as a crucial battleground against racist and fascist forces. That kind of thinking, analysts say, can – and sometimes does – lead to physical conflict.
Q: Does this mean the left is becoming more violent?
Not so fast. Many experts warn against conflating “the left” with Antifa groups. While the Antifa catalog of opposition is broad enough to resonate with progressives who don’t condone violence, even as self-defense, Antifa groups make up only a small sliver of progressives and liberals, says Jody Armour, a University of Southern California professor who specializes in race, social justice, and the law.
Even if the focus were narrowed to Antifa and the far left, the claim of growing violence still lacks weight, adds Pitcavage at ADL. If anything, he says, violence from the militant left is down from the 20-year period between 1965 and 1985, when groups like the Earth Liberation Front and the Symbionese Liberation Army engaged in brutal attacks and bank robberies. From 2007 to 2016, 372 people were killed by domestic extremists of all stripes, according to ADL data. Of those, only 2 percent were victims of leftist extremists, compared with 74 percent at the hands of right-wing extremists. “Zero were killed by the Antifa specifically,” Pitcavage says.
None of this is meant to condone or excuse assault or other forms of violence that Antifa groups employ, he and others say. And it is crucial that America remains a place where people of opposing – and even abhorrent – beliefs are able to express them without fear of violence or censorship, Professor Armour says this is why the idea of rationalizing violence as a necessary defense against hate can be problematic, he says. “If you start saying that, then self-defense can be used to justify anything.” But others note it’s also important to distinguish between those who would revive Nazism or call for the return of a predominantly white America, and groups opposing them – even if the tactics the latter employ are questionable. White nationalists “vision of democracy is Jim Crow Alabama,” says Cathy Schneider, who teaches urban politics and comparative social movements at American University in Washington. “But I think that Antifa is not thinking carefully enough about the long-term solution. You’re not going to win a battle in the streets.”
Next, we are going to look at Patriotism. One definition says, “Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values. This attachment can be a combination of many different features relating to one’s own homeland, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects.”
I believe there is nothing wrong with having pride in one’s country but as Christians, we are reminded that we are no longer pledging our hope or allegiance to the earth, a nation, or a secular system. We are now spiritual citizens of heaven and have directed our devotion, faith, and personal relationship to God, His Word and our eternal life with Him. If we take a close look at documents such as our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, we can acknowledge these are reasonable ideas and convictions. However, this does not mean that we highly regard all individuals that had a part in its establishment or who represent them now as listening and following God’s voice. We are NOT to blindly follow political or religious leaders who are not good people and who are obsessed with power and control. Our government has always been filled with corruption and deception. Having respect for your countries flag, a desire to see your nation succeed and a deep abiding love for your country are all patriotic expressions, but being patriotic does not mean you believe the people are perfect – only that you care deeply about it. To me, Patriotism has its place with honor and respect but should be observed with sensitivity and wisdom as to what it really means to us personally and what it means to God. When we realize that nations are based on the philosophies and desires of a man-made system of opinions carnal desires, we should be very careful how loyal we are to it. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” Psalm 118:8. “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him and those who hope in His mercy” Psalm 147:11. Here is a short article by Lawrence Reed.
WHAT IS PATRIOTISM? – By Lawrence W. Reed
Patriotism these days is like Christmas—lots of people caught up in a festive atmosphere complete with lights and spectacles. We hear reminders about “the true meaning” of Christmas—and we may even mutter a few guilt-ridden words to that effect ourselves—but each of us spends more time and thought in parties, gift-giving, and the other paraphernalia of a secularized holiday than we do deepening our devotion to the true meaning. So it is with patriotism, especially on Memorial Day in May, Flag Day in June, and Independence Day in July. Walk down Main Street America and ask one citizen after another what patriotism means and with few exceptions, you’ll get a passel of the most self-righteous but superficial and often dead-wrong answers. America’s Founders, the men, and women who gave us reason to be patriotic in the first place would think we’ve lost our way if they could see us now.
Since the infamous attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans in near unanimity have been “feeling” patriotic. For most, that sadly suffices to make one a solid patriot. But if I’m right, it’s time for Americans to take a refresher course. Patriotism is not love of country, if by “country” you mean scenery—amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesty, and the like. Almost every country has pretty collections of rocks, water, and stuff that people grow and eat. If that’s what patriotism is all about, then Americans have precious little for which we can claim any special or unique love. And surely, patriotism cannot mean giving one’s life for a river or a mountain range.
Patriotism is not blind trust in anything our leaders tell us or do. That just replaces some lofty concepts with mindless goose-stepping. Patriotism is not simply showing up to vote. You need to know a lot more about what motivates a voter before you judge his patriotism. He might be casting a ballot because he just wants something at someone else’s expense. Maybe he doesn’t much care where the politician he’s hiring gets it. Remember Dr. Johnson’s wisdom: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Waving the flag can be an outward sign of patriotism, but let’s not cheapen the term by ever suggesting that it’s anything more than a sign. And while it’s always fitting to mourn those who lost their lives simply because they resided on American soil, that too does not define patriotism. People in every country and in all times have expressed feelings of something we flippantly call “patriotism,” but that just begs the question. What is this thing, anyway? Can it be so cheap and meaningless that a few gestures and feelings make you patriotic? Not in my book. I subscribe to a patriotism rooted in ideas that in turn gave birth to a country, but it’s the ideas that I think of when I’m feeling patriotic. I’m a patriotic American because I revere the ideas that motivated the Founders and compelled them, in many instances, to put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line.
What ideas? Read the Declaration of Independence again. Or, if you’re like most Americans these days, read it for the very first time. It’s all there. All men are created equal. They are endowed not by government but by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Premier among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A government must be limited to protecting the peace and preserving our liberties and doing so through the consent of the governed. It’s the right of a free people to rid themselves of a government that becomes destructive of those ends, as our Founders did in a supreme act of courage and defiance more than two hundred years ago. Call it freedom. Call it liberty. Call it whatever you want, but it’s the bedrock on which this nation was founded and from which we stray at our peril. It’s what has defined us as Americans. It’s what almost everyone who has ever lived on this planet has yearned for. It makes life worth living, which means it’s worth fighting and dying for.
I know that this concept of patriotism puts an American spin on the term. But I don’t know how to be patriotic for Uganda or Paraguay. I hope the Ugandans and Paraguayans have lofty ideals they celebrate when they feel patriotic, but whether or not they do is a question you’ll have to ask them. I can only tell you what patriotism means to me as an American. I understand that America has often fallen short of the superlative ideas expressed in the Declaration. That hasn’t diminished my reverence for them, nor has it dimmed my hope that future generations of Americans will be re-inspired by them.
This brand of patriotism, in fact, gets me through the roughest and most cynical of times. My patriotism is never affected by any politician’s failures, or any shortcoming of some government policy, or any slump in the economy or stock market. I never cease to get that “rush” that comes from watching Old Glory flapping in the breeze, no matter how far today’s generations have departed from the original meaning of those stars and stripes. No outcome of any election, no matter how adverse, makes me feel any less devoted to the ideals our Founders put to pen in 1776. Indeed, as life’s experiences mount, the wisdom of what giants like Jefferson and Madison bestowed on us becomes ever more apparent to me. I get more fired up than ever to help others come to appreciate the same things.
During a recent visit to the land of my ancestors, Scotland, I came across a few very old words that gave me pause. Though they preceded our Declaration of Independence by 456 years, and come from three thousand miles away, I can hardly think of anything ever written here that more powerfully stirs in me the patriotism I’ve defined above. In 1320, in an effort to explain why they had spent the previous 30 years in bloody battle to expel the invading English, Scottish leaders ended their Declaration of Arbroath with this line: “It is not for honor or glory or wealth that we fight, but for freedom alone, which no good man gives up except with his life.” Freedom—understanding it, living it, teaching it, and supporting those who are educating others about its principles. That, my fellow Americans, is what patriotism should mean to each of us today.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Part 34 – Published 8/25/18
KNOWING WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT
I wanted to begin a new study that I felt was very interesting and needed. Like you, I listen to the news and read the newspaper and magazines that talk about politics (and religion) but to be honest many times I do not really understand what some of it is about. We define our views and embrace labels which identify what we believe and who we are but my question is do we really know what we are talking about? Does the average person who is constantly putting in their two cents in at work, church, with friends, in the family or on social media really comprehend the meanings and reasons behind what is going on? Probably not. It’s mostly just a lot of hot air being blown around and actually adding to the extreme amount of confusion we are already dealing with.
I have made a list of several “ISM’S” and collected definitions from many different people in order to help us understand and identify what is going on and who is who. Right from the beginning, I will say that one of the problems we have with many individuals is there are degrees and variations of views and some people are a “combination” of several “ism’s” which makes these mixtures more complicated and difficult to deal with. Nonetheless, we will try to at least have a basic knowledge of these terms. We will begin this week with Postmodernism, Modernism, and Fascism. This reminds me of a college course but we will go slowly and as always you are welcome to add comments and your thoughts. Let’s begin.
WHAT IS POSTMODERNISM – by Randall Niles
Postmodernism is difficult to define, because to define it would violate the postmodernist’s premise that no definite terms, boundaries, or absolute truths exist. In this article, the term “postmodernism” will remain vague, since those who claim to be postmodernists have varying beliefs and opinions on issues. Are nationalism, politics, religion, and war the result of a primitive human mentality? Is truth an illusion? How can Christianity claim primacy or dictate morals? The list of concerns goes on and on especially for those affected by a postmodern philosophy and lifestyle. For some, the questions stem from lost confidence in a corrupt Western world. For others, freedom from traditional authority is the issue. Their concern centers around the West’s continued reliance on ancient and traditional religious morals, nationalism, capitalism, inept political systems, and unwise use and adverse impact of promoting “trade offs” between energy resources and environment, for economic gain.
According to the Postmodern worldview, the Western world society is an outdated lifestyle disguised under impersonal and faceless bureaucracies. The postmodernist endlessly debates the modernist about the Western society needing to move beyond their primitiveness of ancient traditional thought and practices. Their concerns, for example, often include building and using weapons of mass destruction, encouraging an unlimited amount of consumerism thus fostering a wasteful throwaway society at the sacrifice of the earth’s resources and environment, while at the same time not serving the fair and equitable socioeconomic needs of the populace.
Postmodernists believe that the West’s claims of freedom and prosperity continue to be nothing more than empty promises and have not met the needs of humanity. They believe that truth is relative and truth is up to each individual to determine for himself. Most believe nationalism builds walls, makes enemies, and destroys “Mother Earth,” while capitalism creates a “have and have not” society, and religion causes moral friction and division among people. Postmodernism claims to be the successor to the 17th century Enlightenment. For over four centuries, “postmodern thinkers” have promoted and defended a New Age way of conceptualizing and rationalizing human life and progress. Postmodernists are typically atheistic or agnostic while some prefer to follow eastern religion thoughts and practices. Many are naturalist including humanitarians, environmentalists, and philosophers.
They challenge the core religious and capitalistic values of the Western world and seek change for a new age of liberty within a global community. Many prefer to live under a global, non-political government without tribal or national boundaries and one that is sensitive to the socioeconomic equality for all people. Is there a Right and Wrong concerning this view? Postmodernists do not attempt to refine their thoughts about what is right or wrong, true or false, good or evil. They believe that there isn’t such a thing as absolute truth. A postmodernist views the world outside of themselves as being in error, that is, other people’s truth becomes indistinguishable from error. Therefore, no one has the authority to define truth or impose upon others his idea of moral right and wrong. Their self-rationalization of the universe and world around them pits themselves against divine revelation versus moral relativism. Many choose to believe in naturalism and evolution rather than God and creationism. When it comes to politics, postmodernists protest Western society’s suppression of equal rights. They believe that the capitalistic economic system lacks equal distribution of goods and salary. While the few rich prosper, the mass populace becomes impoverished. Postmodernists view democratic constitutions as flawed in substance, impossible to uphold, and unfair in principle.
WHAT IS MODERNISM – By Frederick Poor
Modern philosophy refers to the philosophy that originated in Western Europe in the 17th century and later spread to other parts of the world. Modern philosophy began in the 17th century and ended in the 20th century. This period was marked with a lot of philosophical writings and works from some of the greatest men of that era. The main players in modern philosophy during its earlier years can be grouped in to two namely the rationalists and the empiricists.
The rationalists were mainly from France and Germany and they argued that all knowledge must start from certain innate ideas in the mind. The major names in this school of thought included Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Nicholas Malebranche and Gottfried Leibnitz. The Empiricists on the other hand believed that knowledge must start with sensory experience and the major advocates of this thought included George Berkeley, David Hume and John Locke. Philosopher Immanuel Kant came out with a philosophical system which he claimed would unite the two schools of thought and align their ideas but his effort never paid off as the two ideologies never got successfully harmonized.
Types of Modern Philosophy
Modern philosophy is divided into various types with the major types being political philosophy and religious philosophy. Modern philosophy can also be categorized geographically into western and eastern philosophy.
This refers simply to the study of topics related to politics such as liberty, justice, rights, law, property etc. It also defines what the above topics are concerned with, why they are needed, what makes a governance system legitimate, the freedoms and rights that should b protected by governments, the duties and responsibilities of citizens just to mention a few. In simple terms, political philosophy is often used to refer to a general or specific view about aspects related to politics. Some of the greatest political philosophers include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacks Rousseau, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, James Mill and Jeremy Bentham.
This refers to philosophy or thinking that is mainly inspired by religion. Each religion has got its own philosophies for example there is Christian philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, Hindu philosophy, Islamic and Jewish philosophies. Early religious writings and literature form the base and source of material for most of the modern religious philosophy. Religious philosophers basically came out with writings to guide their followers and to control immorality in society by coming up with sort of a daily guide for the believers of their various religions. Some of the prominent religious thinkers of that era include Ireaneaus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine of Hippo just to mention a few.
Western or European Philosophy
It refers to the philosophical work of the western world or Europe in particular. The term western philosophy was invented to refer to the thinking of the western world starting from Greek philosophy. Western philosophy covered such topics as mathematics, natural sciences like biology, physics and astrology. The philosophy also targeted fields like social life, law and order, governance etc. Western philosophers have been divided into various categories depending on the topics that they cover like logic, Ethics, physics, meteorology etc. Some of the greatest western philosophers included Aristotle,. Engels, Marx etc.
Eastern philosophy covers the philosophical findings and writings of South and East Asia. It includes Chinese philosophy, Indian philosophy, Korean philosophy, Japanese philosophy and at times Persian/ Iranian philosophy. Eastern philosophy was leaning more to religious sects with most of the philosophers trying to explain their beliefs and relations between humans and their gods. Unlike Western philosophy which covers a variety of topics, eastern philosophy concerns itself more with religious issues and was more interested in explaining the differences between the natural world and the universal patterns.
WHAT IS FASCISM – by Scottie Hendricks
(According to Merriam Webster we see that Fascism is a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual which stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition).
It seems everyone is a fascist these days. Doesn’t matter who, and does not matter why, they are all fascists. We have all been stuck speaking with the self-proclaimed constitutional expert who finds everyone who disagrees with them to be worthy of the name. I have personally been called a fascist numerous times for holding political positions opposite that of the person accusing me. Of course, lots of people really were fascists once; and they killed millions. The constant use of the term in our political discourse as a pejorative does those people a disservice. It is also detrimental to we the living. You’ve heard of the boy who cried wolf, imagine the fate of the boy who cried “Fascism.” There really are fascists in the world today, in the interests of being able to identify them and properly draw attention to them we had best limit our use of the term to those persons. But what is fascism? What does it mean? What do its followers believe?
In his work “Fascism” British political theorist Roger Griffin declares fascism to be “a palingenetic form of populist ultra nationalism.” “Palingenetic” meaning rebirth, in fascism there is a dedication to the idea of “national rebirth” along with the more typical populist and ultra-nationalist tendencies.
He goes on to state that without this element of rebirth or rejuvenation a movement is not fascism, but rather a look alike. Of all the right wing authoritarian movements he examines in his book only two make the club of “real” fascism’s, Italian Fascism and German Nazism. The rest, from Vargas and Perón in South America to Franco in Spain and Tojo in Japan, fail the key test. He then goes on to list ten features of “generic” fascism. They are:
- Fascism is Anti-Liberal: Fascists oppose pluralism, tolerance, individualism, democracy, the idea of natural rights, and the like. While fascist movements have often used democratic means to achieve power this does not deny their anti-democratic ends. Fascists view liberalism as a decedent and failed ideology.
- Fascism is Anti-Conservative: The key element of Fascism is that it seeks a “national rebirth” or “new order”, this may make reference to a glorious past but doesn’t call for a to return to it. They reject conservative status quo politics.
- Fascism tends to operate as a charismatic form of politics: Fascism tends to rely on personality cults, mass movements, and appeals to collective emotions over reason.
- Fascism is anti-rational: Fascists do not view man’s capacity to reason as the key human ability, but rather the capacity to be driven to heroic action by means of belief, myth, symbols, and the like.
- Fascist Socialism: Fascists claim that their movement offers the end of class conflict in society along with adequate reward for the productive members of the nation. Fascists reject Marxism and international socialism, but do favor a strong state role in the economy. Syndicalism and Corporatism are strong elements in fascist economics. Self described socialists are noted haters of fascism in all forms. For their part, Fascists in Italy banned trade unions; the Nazis sent social democrats to concentration camps.
- Fascism’s link to totalitarianism: A fascist utopia would see the state as all powerful, and the population as homogeneous and well regimented to the ends of the state. The machinery required to ensure ideological and behavioral uniformity in that state would be Orwellian in scale. Mussolini put it frankly when he said: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”
- Heterogeneous Social Support: In theory, fascism has no bias in support by class. In principle fascism should appeal to all classes equally. Both Italian Fascism and German Nazism made strong rhetorical gestures to all classes. The same could be said of support by gender, though the tendency to emphasize militarism and physical courage could be considered an appeal to chauvinism.
- Fascist Racism: Griffin says, “By its nature fascism is racist, since all ultra nationalisms are racist in their celebration of the alleged virtues and greatness of an organically conceived nation or culture.” In the same way, fascism opposes the “liberal vision of the multicultural, multi-religious, multiracial society.”
- Fascist Internationalism: While focused on issues relevant to its nation, fascism is perfectly capable of supporting and finding solidarity with fascist movements in other nations. Especially when facing common enemies. The Axis Powers are a clear example of this.
- Fascist Eclecticism: The concepts that make up Fascism are various, and historically ideas have been taken from both the far right such as racism and illiberalism (which is also called a partial democracy, low intensity democracy, empty democracy, or hybrid regime. This is a governing system in which, although elections take place, citizens are cut off from knowledge about the activities of those who exercise real power because of the lack of civil liberties. It is not an “open society.” There are many countries that are categorized as neither free nor not free, but as probably free, falling somewhere between democratic and nondemocratic regimes. This may be because a constitution limiting government powers exists, but those in power ignore its liberties, or because an adequate legal constitutional framework of liberties does not exist). and the far left (syndicalism). This was considered a strength by fascist leaders and these nearly contradictory ideas are always united by their relation to the concept of national rebirth.
Of course, it must be said that one or two of these traits in a movement does not immediately designate such a movement as “fascist.” After all, the Nazis went to great lengths to improve health by fighting smoking, and we would hardly consider basic anti-smoking campaigns to be fascist. In the same way, being able to combine ideas from the left and the right is not always “Fascist Eclecticism”, and the ability to appeal to all groups in a society is not inherently fascist demagoguery. The term “fascist” is difficult to define, as so few people have claimed it since 1945. However, it’s overuse in conversation was noted even then by George Orwell who said: “It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-ﬁghting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.” An understanding of what fascism is, as is offered to us by Dr. Griffin’s definition, can help us preserve our democracy. It will also be, undoubtedly, of great use when you are forced into a discussion with somebody who tosses around the word “fascism” loosely when they want to win an argument.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 33 – PUBLISHED 8/18/18
As seekers of truth, we are constantly collecting more knowledge and wisdom. The person who learns for a period of time and declares, “I know enough and have no need to continue learning” will miss out on many spiritual revelations. Wisdom comes in layers as precept upon precept and line upon line is a progression as we advance into the deeper meanings of God’s truth. We probably see many things a little different now than we did 20 years ago because the student “builds” understanding as they construct their views. We might even change our views if we discover we were wrong. Hopefully, we do not have so much pride that we cannot admit we could not see clearly. There are so many interpretations of scripture by humans who are convinced they have found the mind of God. My advice to the serious Bible student is to stay in a constant state of prayer, always asking for divine understanding. Always base your views on the war between the Spirit and the flesh and this will help keep you on the right track. In this weeks message, we see that God’s desire for our lives is a huge contrast compared with what the popular modern preachers are saying. Somehow the Christian message has become more about pleasing our flesh than overcoming it. God is warning His remnant warriors to turn away from the teachings of humanism and pleasure and wake up to His spiritual truth which can set us free from deception. The great awakening involves realizing we are being deceived. Who will ask God for the courage and faith to embrace a lifestyle of sincere holiness? Here is a short article by Andrew Strom and I hope it is a blessing to your soul.
FEELING TRULY CLEAN – Can It Be?
by Andrew Strom
Let me be very clear in opening this topic: We are talking about the “inner man” here. And this is the secret to this sense of utter “cleanness.” Paul wrote about it in Romans – John too in first John chapter three. Much of Wesley’s powerful preaching revolved around this one issue. And Finney wrote about it this way: “I could not feel a sense of guilt or condemnation by any effort I could make. My sense of guilt was gone, my sins were gone, and I do not think I felt any more sense of guilt than if I never had sinned… I felt justified by faith, and, so far as I could see, I was in a state in which I did not sin.” Wow! Shock! Are we saying that it is possible to live in a state in which there is no consciousness of “present sin” at all? Am I saying that this is actually “normal” Christianity? -Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. “Normal” Christianity is this: Walking before God with a totally clean conscience and a pure heart as our normal state before Him. Utterly clean. No STRIVING or TRYING to be good! This is clearly what the New Testament describes as normal. Literally walking before God with no consciousness of present sin. Notice that Finney (above) refers to this as a state of “justification by faith” and he is absolutely right. That is exactly what it is. It is as basic as that. Elemental Christianity.
The saddest thing of all is that we never hear it preached today. It is almost as though such a thing is too “lofty” – out of reach of the average church-goer. Or perhaps the preachers themselves do not believe it is possible to live in such a state. They do not experience it themselves, and therefore they do not preach it. How awful beyond words! How we are robbing people blind with the neglect of these basic truths! No wonder so few are getting truly saved. I tell you, this is the basic Gospel we are talking about here. It is nothing less. Today we somehow think that we preach the gospel simply by relating the facts of Jesus dying for our sins, rising again and offering salvation freely. Yes, these things are important. But what about becoming a “new creature” and walking in it? What about the fact that Jesus came to ‘TAKE AWAY’ our sins? What about a new birth that utterly transforms us from the inside out? -That actually MAKES us clean and KEEPS us clean? Where is this basic truth in our preaching? Where do we actually describe what happens inside a truly saved person?
We have so reduced the gospel today to make it more “convenient” that it is no gospel at all. And thus we have entire church-loads of people who are completely unsaved. They go down the front and pray the “little prayer”, then they spend the rest of their lives paying their tithes and “trying to be good.” This is what a lot of our Christianity amounts to. And it is all garbage. It is no “new birth” at all. Wesley would be rolling in his grave to see what we preach as the new birth today. Such was Wesley’s preaching of this “clean” state in his day (and Finney too) that both of them were accused of “perfectionism.” But I think that what a lot of people misunderstand is that it is the “INNER LIFE” that we are talking about here. Yes, we are still attached to a fallen body which sometimes stumbles much as we hate it. Paul says, “Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the BODY of this death?” Romans 7:24. But in the very next breath, he answers: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…”
So it is not the outer life, but the INNER one that we are speaking of here. (-Though the outer will be affected, of course. We must walk in “NO KNOWN SIN”). It is Jesus who gives us robes of righteousness to WALK IN – in the “Inner Man.” That is what Romans chapters 5 – 8 are all about. That is what justification by faith is all about: WALKING in a purified state inside. Pure white robes – given to us by God – for us to walk in and keep “unspotted.” That is true Christianity: To walk before God with a totally clean conscience and a pure heart before Him. -No known sin. Anything less is no Christianity at all. It simply cannot be found in the New Testament. You are either a new creation and WALKING as a new creation – or you are not. There is no room for a “half-way” house. Today, we are no longer bringing people into this state with our preaching. And therefore I say to you – “WE HAVE LOST THE GOSPEL.” And when we lose the gospel, we lose Christianity itself.
Wesley spent much of his life preaching on this stuff. (Read his sermon “Marks of the New Birth” for instance – one of the most convicting messages of all time). Little wonder that sometimes when he preached, thousands of people would be left on the ground under agonizing conviction. Little wonder too that after Finney preached, sometimes church-goers were in such shock that they could not speak or stand for days for they were so stricken. These were people who thought they were saved but
Finney had shown them that they were not, in the most direct and piercing way. We say we want “apostolic preaching” and true “revival” preachers but I don’t think we realize what we are asking for! Such searching, direct, bold and convicting preaching as we have never heard in our lives.
In August 2003 God woke me up at 4:00 in the morning with a sudden insight into Finney’s preaching and how he would expose “false assurance.” God showed me that I had to start preaching that way too. From then on, every time I preached in this way, I began to notice a big increase in anointing and conviction. I have seen whole congregations of people come forward weeping and confessing sin. And I have noticed a similar impact when I preach about walking before God with a “pure heart and conscience” as our NORMAL STATE. But I’m still convinced there is a greater anointing yet unseen, waiting for us all in future days.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Part 32 – Published 8/11/18
WILLING TO FACE THE OLIVE PRESS
As we continue to discover how far we want to go with God, we are reminded that we can have as much of Him as we want. However, the problem is whether or not we are willing to go through the painful process of doing whatever it takes to be filled with Him. There is only so much room in our heart and when we are filled with ourselves, we are not living according to God’s plan and cannot be pleasing to Him. When our mind is absorbed with the world and our desires, how can we honestly say we are walking in His Spirit? As we mentioned last week, we would rather relax, nurse the bottle, and enjoy life as a baby than to grow up, take up our cross and follow Christ as a mature warrior. Sadly, it seems that most Christians are more interested in going to heaven than knowing God. May we continue to seek His truth and have a relentless passion for His wisdom and understanding. Here is an excerpt from an article by brother Joseph Herrin that I hope will be a blessing to your spirit.
“Death stands between every man and an inheritance in Christ, even as the Jordan River stood between the Israelite’s and their inheritance in the land of Canaan. We know that every man experiences a physical death of his body. It is not this death that makes a person a disciple of Christ, otherwise, all men would be judged now to be Christ’s disciples. It is the death of the soul that is referred to when Christ invited men to “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.” Because this truth has been so little understood, being rejected by the majority of Christians today, it needs to have much emphasis laid upon it. No man will enter into His inheritance in Christ apart from first experiencing death to his soul life. We can either embrace this death to the soul’s rule over our lives now by yielding our lives wholly to follow Christ wherever He directs, or we will have our soul life destroyed in the lake of fire in the age to come. The necessity of dying to the life of the soul is revealed plainly in the following words of Christ. Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate… even his own life (psuche – soul), he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
The Greek word “psuche” is translated as “heart, life, mind, and soul” in the KJV Bible. It is a word used to describe that inner life that guides and animates a living being. The soul is influenced by many external forces. Prior to being born of the Spirit, the greatest influence upon the soul is the flesh. The flesh expresses its cravings and desires to the soul. The soul, in turn, decides what response it will make to this input. The natural man is completely dominated by his soul. He is daily choosing to fulfill the desires and needs of the body, whether for food, sex, comfort, pleasure, ease, excitement, peace, or a myriad of other passions. The life of Adamic man is dominated by the soul. It is a sensual life and one devoted to self-gratification. The life of Christ is different. It is dominated by the Spirit. The focus of the life of Christ is not upon self, but rather upon pleasing the Father. John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
While Christ was in the flesh He lived entirely for the will and pleasure of His Father. He never deviated from this focus. Because Christ was born of woman, He knew the influence of the feminine soul. Being born of the seed of the Father, He also had the influence of the masculine Spirit. This led to conflict within Christ’s being to see who would have ascendancy. Would Yahshua walk as a pleasing Son by being directed by the Spirit in all things, or would He capitulate to the passions and desires of the soul? This struggle was never seen more clearly than when Christ wrestled with drinking from that cup of suffering His Father presented to Him while in the Garden of Gethsemane. This cup contained the suffering of the cross, and death to the flesh. Matthew 26:38-39, then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Christ’s hour of wrestling in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives clearly shows us the struggle that all who would be conformed to Christ must experience. The details of this event also serve as a great parable. It was from the crushed flesh of the olive that the Levites obtained the oil used for anointing, and to light the candlesticks in the Temple. The olive tree serves as a type of Yahweh’s people, and the individual olives are a type of individual saints. Our lives must be crushed if the oil of anointing is to be released from within. If we are to be lights in a dark world, we too must experience the crushing of the soul in our own Gethsemane experiences. That Christ’s suffering occurred on the Mount of Olives was chosen by great design by His Father. The word Gethsemane means “olive press.” It is where the olives are crushed to obtain the oil from them. Christ was experiencing the crushing of His soul while in Gethsemane. He had to make the decision to deny His soul’s desires and to put the will and pleasure of the Father above all else. It is this death to the soul that is the hallmark of everyone who is a disciple of Christ.
II Corinthians 4:11, “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Yahshua’s sake, so that the life of Yahshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” As the soul is crushed, the life of Christ is revealed in us. It is appointed to Christ’s disciples to be the first among men to follow Yahshua through the waters of death. This was symbolized in the crossing of the Jordan by those priests who were first to walk into the waters of the Jordan as they carried the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders. Joshua 3:13, “It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the Ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.” As Christians, we are appointed to be priests of God. I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…”
There is much symbolized by the priests as they carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan. The Ark was borne on the shoulders. The shoulders are symbolic of the place where authority and government rests. Isaiah 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will rest on His shoulders…” As mentioned previously, the Ark is a symbol of perfected man. Christ is the original, for He is the first of a new type of man. In carrying the Ark upon their shoulders, the priests were providing a type and shadow of those men and women who would one day take Christ as their Head. There is a parallel observed between the priests of Yahweh carrying the Ark with wooden poles on their shoulders and the disciple of Christ bearing the cross on their shoulders. Even as the priests entered the waters that signified death, the disciple must be baptized into Christ and take up his cross which is an instrument of death to the soul. Those who are true disciples have yielded the rule of their lives to Christ. They have removed themselves as head, that they might take Christ as Head. This is the meaning of the following words of John. Revelation 20:4, “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Yahshua and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
Revelation is a book that conveys truth through signs. It is a book of parables. Those who would be Christ’s disciples must hate their own souls. They must accede to the Lordship of Christ in a very real and practical manner, taking Him as their Head. No man can take Christ as Head while his own head is still ruling. John describes these beheaded ones as coming to life and ruling with Christ during the Millennium. This honor is reserved for the overcomers in Christ. It is for those who attain to the first resurrection, gaining the right of the firstborn of Christ. Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” Because these ones have surrendered to the death of the cross in this age, they will be spared from the second death in the next age. The second death is the lake of fire. Every person must experience death to the natural life in order to enter into resurrection life in Christ. There can be no resurrection apart from a death first taking place. We must die to that natural, Adamic life, ruled by the soul, in order to be resurrected into that new spiritual life found in Christ. This pattern is inviolable.
The Christian is not saved from death, so much as he is saved through death. It is by following Christ, taking up our own cross, and dying to self (that natural soulish life) that we are delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light. It is by virtue of being born again of the Spirit of Christ, becoming a partaker of His divine life, that we find resident within our members the desire, and power, to deny ourselves and yield our lives wholly to the Father. Philippians 2:12-13, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Christians like to speak of salvation as something that Christ obtained for them at the cross and it’s true there are Scriptures that support such a conclusion, but once again, however, many Christians have fallen short of “rightly dividing the word of truth.” They have not considered the whole counsel of the Scriptures. That which Christ has purchased for men and given to them freely must be “worked out” in each individual’s life. This is what Paul declared when he said: “Work out YOUR salvation with fear and trembling.” Christ presents to men both a gate that they must enter by and a way that they must walk. A man must enter by the gate AND follow Christ down the afflicted path, or they will fail to arrive at life. Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is afflicted (Greek “thlibo”) that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Many of the popular English Bibles today translate the Greek word “thlibo” in this passage as “narrow,” but that obscures Christ’s meaning. This is a different word altogether from that used in the first part of this passage describing a “narrow” gate. The word used there is “stenos.” Christ is describing two different things. Christ is the gate or doorway by which all men must enter if they are to find resurrection life. There is no other name given under heaven by which men must be saved. Neither Mohammed, nor Buddha, nor Krishna, nor the other thousands of gods named in this world will deliver men from sin and reconcile them to the Father. The gate is very narrow. Christ alone is the doorway to life. John 10:7-9, “So Yahshua said to them again, Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved…” These words of Christ are true, but they do not constitute His entire counsel and testimony. Christ declared that “the gate is small,” but He also said, “the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few there are who find it.” The goal is life; resurrection life in Christ. To obtain it all men must enter by the gate and walk the path appointed by God that leads to life. That path is afflicted. It is a path of suffering leading to the termination of the soul’s rule over mankind. Man’s soul has to be crushed. The cross must be embraced. Suffering must be endured in order for the self-life to lose its grip over man.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 31 – PUBLISHED 8/4/18
IT’S EASIER TO LIVE IN THE PLAYPEN
The idea of maturity is to grow up. When we are babies, we are not aware of much and hardly have any cares except for the basic needs and desires of the flesh. This shallow state of existence can become the dominating attitude and way of thinking throughout our life if we do not allow God to transform us. We talk a lot about the many levels of our spiritual devotion to Jesus but are we really advancing into these deeper places? We do not find babies on the front lines of the battle. There is a spiritual war and God is seeking and waiting for His people to rise up and become warriors. In order for this to happen, there must be an awakening. Who will respond? Who will let go of this life in order to gain Christ? For example, in Jeanne Guyon’s book, “Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ” she talks about prayer in a way that only a few have heard about and even less have encountered. Most people go to God when they need something and these requests are called our petitions. Even though it is good to spend time with God and be aware of His presence, this is still a lower level understanding of our personal relationship with Him. We also are constantly mentioning the human will and how it is usually in direct opposition to God’s will but most of the time we either fail to recognize where this is happening or we are in denial. Our prayers are the perfect place to begin understanding that things are not always the way they seem because we are not walking in His Spirit. The more advanced approach to prayer is to allow God to pray through us according to His will. This is truly yielding and submitting our will to Him in order that His will may be accomplished in us. The closer we live in God’s presence, the more we are focused on what He wants instead of bringing Him a list of what we want. Romans chapter eight talks about how we do not really know what we should pray – we only think we do. If we are only listening and seeing in the natural realm, we are probably not discerning the big picture of what is really happening. Verse 26 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps our weaknesses for we know not what we should pray for as we should: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” The next verse continues the thought, “And He (Holy Spirit) that searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Jeanne Guyon is quoted, “Let God do in you what He will. His will is in His prayers. Let Him pray. Give up your own prayers; give up your own desires and your own requests. In order to have this level of relationship, you must give up your attachment to everything which requires coming to a place where there is nothing you want for yourself.” As you can see, this is like a foreign language but also reveals how far we are missing the mark in becoming what God has called us to be. Again, we go back to the idea of not advancing into the wisdom and revelation of who God is and what He desires.
Being born-again is the first stage of our journey but unfortunately for many, it is also the last. Christian leaders have failed to explain covenant salvation. Why? Because they do not understand it themselves. Most leaders are history professors and can talk all day long about Noah’s Ark but actually know very little about spiritual intimacy. The religious attitude has actually held the church in bondage. How so? Because being satisfied and commended with only going to church has allowed the Christians to remain a spiritual infant. The mighty flesh can endure and allow us to dip our toe into the religious waters because it knows how to play games. The flesh is always in total control in those who are spiritually immature. Even the demonic world will pay no attention to us as long as we do not pay any attention to God. However, the moment we begin to understand the true reality of how things are and our responsibility to grow up, there is big trouble with our flesh and the devil. You see, the church could play a huge part in our spiritual development if we realized the importance of spiritual maturity. If everyone was focused on Christ and being transformed into being aware of His presence, we could grow in unity together. Sadly, it has been recognized that dealing with the flesh is not a popular subject and not a good direction if the church wants to grow as large as the one down the street. This compromise from telling the truth into making everyone happy and comfortable has been one of the greatest hindrances to God’s people advancing and developing into spiritual overcomers. Teaching about the threshing floor is an example of revelation that most people are not aware of because it is hardly taught.
In the ancient world, they would gather the wheat together in sheaves and bring it to the threshing floor. Beating the wheat against the ground would loosen the kernel of grain from the chaff and then when tossed into the air, the wind would blow the chaff away leaving the precious grain. There is much symbolism but I want to focus on the process of separating us from our sinful nature so that we can become a true follower of Jesus. The threshing from God must come to all who are serious about proceeding into the depths of spiritual maturity but it is also a part of our relationship which is commonly and intentionally avoided by most Christians. Similar to our resistance to the type and shadow of crawling upon the hot coals of God’s refining fire, most people would rather skip all the personal suffering and just settle for going to church. We can look around today and see how the church has quietly slipped into a spiritual coma because most of the leaders are not living like they should and likewise are not teaching what the Holy Spirit is saying. The world has lured the people into a state of apathy and there is very little difference between a Christian lifestyle and the world. When church members do not want to surrender their will and refuse to walk holy before God, they will simply not accept the truth. In today’s environment, people do not want to come to church and hear a message about having to die to self. The masses do not want to hear about their righteousness is like filthy rags and how they need to be being taken to the threshing floor until they are separated from their sins. They want to hear how wonderful they are and how God is going to pour out so many blessings they will not have enough room to hold them. This is an attitude of immaturity and selfishness and is not at the top on God’s list of priorities for our lives. II Timothy 4:1-4, explains clearly that if our old nature is not put to death, it will continue to control our thoughts and lead us into a carnal way of living which also includes our religious attitude. “I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom. Preach the Word, be instant in season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.”
How many times have we read that verse and yet we seem to be in denial that it’s talking about us? We love the idea of going to heaven but are not excited or enthused to hear that salvation is not what we thought it was. True salvation means everything but it will also cost us everything. Where did we ever come up with the idea that we could say and do whatever we want, live however we want and it would make no difference in how God feels toward us? Should we not consider the possibility of being deceived? If we put our faith in His grace to ignore our rebellion, we may be surprised. His grace is our invitation and opportunity to listen to His voice and follow His commands, not a license to live according to our flesh. Why is threshing important? Because as the grain is unacceptable with the husks, the individual is also rejected by God if they are filled with intentional sin and refusing to walk holy and pure. It is following a spirit of rebellion to reject God’s call to grow up and fulfill our divine destiny which cannot be accomplished until we totally surrender to His will. All who willingly agree to the spiritual threshing floor have received the revelation that this is the way to the holy of holies. As the tabernacle of Moses provides a spiritual picture of our covenant salvation, we can see that all of the specific areas of the tabernacle are making us pure and are critical to progressing toward His holy presence. Only God knows how and when to bring the threshing and what is best for each of us at any particular time of our Christian life. Often the difficult circumstances in our life give us the opportunity to gain our greatest spiritual development and growth. Although not always so, instruments of threshing can include other people, situations in our life or circumstances that we are placed in. Afflictions and emotional pain in our lives usually divert our attention from our busy self-absorbed lifestyles allowing us to slow our life down and reflect on how our life is being lived. When threshing comes our way, our role is to turn towards God with a willing heart to allow Him to complete His work which is separating us from the world, our sin, and letting go of our carnal will.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 30 – PUBLISHED 7/28/18
WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO US?
The only way to escape the flood of political chaos would be to live “off-grid” in a cabin as far back in the mountains as possible. But even then, I’m sure an occasional hunter would pass by and fill us in with all the latest details. It’s amazing to consider that half of the country believes we are headed in the wrong direction and the other half is convinced we are on the right track. Allow me to ask, “just what is the right direction?” This depends on our priorities and how we view life. For example, if the economy is on the top of our list, we are very concerned with the stock market, employment, inflation, interest rates, and financial information of that nature that is directly associated with our money. If we are focused on the spiritual condition of our nation and direct our attention on evangelism and revival and our desperate need to repent, we will no doubt have a different idea. As Christians, we are told by God to “pull away from this system and do not become entangled in its deception.” This does NOT mean to come out of the Democratic party and join the Republicans or the other way around, He is saying to concentrate on HIM and follow HIS voice. The politics of man are all the same because they all serve the same system and are controlled by money and earthly power. In the political arena where lobbyist pull strings and the Illuminati intervenes, we realize that our only hope is in God. Within the strife that comes from empty promises and arguing about foolishness, actually, both sides are wrong and the sooner we see this revelation the better. Yes, we might like certain ideas and policies but governments and the media are mostly controlled by Satan and we just cannot believe what they say. The constant avalanche of information is like a spider web with the intention to distract God’s people away from prayer and thus stop the move of the Holy Spirit on the earth. Let us be reminded we are residents and citizens of heaven and God’s government. It’s time to let go of the confusion and embrace God’s peace, wisdom, and understanding. We have a mission and arguing about ignorance is not a part of it.
It seems everything is based on the mighty dollar but money has nothing to do with how obedient we are to God’s commands. We must realize that just because we are prosperous does not mean that God is blessing us, likewise, just because we are poor also does not mean we are humbly walking in God’s Spirit. For example, the pornography business including child perversion makes billions of dollars each year but we know that God is not pleased with this filth or is He blessing their efforts. The same principle is true with a nation in general. Just because a President and his administration make decisions that are financially beneficial, does not necessarily prove that God is pleased. He rewards the country and an individual according to love, faith, and obedience to what He is saying. I watched a documentary recently about the last 150 years of America’s industrial development. This nation has no doubt built some very amazing structures and is truly an inspiration when it comes to human determination and what can be accomplished when people come together. I’m sure that everyone who worked on those projects and the spectators who watched them being built, would agree this was to some extent a great time in our history. However, does how hard we work and the ability to make great things literally make us great? In what way? Someone might be a “great” painter but a terrible and evil person. Past civilizations have built wonders of the world but were they serving and worshiping God? I thought being found righteous had everything to do with how closely we follow God’s voice and accomplish His will. Even Jesus said, “why do you call me good or great?” He said there was only one who is truly great and that is our heavenly Father. There has never been a great human or a great nation because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. If any of us have ever done anything great, it was God who worked through us and who deserves all the glory. When the house is built, the hammer does not receive the credit. Our righteousness is as filthy rags and when we start to brag and boast how great we are, our arrogance and carnal pride will lead us into a “great” fall!
We have mentioned the supposed greatness of our human perseverance, but what about our spiritual greatness? In the light of our Christian faith, who was a great Christian and when was America a great Christian nation? Some say the country was founded on Christian principals by Godly men and we have many documents by certain leaders declaring their allegiance to the Almighty. Of course, no one can be sure, but I personally hope they were referring to the God of the Bible. Among the signers of the Declaration of Independence were deists, Catholics, Anglicans, religious rationalists, and Unitarians which also included Freemasons who were always talking about the great architect. Some say this is referring to Lucifer but nonetheless, I’m sure we can agree this group of wealthy aristocrats were for the most part divided in their political and religious worldviews. Was this creation of a new world order, a time of sincere spiritual repentance and dedication to the God of the Bible, or the emotional enthusiasm of a potentially profitable business adventure that would eventually give birth to the industrial revolution? Yes, including a few colonists, there has been a remnant of true believers throughout the years who have held closely to traditional values and conservative morals of Christianity. However, there has also been a steady population of non-believers and this includes those who seem religious but do not have a genuine relationship with Jesus. We are reminded of the Pharisees, Sadducee’s, and scribes of the ancient world who knew about God but did not actually know Him personally. This division has always separated the remnant from the masses and has kept God’s kingdom children as a minority. When referring to human laws, we know the majority rules which brings us to ask if America was ever a truly Christian nation? Was there ever a time when serious disciples of Jesus were the majority and controlled the government? Our previous President declared that we are NOT a Christian nation and seemed to be proud of it.
If our vision and expectation in this modern age are to make America great again, we really need to know when we were great the first time. If we cannot figure out the specifics about when we were great, maybe we are deceived into thinking about something that never really happened. If we look carefully at our past, it seems this country has always been in some type of conflict and unrest. If we go back to the civil war, we can see this time period as an era of shame and sadness. So many people lost their lives over what? This was not a time in our short history that we were great. The early 1900’s brought us such amazing inventions as the automobile, but we also experienced the great depression, and of course WW I led us into WW II. No doubt the first half of the century were very difficult years. Yes, many people went to work and pulled together and prevented tyranny from taking over the world, but we also filled up many cemeteries with our sons and daughters. Then came the Korean war which was a stalemate and I guess we can also conclude the same for the Vietnam war. More bloodshed – more deception – more agony. Along with the civil rights movement came the hippie generation and we should be embarrassed not only with the outrageous prejudice and hatred but also with the explosion of sin in the form of drugs, an obsession for sex, the aids epidemic, open rebellion against God and the tidal wave of passion to embrace secular humanism. Was our country great then? I don’t think so. With assassinations, political corruption, failures in the church, widespread terrorism, taking the Bible and prayer out of public education, legalizing same-sex marriages, culture correctness, and of course the socially acceptable endorsement to freely slaughter babies, I’m trying to see if I missed a section of time when America was “great” in the eyes of God. Has He been happy with our advancement?
Maybe the new idea of “being great” is referring to the restoration of the “American dream” which is another imagination that I am not sure ever really existed. When the average American family became able to mortgage a house, have two cars, a couple of kids, and a dog, this was advertised as the perfect utopian world. While it’s a blessing to enjoy our freedoms, the truth is that this lifestyle of materialism has never led to guaranteed happiness or contentment. Why? Because God was not mentioned as being a part of it. In order to have a double income, moms had to go to work, which generally turned the family upside down. The high divorce rate has always been a crucial piece of evidence when it comes to understanding what went wrong with America. The idea to work more hours in order to be able to spend more money on unnecessary things has been very devastating to the institution of marriage and family. Instead of the husband earning the money and the wife managing the home and the kids, both parents worked and paid for someone else to raise their children. The last 70 years has produced many children that did not receive the type of nurturing and teaching that God desires. The old ways were heavily criticized and eventually were socially abolished and considered ignorant. But what the evolving culture missed is that people were NOT listening to God and instead were making major lifestyle decisions based on peer pressure and their own carnal emotions. In all of these transitions into the new modern state of correctness, the bottom line is that society threw God out of their lives and welcomed in a new-age philosophy of selfishness, envy, jealousy, greed, lust, and control. As the last of the “old school” generation is passing away, there is only a few who can remember even a small sense of normalcy, decency, respect, humility, spiritual sensitivity, and a reverential fear of God.
We talk about the coming revival in the last days, and I certainly hope there is one. But does revival not come from those who are living holy, on fire for God and have forsaken everything in order to walk with Jesus Christ? I’m not trying to be negative, but look around, do you really think this is going to be a huge movement? Most people who are talking about the world needing a revival do not know what revival is and when they find out what it is, they probably will not really want to be a part of it. All I have seen in my life so far is Christians talking about a huge revival that is coming someday. I guess we all think it is just going to fall out of the air. Alright, let’s go ahead and ask again, what is a revival? A look at Webster reveals that revival is “restoration, religious awakening, being made alive or refreshed.” I do not believe we can argue that most Christians (including myself) need to be awakened but I also ask if America has gone too far down the wrong track to witness a great revival? I’m not sure if there is a line drawn where the window of grace is closed for good. The Lord has always been very patient and willing to save cities even if there are only a handful of believers. Thank God there are spiritual movements sweeping many of the third world countries but how desperate are we for revival here? It has been said that revival is nothing more than God finding a dwelling place on earth, nothing more or less than the abiding presence of Jesus Christ. Owen Murphy once said, “When people are afraid to open their mouths and utter godless words lest the judgments of God should fall; when sinners, overwhelmed by the presence of God tremble in the streets and cry for mercy; when, without special meetings and sensational advertising, the Holy Ghost sweeps across cities and towns in supernatural power and holds individuals in the grip of terrifying conviction; when every store becomes a pulpit; every heart an altar; every home a sanctuary and people walk reverently before God, this is Revival.” This is definitely not the condition of our nation at the moment.
Revival is not religious entertainment, where crowds gather to hear screaming preachers and professional musical programs: neither is it the result of sensational marketing and advertising. It’s is an awareness of God that has been produced by prayer and fasting. Like a cleansing flame, the Holy Spirit sweeps through the community, divine conviction grips people everywhere while the strongholds of the devil tremble. Though many will hide and close their doors, the sinner will repent and come to Jesus and the backslider will return to Christ with weeping and great joy. Are we willing to pay the price for revival or be content to continue with business as usual as our families, communities, churches, and nation slide further into anarchy, apostasy, and apathy? In II Chronicles chapter 7 and verse 14, the first word of the verse begins the critical IF. This means we have a choice and basically is saying IF we will follow these instructions we will have revival but IF we do not heed this warning – God will not forgive or heal our land. We notice there are four conditions that must take place, humility, prayer, turning away from sin and seeking God’s face. Are we too busy? Too tired? Do we even care about a revival or have a burden for peoples souls? What do we really care about? Is it money, entertainment, hobbies, sports, sex, going on vacation, retiring? Do we even care enough to take the time and examine our own heart to see what we believe and why we believe it? With confidence, we can agree that we always make time to do what is really important to us. Amen.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 29 – Published 7/21
KNOWING AND DOING ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS
Most everyone has heard of David Wilkerson. He was a worldwide Christian evangelist and author that was known for his blunt and fiery messages that contained the sobering truth about God’s judgment. The Lord also gave David a burden for young people who were being influenced by drugs and alcohol and being divinely inspired, began a ministry to go into the highways and byways to demonstrate the love of Christ. He passed away a few years ago but he was regarded as a very powerful leader in the modern era as his ministry impacted many individuals all over the world. The story about his life tells how he fulfilled his destiny and is also a reminder for us, that maybe there are distractions in our life that are holding back what the Lord wants to accomplish in our life. Do you believe God has a unique and powerful plan for everyone to accomplish for His glory? Do you believe that with our free-will, we can refuse what the Lord has called us to do? What would happen if every Christian would sacrifice their idols, yield their will, and spend more time with God? What would happen if people drew closer to God and fervently prayed with faith and expectation? If one person could have an impact on the world, can you imagine what would happen if every Christian would focus and devote their attention to prayer?
If we think seriously for a moment, the great moves and revivals of the Holy Spirit have always been manifested when people became serious about following God. We can rest assured that God is not going to use us mightily while we choose to sit on the couch and be mesmerized with entertainment. It’s just not going to happen. Fulfilling our destiny has everything to do with knowing what God wants us to do, and becoming focused on letting it happen. This principle is not a huge secret because it applies to most everything in the world. Whether you are trying to lose 200 pounds or compete in the Olympics, it will require embracing a vision and be willing to work hard. In the spiritual world, there is no short-cut to having perseverance and determination and in fact, this area of self-improvement is probably the most difficult and challenging of all. Many people, (even Christians) will scoff at this concept of becoming aware of God’s plan for our lives but this is not a joke. I believe there are individuals and situations that could be changed through our prayers which means we are responsible. Do you have lost family members? Do you know others who are facing critical situations? Do you care about the government being led by God and the needs of the world? Do you believe that God listens to our prayers and responds according to His perfect will? Then why are we not praying and changing the world?
Here is a true account about how one individual decided to become more serious about prayer and his personal relationship with Jesus. An onslaught of restlessness hit David Wilkerson as he watched the remnants of “The Late Show” fade slowly from the television screen. He began to pace the room under conviction and having a burden about how effective he was as a Christian. He started calculating the amount of time he was spending being absorbed by the media’s lure every night to waste his evenings watching television. Wilkerson glanced at the ceiling and wondered aloud, “What would happen, Lord, if I sold that TV set and spent that time-praying?” Within a few minutes, Wilkerson determined that if God wanted him to substitute prayer for television, then He would allow him to sell the television no more than half an hour after a newspaper ad for the TV hit the streets. The next morning came, and the Wilkerson family sat in the living room watching a big alarm clock sitting beside the telephone. Twenty-nine minutes after they began their “want ad” vigil, a man called and purchased the set, sight unseen. That was February 9, 1958, which by the way, the creation of television had not really been out that long. A few months later, during one of these new prayer sessions, God spoke to him through a courtroom drawing in Life magazine, a picture of seven boys in a murder trial. Wilkerson realized the Lord was calling him to New York City to bring the gospel to troubled teens who needed Jesus. The next day he announced his intentions at a prayer meeting in his Pennsylvania church. They took up an offering to cover his transportation costs, and he departed for New York City early the next morning, full of conviction but with little direction. We know that God opened many doors and provided the anointing and the favor to accomplish miracles in the lives of many people throughout Mr. Wilkerson’s ministry. This testimony should awaken all Christians and shake us to our core.
Is it possible, that television is an enemy of Christianity? I have no problem accepting this thought to some degree. I realize that television can be used to promote the gospel and wholesome, educational programming, but generally speaking, I think we can agree that television can definitely be a significant distraction the devil uses to remove people’s attention away from God. In reality, even if there were no TV, people do not want to think about God would go out and count blades of grass just to remove Him from their mind. Whatever the case, we know the enemy is clever and has captured the attention of most everyone in the world with a convenient and satisfying escape into another realm that captivates and even somewhat incarcerates their mind. Here is my point; who knows what can happen when the man or woman of God turns off the TV long enough to hear the Lord speaking to him. Why would so many people become angry and offended with someone mentioning this? Is the love for television actually that powerful in our life? Allow me to ask, can television become an idol that we subconsciously worship? As if this piece of addicting technology was not enough, we now see that in some ways, the cell phone has become an even larger distraction with the same intent which is to steal our time and attention. I know people who have turned away from television programming in order to spend more time on the vast expanse of the internet. The world is now literally at our fingertips and while again some good things can come from the airwaves, we know that it can also capture our mind in a negative way. When we cannot lay down our phones long enough to eat or spend quiet time with the Lord or each other, something is wrong. “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience to God, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16.
I had a wonderful conversation today with a very good friend and we discussed how difficult it is to go deeper with God. He was saying that he feels discouraged because he knows that he should be doing better and needs more strength and faith to become more serious. He wants people to recognize Christ when they see him and to be known as a genuine follower of Jesus. We talked about our old human nature and how much it wants to control us and make all the decisions. Our conscience or “will” does not want to come down from the throne of our heart and allow anyone (including Christ) to take its place and sit on the throne as Lord and King. Yes, we engage in spiritual warfare with the devil, but the real battle takes place in our mind against our will. The devil is fairly obvious when it comes to tempting us with sin, but the will along with our old human nature is much more sneaky and deceiving as it can justify and make things seem different than what they are. If anyone desires to seriously draw closer to God, they will begin to learn the painful process of personal surrender. Yielding our will to God includes determination, perseverance, sacrifice, and self-discipline which are words that most people (and our will) run away from. This is why there is such a huge difference between religion and relationship. It’s much easier to go to church than to pray. In fact, what good is it to be religious and yet never spend time talking with God, being aware of His presence, worshiping Him, studying His Word, witnessing about Him, or even thinking about Him? Sadly, some are involved with religion but do not know the Lord.
If our “will” is not trained and under the submission of the Holy Spirit, it is like a wild animal. If we live our life in the default system with no spiritual discipline, we are not much more than a civilized barbarian. This type of unrestrained “will” has everything planned out and sees every day as a new adventure of pleasure and satisfaction. The carnal will works together with our human nature and is all about being self-centered which exactly the opposite of what Christ teaches. As the will and the old nature work together, they twist and distort everything to be about what they think and how they feel. Together, they tirelessly attempt to take advantage of every opportunity, they enjoy being deceptive, and love to be associated and connected with pleasing the flesh. This is why Jesus Christ is such a dangerous threat to them and clearly explains why an excited Christian is seldom invited to parties or secular gatherings. The “will” is not an easy foe because it has a mind of its own (Romans 12:2) and is willing (no pun intended) to fight to the death in order to protect the old nature and preserve its legal existence. This brings us to a wonderful and interesting closing point. When we became born-again and accepted Christ as our Lord, these topics were probably not explained in length. Our old spirit was instantaneously transformed and we became a new creation and this is true praise God, but as baptism symbolized, was this death only about our old spirit or did it also include our expected victory over our old nature? Now that Jesus is supposedly in total control of our lives, it seems the submission of our old nature also needs to be taken out to the cemetery. This sounds like a huge spiritual victory and it can be a remarkable life-changing experience, except there is a worn path from where we have been seen sneaking out at night to dig him up.
Our “will” can be tamed and taught how to serve God but not many people are willing to go through this grueling task. Remember Jesus in the garden was going through a tremendous struggle with his will but finally cried out to God in complete submission when he said, “not my will, but thy will be done.” Allowing God to change our will is the secret to completely changing our life. All of this time we have to pray but are too busy should include such sincere pleas like, “Lord, help me to overcome my carnal nature and to yield my will to you” but of course, I forgot, we do not want to miss tonight’s re-run of Perry Mason. In Luke chapter six, we read the story of Jesus about those who build their house on the rock and others who build their house on the sand. Verse 46 precedes the story and we are stunned by this question, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?” I stop here because I just want us to think about this statement for a moment. I have written songs and articles about this short passage as there is so much contained within it. It’s actually rather self-explanatory and cuts to the heart of the matter which is why many people claim to follow Jesus but their actions prove otherwise. There are so many important questions and so many weak answers. When will we move beyond the kindergarten stage of the Christian life? A better question might be, when will we have a fervent desire to advance to a higher level with him? It is true that only God can change us, but it must begin with us wanting to be changed. One of the greatest statements of spiritual wisdom I have ever discovered is that we can have as much of God as we want. The question I keep asking myself, is just how much do I want? This is usually determined when I turn around and see my will and my old nature staring me down.
If I am ever to become a legitimate representative of Jesus Christ and a spiritual overcomer as Revelation 12:11 declares, I must develop a love for holiness and a hatred for sin. I must desire to walk with God more than I want to live in carnality. I must comprehend and accept that since the wages of sin is death and that Jesus is our eternal life, this lifestyle is not an option, but rather a life or death decision. And here is the icing on the cake; just because we know all of this, does not mean we will do it.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 28 – PUBLISHED 7/14/18
DISCERNING THE SEASONS
“To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Every minister will eventually learn the valuable lessons about when to speak, what to say, and when being quiet is golden. Whether behind the pulpit, on the street corner, in a counseling session, hospital, or funeral home, there are times we must discern what the Lord wants to say and also when to keep our emotional and fleshly thoughts from babbling. We can rest assured in faith that when it is time to speak, God’s wisdom will always know how to communicate because He is perfect in word, thought, and deed. In His infinite ability to know everything all at once, He perceives when hearts are open to accepting HIS words as well as the humility of silence. Going beyond our feelings includes having spiritual sensitivity to understand that God is not just trying to comfort and bring peace but works within divine appointments to bring conviction by provoking and challenging which are instruments of divine change. The Lord is constantly going before us to “set up” these wonderful opportunities, but along with preparing the field for the seed, He must also have the attention of the sower. When His timing is right the simplest words can penetrate through the most calloused heart as He is the only one that can renew a mind and transform a life forever. However, when we are not aware of His presence, our anemic words are projected like an irritating screeching noise that actually repels the listener and can do more negative damage than good.
What does this have to do with worship? Any pastor or leader involved with ministry must recognize the “green light” to proceed and the “season” of his own anointing to connect and effectively relay God’s direction. What do I mean by season? Well, in Psalm chapter 1, verse 3 we notice the writer using the analogy of a person being like a tree. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water [always spiritually nourished], that brings forth his fruit in his season [has wisdom and discernment to operate in God’s timing]; his leaf also will not wither [he will stay enthused, joyful, strong, and encouraged]; and whatsoever he does will prosper” [success, integrity, respect, and blessings]. Picking ripe fruit has everything to do with timing, so this insight has to do with making the right decisions at the right place at the right time. All of this, of course, is directly connected to simply being led by the Holy Spirit. Sermons, teachings, and songs are like medicine for the soul, but if problems are like illnesses, then how important is it to match up the right prescription with the right sickness? Again, learning to know God’s still small voice is like understanding His diagnosis for the people before and during our encounters. God is the great physician that knows what is wrong and is always ready to prescribe the treatment while His servants (you and I) administer the treatment through the direction of His authority. When there is an absence of sensitivity in the connection between the message and the messenger, it is like two ships passing in the night. Like a traveler without a navigation system who accidentally takes a detour and finds themselves traveling down a road that might be scenic but fails to deliver them to their destination. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23).
It’s a fact; we are NOT always on top of our game. Have you ever had times when you just felt out of sync and could not sense the anointing? These are the times we need to realize we are not to stop and not proceed with our own agenda. It’s critical in these moments to honestly admit where we are and then urgently call upon God to have mercy on us and to take over with His grace and love. Many times we become impatient and make the decision to advance ahead of God because we are tired of waiting but without His power, we are completely ineffective. Let it be said again that timing is one of the most important aspects of our calling. Have you ever felt that you may not ever fulfill your destiny or that your season of opportunity has passed? Remember the Lord led Moses into the “wilderness” to tend sheep for forty years before He called him to lead Israel THROUGH the wilderness! God carefully prepares His future leaders so they will be able to endure the many difficulties and have the maturity to lead others through similar experiences. I’m sure throughout these cycles God is reminding us that He can use whoever, whatever, whenever. Hopefully, we will advance and develop to the point where we can sincerely invite and allow others to minister that are in the season of their anointing, even if it means giving up our chance to be seen and recognized. Knowing when to step aside is just as important as knowing when to step forward. For example, worship leaders and teachers need to train others to lead and be sensitive to whom the hand of God is upon for that hour or that season. The same is true with pastors that may feel obligated to force and plow through the meetings just because they are considered the leader. Actually, true leadership is willing to discern God’s voice and with humility has no problem calling on someone else that God has prepared to bring forth His message. I would rather listen to a short message from God’s servant than a long lecture from a pastor or leader that is operating out of their flesh. I Corinthians 14:26 says, “How is it then, brethren? When you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” And verse 31 adds, “For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”
Seasons are not to be confused with how much we can do or how good we can do it. Our feelings are very misleading because they sometimes seem like a “hunch” or a guess about what God is saying or wants us to do. Spiritual seasons are special times when we “know” God’s voice and are not afraid to act on it. The religious church service has a tendency to organize God completely out of the picture, which in turn actually leaves very little need for spiritual discernment. In fact, many leaders do not even think about leaving anything to a spontaneous “risk of the unknown” because it is more secure to plan ahead and prepare exactly what they are going to do. The Lord has no desire to move in a service where others have already mapped everything out to coordinate with their program. We do not need a Bible Scholar to figure out that this type of presentation makes it a human organization instead of a divine demonstration. For example, we complain about dead, dry services, but even though we are to be filled with joy and excitement, it does not necessarily mean that we should dance, run, shout, and do cartwheels every time we come together either. Many churches have gone to the extreme in both directions without finding the perfect balance of listening to God’s seasons. Incorporating a traditional format of doing anything exactly the same every time for the sake of emotional comfort can become a religious ritual whether it be a quiet Baptist or a shouting Pentecostal. God commands us to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2). In other words, never bypass an opportunity to speak the truth whether it “feels” right or not. Just because people seem happy and are dancing, do not allow that to persuade you from bringing an urgent word of seriousness. Speak from God’s discernment – not the way things appear, because things may not be the way they seem. No two services are alike, and God plans it that way so that we will not try to mass produce Him or turn His sovereignty into a pattern that we can control. We have learned a great deal about how He operates, but let us avoid taking Him for granted or reducing His presence into a formula.
As Christians, we realize the joy of the Lord is our strength but having a sense of sorrow at the same time is also perfectly fine. How? We have peace when we are close to God but within our intimate relationship with Him, we also share His compassion about those who are blind. Jesus was called a man of sorrows, not just because He was born to be brutally murdered but because as God, He had the capability to feel the weight of sin for all of mankind. We are the combination of spiritual and human, and it’s normal to abide in the contentment of freedom and hope while also feeling a heavy burden for the lost who will spend an eternity without Jesus unless they accept Him by faith. This world is covered in thick darkness and deception and there is much to be concerned about because people all around us are suffering without Christ. I have walked the halls of hospitals and nursing homes many times feeling the heaviness of agony and loneliness. Jesus has never stopped being compassionate for this world, and I believe His thoughts and concerns are felt and “relayed” through our spirits. If we do not feel a deep heartache for the lost – we are not walking in His Spirit. There are seasons for fasting and interceding, and times to weep and pray. It is time that Christians come out of the “automatic pilot mode” of mechanical programs and get into the real-time awareness and sensitivity of God’s love and sensitivity. The church is not a theatrical performance but an invitation from the Holy Ghost to demonstrate God’s power for the hour! Until the saints cry out for the revelation to know what God’s Spirit has to say, they will continue in the deadness of a mundane ritual. The church should be the place to witness a spontaneous celebration of miracles and heavenly manifestations – not boring lectures and political favoritism. Those who watch the weekly “show” and are satisfied with shaking hands with strangers will be content to hold on to their pacifiers! God’s remnant warriors have made the choice to abandon the “rock a bye baby” atmosphere and have learned that Jesus will only INVADE the lives of those who will surrender and yield their will to Him!
Do you think being out of “season” has anything to do with our church services being cold and powerless? Absolutely! Many people gather at the entrance gates of thanksgiving and might take a few steps into the courts of praise but they struggle with advancing further into the realm of covenant salvation. The Tabernacle of Moses reveals the symbolism of how far we can go to God IF we choose to be filled with His glory. The reason most people reject this level of extremism is that they have not dealt with some of the “walls” of sin that need tearing down. Most humans do not mind believing there is a God but have no intention of becoming a radical follower. It is always necessary to examine our hearts and repent before we proceed into God’s presence which explains why most individuals would rather live at the entrance. Not only are we held back because we are dirty, but this distance keeps us from hearing His voice and being faced with sacrifices we would rather not make. This is one of the main reasons people do not pray because they are afraid he will ask them to lay down their life and take up their cross. Bluntly, they want to go to heaven but they do not want to live for God
There have been times I have come into service with a prepared heart and ready to explode with “battle praise” but felt the Holy Spirit holding me back. I eventually came to realize that I was trying to put the cart before the horse so to speak. A bound person cannot run, and shackled hearts have difficulty lifting their swords or their hands in praise. It is because they are tightly HOLDING on to their problems and temptations and cannot lift their hands in freedom. They must “let go” of their burdens and give them to the Father before they can crawl into His lap! Amen! Just how important is it that we listen to God as He tries to direct the service? It could make the difference between death and life! Many times it is not enough just to know what to do but “when” to do it. Instead of waiting until the end of the service for an altar time to deal with personal issues, I believe we should be ready to make a way for the people to be cleansed first! Amen! Then the people can worship and receive His engrafted word and every blessing that He has for them “throughout” the entire service. If you knew people were sick and you had the medicine that could instantly heal them, would you give it to them as quickly as possible or make them wait until after the service? Being instant in season and out is what makes the difference between meeting people’s needs and playing church! Everyone desires to see powerful services, but how many will invest their time praying for the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit? “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakens me morning by morning, he opens my ear to hear as the learned” (Isaiah 50:4). Every child of God has been called to pray and has an EQUAL share of the responsibilities to intercede. Allow me to ask: What is more important than hearing and acting on God’s voice so that His will can be manifested? Why else would we go to church or serve in His ministry?
God’s idea of His people being ministers is not doing deeds every now and then, but rather a lifetime of serving with a particular commitment to feed His sheep along with a constant awareness of divine appointments. Many times it is a thankless job because people seem to think there should be more of the spectacular or no matter how hard you labor someone will always say you could have done more. Humility allows the true servants to ride the storms and stay steady because they remember the little things like an elderly person saying how much they appreciate what was said or done, or maybe a little girl from Sunday school drew a picture that said how much she admires and loves us. It is all right to hold our small blessings tightly because they remind us how important it is to stay faithful and strong in order to continue in our callings. Abiding with God is loving all people not just an hour a week but through the entire journey of life. When we remove our vision away from spiritual love – we blindfold our own heart and suffer the failures of deception. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
“Lord, help me to become more discerning of the needs of others. Allow me to have compassion for the hearts of those who need your wisdom and understanding. Help me to reach out to the ones who need you, and give me a passion to live a “lifestyle of worship” before them that they may be inspired to go deeper with you. Give me the sensitivity to hear your voice so that you can use me in your divine appointments. Remind me when I begin to drift away from being dependent on your anointing. Convict my heart when pride tries to deceive me. I desperately need your understanding and wisdom. Help me to focus on You, to stay on my knees and trust you completely. I love you, Jesus. Amen.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 27 – PUBLISHED 7/7/18
THE WALK OF INTERCESSION
(PART 50 OF THE ORIGINAL “WALK” SERIES)
The memory of Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been cherished among evangelical Christians for over the past 100 years. Many Christian leaders consider him one of the greatest preacher’s England ever produced. He is commonly hailed as the “Prince of Preachers”. Over 63 volumes of published sermons still bear witness to the richness and success of C. H. Spurgeon’s ministry. Though known as a great preacher, it was not preaching that made Spurgeon such an inspiration. Mr. Spurgeon repeatedly acknowledged his success as the direct result of his congregation’s faithful prayers. It has often been remarked that the whole church helped produce Spurgeon. It was not his ability or talent that brought conviction to the heart of the listener – it was through his humility that God’s anointing could be generated. When visitors would come to Spurgeon’s church, he would take them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on their knees interceding. Then he would boldly declare, “Prayer is the refining fire of the Spirit and the powerhouse of this church.”
In his autobiography described his gratefulness for being blessed with such a praying church. “I always give all the glory to God, and I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering from the beginning to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession.” Spurgeon regarded the prayer meeting as the spiritual thermometer of an individual and a body of believers. His church’s Monday night prayer meetings had a worldwide testimony for many years. Every week a large portion of Spurgeon’s sanctuary was filled with earnest and fervent intercessors. In his eyes, the prayer-meeting was the most important gathering of the week. However, it is here many of us find ourselves in conflict with Mr. Spurgeon.
We love our meetings for preaching and praising and yet sadly neglect those set aside for praying. One of Spurgeon’s greatest concerns was that Christians everywhere would desire and learn to truly pray. He taught his people to pray, doing so far more by his example than by any preaching. Visitors heard him pray with such reality that they became ashamed of their own mere repetition of words. Throughout his entire ministry, many hearers remarked how his preaching moved them, yet still, his praying inspired them even more. D. L. Moody after his first visit to England, being asked upon his return to America, “Did you hear Spurgeon preach?” He replied, “Yes, but better still I heard him pray.” A close friend of Spurgeon’s, commented on his prayer life, “His public prayers were an inspiration, but his prayers with the family were to me even more anointed. Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding thousands spellbound by his oratory.”
Spurgeon fully recognized that the Church’s greatest need was not to have another, “Prince of Preachers”, but to have more princes of prayer. One of his many published sermons expressed his feelings on this. He wrote, “Shall I give you yet another reason why you should pray? I have preached my very heart out. I could not say any more than I have said. Will not your prayers accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Is it not likely that the Church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? The new trends of modern church religion do not teach about “agonizing” in prayer. There has been much talk lately about pockets of revival springing up in our nation. Many are saying they desire such revivals in our own local churches, and cities. Yet, is it not the prayer meetings that are still the most neglected? If Christ Jesus were to visit us today with His glorious, anointed power, how could such a blessing be sustained where there is no groundwork laid in prayer? To merely exercise our words about miracles and not our knees in fervent communication with God is hypocrisy! It is time to make the prayer-meeting as exciting as our preaching and praise meetings.”
“It is amazing when you think that one sermon on the day of Pentecost produced 3000 people? However, we had some places where 3000 sermons were preached and nobody was saved. And it doesn’t even faze us.” Leonard Ravenhill
“We cannot be certain that a thing is right because it is old, for Satan is old, and sin is old, and death is old, and hell is old, yet none of these things are right and desirable on that account alone.” C.H. Spurgeon
“If Jesus had preached the same soft and compromising message that many ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” Leonard Ravenhill
“In the New Testament church it says they were all amazed – And now in our churches, everybody wants to be amused.” Leonard Ravenhill
“The men that have been the most heroic for God, have had the greatest devotional lives.” Leonard Ravenhill
“An unholy church! it is useless to the world, and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church.” C.H. Spurgeon
E. M. Bounds in his classic little book “Power through Prayer” wrote, “What the Church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of faith – men mighty in prayer.” Edward Payson was just such a man, a man mighty in prayer. He prayed without ceasing and felt safe nowhere but at the throne of grace. He may be said to have studied theology on his knees, as much of his time he spent literally prostrated with his Bible open before him pleading the promise; “I will send the comforter and when He, The Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth.” Payson’s advice to his fellow Christians was, “prayer is the first thing, the second thing and the third thing necessary to be a follower of Christ. Pray then my dear people, pray, pray.” It has been well said that the secret of Edward Payson’s ministry was that he spent much time praying in secret and his bedroom floor could testify to this fact. Next to Payson’s bed were noticeable grooves in the hardwood floor where his knees had pressed over the years in times of travail. To read his diary is to be touched by his tender love for Jesus and a burden for the lost.
On January 4, 1807, he wrote, “I was favored with a spirit of prayer beyond all my former experience. I was in great agony and wrestled for both others and myself with great power. God seemed to bow the heavens and come down and open all His treasures, bidding me, to take what I would.”
January 29, “I never felt such longings after God or such a desire to depart to be with Christ. My soul thirsted for a more filled communion with my God and Savior. I do not now feel satisfied as I used to with the manifestations of the divine presence, but still feel hungry and craving.”
February 18, “I was enabled to lie at Jesus’ feet and to wash them with the tears of contrition. No pleasure I have ever found in the Christian life is superior to this.”
February 28, “I was favored with great enlargement in prayer. I seemed to be carried out of myself into the presence of God.”
Like all true men of prayer, Payson understood the need for true humility. It was the burden of his secret prayers that he might be delivered from pride, from self-seeking, from preaching himself instead of Christ Jesus the Lord. Through humility and fervent prayer, he was always in hopes of seeing a fresh wave of spiritual renewal. The revivals which took place under his labors were numerous and characterized by a depth and power seldom seen. Often Payson’s congregation was overwhelmed with a sense of Christ’s presence and power and irresistibly brought to tears. Mr. Payson’s diary testifies that without prayer there can be no passion of the soul for God’s presence.
September 27th, “It seemed as if God would deny me nothing, and I wrestled for multitudes of souls, and could not help weeping that God would set on fire the hearts of the people.”
September 28, “I was favored with the greatest degree of freedom and fervency in interceding for others. I seemed to travail in birth with lost sinners and could not help hoping that God is about to do something for His glory and the good of souls.” Within days, “Praying Payson” saw his prayers answered through a miracle of many souls being saved.
On April 23, 1808, Edward Payson wrote, “My heart seemed ready to break with its longings after holiness.” Such desires for heart purity, holy passion and the awareness of Jesus are the marks of a healthy and normal Christian life. However, the lack of these precious things in the modern church reveals a nominal, cold religious life. Too much of what is called the church today is not fit to live or die. The lukewarm Christian is unprepared to deal with our demon-possessed age or the coming judgment seat of Christ. Truly, the greatest need for the body of Christ today is to see the need to be mighty in prayer. That is the problem; many only pray fervently when they are desperate. When they are content, they do not feel the need to intercede.
I believe one of the most serious challenges in the Christian journey is developing a spiritual awareness to spending time talking with God. Even many church members who are busy working, are often guilty of a prayer-less lifestyle. It is much easier to “do” good works than to pray. Why? Because many times we can labor without much opposition or spiritual resistance from the enemy. However, sincere prayer will always require engaging in spiritual warfare and that is what unfortunately deters the majority of God’s people. This apathy and lack of a burden is to blame for the absence of power and miracles that we desperately need. Imagine what could be accomplished IF Christians would fervently pray. If you will notice, the passage in Hosea begins with “if.” Only when we begin to see life as God sees it, will the eyes of our heart will be opened to the convicting burden to intercede for others.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 26 – PUBLISHED 6/30/18
ARE WE HEADING INTO TRIBULATION?
I am shocked at what is happening in our nation like most of you very concerned. This last election has unleashed an uprising of evil and hatred that is a WARNING for what is coming. I’m surprised at how many people are relaxing and enjoying their luxuries while the world all around them is crumbling and millions of souls are heading toward eternal suffering. “Dear God, where is the burden, where is the alarm from those who claim to know you?” I had a chill recently where the President of the United States publicly said, “You are SAFE! There is nothing to fear or worry about.” I was immediately reminded of the scripture found in I Thessalonians 5:3, “While the people are saying, peace and safety, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” Do we have to be told again to NOT put our trust in man? The world is falling apart and to rest in the comfort and ease of our pleasures is to live in denial of the most dangerous deception of this age. It is time to blow the trumpet in Zion and awaken those who are asleep! Tribulation is real and is coming whether the church is asleep or not. Will the rapture happen before the first three a half years? If so, how close are we to the church being taken out of this world?
I realize that America has displayed hatred and violence in the past but there is no doubt that aggression and darkness are more widespread now than ever before. What we are witnessing this hour, is the deterioration of our morals to the point where the boundary lines of civility and decency are being ignored. The chasm between good and evil is becoming wider as there is no longer a middle ground of neutrality. The camps of right and wrong are basically the light of God’s truth and the darkness of Satan’s lies. This has always been a spiritual warfare but we are now entering into a time of literal tribulation that we have never imagined. With people now being asked to leave restaurants because of their political worldviews is just the introduction of public persecution for being a Christian. This hostility will continue to increase to the point where Christians will be targeted and attacked as enemies of war. This is a war whether we want to face it or not. The Christians and non-Christians are so divided that it is causing this nation to unravel. Sin, pleasure, prosperity, and pride has ruined everything in the name of freedom.
When God was thrown out of government and public education, it was only a matter of time before judgment fell upon us. How far will this go? What does the Bible say? Something happens to America and many people are agreeing that a collapse of our economic system will be a part of our downfall. Can you see Marshall law being activated and soldiers patrolling the streets? Can you see gangs that go from house to house stealing and killing in order to survive? Luke 21:25-26 says, “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Did we really believe that God was going to overlook how this country has turned against Him? Have we forgotten that God destroyed the entire world with the flood and the cities of Sodom with fire because of sexual perversion? Did we really think the blood of millions of innocent babies in this nation has not been crying out to God for being slaughtered? The corruption, and deception that we know about the government is staggering but what about all the secret lies and Satanic influences that has been controlling this nation? The devil has been allowed to dominate our media and this has filled the minds and hearts of the people with sin and rebellion against God. What did we expect would happen when people are infatuated with pornography, watch the extreme left liberal news, and become mesmerized by violent movies and perverted television programs every night? The masses are being hypnotized into accepting the New World Order which includes pledging allegiance to Satan and his humanistic philosophies. What does this mean for the followers of Jesus? We are going to face stronger opposition in the future that will divide families and friendships more than ever before. There will be NO tolerance for the Christian as the one-sided agenda continues to establish a socially acceptable LAW that declares how everyone will live and what the worldviews that are politically correct. The Christian will no choice but to resist and oppose these laws and thus will be targeted as rebellious haters and dangerous ENEMIES of the new world. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” John 15:18-19. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” Matthew 24:9.
Andrew Strom sent me these two prophecies the other day and both are from 2015. I am simply sharing them with you and also like you, I am praying for discernment and understanding. I also ask that you keep in mind concerning the children, how many school shootings have happened since these prophecies were given. I know the devil is targeting young people and we need to pray fervently for all children. In these visions, I am not saying that I agree with everything these brothers are saying or that we will all die at the hands of a blind, heathen world. However, I do believe we should be prepared, prayed up, and seeking God for a stronger discernment and sensitivity. I believe the Lord can protect us if it’s His will, but us being able to hear and our willingness to obey are also critical factors. Whether we live or die, may we rejoice in our relationship with Christ and base everything we are on our love for Him.
(Prophecy 1) SAY GOODBYE to THE AMERICAN WOMAN – by Bill Weather
On 5/25/15, I dreamed that I and a couple others were playing a game of war with fake rifles. We were playing a fun game of war running through the yard. Somewhere I had lost my rifle and had to wrestle two kids from their toy rifles before they would fake shoot me with them. One of the kids I knew. His name is Nehemiah. So I managed to thrust their guns away from them with my arm and then proceeded to fun wrestle Nehemiah to the ground to fake choke him, but suddenly, real blood started rapidly flowing out of his entire head, neck and chest area. Then we stopped in shock, as the fun game of war, to our surprise, turned to blood.
The lyrics of the song American Woman, by the Guess Who, were playing throughout this dream. So when I woke up I was singing these words, which I believe are the key to understanding the dream.
“American Woman, get away from me…Gonna leave you, woman, Bye bye bye bye….you´re no good for me…You know I´m gonna leave, you know I´m gonna go, I´m gonna leave you, woman.”
When I awoke, I thought it was just a fluke of a dream, but hours later, in prayer, still remembering the details of the dream, God began to give me interpretation. The game of war with rifles represents a real war that is coming. America is going to turn from fun and games to being surrounded by blood in war. American culture is consumed with fun and games, but the fun game of war is soon going to end in terrible horror. The fun is going to turn to blood. The sudden shock we were experiencing is prophetic as the American people won´t believe what´s happening to them until the blood begins to flow. This is a warning to America that the game of war is gonna turn real on American soil with civil war leading into WW3.
The boy Nehemiah, whom I was choking the blood out of, did represent the prophet of restoration to Israel, but we as a nation are choking the blood out of Nehemiah, which could have been the restoration of our nation. We are like Israel, belittling and mocking God´s prophets, choking the blood out of them. So too, will the blood of America spill in war because we have chosen fun, pleasure, and ignorance over the safety of the knowledge of God and His correction. This is also a message to parents that if we refuse to leave this nation and escape if we don´t leave the “American Woman”, some of our children´s blood is going to be choked out of them from the economic collapse and civil war when the WW3 prophecies of invasion come. (note, economic crash is different than economic collapse. Discern the difference).
We must prepare to leave the “American Woman” before the totality of the collapse comes. Otherwise, our children will die in this land by the hand of war. To God, we are seen as playing games, but in a short time, real blood is going to flow and many children in this nation are going to die. Get in prayer now and ask God what you are to do to leave the American Woman or at least come out of the big cities and settle in a very rural area hidden away off the grid in the middle parts of the country with supplies etc…
(Prophecy 2) NO TIME LEFT for THE AMERICAN WOMAN – by David Doughty
On April 30, 2015, I had been at a Thursday morning prayer meeting where we were in deep prayer about America. As I was jogging home, I continued to ask God for a revival in this country. The word of the LORD came to me as I ran: “She´s come Undun. There is No Time left for the American Woman.” As a classic rock fan, this word had instant meaning. The message referred to three Guess Who songs from the late Sixties and early Seventies. When I got to my law office that morning, I looked up the lyrics. The songs hold a very sobering message for America:
“She´s come undun. She didn’t know what she was headed for, and when I found out what she was headed for, it was too late…It´s too late, she´s gone too far. She´s lost the sun (son)…too many churches, and not enough truth, too many people and not enough eyes to see…It´s too late, she´s gone too far, she´s lost the sun (son).” – Undun, The Guess Who.
“There´s no time left for you, no time left for you…There´s no time left for you, no time left for you.” – No Time. The Guess Who.
“American Woman, gonna mess your mind. American Woman gonna mess your mind…American Woman, stay away from me, American Woman, mama let me be. Don´t come a-hangin´ around my door, I don´t wanna see your face no more.” – American Woman. The Guess Who.
There is no time left for the United States. We´re over the tipping point. Judgment is coming upon us as surely as it did on Jerusalem back in Jeremiah´s day. Randy Bachman, a member of the Canadian band “The Guess Who” wrote the lyrics to Undun after seeing a woman at a party who had overdosed on acid. That´s a pretty apt description of our country. We have come undone. We´re like an overdosed woman, fazed and dazed on drugs, passed out to the spiritual warning signs that are flashing. Too many churches and not enough truth. Those words could not be more prophetic…It doesn’t take much interpretation to read the meaning in these songs for our late, great nation. The American Woman has come undone. There´s no time left for her.
On May 19, 2015, I had a dream with more musical connotations, with yet another message of judgment for America. In the dream, it was a dark setting, the sky black, and red. People were killing one another in front of me. I saw a person, a famous celebrity, stabbed in the mouth with a pitchfork. This scene of utter destruction and murder was actually something I had seen before in a dream. This is just like what I had dreamed, I thought as I watched the chaos. As I viewed this apocalyptic vision, the song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band was playing in the background. “In the winter of ´65, we were hungry, just barely alive. By May the 10th, Richmond had fallen, it’s a time I remember, oh so well. The night they drove old Dixie down, and the bells were ringing. The night they drove old Dixie down, and the people were singing. They went, na, na, la, na, na, la.”
The song details the terrible aftermath of the Civil War, when Richmond, the capital of the South fell to the Union forces. It is a beautiful song of great sadness from the perspective of the defeated Confederates. But it also signifies the coming destruction and sorrow of American´s fall. As I watched with complete grief filling my soul, the word of the LORD came to me. “Judgment draws nigh. Every word I have spoken shall come to pass.”
May the Lord continue to give us His wisdom and understanding in these troubling times.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 25 – PUBLISHED 6/23/18
WHAT DOES SPIRITUAL VICTORY LOOK LIKE?
We all know what the world’s idea of victory is. The last-second shot that wins the game, the perfect score at the Olympics or the one who is first crossing the finish line are all examples of being victorious. But when we turn our attention to the spirit realm, are the meanings the same? Is winning in the spirit the same as winning in the natural? What does spiritual victory exactly consist of? There used to be an old question among Christians that asked, “Brother, do you have the victory? I suppose it was a friendly way of asking if you were living above the practices and entanglements of sin. So, if holiness enables us to be victorious, then it is safe to say that one definition of living victoriously is to live a sanctified life. In this light, we can say that purity and the strength to resist temptation are directly related and connected to how an “overcomer” is supposed to live. This does not really seem to be surprising and most Christians would agree this way of living is rare, but let us go further in our research and take a closer look.
Christians have been taught about the downfalls of pride and it is clearly seen throughout history like a deadly virus. It must be very sad for God to NOT be able to pour mega blessings on those he loves, knowing the potential danger of our haughtiness. He already knows what would happen with every individual in every circumstance. The principals and wisdom of God reveal that when we become overly confident in the flesh we create a spiritual distance away from God and need to be “reeled in.” The divine purpose of having the rug jerked out from under us and allowing us to fall on our face is to create an atmosphere of humility which will hopefully bring us back to God. Pride comes with a cost and consequence of being resisted by God and this is why we become blind to spiritual truth. Guarding against the temptation to become arrogant requires a strong discipline of our thoughts and a constant awareness of His presence. Learning how to be sensitive to our attitudes comes as a result of a renewed mind as discernment does not evolve automatically – it grows with desire and determination.
Achievement and success is a part of the human psyche and embedded in the goals and visions of mankind which is also where pride is cultivated. Success motivates and encourages us to work harder and press on with more intensity until we reach our destination but we must remember to give God the credit. A swollen ego in the natural realm is a common reaction as an established pattern or cycle in the mind of the narcissist but it is far more dangerous than is seen with just the eyes of mortal understanding. Narcissism is the illusion that who YOU are and what YOU do is awesomely magnificent and the world cannot go on without you. Truly gifted people often must deal with spiritual influences that try to derail them from their destiny because that is the devil’s mission. Gifts are given by God to all of us to enhance and bless this world and give glory to the maker of heaven and earth. Musicians, artist, writers, ministers, and politicians are examples who are vulnerable to this snare trap. This deception has many levels and can evolve into stages of manic depression, isolation, aggressive behavior, abuse, rage, and self-destruction. Christians need to pray and work toward an awareness of God’s intervention in all things and focus on a healthy balance of confidence and meekness.
Celebrations should never be a time to take all the credit or glory for our accomplishments but rather to praise God and acknowledge the occasion as a time of spiritual thanksgiving. We are to dance before God in worship to HIS victory – not flaunting or bragging about our own skills and abilities. Blessings were designed by God to produce adoration and worship unto HIM not just for us to consume in our flesh. It is only by the grace of God that we have been given gifts and talents and the strength to even breathe. The victory celebration should always center on his goodness and favor. To revel in the fleeting moments of frolic and festivity unto our own power and wisdom is making a mockery of the divine order of the universe as the clay is nothing without the Potter. Without God in the center of our attention, our victory dance becomes an act of rebellion and pride. Our human nature loves to bask in this vainglory which is stealing God’s honor and replacing it with our own. When His children allow their pride to grow into rebellion, this wears His patience thin and always leads to discipline. We are not smart enough to trick him or manipulate Him. God is not deceived because he knows the motives and intentions of every heart and He can break the hardest heart and bring down the strongest kingdom. He can reduce the most powerful kings of this world to a begging, diseased pauper. God is sovereign and may we remember to walk softly and speak gently before Him. Our heart beats and our lungs breathe according to His compassion and because of His patience, we are allowed to experience the wonders of life each moment because of his mercy and compassion.
The world believes that meekness is weakness but in the spiritual dimension it is recognized as “strength under control.” Jesus is the perfect example of restraint as he willingly allowed himself (as the power and authority of all things) to be tortured and killed by the hands of those he came to save. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said the meek (whom it would seem would be unlikely to be in command) would actually “inherit” and control the land. The natural realm and the spiritual realm are opposite and most of the time turned around completely backward. The true ministry of God’s kingdom will have no power, anointing, inspiration, or discernment without being saturated with sincere prayer and this will always come from a spirit of meekness and humility. Victory dances are never to exalt our own power, intelligence or accomplishments but rather to be dedicated as a sacrificial offering to God and his eternal mercy. No matter what the situation or circumstance, spiritual victory is the peace and contentment in knowing we have obeyed His voice.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 24 – Published 6/16/18
IS THE GOSPEL ENOUGH?
It’s amazing how the Word of God has been “re-created” over the last century. With all of the so-called advancements and progress, there has also been an evil deception at work. Under the disguise of intelligence and technology enhancements, we have witnessed an increase in religious “hype” but a decrease in true spiritual commitment to God. It’s no secret that Jesus was a profound teacher (of course he was God), as he used very simple stories to explain the mysteries of spiritual principals and revelations. He lived a humble and quiet lifestyle because he knew the dangers of becoming entangled with fame, pride and negative distractions from this world. He wrote an instruction manual in order to warn us about how dangerous it is when we allow ourselves to be exposed to the influences of sin and how our carnality can lead us into arrogance. Most people when they start out trying to do something they are sincere and do things the right way. But as they grow in popularity, most allow themselves to be swept away with pride and compromise their faith. This carnal decision to play games with God’s truth is always the beginning of their downfall and the ruin of their testimony for Christ. The Gospel should be our most important treasure and holiness unto the Lord our goal but it’s amazing how easy it is to fall back into sin. We would all agree in times of peace and happiness that truth is the cry of our soul, yet when tested many have decided that God is not enough.
Let’s take a glance at history to illustrate what has happened to the beauty of knowing God and being content with his person. Since time began, walking has been the basic form of transportation but through the years mankind has improved his methods of transportation much like our “improvement” of ministering the gospel. Humans decided that walking was not good enough so they started riding animals and then building chariots and wagons. Then on to trains, automobiles, planes, rockets, all faster, bigger, better and all that. Similar to personal evangelizing and street preaching, people began to think this was not good enough, so they started to enhance the gospel to make it more appealing to the masses. Much of this has been done to increase numbers and money to the ministry – and it has worked to some degree. However, just like the snake oil salesmen of the wild-west, the word of faith movement was marketed as a promised formula for success – except there was no money back guarantee. Not only did the programs and buildings become fancier, but the message has also changed. Ministers borrowed the ideas from the world’s most successful motivators to become more aggressive with their materialistic persuasions and demands. Many leaders became obsessed with an image of prosperity that could impress the masses all in the name of power and authority. This fleshly confidence began to influence the masses with these deceptive ideas that in turn produced larger reputations and created more excitement to increase their numbers and pocketbooks.
Some decided that just teaching the same Bible stories over and over was becoming boring so instead of asking God to change the hearts of the people, they decided to change the content of their message. They began sifting through the bible and take verses out of context to prove their chocolate cake doctrines. Of course, teachings about pleasure and riches appeal to the natural mind and stimulate the senses but just think about the amount of ministry corruption and deception that has been exposed over the last forty years. It is an attitude of arrogance that has caused many churches and movements to jump the track from sacrifice and self-examination to a direction of spiritual ruin. In some ways, the charismatic lifestyle and image are similar to the humanistic philosophy that Hitler adopted in Nazism as an anointed vision called the Arian race. His worldview also believed that God wanted a selection or chosen superior people to control the world who were perfect, beautiful, strong, ruled in authority and were extremely prosperous. And let us also consider another question about society in the will of God: Is the American dream a Godly concept? The image of perfect robots is not the idea of true Christianity. Denying our flesh and suffering is the presence and power of Christ. How dangerous and how deceptive a thought can become when leaders can speak to the masses with such power and eloquence.
Allow me to ask a personal question; Would you be “into” religion if it did not have blessings, money, health, peace, joy, miracles, favor, rewards, eternal life, joy, victory, etc..?? Would you follow the Lord and love him unconditionally even in the face of death if there was no eternity? Do you feel that people put their hope in heaven because they just “want” to go to the most beautiful place in the universe and not go to a place of torment? Is this true salvation? It has been told that in heaven there will be no pain no worry, endless food and enjoyment, no work just leisure relaxation and fun, wealth beyond imagination, mansions, and gold, energy, strength without sickness, perfection, glory and eternal life. But let me ask the question; would you still want to go if God was not going to be there? If our eternal home was a hot windy dessert without food or water, living in a tent but God was there would you still be just as excited about heaven? Are we following Jesus just for the fishes and loaves? Are we longing to be with God in heaven or are we lusting after the wealth and riches of his paradise and loving the idea of escaping hell? Do you thirst after God’s Word that explains our responsibilities and helps us understand how to know him better or do you spend all your energy asking him for things? Without the lights and loud music, books, radio, TV or the religious rituals and the church politics can you just walk in God’s spirit? Is the gospel that draws us near to him enough, or is it God – plus other things? Is just his presence enough for you to surrender your will in this life and trust him through the painful trials that you cannot understand? Are you building your entire life on the rock of relationship or the sands of a distorted carnal imagination?
In the quiet times, is it enough for it to be just you and God? Why do some people always need some noise in the background wherever they are and whatever they are doing? Do you believe that many people are uncomfortable with silence? Why? Because when it is quiet they are afraid they will hear God’s voice. Many people are afraid that God will relay to them a message that will require them to change their life. It is a fear of being convicted and the grueling process of change which is something that our human nature tries to avoid with everything we have in us until we are told that death is at the door. There are stories of people that have said they will continue living the way they want and at the last second they will ask God to forgive them. The corrupt natures idea is to sin all you want and then be forgiven at the last second, washed clean and ready for an eternity in heaven. It’s true that miracles can happen but at the same time we are not guaranteed it will turn out this way. Rolling the dice with this type of attitude is dangerous, to say the least. The sincerity and motives behind the concept of salvation seem to be simple but are actually quite complex. Since salvation is based on God’s grace and not on how much we do or our lack of works, we can see how easy it is to become confused. It’s difficult to imagine how the thief on the cross was saved and someone who goes to church all their life could be lost. However, we must accept by faith that God’s way is a perfect way and He has a certain way of doing things and every person is held accountable for following HIS instructions. If we go through any other process or formula according to our theories and opinions, we will miss eternal life altogether. It has to be God’s EXACT way or redemption would be a massive hodgepodge collection of religious arguments and interpretations or in other words total chaos.
How do we know we are saved and how can we be sure we are following the correct path? We begin with spending time alone with God every day and simply talking to Him. When we study His Word and sincerely ask Him to reveal His will to us, we are headed in the right spiritual direction. Of course, there are many conditions which are included in this covenant relationship and one of the most crucial is laying down our will. If we are not committed to surrendering our control to live however we want, everything else falls into the category of trying to make a special deal with God. Another word for this secret strategy is being manipulative as a master game player and allowing deception to blind us to the point actually believing this might actually work. It is a hard truth to admit but we want to do everything except what He wants us to do. In reality, there is no substitute, no alternative, and no secret under the table deals with God. If the gospel is not enough then we are blind and lost and have yet to embrace the truth which can set us free from ourselves. Jesus said He is the way which implies there is no other way. He is the truth and no matter what we think, he will always have the last word on earth and in all eternity. Jesus is the life and this not only means a spiritually abundant life while we are here on this planet but He is also the giver and fulfillment of eternal life.
There is an old saying, “Anyone can, everyone won’t, but somebody will.” We see the invitation for being saved in the gospel and agree that salvation is offered to everyone who will believe and receive. We also understand that everyone will not bow their knee to Jesus and many will suffer and miss out on heaven. This leaves the statement that some will see their desperate need and the hopelessness of life with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The greatest question is will you accept His invitation?
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 23 – PUBLISHED 6/9/18
ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD
I originally wrote this article several years ago as I stepped outside at work during the winter. I have added and tweaked on this since then. So much is going on all around us and it is very sad to see people who cannot see that life is miserable without Jesus. The frustrating part is that we desire to make a difference! We know we have the key to the prison cell and we have the cure for the disease of sin, but we also know that only a few want it. In fact, the world is growing more violent and aggressive toward the Christian faith because they hate Jesus. Today, the world is still crying out to give them Barrabus, because they are of their father the devil. They love the wide and broad way of sin and darkness and only an absolute miracle from God can influence and convict us to turn away from sin and turn to God. It is only by the grace of God that anyone has ever allowed Him to sit on the throne of their heart as Lord and King.
Staring into the gray, overcast sky, I find myself once again allowing the foggy mixture of damp and cold to influence and add to the restlessness of my emotions. The drizzling rain, the dreary, lonely feelings of quiet meditation stir thoughts within me about the ages mankind has spent pondering that age-old question: what is really our purpose? My thoughts are no different from all the other dreamers and philosophers throughout the millenniums however, I am not searching in vain for answers to impossible questions, because I believe the spiritual dimension is beckoning the “seekers” to wade out deeper into the vast realms of holy wisdom, to come and see, to feel and know the mysteries that are sewn within the fabric of divine reality. The truth is out there – but hidden, not because God does not want us to discover it, but rather He has preserved it just below the surface of our mortal existence for those who are driven and determined by faith to understand and comprehend who He is and what He wants. This higher dimension will be revealed only to the disciplined soul whose ultimate goal above all things is to become God’s personal friend. It is within these individuals that His Kingdom is contained.
The dimension of God is the opposite to the realm we live in and compared to our natural and upside down thinking I think it would be alright to call His “world beyond words” the right-side-up kingdom. In man’s environment, the goal is to become higher so that we can be more successful, powerful, and proud of our accomplishments. In God’s way of thinking, His perfect vision is for someone to realize that His principles and standards are designed for the first to be last and the last to be first. Why? Because He is requiring and searching for something different than we are. The remnant disciples that are willing to abandon everything in this natural realm in order to understand and thrive within this heavenly “order” will experience and gain all things in the Spirit realm with Him. The overcomers will go far beyond human intelligence and immature emotions until they discover the absolute truth. The wise virgins will forsake the natural desire to climb the ladders of earthly gain to instead become students of downward mobility. This passion and reverence for His truth is the beginning of wisdom.
The most important tradition found in ancient civilizations has been the passing of knowledge to the next generation for the simple reason of preserving the heritage and legacy of the past. One sign of a dissolving society is when the older leaders become distracted, or lazy or they just lose interest to teach at all. As the up and coming decision makers begin to reject traditional thinking, the originally established philosophies are set aside and replaced with new and seemingly dynamic concepts. If moral convictions that were once a normal way of life are allowed to be transformed into unfamiliar worldviews, the next generation of movers and shakers have the potential to change the thinking and complexion of an entire culture. It’s easy to see this is happening today. Change is good as long as it brings a clearer understanding of God’s truth, but when mixed with feelings and opinions, it can be just as dangerous as it is helpful. A society must not become so angry and frustrated with their condition, that they are willing to accept a “new age” direction out of desperation. This is an old “hat trick” from Satan, which falls into the category of spiritual deception with the consequences being damaging and deadly. What does this have to do with worship? If we fail to teach our children God’s truth and do not take an active role in their spiritual development, the enemy will continue sowing tares into God’s wheat field until there is a drought of God’s truth. We must arise and live in the awareness of God’s presence so that our young ones can SEE Jesus and know how to abide in His Word!
There is nothing more important for us who love biblical wisdom than to pass the “baton” of spiritual life and the soul-saving secrets of absolute truth to the future. We are called to preserve and demonstrate the hope and security of God’s Word which has the power to transform those who choose to embrace its principles. For example, modern education is openly teaching the young minds of this age the humanistic idea that the evolution theory is uniformity; that is, it seeks to show that life in all its various forms and manifestations probably originated by causes similar to or identical with the forces and processes now prevailing. These philosophies teach the absolute supremacy and the past continuity of natural law as now observed. Uniformity says the changes now going on in our modern world have always been in action, and these present-day natural changes and processes are as much a part of the origin as anything that has taken place in the past. This view of nature and matter tries desperately to disprove God and His Word for the purpose of establishing a new world order of laws and precepts to live by. How can we teach the next generation about worshipping the creator when the educational system is saying the Bible is a lie? How can we as Christians serve the Lord of all creation while our children are trying to decide who is telling the truth? No one knows all absolute truth except God Himself, but we must conclude there is definitely such a thing and be willing to stand for this foundation of our faith at all costs!
A part of this truth that we can clearly understand is that the nature of man is evil, and as he continues to destroy the earth, even the animals will not be able to survive his greed. In turn, God is bringing judgment upon man because of his sin and is very displeased with the way humans have treated His beautiful world not to mention each other. The blood of Jesus can wash away sin and present anyone that receives Christ as Lord as a member of His royal family, but these errors that are being accepted as the standards of intelligence are holding the blind in the bondage of ignorance. One absolute truth is worth more than libraries of humanistic theories and philosophies, but until the remnant lights the fuse of God’s dynamite power, these strongholds of darkness will continue to grow. Will the world continue to spiral downward into sin? According to the Bible, it paints the picture of a society that becomes controlled by an earthly government and who are deceived more than any other time in history. We know there is coming a time of tribulation and the military actually makes war with Christ which I can never fathom could be possible. All of this does not sound like a spiritual revival for Jesus, so to me it seems the masses will continue heading deeper into the darkness. This leaves the serious Christian with needing to prepare for aggressive hostility as the hatred for God becomes more intense. If we have ever taken the prayer closet seriously, we should be even more determined to spend much time there and find the mind of God for our lives because it will make the difference between being drowned in the flood of deception and discovering the keys to abiding in the presence of His peace.
So how can we make a difference in a world that is sliding into the pit? Well, at the highest place in our priorities, it is the same as it has always been since the beginning of the world. We simply do what God tells us to do, as this is all we are called and required to do. One thing that is frustrating and difficult to understand, (but also true) is when it comes to evangelism and counseling, we cannot change another person, no matter how hard we try. Why? It’s because the powers that draw men and women into the darkness of destruction are associated with more than an external attraction. If it were a savage beast that was holding people in the grip of sin, we could attack and kill the monster, thus allowing them to be free. However, the desire that comes from deep within their heart not only allows the beast to persuade them but they literally extend the invitation to control them. Since they worship the monster, they willingly protect this relationship and only the power which comes from the Almighty who spoke the universe into existence has the ability to renew a mind and transform a soul. Yes, our prayers are used and even multiplied in association with having God’s attention, but ultimately even the Lord of all glory and authority will not force an individual to abandon their monster and turn away from this deep love and worship for sin. Even though the person realizes they are incarcerated in a horrible dungeon of doom, they have concluded that temporary relief is worth all they are going through. They do not want to set free because they embrace what they are doing and are using their own way of dealing with their demons to escape from the agony of reality. Why is reality so bad? Because life without Jesus Christ does not contain the contentment, peace, and security they are searching for.
The documentary called, “Chasing the dragon” shares the stories of several individuals captured in the addiction of heroin. One young lady looked into the camera and sincerely admitted that she loved drugs more than her own children and more than her own life. They had all been through the jails and rehab programs but nothing helped. At the end of the film, there appeared a screen relaying the news that each one of these individuals had overdosed and had died. Their fate was self-inflicted, they did not have to die. But why? The reason why so many take their own lives is because they have been traveling down a dead end road so long, they finally realize the bridge is out up ahead and there is no hope to find happiness. The monster possesses them. They are exhausted from trying everything to bring relief but without yielding their life to God and allowing Him to fill them with His Holy Spirit of love and forgiveness they eventually give up. They have either never understood that Jesus is the only one who can give them peace and joy in this world or their carnal rebellion is so fierce, they have sternly declared they will never bow their knee to Jesus and would rather die than surrender their will. Drugs, alcohol, money, sex, fame, power, and everything else we can think of will not satisfy the angry, selfish soul. Accepting Christ as our Lord, humbly crawling up into the lap of our heavenly Father, trusting Him with our lives and resting our head on His chest, is our only hope and the true meaning of life.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 22 – PUBLISHED 6/2/18
THE MARK OF THE BEAST IS COMING
A friend sent me this article the other day and I found it interesting. I believe that technology is moving so rapidly around the world and new advances in all areas are being created daily. We are no doubt moving toward a New World Order which is preparing the way for the anti-christ. Let us be sensitive to what is being asked of us and listen closely to how God wants us to live. May he give us wisdom and understanding in these last days. Here is the story.
Fingerprints, Eye Scans Now Required To Buy Food In India
There was a string of interesting financial reports from India this week that appear to be unrelated at first glance, but upon further inspection, they all seem to be working towards a common goal—an intrusive big brother surveillance state that tracks every single financial transaction for every single resident. According to The New York Times, the Indian government has implemented an identification system that will require scans of fingerprints, eyes, and faces for all financial transactions, including food, banking, cell phone plans and state assistance. The program is called “Aadhaar” and it will be mandatory for the 1.3 billion people who live in India. Most of India is already enrolled in the program, with a total of 1.1 billion already using the system. However, most people are obviously signing up under duress, as they have no other ways of accessing basic commerce or financial services.
Over the past several years the government in India has been slowly building the program, setting up individuals with IDs while collecting their biometric data. Now, the government is ready to make the program mandatory for nearly every aspect of life. Adita Jha, a 30-year-old environmental consultant in Delhi who was interviewed by The Times, said that she was forced into the program. “You almost feel like life is going to stop without an Aadhaar,” she said. In some cities, parents are not allowed to leave hospitals with newborn children until they are signed up. In addition to the vast violation of privacy that this program introduces, it is also highly inefficient, with possibly fatal results. A recent study determined that 20 percent of an entire region was cut off from food rations because their Internet connections were not good enough to access the program.
If you think this type of control grid isn’t possible in the United States, think again. Harvard Professor Jacqueline Bhabha praised the drastic new policy, saying that, “No one has approached that scale and that ambition. It has been hailed, and justifiably so, as an extraordinary triumph to get everyone registered.” Even the article published in The Times this week seems dismissive towards “critics and civil libertarians” who oppose the measure while spending an unusual amount of time touting the “benefits” of such a program. This is the type of dystopian nightmare that the crypto-anarchists and cypherpunks who initially developed the concept of cryptocurrencies were seeking to prevent. They saw this future coming; they saw governments setting up surveillance grids and making plans to track financial records with biometric data.
Knowing that cash and gold might be illegal or confiscated in a society like this, they worked to develop an idea for digital cash, that is secure and untraceable. It is not just the infamous Satoshi that we can credit with this technology; this mysterious entity simply built upon an intellectual blueprint which was laid down by radical tech specialists like Timothy May, just to name one prominent example among many. For this reason, central banks around the world—but especially in India—are growing more hostile towards cryptocurrencies. In a statement released this week, the central bank of India announced that financial institutions in the country would no longer be able to deal with cryptocurrencies, which means that residents will no longer be able to purchase cryptocurrencies or cash out through their banks. Businesses that deal in cryptocurrencies will need to cease their services or face legal penalties.
The statement read: Cryptocurrencies and crypto assets, raise concerns about consumer protection, market integrity, and money laundering, among others. Reserve Bank has repeatedly cautioned users, holders and traders of virtual currencies, including Bitcoins, regarding various risks associated in dealing with such virtual currencies. In view of the associated risks, it has been decided that, with immediate effect, entities regulated by RBI shall not deal with or provide services to any individual or business entities dealing with or settling VCs. Regulated entities which already provide such services shall exit the relationship within a specified time. In the very same statement, the central bank of India announced its plan to release their own digital currency, which will be a fiat monopoly currency that is totally traceable, unlike cryptocurrencies.
Rapid changes in the landscape of the payments industry along with factors such as the emergence of private digital tokens and the rising costs of managing fiat paper/metallic money have led central banks around the world to explore the option of introducing fiat digital currencies. While many central banks are still engaged in the debate, an inter-departmental group has been constituted by the Reserve Bank to study and provide guidance on the desirability and feasibility to introduce a central bank digital currency. The banks understand that their whole existence is at stake, so they are working to ride the tides as best as they can and steer the innovation of this technology in a direction that suits their needs, which would be a shift away from anonymity and decentralization. If central banks are able to run a monopoly fiat currency on a blockchain, they will have more power and control than ever. It is highly possible, almost guaranteed, that these interests will attempt to use the force of government to make this happen. If used by the people and for the people, blockchain technology could allow us to create financial systems that are resistant to inflation, centralization, and control. But in the bankers’ hands, it could create the dystopian nightmare that cryptocurrencies set out to prevent.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 21 – Published 5/26/18
NO GREATER LOVE
Memorial means to “remember” and every year on the last Monday in May, we honor those who sacrificed their lives in the line of active military service. On Memorial day we stop and pay our respect to those who were willing to stand in the gap between freedom and tyranny! For those who follow Christ, we are also reminded that every Christian has been called to say and do what is right and to stand in the gap for our faith in God.
LET US PRAY – “Thank you Lord for who you are. We worship and honor you. Help us to know your ways and give us the desire and courage to obey your commands. Amen.”
The First Amendment was not only signed into existence with ink but with the blood of over 1.1 million Americans that have died in U.S. wars along with many more that have suffered from physical and mental difficulties. Truly, our privilege and freedom to openly speak and live what we believe are liberties that have come at the highest expense.
We are only a few miles from Camp Nelson (how many have ever been to Camp Nelson?) and as we drive past you can see many rows of the over twelve thousand perfectly lined white granite tombstones. I ashamed to admit, but I’ve often driven past without hardly thinking about how each of these individuals at one time or another accepted the call of duty. And what is that call? To defend and protect our liberties – whatever the cost! Each one of those brave soldiers was at least willing to give their life for their country and many did. It is said – “All gave some and some gave all.”
Many families have suffered loss from war including my own and we have a deep appreciation for the men and women that have served to protect our country. My mother’s brother, Kenny Maye was killed in Korea and I have his tags, casket flag and a rare picture of him. He was only 20 years old in 1950 and his body was never found. Sadly, his existence is nearly unknown and I often wonder about the life he could have had.
As a volunteer chaplain, I have the privilege to serve and enjoy wonderful conversations with the fine men and women of our nation’s military. Some of them are now in their eighties and nineties and many have amazing stories that only a few people know about. One of these individuals is a man named Edward Hicks who willingly stepped forward when his country needed him the most. He was only 22 years old when he received the call to join the World War II Normandy invasion commonly called D-Day. Only four months earlier in February 1944, he married his lovely bride Mary Lou.
Edward like many other young men bravely responded to what would be known in the chronicles of history as “Operation Overlord.” By the way, the “D” simply stands for whatever day a military assault is planned. For example; D-3 meant three days before a D-Day, while D+7 meant seven days after a D-Day. On June 6th, 1944, America and her allies engaged in one of the most significant military operations of the 20th century which literally changed the course of the world.
Edward and his company were assigned to six miles of beach that was code-named “Omaha” which has been recorded as one of the bloodiest first wave battles of Normandy. Only 600 men survived out of 2600 that came ashore. He recalls when he jumped out of the amphibious vehicle, how the water was up to his neck and icy cold. With being loaded down in full gear that was now water-logged, he said it was a miracle that he did not drown. As bullets were splashing the water and whizzing past his head, all he knew to do was to stay as low as possible. Using floating bodies as shields, he was numb with fear. As he slowly crawled upon the sand, he immediately began to dig a hole where he could partially avoid the onslaught of constant machine gun fire.
With God’s grace and the Germans running out of ammunition, he somehow managed to work his way inland and eventually joined his comrades. He remembers the water was red with blood and is haunted with knowing that every young man who died on that beach was someone’s child. Edward received several medals for bravery including a silver star and 4 bronze stars but there is much more to being a hero than human fortitude and earning awards. It’s also recognizing the true meaning of spiritual love. The love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross is the type of compassion that inspires individuals to love others as much as they love themselves and we are reminded in Matthew 22:36-40 that loving God and loving others are the two great commandments which are the foundations of every spiritual law.
How many realize that Christians are being persecuted all over the world? But because of heroes like Edward and all the other military personnel – we do not have that persecution here in America. (And we pray that we never will). There are so many brave men and women who served this country in all the wars down through the years. We say THANK YOU for standing in the GAP!
One more story and this is another World War II hero. His name was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would NOT have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader gave him a direct order for him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back.
As he was returning to the ship he saw something that turned his blood cold. A squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding their way toward the American fleet which was defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet SO, there was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the ship. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber machine guns blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. O’Hare wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.
However – he did not stop there! He continued the assault, diving at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible. Finally, the Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered plane limped back to the carrier.
Upon arrival, the film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had in fact destroyed FIVE enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action, Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of World War II, and the first Naval aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Sadly, a year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today… (how many has ever heard of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago? Yes, it’s named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
In March 1775, Patrick Henry made a motion to form a standing army to fight in the revolutionary war. In his speech, he said this: “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death” and I believe this is the heart of ALL the heroes who have served and especially for those who have died for our country.
But allow me to ask another question: what about the heroes of faith? In Hebrews chapter 11 and starting in verse 32, we have the HALL OF FAITH that names those who paid the greatest price and are known as those who obtained a GOOD report through their trust and belief in God. Today, I ask myself, “Do I have faith?” Do I demonstrate my faith by my works? Do I love people and care enough to fast and pray for them without ceasing?
In Ezekiel chapter 22 and verse 30 we read, “I (GOD), looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.” Is that what God is saying today? Is He finding anyone that will stand in the gap and pray for this nation and the world? How many have a burden for those who are lost? How many are reaching out to help and are praying for lost family members and friends? Are Christians forgetting what will happen to those who die without knowing Jesus Christ?
The people of Israel had turned away from God. They had become distracted and intoxicated with sin and pleasure. As long as the blessings are flowing people are generally content and happy, but they do NOT want to hear about yielding their will or sacrificing their flesh. When the churches announce about a having a chicken dinner the place is always packed – but when they announce a special prayer meeting – 2 or 3 will show up. Why? Galatians 5: 16-17 explains, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other.” The bottom line? We all choose what we want to do – We serve what we love
So, today, we can see the comparison with those who have given their lives to save someone physically and those who were willing to intercede and pray for the spiritual salvation of others. Thank God, we have had so many throughout the history of our nation who has willingly fought in military combat AND those who have fought on their knees in spiritual warfare. Whether literal or spiritual – however, we are laying down our life – we can know that without obedience to God’s commands and developing agape love, we will never have the determination or compassion to stand in the gap for God or another human being. In closing, let us ponder this profound statement by Jesus Christ in John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends.”
LET US PRAY – “Heavenly Father, we are humbled by your infinite love and grace. Help us to be more like you. Let us not rest until we take our responsibility seriously. Give us passion and stir our hearts to seek your holy truth. May you receive ALL glory and honor and in your majestic name we pray, amen.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 20 – Published 5/19/18
WE ARE DEVOTED TO WHAT WE LOVE
How many realize the no pain – no gain declaration that is used as a battle cry for physical exercise can also be applied to the spiritual realm? The concept of planning with expectation is not complicated; if you want to see a wonderful harvest, you will need to plant a lot of good seed! Whether in the spiritual or the natural realm, when it comes to sowing and reaping everyone will always invest in what they love. If you enjoy watching television you will have the biggest and nicest one you can afford. The same is true with cars, houses, diamonds or whatever we decide is important. We can trace our interest and time to the desires that capture our heart and many have never considered what entertains our imagination is directly connected to our personal worship.
When it comes to being a follower of Christ, our prayers and generosity are a huge part of walking the Christian walk. Whether we take God seriously or settle for a halfhearted religious attitude, our daily life becomes our most noticeable testimony. For example, those who are negative and are constantly griping and complaining about everything, probably do not pray or give that much. Brother Billy, how can you say such a thing? Well, I can prove it. Those who intercede and stand in the gap with fervent prayer and sacrificially give their finances because they believe God is telling them to do it, will not curse the ones they are praying for! How do you know? When we truly love people enough to pray for them we are moved with compassion and broken in humility. We will not pour out the sweet fragrance of prayer before the Lord’s throne about someone and then turn around and spew out poison against them. When we invest our sweat and tears because we have a sincere burden for someone, we will defend them. Investing our concern into someone’s miracle and then criticizing them would be like rolling up our sleeves and laying bricks in a wall today and then chiseling them out tomorrow!
Our pure conversations and good attitudes carry the blessings of life and produce positive energy that inspires and edifies everyone. Christian discipleship is all about investing our talents and abilities into the cause as a participator. We must realize that negative words and dark energy can be used to curse and discourage those around us because they carry the power of death. Brother Billy, you don’t really believe all of that hocus pocus stuff, do you? This is nothing to debate about. It’s a spiritual principle from God’s Word and is as real as the sun rising in the East. This divine truth reveals the substance and evidence that can explain and be traced back into everyone’s life – good or bad. Walking in God’s holy wisdom involves speaking life and unless we have His vision for our mission, we not accomplish His will. It is carnal pride that ruins our spiritual sensitivity and will diminish our most valuable character trait which is spiritual love.
Genuine faith and love are the foundational cornerstones when it comes to building God’s kingdom and when these attributes become our highest priority, giving will become a natural response. James says in chapter 1 and verse 22, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” This is saying that just talking about what we should do is not really accomplishing anything. In fact, we can convince ourselves that having good intentions is just the same as actually doing something but this could be used as just an excuse to be selfish. I’m reminded of the old saying that actions speak louder than words as it’s always wise to examine our motives according to God’s way of thinking. It’s easy to be critical of the church, our place of employment, the government or whatever and verbally condemn it especially if it has not cost us anything. However, it takes faith to obey and a sincere love to humble ourselves and pray for others even when we do not agree. The ones who faithfully demonstrate compassion and forgiveness toward those in need are responding to the call of spiritual obedience. I believe we can agree that if God controls our finances there is a good chance He has our heart.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 19 – Published 5/12/18
WHAT IS SABBATH REST? by Joseph Herron
I have been reading the writings of Joseph Herron for several years and his insight has stirred and inspired me to search the scriptures and learn valuable spiritual revelation. He has also challenged me to examine my own heart for faith to press forward and courage to believe God’s Word. I thought you would enjoy his teaching about “Sabbath Rest” so I am providing it this week. You can read more of his work at his websites – heart4god.we and parablesblog.blogspot.com – blessings!
A word of explanation is necessary before we begin. In this work, I am using names in reference to God the Father and God the Son that is more faithful to their Hebrew original than the names and titles generally in use by the church today. The name Yah, or Yahweh, will be found in reference to God the Father, and the name Yahshua will be utilized when speaking of the Son. This usage is not intended to be divisive, nor does it serve as a renunciation of the usage of titles such as Lord or God. Neither is it a condemnation of those who choose to call the Son of God Jesus. My intent as a teacher of the Bible is simply to illumine and instruct. There is great meaning in the Hebrew names of the Father and the Son, and these names are directly related to one another. Many of the people whose lives are portrayed in Scripture also serve as types and shadows of God, bringing to light truths that might otherwise be hidden.
For example, Joshua, the Israelite leader who led the people of God across the Jordan and into battle to take possession of the land of Canaan, bears the same name as the Messiah. They both were called Yahshua. Like Joshua in the Old Testament, the Son of God began His ministry at the Jordan River as He was baptized by John. Both men labored to establish a kingdom dedicated to Yahweh, the first external and natural, the latter internal and spiritual. Yah is the name used in reference to the Father on forty-nine separate occasions in the Old Testament. Most Christians have utilized this name of God without knowing that they were doing so. Whenever the word hallelujah is uttered, the speaker is literally exclaiming “Praise Yah,” for this is the meaning of the Hebrew word from which it is derived. The longer name Yahweh is found an additional 6,828 times. The name of the Son is likewise significant, for Yahshua is understood to mean “Yah’s Salvation.” The Gospel writer indicates that this is the meaning of the name given to the Savior at His birth. Matthew 1:21, “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Yahshua, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” It has been the practice of this writer for many years to use these names, which more clearly represent their Hebrew originals. It is my hope that their employment in this book might aid the reader by bringing forth light on relationships that are obscured, as well as promoting an increased intimacy with God the Father by calling Him by His memorial name, instead of a title which men have substituted.
It has been nearly 6,000 years since Adam was created by Elohim. It has also been 2,000 years since Yahshua (Jesus) walked this Earth in fulfilling the ministry that His Father entrusted to Him. It is recorded for us in scripture, that in the mystery of Yahweh’s plan of the ages, a thousand years correlates to one day, and one day to a thousand years. We find this truth revealed in II Peter 3:8, Psalms 90:4, as well as in other passages. II Peter 3:8, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” When Yahshua walked among the Jews He chided them because they could forecast the weather, but they could not discern the day in which they lived. Matthew 16:2-3, “He answered and said to them when it is the evening you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red; and in the morning, it will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening. Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” In contrast, when David went to Hebron to establish the kingdom we are told, in a very favorable mention, that among those who joined themselves to him were 200 chief men from among the sons of Issachar, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (I Chronicles 12:32). It is an important matter with Yahweh that His children have an understanding of the days in which they live.
As we examine Peter’s words we can discern that not only have 6,000 years elapsed since Adam’s creation, with man poised to enter the 7th millennium, but man equally stands ready to enter the 7th day of Yahweh’s divine timetable. We can understand much of what this 7th day will hold as we look at what occurred on the 7th day of creation, and what the 7th day represents throughout scriptures. The 7th day is a day of rest. The 7th day is the Sabbath. In the epistle to the Hebrews, Paul wrote that there yet remained a Sabbath rest for the children of God to enter into (Hebrews 3, 4). He gave great cautions lest any of the saints of God should fall short of entering into this rest. Entering into this rest holds far more significance than most saints have considered, and many are oblivious to the peril of failing to enter in. The Sabbath is much more than just a day that occurs once a week in which physical labor is to be avoided. It was given to be a symbol of something much greater. In understanding the symbolism we can see that its significance has such importance as to touch on Satan’s original sin, as well as mankind’s transgression in the Garden of Eden. By violating the principles that the Sabbath represents all the sins listed in the ten commandments of Yahweh ensued, including lying, covetousness, envy, and murder. It is in returning and entering into the true fulfillment of the Sabbath rest of God that these transgressions will be overturned. We live in that very transitional period of the ages when man will enter into the 7th millennium, the Sabbath rest of Yahweh. However, not all will enter in at the appointed time. Some will be prevented due to disobedience and unbelief. This book will address this peril in the hope that some will awaken from their slumber and apply all diligence to the pursuit of entering into the Sabbath rest of God.
There are other significant scriptures that speak of the awesome day in which we live. It has been nearly 2,000 years since Yahshua walked this Earth and completed His ministry. It has been nearly 2,000 years since that great Pentecost when the Spirit was given to indwell mankind. In the ensuing years, man has known what it is to be divided as his flesh has battled against the Spirit, and the Spirit has warred against the flesh (Galatians 5:17). This torn and fractured state of mankind has been appointed to last for a specified period of time appointed by the Father. The Scriptures declare that our healing is fast approaching when no longer will man be torn asunder, but he will be made wholly into a creature that fully agrees with Yahweh in spirit, soul, and body. We find this prophecy in Hosea 6:1-2. “Come, let us return to Yahweh. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him.” For 2,000 years, two days in Yahweh’s timetable, man has been torn as he has known the agony of the war of flesh and Spirit raging inside his members. The victory has been assured. The life of Christ overcomes the death of sin. It is appointed unto men to experience this warfare in their members, but a glorious day is quickly coming when the warfare will end and life will fully overcome death. For 2,000 years, from that awesome Pentecost when mankind received the promised indwelling Spirit of Yahweh, man has known the agony of being a divided house. The flesh has tried to resist and wage war against the life of the Spirit, and the Spirit has been seeking to put the flesh to death. We stand at a juncture in time that is doubly important. We can look forward with anticipation to entering into the Sabbath rest of Yahweh and also being freed from the torn and embattled state that man has known for 2,000 years.
There has been very little rest in the first six days of mankind. Man has known misery and suffering. For six days the whole creation has been subjected to the futility of the curse, and with groaning and travail, it has been longing for its deliverance when the sons of God are finally manifest in their restored state (Romans 8:19-23). Full deliverance will come when we lay aside these mortal bodies that are subject to the curse of sin, and we are clothed with immortality; when we will lay aside this corruption and put on incorruptible bodies (I Corinthians 15:53). We live at the transitory date when man will enter the 7th millennium, the Sabbath day of creation. Our healing awaits us. A true Sabbath rest awaits us. May your soul and spirit be stirred as you anticipate the awesome things which will soon appear.
Hebrews 4:1, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”
Understanding the Present Hour
Before proceeding with the subject matter of this book, it is necessary to address some issues that could cause the reader difficulty. Much of what is written in this book is contrary to what is commonly accepted and taught in Christianity today. This will undoubtedly cause some concern to certain readers. It is often difficult to receive some truth that we have not previously heard, but it is even more difficult when the truth is in clear contradiction to what has been preached by myriads of pastors, evangelists, and teachers until it has become the accepted standard, or norm, of our day. Unfortunately, there are few saints who actually understand what is clearly foretold in scriptures, that the last days before the return of Yahshua would be a time when great error would exist among the saints of God. Once one understands this, then they can appreciate that when the truth is proclaimed it will be very common to find that it flies in the face of the accepted beliefs of the day in which we find ourselves. Let us look at a few scriptures that reveal this understanding, that the days preceding Yahshua’s return would be days of profound deception and error.
II Timothy 3:1-7, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Note very carefully here that Paul identifies the day he is speaking of to Timothy. “But realize this, in the last days difficult times will come.” How many ministers today are proclaiming that we live in the last days? It seems that many recognize that the hour is late, but they have failed to discern what the state of Christianity would be at this late hour. Paul begins this passage by saying, “in the last days difficult times will come,” and he concludes by saying that people would be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In between these two statements, Paul describes the heart of mankind in these days, and it is due to the corrupt state of the heart of man that these days are difficult.
Timothy was charged by Paul to preach the word, and things were already difficult in those days, but consider the difficulty of any minister who finds himself proclaiming truth to those described in this passage. Indeed, their task would be very formidable. Yet Paul doesn’t stop here. Paul is still maintaining the same train of thought when he speaks the following words. II Timothy 4:1-4, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” When should one expect this time to come when men will not endure sound doctrine? Paul already has informed us that he is speaking of the last days, the days in which we now live. If men are not heeding sound doctrine, what are they listening to? They are listening to great accumulations of teachers that are speaking the things their wayward hearts want to hear. They are turning aside unto myths and fables.
It should be obvious that the days we live in are the subject of Paul’s discourse to Timothy, for we are in the last days, yet what preacher will admit that it is his congregation that has hired him to tell them the things they want to hear? What preacher would confess that he is simply tickling the ears of those listening to him, that he is teaching falsehood and myth? We live in very difficult days, for the masses of Christendom have departed from truth and they prefer to hear things that agree with their own lusts. Paul said that in the last day’s men would be “lovers of self, lovers of money… lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God.” What sort of things do you suppose that such men would like to hear? Perhaps they would like to hear a message of financial prosperity. Perhaps they would like to hear a message that says that God wants to pour out blessing after blessing of material goods upon those who are His children. Is this not what is being proclaimed today from so many pulpits? Yet men do not realize that Paul was warning Timothy about those who are within Christianity in this very day, people who have accumulated teachers unto themselves to tell them the things they want to hear.
In contrast, sound doctrine has no home among such saints who are lovers of self, of money, and pleasure. It is with difficulty that Yahshua’s words are shared with them. Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is the system of world materialism and it is identified with the love of money and all that money can purchase. Myriads of saints today are in that tragic condition of trying to straddle the fence. They want to serve God and mammon at the same time. To accomplish this feat they have developed false doctrines that proclaim that it is the will of Yahweh that every saint should be running over with the goods of this world. Yahshua, however, said that His kingdom followers should not concern themselves with issues of what they would eat and drink, or what they would clothe themselves with, but they should seek first His righteousness and His kingdom. The Pharisees who heard these words scoffed at Yahshua, for we are told that they loved money. Multitudes also scoff today for they share the same affliction.
Luke 16:14-15, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” We live in a day in which men are proclaiming those things that they esteem while neglecting the things God esteems. I have picked just one topic, albeit a major one, that is being falsely taught today to demonstrate that men have departed from truth and have sought out teachers that would tell them things in accordance with their desires. Men in their love of self and love of money have devised all manner of false interpretations of scripture to justify their lust for things. Absent is the message of the disciple’s cross and the proclaiming of Christ’s words that if we would save our soul life, we must lose it, but if we lose it we will save it. Absent is the message of taking up our cross daily and following Yahshua. Matthew 16:24-27, “Then said Yahshua to His disciples, if anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.” The message of self-denial is not found in the houses of prosperity today. Every man will be recompensed for his deeds, yet the recompense will be very grievous for those who have accumulated to themselves teachers to tell them the things they desire to hear. The very issue of self-denial is at the heart of a true understanding of Sabbath, for in Hebrews we read these words of Paul. Hebrews 4:10, “For the one who has entered His rest [Sabbath] has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” If we are to enter into God’s rest, we must cease from doing our own works. This is self-denial. This is the work of the cross in the lives of the saints. Because men have not ceased from their own works, preferring to indulge the selfish desires of their hearts, they have strayed from the truth and have embraced falsehood and myths. The issue of serving mammon is but one issue in which this has happened. There is virtually no area of truth that has remained unaffected due to the difficulty of the days we live. In the book of II Thessalonians, Paul described the dire state of these days with the word “apostasy.”
II Thessalonians 2:1-3, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Yahshua the Messiah, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first…” Once more Paul is writing about the days that precede the return of Yahshua. He is writing about the days we live in, and he states that Yahshua will not return unless the apostasy occurs first. Strong’s Dictionary of Greek words defines apostasy in the following manner. 646 apostasia (ap-os-tas-ee’-ah); feminine of the same as 647; defection from truth (properly, the state) [“apostasy”]: As one looks further into the meaning of this Greek word, it is seen that it shares a similar root with the Greek word meaning divorce. The apostasy of which Paul speaks is literally a divorcement from the truth. Taken in relationship with Paul’s other statements we can discern that the last days will be a time when those who claim to be followers of Yahshua will divorce themselves from the truth, and they will, in turn, be wed to myths and fables. They will figuratively heap up for themselves teachers that will proclaim error and falsehood unto them.
This is the perilous circumstance that we find ourselves in today. It is not the masses that are proclaiming the truth, but the remnant. Truth is not widely preached and received, rather it is largely rejected, having been replaced with falsehood. How did this circumstance come about? Again the apostle Paul informs us of the reason. II Thessalonians 2:10-12, “Because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved… for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” Because men have preferred lies over truth, the Father has sent a deluding influence upon them so that they might believe what is false. This passage and the others we have looked at are not talking about the world, but those who claim to be followers of God. Paul earlier said they would have “a form of godliness, but deny the power of it.” This is speaking of the church. The true power of godliness is the power to transform a human life, but men have preferred not to be transformed. Instead, they have desired to transform the scriptures to support the pursuit of their soulish life and its desires. Those who read this book, and other writings that are proclaiming the truth in this hour, must realize that what is written here is out of synch with the masses of Christendom because the masses of Christendom are themselves out of synch with God. Yahshua said He was the truth, yet the truth is not loved in the last days before Yahshua’s return, and as a result, the Father has sent delusion upon mankind so that they might believe what is false, which is what they prefer. As one examines the scriptures with an understanding heart they will perceive that it has ever been the case with mankind that only a remnant has really known what the Father was doing in the day in which they lived. In the days in which Moses led the children of God forth from Egypt and into the wilderness, there was truly a large body of people who were known as God’s chosen people, but not all understood what they should have known.
Psalms 103:7, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” What a gulf separates knowing Yahweh’s ways and witnessing His acts. Of the millions of Israel, only one man was said to have known the ways of Yahweh in the day in which he lived. We see the same thing in the days of Daniel, of Jeremiah, of Elijah, etc.. Certainly this was also the case in the day the Father sent His Son to be born and to walk this Earth in the form of man. There were myriads of Jews dwelling in and around Jerusalem. The temple and the synagogues were a center for the people to learn the things of God. Was it to these centers that Yahweh sent His messenger to prepare for the coming of His Son?
John 1:6, “There came a man sent from God whose name was John…” What was John’s message? Was it not to prepare the way for Messiah to come? If there were myriads of devoted Jews in that day, a priesthood, as well as many teachers of the Law, then why did not God use these men to proclaim His truth and to prepare the way for His Son? Why did He not have the message proclaimed in every synagogue? It is ever the remnant that Yahweh works through. He chose a man who was little esteemed. He had him to grow up in the wilderness, not in the centers of power. And He had him accomplish his ministry away from the synagogues and the temple. Why should it surprise the understanding saint to hear that those who will prepare the way for the second coming of Yahshua will follow a similar pattern? In the gospels, we are told that Yahshua “came to His own, but His own received Him not” (John 1:11). Knowing this was the case of His first appearing to mankind, and that history ever repeats itself, the importance of the following scripture should give rise to serious consideration, as it speaks of His second coming.
Luke 18:8, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Yahshua is here speaking of His second coming to the Earth. At His first coming there was a whole nation of people who claimed to be followers of His Father. There was a well used religious system centered around the Temple and the synagogues. People were studying the scriptures continuously, and they claimed to be waiting for the appearing of Messiah. Do we not have a similar scenario today? There is a body of people, huge in number that claims to be followers of Yahshua (Jesus). There is a religious system that is utilized regularly. In place of synagogues, there are church buildings on every street corner and at every crossroads. This great body of believers also claims to be awaiting the return of their Messiah. With all of this teaching and religious structure in place, those who claimed to be waiting for Messiah did not recognize the day of their visitation when He appeared 2,000 years ago. Yahshua was despised and rejected. Certainly, the Jews and their leaders would never have admitted to having a wrong understanding of Messiah and what His appearing would be like, anymore than would those in Christianity today. Yet Yahshua asks whether He will find faith on the Earth when He returns. Incredibly, Yahshua describes the last days prior to His return, unto His disciples in the following manner. Matthew 24:10-13, “And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.”
Many will fall away; many will be misled; most people’s love will grow cold; men will be lovers of self, lovers of money; men will not endure sound doctrine; men will turn aside to myths and fables; Yahshua will in no way return unless the apostasy occurs first; will He find faith on the Earth? These things should sober any sincere follower of Christ. It is the remnant who will be saved. The true flock of Yahshua is called the “little flock” (Luke 12:32). Yahshua Himself questioned whether He would find faith on the earth at His return.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 18 – Published 5/5/18
INTERCEDING FOR OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN
Like many of you, I have a burden for the lost. There are people all around us that are not saved and living on the dangerous edge of facing an eternity without Jesus. We are so distracted by our own affairs that many times we forget this tragic reality. How could a Christian go through life without considering this sobering truth? Even more painful is having close friends and precious family members who are in this serious state of being. For those who have children that are lost, we know that prayer is the least and the most we can do. For the ones who have older children and some that are married, there is a great concern for them and their spouses. If we are focused on Christ and serious about our spiritual walk, it is truly a heavy burden. And then for those who are grandparents, we are praying day and night for the salvation and protection of our grandchildren. This troubling world is filled with deception and lies and it’s heartbreaking to see these younger generations being persuaded and moving forward into a new way of thinking that is contrary to the Bible. The older Christians (like us) are being considered as out of touch and not having a modern understanding of this politically correct new world order. Sadly, there is a growing lack of respect for those who still believe the scriptures and who are seeking to be led by the Holy Spirit. We are noticing a lot more eye-rolling and scoffing but we must not give up our faith and hope that God can intervene and save our loved ones. Who else will intercede and stand in the gap? Who else will teach and demonstrate God’s ways? It is up to the remnant, the spiritual warriors of God’s kingdom to be willing to fight on our knees. We must ask for more faith and believe with all of our heart, to never surrender, to plead for discernment and always pray without ceasing.
“Lord, I believe you approve and are ready to move when we become serious about praying. I know you are the only power and authority that can change situations and circumstances. I also believe you want your people to seek your face with FAITH which is the crucial ingredient that initiates and inspires you to move on our behalf. We are not to pray amiss or for our own selfish motives, but when we pray according to your perfect will, we can expect any and all mountains to be moved. I place my family at the foot of your cross, I give them to you and trust you completely. I know that you work in mysterious ways that I could never imagine. May your Holy Spirit prick their conscience and please convict them in their daily activities and conversations and also haunt them in their dreams with the absolute truth of your gospel and the mysterious ways of your Spirit.”
“Lord, I ask that you focus your attention on my children and their spouses. Please make divine appointments with other Christians and connect them with our children and their spouses for the purpose of transforming their minds and saving their souls. Do whatever it takes no matter how strange in order to convict their hearts and turn their thoughts away from darkness and into your holy light. I do not need to guess or wonder if this is your will, I know it is. It’s my spiritual responsibility as their earthly parent to intercede and stand in the gap for my children. It is my authority in Christ to approach your throne boldly and lift them up to you. I am confident you will do everything you can to help rescue them from a Satanic world and to reveal your mercy, grace, and love. It is your divine truth that has the power and ability to penetrate the rebellion and pride that holds a person in spiritual bondage. May they be confronted with this absolute truth everywhere they turn and with everyone they listen to. Your perfect truth is the only hope that can set them free from deception and set their feet upon the solid rock of your eternal peace and security. I ask this today in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Here are a few prayers and scripture promises that we can trust and depend on. If you know of others that would be encouraged to have this letter, please pass it on.
Dear God, you have made it abundantly clear in scripture that you want to save and bless our children and their children. I stand upon the rock of your Word, it is the foundation of my faith. I trust you completely! Your Word opens doors, changes circumstances, moves mountains and accomplishes the impossible! I give my children and grandchildren to you and believe they will be saved and filled with your Spirit in JESUS NAME! “And they said, believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” Acts 16:31.
O Lord Jesus, I have believed in you and you have redeemed me and forgiven me. I believe it is your perfect will to save my children. Please save each and every one of my children for your glory. Raise them up to be mighty warriors in your kingdom for your purpose. Use them as your holy instruments and vessels of honor. Fill them with boldness and courage to stand strong against the enemy and anoint them to speak your truth to the blind and deceived world. “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children” Isaiah 54:13.
O Lord, you have promised that all my children shall be taught by you. Please do this. Please reveal yourself to all my children, and save them. Please fill my children with your great peace. Protect them from the lies and false teachings of humanism. Humble them and speak to their hearts with your supernatural power. “And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore” Isaiah 59:21.
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your Spirit and your word would never depart from me or my children or their children. Please save each one of my children and grandchildren and descendants and fill each one with your Holy Spirit. And please cause each one to love and delight in your word. Give them joy unspeakable and let them be full of your peace and confidence. “The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you” Psalm 102:28.
O Lord, please establish my children and descendants before you. Teach them your ways, may they be devoted to you. Cause each one to follow you wholeheartedly as remnant disciples all the days of their lives. “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed” Psalm 112:1-2.
Lord Jesus, I respect you and I always want to have a reverential fear of you. Help me to delight in your commandments more every day. Please cause each of my children and descendants to be Christians and inspire them to be mighty in the land. Please use them to influence thousands for you. “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!” Proverbs 20:7.
Jesus, thank you that you have helped me to walk in integrity. You promised that if I did this you would bless my children. So I ask you to please bless my children. Surround them with your angels and cover them with your hand. Give them wisdom and understand to know your voice and the courage to obey your commands. Thank you, Lord Jesus. “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread” Psalm 37:25.
Father, I thank you that in all my years you have never forsaken me. Thank you for all the ways you have provided for us and blessed us abundantly. I ask that you would continue to be faithful to my children and also provide for them in every way. Thank you, Lord. “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge” Proverbs 14:26.
Jesus, please help me to listen to you and respect you. Please deliver me from temptation and sin. Help me to have more self-discipline. Please deliver my children from the deception of being proud and high-minded and the temptations of sin and all forms of evil. Thank you that you are our mighty refuge. “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them” Jeremiah 32:39.
Father, you have given me a new heart. You have promised that if I worship and obey you in reverence it will be for my good and my children’s good. So I pray that you would please do a strong work in my children and all my descendants. Please cause them to fear and obey you for their good and their children after them. May they accomplish your plans and their divine destiny. “Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time” Deuteronomy 4:40.
“Dear God, you have given me a burden to keep your commandments and you’ve helped me by the power of your Spirit. Help me to help them. Please intervene with my children and my grandchildren. Help me to show them and be a witness to your way of living. Anything that I do which is of you – I pray they will never forget. Please engrave your Word upon their hearts and give them a passion to obey you and help them to discover who you are and what you require. I will always pray for them, I will never give up. You have made it abundantly clear that you desire to save them and bring them into your kingdom. I worship you and give you all the praise and glory forever, amen.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Published 4/28/18 – Part 17
LIVING AN ILLUSION – PART 4
You have just read a possible account of what might happen at the end of life for those who have never asked for forgiveness, yielded their will to God or called upon Jesus Christ to save them. The gospel has been preached and taught all around the world and for the most part, people of every nation has at least heard about Jesus and why He died on the cross. In America, most everyone is acquainted with the gospel and the basic Bible stories, but why is there so many that refuse to believe and serve God in their own personal life? Maybe they are satisfied and convinced they already do. Maybe they are like John and Pat who never really worried that much about it. Whatever the case, every Christian is left with the painful and frustrating facts that we cannot save anyone or even persuade them to accept God’s invitation. We can pray and we must pray because this is where the power comes from. Not the power to force but the power to convict by the holy and perfect Word of God. God knows what it would take to convict someone’s conscience and this is why and how we must pray.
Where is it established that a person must accept, respect or embrace the political, social, and or religious ideas of someone else? Each human being has been given a free-will to manage and comprehend their own opinions and worldviews. We cannot and should not expect to coerce, force, or intimidate a person into believing what they do not agree with. I certainly cannot expect someone to accept the gospel just because I openly declare the plan of salvation. When someone becomes angry and violent toward another individual who simply states this basic principle of truth, it confirms how the human race is possessed with a defiant spirit of pride, manipulation, and control. It also exposes the reality that God is filled with compassion and is reaching out to the world with the gracious offer of eternal salvation. God so loved the world that He sent Jesus, His only Son to die in order that whoever would believe would not suffer destruction but instead could be ransomed forever. You see, all humans are born with this attitude of enmity against the Creator but as a result of our fallen human nature, evil always opposes good. It’s only natural to reject and rebel against the authority of the Almighty which is why God has declared in His Word that we must be born-again. This spiritual metamorphosis includes repentance, renewing our mind, surrendering our will, and being sincerely transformed into a brand new spirit being. This conversion process allows us to experience His grace and the ability to comprehend the true meaning of life. Nothing is more important than redemption.
Political correctness is a cornerstone of the new legal system of social acceptance which demands that everyone must embrace a certain way of thinking. I use the word demand instead of suggesting because of the aggressive and violent agenda for every human being to obey this system. The choice is to either compromise or face the devastating consequences associated with not following its regulations. Those who reject these cultural ultimatums are deemed unfit to function and contribute to the world and are openly discredited and stigmatized in every way possible. The conservative Christian view is now considered to be the poison which contaminates the conscience and our social environment. This modern movement has publicly condemned and discredited the Bible along with God Himself as being racial, hate-filled and discriminating against those who disagree with its philosophy. Yet, according to this new system, progressive thinking “demands” a tolerance and respect for its own secular agenda. This aggressive system of the beast is absolute hypocrisy and deception in the most offensive form.
We can clearly see where the world is headed and according to Biblical prophecy, we know it is not hopeful, to say the least. The few pioneers who in the past have harbored the secrets and mysteries of the demonic world have now morphed into a crusade to literally abolish God from the planet. Christianity has always been a minority and as the population grows larger the smaller the Christian influence. This along with a spiritually lukewarm approach, the younger generations lost respect for following Jesus and was persuaded through public education to embrace humanism. Sadly, this has conceived and nurtured a harsh and calloused culture of politically desensitized zombies. The Creator according to the Bible stands for everything the humanist opposes and now with the floodgates being opened to barbaric independence, we are witnessing the rapid and popular advancement of atheism. Instead of mankind bowing their knee to the maker of heaven and earth, we are seeing human arrogance on steroids as the remaining opportunity for Satan to deceive the masses is coming to an end. The tsunami of wickedness, perversion, debauchery, deception, confusion, chaos, violence and hatred is covering the world in a media frenzy filled with fear, depression, and anxiety. The strategy of evil is simple: confuse the mind – distract the conscience – overwhelm the heart – steal the soul.
It is not a great revelation to realize the world will not embrace Christ. The world has been filled with wickedness since the beginning of time and will continue to grow worse until the end of the age. An important question is how the Christian should approach this environment and the answer is always saturated with an awareness of being led by the Holy Spirit. Listening and obeying the voice of God in all that we do is the perfect resolution for the overcomer. Christians not only have a right and freedom to obey Biblical commands and follow the Creator of the universe, but they also have a responsibility to carry the light of the gospel in hopes that someone might possibly be convicted with the eternal truth which can save a soul. A true Christian is not rebellious or condemning toward the unbeliever, but rather burdened with a sincere sorrow for the lost who without Christ will suffer for all eternity. They know that Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only spiritual authority that can open the eyes of the blind and set the captives free from sin. The world is filled with darkness and deception and anyone can only comprehend the true meaning of life when we surrender our heart to Jesus Christ. There are questions that need to answered like how can those who know the truth about judgment, not be alarmed or have a sense of urgency about those who are lost? Does it not haunt us that many of our friends and family members are walking on the rim of hell? Do Christians even believe in hell? Could it be that followers of Christ are so terrified of God’s judgment they allow themselves to be distracted because it makes them feel better to think about other things? Yes, it’s painful to consider that spouses, parents, and children will live and die without accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord, but it is true. All of the spouses, parents, and children who are dead and waiting to be sentenced to the lake of fire are someone’s spouse, parent, and child.
So, how can we conclude this subject? Some might suggest that we talk about something happier that includes heaven and eternal peace and joy. This would certainly be true and it does bring comfort, however, our subject is also not a fabricated story and even though very disturbing, we must face the facts of it being the most heart-breaking and horrifying reality that is actually happening all around us. I have never held a sign on the side of the road that says, “Repent and turn to Jesus today” but I can definitely understand the reason why some do. The burden for the lost can become great and it should bother us and yet the frustration about what to do also can be discouraging. I have always believed that spiritual conversion is directly associated with a “divine appointment” which simply means that God carefully prepares the opportunities for salvation. In this light, evangelism is not a haphazard event but rather divinely directed by the Holy Spirit on the part of the messenger and the listener. God plans these meetings and gives the world a chance the hear the truth and then the decision is left with them. We have the choice to fight against the conviction of truth or surrender our will to His authority. This is not just a one-time confrontation but rather a daily settlement within the deepest part of our conscience and will also play a huge part in our final judgment. We can do many religious deeds and good works and along with our moral views, we can appear to be righteous to all who know us. However, it will always come down to how much of God we wanted in our lives and how much of our carnal nature we were willing to sacrifice. Our salvation is proven by God’s love for us but our relationship with Jesus Christ is demonstrated by our love for Him.
Oh Lord, you are the maker of all things. You created humans and blessed them with everything good and perfect. Your original man and woman made a decision to sin against you and then sadly faced the consequences of failing to obey you. After this terrible fall in the Garden of Eden, all humans thereafter have been born spiritually dead. Each person who has been introduced into the world has a spirit that is lost and in desperate need of being redeemed. Those who hear the gospel and receive it into their life are given the gift of salvation and their spirit is “re-born” into a child of God. His gift of mercy and grace allows them to walk in God’s Spirit on earth and spend eternity in heaven with Him. However, all who fail to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior within this temporary journey are blind and deceived to the absolute truth and the meaning of life. These children of the darkness who refuse and rebel against the love of God will not only miss the peace and joy with God in this life but will also face an eternity of pain, suffering, and regret. Lord, I was born spiritually blind and lost.
Lord, I had no desire to love you or serve you. I did not know you and had no intention to know you. My spirit was hopelessly lost and I did not care about spiritual truth. I was born with a rebellious attitude. It’s normal for me to sin. It’s normal for me to be selfish, hard-hearted, and self-centered. I’m filled with pride within the core of my being and it’s very comfortable for me to live and do whatever feels good. I was born with a carnal nature that hates God. My original nature loves to be independent and to make my own decisions. I do not want anyone to tell me what to do or how to live. My nature is very aggressive and stubborn and will fight anyone to the death who tries to change me. I was born with a free-will. BUT – You looked beyond my fault and saw my need! Somehow you loved me in spite of who I was and with your grace, you redeemed me and transformed me into something completely different. You were willing to take a clump of dirty coal and turn me into a sparkling diamond. You burned away my old self-righteousness and made me pure and clean and righteous by the blood of Jesus! Humans are not robots as you have graciously given to each person the ability to choose how they will live and who they will follow. This also includes the most crucial decision a person will ever make – whether or not they will believe, trust, and follow God. Once a person has heard about God’s great love for them, they will make the daily choice to either embrace Him or reject Him. I was born with an un-renewed mind. My mind is the processing plant that makes all of my decisions and works very closely with my carnal nature. Together, these two are known as co-captains of our ship who determines all the plans and decides which direction we go. These two work directly under their fleshly dictator called general and president free-will.
So, in order for me to be changed and transformed spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, it’s going to require some serious determination, to say the least. The old way of thinking and living must die in order for Christ to become the Lord and King of my conscience. There can only be one master and the serious problem is that we do not want to kill our independence or our fleshly desires. Many are determined to have both world’s at the same time but if we try to bring Jesus into our lives while still serving our old nature, we will not have the capacity to experience the blessing of His presence or any type of spiritual victory. This attempt at living in the middle of the road is often associated with the deception of a religious lifestyle. The painful reality is that attempting to mix Jesus and the devil together is actually living in a denial of hating God and being an enemy against our Creator. The only way to truly walk holy with the Lord and invite Him to control us completely is to yield and sacrifice our will to His will and then learn to sincerely hate sin. To be an overcomer for Jesus we must abhor sin to the point of being filled with a spiritual sorrow. We can develop a reverential fear and trembling when we realize how much our sin hurts and disappoints God. Unless we are nauseated with all sin, we will continue playing games with manipulation, denial, arrogance, and deception. Sadly, this way of living is considered a lukewarm lifestyle and also one that does not have a happy ending. Yes, there is grace, but this is not an excuse to continue living in carnality. Yes, there is mercy, but God in His perfect judgment must require an accountability from us in order to preserve His divine truth. Yes, there is His sovereignty, but this cannot annul or overturn His eternal Word of wisdom and authority. Yes, there is forgiveness, but this privilege is more than saying we are sorry. True repentance is turning away from our sin and never allowing it to snare us or control us again. As we can see, there are many interpretations of the Christian life because our flesh and the devil are doing everything possible to distract us from the truth. We are our own worst enemy and until we come face to face with this revelation, we will continue LIVING AN ILLUSION. We are either dwelling in the holy of holies or we are not. He is either our Lord of all or not our Lord at all.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 3 OF THE SHORT STORY – “LIVING AN ILLUSION”
Again, the silence was deafening. They slowly began to walk together and to John, it felt like a condemned convict being led toward his cell on death row. He gritted his teeth and winced as if he was in excruciating pain as he was already recalling his old life and how he turned over his decision-making process to his carnal nature. He could have tried harder to follow Jesus but he just didn’t want to. He could have been as close to God as he wanted but he loved the flesh much more. He could have turned away from the temptations of the world and cried out to the Lord, but he just did not want to do it! And now…no do-overs, no second chances…he was going to hell. He is now reaping exactly what he had planted. If he could only go back and warn everyone. If he could only have a chance to explain that being a Christian is not what everyone thinks it is. He would stand on the street corner and beg people to repent. He would fall on his knees and pray day and night if only he had another chance. He began to weep and cry out as he grabbed Cassiel by the arm. It was no use, everything was settled, nothing added and nothing taken away. Cassiel pulled him loose and said they needed to keep going.
Continuing further down the corridor, the atmosphere began to change as it was becoming darker and more difficult to see up ahead. The air was transforming from what was a fresh aroma of roses to now more of a stench that smelled like something burning. It wasn’t long before John realized this offensive stench smelled like charcoal and the misty fog was actually a growing density of smoke. The temperature was also noticeably becoming warmer which made him feel nauseous and fearful. Cassiel slowed to a stop and politely stated this is where they would separate. John’s breaths were ragged and had increased like he had been jogging, “Where are you going? with a sense of panic.” Cassiel turned and looked directly at him, “I must return to earth for there are many more souls getting ready to cross over. I’m going to help them and be with them just like I was with you. Continue in this direction and you will eventually be greeted by another guide named Procel who will lead you the rest of the way. “Goodbye John.” “Wait, do not leave me!” Please, I’m afraid, it’s becoming darker and the smoke is taking my breath. In the distance, John could now faintly hear what sounded like people crying and screaming in agony. Louder he called out, “Oh No…please…I beg you to please help me!” Cassiel walked away and quickly disappeared in the smoke. John was now all alone surrounded in a cloud of gasses and vapors that reeked of brimstone as it seemed like he was standing at the edge of a volcano. Everything was quiet except for the crying voices which seemed to be coming from all directions. His thoughts painted a horrible picture of people burning and suffering but yet not being able to die. He remembered the scripture that mentioned the rich man who lifted up his eyes being tormented in the flames of hell and how he begged Abraham to send Lazarus the beggar back to earth to warn his five brothers. Abraham told the rich man if the world will not listen to God’s Word they would not listen to someone who comes back from the dead.
Suddenly, he could hear footsteps, and out of the fog, there appeared an image of a disturbing creature walking toward him. This must be the escort Cassiel was talking about. John could sense a dark presence as the demon stood in front of him. With eyes boring a hole through him, he was motionless except for a penetrating and arrogant sinister smile. John was trembling in fear as the creature was more fearful than any horror movie he could imagine. It had four faces of different animal-like characteristics and the face staring at him reminded had the features of a chimpanzee. as it was tall and dressed in battle gear that included leather overlaid with chains and a large belt of iron plates around the waist. The fallen warrior was very hairy with tall boots with many buckles and had large calloused hands. With an angry and irritating voice, he spoke with authority and harshness that John imagined a cruel prison guard would sound like. “Come…NOW!” With a terrifying explosion of laughter, Procel bellowed, “It only gets worse from here!” He took a couple of steps into the darkening decent then turned and aggressively motioned for John to come along. John could not move as his legs had become stiff and his mind was racing. He thought about running the other way, but where would he go? In the blink of an eye, the hideous creature reached out with force and took hold of his arm and began to pull him. John began to scream as loud as he could, “Help me, somebody…please help me! Noooooo…please…Jesus..help me…please.” Soon they both disappeared from sight and for a few moments you could still faintly make out John’s hysterical cries but after a while, it blended in with all the other voices.
Cassiel was already back on earth and was now patiently standing in the corner of a dilapidated nursing home waiting for the last breath of an elderly lady named Pat. A nurse was busy with the routine monitoring as one of the staff stepped in the doorway. “I believe we should call the family and the chaplain.” As the young orderly was heading out into the hall, she turned around and asked, “Have you ever seen an angel in the room of someone dying?” While writing on the chart and without looking up, “In over 30 years, I’ve seen some very strange things. It’s very common for someone in the dying process, even if they in a deep coma, to reach out toward a corner of the ceiling like they see something. I believe the death angels do come for us when it’s our time.” The young girl paused for a second and then quietly slipped out. Pat had taken a turn for the worse overnight and she was rapidly deteriorating as there was no doubt the end was very near.
Very similar to John, Pat also considered herself to be an average person that had lived a normal life. She had graduated college, married, had a couple of kids, cooked and cleaned and all those things a regular wife and mother does. She had visited the church for special occasions but had never really thought that much about spiritual things and honestly felt that what she believed was no one’s business. She saw herself as being decent, clean, well mannered, and always thought that religious views should never be talked about in public. She could care less what other people thought and considered her own views no one’s business. She never felt the necessity to read the Bible or pray and rather received everything she felt she needed to know about the world from the news. Her husband had passed away a few years earlier, and her own health issues had multiplied after experiencing several debilitating strokes. Sure, she had heard about Jesus and the story about Him being on the cross and all that but never really entertained the idea of investigating it or even overly concerned about it. Her honest conclusions were to be cautious around extreme religious people because they were suspicious kooks. Besides, in her mind, most religious people were hypocrites and probably more dangerous than anyone else in our society. She had formed her own ideas and thought that if there really is a God, He will do whatever He wants in the end so why should she worry about it? She used to tell her friends that living and dying was like rolling the dice or playing the lottery as some will win and some will lose. Instead of researching the Bible, she built her own persuasions and convictions which included always trusting her tuition and depending on her own common sense. Besides, she was educated and intelligent, and with science declaring that everything started from nothing, it appeared to her this “God thing” was mostly an emotional folklore. She had taught her kids to be strong and independent but intentionally neglected to guide them to Jesus because she thought they would be made fun of in the modern culture. The same was true about missing a wonderful opportunity to teach her grandchildren about God. For unbelievers, it’s only logical if God is not a part of their life, they will have no desire to tell anyone about the Bible. Yes, every now and then she would hear someone say, “What if there is a God, and what if He’s right?” But, she would just laugh it off as another nut case trying to beg for money or promote a political agenda. As her breathing was becoming shallower, one of her last fading thoughts was recalling a recent magazine article which declared that everyone could be happy in whatever situation they were facing. It did not mention God but did express that if a person could just think good and positive thoughts, anyone could live in true peace and contentment. The heart of what was deemed an inspirational message was that everything will somehow work out in the end. Another deceptive presentation of a humanistic philosophy that is popular with our human nature but very offensive to God Himself. “It’s all going to be alright” sounded wonderful to her at the time and now with the same sense of false security that maybe heaven was like a large casino and there was a chance that she could slip past God and sneak in through the back door, she closed her eyes and hoped for the best.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Republished – 4/14/18
LIVING AN ILLUSION – PART 2
John had considered himself an average person and with all due respect, this was a sad but accurate description of his life. He never really accomplished anything exciting, significant or notable but rather lived a melancholy, laid-back style that was shy, quiet and low-key. His normal routine was going to his mundane place of employment which he hated, coming home, eating dinner, watching TV until he could not hold his eyes open and then going to bed. Now when it came to sports, he was much more enthusiastic and his hobbies and were unashamedly high on his list of true loves. His fate had allowed him to grow up in the twentieth century in the United States where he had the opportunity to be educated, land a decent job, have a loving wife and raise two children, but he never realized what a blessing this was. To categorize his social status, you could say he was raised middle-class and had maintained a mediocre level of success considering he usually did just enough to get by. He mowed his lawn, kept his vehicles washed and seemed to get along with most everyone. On the outside, you could say that he was a decent fellow but he also had a short fuse when things did not go his way. He had been a rebellious teen but finally settled down and became satisfied with being in debt and living check to check like most everyone else he knew. With much support from a hard-working wife, they raised their three children and then he eventually retired after 40 years in the insurance business. He went to the doctor regularly but did not embrace the idea of eating healthy and exercising seriously, again like most everyone else. Cheeseburgers and milkshakes were his ideas of a wonderful and balanced example of nutrition. When he was in his early sixties, it was discovered among other serious health issues, he had developed serious cancer and after some aggressive surgery and chemo treatments, he was in very poor condition. He lived a couple more years in a weakened state and then to everyone’s surprise, at 67 years old, he had a massive heart-attack and died suddenly. A few people came to the funeral and the minister did the best he could to create a legacy of integrity and admiration. Several times it was affirmed how much he loved his family and how he would give anyone in need the shirt off his back. They all enjoyed and laughed at the stories of how he loved to eat and what a devoted sports fan he was. Of course, it was mentioned that he was now standing in line at the all you can eat buffet in heaven and what a great time he was having with those who had gone on before. The usual prayer and sad song concluded the service and after a short presentation at the grave to say their final farewells, everyone went to the vehicles and drove away. It’s sad but true, after the initial shock of the death of a loved one, we all discover the painful reality that the world keeps spinning and life goes on. We are born and we die but it seems we just do not realize it’s what goes on in-between these two events that will make a difference in the next life. Denial is actually a deceptive and very dangerous “happy place.”
When it came to John’s spiritual life, I guess you could say this was another part of his journey that was average. His enthusiasm about the gospel and the spiritual world could be compared to learning about George Washington and the development of our American government. John had gathered facts but he had no personal connection or relationship with God Himself. He believed there was a God and visited the church occasionally in his life, but never really felt the conviction to consistently pray or learn more about the Bible or the meaning of life. He thought it was normal to not worry about dying and eternity or become involved with serving the Lord, and the sad part is – it is very common. He had formed his own worldviews and concluded that if a someone believed that God was real, they had nothing to worry about and everything would be alright in the end. In fact, he had read somewhere that maybe everyone would go to heaven because God is filled with love and mercy and did not want anyone to be lost. He assumed that every person who was a morally decent human being no matter what they believed would be given a certain amount of points or some type of credit especially if they were nice and tried to help others. (Now that is a comforting and peaceful thought. Too bad it’s not true). He just guessed that God graded on a huge curve, looked over the silly stuff and that He would surely take many other things into consideration within His final judgment. To be honest, he always thought that religion was for sissies and old women. He made fun of people and called them holy rollers, and thought it was embarrassing to profess you were a Christian in public. He did not want anyone to laugh at him or think he was emotionally and educationally weak or a nut case. Besides, he was a tough guy, always trying to be cool, a progressive thinker and proud of his macho independence.
“So, if you are a messenger, I assume you are an angel?” Cassiel stood before him and replied, “Is that what you think I am?” John was noticing how peculiar and unnerving this being really was. He could not even tell if it was a he or she, but rather its striking image reminded him of a marble statue that spoke wisely and could move gracefully, yet more strange than anything he could have dreamed. “I am probably not what you think I am. Not all “angels” are the same.” Cassiel stood at attention like a soldier as John kept staring. The being knew that John had many questions – they all do. After an awkward silence, John spoke up, “So…what happens next? Where are the streets of gold, the cities and rivers and God’s throne and all that?” Cassiel turned and gave him a serious look and then glanced out into the distance without any change in facial expression. His voice broke the anticipation, “The heaven you have heard about is certainly real and will be unveiled in the future but it is reserved for a very small remnant of saints. You are presently in a holding place that some languages on earth refer to as Sheol. This is where all souls which have crossed over are gathered to wait for the final judgment. Sheol is divided into two separate places. God’s children are led into paradise while those who are lost are sent to Hades. There are levels and degrees of punishment for those who are in Hades just as there are levels and degrees of reward for those who are in paradise. Eventually, the saints will stand before The Lord of Lords at the judgment seat of Christ where all of their deeds will be considered and the lost will stand before Him at the Great White Throne judgment to be sentenced.” All at once, John did not have a very good feeling about this. He could feel himself becoming tense and a strong sensation of dread washed over him like an emotional tsunami. “Now wait a minute, you seem to be giving me some negative vibes here. Since there are only two eternal destinations…which one will I be a part of?” Cassiel once again stood motionlessly and the silence was uncomfortable, to say the least. “I’m afraid I have bad news…I’m sorry. I’ve been instructed to escort you to Hades.” The words seemed to freeze in the air and then drop like a stack of china plates. It was as if someone had punched him hard in the gut and knocked the breath out of him. He was paralyzed, not knowing what to say, he could not think or move. The silence was deafening, his ears were ringing and voice cracking as he could barely utter the words, “there must be some type of mistake.” Cassiel’s answer was steady and confident, “there is no mistake.”
Stunned beyond belief, John somehow managed to gain some composure and sheepishly wondered out loud why he had not received any type of consideration for the good things he had done. He finally spoke out, “I believe in God…I was a decent person…I never killed anyone or committed any heinous crime or hurt a child. How can this be happening? Surely some of my good deeds are worth something, I helped people, I went to church a few times, I even gave twenty dollars to Saint Judes Hospital!” Cassiel looked around as if waiting for someone and then hesitantly responded, “John, I’ve watched you since you were born, and you’re right, you’ve been an average normal person, but being decent has nothing to do with going to heaven. The Bible carefully explains about taking up your cross and following the Lamb but you refused to embrace any level of dedication to Jesus. You never accepted Him, you were never born-again and you never had a real personal relationship with God. You willingly allowed your mind to be deceived as it was easy and pleasurable to live according to what you wanted to do and now… you are facing the consequences. I must tell you the truth…it’s too late for you. You will spend eternity without God’s presence because you did not love Him on earth. Your final destination will be filled with regret and you will be reminded of your selfishness and rebellion while you suffer in a place of darkness and pain. God loved you and Jesus died for you but you rejected salvation. Your final answer was to walk away and now you will remember this forever. Only those who choose to surrender their will on earth and sacrifice their life because they sincerely love God and desire to know Him personally are invited to live in heaven with God forever. Only those who have been washed in the blood of Jesus and have been truly born-again are rewarded with eternal life. You never allowed yourself to be convicted with fear and trembling about what true salvation really meant. You never had a fervent passion to develop a spiritual intimacy with Jesus. You never wanted to learn how to pray or worship in Spirit and truth or had a desire to know what the Bible required for you to do. The Holy Spirit tried to warn you hundreds of times that without self-discipline and a determination to have God as the highest priority, a person cannot walk in God’s Spirit or live in His presence. Yes, there are huge masses of people who are religious and spiritually lukewarm but sadly, there is only a very small group that will be given access to heaven.” Out of desperation, John felt like he was on trial and needed to present some type of critical evidence which could overturn this magnificent presentation but he could not think of anything that could justify his earthly life of sin and reverse this depressing verdict. “What about mercy?” John pleaded, “What about God’s love and compassion?” Cassiel continued, “The grace of God sent Jesus to the cross to save whosoever will, however, this grace does not mean that mankind can live however they want. Grace is the opportunity to be forgiven of sin and welcomes the individual to become accountable by inviting Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Master. This means inviting Christ to sit on the throne of their heart and freely giving Him control over everything they think and do. Unfortunately, this also explains why hardly no one will agree to these terms. Everyone wants a Savior but only a few want a Lord which includes the holy vow to completely lay down their life for Him. Yes, God loves everyone and His mercy endures forever but how many will sincerely worship and love Him? He proved His love on the cross, but how many will prove their love for Him with absolute obedience?”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Excerpts from the book – LIVING AN ILLUSION – PART 1
We have heard and been taught that every person which has ever lived will someday stand before God and have a discussion about the life they lived. Some will argue and deny that knowing God personally is hardly a summary of the meaning of life, but for the most part, the majority will agree this is true to some extent. The default life is an existence that requires no spiritual discipline, sacrifice, or yielding of the will. This is a worldview that does not have to do anything but relax and be perfectly content to float down the river so to speak, to enjoy all that life has to offer and take a dangerous chance about God and the next dimension. On the other hand, the Christian life is about searching and learning what God requires and being willing to accept the call to become a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. This life-changing decision has everything to do with yielding our mind, body, and soul to the Creator of heaven, earth, and everything in-between. We also may agree this is definitely worth considering since He has promised with all certainty that He is The way, The truth, and The life. Many Bible scholars are convinced there are two divisions of judgments and both are directly associated with whether the individual falls into the categories of what is referred to as saved or lost. Even though there are many different levels of good and bad, the basic concept describes a certain number of souls who are spiritually born-again and are declared as being a child of the Most High OR on the other side of the fence where we have those who reject the invitation to become a member of God’s family and thus are referred to as spiritually blind. The deeds that were committed or omitted in both camps are directly associated to how everyone will be judged and are all held accountable to the sovereign decisions that only God has the perfect wisdom to address.
With many years of listening and observing not only the world but also within my own life, I have arrived at the conclusion that I am just as much of a philosopher as I am a minister. I see myself as a seeker of truth and a messenger but also feel intimidated to not only wade into the deeper waters of reason and purpose but as a teacher that is introducing and leading others into the way of Christ. I am a sinner just like everyone else but also live according to the promise of God’s Word which invites me to embrace Him by faith and allow His grace to save me. To say the least, I am grateful, to say that He looked beyond my fault and saw my need. Besides the Bible, I have also read the thoughts of many leaders and noticed that individuals who are committed to their calling are serious-minded, bold, and disciplined, yet at the same time filled with sorrow and compassion over a fallen humanity. I believe that Jesus was filled with patience and love while also being honestly blunt and the huge difference is that He was not a hypocrite as humans tend to be. I do not desire to be remembered as someone who could talk about God all day but could not live for Him for even an hour. What do you want to be remembered for? Yes, I’ve made terrible mistakes and taken some hard falls and it’s only with humility that is given by His endless mercy and that I can live and move and have my being. I proclaim my righteousness is as a filthy rag and if I have accomplished anything in my life that has eternal value, it was manifested through me by the one and only Holy Almighty Father. What is my message? To cry from the housetops and stand in the middle of a busy highway if need be to warn a captive world being held in bondage about how Christ loves them and desires to set them free from sin. To plead with all whom God will arrange with divine appointments about the dangers of accepting the default life and becoming satisfied to trade seventy or eighty years on earth for an eternity of terrible pain and disappointment. The red devil with a pitchfork is not a joke and neither is the holiness of God who has always demanded honor, reverence, and respect. His offer for all to embrace His divine blueprint is the greatest gesture of compassion the world has ever known.
It’s no secret that seekers of truth have lots of difficult questions. I guess the most important question at the end of life is how much truth did the seeker find and more importantly how much of it did they comprehend and demonstrate? It’s been said that knowledge is merely the accumulation of informational facts but wisdom is the “understanding” of knowledge. Again, we use the idea of levels to describe just how far and how deep we will venture in our quest to know the mysteries and secrets about the meaning of our existence. The passion to discover these revelations seem to only matter to a small amount of the population which is peculiar in itself, but nevertheless, we can agree as the fictional X-file agent Fox Mulder used to say, “the truth IS out there.” Speaking of truth, with the help of technology we can receive a constant flow of communication from the world at the push of a button and most consider this as a blessing. However, what the masses do not realize is that all events are mixed with opinionated commentary that conforms knowledge from their own personal perspective. In this light, things are not always the way they seem, and thus the critical need for spiritual discernment. By the way, it appears that humans love to learn the dirt about others and then proceed to judge and counsel them according to their way of thinking, but are not willing to examine their own heart and accept their own advice. It’s much easier to tell everyone else what to do instead of dealing with our own failures and embracing the sacrifice of self-discipline. Prayer, for example, has been suggested as the true spiritual thermometer of the soul. Charles Spurgeon is quoted, “Beware I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then proclaiming I am saved is but thine own assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee.”
This fictional dialogue between a man named John and a spiritual being named Cassiel is not meant to be condemning or fearful but rather as something to seriously consider. I call this a work of fiction but it could very well happen. The doctrine that we are held accountable for our actions is not a strange or unreasonable idea but actually one of the basic fundamental pillars of the Christian faith. We can only speculate what happens after we die or what types of conversations we might encounter, but whatever the case, we do imagine we will have access to someone in this time and place of transition. It could be that angels escort the saved and fallen angels are sent to escort the lost, but we are not sure. We also have a brief example in Matthew chapter seven and verses 22 and 23 where Jesus describes how people will someday try to convince Him of all the good religious things they have done and He concludes bluntly that He was not impressed. In fact, “depart from Me, I never knew you” indicates there are many who are confused about the difference between religion and relationship. We are not redeemed because we scored a certain amount of points or were a generally good person. It is a sad and sobering reality that many seemingly decent and somewhat religious people will surprisingly find themselves in hell. With a world of reasons and excuses, we can know that mankind has never taken Jesus seriously and only a few have been willing to surrender their will completely to Him. The full gospel of Christ is offensive to our human nature and if presented any other way, it is being distorted. It’s also why religion is so popular and how we must not be afraid to warn against it. The gospel has been remodeled to please the masses and has softened the burden for lost souls by talking about how much God wants to make us rich. Is this disturbing? Yes. Shame on the Christian that is more interested in the comforts and pleasures of this world while millions of lost souls are falling into an eternal hell. If we are NOT disturbed and convicted about people dying without Jesus – something is deeply wrong.
So, will we really have a chance to sit down with a spiritual being and have a friendly chat immediately after we die? Sorry, but again we do not really know. There are a number of people who have had near-death experiences that contained some interesting adventures but maybe they were dreams or hallucinations. Others have claimed to come back from the dead, but most scholars will agree that once a person crosses over into the next life, they cannot return. Of course, we have the mystics who can channel spirit guides through the portals and dimensions of the netherworld and psychics who believe in reincarnation and use crystal balls and seances to summon the deceased that have not yet crossed over, however, Hebrews Chapter 9 and verse 27 says that it is appointed unto humans ONCE to die and then the judgment. If anyone has been granted the opportunity to cycle multiple times they would have to die more than once and according to the Bible this is impossible. In this light, we can know that any familiar spirits which can be conjured are actually familiar spirits (demons – fallen angels) posing as someone from the grave in order to deceive. Luke chapter 16 states that souls cannot pass from Hades to paradise because a great gulf or barrier prevents them from intermingling. I personally believe there is a similar gulf that does not allow a soul to come back to earth after they are deceased UNLESS there is a specific reason that God would allow. On an interesting note, we read where the rich man that was in Hades could see into the realm of paradise where Abraham and Lazarus were but Lazarus could not see him. This would be similar to a one-way mirror. It also creates a speculation about whether the lost who have died can possibly see into the earth and be reminded (and tormented) of not only their loved ones who are living without God but also how they neglected the opportunity to be ransomed by God’s love and give their life to Christ. May the Holy Spirit speak to our heart as we sit back and listen to this conversation.
John had been declining for a few weeks and was in a hospital room hooked up to wires and tubes and machines. Hospice had been called in and he was now receiving a regular dose of morphine every two hours. Sometimes he could hear muffled voices and could see lights and shadows when he would try to open his eyes but mostly everything seemed blurred and confusing. He knew (somehow) that he was slipping away from this life and could sense his heart and body simply letting go. His mind was swirling but all at once sensed something unusual. He opened his eyes as wide as he could and it seemed he could make out a figure in the corner of the room next to the ceiling. It was a man that was coming into the room and was just quietly floating in the air. John blinked a few times and tried to focus in spite of the drugs. “Could this be real?” he asked himself? He slowly closed his eyes but discovered he could still see and maybe even better than ever. John noticed the presence was now reaching out his hand down to him and he did not really know why, but with all of his strength, he tried to raise his hand up to this stranger. Suddenly, he could no longer hear the swishing of his heartbeat in his ears and also noticed he had no power or need to breathe. Without speaking, John could communicate and said, “Where am I?” He was in a daze, looking around like he had just awakened from a dream. “What is happening…who are you?” “Hello John, my name is Cassiel and I’m a messenger. You’re spirit is separating from your body and now you are going through the process of discovering who you are and where you are going.” John now had a firm hold of his hand and was being lifted through the ceiling and on up through the top of the building into the clouds. He kept going higher and faster and could recognize that his senses were more increased than even when he lived in his old body.
It seemed he could hear in all directions what was being said before Cassiel could even say it. The sounds within this environment reminded him of huge Ocean waves crashing on the shore and he could see trails of colors he had never imagined. Everything was like being transparent, but highly detailed, layers of depth more advanced and complete than his senses could describe. He could literally see the wind as the air was wavy like the heat coming off a hot pavement. In the distance, he could make out what appeared to be explosions of light and streams of rainbows that were so vividly bright and clean. The only thing he could relate this to is the feeling of being underwater and at the same time engulfed and saturated with an overwhelming brilliance of wonderment, beauty, and awe. John was speechless as they traveled, it felt like a long time but there was no way to tell as this dimension seemed to be nothing like the realm of earth. When they finally began to slow down, it seemed to be an appropriate opportunity to say something about what had just happened. “I remember you…I saw you right before I…left. You were reaching out your hand. I looked down and could see my body and then as I lifted my head, I was flying so fast, like at the speed of light. It felt like I was falling forward through the universe…past the sun and the stars…then I heard what sounded like loud claps of thunder that was vibrating the air along with the echoes of many voices. Eventually, I could see a tiny light far away and I knew I was being drawn toward an opening, like the end of a tunnel that was a million years away. You were holding on to me.” John stopped for a moment and with quivering lips mumbled… “I died.” With a long pause, he spoke in a monotone voice, “I’m dead.” Cassiel had heard all of this so many times before yet calmly but firmly replied, “Yes, John, you did pass away, and now you have crossed over into eternity.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Part 13 – Published 3/31/18
SPEAKING TO THE MOUNTAINS
Soon after Jesus had resurrected from the grave, we find a beautiful story found in John chapter 20 that is a wonderful example of how much God loves us and wants to encourage us. Here is a true account of the friends and family of Christ that were gathered together after His crucifixion, grieving and mourning over His death when all of a sudden He appears in their midst! I’m sure they are awestruck beyond words. He stretches out His hands and reveals the wound in His side, and of course, they are overjoyed to see Him. He spoke peace unto them and breathed on them and filled them with the Holy Spirit. Allow me to say, that even in the times when we are struggling to believe, He will make the extra effort to find us and prove to us that He personally cares about us. Thomas was not there that night and when he was told that Jesus had visited them, he said that until he could touch His scars, he could not accept it. After eight days they have gathered together again, except this time Thomas was there, and Jesus miraculously appears again. He told Thomas to reach out and touch the scars, and he did. Jesus said, “Be not faithless, but believing,” and Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God.”
How many times have you needed the Lord to inject faith into your doubt? It’s no secret – having faith is difficult. However, when Jesus intervenes – nothing is ever the same! Most of the time we do not believe because we simply cannot see Him or what He is doing. By the way, Thomas is not the only person who doubts – He’s a perfect example of you and I. It’s much easier to believe when we can see God and understand every detail of His plan but this is usually not the way it works. Faith is walking over invisible bridges. Hebrews 11:1 in the NIV says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” which requires some deeper thinking. Faith is paying our bills or our tithes when we only have a small amount in our bank account. Faith is resting in God and having a sincere confidence that His Word will never fail. Going back to our original story, in verse 29 we read, “Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Yes, it’s very difficult to trust the Lord when all we can see is discouragement and hopelessness but let’s remember when Almighty GOD speaks to the storms, they have no choice but to obey His commands. He is always with you on the front-line of battle and the devils and demons must bow before Him and submit to His authority! Paul and Silas were being held in prison, yet began to worship. Why? Because they had JOY in knowing that God was on their side. The Bible says that joy is a spiritual strength that is NOT confined to a geographic location, a mood, or an emotion – it’s activated when the determination to believe God becomes stronger than the temptation to doubt Him! They made a CHOICE to praise God because they loved Him and trusted Him and this opportunity is available to anyone!
Faith declares that I will trust God no matter what happens because He always has my best interest in mind. Hopelessness is a mental decision from the default nature that occurs when people only have confidence in their own decisions. This is where religion becomes confused with a relationship. Religion has never helped anyone because it is based on a physical and mental form of traditions and legalism. You see, human intellect, impressive education, riches, church buildings, rituals, or political power cannot redeem a soul or bring true spiritual peace. Only God can change a mind and transform a life and our relationship with Him is the meaning of life. Nothing is more powerful than His authority, and He knows that if we will place our life completely in His hands and develop our faith, In the name of Jesus we can speak to the mountains in our life, and they will be removed. His perfect will is for us to follow Him, trust Him, love and worship Him and obey His voice in ALL things.
I realize that church leaders must be transparent with their feelings because if the “human factor” did not come through with our personalities, we would all seem very robotic. But at the same time many feel pressured or forced to be “bouncy happy” all the time because they want to keep everyone pumped up, and fear if they do not demonstrate a positive image, they will appear weak and discourage others. Learning how to be “real” is like walking an emotional tight wire, and people need to remember that we all still live in a fragile human housing. The role of a pastor is not easy and deserves more prayer and less criticism. Years ago I attended a meeting of pastors that were discussing the trials and challenges of ministry, and instead of being excited, I was disappointed because they were not wearing their “super-hero” capes. I listened as these leaders shared their burdens and worries and questions about church growth and how to get people to embrace their vision. As they talked about their problems with everything from excessive debt to people being unfaithful, I sensed a heaviness of negativity and defeat. When it was over, I was left with a feeling exhausted and a lack of hope for the local church. I was not encouraged, inspired, or built up in any way, yet was surrounded by God’s warriors that were supposed to be filled with God’s power and faith. I felt there had been a mistake because I thought I was going to a celebration of spiritual victory with the generals, but instead had been sitting in on a religious pity party. I was saying to myself, that everyone knows there are problems in the church, but pastors are supposed to have the answers! What I was NOT considering is that generals need places to vent their frustrations and struggles and a safe environment would be with those who understand what they are going through. Local assemblies have teachers, counselors, associate pastors, administrators, singers, musicians, superintendents, elders, and deacons, but none of these are actually responsible for knowing the direction of the church because they do not “literally” lead it. Of course, Christ is the head of the church, but He appoints the “under Shepherd” to relay His messages and care for the sheep. Let us all remember that the pastor is hated by the devil and wears the brightest bulls-eye on his back.
It’s true, the supernatural gift and office for pastors is to know God’s vision for the assembly and lead His soldiers into the battle! But what I personally failed to experience in that room was compassion for those who stand on the front lines. These men were letting down their guard in front of me. They felt secure with each other and used this time as a place of refuge away from the war, to share their wounds, experiences, and open hearts. I did not adjust to what was happening and was judging too harshly. They are the ones that get up in the middle of the night and kneel on cold hospital floors praying for the sick. They hold people’s hands who are passing on to the next life. They are the ones that counsel the messes that others have made and go inside the prisons to preach the kingdom message. They carry the worries and stresses that no one else knows because many people have shared their secret lives with them and trust them to keep it confidential. While none of us, including pastors, are to live in a world of depression, let us also remember that it’s okay, to be honest with the ones we trust and who care for our souls. Overcomers carry burdens, but they also learn to leave those burdens at the cross because they are very heavy and can hinder our liberty to live in joy. May we remember that as servants of the Most High, ministers feel the same pain and heartache that everyone does, and there is no condemnation for being transparent. It is not an option but critical that we all learn how to encourage ourselves and know the source of our strength. Overcomers learn that qualities like fortitude, perseverance, and integrity are formed in times of great difficulty. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (II Corinthians 4:8-9).
Father, I desperately need you to fill me with your PASSION. Make me hungry for your presence, and help me to develop an awareness of your voice within my heart. If I do not have your FIRE, I will never come out of my comfort zone. If I do not have your love working in my conscience, I am nothing. Break me and melt me so that I can be molded into your image. Do a strong work in my heart that will literally CHANGE the way I think. I am weak Lord; please give me compassion and a burden for the lost. I need your faith and strength and desire to become the witness you are waiting for me to be. Use me in your fields that are white with harvest. Pour out your Spirit on me I pray. In your holy name, I pray, Amen.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 12 – PUBLISHED 3/24/18
WHERE ARE YOU IN THE MASTER’S PLAN?
We have been given God’s promises and instructions that explain how we are to react to the world’s system and how to believe that He will create and provide the miracles we need. But for the most part, we have become a spoiled generation that has never known what it means to have a serious need except in a crisis. This mindset has put many of God’s people into a self-induced coma of relaxation and comfort. May we not lean on our own understanding or trust in our own strength, politics, talent, logic, or education when it comes to being a last-day overcomer, but rather let us simply listen to God’s counsel and then pray for the courage to walk by faith and accomplish HIS will. If we are going to be provided for like Elijah at the brook and the woman with the measure of oil, we must learn how to not only be an encouragement to others but (by faith) encourage our own hearts. If we cannot believe God to heal our sore toe today, what makes us think we will be able to believe Him for a loaf of bread in the day of famine?
There is no reason to be stressed or worried about what man can do because we have been promised that our direction and encouragement will be given to those who seek and TRUST the Almighty. “The Lord is near unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry and will save them” (Psalm 18-19). He will lead us in the revelation of His Word, He will supply prophecies, visions, dreams, wonders, miracles, and signs as He guided and provided for the children of Israel. Trust that He will never fail and that His Word is TRUE forever. The Lord said in Acts chapter 2 verses 16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it will come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they will prophecy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon to blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass that whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So many today are dependent on other people but we must learn how to walk by ourselves with only holding on to His hand. We must learn how to hear God’s voice for ourselves. We must develop a spiritual confidence in God and not be afraid to make decisions based solely on His voice even if everyone we know turns away from His truth. If we do not start learning today, it will be too late to develop an understanding faith and trust when the world begins to shake.
Is it not true that God has always been trying to get our attention? He is doing everything He can to tell us (and the world) that we need to allow Him to OPEN the eyes of our hearts so that we can learn how to live for Him. Of course, the devil wants to keep these revelations a secret because he realizes they are military strategies that can tear down his spiritual strongholds and defeat the powers of darkness. The devil and all of his minions are on “high alert” to prevent God’s overcomers from being enthused and motivated! Remember the story found in I Samuel chapter 30 about David and his army when they returned home to Ziklag and found the city had been burned and all of their families had been taken captive by the Amalekites. Verse 4 says, “Then David and all the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep.” But notice in the last part of verse 6, “but David encouraged (strengthened) himself in the Lord his God.” We MUST learn how to strengthen ourselves in the Lord our God! The ones that are involved with ministering God’s Kingdom will not always feel like standing strong or being electrified with an overflowing current of excitement. These are the times when we need to have a private consultation in front of the mirror and lay down God’s law to our will! We are being called to listen to King Jesus as He inspires us to confess out loud HIS TRUTH over ourselves and our situations and then make the decision to live it!
You see, the old will and nature are directly associated with the old way of thinking. However, when our minds have been renewed in Christ, our will MUST take its rightful place in submission to Jesus. We can demand, confess, and command all we want, but until this structure of order has been established, the process will not function properly. This is the heart of the Christian life and also what many churches are avoiding to teach. If a church is not instructing the people about this revelation, they are actually hurting and hindering the spiritual advancement of God’s people. Where is the seeking out our own salvation with fear and trembling? All the rituals, programs, and traditions that have become a comfortable part of our church experiences will only amount to a comfortable social gathering unless we embrace the revelation of yielding our will. We know how strong this religious spirit can be because we saw a glimpse of it when Jesus personally came against it. Remember, the people cried give us Barabbas and our will is constantly crying the same thing. Our depraved nature is a big spoiled baby that demands and dares anything or anyone (especially God) to disrupt its pleasures and desires. Very few individuals including most of the religious world have ever made the decision to fight and resist this bondage. When the “will” controls the person there is NO way that Jesus is their Lord. This is such a serious subject and yet many churches have made the decision to feed the beast instead of destroying it. We must die in order to live but the “will” is controlling the pulpits. Christians do NOT want to hear about dying to the flesh! They want to hear about how wonderful they are and how God wants to give them their hearts desires. Religious people will fight and kill you over their traditions because their views are more important than having a personal relationship with God. If all attendees were truly filled with the Holy Spirit, they would demonstrate the character of Christ and turn the world upside down for Jesus. Sadly, I’m convinced that many church members are living in the false security of a religious lifestyle and have never taken or desired to take the step of faith into the Holy of Holies. This explains why the religious world is HUGE and will continue following the message of comfort and pleasure while the remnant bride may be small in numbers but dedicated to walking the narrow path of truth no matter how painful. When we have a genuine passion to yield our will and grow deeper in our spiritual intimacy with Jesus, our perspective on everything (including church and religion) completely changes.
One of the greatest mysteries and deceptions of life is not realizing that our will is very sneaky. Humans believe they control themselves but actually, they are being controlled. When we hear about there being room for only one THRONE in everyone’s heart, most of the time this statement goes in one ear and out the other without being planted. Why? Because this truth is so powerful that the human “will” realizes this revelation can destroy its stronghold to control an individual. The natural human attitude is very powerful and so manipulative that most everyone in the world does not comprehend they are being possessed by their own fallen nature. However, when a person makes the decision to invite Christ to govern the throne of their heart, the will is defeated and must submit to the Lordship of Jesus. This life-changing miracle opens the door for the mind to be renewed and transformed which allows us to sincerely walk in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Two kings CANNOT rule the same kingdom. Romans chapter 6 is one of those chapters the human will tries to avoid at all cost. No matter how far we run away and hide, or how many masks we try to wear, we are never escaping the responsibility of being accountable. We are never doing it “our way” no matter how proud Frank Sinatra was of being rebellious and stubborn. Verse 16 blows the trumpet loud and clear warning us of our foolishness, “Do you not comprehend that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you become a slave of the one you obey, either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness?”
You see, if we listen to our own thoughts, we are serving our flesh, if we follow the influences of Satan we are serving the kingdom of darkness, and if we obey God’s persuasion, we are serving the Almighty. The old Bob Dylan song confirms God’s Word that you and I,“Gotta serve somebody.” There is NO way around it! We can take the safe path of least resistance where we just hold our shields, play defense, go through the motions, and do just enough to get by, or we can face our fears of being uncomfortable, take a bold stand, pick up our swords, and go on the offense. We have a mission: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of PRAISE for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that HE might be glorified” (Isaiah 61: 3). Will we sit around and allow discouragement and apathy to rule us the rest of our life? Or will we arise and DEMONSTRATE to others how and where to find the oil of gladness on their way to accomplishing the divine destiny Jesus has called them to live? God has given us a trumpet – will we blow it? Where are you in the Master’s plan?
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Part 11 – Published 3/17/18
GOD’S HIDDEN ARMY – by David Wilkerson
This week’s message is a short prophecy from David Wilkerson. It’s an encouragement to the body of Christ and I wanted to share it with you. I have read much of his writings and believe God has used him as a bold voice over the years. I encourage you to read, “Set the trumpet to thy mouth.” He was known to be critical of the religious system and believed there was a tiny church within the much larger church who were actually the true remnant disciples of Jesus. This has always been a more radical view, but to me, one that deserves consideration. I believe this is why teachers like Tozer were always frustrated with the direction of the church. He loved God’s people and God’s kingdom but also realized that much of what he was seeing was a false and deceptive form of godliness. The devil is the ultimate imposter who is a religious expert filled with lies and twisted influences and sadly, many cannot tell the difference between religion and relationship. May we continue seeking God’s revelation wisdom and understanding.
“Something very powerful is going on in the world today. God is doing a hidden, quiet work, something so supernatural that it is beyond human comprehension. He is preparing a small but powerful army that is going to be the most dedicated on the face of the earth. The Lord is going to close out the ages with a pure, devoted, fearless remnant. All my life I heard stories of our godly forebears, men, and women who spent hours, even days, in fasting and prayer. They knew God’s voice and they had the power to successfully stand up against evil in their day. These godly forefathers have passed on but God is in the process of raising up another army. This new army will be composed of believers both young and old who lay hold of God. A whole new realm of ministry is about to come forth! The denominational church system appears to be in the throes of death, possessing almost no influence in the secular world, no mighty power of Christ. Growing numbers of ministers are falling, and worldliness continues to creep into the church of Jesus Christ. The devil is claiming victory, as more and more pastor’s race down the road of compromise and corruption. Yet the Bible says we are not to fret! God has a plan and it is being manifested. He is hearing the cries of His children who have given themselves totally to him. People will run to find them, crying, “I know you are someone who touches God…and I need God to touch me!”
Beloved, God wants to make you a part of his hidden army! He wants to give you a ministry to others who come to you with their burdens and trials. When you spend time with Him, you will be able to stand up boldly with spiritual authority and declare, “thus says the Lord” because you have been seeking, praying and listening to His voice.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 10 – Published 3/10/2018
ARE WE OUR OWN WORST ENEMY?
Human existence is created with a standard requirement to choose right and wrong and has always been forced to deal with good and evil. We all have free-will to choose how we will live and there is no such thing as walking through this life refusing to participate in the divine accountability process by claiming to be independent. Even if it was possible to live isolated from civilization no one has the power or authority to decide whether or not they can be excused from God’s judgment. I see so many people wanting to leave the grid and get out on their own and all that, but they never mention about still being held accountable to God. They also do not talk about whether or not they are being led by the Holy Spirit or if they are just tired of the rat race. It would seem that everyone would understand this principle of how there are only two choices but not being able to see the spiritual truth is a sobering example of deception. Being spiritually free has nothing to do with living in a cabin on a mountain. It means freedom from sin and yielding our will to God so we can enjoy the liberty of walking in His presence wherever we are.
The same is true when choosing which style or flavor of Christian views. They are not all the same. There is God’s truth and everything else. I would say that a high percentage of people would agree that every soul that has ever been born will face God some day and give an account of their life. This may not be a popular subject even among the church world, but nonetheless, an issue that falls under the category of statements that is true. The fascinating aspect of this knowledge is that most individuals do not really enforce it as a vital part of their own self-discipline. How do you know? If this was actually happening, we would be spending our evenings praying instead of watching TV. We seem to be religious experts in comprehending what is right and wrong and are always first in line to judge others but have a tendency to be very lenient with our own life. Human nature has a self-preservation mode built into its mentality that unfortunately gives us the capability to convince ourselves we are alright even when we are clearly wrong. It’s dangerous but true that the conscience can out-smart and cleverly persuade the brain that we are perfectly justified in our actions. This ability to come up with excuses and override every voice of reason (including the Holy Spirit) can be blamed for much of why we are our own worst enemy. It also partly explains how individuals can seemingly live however they want without experiencing the agonizing conviction of guilt.
God is not only perfectly aware of how humans are wired but keeps track of every thought as the Bible says in Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I the Lord search the heart, I test the emotions, even to give every person according to their ways and according to the fruits of their doings.” He created us and is Omniscient, He perfectly understands how difficult it will be for anyone to allow Him to change their mind. You see, we cannot hide behind religion to mask our true spiritual condition and accepting a free ticket to heaven is not all there is to salvation. Eternal security is a result of surrendering the control of our will so that as our Lord He can transform us from the inside out.
Christian liberty is not about doing whatever we want but the desire to surrender our will in order to enjoy freedom from sin. Those who are serious about following Christ will also be serious about overcoming sin in their life. Since our nature is fighting against our considerations to be more like Jesus we are definitely going to need to read the training manual about spiritual warfare. The Bible is filled with instructions on how to know right from wrong and how to ask for God’s help to give us the victory but only those who diligently seek truth will find it. This has always been the problem – people do not want to know how physically, mentally, and spiritually unhealthy they are. We do not want to hear how we need to change which is why the Bible has more dust on the cover than the issue of Better Homes and Gardens. We prove our love and trust to God by the way we live. Wow! Someone needs to write that down!
Taking time to consider the complexity of human behavior and how it makes the spiritual transformation process a tremendous challenge should at least open our eyes to a greater sense of personal responsibility. Again, the question is do we want our eyes open or are we happy to hope for the best? It seems that even the gospel of Jesus Christ is now being transformed into the gospel of success and pleasure. I believe God wants to bless us but we must be careful to not just focus on blessings. He also wants to do some major changes in our life that may be painful so we must also allow Him to do whatever it takes to accomplish His plans. Actually, the only person who promised earthly wealth and power was when Satan offered these things to Jesus when Christ was fasting and praying. Hmmm… The choices we make in this life will come down to allowing our carnal nature to control us or allowing the Holy Spirit to control us. By the way, these decisions will also be the focus of our conversation when we stand before God one day. Will we fight against the darkness and become a living sacrifice or will we celebrate life as a party and worship the creation instead of the Creator? Living in denial and not caring about developing an awareness of our accountability gives our human nature the perfect opportunity to ruin us in this life and possibly the next.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 9 – Published 3/3/18
HAVING THE DESIRE TO WORSHIP
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in Spirit and truth” John 4:23-24.
It’s strange that many Christians do not comprehend about worship but we can see how this can happen if worship is never taught or explained. The same is true with praying, Bible study, and evangelizing simply because many churches are based on a spectator mentality. Very similar to going to the movies or an opera, the idea of a religious “program” has turned many assemblies into not much more than a formal social gathering. It’s true that large crowds will attend a non-threatening meeting where food is served along with quality entertainment and maybe this explains the success with seeker friendly churches. They hardly want to get into the nuts and bolts of the deeper aspects of spiritual living because they do not want to run everyone off. Nonetheless, there is much more about worship and if we pull back the covers of our rebellion, another more disturbing idea is exposed. Do we really want to worship God? We know our carnal human nature fights against the Spirit of God and certainly does NOT desire to praise and worship someone that we cannot see. People might bow down or kiss a statue but this does not please the Lord. We are commanded to NOT make an image of God.
We have talked about worship in the corporate setting of church and in times of quiet solitude, but there is another view of worship that is the highest form of expression in love, obedience, and devotion and that is the constant “state of mind” of God’s presence. More than music or a system of rituals and traditions, the true concept of worship has more to do with the attitude of the heart than anything else.
OK, since we know that our flesh opposes worshiping Jesus, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to allow our flesh to rule us or are we going to put some effort into this situation? First of all – do we care? This is the idea of being lukewarm which is another way of saying someone does not care. My question has always been, if we have no desire to worship now, what makes us think we will want to worship in heaven? Come to think of it, if we do not want to pray, worship, give, or serve in this life, why are we calling ourselves a follower and disciple of Christ in the first place? So, how do we become spiritually ignited? We must decide who we want to be and how we want to live and then give ourselves completely over to God and ask Him to do whatever it takes to help make this happen. My advice is not to ask this unless you are ready to have your world turned completely upside down.
If going to church does not necessarily prove that someone is an obedient disciple of Christ then can we agree that singing a praise song is not necessarily worshiping God? It is true that singing unto the Lord can be a part of expressing love and gratitude but the scripture in John 4:24 say’s, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” It does not say they shall just “sing songs” in spirit and truth. Whether in deed or thought, one must be flowing with the intentions of pure love or the labor will be tainted with the smell of ulterior motives. Many of our religious traditions have caused confusion and unfortunately, many Christians have been lulled to sleep by the subtle deceptions of what a Christian should be. The masses feel pretty good about their church attendance and how they participate in a “worship” service an hour every week but is this the complete, “big picture” of holy devotion, adoration, and obedience? Of course not! Our traditions try to deceive us into thinking that going to church is the Christian life (I wish it was that easy). Actually the tiny amount of time we are in church together is like a time-out in a game where the players go to the sidelines to join together in the safety of unity, catch their breath, get a drink, wipe off the sweat and blood, listen to instructions from their coach and be reminded of their purpose and destiny – then they go back into battle. Like the team of players, the battle is not with each other which is why we love the peace and anointing when we are together – the real combat is against the devil which lives in the children of darkness and influences much of the world’s system where we walk every day.
I once thought that church was THE place of worship and that we should try to spend as much time as possible to magnify God. I was often frustrated because there were many other parts of the service that took up the time. What I have come to realize is that a church service is not the entire worship experience for the week but rather a time where we learn how to worship the rest of the week. Likewise, a sermon is not the only word we should receive all week but rather is a supplement to our daily intake of God’s Word. The church is a learning/practice session that equips and instructs us on how to “DEMONSTRATE” being a disciple when we leave the building. The truth is that worshiping in Spirit and Truth is not just going through the motions of a ritual or ceremony – it’s how we live every moment. Singing songs or working in Christian service, in general, is very elementary and shallow without the consecrated, committed life of being Christ-like. Unfortunately playing church is quite common which is why services are cold and lifeless. Worship is walking in the constant awareness of God’s presence or as commonly referred to as “walking in the Holy Spirit.” True praise and worship is living and walking out the words of the very songs we are singing about. If a person only goes to church and sings worship songs (which is alright) but they may not understand the bigger picture of worship. This is an example of how a holy act of spiritual reverence can evolve into another religious ritual and sadly the enemy has influenced this deception into Christendom.
Many years ago the Lord spoke to us through a prophetic word that God would give me a gift to write songs but I would have to “walk them out” (some hard walking) which is the reason we named our ministry at the time, “Walking Thru Ministries.” The Lord was saying that just because someone can write about truth (preach, teach, sing, serve or whatever), these are all forms and ways of communication that can help us learn how to LIVE for Him, but this is not all there is to it. Working for His Kingdom can become just busy labor without the His anointing and our consecrated, committed life of being Christ-like! Worshiping in Spirit and truth does not just mean our vocals are in perfect harmony or the music is in the right key. Also, our hair standing up on the back of neck or goosebumps on our arms does not mean anything to God if our walk does not match our talk. It’s all about allowing Jesus to transform us into His image and being willing to yield our will so He can execute His plan through us. We can listen to sermons and sing songs while not even thinking about God or what is being said and I’m sure all of us have done it. Many believe that filling a quota of deeds somehow (in the cosmic filing cabinet of records) earns them a more pleasing position with God and a higher place of spiritual achievement but that is just an illusion. The Pharisees were constantly performing religious works and God was angry with them. Why? They were trusting a legalistic ritual and had no idea about a personal relationship with God. Their story and the confrontation with Jesus is written specifically so that we can see and understand the difference between religion and spirituality.
The first part of Proverbs 23:7 say’s, “For as he thinks in his heart so is he…” Our church services and programs should never be a place where we act spiritual or put on a show to convince others how close we are to God. Worship is not a style but an intimate relationship from the creation to the Creator. It is our highest connection to God now and forever. Worship is a revelation that involves spiritual wisdom and understanding about who God is and who we are IN HIM. When the desire to express our love for God becomes our continued focus and intention – then we are truly learning how to worship.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 8 Published 2/24/2018
THERMOMETERS, SWITCHES, AND ELEVATORS
There are two kinds of spiritual conditions; HOT – and everything else in between. Just like the different sizes of spiritual roads (broad and narrow), the different attitudes of the heart is what IDENTIFIES each person and actually each church. A spiritually strong church is filled with people that have embraced the revelation of letting go of the love of this world. They have been presented with the opportunity to be mentally and spiritually transformed and have made the commitment to stay in the operating room until the work is done. I do not need to ask what this has to do with worship because as we have mentioned throughout these letters, our thirst to worship God reveals the temperature on our relationship “thermometer” with Him. Worship is our outward expression to God – that reveals our internal love for Him. Show me a dry, lukewarm church and I will show you a group of people that do not have a burden to pray. Yes, it’s wonderful to learn more knowledge but it’s also time to demonstrate the truth we have already learned.
Christians will always find themselves standing at a crossroad that presents the choices of either taking the detour to “carnal parkway” or to just stay straight on the “HIGHway of holiness.” Those who are filled with God’s Spirit and know His perfect will are constantly faced with the convictions to be a participator or a spectator. When a person cuts ties with this world’s system and sacrifices their will and desires to follow God completely, they no longer use the “switch” where they turn God off and on. The flip switch now has a protective covering on it called “a holy vow” and their dedication to love controls their decisions. When the follower of Christ allows this switch to be turned on and left on, they will forever be changed from a believer to a disciple. That is exactly what happened to Peter, Andrew, James, and John in Mathew chapter four. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he, (Jesus) saith unto them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed him. And going on from there, he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he (Jesus) called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Verses 18-22) Have you dropped your nets and followed Him? If not, do you think that someday you might? Do you want to be at this level, or do you just want enough to get by? Come to think of it, just how much of God do you want?
“Elevate” means; (to raise or lift to a higher level; to improve one’s moral or intellectual awareness; to improve one’s spirit) and as we elevate with Christ, the intensity of our light will increase as we go to a higher voltage. The deeper and higher we go to God the more our eyes will be opened to see how much more there is to enjoy. Sadly many are still sitting on the ground floor without even caring about the rows of buttons that lead to higher habitations with God. The Lord wants us to “rise” in our understanding and increase our passion to become all that He dies for us to be. It is said that the more we learn, the more we realize we do not know but sadly many have felt that learning and developing is not necessary to inherit eternal life. The problem is not with the number of available lighthouses, but that very few are turned on or operating as a city that is set on a hill. Worship and prayer are not just EVENTS – They are a lifestyle of adoration! It’s not that people do not know or have even plugged into the power source – it is the refusal to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” Matthew 5:16. It’s not that Christians do not have the understanding of what they should do, but they will work overtime trying to avoid the most important “command” and that is to willingly crawl onto the burning altar and be consumed as a living sacrifice. God desires to take us from glory to glory, higher and deeper but has given each person the free will to make their own decisions. There is nothing (except our own decision) that is stopping any of us from worshiping, praying, studying and seeking His face every day, every night and being literally FILLED with Him. “For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8: 38-39. May we notice that everything is mentioned here except our own free-will. The problem is that we go to God like we shop at the grocery store. We push our basket around, take what we want and leave. When we have all the blessings we want, we refuse to develop or progress any further with Him and unfortunately, this is hurting Christianity. We do not necessarily need to hear more about how to live for God, we just need more enthusiasm to do it.
There is an epidemic of laziness. A lukewarm attitude does not care about quality or excellence and never gets anything accomplished that is worth anything. It’s a “barely get by” mentality that is poison to a company, a relationship, an organization – AND a church. Since this stinking way of thinking does not really care about anything and lacks a deep devotion and commitment, it will not blink an eye to back-stab and criticize. If people do not believe the cause is worth the cost – they will not support it or pour their heart and soul into it. The simple truth; if people do not value a soul they will not pray or have a burden to witness. If they do not value the vision of the church they will not give or serve. If a person does not love God with all of their heart, they will not surrender their will to Him! In fact, if people do not love to worship, they will actually hinder the atmosphere.
Maybe the reason why some people do not worship the Lord is that they have heard the Bible stories about Jesus but have never experienced HIM personally. There is a huge difference! (I see the pictures of Presidents on my money every day, but I never knew them personally). Maybe they already worship so many other idols there is no room left for God. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:3-5). Maybe some are living in a lukewarm lethargic coma. Or maybe the reason why people are not concerned with worshiping God is that they have never deeply fallen in love with Him. I want to share a word from the Lord that still pierces my heart with conviction. This was written on a scrap piece of paper and handed to me by a dear saint at a church on June the twenty-seventh, 2010. “You cannot be “in like” with me; you must be “in love” with me. “In like” will only take you to the gate, but “in love” will take you all the way to where I am. “In like” will not crucify your will; “in love” will make you say, not my will but your will be done, no matter where it takes me or what it cost me.”
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 7 – Published 2/17/18
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING – II
We have been given God’s promises and instructions that explain how we are to react to the world’s system and how to believe that He will create and provide the miracles we need. But we have become a spoiled generation that has never known what it means to really have a need except in a crisis which has put many of God’s people into a self-induced coma of relaxation and comfort. We must not lean on our own understanding or trust in our own strength, politics, logic, or education when it comes to survival, but rather listen to God’s counsel. If we are going to be provided for like Elijah at the brook and the woman with the measure of oil, we must learn how to not only be an encouragement to others but (by faith) encourage our own hearts. If we cannot believe God to heal our sore toes today, what makes us think we will be able to believe Him for a loaf of bread in the day of famine? There is no reason to be stressed or worried about what man can do because we have been promised that our direction and encouragement will be given to those who seek the Almighty. “The Lord is near unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them” (Psalm 18-19). He will lead us with the revelations of His Word, prophecies, visions, dreams, wonders, miracles, and signs as He guided and provided for the children of Israel. The Lord said in Acts chapter 2 verses 16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it will come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they will prophecy: and I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon to blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass that whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The word of the Lord for today is that He is trying to get our attention. He is doing everything He can to tell us that we need to allow Him to OPEN the eyes of our heart so that we can learn how to live for Him. Of course, the devil wants to keep these revelations a secret because he realizes they are military strategies that can tear down his spiritual strongholds and defeat the powers of darkness. Satan and his demons are on “high alert” to prevent God’s overcomers from being encouraged and empowered! Remember the story found in I Samuel chapter 30 about David and his army when they returned home to Ziklag and found the city had been burned and all of their families had been taken captive by the Amalekites. Verse 4 says, “Then David and all the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep.” But notice carefully in the last part of verse 6, “but David encouraged [strengthened] himself in the Lord his God.” Wow, what a revelation! Have you ever been in a place where the only encouragement was found between you and God? This world can be a very lonely place when you are trying to follow Jesus. Those who are involved with ministering in God’s Kingdom will not always feel like standing strong or being electrified with an overflowing current of excitement and enthusiasm. Every now and then we fall into sadness and depression because our emotions are connected to our circumstances. These are the times when we need to have a private consultation in front of the mirror and remind ourselves of God’s promises! We must listen to King Jesus as He inspires us to confess out loud HIS TRUTH to ourselves and over our situation. Amen! I’m preaching better than you are responding.
You see, the old will is associated with the old way of natural thinking. However, when our minds have been renewed in Christ, our will must yield and take its rightful place in submission to Jesus. This is the most difficult challenge we will face as Christians. The question will always remain, do we really want to go this far with God? We can demand and command all we want, but until this structure of order has been established, our spiritual development will not function properly. We can take the safe path of least resistance where we just hold up our shields, play defense, and do enough to get by, or we can face our fears of being uncomfortable, take a bold stand, pick up our swords, and go on the offense. We have a mission: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of PRAISE for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that HE might be glorified” (Isaiah 61: 3). Will you sit around and allow discouragement to rule you the rest of your life? or will you arise and help others find the oil of gladness on their way to accomplishing the divine destiny Jesus has called them to live?
Soon after Jesus had resurrected, we find a beautiful passage found in John chapter 20 that is a loving example of how much God wants to encourage us. Here is a story about the friends and family of Christ that were gathered together mourning His death when all of a sudden He appears in their midst! Of course, I am sure they are awestruck. Then He stretches out His hands and His side, and they were overjoyed to see Him. He spoke peace unto them and breathed on them and filled them with the Holy Spirit. Allow me to say, that even in the times when we do NOT believe, He will make the extra effort to find us and prove to us that He personally cares about us. Thomas was not there that night and when he was told that Jesus has visited them, he said that until he could touch His scars, he could not accept it. After eight days they were meeting again, except this time Thomas was there, and Jesus appeared again. He told Thomas to reach out and touch the scars, and he did. Jesus said, “Be not faithless, but believing,” and Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God.” How many times have you needed the Lord to inject faith into your doubt? When Jesus intervenes – nothing is ever the same! Selah. When He speaks to the storms, they have no choice but to obey His commands, and when He is with you on the front-line, the devils and demons must bow before Him and submit to His authority! Paul and Silas were locked in prison, yet began to worship because joy is not confined to a geographic location, a mood, or an emotion – it is activated when the determination to believe God becomes stronger than the temptation to doubt Him! They made a CHOICE to praise God because THEY LOVED HIM! He knows that if He can keep your faith running at a high level that with faith in the name of Jesus YOU can speak to the mountains in your life, and they will be removed!
Hopelessness is a condition of the default system that occurs when people only trust their own decisions. Human intellect, impressive education, riches, or political power cannot help save souls or bring true peace. Only God can change a mind and transform a life. I realize that church leaders must be real with their feelings because if the “human factor” did not come through our personalities, we would all seem very robotic. However, at the same time, many feel pressured and obligated to be “bouncy happy” all the time because they want to keep everyone pumped up. They are afraid if they do not demonstrate a positive image, this will discourage others. Learning how to be “real” is like walking an emotional tight wire, and people need to remember that we all still live in a mortal shell of flesh. The role of a pastor is not easy and deserves more prayer and less criticism. I remember attending a meeting years ago with a small group of pastors that were discussing the trials and challenges of ministry. I was young in the ministry and sat quietly but instead of being inspired and excited, I was disappointed because they were being exposed without wearing their “super-hero” capes. I listened as each one shared their burdens and worries and questions about church growth and how to get people to catch their vision. As they talked about their problems with everything from excessive debt to people being unfaithful, I sensed a heaviness of negativity and defeat. When it was over, I was left with a feeling of concern and a lack of hope for the future of all churches. I felt there had been a mistake because I thought I was going to a celebration of spiritual victory with the generals, but instead had been sitting in on a religious pity party. I was saying to myself, that everyone knows there are problems in the church, but pastors are supposed to have the answers! What I had forgotten was to realize that even generals need places to vent their frustrations and weaknesses and a safe environment would be with those who understand what they are going through. I look back and realize this honest exposure of their vulnerability was more of a therapy session and was good for them to air out their discouragements even though they were spiritual leaders that were filled with God’s power and faith. Local assemblies have teachers, counselors, associate pastors, administrators, singers, musicians, superintendents, elders, and deacons, but none of these leaders are actually responsible for knowing the direction of the church because they have not been called to be in charge. Of course, Christ is the head of the church, but He appoints the “under Shepherd” to listen to His direction, relay His messages and care for the sheep. Let us all keep in mind that the pastor also wears the brightest bulls-eye on his back.
It’s true, the supernatural gift and office for pastors is to know God’s vision for the assembly and lead the warriors into the battle! But what I was able to learn that day in a room of pastors was compassion for those who stand on the front lines. These men were laying down their armor and letting down their guard as a break from the battle. They felt secure with each other and used this time as a place of refuge away from the war, to share their wounds, experiences, and open their hearts. I did not adjust to what was happening and was judging too harshly. It was not about me feeling good or having a false security toward another human being. It was about understanding that we are all frail and can only succeed and accomplish anything worthwhile when God moves THROUGH us! They are the ones that get up in the middle of the night and kneel on cold hospital floors praying for the sick. They hold people’s hands who are passing on to the next life. It’s their voice that is heard echoing the twenty-third Psalm in the cemetery. They are the ones that willingly counsel the terrible messes that others have made and go inside the prisons to preach repentance and forgiveness. These humble servants carry the worries and stress that no one else knows because many people have shared their secret lives with them and trust them to keep it confidential. While none of us, including pastors, are to live in a world of depression, let us also remember that it’s okay, to be honest with the ones we trust and who care for our souls. Overcomers carry burdens, but they also learn to leave those burdens at the cross because they are very heavy and can hinder our liberty and ability to live in joy. May we remember that as instruments of the Most High, ministers feel the same pain and heartache that everyone does, and there is no condemnation for being transparent. It’s not an option but essential that we all learn how to encourage ourselves and know the source of our strength. Overcomers learn that qualities like fortitude, perseverance, and integrity are formed in times of great difficulty. Who knows, there may come a time when we have no one but God. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (II Corinthians 4:8-9).
Father, I desperately need you to fill me with your PASSION. Make me hungry for your presence, and help me to develop an awareness of your voice within my heart. If I do not have your FIRE, I will never come out of my comfort zone. If I do not have your love working in my conscience, I am nothing. Break me and melt me so that I can be molded into your image. Do a strong work in my heart that will literally CHANGE the way I think. I am weak Lord; please give me compassion and a burden for the lost. I need your faith and strength and desire to become the witness you are waiting for me to be. Use me in your fields that are white with harvest. Pour out your Spirit on me I pray. In your holy name, I pray, Amen.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 6 – Published 2/10/18
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING – I
“And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death” (Revelation 12:11).
The blood of Jesus empowers His saints with the authority in His NAME! Their testimony was and is a declaration of faith which declares they know who they are IN Christ and that NOTHING can stop them from accomplishing His will! The Kingdom of God is advancing – because it CANNOT be stopped! God’s nature is love and nothing can conquer love! By now, we realize that the Christian journey is not all smooth interstate driving. There are side roads and difficult places that many times contain discouragements, frustrations, and disappointments. For the remnant disciple, a wonderful lesson to learn and stay aware of (after we’ve been knocked to the ground), is the courage and confidence to get back up, dust ourselves off and keep going. The enemy has spent the last 6000 years trying to confuse and distract men and women away from God’s will, but thankfully, the Lord’s love is the divine light that CANNOT be quenched! Darkness cannot overcome one tiny lit candle, and all of the hate in the universe cannot outweigh one act of genuine love! Love IS the authority of God and will never fail! When we learn how to encourage our own hearts, we can take another step into the maturity process of being an overcomer for Christ. How do we do that? Finding that secret place alone with God, pouring out our fears and allowing Him to fill us with His Holy Spirit. Spiritual intimacy with Christ is the key to living as an overcomer.
It’s true there are times when we become down and discouraged, and we all will have problems and situations that we must deal with in this life. Thank God, He is always there as a safe haven to give us genuine hope and support that can help us through our times of troubles and sorrows. But there is a different type of sadness that is finding its way into the hearts and minds of the weary warriors, and it’s coming from a decrease of joy. Yes, the battle is intense, and at times many of the soldiers may crawl and drag themselves to the body of Christ (and hopefully your local church is a hospital for the wounded). If your church is not a place to find refuge and encouragement, their emphasis is on the wrong thing. There is nothing wrong with counseling and prayer, however, the worship service is no place for negativity, unbelief, or an attitude of defeat. We must be sensitive to the spirits of depression, negative personalities, oppressive, critical, and judgmental attitudes that are like a contagious virus that can infect others with hopelessness and drain the atmosphere of spiritual joy. In I John chapter 1, verse 4 we see that joy is like a liquid in a “tank” that can run low or be remain filled, and it’s crucial to guard our joy and protect it. Much of this has to do with understanding about our joy with the Lord, spiritual warfare, and our personal responsibility. “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” If the general of an army told the soldiers they did not have a chance to win the battle, it would exhaust their strength and crush their faith before they even started. Likewise, if we neglect our joy, it does not take very long for us to be overcome with darkness and sadness. So how do we stay filled with joy? This is one of the simplest yet most complex revelations of our faith: Our constant flow of Joy comes from abiding under the shadow of The Almighty with a personal, constant, and intimate relationship with Him.
Thoughts of defeat, frustration, worry, failure, and fear are the uninvited guests in the church, and all ministry leaders are too familiar with these haunting shadows of discouragement. No matter how we seem on the outside, the spiritual strength of the individual is based on the fullness of joy within the heart. Without a strong personal relationship with God, there is limited joy, and without this lack of spiritual strength, there is a mediocre interest in worship, study service, and prayer. So, we can say the stronger our relationship with Him, the more full our joy will be and the more He can be seen within us. As believers in the “full-gospel”, we must be careful not to fall back into human reasoning and become deceived about what is a “normal” Christian life. Would you agree that our idea of normal is probably not God’s idea of normal? How sad to imagine that many Christian assemblies have become spiritually hindered by fear and anxiety to the point where it is difficult to tell the difference between God’s remnant warriors and a gathering of executives in a corporate board meeting. I do not mean to be critical, but the Bible reveals how the last days are going to unfold and how religious spirits will continue to be a problem, but Praise God, the future has been written – the gates of hell will NOT prevail! No matter how carnal the religious system becomes, Jesus will accomplish His agenda! Allow me to say, when God’s presence shines into a situation, the darkness runs and hides in defeat! When Jesus calls us to let go of the boat and walk on the water, there is nothing that can prevent your victory as long as you stay focused on His presence! No wonder the devil and every demon in hell spends every waking moment on preventing God’s presence from manifesting because they understand there is NO higher authority! Satan does not even care if we accept Christ as long as we live as a secret agent because when we are embarrassed about God, we are NOT a threat to the dark kingdom. However, when our flame receives more oxygen from the Holy Spirit and we explode into a raging fire, the devil realizes we are being used to help recruit more soldiers for the Lord’s army and we are working mighty signs and wonders to bring glory to Jesus! Amen! Now that is normal! Allow me to ask, will you allow the enemy to stop you from being an overcomer? I believe we can agree we are living in the last moments of grace, but it’s also a time to demonstrate our faith. Overcomers in Christ live by God’s voice and as His “special forces” are trained to PRAY and OBEY!
Living for Jesus will not become easier in the future. The world is becoming more hostile against God’s people and the enemy is increasing his attacks. This is not being negative or promoting fear, this is a warning to prepare for what is coming. A strong army was never developed by sleeping on the couch. We, (including myself) are wasting valuable time by allowing our flesh to control our mind. The body follows as the mind decides. There are so many distractions and temptations and these places of decision are where the battles are won or lost. People are dying and are spiritually lost all around us and it is our prayers that can deliver and save them. Are we really depending on someone else to do what we have been called to do? God’s remnant warriors will be used to help teach and lead many into the revelation of His absolute truth. Prepare today in this time of mercy because it will be difficult to build strong faith when the world is turned upside down. Ask Him to fill you this day with His knowledge and wisdom, or you will not have the anointing or discernment to boldly stand in the days ahead.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 5 – PUBLISHED 2/3/18
THE CURSE OF HUMAN INDEPENDENCE
God is right and everyone who does not follow Him is wrong. How easy this sounds and yet it’s amazing how many people are offended by this statement. Actually, this truth is offensive to all of us. How so? Because human nature wants to live free and independent and does not appreciate anyone telling them they are wrong – even God. Certain reality television shows follow those who want to live in the wilderness and enjoy the freedom of surviving on their own. The scenery is breathtaking and their isolated lifestyle reflects just how courageous and adventurous some people are and is no doubt a tribute to good ole human determination and grit. However, if we stand back and watch and listen carefully, we begin to notice once again how the beauty of being free has more than one interpretation. I am convinced that we all have been given a destiny as a part of a divine blueprint that was drawn by God before we were born. I believe we can all agree He has always been His hope that we hear His gospel, accept Him into our heart and them surrender our will to His Lordship. Within this life-changing born-again transformation is a journey filled with many decisions to obey His voice or follow our carnal flesh. The Christian who takes their vow to love and worship God seriously realizes that allowing the light of God to shine to the world is a major part of the meaning of life. I’m not judging but only asking how could hiding away from the world be a part of us being a light to the world? How could a Christian become so focused on their own life and intentionally place themselves in a situation where they are as far away from other humans as they possibly can be? I thought we were called to help people and love others. This seems to be a distorted view of freedom that could be a selfish deception. If you shared this with them, I’m sure they would tell you to leave and “mind your own business.” But, again, whatever the situation might be, my question is how many have told God the same thing?
I have often wondered about the human will and how strongly we defend it. We can be nice and polite as long as everyone does not get too personal. Our attitude is that if we want a counselor we’ll go find one. This is why people become restless in a church service when the topic is about personal change. We might want things to be changed around us but we certainly do not desire any part of us changing. It is no coincidence that churches have picked up on this and have selected custom messages that are more light, positive, and inspiring. This might seem good but how can we be completely transformed into His image if we are not hearing the rest of the story? I was reading an article the other day where members of Congress, (who by the way are lawmakers) and they were questioning a highly regarded judge about what he believed. Here we have several highly intelligent individuals coming together for the purpose of trying to expose the personal convictions and considerations of someone who has invested their life to upholding the law. There is nothing wrong with this because it’s crucial for all voting members to know who they are electing before they make their decision. One cannot help but ponder about this exchange as to what the criteria is based on in the light of what is politically justifiable and what type of an answer would be considered socially acceptable. In a world where correctness seems to have become our new standard of acceptance, who in God’s name is the legal system looking to for the “right” answers? We remember in the time of Jesus that Rome accepted the idea that all people in the region should follow the kingdom of Caesar. It was not acceptable to have anyone disagree or to even speak of another way to believe. The same is true in all the other tyrants and dictators that have ruled nations and empires as many brave souls have been tortured and destroyed for standing for their convictions. This is why there have been revolutions and the quest to find a world free from evil oppression. Even in the birth of this nation, many dreamed of a land where they were free to worship God and teach their children His ways. Today we can look around and clearly see that we cannot speak God’s truth without being persecuted and ruined. The names are different but the agenda is the same. Governments do not want God, they do not want anyone to try and change them and they will not tolerate the idea of the Bible being the ultimate instruction manual for holy living. In the name of LIBERTY, our society is becoming more aggressive against yielding to God and allowing Him to change their minds and hearts toward Him. Who would have thought that too much freedom could be a curse?
In our colleges and legal system, its believed that anyone who embraces and teaches the Bible as a literal collection of true convictions and considerations is wrong and should NOT be respected as credible. The enemy of our souls (Satan) has made very good progress with breaking down the parental responsibilities using everything he can to discredit God and His people. Within the last 60 years, we have seen the moral deterioration and the rise of an aggressive culture that now has a firm stronghold of what is good and evil. Much of the modernized world is growing and gaining an acceptance of two major deceptions and I believe that it will only grow worse until Jesus returns. The first smoke screen is no more than a bully tactic to justify the agenda of human nature to dictate the direction of mankind. It’s now declared as the universal social law, that if a person disagrees with someone’s lifestyle, they are obviously guilty of hating them. This judgment openly accuses this person of being prejudiced, racists or a bigot and establishes the message that will certainly ruin the accuser and remove any sense of credibility. The second deception teaches that in order to truly love someone, you not only obligated to encourage, support, endorse, and promote them but you must agree with everything they believe, say and do. Allow me to say that both of these ideas are false and are born from the dark imaginations of secular humanism. We are to never compromise our convictions and would never need to in order to demonstrate God’s sincere love and compassion. For example, we could go into the jungles and bring food and medical help to the natives without having to believe in head-hunting or worshiping the Sun. It’s a lie to persuade the masses that we must agree with someone’s lifestyle or we are wrong and should not be trusted. There is never a shortage of opinions, but just like any other decision and judgment, the highest judge is God and the absolute truth will always be what He has said. I am not ashamed of this statement any more than someone else who believes it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to live in sin. For those who do not believe that God is real and His Word is true, I am not saying these individuals should not be treated with courtesy and respect. Everyone is given a free will to believe whatever they want. I only ask that I also be included and tolerated for my own personal ideas and convictions. I know that everyone will not accept my worldviews but as the Bible says, “may we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” When mankind begins to create laws which force us to believe and obey his humanistic philosophies, we become incarcerated within a political and religious system of control.
It is evident the majority of the world does not agree with the God of the Bible as being the author and finisher of their faith. With so many diverse religions and philosophical convictions, along with masses of people that have no spiritual affiliation at all, we have lost our identification. For example, our government has declared themselves as a neutral legal and religious system, so my question is; who do they look to for direction when they try to make laws? Human logic? Human intelligence? And if so, who in particular, the Supreme Court? Again, humanism is a dangerous and deceptive way to openly justify rebellion against God. If you are not going to look to Him as a credible truth, then you have already insulted Him and most likely have become His enemy. The creator of all things never intended for His creation to rule themselves. The hammer was never intended to build the house by itself. The very one that gave all people the opportunity to live in the joy and peace of His presence has now been mocked and disregarded as a joke! Can you imagine how God feels? It’s the darkness of pride that caused Lucifer to fall from heaven and it’s this same evil spirit that has corrupted the hearts of mankind today. The masses have spoken; “I will support and follow my fallen nature. I willingly choose my carnality and the kingdom of darkness over the pleas and warnings from the God who made me and wants to save me! I would rather have 70 years of fleshly pleasure than an eternity of spiritual bliss with the Almighty God. I loved my sin more than anything else and gave it the power to lead me and control my thoughts and with the choice of my will I choose my own destiny!”
The dark influence in the Garden was to question authority and it created a doubt and fear that God was lying. How many today refuse to believe that God can be trusted and we know exactly where this opinion is coming from. There is a growing anger against Christianity because people are saying that God’s character is bad and is the reason why Christians are hate mongers and cruel. I read a bumper sticker the other day that said, “I am an atheist because I have read the Bible” and I read where a person had made an online comment saying, “Who wants to serve someone that demands that you worship them or they will destroy you forever?” Can you see where all of this twisted thinking is heading? How will we as Christians be able to defend our faith and are we even called to try? Jesus stepped forward without fear and simply said what He was told to say. He gave Himself freely and laid down His life so that others would have the chance to live. To love, pray and obey is the most we can do.
After we are finished arguing and trying to justify our flesh, every person that has ever lived will discover that life was about much more than themselves. It will be revealed that we could have been as close to God as we wanted and the only thing that kept us from spiritual intimacy with our maker was our desire to ignore Him. Every knee will bow and every tongue will eventually confess that Christ is Lord. Many will be filled with sorrow as they realize that He was seldom on their mind at all unless they needed something. Every soul will finally understand that He could have saved them and been so much more than a religious feeling or a half-hearted ritual. We will understand that He wanted to be our reason, purpose and the very meaning of our existence. God in all of His mercy and majesty is not wavering or compromising in His justice. He is perfect in His demands and requirements according to His true and holy character. When we stand before Him, our eyes will be opened to the reality that we were more in love with ourselves than anything or anyone else. We will comprehend that we were actually more in control of our destiny than He was. If only we could go back and live again, but only if we can know what we know now. Sadly we must admit it would be no different. We realize this hour what we must do and we are still not willing to submit and yield our heart completely to Him. Remember the man who had passed on to the next life, cried out and begged to come back so that he could warn his family and friends about a miserable place of extreme torment. He was separated from God in the darkness and heard a voice saying that “it would not help – they would not listen to you no more than they have listened to others.” The decision to move toward the light must come from the deepest part of our soul and must become stronger than the desire to remain the same. The amount of determination and discipline to love God and walk with Him is known by very few. How much more do we need to see and what else can Jesus say or do to persuade us and encourage us to drop our nets and follow Him?
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 4 – PUBLISHED 1/27/18
THERE IS A WAY TO KNOW OUR PURPOSE – II
WE HAVE PEACE WHEN WE EMBRACE OUR SPIRITUAL DESTINY
God is ready to make a way for those who really want to accomplish their destiny. Our heavenly Father has drawn a divine blueprint for everyone’s life and it’s our mission and responsibility to not only find out what it is but to accomplish it. Strange as it may sound, He is even more excited about our potential than we are and is simply searching for someone that wants to do HIS will instead of their own. It’s a shame to not only feel that we have come up short in His plans but stop and take a look around at how many people are literally wasting their life. We can agree that many are deceived and in denial about where they are and where God wants them to be. I know a 26-year-old man that plays video games all night and sleeps all day. He lives at home with no job, no car and no idea about his future. I have tried to intervene but have come away feeling sad and helpless to get through to him. I also know a lady who cares for an elderly couple and they both have always been atheist. She called me the other day and said the wife had passed away at the age of 93. The husband is the same age and while making final preparations, he became very serious about making sure that God’s name was not mentioned during the funeral. You know, we can do all we can to help others, but sometimes we can do more by praying than trying to convince another person to accept Christ. It’s true we are to witness to everyone (and even use words if necessary), but true spiritual conviction is a divine appointment that can only be arranged by God Himself.
Embracing our spiritual destiny sounds exciting but requires the grueling process of submitting and yielding our entire life to Him. How do we do this? By allowing Jesus to sit on the throne of the heart as Lord and Master, (which by the way, also explains why not very many people are interested in the message of, “I surrender all”). In order to live for God, we must learn how to die to self. Since God has this mission for our life already mapped out, it only makes sense that He also has definite places, people, and endeavors that are included in this unique design in order for it to work out according to His intentions. When we are living in God’s will, we are amazed at how smooth the miracles will come because where God guides – He provides. This does not mean we will escape times of having to be patient and discomfort, but it’s our responsibility to recognize that He is working behind the scenes and to be as humble and cooperative as we can. When we take an exit ramp because we think we can accomplish our goals a better and faster way, we are actually hindering the original plan and possibly ruining our chances to succeed with what we have been called to do. In these times, we need to repent for our disobedience and ask God to help us return to where we need to be. How many people are swimming against the current in this life because they did not follow God’s instructions? How many are miserable because they followed their own desires instead of the Lords? I would say the majority which reveals why there is so much sadness, anger, depression, and anxiety. When we try to sneak through a back door that is not a part of God’s will and manipulate circumstances for our own selfish agenda, we will never experience spiritual contentment or the joy of His presence.
LEARNING THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR HUMAN NATURE
Purity and holiness is a very important part of being victorious in the eyes of the Lord. Brokenness, meekness, and humility brings us close to God and enables us to hear His still small voice. It’s when we are puffed up with self-confidence and arrogance that we drift away from His presence to the point where we can drift away and lose connection with Him. Allow me to stop right here and encourage those who have become spiritually lukewarm. Recognizing that you are not in fellowship with God proves that you are still sensitive enough to know that something is wrong. This is the wonderful and beautiful grace of God that has engraved you on the palms of His hands. The miraculous and comforting power of the Holy Spirit is ever present to welcome you back into the loving arms of your creator. Your heavenly Father is waiting for you (right now) to ask Him to forgive you, to restore you and saturate your mind, body, and soul with His goodness and mercy. We all have fallen away from God sometime in our life and have come short of His glory, but the good news is that we do NOT have to live this way! The only thing preventing you today from laying your head upon His chest and sipping from His cup is your stubborn will. God’s love is like an Ocean and He’s waiting for you to dive in and swim in the depths of His wonder and delight.
Situations that are agreeable to our flesh and our carnal mind are rarely leading us into the righteous direction that God is trying to guide us. Since our flesh and God’s Spirit is enmity toward one another, they will never be able to see eye to eye. This is exactly why we need to be cautious in our decisions because we may be heading into a snare trap filled with devastating disappointment. Just because it looks good and feels good does not mean this is what God wants for us. You see, just because things are not working out for us, this does not mean God is against us. Actually, He is for us and wants to see us accomplish His will because it is all for His glory. However, we must come to the realization that our human nature hates God and does not desire to yield or submit to Him. Our flesh will scream and fight and cry until we finally take control and demonstrate self-discipline. Drifting away from our daily prayer and study time is a sure way to become lukewarm and backslidden and this opens the door to deception and weakness. The enemy will try everything he can to distract us away from thinking about God including lying and tempting us to indulge in something that is wrong and our flesh is always ready to do what feels good. We always hear about how the devil is our enemy and he is – but do not forget that he can only “influence” our mind. It’s our will that makes the decision to obey the darkness. It’s very important to remember that most of our problems come from our human nature begging us to satisfy and fulfill what it wants. This is why words like perseverance and self-discipline are crucial when it comes to following Jesus. It’s truly our personal responsibility to stay close to Jesus and have the courage to say no to our sinful human nature. Anybody can – Everybody won’t – Somebody will.
GOD’S LOVE INSPIRES US TO PRAY FOR OTHERS
The love for God and others are the greatest commandments you and I have been given. Love is not an option or something we can compromise or modify – it is a direct command. Yes, I realize the love of many is “waxing cold” in the last days and we can already sense the departure of concern and closeness among our families and friends. Our old human nature has a built-in aggressive arrogance that can easily progress into resentment, revenge, and hatred. I do not care how highly individuals may consider themselves to be a Christian if they are always harshly criticizing, judging, slandering, mocking and attacking those who do not agree with them, they are not walking with Christ. Why? Because the level of love we have for the Lord Jesus Christ can be measured by the love we have for others. If we do not pray and spend time with God, we will not sincerely care about people. I John chapter 4 and verse 20 says, “If someone says they love God and hates another person, they are a liar: for those who do NOT love people that they have seen, how can they love God whom they have not seen?” When people are led by their emotions, they are naturally self-centered and carnal. They may seem to be nice on the surface, but this is a phony and superficial love. God’s agape love is developed when we spend time with Him in the secret place. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, we will develop a sincere concern and compassion for others. It requires a fervent love to pray for someone other than ourselves! We will never have the passion to pray for anyone until we love them with God’s love. Sadly, the reason why prayer is rare is because the love of many has waxed cold.
WHO SITS ON THE THRONE OF OUR HEART?
Have you ever been tempted to argue about your opinions? We all have ideas and views but we must restrain our emotions and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is NOT easy because we always want to prove we are right. However, we are to give it over to God and let Him take care of it – His way! The Bible say’s in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” This verse is saying that it’s not what we are doing outwardly that impresses Him, but rather He is concerned about our attitude and our character. What we do depends on our works – who we are depends on His grace. When we allow Him to remove our arrogance, we can submit to His authority as He rebuilds us into His image. A contrite heart is associated with sorrow and repentance and is an excellent frame of mind to live in. Jesus was God and walked as a man in an attitude of meekness and love. Pride hates to submit to God which is why this is so difficult. It does not matter what labels we wear or how outspoken we are – being a follower of Jesus is learning how to be meek and humble and to demonstrate His love in all situations. The Lord never called us to fight political or religious battles because He knows this never accomplishes anything positive. I write for a public forum and I intentionally avoid controversial subjects. Why? Because provoking people to anger only increases the amount of strife and hatred. Of course, we have opinions about controversial political and social issues but we have not been called to argue people into God’s Kingdom. Instead, we are commanded to demonstrate our love and allow the Lord to shine His light through us which has the convicting power to change and save a soul.
Second Corinthians 10:4-5 declares, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” We have so much arguing and bitterness in the world, may we present a refreshing river of peace and encouragement to a world that is lost and confused. It’s not how smart or charismatic we are but rather within the closet of fervent prayer and fasting is where God can change what needs to be changed! We should NOT agree or compromise with someone who is wrong, but we also cannot force the world to accept God and His truth! This where discernment is critical and having spiritual wisdom in season and out of season. If God has not instructed us to say something specific it would probably be better to be silent. Walking with the Almighty requires us to step down from the throne of our heart and invite and ALLOW Jesus Christ to become our King and the LORD of our life. Only when He is allowed to rule, possess and control our mind and heart can we truly walk in His Spirit. Amen.
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
THERE IS A WAY TO KNOW OUR PURPOSE – I
When it comes to obtaining spiritual knowledge and wisdom, it’s all about personal revelation. In other words, it’s not how much information we know but how much we understand and has been allowed to be seeded and rooted within our heart. The devil and all the demons of hell have tons of spiritual knowledge but they do not allow it to penetrate their conscience and change who they are which makes it of no effect. Here is one of several basic fundamental principles to remember. Make sure you know your direction. Research thoroughly before you move. If you do not know what to do or where you are going, do something positive while you are waiting. If you have been praying for a long time and have not heard anything, I once heard someone say, “while waiting for a door to open, praise Him in the hallway.” If you are really serious, you can declare a “private” and personal fast. There is no need to broadcast this on facebook or tell everyone you see. By the way, fasting is not always just about food but can be the denial of other pleasures along with dedicating some quiet time alone with Him every day. When you discover all of the basic fundamentals and requirements that are connected to what you are interested in, you may realize you are not qualified, not ready or simply not called to proceed at this time or at all. Yes, God can do miracles but He does not put the cart before the horse or force people to embrace or accept you. He can give you favor and present opportunities but most of the time, we (diligently and with perseverance) work in order to be in the “position” to press forward. He opens doors for situations that He has been preparing in the background that can utilize your skills and is the perfect fit for you. We need to know our gifts and callings before we can have a vision for what He is planning so that we can move in a definite direction. Besides, it’s all about His will and not our own.
LEARNING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAITH AND REBELLION
Just because we read about how to live a victorious Christian life does not mean we will automatically convert into an overcomer. We must absorb His Word through our brain and into our spirit all the while learning how to surrender our will and discipline our flesh. The true Christian life is not easy, in fact, the more serious we become the more difficult it will be. Listen, if we are born again, our spirit is connected with God’s Spirit and we have a wonderful opportunity to channel His energy into our being. If we can prevent our mind from talking us out of it, we can be saved from ourselves but it’s going to take our total commitment and dedication. Being filled with His Spirit means that He has been given us the opportunity to transform the way we think and this will literally change who we are. Persistence and stubbornness are not the same things. Being stubborn toward God is being rebellious and He is not impressed with this type of determination. He appreciates and blesses us for being persistent because it is a demonstration of faith but when He tells us no and we keep going forward we have fallen into disobedience. There have been times in my life where I did not know whether to quit or keep going. When doors have been slammed in my face and locked from the inside I kept knocking and continuing even to the point of trying to force them open with a bulldozer. There are major problems with this type of mentality. They never come open and all of the attempted demolition makes a huge mess, not including the misery and discouragement from resentment and bitterness. It’s crucial to know if the devil is working against us – or if the Lord is saying no.
DO WE REALLY WANT TO LISTEN TO GOD?
Anyone that has ever got off the couch and tried to do anything they felt was important has felt the resistance of the carnal flesh. Whenever God’s children feel a passion to demonstrate their convictions, it would be a good idea to be prepared for laziness, rejection, control issues and emotional vulnerability. Most of the time it is not our fear about how others will react or what they think about us, but it’s the warfare required to take control of our own mind and will. It’s true, we will face adversity and it is truly disheartening to realize that most people are not interested in our vision, but the real war will always be between our flesh and God’s Spirit. When we venture out of our comfort zone and take the bull by the horns, we are setting ourselves up to be tested within the deepest recesses of our being. Everyone wants to receive love and appreciation because feeling good about ourselves is a huge part of our psychological and emotional stability. However, when we place too much emphasis on how we “feel” and not enough toward what God says, we are already being defeated by compromise. We are emotional beings but we cannot afford to be controlled by them and one of the most difficult things is knowing the difference between our voice and His voice. This helps to understand why religion is plentiful and taking up our cross is rare. It is much easier to live according to our own way of thinking than to eliminate the denial and accomplish what the Lord has planned. As we discover what God wants us to be, we are then faced with deciding just how much we will do.
WE CAN BE AS CLOSE TO GOD AS WE WANT
There are reasons why things happen (though it seems that most of them are unsolved mysteries) and every now and then we can see a glimpse of how God was actually at work behind the scenes. I realize we could all save ourselves a lot of heartaches if we would take the time to hear God’s voice but this will only happen when we decide that being close to Him is the meaning of life. Sometimes I wonder if He becomes intentionally quiet so that we can learn more about faith. Could this possibly be a part of our spiritual education where we have the opportunity to develop humility? If we received an immediate answer every time we talked with God, we would not understand the virtues of patience and His perfect timing or even have a burden to pray. If solutions were automatic we would probably become demanding and prideful and lose our compassion and sympathy. GOOD NEWS! It’s possible to NOT be led around by our emotions! The Lord is trying to renew our mind with His Word so that we can see what He sees and not find ourselves caught in a snare trap every five minutes. However, the devil is trying everything he can to distract us from thinking about God and loves to throw some awesome pity parties. The enemy knows that if he can discourage us, he has immobilized our love and one of the key elements of our spiritual life – our joy. We can become dedicated to listen and follow God’s thoughts OR continue being entangled in the confusing world of emotions – the choice is ours. “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose LIFE that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 2 – Published 1/13/18
LORD, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU AND ME
“I repent of my sin and any trespasses against You. With both the sins of commission or omission, I ask You to forgive me and wash me clean with Your blood as white as snow. I confess by FAITH that my mind is influenced and controlled by Your Word and that I have a passionate desire to live under the persuasion of the Holy Spirit! I choose to gird up the loins of my mind by reading Your Word and filling my mind with Your thoughts. Dear God, Your Word strengthens me and keeps my mind free from unbelief and lying strongholds. I plant Your Word deep into my mind, as Your divine truth develops into a strong and bold lifestyle. Please give me more desire and self-discipline. I understand that I can draw as close to you as I want, but my flesh is so weak. Help me to be more determined and give me the perseverance to prevent the devil from finding access into my life! I love you Oh Lord, I trust You and I ask all of this in Your holy name, amen”
Let us spend a moment confessing with our mouth and declaring to heaven and earth what we really desire to be in this life.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” These simple prayers and confessions are a part of the warrior’s armor. God is ready to equip His children but our spiritual development comes from the inside out. Absorbing His Word and speaking our prayers and confessions out LOUD is a part of the word of our testimony. Revelation 12:11 declares, “And they overcame him (devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
It’s true, the dedicated follower of Christ is always under attack from the devil and the closer we come to God the more intense the spiritual warfare. However, let us not forget that our greatest enemy is our flesh. If we can discipline our flesh, we will not need to worry about what the devil says or his temptations. How many will take this battle seriously? It’s much easier to ignore the responsibility to pray and turn away from what is pleasing in His sight. In fact, “floating down the river” takes no work at all and explains why true Christians are few and far between. We are not referring to a religious ritual but we are talking about those who have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and a passion to be pure.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” II Corinthians 10:4-5. This is reminding us to not fight and argue in our own intelligence but rather to enter into our prayer closet and see the power of God produce miracles for His glory!
God is pouring out His Spirit today as His return is very soon. His Bride is carrying the light of His presence. This remnant is called to demonstrate His character and commissioned to speak His truth! Joel 2:28-32 declares, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.”
Isaiah 55:11 promises, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” God honors His Word and His Word NEVER fails! As we allow our heart and mind to become filled with God’s Word, we can release His truth into the atmosphere and allow Him to energize and empower these words to accomplish His will. Let us take a moment and become saturated with His love, faith, and hope. May you be renewed with His strength as you draw closer to Him. Speak these confessions OUT LOUD and experience a surge of spiritual hope and encouragement.
LORD, I DEDICATE MY LIFE AND WILL LIVE FOR YOU NO MATTER IF NO ONE ELSE DOES
I AM ALLOWING YOU TO CHANGE MY LIFE AND TO MAKE ME A LIVING SACRIFICE
I AM DETERMINED TO HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE IN ALL THINGS FOR YOUR GLORY
I AM GETTING INTO POSITION TO RECEIVE YOUR BLESSINGS AND FAVOR
IF I HARBOR SIN IN MY HEART – YOU WILL NOT HEAR ME – PLEASE PURIFY ME
I WILL PRAISE AND WORSHIP YOU WITH LITTLE OR WITH ABUNDANCE
JESUS, I KNOW YOU PROVED HOW MUCH YOU LOVED ME ON THE CROSS
THIS DAY I GIVE MY MIND AND HEART COMPLETELY TO CHRIST
LORD, YOU GO BEFORE ME AND MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE – POSSIBLE – AMEN!
YOU PROVIDE MIRACLES AND OPEN DOORS FOR ME THAT NO MAN CAN CLOSE
YOU GIVE ME DIVINE FAVOR IN ALL THINGS ACCORDING TO YOUR WILL
MY FAITH, ANOINTING, AND CONFIDENCE IN YOU IS INCREASING
I AM BECOMING SPIRITUALLY STRONGER AS YOU PREPARE ME TO SERVE MORE
I WILL FAST AND PRAY FERVENTLY BECAUSE I WANT TO LIVE IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES
I AM ADVANCING AND PROGRESSING IN MY FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN YOU
ANGELS ARE ENCAMPED AROUND ME AND WORKING ON MY BEHALF – THANK YOU
I AM INCREASING IN SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT, SENSITIVITY, AND POWER
MY TALENTS, ABILITIES AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR KINGDOM
MY HEART AND MIND IS BEING CHANGED FROM THE INSIDE OUT
I AM BEING PURIFIED AND SANCTIFIED BY YOUR HOLY REFINING FIRE
MY CONSCIENCE IS BEING RENEWED AND TRANSFORMED THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
I AM INCREASING IN THE WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR WORD
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
PART 1 – Published 1/6/18
OPINIONS AND DISAGREEMENTS
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must NOT be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, and correcting His opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” II Timothy 2:23:25.
We’ve heard the old saying, “opinions are like elbows, everyone has one” and there is much truth to this. We can travel around the world and ask people a series of questions about religion, politics and social issues and I’m sure the diversity of answers would be astounding. When it comes to our personal worldviews, we realize that each human being has been given a brain that contains the ability to process thoughts along with a free-will to make decisions about what they believe. For those who accept God as the creator of all things and the Lord of their life, we know that He has graciously given us this wonderful gift and privilege. If we go a step further in our acknowledgment of God, we have no problem with including the Bible as a detailed explanation about what He thinks and how He wants us to live. However, now that we have already crossed the line with a majority of individuals that strongly reject God and the Bible as being the ultimate spiritual authority, we return to our opening statement about everyone having their own ideas about what our existence is all about. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” Proverbs 10:12.
Since the beginning of time, we have witnessed disagreement. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve specific orders and warned what would happen if they did not follow His instructions. Of course, they were easily persuaded otherwise. By the way, every word the Father speaks is nothing less than absolute truth. God is perfect and has never lied or failed. He is the beginning and the end, Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. These are huge attributes of His character that declares His ultimate authority but, it’s amazing to consider that even with the Lord’s supreme sovereignty, He still gives every man or woman the choice to embrace or reject what He says. So, we read that Eve listened to a strange voice that not only had opposing views toward God but defiantly tried to convince the woman to do the same. In the glorious privilege of free-will, she agreed that God must be trying to deceive her. Unfortunately, this concept had such a strong influence, the human race is still following it today. This sin did not (and does not) go unpunished, as we realize that it ruined the original world and broke the spiritual fellowship between humans and the Most High. Since God is flawless in His judgment, He could not (and will not) ignore this defiant act of rebellion or else it would make Him a liar according to His own words. We are reminded of this passage which allows us to understand there are consequences to our views, words, and deeds. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23.
So far we have talked about world-views, the reality of wide-spread disagreement and that God is absolute truth. Now let’s look at another Bible story that involved the same family, but this time with the two sons of Adam and Eve. Their names were Cain and Able, and they were young men trying to function in an exciting and challenging new world. When their parents sinned and were expelled from the Garden, the first blood was shed from an animal and was used as clothing. Blood sacrifices were also explained to be used as a sacrifice of praise and worship to God. This was not an insignificant matter but was considered very holy as even Christ was slain and is portrayed as the Lamb of God. Cain was a farmer and grew vegetables and fruits which was a perfectly acceptable profession and Able was a shepherd that raised livestock. One day, the time had come to present a sacrifice to God as a spiritual gesture of their worship, faith and commitment. Able followed the usual protocol and slaughtered an animal for his sacrifice but for some reason, Cain brought an offering of fruits and vegetables. God accepted Able and his sacrifice but rejected what Cain had brought because it was not blood and God does not compromise. In short, Cain became so furious that he killed his brother and sadly lived the rest of his life as an outcast. Now, allow me to include that all Cain would have needed to do was repent and then present a new sacrifice to God and all would have been fine. The problem was when he became arrogantly jealous and decided that he could do whatever he wanted no matter what God said. (The apple did not fall far from the tree, pun intended). Cain had an opinion about how to serve God but when God says to do something – He means to do it exactly His way. There is no doubt that rebellion and insubordination is a strong part of our DNA and this old nature is the identity of our most difficult enemy. Many will say that Satan is our only adversary but our flesh is what we should really be concerned about. The devil speaks to our mind about betraying God but it is our will that ultimately decides which path we will take. The Lord has done and wants to do everything He can to help us “overcome” our flesh and the devil but we are servants to whom we obey.
In our discussion about opinions, we find a crucial illustration within this account. First, we see again that our rogue views and ideas can get us in big trouble very quickly. There is not a multitude of options or alternatives when it comes to obedience. There is following God and there is believing something else. Of course, other than God Himself, no one has all the truth and it’s clear that all have sinned and are in desperate need of His constant mercy and grace. The point we find here is there is only one truth and when we are not connected to God’s absolute truth, we are wrong and unless we repent, we will be judged accordingly. Now, I realize this is dogmatic and most people do not agree with this theology but again if we accept the Bible as absolute “truth” then we must submit to foundational pillars of the faith that cannot be altered or modified. We look around today and realize that opinions and disagreements about spirituality and theological doctrines have been the root cause of more death and destruction than anything else. They are also becoming altered and distorted according to the dreams and illusions of carnality. The attitude that Adam, Eve and Cain had toward God exposes fallen mankind as a deceived and blind creature whose only hope is the redemption of the cross. We are fighting and arguing from the time we are in diapers and with certain individuals, controversy becomes such a significant part of their personality that instead of demonstrating the character of Christ, they literally spend their lives searching for new opportunities to provoke and debate. The Bible clearly explains that we are not to wrestle against the principalities and powers in our flesh but rather to war against the lies of darkness through prayer and fasting. We cannot win arguments with our intelligence or charismatically persuade people to believe in God’s truth. We pray and obey, and then place our faith in the Holy Spirit and His ability to convict hearts and change minds.
Another point worth mentioning is that many have the opinion we can live however we want, believe whatever feels good and everything will turn out alright. There is a popular fantasy that all religions are tied together and eventually are blended into one major super-highway that leads to heaven. In this dangerous philosophy, the unity of faith is brought together as a great and wonderful solution to religious division. I can understand if we wanted a simple and quick formula that can ease our conscience and deny our accountability to absolute truth, but this is just another example of mankind trying to establish their own way of living instead of submitting to God’s way. There would have been no reason for Jesus to die on the cross and be raised from the dead if we could just as well trust and worship the Sun or a statue. We would not need the Bible at all if it was acceptable by God for us to read and believe in some other book or ideology. There are many people who have wanted to be God and millions that have followed them but there is only one true God and He is the only way, the truth, and the life. He created everything and everyone will stand before Him at the judgment. There are not 90,747 separate compartments of heaven where false idols, anti-Christs and deceived teachers congregate with all of their followers. There is one throne and one God who sits upon the throne. This is nothing new, it has always been that way and will continue for all eternity.
We can disagree with God all of our lives and we can believe however we want but it will never change the truth. Will it matter what our opinions are? What do you think? Do you believe your opinions are important? Would you give your life for them? Actually, we are all giving our life for what we believe. You know, if we are right by believing and following God and His Word, we will have an eternity to spend with God that will be more awesome than can be imagined. If we are wrong, we can still say that we lived a wonderful life of peace and contentment. For those who have never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and are wrong about what they believe, the Bible says these individuals have made a terrible mistake and the consequences will be an eternity of darkness and misery. In this simple view, there is no doubt that our opinions and the way we live are the most important decisions we could possibly make in this life. Is it worth researching? Is it worth discussing? Is it possible to find absolute truth and embrace it? I believe yes to all of these questions. Knowing truth has always been God’s desire for us because He has done everything He can to save us from our selves. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that will ask will receive and he that seeks will find and to him, that knocks it shall be opened” Matthew 7:7-8.