Saturday, July 28, 2007

Adopt a Prayer!

At least some states have encouraged the practice for years -- it's called "Adopt a Highway" or something akin to that. The idea is to have a group of persons "adopt" a portion of highway and a couple of times a year or so, go along that portion of highway which they have adopted and pick up all the litter which has been thrown from vehicles traveling along that stretch of road.

Here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania there is a great need for this and a number of families and groups have responded to the appeal. You see, our state is still plagued with a number of persons with a very low IQ and common sense level of decency and respect -- and so they throw out their beer and soda cans, their McDonald's french fry boxes and hamburger wrappers, and their Pizza Hut boxes along the road as they travel along after indulging in their food and drinks!

Seizing on the idea of adopting a highway for ridding it of all debris deposited by those aforementioned ignoramuses, I am suggesting that we do an "adopt a prayer" exercise for the future well being and survival of the republic of which we are citizens.

How about adopting the prayer of Daniel the prophet as he prayed most seriously in chapter 9 of the book of Daniel? If the leaders (political and church) of this republic and we citizens took this seriously and performed the necessary steps of full repentance, the most astounding miracles would immediately take place!

Here is how Daniel started:

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land...." --- Daniel 9:3-6

Now there is quite a bit more, but since it's good to thumb through the pages of the Bible and do some serious reading on a regular basis, I'll let you look it up and finish reading that prayer.

Then, how about adopting it as a personal prayer on your part and from time to time insert words such as "we...our leaders in state and the United States" etc. The words about sinning and disobeying God remain the same until there is clear evidence that we as a nation are really serious about quitting this massive sin thing and getting right with God on a personal and individual basis as well as a collective basis.

As an aside, can you picture the United States Congress praying this prayer in all sincerity and then taking necessary actions to prove the sincerity of what was prayed? One thing sure, there would be a heap of things to be changed if such would really happen!

Will you do it today and encourage others to get involved in the "adopt a prayer by Daniel" program?

"....if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." --- 2 Chronicles 7:14

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pressured to Give Up -- But Don't!

"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold." --- Matthew 24:12

For nearly half a century I have been in the work which God called me to do. There are three major things over that period of time concerning which I have never had any doubts whatsoever ----

  • That Jesus Christ extended love and mercy to me which I cannot fathom nor did I deserve and saved me from a sinful and destructive way of life.

  • That a few months after transforming my life God called me to a ministry of preaching and teaching His Word.

  • That His inspired Word (the holy Scriptures) is the infallible authority on all matters having to do with the Christian faith and the practicing of that faith in a world ravaged by sin of every possible kind!

There were times of trial over the years in which I felt like quitting the United Methodist Church for more “attractive” situations, or just shutting up and saying nothing.

But God never gave His approval to move to the more attractive settings and in regard to quitting or just keeping the mouth shut, He always reminded me of Jeremiah’s experience as noted in Jeremiah 20:

O LORD, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me. For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, "Violence and plunder!" Because the word of the LORD was made to me a reproach and a derision daily. Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not. For I heard many mocking: "Fear on every side!" "Report," they say, "and we will report it!" All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying, "Perhaps he can be induced; then we will prevail against him, and we will take our revenge on him." But the LORD is with me as a mighty, awesome one. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten. But, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, and see the mind and heart, let me see Your vengeance on them; for I have pleaded my cause before You. --- Jeremiah 20:7-12

Here’s how it is – on basis of Jesus’ warnings about the latter times of human history, we know it will be extremely trying times for Christians. Note the following as revealed by Jesus in Matthew 24:

  • onslaught of false teaching, which is what He kept emphasizing repeatedly
  • conflicts and wars constantly
  • convulsions in the earth’s structure – an increase in frequency of the same
  • rampant diseases and famines
  • conditions duplicating those which were prevalent when Noah lived before the judgment of the flood and when Lot and his family lived in Sodom prior to it and Gomorrah being totally destroyed
  • international hatred for those who identify with and are committed to serving Jesus Christ

Perhaps one of the most shocking statements made by Jesus was the fact that due to rampant lawlessness the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12). Equally shocking was a question asked by Jesus when He said, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

The clear implication is that as human history comes down the homestretch prior to Christ’s return, the pressure on Christians to give up or at least compromise their Bible based convictions will greatly intensify! Compromising one's faith is in reality a tragic "give up" experience!

For many, the beginning stage on the path to giving up will be to doubt that the Bible really means what it so plainly says regarding faith, responsibility and accountability to God.

Next, evil is so widespread and so entrenched we conclude that there is nothing we can do – if you can’t beat ‘em, then you might as well join ‘em! Again, compromise seems to be the convenient way to handle this dilemma!

Consequently the devil throws another dance in the street with the Hell-bound demon hoards screaming with joy and delight – another Christian has yielded to the pressure to give up.

Where do you presently stand in all this? Are you still in the war fighting the good fight of faith?

"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels....To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." --- Revelation 3:5, 21

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. --- 2 Timothy 4:7,8

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Obsessed with Fouled Up Celebrities in a Culture with a Fouled Up Justice System!

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds. --- Habakkuk 1:2-4

One has to wonder -- that is, if you have the stomach to view it all for a few minutes -- news media people are drawn to those fouled up celebrities more so than flies are to a rotting carcass on a hot summer day -- you know, those flies that lay eggs which hatch into maggots by the thousands and they eagerly gnaw away on that rotting carcass!

In the waning days of July 2007 a "celebrity" actress grabs the headlines with a second D.U.I. plus having cocaine in her possession. Instantly there is an assembly of "experts" to dissect this drama as to what this means in terms of possible jail time, etc. As the discussion is pursued the viewer is plagued with constant exposure to the actress in question as photos are splashed across the screen.

At the same time news breaks forth concerning a star NFL football player and his direct involvement in illegal dog fighting activities. Again, the "experts" are called upon to comment -- what will happen to this guy who has a multimillion dollar contract to toss around a piece of pig skin filled with air?

With the ongoing corruption of the judicial system and the favoritism that is always shown in regard to the rich and the famous, not a whole lot will come of these latest debacles. The maximum will be a slight slap on the hand with an admonishment in so many words, "You naughty little girl (or boy) -- you shouldn't do that -- now promise you'll try not to do it anymore!" We also need to remember that the number of lawyers without any real deep convictions between right and wrong keeps increasing -- with dollar signs in place of eye balls this bunch is willing to do whatever necessary to get a rich client off the hook, in spite of the client being clearly proven guilty -- ah, money -- that green stuff that we will do anything to get, even by questionable means!

The greatest tragedy of all is the powerful influence such warped personalities as mentioned above have on our young folk -- there is no conscience and no sense of responsibility in setting a high moral and ethical standard by way of example for those young and tender in age to follow.

Equally tragic is the fact that those in the news media so obsessed with the antics of those fouled up celebrities do not give any significant emphasis to the need of being a high quality moral example to the young who look up to those celebrities!

And we continue to wonder why our culture is unraveling at the seams. Has anyone made a connection that it is due to abandonment of those Judeo/Christian values which are absolutely necessary to the ongoing sober, sane, sensible, serene, and spiritual existence of a culture?

"Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.' "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. "Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. "Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen," says the LORD of hosts. --- Zechariah 7:9-13

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Bank Experience of Another Kind!

Since the below comments have been written a few developments have taken place:

  • we were informed that the account in question will remain the same as originally agreed upon in 1996 -- no fees and checks will be free as always.
  • at about the same time as posting these comments, an article appeared in our local paper about banking practices, some of which are highly questionable in terms of ethics as it applies to treatment of customers -- the "fee" thing!
  • an excellent article also appeared on the internet comparing banks to credit unions and services offered by each -- the clear winner is the credit union and it was noted that banks would like to see credit unions eliminated, if that were possible!

We have been customers of a well known bank in the Johnstown PA area for 34 years. Dealings from time to time with the local branch where we had opened our account in 1973 were quite positive. The manager was very friendly and if I wanted a loan it was always a pleasurable experience -- about all I had to do was tell him what I needed and he would always give me the loan without any hassle. But that was quite a few years ago when such experiences took place.

Along the way in spring of 1996 the bank offered a variety of accounts including a special one for persons aged 55 and older. Some of the features included free checks and for a 0 to 299.00 balance there was a $4 monthly fee, BUT a notation on the brochure said that fee did not apply to those accounts where pension and Social Security checks were deposited electronically. The words, "does not apply," were in bold print for emphasis. That is how we set up for our checks to be deposited.

Eventually the bank merged with another under some kind of an arrangement (merger, take-over, buy out or whatever) and the name was changed. But our 55 and over account remained the same. Our checks were free and there were no charges of any kind connected with our usage of the account. That is, until just recently when my wife discovered a $6 fee had been charged.

Jean was told that our account was being charged a $6 monthly fee because that type of account had always been charged that. Further, this had just come to some one's attention after all this time. Jean's protest and appeal on basis of original agreement fell mainly on deaf ears.

So then -- a certified letter to the CEO of the bank -- a phone call from a person in charge of all branch offices acknowledging receipt of the letter -- refusal on her part to recognize the original agreement -- her "offer" to switch us to a "free" checking account but we would then have to purchase the checks we would be using with the account!

Jean finally found the original brochure with all the details of the accounts offered at that time clearly spelled out. We paid a visit to the local branch manager who saw the details of our 55 and older account with her own eyes.

A copy was sent to the CEO and then another phone conversation with the person in charge of all branch offices who insisted that they had changed the account conditions a while back -- which was to say that what we had no longer applied as stated in the original agreement. However, she said she would review the brochure in question and would make a "decision." She was noticeably irritated when I raised the issue as to how a court would rule in regard to such an issue.

So we are awaiting the "decision" as to whether we will continue as we have during the past 11 years OR changes will be made so that we will be paying somehow whereas we never did before! I vote for the latter to be the case -- how about you?

But then it just dawned on me about a day ago that the reason we got into this situation of obvious conflict is that we and the bank people are operating on two different standards.

My wife and I function on the Biblical covenant principle while in the corporate business world that principle is not practiced except in some cases that are very rare exceptions. The rare exception is due to where the faith and commitment of the owners of a company are centered!

The Biblical covenant principle is simply an agreement into which two parties enter, each meeting certain conditions and the agreement is binding until both parties involved agree to change or terminate the agreement!

In the corporate world at large today agreements are made and then broken at will without so much as blinking an eye! The judicial system has seen large numbers of cases involving the breaking of agreements, some even class action in nature.

God's revelation gives a shocking prediction of human history as it comes down the home stretch of its existence. There will be three very deadly "loves" which will dominate the lives of the majority of humans -- love of self, love of money, and love of pleasure more than love of God. Many other characteristics will be prominent as well, including people commonly breaking agreements -- check it at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 in the New Testament.

How well are you doing at giving your word and then KEEPING it in agreements you have made in the past?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The One Withdrawal Nobody Wants to Seriously Consider!

“Withdraw the troops from Iraq soon!” – varied quotes of this kind come from some politicians as well as other persons holding some type of position somewhere within the United States.

Yes, indeed – it is a very hot topic these days throughout the United States with politicians speaking out boldly – persons holding different positions in the mass media – celebrities, ever the self appointed authorities on human behavior, do not hesitate to tell us how it should be – a high pitched chorus that shouts out endlessly that we should withdraw our military people from Iraq!

But there is a far more serious issue on the subject of withdrawal and it doesn’t involve the U. S. military. And that is when God withdraws from a people due to massive rejection of His standards and laws by which a culture must live if it is to remain sane, serene, sensible, stable, and secure for the future.

The deadly assumption by the majority of persons in the United States is that we are under the blessing and special favor of Almighty God. Do you not hear the phrase, "God bless America!", repeated time after time, especially by politicians? Some persons go so far as to say, “We are a Christian nation!”

The Israelites of ancient history demonstrate the fallacy of assuming the nation is in good standing with God when in reality it is far, far from such favor and blessing. The adoption of false idols, child sacrifice, sexual immorality, profaning the day of worship and allowing a spirit of greed and selfishness to dominate their lives paved the way to national suicide!

God stated explicitly that He had withdrawn from them and would not hear their prayers when He brought judgment upon them as a consequence of their determined rebellion against Him in many forms of expression!

We are treading the same path and are guilty of our own brand of idolatry, the destruction of children, a potpourri of sexual immorality, the profaning of the day of worship (less than half our population is in a place of worship each Sunday morning) – and it is plain to see that greed and selfishness often play a major role in the way life is lived on both the personal and corporate levels in the “land of the free and the home of the brave!”

If you haven’t done so, take a look at how we are driving the nails into the coffin of a republic known as the United States of America – go to Driving the Final Nails! -- a link at the bottom of that area will bring you back here.

And if you have seen it before, maybe it would be well to review it again and then go out and sound the warning trumpet! (Isaiah 58:1).

What’s that -- a hammer in your hand?

With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them. --- Hosea 5:6

Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. they trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity. They hatch vipers' eggs and weave the spider's web; he who eats of their eggs dies, and from that which is crushed a viper breaks out. Their webs will not become garments, nor will they cover themselves with their works; their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. --- Isaiah 59:1-7

"Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them." --- Ezekiel 8:18

Then they will cry to the LORD, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds. --- Micah 3:4

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

July 4th -- Celebrate or Grieve???


Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which has been brought on me, which the LORD has inflicted on me in the day of His fierce anger. --- Lamentations 1:12

It's a day which traditionally is supposed to be given to celebrating our independence when a small number of colonies broke free of domination by the king of England in the latter part of the 18th Century. Out of that conflict a republic was born with a heavy emphasis on freedom -- certain basic privileges such as freedom to assemble, to speak, to publish, and to worship along with other benefits as expressed in a document known as the United States Constitution.

BUT times have drastically changed as our republic observes its 231st birthday. Only a fool would deny that we have become bogged down in a spiritual, moral, and ethical quagmire from which we are unable to free ouselves!

As we ignite our fireworks and engage in our party activities, will we ignore the reality of the fact that we are now demonstrating before the world that we have become a 21st Century version of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah?

Our obcessive shedding of innocent blood, deeply intrenched idolatry, wide open acceptance of sexual immorality in all detestable forms, corruption of our young by teaching and example, and lukewarm religion which refuses to take God's special revelation seriously are taking us to a destiny which our human minds are incapable of comprehending when it comes to God's future response to all these abominations!

So as you watch the displays of fireworks, whether in your back yard or in some public setting, remember 2 things -- first, after the colorful displays have ended, all that is now left are burned out tubes and ashes, and second, do you care enough about the growing corruption of our beloved republic to do some serious confessing and praying?

"Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD had not spoken. The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD. --- Ezekiel 22:26-31