Tuesday, July 30, 2013

To be entertained? Or is it Reverence?

 Nielson studies indicate that the average American watches television 34 hours each week. A university professor,s study shows that Americans spend eight hours per month on Facebook. The earth's population spends 3 billion hours per week playing videogames. The New York Times says teens listen to 2-1/2 hours of music each day. Then we have ballgames, board games, cards, gambling, concerts, amusement parks, swimming pools, boats, motorcyles, jogging, bicycling, and the list goes on. America loves to be entertained. When people aren't productively working it seems that they are being entertained! 
My question? Why do we have to entertain people at church? Sure, we are to have "joy" in the Lord, but joy isn't the same as entertainment!  Joy is intense happiness. What then is happiness? I like "enthusiastic satisfaction"!   Pleasure is associated with entertainment. Pleasure is amusement and fun. Hence, we compare intense satisfaction with fun. Which is your cup-o-tea? Does the Lord prefer entusiastic satisfaction on our part or merely amusement?
Isaiah 29:19 "The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."
The meek (Godly) shall have increased joy! The poor shall rejoice (feel joy) in the Holy One (God)!
Now, how about pleasure? Yes, we can have "pleasure in the Lord". It's a pleasure for us that he provides for all our needs and comforts. However, there's a big difference between enjoying the pleasures of God and the pleasures of the flesh.
Romans 1:31 "Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
These verses basically identify fleshly pleasures.  The particular ones named do not specifically mention entertainment, which doesn't have to be wicked, but duplicates what the pagans do.
Acts 14:15 " And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
"Suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" refers to paganism. Pagans were engulfed with pleasure. Their religious worship was even celebrated with sexual and epicurean activities. If you'll remember, even the Jews fleeing Egypt copied their captors. They danced ecstatically and elevated a golden calf to idol status. 
On the other hand David stripped to his civies and cavorted in dance, being joyous to the Lord!  In the context in which I'm writing, the contrast between worldly pleasure and joy in the Lord, is at the heart of the argument! How far should we go to entertain in the church or should we even?
I propose that we consider this verse:
Palm 34:3 "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together."
The question I'll ask is: Does the church service predominantly magnify the Lord or is it more to provide pleasure to the congregation, remembering that magnifying the Lord provides joy and pleasure is more directed at the senses?
The church is a sanctuary. A sanctuary from the world!  Exodus 25:8 "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."  A "sanctuary" is a sacred reserved space. The church is God's sanctuary. In that church we ought to escape the world. It's a place dedicated to God, not to us!
In that thought is my argument!  God's sanctuary, the church, is Holy Ground. We gather there to magnify God! It's not a place to pleasure ourselves, but to provide the aroma of praise to God! It's not a concert arena... it's where the Holy One comes to be praised!

Exodus 3:4 "And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 5 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Leviticus 19:30 "Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord."

Have "reverence". That means we are to have profound respect for and admiration for God. We gather in His sanctuary to hold God in awe! Self-interest is put aside for awhile and the focus is on God (with the exception of our own salvation).

My thoughts are that if the media used by the church is to primarily to provide pleasure to the listener rather than to magnify the Lord, then it's not reverent. I don't believe it's necessary to present God's Holy Word in a "fun" manner. It's insulting to the maturity of the listener in my humble opinion and presents a glossy version of subject matter. I see no reason that a Christian child or adult cannot put fun away for less than an hour to learn about a Holy God. 

For hundreds of years people have learned and learned with enthusiasm just for the joy of learning. They did without skits and other extraneous techniques, but reached into the depths of the subject matter. The "fun" part of the lesson is often time consuming and non-value added. Oftentimes, secular methods are used to provide the "fun in learning".  Scripture should be presented in a manner to bestow all due respect on a Holy God! That means to take the time to be serious and stoic for just an hour a week. I  guarantee that you can learn more and that sincerity will be a sweet incense to the Lord!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Condemning and Rebuking

Many people rashly quote Matthew 7:1 in defense of their own peculiar sin. I had a woman who had asked for her and her boyfriend to ride bikes with us say "We're not married, just living together, but I'm a Christian, so don't judge me." In this context she is meaning  "Don't think ill of me!"

I had not said a word!  She confessed to living in fornication by making this statement. I said not a word, although I knew she was wrong!  I did not judge her, but she had just judged herself. She believed I thought ill of her!

The Bible verse which she was paraphrasing is Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

If I think to myself "That's sinful!" Have I judged? No. I acted on the information given to me. If I think or say "You're going to hell!" Have I judged? Yes. I sentenced her and I have no authority to do so; my authority is limited by own unholiness. If I have an opinion about her behavior am I wrong? No!

What if in the course of the conversation I had told her of this scripture:

1 Corinthians 5:11 "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."

The verse is referring to a Christian brother or sister. If that person is a fornicator, "with such an one no not to eat"!  I make a "judgement call" (opinion) as to whether to apply Scripture or not.  If the lady confesses Christianity, but admits to fornication, my "judgement call" (opinion) is to refrain from eating (associating) with her because I'm obeying Scripture. I'm not rashly condemning the lady, but obeying Scripture.

If we look at the original Greek, "judge"  (Strong's #2919, Greek: krino) Thayer's definition in context is  "pass judgment on the deeds and words of others".  This is a circular definition for it uses "judgement" to define "judge".  Another definition from Thayer's is "to be of opinion, deem, or think ill." This latter definition is more fitting the Christian who isn't sentencing, but reproofing! Let's see what the American Heritage Dictionary says. "Judge" means to pass sentence on or condemn, the definition being obsolete for contemporary use, but right on for seventeenth century! You see, we have two definitions of the same Greek word!  I believe that the proper context for Matthew 7:1 is "condemn". I believe that she, and most people, use it in the context of "don't have a bad opinion of me"!

You see we have context! If I'm merely admonishing or rebuking. Thayer's "opinion" definition is more suitable. If one is being mean and self-righteous, American Heritage is more correct (condemn).

Rewriting Matthew 7:1 using alternate, but applicable wording says "Condemn not that ye be not condemned."  I believe this is the appropriate context and I reinforce that using Adam Clark Commentary:

"Judge not, that ye be not judged."These exhortations are pointed against rash, harsh, and uncharitable judgments, the thinking evil, where no evil seems, and speaking of it accordingly"

"Condeming" someone is rash and harsh. We're being uncharitable when we damn people to hell for what they do because we deserve the same punishment ourselves! Hence, while we rightfully evaluate other's Christian walk in order that we may obey scripture ourselves and to warn the sinner, we're not to do so with condemnation or a mean streak.  Yes,we're called to "warn"!

We evaluate others constantly, although maybe not consciously. It does not say "Don't have an opinion." We are led to the spirit based on what we sense to tell people what pleases God:

2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

Reproof is "to rebuke" and means to criticize or repress.  It's not a ticket to condemn, but it is to lovingly inform of the consequences!  It's the nature of our perception to warn that counts, not the fact that we evaluated behaviors. That's the difference... our attitude toward the person we perceive as sinning! Do we want them to change the sin because we love them or are we being like a Pharisee? (A Pharisee had a heart of contempt, but a love of the law).

Let's look at the legal system.

I have been stopped by a trooper many times for "speeding". His instruments provided evidence that I was in fact in violation of the law. He didn't write the law, but his job is to ensure safety by monitoring drivers.  I tell the trooper "I'm not speeding." His reply may be something to the effect "It would appear from my radar that you were driving in excess of legal limits."  Have you  been judged? No! Your behaviors have been noted and evaluated for "probable cause". Are you going to jail? No! You have yet to be judged!

On rare occasions instruments are wrong or speed limit signs have been destroyed. Extraneous pieces of evidence may provide proof that I'm innocent of the charge. If the trooper is merely seeking to insure public safety he likely has no animosity toward me. He wants to save not only my life, but the lives of others. He isn't condemning (judging) me. He perceives that I did wrong. He writes a ticket which tells me where, when and to which judge to appear.

Then I appear before the judge!  The trooper is there. He tells the court why I was summoned. He perceived that I was  speeding because his radar indicated that I was driving in excess of the law. The judge then asks me if I plead "guilty" or "not guilty". If I say "guilty" I have confessed my wrong and will likely receive some type of condemnation, normally monetary loss.  If I say "not guilty" I can present the evidence that the speed limit sign was torn down, hence I'm not guilty! I can be judged guilty or innocent! Judgment is two-sided. The trooper who "rebuked" me, didn't condemn me; the judge condemned me because I condemned myself by word or deed!

Given all the evidence, the judge makes a decision. He can exonerate me of all charges of he can condemn me by requiring a fine or jail time in lieu of.  The judge not only looks at the evidence, but condemns me for my wrong!

As pertains to Matthew 7: 1, the policeman was doing what was right!  He informed (admonished) me that I was breaking the law (which he studied and knew) and told me how I was breaking it (rebuked me). He didn't punish me or ridicule either for that matter. He merely sent me to the judge to decide. The judge metes out punishment (condemns, judges). In the case of Matthew 7, the one rebuking the behavior tells the rebuked one what Scripture says about the behavior. It's done in a caring ameliorating manner.  It's not done by "Youre' going to hell!", screamed out, but "Here's is what God says about this matter."

Back to the lady who's living in sin. I surmised that she was fornicating. She attested to that by saying "Don't judge me!".  However, if she had not said that, I would have been drawing malicious conclusions without all the evidence. If she had said "I'm living with Joe." and I surmised fornication, I have judged (condemned) her without probable cause.  As an example, Abraham Lincoln, some say, was a homosexual because he slept with other men while on his lawyers circuit. He was judged (condemned) wrongly. It is without evidence and isn't charitable or loving.  That is the type of judgement of Matthew 7:1.

If my motive is to teach and warn others, rebuking is an option. If it's to criticize or condemn, I'm being uncharitable!

 Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that ye be not judged." doesn't end there. It is modified by the next verse beginnign with "for":

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Christ told the Pharisees they were going to hell!  He has a right to condemn. In fact, he will condemn all non-repentent sinners at the Great White Throne Judgment.  Paul, although not Christ, was Christ's apostle and disciple. He, although still a sinner, rebuked many in his ministry. He preached against those in heresy in the church. He preached agaisnt fornicators in the church. He preached agaisnt the people who were incestuous relationships in the church, et al.  He used the evidence of their lives to reproof sinners! He was using Scripture for what Scripture is for!

We can acknowledge sin in people's lives without condemning, that "acknowledgement' what many see as "judging".  My best friend once told me when I was sinning "You're sinning! You need to change!" He perceived my sin based on the evidence and then reproved me!  Thank you friend! It takes a loving friend to reach out to me to get me back on spiritual track. He wasn't judging in the sense of "condemning", but in the sense of "acknowledgement".

I've told you what Scripture says, what it means using all the objective evidence and what Adam Clark Commentary says. On the other side of the thelological spectrum is what Matthew Henry Commentary says:

"We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people. "

In short, Adam Clark and Matthew Henry agree and complement Scripture as well as my analysis of Matthew 7:1.  Theologians say that Matthew 7:1 is the most common Scripture quoted by those in rationalization for their particular sin. Rather than say "Don't judge me!" those using that phrase should say to Jesus "Forgive me for I'm just a sinner". Jesus forgives! He's paid the price. Please don't rationalize by using scripture out of context. Those rebuking you may be the ones who love you the most!

Man teaches. God judges. That's the way it should be!  If you're playing God by condemning, then continue reading Matthew Chapter 7. It has a lesson applicable to you!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The "Weiner" Within You

We've all read about Anthony Weiner and his self-absorption. I'm going to surprise many!  "Anthony, I understand!"  What more could we expect?  This position needs a little clarifying since Anthony Weiner is anathema to all that I stand for and believe in. Ready?

Yesterday, I quoted Paul. We don't know what Paul struggled with, but even the apostle was a slave to the flesh.  Here's what Paul said in full context. (Excuse me that I am using the NIV since the KJV may be a little too hard to understand in these verses.) This is a "slave to the law of sin":

Romans 7: 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

As a mortal this is the most important idea to understand. If we think that because we're Christians, we're above sin, then we are confused and deluded. The delusion of sinlessness is from the evil one and if we listen to him, we'll become reprobate!  Please reread until you comprehend!  Paul isn't bragging on the sin lurking within, but is speaking of the divine grace it takes from Jesus for us to be despicable in our ways, but still loved by Him!

Now, back to Anthony Weiner.  The "Weiny" has no business feigning contrition and asking forgiveneess, then running for public office. His priority should be on fixing "The Weiny", not New York!  Likewise, one should not ask the public to forgive until the person has altered the behavior!  Weiner should stay out of the lime-light until his devils are behind him. After that, a forgiving public will forgive!   (Weiner's political ideology is another story and Christians should forgive, but never vote for anyone whose ideas are so ungodly).

Paul was admitting, from a Christian perspective, that he was tormented by the flesh. Jesus died for all and all have the same infirmity (original sin) which tormented Paul. However, Paul was born again! He was a "New Man" in Christ. The blood shed by Christ was sufficient enough to propitiate for all Paul's sins (and ours as well)!  Paul publically told of the spiritual battle within him. That's honesty and meekness! Many of us Christians act as if we have no demons plaquing us, and in all honesty, Satan pretty well left me to my own desires, until I became a Christian, and since, his focus has been on undermining Christ in my life.

Weiner is of the Jewish faith and is probably not even a serious Jew.  His wife Huma Abedin is Islamic and their marriage was done in an interfaith ceremony. (Huma's parents and siblings are reported to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist terrorist organization).  Whereas, Paul's sins were of a born-again dedicated Christian, Anthony Weiner denies Jesus (as a Jew) and his sins remain unforgiven, assuming that as a Jew he hasn't asked Jesus for forgiveness, What type of sinner is Weiner? Sexual sins are the least of his problems (with God). He is a rabid abortionist and his rabidity in voting 100% with those in the abortion movement, is a serious sin in deprecating god-given human life!

However, Weiner is no different than Paul, you and me!  We all have that same fleshly desire residing in us. Christians battle it contantly.  "I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing!" I'm going to dub that evil as "The Weiner Within You"!  Yes, Anthony; I understand. I have the same problem which you have! So did Paul. Satan tried it with Jesus by tempting Him for forty-days. Jesus remained sinless and although he was in a human body, and understood, he stood rigidly. Jesus knows what we go through. He's "been there, done that"!  That's why his grace is sufficient!  Paul said this about that:

2 Corinthians 12:9 "And he said unto me (Paul), My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Yes, God is graceful! Although we all have the "Weiner Within Us", by his grace, if we fervently believe in Him, we escape the punishment we deserve!

Weiner could say "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." just as Paul said in his letter to the Romans.  I'm sure that Weiner hated what he did, but somehow the pleasure he received in presenting his manhood to shocked young women exceeded his desire for self-control. Since Weiner has no motivation to be Christlike, the Holy Spirit didn't help him out. On the other hand, Paul had a Comforter: God himself. The Holy Spirit.

Paul said (Romans 7 again)  "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  Likewise, I'm sure Weiner doesn't understand why he does silly, even deviate behavior. We can tell by his lies and protective statements that he does care what people think and wants to be respected by his peers, but he's a weak man! He hates what he does because it destroys him, but the pleasure for him is just too great.  Since he had no Savior to please, he pleases himself. He does as he pleases. This behavior is self-destructive. It has probably ruined his political career, the respect of his son (as he gets older) and who knows the true effect on his marriage. If Weiner had any type of relationship with God at all, then he is out of communion with God (However, Scripture tells us that God does not commune with sinners).

I understand your predictament, Mr. Weiner. I won't judge you for falling into this sin.

Sripture tells us :

Matthew 7:1 " Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

I can't condemn Mr.Weiner. I share my humanity with him. Paul did too!  I can rebuke him by telling him wat God says about sin, but I have to always remember that I have my own "Weiner within me".

I'm not running for office where trust should be paramount. He is. It is the business of others! It's not just a marital problem.  Mr. Weiner needs to repent just as I have to repent daily. My own repentence is important because I want to commune with God with a clear consious. Mr. Weiner's repentence must be done out of faith in Jesus, in sincerity, and with change in mind. Furthermore, if Mr. Weiner will ever feel contrition enough to apologize to his maker, then he will clean up the rest of his life as well!  A realistic person knows that when one is sinful (or dishonest) in one area, it's not in that one area alone. Dishonesty, with repetition, becomes more than just a sin, it becomes a personality trait, and if a person's not careful they becoem reprobate (beyond help)!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Modesty in dress: Why?

Early memories still haunt me!  When I was five years old Mom took me into a women's changing room at the beach. I have never been the same!  I still remember the questions I had in my mind which I never asked. As I matured the puzzle came together. Males and females are different!

Society is on a roll. It seems that the movers and shakers are determined to have a unisex nation. Why in the world anyone would want men and women to be indistinguishable is beyond reason!  Regardless of their agenda, men and women are and will always be different!

Genesis 2:22 "And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."

I don't know how God did it, but he "cloned" Eve from Adam. However, God's technology is well beyond modern man's. God cloned a woman from a man and they were male and female!

Genesis 5:2 "Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

God didn't create an androgynous mutation. He created discreet genders with opposite, but complementary characteristics.  
Mark 10:8 "And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
Jesus was referring to man and wife and this verse is often quoted at weddings. However, verse 9 says "what therefore God hath joined together" applies more that just a marriage!  It would apply to "whatsoever".
Man and woman were called "Adam" (Gen 5:2).  Adam means "earth" and is the Hebrew generic nomenclature for man (mankind). Adam and Eve were different from each other, but they were the same in their humanity.  God made mankind. Mankind is not to be "put asunder". God made male and female. The genders are not to be "put asunder". God's intent is that we be male and female and we are to have a natural attraction for the opposing sex. Eve was created as a mate and helper for Adam. She was to provide companionship and offspring for Adam. 
God had a plan. That plan was to populate the earth with his new creation. In order to do that God, in his wisdom, put an attraction in place. Woman was sexually appealing to man and man likewise was appealing to the woman. Sex is not "dirty". Mankind has abused what God created and made sex something to strive for, brag about and even laugh at.  That's not what God intended!  With the "Original Sin" of our forebears all that changed!
Genesis 2:24 " Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." 
You can see that before man's sin, genitalia, breasts and sex weren't an issue. It was natural!  "shall be one flesh" has multiple meanings, but not only was husband and wife to be one in mind and thought, but were to bond physically. They were to love and procreate. Procreation is a sexual activity and we have desires and passions to drive the mechanical functions necessary.
Then mankind sinned! 
Genesis 3:7 "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
Adam and Eve ate of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil". In their knowledge, their innocence was lost. They recognized their own nakedness, but now that same nakedness took on a new perspective. Nakedness went from innocent to provocative. Being ashamed (and pragmatic) Adam and Eve made themselves clothing and covered their genitalia. Since that time lust and lasciviousness has been the rule!
Eve was the first modest woman!  Modesty is dressing in a manner which will not draw attention to yourself. Modesty is a proper and correct method of dress. Modesty also includes proper behavior and proper speech. Much of the time immodesty occurs in all three at one time and a truly modest person is modest in all three!

1 Timothy 2:9 "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;"
Paul reinforced what Adam and Eve discovered on their own!  As our first parents realized after they lost their innocence, public nudity is a shame!  Paul said women should dress "in modest apparel". "Apparel" means "clothing". What did Adam and Eve cover? They covered the parts of the body which stir excitement in each other. One might use Genesis as an excuse to dress topless, but we are to be modest "with sobriety", which means with gravity in manner. We're not to play games with God's intent!  We know that "excessive" amounts of skin is provocative.  We're "turned on" by the beauty of the opposite sex and it's not their clothing that presses the libido button, it's what the clothes leave exposed!
Yes, society has changed and will continue to do so. However, God doesn't!  Sobriety might mean that men and women don't have to wear swimming apparel as they did in 1900. However, sobriety certainly isn't a ticket to wear a "teensy weensy polka dot bikini". We know the intent of the wearer. It's to titillate men. If men are titillated they lust.
Lust is the second half of the equation. Those who lack modesty (both men and women) are the temptation which causes the other party to sin. 
Matthew 5:28  "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
We all know that we can lust after a fully clothed woman, but if one's honest, it's much easier to lust when a woman is insufficiently clothed.  An immodestly dressed person is a stumbling block to those who are trying not to sin. I don't want to lust!  I want to remain pure. It seems like I've heard that before!
Paul said Romans 7:15 "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do."
Yes, we do what we know that we should not do. There's a battle going on inside Christians. Our flesh wants pleasure, but our soul desires purity! We're always battling those two thoughts. Romans goes on to point out by God's grace that if we're a Christian, it's the flesh that's sinning!  James tells us how to handle temptation; in a manner that Satan will flee from us!
I've addressed modesty and why it's expedient. You may argue with me on what's modest and what's not. God guides us in all things. Don't depend on me, a preacher or the government to tell you what to believe and how to dress. With sincerity examine yourself in the light that God has given you. You may not dress as a nun, but you will make changes.  Make changes to help me. Make changes to help many others of the opposite sex. Make changes to please God! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What we do in Church stays in Church: Wrong!

We've all heard the slogan "What you do in Vegas stays in Vegas".  Unfortunately, the way many people live this slogan seems to apply "What you do in church stays in church"!  We've all heard of "Sunday Christians"? That's the group of people to which I'm referring.  However,  most Christians have been at low points in their lives when they actually lived according to that slogan.  Why?

Salvation is a starting point!  It's a good one, but you're not finished. Oh, sure, you can squeak by and get into heaven, but is that God's will? Let's take a look.

Hezekiah 3:1 "And the Lord said, thou shalt spend five minutes and repententh to the Lord, thenceforth you've met my expectations."

Oh, you can't find that verse in the Bible, eh! ("Eh", for my Canadian friends). If it's not in there, then why do people live that way!  It's because of faith... at least the lack of it!

Matthew 14:31 "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him (Peter), and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

Faithful people put their faith in Jesus!  Why do we fail Jesus. We have little faith! That sounds as if I'm using circular reasoning, but "faith" is the key to "obedience". We may not say it aloud, or consciously be aware of thinking it, but we are constantly weighing "pleasure" vs. "obedience". We reason with ourselves "I'm missing out on this pleasure for nothing if God doesn't punish me for my sin." I bet you deny having such dysfunctional thinking? Surprise! Most of us think that way at times!

Colossians 2:5 "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ."

If we have "stedfast faith"  we are unwavering in our belief! That's a mature Christian! That's a sanctified Christian.  (As a sidebar: Just because you believe in sanctfication doesn't make you a charismatic Christian). Sanctified are what Christians are called to be!

1 Corinthians 1:2 "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints..."

Saints are those who are "born again"... born of the Spirit. Anyone who is "saved" is called to be sanctified!  "What do I have to do to be sanctified?" It helps if you understand it!

Romans 15:16 "That I (Paul) should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."

You must desire and allow the Holy Ghost to sanctify you! Sanctification means "to be set apart". Apart from what? The world! You are to be Christlike!

1 John 2:6 ESV "Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he (Jesus) walked. "

Galatians 2:20 ESV "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. "
Yes, we are to be like Jesus. He lives within us, but only if we are "born again"!  If you're having an disproportionate amount of problems living the Christian life, perhaps you need to revisit Christ!  Were you sincere when you dedicated your life to Jesus?  Are you sorry that you sin? Do you know that to love Jesus is to obey him? Was your faith strong, but now it has wavered? Do you need to repent?
Salvation is step 1! As a Christian you should want to please Jesus. No, you can't do it alone! The Holy Ghost is THE COMFORTER who remains in the world to aid you in your trials and temptations. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God who remained here as Jesus ascended. He's "God With Us!"  You pray and read your Bible. God's Word will come alive as you read and apply it to your own life. A "Sunday Christian" is one who knows, but applies it only on Sundays!
A committed Christian is one who obligates himself to God. It takes perseverence and dedication!  A sanctified Christian still sins, but dedicates himself to avoid temptation. Sin will remain, but sinning will diminish!  Paul likens it to a race (He was an Olympiad fan).
1 Corinthians 9:24 "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain."
What are you obtaining? Eternal life. Yes, you run the race so that you can live forever. It's worth it, is it not? Eternal Life is the consummation of salvation. If you are sincere with Christ and keep the faith, the race is won!
You're running a race. A "race" implies that you have an opponent. Who might that be?
James 4:7 "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
You're racing against the devil. You may not recognize him or even see him, but if you're tempted to sin, that's the work of the devil. And how do you win the race? Just as James tells us. "Submit yourselves therefore to God"!  Submitting yourself to God means that you are God's servant. You are set apart to magnify, respect and glorify God in deed and thought. That, my friends, is sanctification!
Sanctification is a daily walk in faith. You're true to Jesus. It's not a Sunday venture, but a daily journey. That journey is one day at a time. You compete with the devil, but you do it with the "full armour of God". You've got a weapon that's the devil's kryptonite! You've got the Holy Ghost who places a spiritual lead plate in front of you, keeping the devil from beaming temptation at you!  No, you're not alone. God is with us!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The River Styx is not the Way: Paganism is sure death

Styx was the river in Greek mythology separating earth from the underworld, called Hades. Styx means "hate" and "detestation". In ancient times superstitious people placed a coin in the mouth of the deceased to pay the toll which was required to cross Styx on the ferry. "Hades" in Greek Mythology is the parallel to "Hell" of the Bible. Tartarus was a dungeon below Hades where evil people were sent for unending, severe punishment.

Elysium was an island for the "chosen few" in Greek mythology. Although they had no "heaven" this was a close parallel. Heroes and those who have been "good" go there.

Where did common people go? They went to the Asphodel Meadows. This was a place for people who were neither good nor evil. Most people went there. It was a place of neutral existence. People were as automatrons. Happy and sad, pleasure and pain nor wealth nor poverty existed there.

Mythology? Yes. Myths are a collection of falsehoods and half-truths people used to explain their origins. Few people take Greek mythology seriously today, but at one time those Greek gods were the gods of the Babylonians and descended from Nimrod of the Bible. The Romans took the traits of the Greek gods and renamed them with Latin names. Likewise, the Greeks did the same for their gods, taking Babylonian gods and renaming them with their own names.

Blame Nimrod for all these pagan gods!  Although the Bible says little about Nimrod, It does say that he "was a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Gen 10:9) in archaic language meaning that Nimrod was "in opposition to the Lord". He was the King of Shinar and builder of Babylon and possible Assyria, and was also a "mighty hunter", indicating that he was a great military leader. Nimrod was credited by early Jewish sources as being the king who built the Tower of Babel.

The Tower of Babel was built to worship the cosmos; the sun, moon, stars and galaxies. The Tower of Babel  is to be one of the earliest forms of worship of pagan gods. Babel was the early start of astrology and the use of horoscopes as a guide to live by, thus being in opposition to the One True God. Hence, Nimrod was the father of idolatrous religions! 

Josephus, the Jewish Historian of Caesar's time, said "Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power. "

The gods of Assyrian, Babylon, Egypt, Greece and Rome had much in common, but foremost they represented celestial bodies!  There are just too many god's in these cultures for me to compare which Babylonian god is represented by each Greek god, etc. so we'll look at one prominent goddess, Ashtoreth:

1 Kings 11:33 "Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father."

Ashtoreth was the goddess of fertility, or sex goddess if you prefer. The corresponding Greek goddess was Venus and the Roman goddess was Aphrodite. Hence, you can see that each civilization handed down their gods and goddesses in a similar fashion, and of course we are most concerned with their effect of Jews and Christians. Revelation refers to modern apocalyptic religions as "The Great Whore Babylon", indicating that the "New Age" religions of the end-of-time are the same old pagan religions originating in Babylon, likely by Nimrod!  As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes "There is nothing new under the sun!"

Revelation 17:5 "and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."

This is the same religion of Nimrod! Ezekiel mentioned the sex religion of the Babylonians :

Ezekiel 23:17 "And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them." (You'll need to read the entire chapter to  understand the context of this verse).

My point is that Wiccans and other pagans still worship these gods. Although many pagan gods came through the Norse, Druids and Germans, many of them have Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Babylonian equivalents. This is true "universalism". Their gods are all equivalent, but pagans, my God is different! He is the One True God whose name is "I AM WHAT I AM". He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.  He appeared on earth as the Son of Man! He is the Way and only Way to heaven!

John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Not only is Jesus the only way, but God also had a plan for us all along!  If you refer back to the Greek religions, we don't go to our death place by the River Styx. We get there by a crimson River which flows for all, but few are on that boat. Furthermore, Hades is the underworld home of the dead. All go there whether good, bad or indifferent. Hell is the dungeon right below their heaven and what must be Greek "Purgatory" , Asphodel Meadows.

1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

Yes, that river of blood is the shed blood of Jesus who gave his life so we could have eternal life!

We have Heaven! It's not an Island somewhere above the clouds.  It's an eternal realm in another dimension. It's a place where body and spirit reunite in harmony with God.  We believe it to be a real place, with physical characteristics, but outside the knowledge of known physical laws. It is supernatural, but real! Whereas, the Greeks believe that hereos and "good" people go to their heaven, Elysium, "saved" sinners go to God's Heaven! Everybody in Heaven with the exception of Jesus, will be former sinners!  If you don't like the "hyppocrites" in church you certainly won't like them in Heaven. They'll be there if they've truly repented!

Then what about "Asphidel Meadows"? If you're remember, that's a place of neutrality for those neither good nor bad, but as I see it, for the good and the bad!  It seems to be the place that people believe exists because "A good God would never send them to Hell!"  These prognosticators don't really care whether they go to Heaven, so they invented a place where they could go without obeying God!  That's just not the way it works and people are deluding themselves! If you're counting on there being a Purgatory, forget that as well. That's just not Scriptural, my Catholic friends!

In the Greek religion people entered death though "hate", the meaning of Styx. They could only go to "heaven" by being a hero or good, but by paying a price, they could go to that neutral eternal home, Asphidel Meadows. We don't have that make-believe resting place. We have Heaven!  What's more, you can't get there by buying yourself in!  You get there by the free grace of God!  It's a gift for you, not because you're good or worked for it, but just because you believed sincerely and believed with obedience!

I know people who claim to be pagan!  It's novel and "smart" of them now. They get the pleasures of the Sex Goddesses and avoid the asceticism of a God who dictates self-control, but they pay a dear price for this false worship. No, they will not be going to a Meadow anywhere, but to a burning Lake of Fire. 

Mark 3:29 "But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation."

Blaspheming against the Holy Ghost is denying the One True God who appeared to us as Jesus Christ! Denying Jesus is the only thing unpardonable!  If you're a pagan and die that way, you chose the way most traveled. If you're a Christian in name only (CINO) then you have the same fate... maybe even a worse fate if that's possible! Go figure!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Titanic and you! How can it be?

The British Luxury Line "The Titanic"  hit an iceberg and sank in 1912. It had never sailed before, and was considered unsinkable, because it had the first double-bottomed hull with sixteen separate chambers in the hull. The ship had 2,224 passengers and only an optimistic 1,178 lifeboats. 1502 people (2/3'rds) died due to the catastrophe! Lives lost due to compounded carelessness!

A nearby ship whose duty it was to listen to distress signals failed to do so. Likewise, since the ship was unsinkable, no one even dreamed that it was truly sinking. The passengers were some of the wealthiest people from Great Britain, Ireland and the Scandinavian Countries. Surely, fate would not threaten those invincible because of their wealth and power!  Passengers partied on board while the boat was going down. Drinking, dancing and partying to their own demise!

You should at this point in the metaphor be seeing some parallels, but maybe not because we too are invincible!  We cannot be defeated! Why worry about tomorrow when we can enjoy life today? It has been said that "Life is short, but death is sure.", but the living seem to believe "My life is eternal and death is for others!" (And I'm speaking of this earthly life).

Let's examine ourselves in the light of the Titanic. It was unsinkable. It was believed that all is well and life continues. Luxury and partying were the priorities! 

2 Corinthians 4:18 "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

What we see and do in life are temporal (for a short time), but the important things, those we cannot see, are for eternity.  As we now think that partying, booze, drugs and so-called friends are fun, it will all sink soon!  Before we die this type of living will sink with our age, then like a flash of light, "now" will succumb to "eternal". "Oh!" I scream! "I wish I had my priorities in line!" However, it's too late. Just as those who were freezing in the cold Arctic waters were thinking "I wish I could do it over... I would have listened!" You may be thinking on that icy cold death bed "Oh, Lord! If I wish I had listened!"

The Titanic was the house of those dying. It was their home at the time. This verse applied to the rebellious house of the Jews, but ca be equally applied to man in this day:

Ezekiel 12:2 "Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house."

Those partying on board heard the crush of the iceberg. They heard the screams of fellow passengers and the clanging of the warning bell, but they partied on! They had ears to hear and eyes to see, but saw not and heard not!  Likewise, at the present time, our ship is sinking. A "Titan" is a giant, a behemoth, a monster if you will. The name "Titanic" aptly applied to the ship, but also to our nation, even our world. What we know today is monstrous. We have returned to the days of Noah. God drowned that monster and baptized it with water. He cleansed it from sin. That will happen again, but next time earth will be baptized with fire. The earth as we know it will be destroyed, likely by nuclear war or energy gone awry! Yes, the earth will be cleansed again!

The Titanic hit an iceberg. Typically one sees only about 1/3 or less of the iceberg, the majority lying beneath murky waters. The ship hit what was not seen. The unseen sunk the ship and destroyed the passengers. The great Titanic, the invincible, succumbed to a cold grave where it still lies! Likewise the nation, even the world is being destroyed by the unseen!

Here's what's going on behind the scenes:

Ephesians 6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"

Principalities are superpowers at war with God. They are evil spirits... fallen angels. They are "supramundane", being outside what we can prove exists! They want you. They want your soul!  Principalities guide and direct leaders: recreational, civil and spiritual; to befuddle you... to have you minimize the things of God and substitute anything else in his place. They're deceitful in their actions and the misled leaders and our mentors here on earth aren't discerning enough to know that they are tools of evil!  These evil forces are the part of the "iceberg" which we can't see, but know they're there! (There is no formal conspiracy except for Satan against God. All others are, but tools to this end!)

As the Titanic hit the unseen portion of the iceberg, the one which knocked holes, in it's self-protection, it happened speedily and without warning! "Surprise, everyone! We're sinking!" But people were too self-absorbed to know that they were in dire trouble. That's just as our own lives will  be!

The "Day of the Lord" (end of time) will come the same way!

1 Thessalonians 5:2 "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."

How does a thief come? When you're consumed with other thoughts. When you least expect it. Concealed with a mask, disguise or in the darkness of night. When you least expect Jesus, he will be here! "Surely he comes quickly!" (Revelation 22:20). Likewise, Jesus will come in the same manner. But, what if he doesn't come before you die? In death you may be forewarned, but most often, death comes when least expected as well!

Ecclesiastes 7:17 (ESV) "Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? "

When is your time? When you are old? If you're wicked you just may die before your time. You die in God's time, not your own! It maybe in twenty years, it may be be next year or it may be today or tomorrow. You may be standing on the deck of death vulnerable to the icy cold licking waters, and when that strong wave leaps forth, you may be completely unprepared. The icy waters patiently wait... patiently as a thief in the night!

1 Timothy 5:6 (KJV) 6" But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."
If you're living for pleasure, you're already dead! From a Scriptural standpoint you're a zombie!  Why? Pleasure is rebellion against God. We are to live for joy! Joy is from God. Pleasure is from the Principalities!  Are you boozing, frolicking, swearing, lusting, and partying without a care? If so, then you're a child of Satan and pleasure is the "band" you enjoy... just as those partying and frolicking on the Titanic died dancing to their favorite music from whatever band which so engulfed them!
Do you enjoy gambling? Those who planned the Titanic voyage were "betting" that not many would need a lifeboat. They intentionally didn't have enough to save every passenger! Why? They weren't facing reality! God is real? Death is certain! Make sure you are planning your own lifeboat. That lifeboat is already afloat and ready for you to embark! Hope floats! Jesus is our Hope! Embark with him before the principalities sail. Jesus offers hope. The Titanic offers death.
Since the Titanic there have been processes put in place to monitor ships, their locations and routes; all put into place so as to prevent ships from sinking due to icebergs or other natural causes. People trust those processes and  travel without worry. However, it requires much faith in systems and processes, and I have little faith in them! Using 6-Sigma limits for safety we would be 99.93 % certain that a plane won't crash we're riding in! Do you feel safe?  Chicago O'Hare Airport has an average of 2409 flights a day. Using Six-sigma that means that the probability exists that 2-3 flights each day will crash!  If each plane has 200 passengers then the possibility exists that 478 people each day has a chance of dying from an airplane crash at O'Hare Airport!
Well, the Titanic is not O'Hare, but you get the point: Depending on others to save you requires a leap of faith! Many people leaped (in faith) off the deck of the Titanic still hoping that they would be saved. Many weren't. Those with false hope died of drowning or hypothermia. Where's your hope? Is it in science and technology? Are you waiting for cancer to be cured or death delayed by wonder-drugs? Do you avoid death by avoiding thoughts of death? Any of these require faith... faith with no hope. Faith in Jesus is the only hope! Everything else is counterfeit!
There are only so many lifeboats to save you. The lifeboats are for the Christians. Those who are waiting another day don't qualify for a lifeboat! Those who try to swim it on their own don't have a lifeboat! The lifeboats are for those who have faith in Jesus and Jesus is their Captain!
In their frenzy to save their own skins many missed the chance to get on the lifeboat. They just waited to long, were not sincere in their search and missed the mark.
Matthew 7:14 "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
The gate to life was boarding that lifeboat. Many wandered to and fro, attempting to board one, but failed. Those prepared for an emergency went straight to the gate... the gate leading to the lifeboats. They were prepared. They had listened to the Captain's instructions! They listened to and obeyed the Captain and secured life... they made the lifeboat!  Few listened and even fewer obeyed. They were destroyed by their own carelessness. They didn't care enough for their own safety to prepare the way to save their own life!  Pleasure was the anchor which drowned them, just as pleasure is the weight which will sink you to to the depths of hell.
There is a choice.
Revelation 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
There is hope! You must listen. There comes a knock. It may be when you're not ready, but the knock will come. There is a lifeboat for you! Are you ready to take it? Open the door where the lifeboats are; there will be someone there to board you on the lifeboat, give you living water and bread to nourish you and to take you to safety... to a room within a mansion; your home for eternity; a home which will make the luxury ship Titanic pale in its place! 
Put aside pleasures of this world. You  must listen to hear that gentle knock, but it's clearly a knock. Open that door and board that lifeboat!  Take the narrow way. Whereas, many sink on their own, go with the Captain. He will save you! Read the instruction manual and be familiar with it. That manual is the word of the Captain and is done for your safety because he loves you!
The Capt. of the Titanic, Edward Smith, died with its sinking. So did its creator, Thomas Andrews. They gave their lives for the ship!  In fact each of them could probably have saved themselves, but that would have cost the lives of others. I guess you could say that they died for some of the passengers, or at least died in their place!  However, my Captain died for everyone whether they grabbed a lifeboat or not. Some just refused to listen to my Captain and they deserve death. They will reap their reward. My Captain  had already paid your fare to board the lifeboat and since you're all paid up, all you have to do is board. Boarding will require you to leave non-essentials behind. I'd take nothing aboard which hinders your hope!  All that's required is you!
Are you sinking with the Titanic or are you alive because of a lifeboat? Are pleasures your anchor or are you in the crows-nest looking off into the horizon for what will save you? Obey the Captain now. He wants to save you, but he needs you to listen and obey!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Consider yourself warned? Our demise.

We have not one Jeremiah, but we have many. Does this sound contradictory? Yes, it does, but while we have no national religious leaders who warn of our future, we do have many lay-Jeremiah's; those who have read the Bible, know of it's prophecy and what God does to nations which disrespect and disobey him!  Here's what Jeremiah warned Judah of while disobeying his command to free slaves every seven years:

Jeremiah 34:17 (NIV) "Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth. 21 “I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials into the hands of their enemies who want to kill them, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. 22 I am going to give the order, declares the Lord, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, take it and burn it down. And I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there.”

Jeremiah was right! Because the Jews disobeyed God, their country and Jerusalem fell to the enemy, Babylon, who was led by God to come back to mete punishment on God's own people! Jerusalem was burned to the ground, the temple was destroyed and even the people were taken captive. Judah was laid to waste. Even to this day the city is not fully restored to it's one time glory and the temple, while there for a short while, is now gone!  Accident or punishment?

Jeremiah 25:29 (NIV) 29 See, I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that bears my Name, and will you indeed go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, for I am calling down a sword on all who live on the earth, declares the Lord Almighty.’"
Yes, a loving God does punish! The entire disobedient people of planet earth will be punished... the United States included. Why? Because of disobedience.
We like to say "America is a Christian Nation!". It was founded on Christian principles which many now deny, but our citizens abandoned God. It's hard to say exactly when the rebellion began, but we know that rebellion peaked in 1962 when prayer was effectively removed from public schools because one atheist had a cause. Madalyn Murray O'Hair brought the practice to light and because of her,  admirers brought forth U.S. Supreme Court decisions (USSC) in 1962 and 1963 which in practice took prayer out of, not only schools, but public life!
While the original USSC decision only eliminated "government sponsored prayer" from public schools, liberalism is as cancer; it spreads from the primary source until it destroys the entire body.  Hence, today, any attempt to honor God in a public forum is cause for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to take cancerous cells from one facet of society and spread the melanoma to the entire arena.   Sin is the disease. The ACLU is the carrier and we the American people are the victim!
If all areas of "moral crime" are considered from theft, to abortion, to child abuse to murder, all have grown exponentially since 1962!  Is that coincidence or has the removal of God from our lives precipitated the citizenry to care little for obedience to God? I say the latter. It seems that Americans, even Christians, pay little heed to what God desires, even commands!
As a "lay Jeremiah", I will tell you our destiny!  It's the same destiny which befell Judah and Jerusalem.  It's the same destiny which befalls all decayed societies from Assyria to Babylon, to Egypt, to Judah to Rome.  Sin and the pleasures of it cause great societies to destroy themselves from within!
Abraham Lincoln is to have said (paraphrased)  "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." While this is partially true, it isn't entirely so. "Loss of freedom" does include the loss of freedom to worship and pray as we please, but sin is the "how" we destroy ourselves, and as we are destroying ourselves, we do it because God ordains it!  Reinforcing what's happened throughout history, Ariel Durant said "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. "  
Now look where the USSC has taken us!  They have just scuttled the natural law of marriage. The sinful Court has ruled not only that same-sex couples can be married, but that ruling means the taxpayer has to pay for their benefits just as if they were in a legitimate marriage!  Same-sex marriage is the law in most western countries; countries which were at one time hotbeds for Christ. Common homosexual activity is one of the signs of the end of times (the world will be as it was in the days of Noah).
The American Judicial System is the system which violates all Constitutional protections with no one to oversee them. The courts ignore legislation, they ignore the Constitution and they ignore what's right so as to institutionalize bad law.  "Bad law" started with the high court upholding high tariffs and thereby making "nullification" laws unconstitutional, ruling that slaves were not human and only property, allowing income taxes, establishing the right to murder one's own offspring, taking prayer effectively out of public life, requiring the people to buy what they don't want with Obamacare and now propagating the secular view that homosexuals are entitled to marriage.  Where will it all end? It will end with Christ's return because the Courts and government fulfill prophecy without deviation!
Some have accused Hitler of being the Anti-Christ. He wasn't! Some have accused the Pope. He's not!  THE ANTICHRIST will come when all signs are fulfilled. I can't think of any which aren't already, but we know not the day nor hour of Christ's return!  Preceding THE ANTICHRIST will be many anti-Christs. Drawing an anology between them and "Creeping Socialism" we have "Creeping Tribulation". The world will not all of a sudden have a One World Government and a World Dictator who proclaims himself God, but it will creep up on us. It has to to gain acceptance. Much good will be done by the evil one before we see the evil in what he's doing!
So what is an anti-Christ? It's a person who is against Christ. That person supports evil over righteousness and their own world view supersedes God's authority. An anti-Christ is in favor of a One World Church, Globalism, social justice (Socialism), gender neutral policies, tolerance of all sinful activities and pleasures, government control, and thought monitoring. Someday we'll all have to take the number of the beast for daily commerce and with that mark we'll be monitored for "right thinking".  If you're thinking that the USSC justices are anti-Christs, most are. If  You're thinking that Biden and Obama are anti-Christs, they are. If you're thinking that many progressive religious leaders are anti-Christs, they are. Anyone who sets the stage by propagating evil for THE ANTICHRIST are anti-Christs! 
You have been warned!  I'm no Jeremiah, but I see God's prophecy growing in intensity each day. Life is getting worse for Christians.  It will get worse and worse! We will be decapitated under the ANTI-CHRIST for believing in Christ! If you're not for Christ, you're against him! If you're against Christ, you too, are an anti-Christ whether you go to church or not!
You say, "But I have believed in Christ since I was a child!" That's typical. Even the demons believe, but how do you love Christ? Are you obedient? Do you believe Scripture? Do you even go out and vote against politicians who do evil?  I had one "pro-life" girl who voted for Obama tell me that she voted for him, although he is pro-abortion, because she thought he was just saying that to get elected! So a Christian will vote for a liar on purpose? Yes, that was the case, but he wasn't lying about that... but, he sure was about same-sex marriage!
We have to have God in government. That there must be a wall of separation is a lie of Satan!  However, that God must be the Creator/Savior God, not the deceiving god of the world. That god is Satan, Ruler of this world.  The anti-Christ will combine his own godhood with his Global Dictatorship. He will remove that "wall", but to his own malevalent motives. If we don't remove that wall for the True God, Satan will knock down that wall himself!
Matthew 25:13 "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
The "Son of man" is Jesus!  He will come before the anti-Christ takes over the world! If you're a Christian, dead or living, you'll join Jesus in the air and he'll take you to your eternal home. Some who remain will become Christians  later. They will see that prophecy has just been fulfilled! Those are the Christians who'll suffer the dictator and decapitation!  The way to avoid the tribulation is to accept Jesus. He may come for you tomorrow! Are you ready to go with Him?

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Dogmatism!  Our dog is named "Lula Bella". This is not about her, nor any other dog, albeit she is a little arrogant when she wants to be!  Dogmatism means to be strongly opinionated and in the context I'm using it, opinionated about doctrine.  (Lula Bella has little doctine outside her unrelenting desire for doggy treats!)

Over the centuries the Catholic Church was very dogmatic. In order to be a true Christian one had to be of the universal (catholic) faith.  So far, so good!  I agree that the universal Christian church are the true followers of Jesus. However, things changed! Catholicism became a "denomination".  They changed, and as a consequence those who disagreed with change, became schismatic (the church divided).  Over the centuries the Roman Catholic Church , which was the name of the new denomination, became so dogmatic that it persecuted fellow Christians, even by torture, for not being followers of the "true faith". Kings, as "Protectors of the Faith" carried out the sentences of the Bishops and even Bishops led mobs.

In 1517, Martin Luther, repulsed by indulgences and other man-made abuses of the Roman Catholic Church, nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the castle church door at Wittenberg, Germany.  That started the "Reformation", and those who were schismatic were labeled "Protestants".  Although, the Reformed Church abandoned Roman Catholic doctrine, they kept the dogmatism of the Catholic Church. Just like the Catholics, those "reformed" started their own persecutions.  Although not a formal part of the reformation, the Anglican Church, was also a schism from the Catholic Church. That church in it's dogmatism was the impetus for the Congregational Church, the Friends, and the General and Particular Baptists among others.  Those new denominations broke off because of the persecution and rididity of not only the Anglican (Church of England), but because of the State Church supported by the Parliament and the King.

In all fairness, the extreme dogmatism existing at the time of the Reformation which led to persecution by death, has diminished. Both Roman Catholicism and the Anglican Church have mellowed, and in my opinion, mellowed beyond dogmatism to extreme liberalism!  (That's another story.)

However, some churches today insist that you be of their persuasion or denomination to be a "true Christian". Such denominations, although some deny being just that, are so dogmatic that the common love of other Christians and Christian Unity  is non-existent.

Ephesians 4:2 (KJV) " With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;  3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;"
Christians "forbearing one another in love" precludes arrogancy of dogmatism.  Those who are dogmatic care little about other's interpretation of Scripture, and their pride keeps them from relenting to the possibility of their own miscomprehension!  I'll use an example:  On the issue of "apostasy from the faith", I believe as free agents we must maintain our faith in Christ keeping the seal God has placed on us unopened. There are others who believe in "eternal security", which is commonly called "once saved, always saved" without regard to a faithful walk.  Although I am certain my interpretation is right, I'll never be totally sure until I'm in heaven. Therefore, I must put my own pride aside and leave the possibility open that the other interpretation just might be right. We use the same Bible... we just interpret it differently. God knows what's right and one of us is wrong. It can just as easily be either one of us although each of us is certain we're right.
The key to what I'm saying is "pride".  We ust put our inheritance from Adam aside and be humble and meek. We can do that without abandoning our own position because we "forebear one another in love". If that argument diminishes the authority and sacrifice of Jesus, "pride" is no longer the issue, truth is!  Dogmatism comes into play when the Christian believes truth is not what God says, but pride in their own interpretation of what God says without regard to love. (We must keep the faith, but faith with unity).
Although being ecumencial is about unity within the universal church, ecumenicalism is a feeble attempt to unite. The problem therein is that churches believing in the inspired word of God must not unite with those which deny that it is!  We cannot unite with those heretical!  We cannot unite with those who do not believe in the grace of Jesus sacrifice as an atonement of our sins and that Jesus IS GOD!
2 Peter 2:1 "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
That's so clear that I won't elaborate. We have false preachers and false doctrines among us. In times past these were clearly cults. Now mainstream churches are culprits. They are as the Laodician Church of Paul's time "neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm". Christ will "spew them out of his mouth"! We are not to unite with those. That's not dogmaticism... that's obedience!
Ephesians 4:2 goes on to say that we are to keep the unity in a bond of peace. That means that those who oppose our particular interpretation are still part of Christ's Church, but that we have differences in belief. That's why churches have doctrinal statements; to identify how they interpret Scripture since just about every church body has differences in interpretation. Some say that they don't have doctrines outside the Bible.  Since the Bible is subject to interpretation even those churches are doctrinal and are blind to their own spin!  Some are so dextrous with thought that they say they're not a denomination yet practice denominationalism to the point of dogmaticism!  Those "denominations" even believe that if you're not one of them, you're hell bound!
Again, from Ephesians 4...  "There is one body and one Spirit". "One body" is uncapitalized and means the one true church, followers of Christ. "one Spirit" is capitalized and means "One True God".  Although we may differ in how we understand certain ideas if we follow the One True God, we are indeed Christ's Church!  Even those churches which are dogmatic are still of Christ's Church although they deny others that same right!  Those churches are part of the One True Church, but they are prideful, arrogant and don't place any emphasis on what Paul says about Christian Unity.
1 Corinthians 1:11 (KJV)  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
Paul was speaking to Christians. He called them "brothers". He rebuked them saying "there are contentions among you". Contentions are controversies over disputes, in this case doctrinal disputes. Paul, Apollos and Cephas had followers as did Christ. However, they all didn't understand Christ the same way and were disputing over it. He rightfully pointed out that the individuals named didn't die for them, but Christ did! There was one Christ... and Apollos, Cephas and himself (Paul) aren't Christ!
I speak of dogmatism with a sad spirit. Dogmatic churches displace the love of God and neighbor with the interpretation of Apollos or whatever modern-day prophet emerges!  Those churches are Pharisitical. The letter of the law is more important than the grace of God. Yes, if I'm wrong, but sincere, God loves me enough that I'll be saved in the end just as long as it's by Christ alone!  I'm a "Disciple of Christ" because I follow Jesus, not because I adhere to some who deny their own denomination. I don't follow John the Baptist. I don't follow John Wesley. I don't follow Alexander Campbell. I follow Jesus Christ and I'm part of the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal (catholic with a small "c") church. We all can be part of that church without regard to denomination or lack of denomination!