Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What In the World Does An 82 Year-Old Codger Do Anyhow?

August 5, 2015
Definition: codger - used affectionately to refer to an eccentric but amusing old man

I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am. --- Francis Bacon

In youth we run into difficulties. In old age difficulties run into us. --- Beverly Sills

Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you're aboard, there's nothing you can do. --- Golda Meir

Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age. --- Victor Hugo

There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age. --- Bill Bryson

Yes, today's the day -- I confess that 82 years ago today on August 5, 1933 a son was born to Russell and Helen (Sedgwick) Harriger in a farmhouse located in Monroe Township, Clarion County, Pennsylvania.

Time moves swiftly although in those younger years we complained when time did not move fast enough, especially as Christmas approached. And Christmas Eve? Longest night of the entire year according to those just getting started in life!

Enough digression -- getting to the question as to what an 82 year-old codger (that is I) does anyhow with all his time on a day by day basis?

My retirement "officially" began in July 1996 after 37 years as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. I started out in the former Methodist Church in 1959 under appointment to serve 2 Methodist Churches in New Castle PA.

For a short time after retirement I filled in for pastors vacationing etc. Then in fall of 1999 I received a call from a member of the congregation of Gipsy Christian Church in Gipsy PA, which is about 27 miles northwest of where we live in the Belsano PA area. After meeting with the folks I agreed to become their pastor on a part time basis. A United Methodist pastor in the area whom I knew quite well upon hearing I would be working with the Gipsy congregation told me I wouldn't last 6 months there! Still uncertain as to whether it was my reputation or the church's or a mix of both as to why he made that prediction. As of today we are moving toward 16 years of service (come November) to the Gipsy Christian Church congregation. So I preach each Sunday and do other pastoral responsibilities as need arises such as hospital visits, conduct funerals, etc.

Now then -- what other things am I involved in? I have had a web site, Circuit Rider's Range, since 1998 and a few years later started a BLOG to which comments on issues are added regularly. Address to web site is on right hand margin of the BLOG plus links to various areas of the web site. There are a lot of pages on this dealing with various subjects plus an area for humor which is titled the Humor Hut! One of my favorites at this page is an incident that is alleged to have really happened over in the Middle East. The Iranians contacted a U.S. aircraft and demanded that the pilot identify himself and the aircraft because it was claimed that he was in Iranian airspace. He said he was in Iraqi airspace. They were impatient demanding that a complete identification be made immediately or they were sending up interceptor aircraft! Pilot responded by saying, "This is United States Marine Corps fighter aircraft F-(whatever number it was)." -- then he added, "Send 'em up -- I'll wait!" Those who had listened on this conversation said there was silence after the pilot told the Iranians he would wait!

I have for years been contacting members of the U.S. Congress, the president, ambassadors, etc. about critical issues affecting our nation and our world. To the members of the Congress I send a copy of the letter which is sent to the president on a regular basis. Copy of that is available if you want to see what it is about -- just go to main page of Circuit Rider's Range, scroll down a ways and see where the link to the letter to the president is. The contacting is done by FAX which is faster and certainly much cheaper than by first class letter since there are well over 500 members of Congress alone! This has not just been a one time contact thing -- I start over the list again after the last state, doing it alphabetically.

I also do a little volunteer work at Fallingwater, the unusual home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family which owned a prosperous department store in Pittsburgh many years ago. The home is now owned and maintained by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy group. I go down about twice a month to help out a bit. My present position is that of Ask Me Guide. When people ask what I do I just say, "I tell people where to go!"

And of course there are things about our home and property that need attention time after time. Lately we've been waging war on grass and weeds growing in the driveway. And a new layer of shale will be added in the near future, so my 3-wheeled wheelbarrow and I will be busy doing the shale thing!

For relaxing time, which isn't always that, depending on the internet, I am involved in the game called Farmtown. It is about farming and since I grew up on a farm, this at least takes me back in memory to those earlier years spent on a farm. But there is a lot of interaction with other players and I have made friends through this activity not only in the states but in many foreign countries as well.

So, now you know what this 82 year-old codger does some of the time at least. God has been gracious over the years and I have been wonderfully blessed far more that I certainly deserve! I have a faithful wife who has stood by my side in the best of times as well as the worst of times and there have been some of those too.

And now a bit of brag in closing -- well, its not so much brag as it is plain fact! God called me to preach and teach His Word back in 1958 -- I got started in June of 1959! During these years I have had the privilege of serving a total of 12 congregations, which includes Gipsy at the present time. I am probably close to the top as being a pastor who has preached more sermons than about any other pastor in the Western PA Conference of the United Methodist Church! At Polk Charge 3 times every Sunday plus Bible Studies during the week for 7 years. At Belsano, 4 times every Sunday for 6 years plus Bible Studies each week. And from 1979 until retirement in 1996 did preaching 3 times every Sunday. On top of this there were times through the years I did evangelistic services a week or more at a time in other churches.

This 82 year-old codger intends to keep going so long as God gives him breath and strength to do so -- a rocking chair twiddling-the-thumbs existence is not for me!

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. [Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)].

Friday, July 31, 2015

Conspiracy to Kill Cecil!

A few days before July 2015 came to a close, the name, Dr. Walter J. Palmer, became known around the world. He is a dentist who has built a reputation as a big game hunter using a crossbow to take the targeted animal. Cecil was a beloved male lion in a sanctuary in Zimbabwe. It has became known now due to intensive investigation that Cecil was lured out of his protected environment into an area where there was no protection by law and that he was wounded by Dr. Palmer. It took nearly 2 days of tracking before the wounded Cecil was found. It was then that big game hunter, Dr. Walter J. Palmer, administered the coup de grĂ¢ce with a gun. It is reported that Cecil's head was cut off and the carcass skinned. As news got out, so was the reaction through social media -- so intense that Dr. Palmer's dental practice has been shut down and his whereabouts unknown. Authorities in Zimbabwe are talking possible charges and extradition at this point in time. The doc paid over $50,000 to get Cecil plus additional expenses such as travel etc. If he ever gets Cecil's head mounted and hung on his wall, will he be thinking that maybe this whole thing was a monumental error on his part? --- from released news information, including article in New York Times

I admit to doing some commenting of my own on this incident. There has been a backlash of unprecedented proportions regarding this conspiracy to kill Cecil! There have even been death threats made against the game hunting dentist who has been in legal trouble before. Some time back he did an illegal thing in the killing of a black bear but apparently did not really learn that there are rules that apply when hunting game!

Now a few weeks prior to the Palmer/Cecil incident there was a stirring about Planned Parenthood and the fact that documentation exists which proves that this group, which specializes in the intentional murders of unborn children, is careful to preserve certain parts of the murdered babies and sells those parts which have been "harvested!"

One video shows a female doctor casually eating her salad and sipping her wine as she discusses the subject of saving certain parts with an emphasis on the fact that she chooses to "crush" certain parts but avoids doing so with other parts! She was very nonchalant about the whole issue -- the killing of unborn children and the harvesting of certain valuable parts is just a business in which big bucks are to be made! Just as common as the local auto parts store where you go to purchase a part you need for your vehicle!

The very intense and widespread outcry over the death of Cecil, Zimbabwe's famous lion, has caused a most serious question to be raised here in the United States. Why is there not a similar outrage and mass protesting over the deaths of thousands of unborn children each week and the commercial trafficking in body parts? Perhaps in part we need to credit a majority in the mass media in successfully labeling anyone who seeks to protect the unborn and to engage in efforts to stop the carnage as a low bow ignorant individual with smoke bellowing from his nose and flames of fire shooting out his mouth! Such an individual is a lunatic and capable of acts of great violence. Ignored of course is the act of violence that takes place each time a female conspires with a person claiming to be an M.D. to have her unborn child murdered!

It is a hush-hush subject with the POTUS, Supreme Court justices, and many members of the U.S. Congress in full support of the U.S. version of "holocaust! Over 58 million victims have resulted from the insane decision of January 22, 1973 that essentially said that it is a woman's "constitutional right" to have her unborn child murdered if she so chooses! No, they did not use the term, murder, but what do you call it when one person deliberately plans and executes that plan to kill another person?

The subject is also quite hush-hush in church circles as well. Oh, here and there it sometimes happens that a bit of mild objections take place and each year there is a March for Life in DC about the issue. United Methodist bishops are very silent on the subject but they can go on endlessly as to why we should be fighting malaria in Africa because of adults and children who are killed by this terrible thing! If you want to see some fancy foot work and side stepping, ask a United Methodist bishop why he or she is not more vocal on the issue of the thousands of unborn children intentionally murdered each week in our republic. The response may start off with something like this: "Well, that is a very complicated issue...blah...blah...blah." Response to this is simple: "What is so complicated about killing people and no charges are ever filed against the people responsible for the murders?"

The Cecil incident will continue to make news for some time in the future with many in agreement that Dr. Walter J. Palmer should have stuck to teeth only by way of activity! In meantime conspiracy to kill thousands of unborn children and sell valuable body parts of the victims will likely continue -- that is until Almighty God steps in and says, "That is enough!" None of us will want to be within the borders of a republic known as the U.S.A. when He makes a full response!

For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? [Jeremiah 7:4-10 (KJV)].

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Third Time Was Not a Charm, Nor Were Two Previous Ones!

…….The ruling is the latest milestone in the gay rights movement. In 2010, Obama signed a law allowing gays to serve openly in the U.S. military. In 2013, the high court ruled unconstitutional a 1996 U.S. law that declared for the purposes of federal benefits marriage was defined as between one man and one woman.

Reaction came swiftly. James Obergefell, the Ohio man who was the lead plaintiff in the case, told a cheering crowd outside the Supreme Court, "Today's ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in our hearts - our love is equal, that the four words etched onto the front of the Supreme Court - equal justice under law - apply to us, too."

Obama telephoned Obergefell to offer congratulations…… [Partial news release on Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage between sodomites and marriage between lesbians – Friday June 26, 2015]

Same-sex marriage is not the final nail in the coffin for traditional marriage. It is just another road sign toward the substitution of government for God. Every moral discussion now pits the wisest moral arbiters among us - the Supreme Court, President Obama - against traditional religion. -- Ben Shapiro

Over a period of 52 years the U.S. Supreme Court has handed down three decisions that assure us that as a nation we will face judgment at the hands of a holy God Who holds persons individually and nations collectively accountable for their actions!

The beginning of the end took place on June 17, 1963 when the Supreme Court ruled that it was no longer permissible to have Bible reading and prayer in the public school systems throughout the United States. In effect God was shown the exit door and ordered never to set foot on any public school premises ever again.

The lone dissenter in this decision was Justice Potter Stewart who said in reference to the majority opinion, “It led not to true neutrality with respect to religion but to the establishment of a religion of secularism.”

The fact is that in those days even unchurched students had a brief exposure to the Scriptures and to a simple prayer which was originally given by Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. He exhorted us to employ its use in prayer.

The deadly result of that decision is that we are now raising generations, the majority of which are raw heathen in their outlook in life. They have no exposure to Biblical teaching concerning God’s revelation and certainly are not instructed in the practice of prayer. One statistic of a few years back indicated that on any given Sunday only about 46 to 47 percent of our population can find its way to a place of worship on Sunday morning! That number is likely less now.

The second very deadly decision on the part of the Supreme Court took place on January 22, 1973 in which the Court declared that it is a woman’s constitutional right to have her unborn child murdered and removed from her body! No, they did not use the word, murder, in wording of the decision. But what do you call the act when one person ends another person’s life intentionally? Ah, yes – the argument continues as to whether that mass of cells growing in a woman’s abdomen is really a person – the preferred impersonal term is “fetus!” Well, you have to admit – it is different to get rid of a fetus than it is to get rid of a person. But Almighty God identifies us even before we are conceived and gives us the status of being persons in His sight, as well as revealing that He has a purpose for us. Check out Jeremiah 1:4,5 on this and after that schedule an appointment with God and tell Him He is wrong about giving unborn children the status of personhood and identity!

At this point in time we have murdered over 58 million unborn children in the United States which has been regarded as the “land of the free and the home of the brave” and a nation which in its founding documents stated that all persons should have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”

And no, the third deadly decision by the Supreme Court will not prove to be the charm that so many are so excited about. The celebration of course continues with rainbow flags flying all over the place plus a blatant mockery of the raising of the flag by Marines and a Navy corpsman on Iwo Jima during WW II. An image shows some characters in a similar pose as the Iwo Jima image raising a rainbow flag!

God clearly revealed early on what marriage would be – a one man and a one woman arrangement with the two living in a committed covenant with each other during their entire lives. This is found in the early chapters of the book of Genesis and later confirmed by Jesus during the 1st Century when He was here on earth. There has been no change in that decree over the centuries, except when humans have tried to usurp God’s place and authority and establish their own standards! The Scriptures do not present a pleasant picture when it comes to those who pervert doctrine, distort and twist Scriptures into something God never intended, and spread false teaching. This kind of thing only has one outcome – a Devil’s Hell for eternity – a very high price to pay for listening to the wrong people!

Another way of looking at this situation is to remember that in a ball game it is this standard rule – 3 strikes and you are out, no ifs, ands, or buts about it – you are out, finished, done!!

For the United States – the Supreme Court has given us our strike three on June 26, 2015 by giving God the obscene gesture and telling Him that marriage now involves sodomites marrying each other and lesbians marrying each other! And in the future with this kind of mockery set in motion they likely will approve a further expansion of marriage – a guy wants to marry 4 women. And don’t forget there are those who enjoy sex with animals and wouldn’t you know it – here comes Jane Doe who now wants to marry her German Shepherd, Rodney!

Since we are walking the very same path that the ancient Israelite kingdom of Judah did centuries ago, take a look at what eventually happened when they thought they could ignore God's laws and set their own standards as they saw fit to do. One of the things they adopted was child sacrifice -- they would throw an infant or a very young child into a burning fire as an act of worship! A wise person would conclude that such acts did not sit well with the mighty Creator of the heavens and the earth!

Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord. And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel. Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years. [2 Chronicles 36:11-21 (KJV)]

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

You Believe Removing An Alleged Offensive Flag Is Going to Solve Your Problems? No Way!

And having called again the crowd, he said to them, Hear me, all [of you], and understand: There is nothing from outside a man entering into him which can defile him; but the things which go out from him, those it is which defile the man. If any one have ears to hear, let him hear. And when he went indoors from the crowd, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he says to them, Are ye also thus unintelligent? Do ye not perceive that all that is outside entering into the man cannot defile him, because it does not enter into his heart but into his belly, and goes out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which goes forth out of the man, that defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, go forth evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickednesses, deceit, licentiousness, a wicked eye, injurious language, haughtiness, folly; all these wicked things go forth from within and defile the man. [Words of Jesus Christ in Mark 7:14-23 (Darby translation)].

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. [Words of Jesus Christ in John 3:1-3 (King James Version)].

Our republic is again caught up in controversy in the wake of the tragic mass shootings that took place in a church in Charleston SC. The focus of attention is now on the Confederate flag and its removal from public view. The reasoning behind this, at least in part, is the fact that the individual who did the killing at the Emanuel AME Church appeared to have an ongoing love affair with the Confederate flag!

And so, politicians and media people with high profile publicity and a rallying cry, “Get rid of that offensive flag!” have now placed before all of us an agenda that needs to be zealously pursued and consumated! An erroneous assumption is widely shared on this matter – somehow it is falsely believed that if we get rid of that flag which represents “hate” and “bigotry” of the worst kind, then we will have solved our problem in this area and consequently, no more mass shootings.

Bury every single Confederate flag and every article on which its image appears and it won’t change a thing in our culture.

The reason is simple – the vast majority of our citizens, including those in leadership roles, as well as the world population is in an unregenerate spiritual condition. Jesus Christ addressed this problem perfectly and with precision accuracy in identifying the many ways in which unregenerate persons will act. We are born into this world with a nature (inherited from Adam) inclined to defy our Creator and His laws, concentrating on ourselves! And when things do not go the way we think they should, we may even resort to violent acts to reach our goals! We stand at the head of the line – all others are to be subject to our desires, as unholy as they may be much of the time.

God’s revelation is crystal clear on how to establish a sane, serene, sensible, stable, and secure nation.

It begins with an honest confession in words something like this: “I am guilty – I am a sinner and deserve Hell – I take full responsibility for all my transgressions.” Then comes the part wherein one approaches and addresses God, asking His mercy and forgiveness. Proud people cannot ever bring themselves to do such a thing. But in honesty and humility one does this painful thing and then expresses the desire for Jesus Christ to come into his/her life as Savior and Lord. In the book of The Revelation at the close of the 3rd chapter Jesus says that He stands at the door and knocks, and if any person hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in and then the wonderful fellowship begins. He becomes a resident in the life of the person who has repented (turned from) sin! A miracle happens in this experience – the inner nature is transformed so that now there is an intense interest in the things of God, a hunger to know Him and become familiar with His holy Word, and to be obedient in serving Him on a daily basis.

As mentioned previously – you can destroy all the images of the Confederate flag in the entire world, but if there is no genuine repentance from sin, no desire to draw near to God, and no desire to be obedient to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, not only on an individual basis but also on a collective basis, everything will continue as it has in the past. In fact things will get worse as time goes on!

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. [2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (God’s Word translation)].

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Losing Our Religion in the United States? Oh, Surely Not!

The U.S. has become significantly less Christian in recent years as the share of American adults who espouse no systematic religious belief increased sharply, a major new study found.

For what is probably the first time in U.S. history, the number of American Christians has declined. Christianity, however, remains by far the nation’s dominant religious tradition, according to the new report by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

The erosion in traditional religious ranks seems likely to continue. Among Americans aged 18 to 33, slightly more than half identify as Christian, compared with roughly 8 in 10 in the baby boom generation and older age groups, the new data show. --- opening statements in news release by Los Angeles Times

Well, well -- looks like things are not going very well religiously in a republic known as the United States of America! There has been a feeling that the religion "business" has been in a decline mode for some time. There are a few exceptions as some groups experience a measure of growth as are some mega-churches. But as the studies and surveys are showing, the bottom line is that the total number of people involved in churches that profess to be Christian is shrinking. The United Methodist Church in which I am an ordained elder has been in decline for years. Again, in a few conferences there has been some gain in membership but that is wiped out by a larger number reporting losses!

Perhaps one thing summarizes the issue as well as it can be stated and that is the fact that God is withdrawing His blessing from this nation which He raised up over 238 years ago! Note some of the reasons why this has happened:

1. At about the beginning of the 20th Century corrupted theology was being imported from the European continent, with Germany being a main contributor. The holy Scriptures were held up to scrutiny and criticism and presented as a fallible human collection of writings. Miracles were commonly denied and the Person and work of Jesus Christ questioned. The seeds of unbelief began to be sown and as the 20th Century rolled along the seeds eventually began to produce bitter fruit! As we entered the 21st Century we had churches engaged in "warfare!" One issue at the forefront and it continues to be is that of sodomy and lesbianism -- morally legitimate or not, with "marriages" now taking place in states that have said such are as legal as heterosexual marriages!

2. As time passed in the 20th Century the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that forever changed the whole nation. In 1963 the basic ruling was that the Lord's Prayer and Bible readings could no longer take place in the public school systems throughout the nation! Strange as it may seem there were even church leaders that praised this decision, declaring it to be a good thing! Was it really? Even children from unchurched families had some exposure to prayer and portions of God's Word each day of the school year. But now we are raising generations of raw heathen -- parents are not in church and the kids aren't in church and we wonder about the terrible things that happen in our schools on a rate that is increasing weekly! No expert living can state that evidence indicates conditions in our public schools have greatly improved since the infamous Supreme Court decision of 1963! We've progressed from earlier problems of gum chewing, whispering in class, and running in the hallways to violent assaults, property destruction, and even murder! And how about this one? The mother of a 6th grade daughter was highly disturbed when the school authorities called her to report that her daughter was in trouble. What kind of trouble? Seems the daughter was in competition with another girl as to which one could give oral sex to the most boys before they arrived at school on the bus! Yes, sir -- get rid of the Bible and don't do any praying in school -- that could have a negative influence on the little tykes, could it not?

3. Then 10 years later the U.S. Supreme Court in the epitome of ignorance handed down another decision. In this one the black robed individuals stated that a female has a constitutional right to have her unborn child murdered and removed from her womb! The trail of innocent blood started in January 1973 and continues unabated to the present time. The tally of victims as of this writing (May 13, 2015) is over 58 million! And we still have persons who point a self righteous finger at Hitler's Germany for having killed about 15 million people, 6 million of whom were Jews! In a letter sent periodically to the president I have a picture of an unborn child who was a victim of intentional homicide and all torn to pieces. I remind the president that the Nazis did not get away with their version of Holocaust and we will not get away with our unique version either! An artist captured the issue very simply by drawing a picture of a man on his knees praying and calling on God saying, "O God, send us someone who will help us find a cure for all these deadly diseases such as cancer and others!" A voice from Heaven responds, "I did, but you aborted them!"

It is not a pleasant thought to consider what contributions the murdered victims could have made for the improvement of our nation and our churches, but we will never know will we? The oldest of the victims would have been in their early 40's now, living productive lives -- that is, if the decision had not been made to intentionally murder them and dispose of them in much the same way one disposes of the weekly garbage!

Corruption in church doctrine over time and massive corruption in the political process have not contributed to a stronger, healthier, and more secure republic. God has been calling the nation to repentance but who is listening. As time passes it is becoming more obvious that we are standing on the very threshold of judgment at the hands of a holy God! Perhaps a few will do some honest heart searching, seek to do what God wants them to do, including sounding the trumpet warning, and bear witness to His eternal truth at every given opportunity!

Here is a summary as to how a nation paves the way to judgment -- think U.S.A. walking the same path as you read this!

Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord. And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel. Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years. --- 2 Chronicles 36:11-21 (KJV)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

If You Can’t Say Anything Good (or Nice) About Somebody, Then Don't Say Anything at All!

“If you can’t say anything good (or nice) about somebody, then don’t say anything at all!” --- An adage that came into existence a long time ago and is still frequently quoted in today’s world. Origin of the statement and who said it is unknown.

Recently I became involved in a discussion about a certain high profile personality. There were a number of responses from friends and family members. Somewhere along the way the above quote was made and the fact that for some this is a kind of “law” by which we should abide and seek to implement in everyday living. So, if we make statements about other persons, we need to make sure it is “good” – otherwise do not say anything!

Let’s take a closer look at this issue and attempt to determine whether this adage from a time long ago is really legitimate – does it hold up under scrutiny?

In the first place, God does not command such a thing as this. It cannot be Biblically supported. If God would have commanded this, then He would be a hypocrite of the first magnitude because He would have violated it due to saying things that are not at all “nice” about people! A couple of for instances are found in the following:

Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. [Jeremiah 3:2-3 (KJV)]

How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses. They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? [Jeremiah 5:7-9 (KJV)]

There are numerous other references found throughout the Scriptures where God makes statements to people in regard to things they are saying or doing and they are not nice things which He says! Just take a slow walk through the Old Testament prophets in the Scriptures and see for yourself.

In the second place there are numerous examples of where persons called by God said things that were not nice about or to others. Here are a few of very many that are revealed in the Scriptures:

Amos the prophet --- Listen to this message, you cows of Bashan who live on Mount Samaria. You women oppress the poor and abuse the needy. [Amos 4:1 (GW)]

John the Baptist --- Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham to our father:’ for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” [Matthew 3:5-9 (KJV)]

Paul --- Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” [Acts 13:9-10 (KJV)]

Peter --- Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. [Acts 2:22-24 (KJV)]

Jesus Christ --- Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. …….But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. [Matthew 23:1-4, 13-15 (KJV)]

In the third place Christians are specifically called to be salt and light according to Jesus in Matthew 5:13 ff. This does not mean that Christians are perfect. There will be the occasions where confession needs to be made because of failures. But at same time Jesus is stressing a solemn responsibility on part of those who claim Him as Savior and Lord. Salt is a seasoning agent that retards rottenness from setting in. My parents in my young years raised pigs for butchering in the fall. Hams were soaked in a salt brine and smoked in a smoke house. They needed no refrigeration due to the preserving power of the salt. It is not enough to see evil – responsibility is to address it, speak against it and take whatever action is possible to eradicate it!

Light reveals things. I never knew anyone who did housecleaning in the dark or washed their automobile in the dark. Light is needed to reveal where the dirt is and then take action to remove it! By the same token, Christians are light and as such, are to reveal where the dirt is – which simply means, that sometimes we may have to say some things that are not “nice!”

Isaiah was told, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” [Isaiah 58:1 (KJV)] I get the impression that the prophet would not be saying very many nice things! How about you?

In light of the fact that our republic presently finds itself in a state of spiritual and moral bankruptcy, could it be that God is calling us to do what He called Isaiah to do centuries ago?

Yes, many would agree with the old adage that “if you can’t say something good about others, then don’t say anything at all!” But it simply is not a valid philosophy to practice in spite of the fact that some sincerely try to practice it. As previously mentioned, the most critical thing is that it cannot be supported Biblically. Of course, if the Bible is ignored or if one believes it to be filled with error and contradictions, then one can believe anything and attempt to live in a world where God has no authority and humans define what is right and what is wrong. That, of course, is a very dangerous and deadly thing to do. Eternity will reveal it to be so!

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, “Thou shalt surely die;” and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. [Ezekiel 3:17-19 (KJV)]

Friday, January 9, 2015

Martyrdom Accomplished – Now Bring on the Virgins!

A common shared belief among those practicing the faith of Islam is that the greatest thing one can do is to sacrifice one’s life for Allah, the god of Islam. Great rewards lie in store for those who make such a sacrifice, including a number of virgins in paradise!

Big news on this date, January 9, 2015, is that the three persons responsible for what is described as a massacre in Paris, France are now dead. One was killed early on and the two brothers who eluded authorities for a while were finally cornered and then killed in a gun battle with police.

The media, as could be expected, are having a field day with this happening. They thrive on shootings and killings – you know, with an attitude that is translated, “We have to get our people on the scene with endless babble so we can outdo our competition, have higher ratings, and then make more money because we can charge higher advertising rates – after all, the name of the game is to make lots and lots of money!”

What about those who did the killing? While most will reject the idea because they want to hold on to a false assumption that Islam is a “religion of peace” the fact of the matter is that these individuals are among the most dedicated Muslims you will find anywhere in the world today!

Their holy book, the Quran, speaks much about Allah and devotion given to Allah. The Quran also stresses that only Islam is the true faith and to be strictly followed and practiced if one is to be a faithful Muslim. Christians and Jews are specifically identified as being infidels (unbelievers) and it is the goal of Islam to work toward a world where no infidels exist and Muslims are totally in control. Before that can happen, the world must be purged of all who are infidels and refuse to convert and become Muslim in faith.

The highest recognition is given to those who become “martyrs” in the cause of Islam. And there will be those in the world of Islam who will regard the three in the Paris massacre as having made the ultimate sacrifice and have gone to their rewards, including being given a number of virgins in the paradise that will be their eternal home!

An aside here – on 9/11 when four commercial aircraft were hijacked and later crashed intentionally, the Muslim who took over piloting the one that crashed near Shanksville PA was quoted in his last words as saying, “Allah is the greatest!”

But the media will give little or no attention to this issue whatsoever. It is much easier (and more comfortable) to label them as simply “terrorists” – it may cause too much difficulty to identify them as the very dedicated Muslims which they were.

There will be many who will sharply disagree with most of the foregoing statements about Islam, its dedicated followers and the ultimate goal of Islam.

It is rather easy to obtain a copy of the Quran free on the internet and download it for storage in one’s computer. Find out for yourself what the Quran teaches, and particularly how infidels are to be treated if they refuse to accept Islam and its god, Allah! I especially would like someone to explain to me what is the meaning of the command to not take Christians or Jews for friends.

Here in the states the claim can be made that Muslims and Christians live peacefully together in many places. They can be friends and close neighbors. There have been efforts to have sessions of conversation about faith, how all can “work together” to improve community, nation, etc.

However, many Muslims are similar to too many professing Christians and willing to compromise their faith. Each is a very radical faith claiming to be exclusive and allowing for no other religious expression in existence! Christians, if faithful to the teachings of their Bible and taking the exclusive claims and demands of Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, as being absolutely true, will not back down from the conviction that He indeed is the only way of forgiveness, salvation and the hope of an eternal Heaven! Further, we are under His command to confront the entire world with His claims and call – to the entire human race living in this world at any point in time!

Islam and Christianity are basically incompatible in their purest expressions. The main difference is that Christianity operates on the principle of God’s love, not forcing by threat or violence for anyone to become a Christian. Islam, on the other hand, is militant and at times very violent – the approach is, “Convert and become Muslim, or you die!” Recent beheadings taking place in some places in the world are undeniable proof of this fact!

“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” [Spoken by Jesus in John 16:1-3 (KJV)}.