Friday, September 19, 2014

BLACK AS PITCH

From My Perspective - - - 

The English Language seems oriented to the use of idioms, nuances, colloquialisms and slang. It is sometimes difficult to determine when and why certain phrases were used. The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs lists some of the phrases that have used “black” in a descriptive manner. Some of them are: “black as a skillet; black as a stack of black cats; black as a (chimney) sweep; black as coal; black as night; black as pitch; and black as the ace of spades.” Is is also common to have the word association between Black and Darkness. It also bridges over into the Biblical understanding and description for Sin, Satan and Evil. For instance, in John Milton’s writing about Paradise Lost, he made reference to the Prince of Darkness being Satan the embodiment of evil. A Hymn of the Reformation written by Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, contains these words in the third stanza: “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us. We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us: The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.”

Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s hearing on the U.S. strategy against ISIS on Thursday: September 18, 2014, the Secretary of State John Kerry made a terse and revealing statement. CNS (Conservative News Service) reports: “Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday defended President Barack Obama’s statement that the Islamic State is not Islamic, saying that they can call themselves whatever they want, but they’re not a state, and they do not represent Islam. In fact, he said, they are the order of Satan. The Islamic State, they can call themselves what they want to call themselves. We shouldn’t compound the sin by allowing them to get away with it and calling them what they’re not. They’re not a state, and they do not represent Islam…” There were some classifications used that are not often heard in the halls of Congress, such as: ISIS being: “The order of Satan” and “We shouldn’t compound the sin…” This is interesting as ISIS associates itself with the color Black. Their attire when beheading people is Black; some of the key buildings seized by them are immediately painted Black; the Flag they display is Black; and their behavior and activity corresponds with that which is Satanic and devious.

Our focus is on the phrases used by the Secretary of State: (a) The order of Satan, and (b) We shouldn’t compound the sin…” We need to note and remember that which Jesus stated to the religious protagonists of His day. In John 8:44 (ESV), “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus indicated in Matthew 6:22-23, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” In our world that has obsessively moved toward the slope of cultural captivity, the threshold of darkness has been approached and crossed. Evil and wickedness are once again being witnessed in an extreme form as ISIS spreads into wide swaths of Iraq and Syria, with a goal of extending even further until they reach Israel with the goal of eliminating it as a nation and Jewish people. While it is reminiscent of what evolved in Nazi Germany 75 years ago, there seems to be little resistance to these aspirations by other nations. One thing that is a certainty, rhetoric is meaningless. Speeches and idle threats by the insincere will never make a difference or persuade others.

Can the world and the church survive? Until we repent and refocus on God and His Standards, there is little reason for hope. But if we read the Book of Daniel and then unite to pray his Prayer in Daniel 9, and turn from the blackness and darkness of sin, we will then realize deliverance from and triumph over the cultural captivity.  Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ABSURDITY

From My Perspective - - - 

When something is deemed to be absurd, the idea being conveyed if it is used as an adjective would be something that is: “utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false.” When the word is used as a noun it conveys the meaning regarding: the quality or condition of existing in a meaningless and irrational world.” One of the current ideas in the world of technology is the development of a driverless car. It has reached a point where there may soon be test runs of this car on selected Freeways and Streets in California. Google has indicated they will have available a temporary steering wheel in their prototype just in case it is needed. Is any of this a good idea? Is it something the public will accept and purchase? Will it be an energy efficient electric car or one fueled by gasoline? Or, will all of this be historically noted as a colossal failure and a gross technological absurdity?

Internet listings regarding absurdities is interesting. In the category of Synonyms, absurdity (ridiculous situation or behavior) is associated with some of the following considerations: “farce, craziness, idiocy, insanity, illogical, improbable, irrational, and senseless.” The Antonyms are: “logic, intelligence, seriousness, wisdom and sound judgment.” In recent years, millions of dollars have been spent to develop energy efficient means to combat global warming (or climate change, depending on who is addressing the subject and in what forum it is being presented). Will the absurd become a reality in this generation or anytime soon? 

In doing some brief research for this Blog, a listing under absurdities is the Skeptics Annotated Bible. One of the endorsements for this volume is submitted by Dr. Michael Shermer (Founding Publisher of Skeptic Magazine and Executive Director of the Skeptics Society): “A stunning achievement. I have an entire bookshelf of Bibles and Biblical Commentaries, concordances, appendices, and the like, but the Skeptics Annotated Bible is by far the best tool for biblical research I have ever come across.” There is a listing of at least 2,293 listed designated absurdities. The next to last “absurdity” references Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Skeptic indicates: “This verse refers to Jesus as the “bright and morning star” as is Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12. So, is Jesus Lucifer?” What is being either ignored or omitted at this juncture?

Isaiah 14:12-14 contains the following goals and ambitions of Lucifer: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!...You said in your heart, (1) I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. (2) I will set my throne on high; (3) I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; (4) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; (5) I will make myself like the Most High.” 

In this regard, just two references to note. The first is Matthew 24:23-24 where Jesus stated: “If anyone says to you: Look, here is the Christ…do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” The fact being stated is there will be false reports and representations. There will be many contrived and counterfeit signs. All of this will be a final effort for Lucifer to gain recognition and dominance in the world. 

The second passage is II Thessalonians 2:9-12, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 

The only absurdity is the final effort of Lucifer to usurp the throne and place of the King of Glory, Jesus Christ. He failed before Creation and his ultimate destination is certain. He will be cast into the Lake of Fire with all his minions and those who followed him. Jesus is the true Light Who should always be followed. Consider these things with me. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

IN PERPETUITY

From My Perspective - - - 

In the ISIS discussions and debates of this weekend about the role of the United States in Iraq and Syria, the point and counterpoint has been whether or not the American Military should have “boots on the ground” in those two countries. In this regard, the negative side of the debate argued regarding some level of troop strength remaining in Iraq in perpetuity. Perpetuity has the meaning of something that is perpetual and ongoing. One of the possible meanings is: “endless or indefinitely long duration or existence; eternity.” The argument references the reality that America has maintained a military presence in Germany since the end of World War II, as well as in Korea since the end of combat there. Would those troops be viewed as stationed there in perpetuity? It would appear that the only justifiable rationale for maintaining a troop level and presence in another nation would be to allow stability until self-government and a national military strength could be developed. A hasty departure could be costly in terms of lost opportunities and a senseless  military involvement to establish a democracy for a people who need to know freedom.


If one does a quick review of Military History, there were efforts in the past where Nation A occupies and claims Nation B, or portions of it, as being/becoming part of Nation A. A current illustration of this is the action of Russia with Ukraine. In the past, this type of occupation lasts for a period of time but then comes to an end. In recent history, the dissolving of the USSR is an illustration. Independent nations and governments became viable and detached from the Soviet Union. Biblical History records a similar picture of foreign occupation and captivity of other nations and people. All of these occupations and captivities came to a point of conclusion, A thumbnail sketch of one illustration is the Babylonian Captivity. The Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar II, conquered Judah in 597 BC. Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC and the scattering and captivity of the Jewish people began. Part of the desire of Nebuchadnezzar was to indoctrinate some of the noble youth. The Book of Daniel covers that aspect of the captivity. Those who were taken and exiled in Babylon would be in captivity for 70 years. The Persians conquered the Babylonians in 539 B.C., and Cyrus the Great of Persia offered to let the Jews return home. Those who did so went back in small groups, beginning in 538 B.C., and it was not until almost 20 years later that they turned to rebuilding the Temple. The project was finally begun at the urging of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Its completion, about 516 B.C., was considered to mark the end of the captivity, fulfilling the prophecy in Jeremiah 25:11 of 70 years of exile. 


For people of faith, in perpetuity has significant import and validity. With hope and in confidence, Moses expressed the words contained in Psalm 90:1-2 (NKJV), “You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” In a similar way, David expressed in Psalm 103:17-18, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children,to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.” In terms of redemption, I Peter 1:18-21 (ESV) states, “knowing that you were ransomed (redeemed) from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 


The distinction one must make is between placing one’s faith in that which is permanent versus that which is temporary. If God and His Word are not in perpetuity, then one’s faith is vain and hope has no basis or foundation. One should identify with the declaration of II Timothy 2:19 (ESV), “But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: The Lord knows those who are his, and, let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." Consider these things with me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

AFFECTATION

From My Perspective - - - 

There are many opinions and suggestions in terms of what the world needs now. Once upon a time there was a popular song that suggested: “What The World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love; That’s the only thing there’s too little of…” Depending on the trend or fixation of a moment, A contestant in a Miss America Pageant may respond that (a) the world needs peace, (b) the starving people (especially children) need to be fed, or (c) the plight of oppressed women around the world should be addressed. 

The term “affectation” means: “an effort to appear to have a quality not really or fully possessed;, or conspicuous artificiality of manner of appearance.” The synonyms are even more indicative: “artificiality, facade, imitation, insincerity, pretentiousness, sham.” If we narrow our focus to the synonym - insincerity - it broadens the possible applications much further. Insincerity is associated with: “hypocrisy, deceitfulness, pretense, and dishonesty.” It is interesting to note some of the antonyms for insincerity: “honesty, truth, frankness, and openness.” A hackneyed expression is: “One should never mix politics and religion.” What is interesting about that suggestion is that two of the greatest areas illustrating insincerity are politics and religion. Another older saying is that a person can be sincere in desire but sincerely wrong in terms of how an endeavor is undertaken or done. 

In His earthly ministry, Jesus made frequent reference to insincerity and those were prone to act in that manner. As a matter of fact, the Sermon on the Mount makes extensive commentary about insincerity of behavior and action. In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus said: “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them…as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.” In Matthew 6:5-15, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.”  Once again, in Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus said: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.” Three critical and crucial areas of religious practice receive words of caution and condemnation: (1) the manner by which one practices righteousness; (2) the manner in which one prays, and (3) how one appears when fasting. Jesus indicated that the mere act that is done with impure motives is not just insincerity but also blatant hypocrisy. 


As Jesus continued His sermon, in Matthew 7:1-6, he focuses on judging another person. The logic of Jesus’ statement is easy to grasp. “"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother: Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” Jesus is indicating the need for integrity, fairness, mercy and being equitable toward one another. Fault-finding should always be accompanied with a mirror. One should look at the reflection in the mirror before assessing a weakness or frailty in another person. If one ignores the reflection in his mirror, he may embark on all kinds of harm toward another. It would be a perfect goal and practice if application was consistently made of Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We would also do well to identify with David’s prayer in Psalm 51:1-4, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.Let us seek and aim to be all of what Jesus Christ intended us to be! Consider these things with me.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

SEEKING A RIGHT WAY

From My Perspective - - - 

To say that we live in an opinionated culture and time is an understatement. It doesn’t really matter what subject one chooses to raise there will be several pro and con opinions about it. Whether it is political discourse, societal mores, cultural trend, medical care or religion, there will be a multitude of thoughts, ideas and opinions about it. People can become very engaged with their point of view and sound as though they are the expert on and about a given matter. It is interesting that Proverbs 14:12-13 observes: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” 

An article by Ed Stetzer in Christianity Today (August 01, 2014) is entitled: “Engaging an Ever-Changing Culture With a Never-Changing Gospel.” A sub-theme is: “Avoid church culture pendulum swings—concern yourself with proclaiming the gospel.” In a very important and timely way, the column goes on to state: “People have a tendency to get willfully locked into their way of doing ministry. In so doing, we end up loving the particular way that we do church more than the particular people our church has been called to reach. People have a tendency to get willfully locked into their way of doing ministry. Before long, the ministry strategy is as old as the congregation and the church that once thrived with innovative ways to reach their community has now shriveled to a handful of people that have completely lost touch with the surrounding neighborhood. Now, church is more than a body that engages its community. It should have certain biblical marks and should be focused on eternal purposes. However, it must also must take the faith it believes and live it out in context.”

Under a paragraph heading: “Church Should Impact the Community” he adds: “There should be a difference in the community because the church exists, and if it left for some reason, there should be a void that's felt. Unfortunately, that's not often the case. We become more about church preservation than community transformation. Perhaps no one sees this more keenly than church planters. Many are entering communities with a church presence that is long gone. They find it easier to simply start a church, with new, innovative strategies that will engage the modern community.This alone will not solve the problem, however. Should that church survive another fifty years, they could find themselves in the very same position as the dying churches around them. Solely pursuing cultural relevance is not the answer. Relevance is a tool; gospel proclamation is the goal. When we pursue relevance as the goal, it leads to an unhelpful pendulum swing in church culture.” 

What is a group of people ready to do Biblically to reach a community with a demographic shift. In the past, some churches chose to move to the suburbs and essentially abandoned the city. A model for an effective church plant and/or church ministry is recorded in Acts 2:44-47, “All the believers were together…Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” some might allow that this model would not work today. Question: How do you know? Have you tried it? Rather than trying to duplicate past successes or what some mega-church promotes, we should return to the Biblical method and model. Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MIA AND AWOL

From My Perspective - - - 

Questions regarding the church and how worship services are structured should be addressed: (1) Why do we even have a Worship Service?  (2) Does the Bible mandate that we have one? (3) Or, do we just do it because it is traditional, or (4) because it seems the early church met and we are following their lead in meeting together on the first day of the week?  (5) And those elements of the service that we deem to be important – are they important because the Bible mandates that they be done (in a worship service) or (6) because they sprang out of the Reformation? Another question that could be added would be: (7) Does the commission of the Lord Jesus Christ, or anything in The Book of Acts, include and/or require all of the forms and inclusions of a modern day worship service? It would beg the question to debate formal, or traditional, or contemporary - that is not the issue. All of these forms have become acceptable and, in some instances, required norms. For instance (and regrettably), in some church situations, one would not want to omit The Lord’s Prayer or The Apostle’s Creed, as well as the Gloria Patri or The Doxology from a particular church’s worship service,

The Fuller Institute and The Barna Group have compiled data regarding the state of the church overall. It indicates: “Approximately 85% of churches in America have less than 200 people. 60% of churches are under 100 people. The average size congregation in the U.S. is 89 people. 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close; Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year; Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year. 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could; 45.5% of pastors say that they've experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry. Too often, the church that is supposed to be a place that manifests peace, unity, and harmony is more of a war zone marked by disunity, criticism and hostility. 

The analysis of the modern church touches on the subject of weariness on the part of one who believes he was called to be a Pastor.“50% of the ministers starting out will not last five years. 70% felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only 50% still felt called. There are also Frustrations and Disappointments that come in many ways. Because of smaller congregations, the average compensation package for pastors is between $35,000 and $40,000. Many pastors work hard but are missing some kind of X-factor. They are good people, sincere believers, love God, know the Word, have great content in their sermons, but somehow it’s not clicking.” Sometimes a congregation will have some exclusive cliques. An exclusive clique will be critical about the leadership of the church and are hostile toward a Pastor or his efforts. Some of the above paragraphs may be a reason why so many are in the category of MIA (Missing in Action) or AWOL (Absent With Out Leave). People can sense unrest and quickly learn who the management individuals are in a local setting. Rather than allowing themselves to become critical, people choose to go elsewhere or just stop attending altogether. There’s enough hostility and hatred in the world. It definitely is not needed in the Biblical Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. And yet, bitterness, wrath, anger, malice and evil speaking go unchecked and is never dealt with.

What should be the focus and interactional ministry in a local church situation. It would be good to remember a portion of the prayer offered by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 17:11, “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” There also needs to be the application of Acts 2:42-44,“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” We can and should be doing better. Consider these things with me!

Friday, August 29, 2014

ABSOLUTE HYPOTHESIS

From My Perspective - - - 

With the world trending toward cultural captivity, it is both incredulous and amazing when one considers that which is deemed a priority by world leaders and representatives. A Headline on CNS News stated: United Nations Climate Chief, Christiana Figueres said: (We’re) “Not Very Far' from Considering 'Climate Change as a Public Health Emergency/“ She repeated her comments when: “(she) told a World Health Organization (WHO)-hosted event in Geneva Wednesday that we are not very far from the point where climate change should be declared an international public health emergency, according to her prepared remarks.” The United States Secretary of State John Kerry has called climate change "the biggest challenge of all that we face right now,” and his French counterpart has warned of climate "chaos" in 500 days, and now the U.N. climate change chief is implying that climate change can be viewed on a par with the deadly Ebola outbreak. In her speech Figueres,said that while it was easy to view climate change as “the equivalent of a disease” it was actually the symptom.“The disease is something we rarely admit,” she said. “The disease is humanity’s unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels, deforestation and land use that depletes natural resources.”

These “leaders” and others speak in absolutes regarding global warming. It should be alarming to the citizens of the United States, as well as all other nations, when the U.S. Secretary of State indicates: "the biggest challenge of all that we face right now,” One would suppose from that comment that world events have little or no significance in comparison when compared to the absolute hypothesis regarding “humanity’s unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels, deforestation and land use that depletes natural resources.” Is one supposed to ignore the current world events of the day: (1) Russia’s troop movements into Ukraine? Are we supposed to be naive and detached to what the intent is for Russia? (2) ISIS and their growing radical military capability in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and anywhere else they decide to make their objectives and presence known? (3) The persecution of non-Islamists in the Middle East, as well as the genocide there and elsewhere in the world? (4) Economic uncertainty in the United States and other key nations of the world? (5) POTUS and his stated lack of a strategy for combatting a great evil being perpetrated in the Middle East with no credible opposition? (6) The steady erosion of religious influence and impact in our nation and world? (7) The porous border that allows illegal immigrants easy entrance into the nation and becoming eligible for government assistance through various welfare subsidies?

The champions of their absolute hypothesis are engaged in seeking agreements that will enable them to impose their mandates upon the citizens of the world. The CNS Report continues: “Next month U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a summit in New York where world leaders will be urged to make commitments ahead of the Paris conference. This agreement will be universal and applicable to all countries. It will address current and future emissions. If strong enough, it will prevent the worst and chart a course toward a world with clean air and water, abundant natural resources and happy, healthy populations, all the requirements for positive growth. Seen in this light, the climate agreement is actually a public health agreement.” The article also states: “This week the administration has come under fire over claims that President Obama is working on reaching an agreement in Paris in a way that will enable him to sidestep Senate ratification, which is constitutionally required for international treaties. At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said, “Because that agreement is not written, it’s not yet clear exactly what sort of role Congress would be required to play.”


One should be concerned regarding how God views what is happening in His world. There are two possibilities. The first is indicated in Psalm 2, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. Let us break their chains, they say, and throw off their fetters. The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath…” The thought is that God laughs at the folly of mankind as the scurry about the world like ants without any purpose of reason for their behavior or actions. The second possibility is indicated in Genesis 6, “Then the LORD said: My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal…the LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” In Genesis 6, God mandated a flood that would purge His world from evil and wickedness. In Jeremiah 32, the Lord allows for the Babylonian Captivity because of the people who had turned their backs to God. There is a ray of hope in every generation IF ONLY there was sense enough to seek it and the Lord Who offers it. Will God laugh at the folly of our leaders? Will He be grieved because of our evil and wicked ways? Will He send us off into captivity until we come to our senses and seek Him? We can escape the cultural captivity and the consequences for our having ignored God. It will require that we seek Him now and turn from our foolish and wicked ways now! Consider these things with me.