Saturday, March 31, 2007

Concentrate on Reading the Book, Instead of Books About the Book!

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. --- Acts 17:11

It is true as has been observed in the book of Ecclesiastes that of the "making of many books there is no end" -- in the realm of Christian publishing there has been an explosion at times of both fiction and non-fiction books. Some authors have churned out a dozen or more titles and are still going strong!

A large number of books have been devoted to some aspect of the Bible and its many subjects. I have been asked from time to time if I have read a certain book by an author who has become quite well known. TV preachers/evangelists have also added to the lengthy list of books produced.

While this is not meant to advocate a "book burning" crusade, but it is an appeal to do a bit of soul searching -- for each of us, the critical question is this -- in comparison to my reading of newspapers, magazines, and books written about the Book, how much time do I devote to reading and study of the Bible?

By admission, a huge number of professing Christians admit they give little time to the Book of books -- in far too many cases, there are days in which the cover of the Book is not even opened! And among those who claim to have been on the way for years as a "Christian" the confession is made that they have not read through the Book completely even one time!

Surveys uncover the embarrassing fact that Bible illiteracy is a most serious problem among those professing to be Christian in their faith, and this takes in all age levels!

Why should we not concentrate on the Book? After all, we have the very best Instructor available -- the Author of the Book Himself! Note Jesus' promises in regard to the Holy Spirit in His teaching capacity as it applies to Christians in John 14, 15, and 16. The promises are very specific in regard to knowing the truth and learning of things yet to be!

But being a Gentleman, He will never force us to sit down and spend a half hour or more daily in the Scriptures.

So, how about it? Ready to rearrange your daily schedule so that you are giving more time to the Book and let that book written by Dr. Whoever about the Book lie on the shelf and gather dust for a while? You might be surprised at what a difference it will make in days to come!

PS Someone may ask, "Well, do you practice what you preach on this -- and do you spend time in your Bible everyday? The answer is "Yes!" -- for a long time I have been on a morning devotional pattern which takes me through the Bible in one year and the New Testament twice plus additional reading and study in various portions, especially the Old Testament prophets. And when I do give some attention to a book about the Book, the book and its author are always scrutinized in the light of THE BOOK! Notice the quote at the beginning about Paul coming into a place called Berea and preaching -- what did the people do? Read it again!

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. --- 2 Timothy 3:16,17

Friday, March 30, 2007

How Long Until We Bring in the Prostitutes?

Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them.......Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.......The wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men.
--- Isaiah 1:23; Ezekiel 22:23; Psalm 12:8

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is quite a state in which to reside -- I am starting to get a bit of a handle on it since I've lived in it for a few decades. The exceptions were when I was in South Carolina for a few months learning to work for Uncle Sam and that work continued later in North Carolina. And a few years after that I and my family lived in Kentucky for a while.

I can remember a time when there was no such thing as a sales tax nor a state income tax nor an occupational tax nor a state operated lottery -- oh, there's a bunch of stuff that didn't use to be in the Keystone State a long time ago!

But politicians are a peculiar breed -- tax revenues are never quite sufficient, so new means of raising revenue is always on their agenda, whether publicly disclosed or not. Often it really doesn't become public knowledge until we wake up one morning and discover the critters did it again -- a new way to get more money out of the citizens and then those special times that they increase their own personal fortunes in the process!

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has devious means of raising money -- it's been in the liquor business for a long time. Then once in a while even "officials" sometimes are given to lamenting that so much destruction of property, injury, grief, and death result from use of these alcoholic products sold by the state!

The state is also in the business of gambling with the establishment of a lottery years back. And in recent months due to politicians giving enthusiastic support, we now are getting the slot machines up and running full speed. A news announcement today indicated the opening of the fifth casino in PA in Washington County (southwestern corner of the state). Now get this -- when finished the casino will contain more than 1,700 slot machines in an area the size of a football field! Whew -- watch those quarters and nickels roll!

Serious investigation has shown again and again that gambling ruins lives just as surely as addiction to drugs and alcohol -- but it brings in the revenue our politicians say is needed. Gambling is also a magnet for organized crime as well -- so who knows, except God Himself, what kind of money passes under the table from someone to another someone for special favors and whatever!

Since our politicians insist that we have to resort to gutter level activities to raise revenue, how long will it be before we bring in the prostitutes for further financing of a state that has about the most top heavy legislature of all 50 states?

Never, you say? Don't bet on it (yes you can place a bet already in PA!)! Sooner or later a politician will be willing to be the point-man (or woman) and say we need to get more revenue ("I haven't had a raise in salary since last year!") and this is bound to be a gold mine! After all, it works for the state of Nevada! So how about setting up a "Rooster Ranch" in Harrisburg PA?

Those of an older generation can remember when the spiritual, moral and ethical climate of our country with its individual states was much, much healthier than it is now. There have been a number of groups and institutions which have contributed to the decline over the years, not the least of which have been elected officials at the state and federal levels in particular!

Will there soon be a 180 degree turn-around -- a widespread sense of the need to seek the mercy and forgiveness of a holy God? Honest confession spreading among leaders and citizens that we have really messed things up and slapped God in the face with our defiant spirit of rebellion? That we have trampled His righteous standards underfoot in our mad quest for amusement and gratification? A thorough housecleaning in government and churches with the holiness of God and full obedience to Him as the goal to be sought and sin in every manifestation as the thing which has to be expelled?

What say you?

"O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets." --- Daniel 9:8-10

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Day Coming When Even the ACLU Will Be Praying!

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" --- Revelation 6:15-17

It is one of the most notorious organizations ever spawned in recent times -- a putrid mix of lawyers who are resolved to save us from ourselves! Under the deceptive banner of "Separation of Church and State" this blinded (blind to what truth really is all about) group has launched very effective assaults against Christianity continually.

It is known as the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) -- but it is much more accurate to have the initials represent Anti-Christian Lovers (of) Ungodliness! By way of definition, anything or anyone that advocates and encourages conduct and policies which defy the will of the Creator of this universe and which hinders the revelation of Who God really is, is more than qualified to be placed in the category of ungodliness.

This group is dedicated to the absolute elimination of any reference to Christianity in public settings such as schools and government. This mad dog approach to this issue has come about due to a mistaken interpretation of a statement made by Thomas Jefferson about a "wall of separation" between church and state in our republic.

One cannot say that spiritual, moral, and ethical conditions have greatly improved in our republic since God has been "officially" banned by court ruling from a lot of places including public school classrooms.

But the day is coming when even the members of this infamous group will find themselves praying desperately -- even if they have never uttered a word of prayer before in their entire lives! Further, it is quite possible that they will urge others to pray, even in public places!

Perhaps it will be in the spirit of a sign a student in one of my churches told me about at the time the Supreme Court ruled that Bible reading and the Lord's Prayer were no longer acceptable practices in public classrooms. This student informed me that someone put a large sign on the bulletin board in his high school which read, "In the event of nuclear attack, the ban against prayer in this school building will be temporarily suspended!" The sign was on display for a little while before a school administration official quickly removed it.

Isaiah the prophet also mentions this time of a world-wide crisis of a different kind -- when God has made the decision to directly intervene in the flow of human history. It will be a time with which the nations of this world are completely unprepared to deal, and it is obvious that material wealth will not be of any significant use in bringing relief from the impending judgment. And as noted in the frantic praying recorded in Revelation 6, for the first time ever, millions will discover too late, that now Almighty God is calling for a personal accounting from each individual!

Their land is also full of silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is also full of horses, and there is no end to their chariots. Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. People bow down, and each man humbles himself; therefore do not forgive them. Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up; and it shall be brought low;........ They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily. In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made, each for himself to worship, to the moles and bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks, from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily. --- Isaiah 2:7-12, 19-21

I would be the first to admit it -- response to what has just been written will involve a high degree of mockery and skepticism on the part of a majority. Similar in a sense to what Noah likely experienced before God shut him and his family inside the ark! But as has been noted in the past, "There are no atheists in fox holes!" So, to the few of you who do believe that God means precisely every word He has recorded in that inspired record known as the Bible, hang on and be prepared in order that you will not be joining them in that last great "prayer meeting" where the shouts are totally in vain and there is no response from the other side!

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." --- John 8:12

Monday, March 26, 2007

Nothing But Nets and Saving Children!

"You see, malaria is a big deal. It's one of the root causes of poverty. It kills a million people a year, 75 percent of whom are children. When you think about it in those terms, it's a daunting reality. Yet, there is a simple way for everyone who reads this to participate in beating this disease -- spend $10, send a bed net and save a life. That's it! That's all it takes! Buy a net -- save a life. End of story. Better yet, end of disease........Wow! Imagine it -- a world without malaria. Millions of people given the same chance as you and I to live a long, healthy, and sustainable life."
--- Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the Western PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in January 19, 2007 issue of InterLink, the conference newspaper.

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton is deeply involved and totally committed to the "Nothing But Nets" campaign. He is the head man of the Western PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. This piece of real estate takes in about the western 1/3 of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The conference has been saturated with information and challenge to get involved by purchasing insecticide-treated bed nets to curtail the spread of malaria in Africa.

Statistics cited by Bishop B. are that about 1 million people die a year from malaria and of that number, about 750,000 are children. Hence, the appeal to go to the rescue and start reducing the number of fatalities.

This is not intended to take away from the effort nor diminish its importance. My wife and I will be giving support to this effort. Those reading this can obtain more information and how to give support by going to U.S. Netting or [NOTE: If you go to the Nothing But Nets web site, the stats there will tell you that 1 million children a year are victims of malaria which is a quarter of a million more than quoted by Bishop B. above.]

However, it is necessary to point out a glaring inconsistency here which is quite commonplace among UMC bishops, particularly in recent decades as they have stressed the need to be in ministry to children.

Bishop Bickerton is pushing the NBN campaign and states that about 3/4 of a million children in Africa die each year from malaria. Now then, how often have you heard this bishop deplore (either in vocal statements or in his InterLink column) the fact that well over 1 million unborn children are deliberately mutilated and murdered each year in "the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

The bishop is also at the heart of the "Believe Again" strategic plan for ministry in the W. PA Annual Conference which was enthusiastically adopted last June at the annual meeting. One of the plush "perks" he will personally get in time will be a full time assistant to the tune of a few tens of thousands of dollars per year!

A part of the strategy in this "plan" is an emphasis on church congregations addressing issues of injustice and seeking to come to the assistance of those who are the victims of injustice.

I have yet to receive a reply from the bishop or any of his superintendents (there are 10 of these people) when I asked them in a personal letter addressed to each if they as leaders were going to address the issue of injustice that results in the intentional and brutal murders of over 1 million unborn children each year in this republic.

There has been this strange and very unsettling silence on the part of UMC leadership over the years when it comes to the United States' version of "holocaust." Perhaps this takes place because of the "official" statement in the denomination's Book of Discipline relative to the subject of abortion. The United Methodist Church is on record as declaring a "reluctance" to approve of abortion, but then after mentioning the reluctance thing, goes right ahead and gives a green light to the heinous practice anyway, saying that an unacceptable pregnancy may bring about hardship, stress or whatever!

In personal communication with bishops over the years, one told me that she stands by the position of the church (as cited above), so whatever the church decides at a General Conference (every 4 years) that is what she will support. Presumably if the UMC decided to jump off the highest point of the Grand Canyon into the river below, she would jump too without objection. Another bishop did go so far as to state in a response that abortion is a serious issue, but I was making too much of the issue, etc!

Unfortunately there are too many United Methodists who hold bishops in higher regard than Roman Catholics hold the Pope! When they say "Jump!" the standard response is "How high, and for how long?" And when they speak there are those who hold that every word spoken is "gospel truth," but documented evidence can prove otherwise in a number of cases! There are still a few of us that believe there is a much higher Authority than any designated church leader, UMC bishops included, and sometimes this will mean we definitly will be marching to the beat of a different Drummer!

How about rephrasing Bishop Bickerton's statement above with use of another word in this manner --

"Wow! Imagine it -- a world without abortion. Millions of people given the same chance as you and I to live a long, healthy, and sustainable life."

Do you think the bishop would be willing to make such a statement and lead the way to making that a reality with enthusiastic support from his fellow bishops?

We all know the answer to that one, do we not?

More on Issue of God and His Judgmental Wrath!

"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me." --- Deuteronomy 28:15-20

Roland in his comment on the post just below this one mentioned one reason why God should not bring judgment and that is love.

God's love is far beyond our limited minds to comprehend. Heavy is the emphasis on His love and mercy throughout the Scriptures. Perhaps that is one reason why things have gotten badly out of balance over time -- the focus has been totally on and emphasis given to God's "love" to the point in some cases of denying the reality of Hell as a place of everlasting torment.

Perhaps you have heard it in one form or another -- "God is a God of love and He would never send anyone to Hell!" Plus a heresy which is also a back door approach to denying the existence of Hell -- we're all going to end up in Heaven which is commonly known as universalism.

Truth demands that we look at this thing in the light of a coin with its "head" side and its "tail" side. God is a God of love beyond doubt and we are at that time of year when Christians review again the proof of His love in the giving of His Son, Jesus, for the sins of the entire human race -- His death on the cross was the perfect sacrifice for every sin you and I have ever committed in our lifetimes! And so mercy and forgiveness are offered on the condition of repentance and faith placed in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

But, God is also a God of judgment and wrath, and this too is clearly spelled out in the Scriptures, beginning with the "biggie" -- the flood at the time of Noah! What isn't realized is that mercy was offered for about 120 years before that devastating judgment took place. It is noted in 2 Peter that Noah, in addition to constructing the ark, was also a "preacher of righteousness." Except for his immediate family, no one else listened.

God's methods in dealing with cultures of people are mainly two -- when His Word is not heeded, He begins a series of chastising actions which may extend over quite a period of time. This is suggested in some of the Old Testament prophets. As long as there is chastising, there is hope for revival, healing and reconciliation. You see mention of God's efforts in this matter in the book of Amos.

However, if the chastising doesn't produce the desired results, then God's agenda changes and judgment is initiated. That means all hope is gone -- nothing but devastation and destruction will result -- God will not respond to the prayers that are uttered at such a time. Before you jump on that with "God always answers prayer!" thing, check Jeremiah 7, 11, and 14 for statements in which God explicitly says not to pray because He will not hear! Note again in the post before this one regarding the reference to 2 Chronicles 36 and the statement "till there was no more remedy!" That meant in no uncertain terms that they had crossed over the line -- no more chastising actions which offered hope of forgiveness and reconciliation with God -- now it was total destruction and NO HOPE!

I urge everyone who reads this to spend a lot of time with Jeremiah and Ezekiel (who was a contemporary of Jeremiah, but among the earlier captives) and see what was pointed out by way of spiritual, moral and ethical shortcomings. You will be amazed at how up to date these two are! But it's also a bit discomforting as well -- it might cause us to conclude as King Josiah did when words were read to him out of a long neglected dusty scroll -- "We're in a heap of trouble with God!" (that's a paraphrase, but that's precisely what he meant!).

"Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country...... --- Deuteronomy 28:1-3

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Can You Come Up with Even One Good Reason?

"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down," says the LORD. Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, 'listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.'" --- Jeremiah 6:15-17

In a previous post reference was made to this nation possibly experiencing the wrath of God in judgment. The subject has been discussed in certain areas of my web site, Circuit Rider's Range. In the right hand column of this BLOG you can scroll down to an area that provides some links to additional information on that rather unpleasant subject.

In my morning conversations with the Lord and mentioning the needs of our beloved republic, I can't come up with one solid reason as to why He shouldn't bring judgment upon this nation in that very moment in which I am talking to Him! I can only plead that He delay yet a while longer and increase the chastising actions and calamities upon this country as He sees fit in His infinite power and wisdom -- with the hope that just maybe our leaders (political and religious) and we citizens will see the urgent need to seek Him in a spirit of humility and true repentance.

And so I put the question to you -- what reason or reasons can you give as to why God should not bring judgment upon this nation without any further delay?

Because this is a Christian nation? Oh? On what basis? Because there are good people in this country and we have a lot of churches and a lot of good things are being done in many places. But there were a lot of good people in the ancient Israelite kingdom of Judah in 586 BC -- they claimed to be God's people -- they did a lot of good things and they had the magnificent temple which had been built centuries before by the very famous King Solomon. And we can identify some of the very good people who lived at that time including one named Jeremiah who was in constant communication with God.

In spite of all the claims which the people of the kingdom of Judah might have made in 586 BC about being God's people etc. judgment still came after years of warning as well as pleading for them to repent of their sins and return to God.

The statistics related to our own rebellion against God and a prevailing national spirit of defiance are shockingly parallel to that which existed in the years in which Jeremiah lived.

We cannot even get half of our 300 million population into a place of worship on Sunday mornings. You know what goes on during Sundays, do you not? While the vast majority of U. S. citizens would claim to believe in God (another shallow reason for saying God ought not to bring judgment) they demonstrate that they are "practical atheists." A "practical atheist" is a person who claims to believe in God but lives each day as though God does not really exist!

On top of all that you have a 50 per cent or better casualty rate in marriages, with professing Christians having about the same failure -- all of which has contributed greatly to breakdown of the family and an ever growing number of problem children and youth!

Of course a lot of couples don't bother to marry -- they just set up house together in what has become known as a "relationship!" This arrangement doesn't have an impressive survival rate either.

Add to this mixture the bloody record of tens of millions of destroyed unborn children, entrenched idolatry, and pandemic sexual immorality and you have a formula for destruction at the hands of the One Who put this great universe together by spoken command!

Whatever appeal one feebly tries to make that God ought not to bring judgment on the United States, it has all been said before in years prior to 586 BC when a nation of people discovered too late that God keeps His promise when He says judgment will come if there is not universal repentance from all sin!

Want to read the best summary ever recorded as to how a culture finally crosses the line and experiences first hand the wrath of an angry God? Just read on -----

Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He also did evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD. And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel. Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. --- 2 Chronicles 36:11-19

The Importation of Garbage!

We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. --- 2 Peter 1:19 - 2:2

It happened back in the 19th Century with Germany being one of the main spawning grounds for it. The United States was still a bit young, but growing and developing. It was blessed from its beginning because of the "foundation" which had been laid by our founding fathers. Woven into the foundational documents were statements which acknowledged the existence of Almighty God and the need to trust Him. And the Bible was held to be a very special book -- it was God's inspired Word and completely trustworthy -- what was revealed was true and humans were to conform to that truth so revealed and live lives which demonstrated conformity to that revelation which had come from the Creator of this mighty universe!

However the Bible was not so regarded in some other parts of the world --- things were quivering a bit in the continent of Europe with Germany being one of the main nations involved. The "theological" kettle was being stirred fervently with something called "Higher Criticism." It basically boiled down to the fact that certain persons became self-appointed "authorities" regarding the Bible and began to do a detailed "autopsy" on it which resulted in a Bible you would barely recognize and really wouldn't want to believe!

Miracles didn't really happen as reported, Jesus wasn't really born in the manner as reported (miracle of the virgin birth), didn't really do those miracles attributed to Him, didn't really come back from the dead after crucifixion, and isn't going to return to this world again as claimed! There's a host of other "stuff" the "theologians" came up with which won't be detailed here such as the authorship of the first 5 books of the Old Testament and other off-the-wall junk.

By the way, a good definition of a theologian to keep in mind when you begin to confront some of this stuff as it is spread around by a pastor or church leader in the area where you live, is this -- "A theologian is a blind man in a dark room at midnight looking for a black cat that isn't there!"

The great tragedy is that the stuff which was spawned in Germany and a couple of other countries or so was imported to the United States! Controversy broke out in the United States in the early 1900's over the reliability and integrity of the Bible.

This thing acted like a cancer -- it began to grow and spread -- a number of seminary professors had become "infected" -- this theological "garbage" began to be taught to students who would become future ministers in churches and evidence is overwhelming that a lot of them bought into it.

If we are not in harvest time as a result of the "rebel" seed sown for well over a century, we are certainly close to it. And God will see to it that we will indeed reap as we have sown over the decades!

By their own admission many who profess to be Christian in their faith also admit to neglecting the reading and study of the Bible. But why take time to explore it if it is full of contradictions and you never can be sure whether it is true or not?

The result is that it's a bit like a super buffet -- you just kind of wander through and pick out what might have some special meaning to you and sort of hope for the best. But you can never really be sure!

Mainline denominations have really been ravaged with this theological garbage imported from the European continent plus the damage done from those who rose up from within our republic. These also fired a few salvos of pure unadulterated unbelief into the Scriptures.

The cracks in our nation's foundation are becoming more obvious due to our growing acceptance of sexual immorality in a variety of expressions, establishment of our own special brands of idols, unethical and dishonest practices, and a decaying spirituality which makes God sick!

If as a nation we refuse to repent and turn to God seeking forgiveness and mercy, there is nothing else left to expect but to be on the receiving end of His wrath. One thing sure, nobody will feel like dancing in the streets when that happens. Oh, by the way, have you read the book of Revelation lately?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. --- 2 Timothy 3:16,17

Friday, March 23, 2007

Avoid Accusations of Discrimination -- Accept All of Them with the "Right Hand of Fellowship!"

A rumble happened some months back, featuring a mainline denomination -- perhaps more like a volcano eruption in the state of Virginia. A United Methodist pastor refused to receive a practicing homosexual man into church membership -- a complaint was filed -- he was suspended by a vote of his peers at the annual conference Executive Session -- the Judicial Council (sort of like a church supreme court) ruled the pastor was to be reinstated and reimbursed back salary, etc. It was a real slap in the face for the bishop and her Executive Session. Sometimes good things do happen and a person who holds to Biblical convictions is vindicated!

But UMC bishops stick together -- those boys and girls support one another no matter if one their own has fouled up big time! Some of them can teach heresy and it's quite OK because they are part of the "club!" So they drafted a "pastoral letter" which in effect said the guy who was practicing sodomy should have been received into church membership, the Judicial Council was wrong in its ruling, blah blah blah (add as many blahs as you wish).

So then, with all the mounting pressure within the United Methodist Church to accept practicing homosexuals and lesbians as members of the church, and also the political hanky panky going on to accept these people into the ranks of the clergy, why stop with just this group? There are others who will feel they are victims of prejudice and feel rejection if we do not offer the same welcome and be in "ministry to and with" them as is stated about the homosexual crowd in the UMC's Book of Discipline.

Let's get the campaign rolling for resolutions to the General Conference of 2008 which will permit the following to become members of the United Methodist Church without any questioning, criticism or censure regarding lifestyles:

  • fornicators, whether they just have a "relationship" with a "significant other" or they like to party with a number of members of the opposite sex at the same time on Saturday night!

  • adulterers, who are committed to "open marriage" and who don't hesitate to let it be known that intimacy with other persons beyond one's marriage partner is a good and healthy thing!

  • incest practitioners who claim that their approach to human sexuality is the best way to teach their children the "facts of life" and they will grow up with a good attitude about sexual issues and have a high sense of self-esteem!

  • rapists who have strong convictions that the persons whom they attack really invite and desire such aggressive behavior, so that in the end, both parties in the rape encounter have been "fulfilled!"

  • child molesters who are misunderstood by clergy especially -- they are just starting the education of children in a different way -- children learn by "doing!" Failure to accept these persons into church membership will definitely open the church and its leadership up to accusations of being self-righteous, judgmental, etc. as happens often in the case of homosexuals and lesbians!

  • bestiality practitioners who feel that having sexual experiences with their dog or pet goat in the back yard is a "normal" thing (don't you often hear that reasoning in the campaign for acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism -- that it is "normal?") and one ought not to knock it until you've tried it. So if Jane Doe is having a "love" thing going with her German Shepherd we ought not to be judgmental and if she shows up at the local United Methodist church and wants to join with Rex in her company, who are we to object?

Objections to these recommendations? If even the bishops are suggesting that homosexuals and lesbians should be admitted to membership in the United Methodist Church, how can you draw a line and say that the above mentioned persons should not be admitted also?

Did I hear someone say those are immoral acts -- violent acts -- acts that degrade and take advantage in some cases of very young persons? Oh, and how do you determine that? You can't appeal to the Bible due to the fact that for some time we have been told that where homosexuality is condemned, it really isn't so due to our tendency to incorrectly "interpret" Scripture etc. So, where there is reference to such activities as those mentioned above, we are likely doing a wrong "interpretation" as in the case of same gender sexual activity! Haven't we been told repeatedly that it is morally acceptable for 2 males or 2 females to be in a "committed and loving relationship?" So, what if individuals in one of the categories above makes a similar claim? Are we going to be prejudiced and say that it's OK for Sylvester and Joe down the street to be a loving "couple" but it's not OK for those others previously mentioned who have their particular sexual "lifestyle?"

So in the denomination that prides itself on being a church of "Open Hearts! Open Minds! Open Doors!" let's make the necessary changes so that along with homosexuals and lesbians we welcome all persons who have their unique ways of practicing human sexuality and never make the mistake of suggesting to them that such behavior is unacceptable!

And now a PS on this matter -- There are still a few who believe God means every word which is recorded in His inspired Word and that through His Holy Spirit we will be able to correctly interpret what is written regarding the sexual boundaries which God has clearly established, including the issue of homosexuality.

It is most unfortunate that a number of United Methodist bishops have yet to be aware of the fact that this is how it really is! But should you encounter one who insists that homosexuality and lesbianism are morally acceptable in our society, then you can respond that if that is really true, then so are the other sexual lifestyles as mentioned above!

Some parting food for thought -- notice the transformation which occurred in the lives of some people who apparently were trapped in sexual immorality of various kinds as mentioned by Paul the apostle:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. --- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Who's Going to Blink First?

This is the transcript of an ACTUAL radio conversation of a U.S. naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland a few years ago:

Canadians: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.

Americans: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.


Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

Source: Circuit Rider's Humor Hut

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Crow and A Christian -- Some Common Ground!

It was over a year ago that I first saw Pegleg in our back yard where we have the bird feeders. I noticed he (not sure if Pegleg is a he or a she, but I'll refer to him as a male in this essay) was different from the first moment I spotted him, and named him. Pegleg is a crow and he really doesn't have a "peg leg" -- in fact, one leg is completely missing, so he could certainly use an artificial one. But it is highly unlikely that even the impressive Cleveland Clinic could fix him up with one!

His style of eating was different from that of other crows -- he attempted to balance himself on his one leg and eat everything he could find within reach, while other crows would strut around, pecking here and there. After Pegleg got everything edible within his reach, he'd try to hop a few inches to the next grazing area and the act was repeated.

Just recently I saw him again -- early morning and he was among the first of the critters to arrive. We've had birds of all kinds, including a big Pileated woodpecker, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and black bears. It was at high noon one July day some time ago that a black bear decided to have lunch in our back yard -- he reached up, grabbed a feeder with black sunflower seeds in it, pulled it down to the ground, plopped himself down and started to eat. As he sat there chomping away, I took some pictures of him, the closest being about 15 feet away -- with a tag in each ear (clear evidence of what we call a "nuisance" bear) he looked at me as though to say, "If you don't like it, throw me off your property!" I just left Blackie go on doing what he seems to do best -- eventually he ambled off into the woods behind our home.

But, alas, I digress -- back to Pegleg the one legged crow who was an early arrival one morning just after I had put out a fresh batch of seed. He was eating away when 4 other crows arrived, each with 2 legs to stand on. They landed a few feet away from Pegleg and checked the seed situation, but then, one after another they walked over to Pegleg -- each one started to peck at him with their beaks -- sort of taking turns. Poor Pegleg tried to back away -- but with one leg it didn't go too well, and he tried to keep balanced, sometimes using the tip of his wing to help with the balancing act. Finally he'd had enough and flew away -- the 4 antagonists then started to eat and spent quite a bit of time doing so.

So what's the point? As I thought about Pegleg and what he had experienced, I realized that he and Christians do have a bit of common ground. Pegleg was different from the other crows -- though he looked like the others, he was distinctly different and they were prejudiced due to that difference, so they wanted nothing to do with him and actually wanted him to leave! The pecking act succeeded in getting him to go someplace else.

In that sense Christians are:

  • different and because they are different, they are often on the receiving end of hostility from the world. There are a lot of things in this world by way of practices and involvements which the Christian will not accept and with which there is no willingness to compromise -- this is almost certain to invite the wrath of the worldly minded crowd, of which there are huge numbers of all ages! There may be certain actions taken and/or words spoken (which cannot be repeated here) that make clear the fact that Christians aren't wanted, nor appreciated. And if necessary, some will resort to lawsuits to remove any reminders of Christianity, especially in public places!

  • at times rejected and the preference is that they be absent so that those of the world can enjoy themselves -- so, as Pegleg was not wanted and in a short time was forced to leave, so those who revel in the things of this world which so often do damage to a person physically, emotionally, morally and spiritually, a Christian is definitely not wanted in those settings. It was Jesus Who said His followers are to be the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world." In exhibiting these characteristics, the "lovers" of the world and all that is in it become extremely uncomfortable! Hostile responses and reactions are becoming more common as time passes!

Thank you, Pegleg, for reminding me how it really is in this world for the Christian who believes God's Word is indeed true and that Jesus Christ so transforms a person's life that one is no longer considered to be part of the world, but an alien who is very different, just passing through and moving toward a fantastic destination which lies far beyond the limited things of earth and time!

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.......These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me." --- Jesus in John 15:18-21; 16:1-3

Animal Rights People & Polar Bear Cubs -- Ugggh!

His name is Knut -- cute little fellow born early in December at a zoo in Berlin, Germany. His mother rejected him and his brother with the result that the brother died, but Knut was rescued by a zoo keeper and was given round-the-clock attention. He has gotten a lot of publicity and his pictures have warmed the hearts of a lot of people with some notable exceptions!

Seems some animal rights people are up in arms about this "rescue" and are going on record that Knut should have been left to die because that's what would have happened out in the wild.

Further, according to the "animal rights" people, Knut should not be cared for by humans -- in the words of one such person, "Hand-rearing a polar bear is not appropriate and is a serious violation of animal rights."

It apparently has not dawned on such people that all living creatures which are residents of a large number of zoos all over the world are "hand-reared" in that they are fed by humans, provided living quarters by humans, and treated by humans when they are ill!

A couple of questions here -- do these people show an equal concern for the "rights" of unborn children -- or is their position one in which you just let them die by mutilation and murder by the thousands each week since that is "nature's way?"

And the real critical question is this -- is it true that to be an animal activist, such as the one who made the above quoted statement, the basic requirement is that you are not permitted to have an IQ level which measures above 47?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Flying 3,000 Flags? Why Not Add 47.5 Million of Them?

A news release a few days ago mentioned that nearly 3,000 flags commemorating the victims of the 01-09-11 attacks on this republic will be flown during special services held this September at Shanksville PA, the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in NYC.

There has been a very heavy emphasis on this event and the loss of nearly 3,000 lives of those who were victims of terrorists' using commercial aircraft in their sinister plots. These "attacks" took place within just a few hours time back in September 2001.

Certainly it is fitting that the memory of those victims be honored in such a fashion. Families will grieve for the rest of their lives over the loss of loved ones on that fateful day.

Debate also continues as to whether those attacks could have been prevented -- a lot of "ifs" have been hurled toward persons and agencies of the federal government with no significant conclusion reached.

The shadow of hypocrisy falls across this land with hardly a person taking notice -- outrage spread across the land on the occasion of 9-11 with nearly 3,000 victims, but not a whimper that more than 3,000 persons are victims of mutilation and murder every single day in this republic -- oh, are you one of those deluded persons who insists that the unborn are just a "mass of tissue and blood?" Try telling that to God and see what His response is -- I would like to know what He tells you!

So, in addition to the 3,000 flags flying next September let's also add another 47.5 million to commemorate the mutilated and murdered victims of the United States' version of "holocaust!"

By the way, how about taking A Quick Look at the United States' Massacre Tally!

"For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then 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 7:5-10

Monday, March 19, 2007

An Anniversary NOT to Celebrate!

* 3,196 U.S. military persons killed (does not include military killed in Afghanistan)

* 24,042 U.S. wounded (does not include military wounded in Afghanistan)

* Iraqi civilian deaths - more than 58,000 but could be thousands higher

* before "war" 1/2 million Iraqis living outside Iraq; now 2 million living outside the country

* U.S. money cost = $360 billion; Afghanistan debacle puts total to $500 billion and still climbing!

* projected costs of providing medical and disability benefits to vets of Iraq and Afghanistan "wars" at $350 billion to $750 billion! --- Source: Associated Press combined with government statistics - March 18, 2007

Four years ago today (March 19, 2003), upon the insistence of President George W. Bush, the United States launched a military invasion against Iraq. There were "reasons" given by the president as to why this was absolutely necessary.

As we continue to plod along and as a "surge" of a larger number of troops flow into Iraq, legitimate questions are being raised about this thing. Protests are increasing in number and the U.S. Congress is torn as to what to do next -- the prez wants more money and more manpower -- cries from members of Congress want to set deadlines and get the troops back home -- defenders of the "war" are saying we're getting there but just be patient, because a lot of good is being done, and the country will become stable.

On this last one -- yes, "good things" are being done -- some contractors with good connections are cashing in big on that one -- already scandals have surfaced because millions of dollars to do some "good things" cannot be accounted for! Do those contractors wear those big baggy pants that high school kids wear, since those pants have pockets all over the place and certainly can hold a lot of money??????

No, this is an anniversary some will not want to celebrate -- 3,200 families continue to grieve the loss of loved ones (the number of fatalities has now passed the 3,200 level since above figures were published) and thousands of other families carry a burden for loved ones who will be maimed and handicapped for the rest of their lives! That's just the beginning. We tend to forget military casualities in that place called Afghanistan -- military people continue to be killed and wounded there also!

One of the greatest tragedies of this quagmire is that the president and his administration do not (or intentionally refuse to) recognize the reality of what Islam really is. A simple proof is this -- if Christians and Muslims worship the same God, as the prez insists, then let him go into Saudi Arabia, or Iraq, or Iran and announce to the leaders that he wants to set up some churches for Christians in which they may worship, and let him insist that the Christians be guaranteed freedom to broadcast their message of salvation through Jesus Christ, and to distribute literature promoting Christianity. Further, that all this will be financed with money coming from the United States.

How far do you think he will get? And yet he talks about spreading "democracy" throughout the middle east -- a very warped view of "democracy" will work, IF all the citizens are Muslim and Islamic "law" is the law of the land -- but then, you really will not have any sense of "democracy" as the average American perceives it!

However, a far greater tragedy is the fact that the president and the members of his administration are blinded to the spiritual, moral and ethical bankrupted condition of this republic and express absolutely no concern about our inevitable rush toward national disaster due to such massive defiance and rebellion against the Creator of this universe. Instead, there are the repeated uses of the phrase, "God bless America!," and the deadly assumption that we still have the blessing of God, when in fact, we do not!

A letter, (Mr. President, We Need to Set Our Own House in Order First!), is sent to the president and/or the vice president about every 10 days or so with copies going to other elected officials, church leaders, etc. It is an effort to remind elected officials of the need to get this republic squared away in relationship with Almighty God. I also realize I am in a position similar to the prophet Ezekiel who was told by God to sound the warning and the call to repent -- at the same time God told this man in so many words, "You tell them -- they won't listen to you, because they won't listen to me. But you tell them anyway!" It's unlikely the letters will ever get to them -- but if they did and were actually read, they probably would be dismissed as the ravings of a lunatic. But at least with clear conscience I can stand before God and say that I tried to do what He put on my heart and fulfill the calling He has given me.

Celebration on today's "anniversary" anyone? Excuse me, but I'm going to pass on this one!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Profound Issue of the Light Bulb!

There are many important issues which are discussed here at this BLOG. This one is so critical that the future of the human race certainly hangs on the outcome!

QUESTION: How many liberals does it take to change a light bulb?

ANSWER: At least 10, as they need to hold a debate on whether or not the light bulb exists. Even if they can agree upon the existence of the light bulb, they still might not change it, to keep from alienating those who might use other forms of light.

Now to bring some religion into this monumental issue: How many United Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?

Looks like this issued statement came out of a meeting of the Council of United Methodist Bishops: "We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that a light bulb works for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb traditions (or light source, or non-dark resource), and present it next month at our annual light bulb Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence."

NOTE: In order to protect him from loss of ministerial credentials and excommunication, I refuse to reveal my source on the above information. Hey, don't whine about that -- media people do this all the time!

Source: somewhere on Circuit Rider's Range

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Anyone Out There Want to Take a Walk Down the Old Paths?

Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls." But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' --- Jeremiah 6:16

The Old Paths

I liked the old paths, when
Moms were at home.
Dads were at work.
Brothers went into the army.
And sisters got married BEFORE having children!

Crime did not pay;
Hard work did;
And people knew the difference.

Moms could cook;
Dads would work;
Children would behave..

Husbands were loving;
Wives were supportive;
And children were polite.

Women wore the jewelry;
And Men wore the pants.
Women looked like ladies;
Men looked like gentlemen;
And children looked decent.

People loved the truth,
And hated a lie;
They came to church to get IN,
Not to get OUT!

Hymns sounded Godly;
Sermons sounded helpful;
Rejoicing sounded normal;
And crying sounded sincere.

Cursing was wicked;
Drinking was evil;
and divorce was unthinkable.

The flag was honored;
America was beautiful;
And God was welcome!

We read the Bible in public;
Prayed in school;
And preached from house to house
To be called an American was worth dying for;
To be called a Christian was worth living for;
To be called a traitor was a shame!

Sex was a personal word.
Homosexual was an unheard of word,
And abortion was an illegal word.

Preachers preached because they had a message;
And Christians rejoiced because they had the VICTORY!
Preachers preached from the Bible;
Singers sang from the heart;
And sinners turned to the Lord to be SAVED!

A new birth meant a new life;
Salvation meant a changed life;
Following Christ led to eternal life.

Being a preacher meant you proclaimed the word of God;
Being a deacon meant you would serve the Lord;
Being a Christian meant you would live for Jesus;
And being a sinner meant someone was praying for you!

Laws were based on the Bible;
Homes read the Bible;
And churches taught the Bible.

Preachers were more interested in new converts,
Than new clothes and new cars.
God was worshiped;
Christ was exalted;
and the Holy Spirit was respected.

Church was where you found Christians
on the Lord's day, rather than in the garden,
on the creek bank, on the golf course,
or being entertained somewhere else.

I still like the old paths the best!

NOTE: "The Old Paths" was written by a retired pastor from Tennessee. His identity was not included with his writing of this most appropriate message. It is being circulated on the Internet along with the beautiful painting above, the artist of which is not identified. If anyone reading this should know the identity of either or both, please inform me and the name/s will be acknowledged. Also, if extra prints of the painting should be available, that information would be provided as well.

Our times are strikingly parallel to those times in which Jeremiah the prophet lived many centuries ago -- he just didn't have all the gadgets we have, but attitudes were very much the same -- the appeal to seek out and walk the "old paths," as noted above, was rejected by the majority. Thanks to the good brother in Tennessee for telling it like it really is, in spite of the fact that most don't want to hear it!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Well, It's About Time!

Did you ever picture yourself in the above scene? No, not as the driver of that black vehicle, but as the occupant of the wooden box about to be taken out of that vehicle and put in a hole in the ground?

The time is long overdue for each of us to do some thinking about issues that reach far beyond the limits of this present world and time -- such serious thinking helps us to sort out what is really important and what is foolish, trivial and very unprofitable!

For such an experience you are invited to go to

It Is Time....!

Who knows, you might never be the same person again......ever!

N O T E: This item is going to be reposted every few days due to the nature of the issue raised. We live in a fast paced world with a deadly assumption that we will always have lots of time to do whatever it is that happens to be on our personal agenda at the moment -- other people die, but I am like the Energizer Bunny -- I'll just keep going and going and going -- or will I?

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
--- James 4:13-17

Even the Marines Have to Be Impressed with the Navy's Approach to Terrorism!

President Bush some years ago declared war on terrorists. The phrase, "war on terrorism," has become a household word in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

The United States Navy initiated what it defined as a "Catch and Release Program" in support of the president's new war. With a bit of fanfare the following announcement was made and a photograph attached which reveals the efficiency of the new program:

"The U. S. Navy today announced that it has released a senior Al Qaeda terrorist after questioning him extensively for 27 days while he was held prisoner aboard a U. S. aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. In a humanitarian gesture the terrorist was given $50 US and a white Ford Fairlane automobile upon being released from custody. The attached photo shows the terrorist on his way home just after being released by the Navy."

Being an ex Marine, I have to admit -- will the Corps ever be able to top this one?

Source: Circuit Rider's Humor Hut

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Always Be Positive in Thinking, Speaking and All You Do Otherwise!

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city......" --- words spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:27-34

Books have been written on the subject -- seminars have been held -- therapy sessions get into it -- talk show hosts/hostesses will hammer on the subject -- and psychologists/psychiatrists have a field day with it as they underscore the need for a healthy sense of "self esteem" -- church leaders really take this ball and run with it and sometimes it appears that United Methodist bishops try to corner the market on the issue!

And just what is the issue? Why it's this thing of always being positive -- be positive in your attitude and thinking -- and when you speak (and presumably when you preach, so far as church leaders are concerned) always be positive. Don't be negative or critical of anyone or anything! And by all means, back up your positive attitude, thinking and speech with the way you act. Seems that some are convinced (or deluded, you pick out which) that if this positive thing goes far enough and spreads among the population like a measles epidemic, then we will have ushered in a paradise on earth! Yea, I already know -- someone is going to say I have a negative and sarcastic attitude about this thing!

But hang on for a bit longer -- a question or two -- is there no place for negatives in our country and in our world at all? I remember an irate email received one time from a news anchor person at a TV station. I had written in about an issue, and yes, I had been negative in some statements I made. In his reply he made reference to the fact that I was quite negative in what I had said. So I replied in a few statements and reminded him that it is necessary to have some negatives in this world -- "...try starting your car with only a positive post on your battery and see how far you get!" was my parting statement.

It is an extremely rare occasion if a church leader or pastor makes reference to certain actions and statements on the part of Jesus. Or they may just bypass that section of Scripture altogether because it isn't something very soothing to sleep on at night! A brief quote from Jesus is mentioned above. Did you notice the "labels" He used and the persons to whom those labels were applied? If He were being considered for the position of pastor of a large suburban church and the committee responsible for determining the hiring (and firing) of a pastor knew Jesus had said the above things to very religious people, do you think He would get the job? Or in an episcopal system such as the United Methodist Church, do you think a bishop would appoint Jesus to serve a church when it was known that He was so critical and labeled persons in such negative terms? Or maybe Jesus would be put on probation on the condition that He undergo psychiatric counseling for an extended period in order to get this negative stuff out of His system!

If you chopped all the "negatives" out of the Bible and shredded them, you would have a rather thin book left -- or maybe it would more be like a booklet. You would have to eliminate major portions of the Old Testament prophets and once you got done with John the Baptist, there wouldn't be much information remaining about him either.

But why those negatives in the Bible anyway? Everything would have been positive if sin had not invaded the human race. Then came God's revelation as to what He expected by way of human performance and human relationships. Since humans are born with an inclination toward self-centered motives, defiance and rebellion so far as God is concerned, then the negatives come into play. It just isn't sufficient to say, "Now boys and girls, God is good, and we ought to listen to God and mind Him all the time." For a good example as to how the positives and the negatives are spelled out, read Deuteronomy 28, which was referred to in an earlier post here. God spells out the positives -- the blessings which will come for total obedience to Him. But then He takes nearly 4 times as much space (or statements) to spell out the negatives -- the cursings and calamities which will come upon the people for disobedience to His laws and standards!

Must a Christian be always positive -- all the time every day of every week of every month of every year? Think on this -- must your doctor be always positive? Suppose he finds some cancer growing inside you and you ask him what he is going to do. He says he will do nothing -- he is being positive and the cancer cells have as much right to live in the body as those considered to be "normal" and they should be treated with the same respect as the "normal" cells! Would you accept that, or would you insist that those cancer cells must be destroyed -- cut the body open and cut out every cancer cell because if it isn't done, you will die! But that is being a bit negative on your part, isn't it?

A parting question -- if you are a Christian, what are you attempting to do about the spiritual and moral cancer that has invaded the church and those who are infected, including church leaders? What do you think ought to be done about a church leader who says we ought not to send missionaries to foreign countries to convert people to Jesus Christ -- those people over there have their own religion and we ought not to disrupt that? Come on now, let's hear it in this day and age when we are pressured to sit down to the table and "dialog" with those of other religious expessions, put Jesus Christ on the shelf, and say in so many words, "Your religion is just as good as mine -- there are many paths to the top of the mountain, and I am committed to being absolutely positive about all religions in today's world!"

And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" --- Jesus performing in John 2:14-16

Peeking into the Future!

Ah, what fascination -- what adventure -- unparalleled excitement as one seeks to probe the future and what lies in store for us!

Many are the gimmicks and methods employed to see what the future holds for us. There are efforts to contact the dead -- maybe we can touch base with aunt Susie or uncle Sylvester and they can give us a clue as to what's going to happen next month on the 23rd! Then there are the crystal ball people and the others who lay out cards with weird pictures on them. Still others say it's all in the stars and planet alignment -- the zodiac and your astrological sign -- all this stuff as it interacts somehow shows us what is yet to be. And it is a given -- there are those who read the daily Horoscope (should it really be spelled "Horrorscope?") religiously and act accordingly -- it is their "bible" for shaky times such as these!

OK -- do you want information that is 100 per cent accurate and comes from the most reliable source you will ever consult in a lifetime? Really -- are you sure about that?

Then be sure you hold to that desire, because it is possible to know some things for sure when it comes to future happenings. Now this is not the kind of information where you will be tipped off as to what you will eat for breakfast next Friday morning or what you will be wearing when you leave the house. On the other hand, this is information that gives you basic facts as to what is going to happen so that you are challenged to make the proper preparation for the events taking place.

Our Authority is none other than Jesus Christ Himself! Only He is qualified to reveal the basic facts as to what the future of this world holds in regard to its human inhabitants. Statements He made on future events are found mainly in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and Luke 21 in the New Testament Scriptures.

In consulting them do not let anyone, pastor or teacher or layperson, try to foul you up about "interpretation" -- just imagine Jesus speaking these words to you and take them at face value -- you'll come out alright!

The world and nations within it will become increasingly corrupted spiritually, morally and ethically. Jesus summarized this trend by saying it will be like it was in the generation in which Noah lived before the judgment of the flood and as it was in Lot's time when he lived in the city of Sodom before it was destroyed by a judgment of fire!

There will be all manner of earthly calamities and cosmic phenomena happening. Note some the specific things to which Jesus made reference:

  • massive deception and delusion will take place -- Jesus repeats Himself on this warning to be alert and not allow yourself to be deceived by false teachers
  • wars and rumors of wars with nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom -- there will be no peace in spite of efforts to achieve it
  • there will be famines in many places -- people starve to death every day in some nations of this world
  • pestilences (devastating diseases) will be found throughout the world -- e.g. Africa is being ravaged by Aids in spite of massive amounts of money being poured into that continent in an effort to bring it under control -- sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase!
  • earthquakes are increasing in frequency -- sensitive instruments record the crust of the earth is quivering constantly like a bowl of jello being shaken -- and then a tragic by-product of an earthquake sometimes happens -- it's called a tsunami -- ever hear of it?
  • lawlessness abounding with the tragic result that some will simply give up, considering that the price to be paid for resisting evil is simply too high!
  • increased hatred and persecution of Christians as the home stretch of human history runs its course!
  • a time labeled as "great tribulation" -- trouble so intense that nothing like it has ever happened before nor ever shall again!

The New Testament writers added to this information in different ways such as 2 Timothy 3 and 4; 2 Peter 2 and 3; and Jude. The biggie in all this is the book of The Revelation with lots of detail -- enough to make the thinking person say, "I want to be sure I'm right with God and I'm on the way to heaven when my life on earth if over."

The responsibility of the Christian is first and foremost that of being a witness in word and deed to the salvation which is exclusively offered through Jesus Christ, Who is Savior and Lord over all. Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • daily disciplines of Bible reading/study and prayer -- every day, no exceptions!
  • involvement in the fellowship of believers, giving public expression to one's faith
  • personally pursue holiness by the grace of God as the minimal standard for one's lifestyle -- this means saying "No!" to a wide ranging acceptance of indulgences and practices by a majority of persons in today's world, including what is sometimes advocated even in professing Christian circles -- and sometimes by church leaders themselves who profess to be "Christian!" The Holy Spirit is faithful to guide us in these matters and in the making of our choices -- that is, if we permit Him to guide us.
  • sound the warning trumpet of impending judgement by Almighty God and the reasons why God has every right to bring judgment without delay!
  • keep reminded each day that Jesus' return could be at any time -- but also, be reminded that here in the "comfortable" United States things could become very difficult for Christians before Jesus does return -- some object to this possibility and suggest that before it gets too tough He will come and take the Christians out of here. But why should we be favored in such a manner when right now in other places in this world our Christian brothers and sisters are being put to death for their faith, or beaten, tortured and put in prison for no other reason than the fact that they are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ! We are a spoiled and pampered lot, are we not?
  • apply the prayer as mentioned in Psalm 141:5 diligently -- pray specifically against the deeds of the wicked -- there are a lot of them around, you know, doing a lot of things which God condemns. They sit behind desks in high places as well as lurking about in dark alleys!

Be concerned about the future -- ask God to help you understand those things He has revealed about the future, and to prepare you to speak about it. Be bold in stressing the fact that there is absolutely no hope in the future outside of Jesus Christ. We are urged to comfort one another from time to time with the reality that Jesus is going to come back to earth again as King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen!

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. --- Titus 2:11-14