... beside still waters ...

... beside still waters ...

Monday, October 10, 2016


1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (KJV)
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

There is a fallacy in the “Dying With Dignity” argument concerning assisted suicide being a way to alleviate suffering... on the surface it seems merciful to assist someone who is suffering pain from a debilitating disease or injury, but the truth of the matter is that it insults God who alone has the right to determine when a person'/s life ends. He is the giver of life at conception (no matter how liberals classify the unborn at any stage of development) and only He has the right to remove the spirit from the body when His appointed task for them is completed. This is especially true for Christians who have given themselves to the Lord, to live or die at his pleasure. This is why martyrs did not spare their lives when offered freedom if they would but renounce Christ. The believer in Jesus has committed his life—for whatever comes—to live obedient to the commands of the Lord and accept whatever He deems necessary, knowing that their suffering brings Him glory.
 To end someone's life prematurely (murder in any form is still murder—and no murderer has eternal life abiding in them, I Jn. 3:15) is to deny God the opportunity to bless them with a healing if it is His will; it is also to shortchange the spiritual lessons the person may need to learn and/or share with others through their suffering (read C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain).
It is nothing but human hubris to assume we have a right to do what we want with our bodies instead of seek God's will, asking for his gift of healing to relieve us of our pains according to His will. If we are the temple of God—where God, the Holy Spirit dwells inside us—how dare we assume authority to destroy His dwelling place?
Beyond these spiritual reasons against taking one's own life or the life of another, there is the danger of these man-made laws of being misapplied by "progressives" when they turn "nazi-like" and decide that some lives are not worth living—like the elderly, the impoverished, the mentally and/or physically challenged, etc. Once these progressive ideas are codified into law, they are easily warped into uses other than the well-intentioned, but naive originators of the laws meant; this is because we inhabit a fallen world where satanic forces have sway over the affairs of unregenerate mankind and will inevitably erode even a decent nation’s laws into sin (witness the USA’s Supreme Court June 2015 rulings on Obamacare and Gay marriage.)
Proverbs 14:12 (KJV)
12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 21:2 (KJV)
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.  

AS believers we need to challenge every cultural "solution" that non-Christians propose by examining it in the light of God's revealed will—his Word!

Friday, September 20, 2013



2 Thes. 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to … belief of the truth:.15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
"Tradition... Tradition!" goes the musical phrase from the song in Fiddler on the Roof, and the audience is inexorably drawn from that introduction into Tevye's skirmishes against the modern world’s encroachments into his family’s life. "Because of our traditions everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do," explains the irrepressible Tevye. "Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... a fiddler on the roof!"
Tradition: often besmirched as the villain of true spirituality in the Christian's life, castigated as the enemy of deep spiritual understanding, avoided as dead legalism, blamed for all manner of spiritual ills and lack of fervor—this is the attitude of many in our day. After all, didn't Jesus roundly condemn those who practiced traditions in Mark 7: 8 ? “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.” 9 And he said unto them, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
So, those who hold to traditions and practice them in the Body of Christ are often regarded as legalistic, immature—unable to sustain meat and needing milk, and sometimes, as cultic.
But is this a fair assessment? Tevye, by the traditions handed down through generations of faithful Jews, knew who he was and what God expected of him. Tevye confesses, “How did these traditions get started? I'll tell you… I don't know!" Nevertheless, he endeavored to live by the traditions that gave the Jews in Russia (and around the world) a sense of stability in what often proved to be a hostile environment. Remarkably, those traditions have kept the Jewish race separate (for a large part) from the cultures and peoples where they’ve been dispersed. Think of it, has any other conquered people, dispossessed for thousands of years from their homeland, been able to keep their ethnicity intact as have the Jews? Most, if not all, transplanted peoples aer soon absorbed into the cultures in which they lived, adapting for survival's sake, thus becoming 'mongrelized' as ethnic groups. But not the Jews! They maintained their individual identity and culture as God's chosen people, avoiding absorption into the 'melting pot' civilizations they found themselves amongst. This is a hallmark of God's hand upon them for purposes yet to be accomplished. Other races and ethnic groups have no such Divine appointment to be used in the end of the age in bringing about the fulfillment of God's mysteries, so it’s of little consequence if the other races and cultures of the world mix. But God promised to return the Jews to their homeland for the purpose of ending Gentile world rule, and establishing Zion in safety (Eze. 39:25-29).
Many of the traditions held by modern Jewry have little or no base in Scripture, instead, having their origin in the writings of respected Rabbis, who, down over the centuries addressed specific issues that cropped up threatening the delicate balance Jews have striven to maintain under the pressures of persecution and/or syncretism.
Sadly, in many ways, these 'uninspired traditions' have hurt the Jewish cause more than helped, for they replaced the actual commandments of God. The Jews were chosen by God to bless all nations of the earth, for through them came the Law, which slowed down the destruction of mankind that accompanied lawlessness; and secondly, through them came the Messiah and the fulfillment of what the Law promised but could never accomplish in itself; thirdly, through Israel and the Jewish people we have a sense of God’s eschatological alarm clock; and finally, through select Jews, Jesus will come and reign again from Mt. Zion as Revelation 14 foretells. Yes, humanity owes much to the Jewish traditions that have kept them culturally distinct from Gentiles. It’s little wonder that through the centuries Satan has arrayed himself so strongly against the Jews, for if they were to be eliminated as a race, God would be proven a liar, and His punishment of the satanic rebellion held in abeyance, for Jews have an integral part to play in the procession of the final events, according to God's Word.
We see, then, the importance traditions of the Diaspora (Jews dispersed throughout the world) played in maintaining their Chosen People status. However, their extra-scriptural traditions changed their expectations of Messiah into something other than what God originally revealed. This is how traditions have harmed the Jewish people. Let me explain.
A careful study of Hebrews reveals that the formulaic rites and traditions of Judaism given by God to Moses, represented, in one way or another, the life and ministry of Messiah, Jesus. The writer of Hebrews goes on to explain that the Law was merely a shadow—a flat, monochrome, two-dimensional representation of the dynamic, multi-dimensional, many-hued reality of Grace and Truth. The Law could not make men perfect, but what it represented would when it came (Heb. 10:1,9). When Messiah appeared, they were to see the fulfillment of the law in Him and joyfully follow. Instead, they argued with Him, and rejected Him for being a scofflaw, finally executing Him on a trumped up charge of blasphemy. How could this happen? How could a people longing for their Messiah reject Him when He finally came?
Imagine a young woman betrothed to a soldier called away on a military mission before they could arrange nuptials. Before he leaves, he gives her his most recent photograph to remember him by. The young man knows the girl of his dreams has a tendency to be rather fickle, and will begin to cast her eyes closer to home for a lover to replace the one she's to await. So, he gives her his photograph in the hopes that as she longingly looks to it each day, her heart won’t stray, but yearn for his return. For the first several months the young woman carries the photo and shows it to her friends at every opportunity, proudly showing off her beau.
Then one day she left it home, and only thought of him after her busy day when she sat down at night. This soon became a regular practice, and sometimes, when she had had a particularly hard day and was very tired, she would go to sleep without looking at the picture and thinking of her betrothed.
One day as she looked at the picture and thought of her fiancé, she wondered how he might have changed since he’d been absent. Had he grown a beard? Did he now wear glasses? Did he have any scars from combat? Had he lost or gained weight? Had harsh experiences altered his gentle eyes or the kind smile he always wore? Wondering about these things, she absently-mindedly took a pencil in hand and filled in a beard and mustache, then added glasses, just to see what he would look like if any of those things had happened. It soon became a weekly ritual to alter some part of his appearance, and as she did so, she began to believe the changes had indeed occurred.
Two years went by, and the people she showed her fiancé’s photo to could get no clear indication of what her fiancé looked like. She was now convinced that this was how her beau looked.
Then a letter came announcing her beau's imminent arrival. A telegram said to meet him at the train station. His tour of duty was over; he was coming home to claim his bride. She went to the depot at the appointed time and carefully scanned each soldier getting off the train, but none of them matched her picture! When a handsome young man rushed up to her and tried to sweep her off her feet, she screamed and slapped him and ran away terrified. It was her lover, looking exactly like the day the photo had been taken, but her distortions of the image had changed her expectation. The man she now waited for didn’t exist. She rejected her true lover in favor of the imaginary man she’d invented.
This is exactly what Israel did. Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God, but because so many man-made regulations and traditions had replaced the God-given commands and traditions, the Jews were (and still are) expecting someone else, someone conjured up by their imaginations.
Mk.7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
It’s important to note that Jesus did not condemn all traditions, just those originated by man that supplanted God-given traditions. The traditions God gave the Israelites were meant to stabilize them as a people, keep them close to Him and prevent their being assimilated into the cultures to which He allowed them to be taken. But the alterations, additions and subtractions to their dogma, not being inspired, didn’t have the same goal as God's commands and traditions. Such additions were made by imperfect and non-omniscient, religious thinkers, and therefore, were able only to relate to needs on a limited scale.
Not so with God's traditions, for He, knowing the beginning from the end, knew just what images were needed to keep the memory and devotion to Him alive. Had Israel not taken out the true traditions and replaced them with ones that seemed so logical and wise at the time, they wouldn’t have missed their Messiah when He came.
But, that was all a part of the plan, for it was necessary that Israel's heart be hardened for a season, in order to bring the Gentile nations to the reality of gospel. Thus Israel’s error contained lessons for the Church to learn by reading of Israel's consequences by departing from the inspired scriptures.


But what does that have to do with the Church Age? We in the Church are not to be 'bound up' with traditions and legalistic commands, are we? We are free! Didn’t Paul, the great expositor of The Faith declare: Gal. 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…?
The epistle to the Galatians is a masterpiece of exposition, encouraging us to throw off the compunctions and guilt arising from the Law and instead, live in the Spirit. It would be wrong for us to live by traditions and commands again, would it not? Paul reaffirms this stance in Colossians: .2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Indeed, this verse is ignored by a large segment of the Church except for its condemnation of tradition! We ourselves study, and send our children away to study at worldly institutions to learn the philosophies and vain deceits of worldliness, but stand foursquare against any intrusion of religious tradition into our lives. “Traditions are for lame churches and people that don’t have a vital relationship to God through the active presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst.” We have adopted a condescending attitude toward “less spiritual brethren” who rely on traditions for religious feelings and experiences. Granted, there is much abuse of tradition in liturgical churches.
 But both sides, anti-tradition and pro-tradition, suffer for lack of understanding.
Saying that Jesus and Paul taught against tradition is woefully ignorant of the Scriptures. Believe it or not, Jesus and Paul, and the other apostles as well, encouraged the use of tradition in church meetings.
·        2Th.2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
·        2Th.3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
·        2Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
·        Rev. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
·        Jude1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered unto the saints.
This sampling of verses shows that the Church is not without its own set of rules and regulations—traditions and commandments, if you will. But the important thing to keep in mind is that these traditions and commands the Church is to keep were once and for all time (Jude vs. 3) ordained by God through His apostles, not by later generations of Christians expositing and conjecturing, as did the ancient rabbis of Israel. Man-made traditions have caused a dearth in the Church, not because all traditions are part of a dead, formalistic or legalistic religion, but because the ones practiced by much of the Church are altered or man-invented, not practiced  as the ones God ordained!
The apostle John reveals what is truly in our hearts when he equates loving God with being obedient to God's commands, daring to insinuate that if we 'claim' to love God but do not actively obey his commands, we are lying to Him, ourselves and others!
I John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
When were the apostles given these commandments? Matthew gives us some insight: Matt. 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
What were the disciples to teach? Whatever Jesus commanded to be taught. And the apostles faithfully taught the traditions Jesus wanted given to the Church, preserving in “living picture” form the truths of the Gospel. As Jesus taught truth in parable, or word pictures, so too, the traditions laid down in the pages of the epistles are the express instruction of the Lord, giving visible reminders of spiritual truth that He gave His apostles in order to establish and protect the Church from lukewarmness and deception.


2 Thes. 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to … belief of the truth:.15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
Paul, in II Thessalonians, links their observance of the traditions he taught to their standing firm in sanctification and truth. He’s not indicating that traditions alone can sanctify them or keep them in the truth, but is indicating that without the traditions they run the risk of loosing from their moorings and being set adrift on a sea of syncretism, leading to eventual  deception and shipwreck of their faith. The Greek Interlinear Translation even indicates that we are to strongly hold to the things taught, giving every effort to maintain what was once delivered.
Am I overstating the case for scriptural traditions? Could the traditions of the Faith really be that important? Aren’t the traditions of the Faith secondary considerations when compared to topics such as salvation, sanctification, gifts of the Spirit, the Five-fold Ministry and such? Is it majoring on minors to keep such things as water baptism, communion, foot-washing, head coverings (or not), women's and men's role in the home and church, agape meals, etc.?
Look where Paul positions this reminder to carefully observe the traditions he took pains to teach by word and writing (which included what he taught other churches as well, for no inspired truth of Scripture is intended for only one locality—or era.) Paul is in the midst of reminding the Thessalonians about the events which will signal the end of the Age and the return of the Lord—chiefly, the danger of many falling away from the true Faith into a clever counterfeit faith, and the arrival upon the world's stage of the person known as the Antichrist, who, with all deceptive devices will give those who love not the truth a surrogate cause and person to believe. This man will have Satan's own power of deception to deceive even the elect if they let down their guard and make it possible (Matt 24:24). That the danger of the elect being deceived is even mentioned shows that it is possible to be deceived away from the truth if they don’t take care to guard the truths given to them (see also Col. 1:23; Rom. 11:22, John 15:10; Jude 21; and Rev. 3:5 for a study on the possibility of believers being drawn away from the Faith). In the midst of this passage about the deceptive dangers prevalent in the end times, Paul admonishes the Church to cling to the teachings he’s given them—both the oral tradition and the ceremonial observances that celebrate in picture form those truths that will remind and keep them in the true Faith.
So what is Paul saying? He’s declaring that believers stand firm in their salvation by two things: sanctification by the Spirit, and belief in the truth (John 4:23-24).
So how does Paul advise they should cling to the truth? By observing the traditions—the combination of oral teaching and written Scripture and ceremonial observances. A wise person once coined the phrase, "A picture is worth a thousand words," and that’s precisely the function of the ceremonial observances given by the Lord to the apostles to teach the Church.
A tradition is a visible commemoration or re-enactment of an event and/or truth that keeps said event or truth alive, vital and accurate in the mind and heart of observers. In other words, Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to keep the practices and teachings he taught them alive and active as safeguards against falling into deception that will be so rampant in the Last Days.
For instance, by observing the Lord's Table, in eating the bread and drinking the cup, we examine ourselves afresh in the light of the Lord's sacrifice and promise of a New Covenant. As each believer partakes, they are reminded and refreshed in their love for and obedience to the Lord. To alter this tradition in any way is to alter the perception of truth represented to subsequent generations. A false concept of Who Jesus is, and what He did, and our own responsibility to Him would then permeate the Church, and deception would enter and be a leavening influence to the detriment of the saints. Just as Moses was sternly commanded to "...and look that thou make them after their pattern which was shown thee in the mount..."(Ex. 25:40) we are warned to keep the body of truth known as the Faith in pristine condition. The ceremonial observances, few though they be, are ordained for this very purpose: to keep the Church's teaching based in the historical record and not on the flux of new movements or progressive understanding or societal change.
Water baptism is a ceremonial tradition which teaches volumes about our new life in Christ, the death of the old man and the resurrection life of the believer. To change it, say from immersion to sprinkling, or from the participant being a professing believer to being an unknowing infant, alters the teaching and affirmation of truth inherent in the ceremony, and therefore, the perception of truth. Immersion declares the death and burial of our Lord Jesus on our behalf, whereas sprinkling leaves the observers bereft of any true interpretation of the meaning of the symbolism in the ceremony. On the same token, baptizing infants who have made no declaration of faith themselves, but are represented by their parents in wishful hoping that the child will live for the Lord, is to rob the power of renouncing citizenship to the world and claiming citizenship in heaven. This is how altering a tradition alters the Church’s cognizance of the truth, leading to deception and spiritual death. It’s tremendously important what we believe, for what we believe and practice influences how we live (I Cor. 15:2).
Like the young lady in the parable above, the Church is often a fickle, betrothed bride-to-be, lacking patience, soon losing interest in her departed Lover, seeking fulfillment elsewhere. She soon wanders away from her Lover's true visage, inventing another, imaginary person in his place. This 'other person' she invents lets her do what she will, since his picture is not a true representation of him anymore. Isaiah 4:1 denotes seven women who want to feed themselves and clothe themselves with their own desires; only they want to belong to a husband in name so they’ll not bear the reproach of being strong-willed, unmarried women. This is the Church today, refusing His teaching and substituting truth with psychology, philosophy, compromise, error and self-esteem; refusing His righteousness, but wearing rags of their own “good works” such as charitable contributions to various causes that don’t further the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ.
When we deface the images the Lord left us of Himself, we also alter the concept of Him that the world sees when they look at us. And new believers receive diluted, if not perverted, impotent teaching. The Lord left instructions, which, if observed in the right spirit, will keep us aware of the original truth He gave His apostles. When we delete or alter the traditions He gave us, we are inexorably drawn toward deception that can only result in a lack of love for the truth. It’s for this reason Paul inserts into his stark description of the realities of the End Time the reminder to adhere to the teachings and traditions God gave the Church. The teachings given by the apostles are not to be added to, nor altered, and especially not deleted lest the Church (or that part of the Church that does so) become further removed from the truth and deceived, eventually falling away from the true Faith once and for all delivered unto the saints (Jude vs. 3).
In spite of Paul's stern admonition in I Cor. 15:37-38 that, if any think themselves spiritual or prophetic, but does not recognize his apostolic commands from the Lord's servants, though they think highly of themselves, and others may regard them as something, the Lord does not recognize them! What are the Lord's commands? The Lord’s commands are all the things Paul wrote in his epistles, as well as the things Luke, Peter, James, John and Jude mention. Satan attacks these traditions with a vehemence, seeking to remove visible reminders of truth from before the eyes of the faithful so they’ll be lacking in the understanding and transmission of the Faith; thus, in the Church, the knowledge of the Lord and His ways will degenerate until the final apostasy overtakes her. II Pet. 2:2 indicates that many will be led astray into this pernicious way. Doubtless, those in apostasy won’t be aware they’re deceived, for that’s the nature of deception—blinding one's eyes to peril. But those who are deceived will be accountable before the Lord. Why? Because the Lord gave safeguards to help us stay true to the Faith via the teachings and traditions of the apostles. But sadly, they decided such rules and regulations were too burdensome. Truly, the commands of the Lord are not burdensome ( I Jn. 5:3), especially in light of what will happen if not kept.
Thank God we have the New Testament which faithfully records these traditions and teachings. Sadly, much of the Church has accepted the satanic lie that the traditions are legalistic, of minor importance, not for today, or can be tailored to fit our changing cultures. We’ve lost the witness God established us to proclaim. Just as the Jews were given the tradition of Passover, daubing the lintels with blood, and eating the roasted lamb, so too the Church has its commemorative ceremonies that represent important truths to be observed faithfully.
There is a danger, though, as stated earlier, for traditions to become vain, empty rituals, even if observed to the letter.


The matter of head coverings is one such issue that has suffered first, empty observance, and then disregard. The meaning of head covering has been forgotten, often labeled “legalistic.” Let us be clear: legalism is what the Pharisees did to the Scriptures—adding man’s traditions and teachings, and holding them higher than God’s inspired word. The opposite of legalism is not grace, as is commonly thought and taught in the Church; no, the opposite of legalism is lawlessness! And by discarding God’s given traditions—and understanding the reason and meanings behind such traditions, the Church has committed lawlessness! The issue of head-coverings can be treated legalistically, but that doesn’t make the practice itself legalistic. When understood and kept in spiritual perspective, women wearing a sign of submitting to their husband’s authority on their heads bespeaks a beautiful sense of God’s order in the meeting. The same holds true for men not wearing such a sign of being under visible authority, for Christ is the Head of the Church, and He is invisible in our meetings. As a final clincher that the practice was not deemed cultural, Paul mentions that angels are in observance in every meeting, and their ministry is affected by whether or not the meeting is in proper order. Disregarding scripture that has a spiritual, and not a cultural base is being in jeopardy of practicing lawlessness. Paul’s reasons for advising head-coverings for women while praying and/or prophesying, and advising men not to be covered during the same activities is based on spiritual values which he clearly mentions, referring to God’s order of creating man and woman and their roles.
We must ponder: would the Lord establish, in Scripture, a meaningless tradition that only applied to the First Century Church. In fact, this is one of the commands that Paul mentions in I Cor. 15:37-38 which must be recognized as from the Lord. Until sixty years ago, nearly every woman in church sported a hat of some sort, from big, flowery, vision blockers, to humble, demure scarves. There was scarcely a woman not wearing a covering; and nary a man who dared wear one in the House of the Lord. But, there was no teaching of why. Women's rights campaigns throughout the world and in the Church assaulted what they termed chauvinistic attitudes, and the Church, instead of exhuming forgotten truth, agreed with the adversaries of truth, and removed the “oppressive” symbol.
What they failed to realize was that with it, they removed the symbol demonstrating God's authority and rule in the Church and in the home (I Cor. 11:3). Since then, more truth has eroded from both Church and society, and the world is in a headlong plunge to destruction. Is there a connection? Without delving deeper into the meanings of these traditions, it’s clear that the Church has wandered far afield, not only from the visible reminders of important truths, but from those very truths of spiritual authority as well. The traditions, when combined with scripture, were to keep alive and vibrant the understanding of truth; when the traditions were removed, the Church no longer had vibrant, visible reminders of those truths that were represented. Erosion of truth in the Church has resulted. When the Church ceases to be salt and light, the surrounding world becomes more entrenched in darkness.
When contrary to the Word, women stand in pulpits delivering sermons, sprinkling instead of baptism is practiced, foot-washing is ignored, how can the Church say she has the truth of the fathers of the Faith? How can the Church not slide into great deception when they overthrow the doctrines and traditions from the Lord in favor of “pop culture?”
No, the traditions were not given by the Lord to the apostles as lightweight stuff, to be practiced optionally, changed, or forgotten. In some mystical way, they declare His truth through ceremonial form to both the Church—as reminders of what is important—and to the unbelieving world of what they are missing. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

God's Punishment?

1 Chronicles 21:1-7 (KJV)
1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.
            On May 31, 2013 President Obama declared June as national gay, lesbian, transgender, transvestite month. He used the occasion to launch a worldwide program of urging other nations to follow suit and likewise provide “honorable” status for these previously ostracized communities.
            On the same day, May 31, 2013, the largest F5 tornado ever to hit American soil screeched across America’s heartland, killing dozens and doing billions in damage.
            Is there a connection?
            Consider: At the time of this writing America is suffering from a devastating, late tornado season, serious storm flooding, burst dams along the Missouri and Mississippi, uncontrolled wildfires raging in the west, an early hurricane season jump-started by TS Andrea which threatens to bring major flooding to the Gulf Coast. Bridges and buildings and other infrastructure collapse…
Meanwhile self-appointed jihadists and various and sundry crackpots (programmed?) attack the innocent and vulnerable with guns, bombs, machetes…
Governmental underhandedness is exposed, yet the guilty seem immune to prosecution, even receiving undeserved promotions and financial bonuses!
Does God still hold the leadership of a nation responsible for honest, just and godly deportment of office? Will He cause punishing events to befall a nation that acts corruptly? If so, why does God seem to punish the weak and innocent instead of the responsible leadership, making the general population pay for the sins of the leaders?
When David sinned by conducting a census, Israelites died by the thousands. Taking a census was prohibited by the Lord, yet Satan provoked David to disobey the Lord’s commandment.
Sodomy and other sexually deviant activity is clearly forbidden by the Lord’s Word, the Bible. Yet the leadership in the highest office of our nation, in the name of misbegotten tolerance and under the false guise of “love” have urged national policy out of that which should be banned.
And the people of this nation suffer the consequences. If not directly involved, the rising insurance rates that must be paid to ameliorate the expense of these calamities will fall upon everyone.
So why does God punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty?
The truth is, He doesn’t!
When Balaam was called upon to curse Israel, he knew he couldn’t curse what God blessed. Instead he informed Balak of how he could get Israel to come out from under God’s protective covering (Rev. 2:14).
The tragedies America currently suffers are satanic attacks allowed by God lifting His hand of protection off America due to ungodly policies, decisions and laws of those elected..
Only more devastation can follow unless and until America and her leaders repent of their sinful decrees by returning to God’s ways.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


            I first read the horrifying news when I caught my daughter’s comment on facebook.  I hurriedly scanned the news sites for info, all the while muttering with a sinking heart, “No… no... no... not again!” An elementary school? Kindergartners  Twenty children killed? Tears of grief and rage blurred my vision; grief for the twenty sets of parents who had their precious child senselessly ripped out of their arms—and at Christmastime, the most celebrated child-holiday of the year!
            And rage! Rage at the insane, demonic punk who would ruthlessly, callously grin at the terrified little faces pleading with him to let them live as he butchered the innocent, little angels and their guardians. “Burn in hell!” I raged at him.  
            I wept. Having raised four children of my own, now having thirteen grandchildren, having been an elementary school bus driver for thirty years, I wept. The dreams, hopes, anticipation of Christmas, letters to Santa, presents under the tree, colorful Christmas lights glittering all over town, songs about snow and mistletoe on the radio, people smiling and greeting each other on the street… twenty children who met a devil armed to the teeth instead.
 I wept.
And raged again. How could anyone, no matter how psychotic, do such a thing? Mothers and fathers who had whispered secrets about gifts to each other with a twinkle in their eye and a wink at their hopeful child, now deprived of not only their child but the joy of seeing the gleeful little eyes light up at the special gift chosen just for them.
            Christmas will forever be marred for those aggrieved families. The rest of us will eventually get over the pain and get on with our lives. But how can any family see the empty chair beside the Christmas tree and not be reminded, even re-live the pain and horror of Christmas 2012?
            The first Christmas had a similar scene of horror. Historians tell us that approximately twenty to thirty babes in Bethlehem were murdered when Herod sent his thugs to carry out his malignant will.
Matthew 2:16-18 (NASB)
16 Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.
17 Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:
            Although the early Church did not celebrate Christmas at all, much less, with all the hedonistic celebration and worldly materialism that Christ’s birth is associated with today, I have often pondered Christmas’ influence in the world. For many it is party time, a time to get drunk, be immoral, go into debt, get things they don’t need and give gifts that aren't appreciated. But there are also those who enjoy beneficial things like family reunions and serving at homeless shelters, et al. Clearly, the world of men has hijacked this celebration of a Divine miracle to its own ends, even coming dangerously close to eliminating the true cause of the celebration in favor of greed and Bacchanalian pursuits. I often questioned, “Should Christians even participate in Christmas at all, since it has become so far removed from Christ’s birth?”
            But then, I reasoned, it is a reminder of God’s love and mercy in a dark world, that He became a man and dwelt among us, being the Light and providing the way of salvation. Faithful believers hold forth the witness of Christ’s mission when they celebrate the miraculous Baby of Bethlehem. And the world sees, and has no excuse for not knowing, at least in vestigial form, the rudiments of this faith called Christianity. How many have found the Messiah “accidentally” by wondering about the roots of Christmas? The Spirit (of God), the water (teaching and writings of Scripture) and the blood (lifestyles of true born again believers) still bear witness and make the truth of the Gospel available to seekers.
            This is why Satan tries so hard to remove and/or harm the spiritual aspect of the holiday. He almost succeeded in making Christmas a totally secular event, by focusing on greedy materialism, “Black Friday” sales days, as well as ACLU attacks trying to ban nativity scenes and Christmas Carols from the public square. But he has failed. So, now he has reverted to his original attempt to make what should be an occasion for great rejoicing into one of grief and blaming God for not doing anything to prevent such tragedies. The coming of Messiah was eagerly anticipated in Israel, but His birth is associated with a horrendous bloodbath of innocents. Then, as now, Satan’s goal is to besmirch not only this season of “joy and peace on earth, good will to men,” but God’s very character. How could a loving God allow this horrible fate to befall a small Connecticut hamlet?
            Longfellow’s carol, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day speaks to this pain. I have included the verses that most hymnals leave out, finding them quite apropos to the anguish our nation is feeling at this time. He wrote this, while still grieving the loss of his beloved wife due to a fire and after receiving news that his son was gravely injured in a Civil War campaign.
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

            The message of Christmas, “Peace between God and man, forgiveness through Jesus Christ,” is mocked by such savage events; but this mockery is a lie. The truth is that God reigns supreme. And we, as believers, can fight this evil that rampages in the world by unabashedly worshiping Him and trusting Him through the pain and grief. When Satan’s foulest ploys are brushed aside like so much dust on a step, and God’s glory is revealed through it all, the world will still have the eternal light of the Gospel shining on the path to salvation.
            Celebration of Christmas is validated by the increasingly dastardly attacks upon it. As a pastor once said: “Thieves do not hang around empty storehouses.” So, in spite of all the superficiality and commercialism, Christmas is still having an effect on the hearts and minds of people, otherwise Satan would not be fighting so hard against it.
            I still weep. But I also pray: pray that grieving families will be comforted by the Holy Spirit’s presence and by Christians who will weep with them; pray that pastors will know what things to say; pray that God will send warrior angels to guard the nation’s schools—for it is a spiritual battle.