Who You quote tells a lot about You

What is your primary source for spiritual inspiration and direction? Is it your denomination’s leading newspaper or magazine? Or is it a book on the lives and teachings of holy men and women, living or deceased? Perhaps you are influenced by the teachings of the leaders and founders of other faiths – the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, or Mohammed. It never ceases to surprise me how “in-name-only” Christians (INOCs) so often opt for Faith Quotes from any number of religious leaders and inspirational web sites and publications to verbalize their moral position on a subject, rather than going to the source of the moral code itself – namely God’s written Word, the Bible.

Who and what a person quotes over social media tells a lot about them and their belief system. It’s clear to me that most INOCs simply have not invested the time and effort to study the Bible and the voluminous evidence (historical, archaeological, scientific and theological) which establishes it as the infallible Word of their Creator, Savior and Sovereign Lord. That’s not to say these are not “good people,” some with virtuous traits that serve their fellow man well. They’ve simply had their minds clouded by the enemies of God.

It may sound prideful that only those men and women who acknowledge the authority and credibility of the Bible have the complete Truth about right behavior and thinking, healthy living, right relationships, eternal life and the like. In reality, we had nothing to do with the revelation we’ve received – for it was only the grace and mercy of God that opened this Truth to our understanding. And it is available to any and everyone who humbles themselves and asks to receive it as a by-product of their commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

If and when a person does this, they will be in a position to test and judge every word and behavior of even the most respected leader of their denomination to determine if they align with the Word and nature of God. Of course, not everyone wants to do this – for they are comfortable remaining in darkness.

Neither Conservatism nor Liberalism is a Virtue

 

How would you describe Western conservatism and liberalism to a visitor from another planet? Some would designate each a political mindset, others a social and/or fiscal construct, and still others a belief system guided by which personal decisions will or will not be tolerated by proponents of the brand. But it only takes a brief review of social and mainstream media to conclude that the core of each category’s adherents consider their particular brand a virtue, and subsequently designate their opposite as evil incarnate.

But a virtue is a condition of the heart that finds expression in behavior showing high moral standards: generosity, modesty, courage, humility, integrity, loyalty, and dignity to name a few. While some adherents of conservatism and liberalism may exhibit one or more of these traits, few if any can claim a lock on all. Still, we citizens of Western culture choose to assign ourselves to either the Conservative or the Liberal brand, then disparage the alternate brand. And those who opt for the brand of “Moderate,” both consider lacking in conviction.

Why do we put ourselves and others into these convenient boxes based on our biased observations and judgments of the other’s behavior, their spoken words and their perceived attitudes? People and their choices are not that simple and the cultural and/or political brand they identify with, (whether conservative, liberal, or even moderate) unlike every virtue which is well characterized and exemplified in Holy Scripture, varies in the mind of the definer.

America – the Greatest Force for Good this World has ever known

This afternoon President Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, and it didn’t take long for the Left to launch its barrage of missiles attacking that decision and blaming not only the Administration, but every American who supports him for every past, current and future problem in the world. As I pointed out to a few of my more-liberal FB “friends,” the Paris Climate Accord was less about dealing with climate change and mostly about redistribution of wealth – and the U.S.A. would have gotten the biggest shaft had we remained in it.

I’m a non-apologetic proud American and I’m weary of those who try to guilt-trip me for my good fortune and blessing of being a citizen of the greatest force for good (outside of our Lord Jesus Christ) that this world has ever known. And the only reason we’ve been able to do as much good as we have, is because of the availability of those blessings – and I’ll fight ‘til my last breath to maintain control of those resources.

In 2004 when a 9.3 magnitude earthquake triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean killing 280,000 people, no one dialed 999 Paris for help. No! They called George W. Busch, who sent a flotilla of rescue and medical ships and personnel, plus $350M in aid.

In 2010 when a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, no one called 999 Berlin. No! They called President Obama who directed the establishment of Joint Task Force Haiti commanded by United States Southern Command. Coast Guard cutters together with 17 ships, 48 helicopters and 12 fixed-wing aircraft in addition to 17,000 sailors and marines flew in relief supplies, flew out evacuees, airdropped supplies, established a field hospital, repaired piers, and provided imagery from satellite, Global Hawk, and U-2 assets. Even the primary charities that responded were U.S. based, including the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities of America and Samaritan’s Purse.

Whenever a natural disaster or conflict destroys cities, homes and markets, or when hunger and disease threaten to spread, people across the globe have learned they can’t rely on the United Nations or the European Union – they all turn to America.  The USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance responds to an average of 65 disasters in more than 50 countries every year, providing life-saving assistance to tens of millions of people including those affected by drought in Southern Africa, conflict in Syria and Iraq, and flooding in Burma. They deliver live-saving food assistance, emergency health and nutrition services, safe drinking water, hygiene kits, and relief items to help people facing famine in these countries, and elsewhere around the world – something we could not do as well or as broadly without the blessings of resources available in America.

Forgotten Patriots

It’s that time of year again when Pastors and Rabbis around the nation will acknowledge our active military, our veterans and their families for the great sacrifices they’ve made on behalf of the citizens of the greatest nation in the world. As we rightly honor these, let’s not forget the sacrifices and service of their civilian counterparts, for we are a region which is just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the Army’s lead developer of ground systems and its logistics center, an area where a number of our current and retired servants also call our worship centers their home.

Each is extremely proud of the contributions they’ve made to support and protect our men and women in uniform. Yet few outside the DoD fraternity realize the shoulder-to-shoulder sacrifices these dedicated civilians have faithfully endured. During the Vietnam conflict we were subject to the same verbal abuses from our acquaintances as our brothers in uniform, for our support of the military industrial complex. During the Gulf Wars we participated in the same inconveniences and dangers when many of us volunteered to go into the field with the green-suiters to provide logistics support or to gather technical data. We’ve mourned friends who made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield and when the Pentagon was struck on 9-11, and we’ve worked to calm the spirits of those who suffered despondency after they returned home.

Over our careers, which sometimes have stretched across decades, most have spent an inordinate time away from family, especially during periods of crisis. We’ve taken that 3:00 am call and reported immediately to the local Commander or to a distant military installation to devise strategies to defend our fellow citizens. Spending holidays at the Pentagon, at test sites, at black sites or overseas is not all that unusual – something our kids and spouses never seem to understand or get used to.

Few of us have had our contributions recognized outside of our immediate supervision or our fellow comrades in arms. Most of my comrades’ efforts were performed in anonymity.  Yet as this year’s three patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day) are observed this May, July and November, I and my friends will once again faithfully and silently salute all those who once wore the uniform.

May God bless America and may He give peace and comfort to green-suiter and civilian DoD employee alike.

Open Letter to Pastors Everywhere

Dear Pastor:

It’s wonderful that many of our local churches are so youth and child focused – for indeed the future is our younger generations. But when a creative director’s histrionics are traded for spiritual substance, when technological gimmickry become the primary means to generate (or fabricate) that “feeling” of the Holy Spirit’s presence, and when panel discussions replace well-researched and anointed messages from the Pastor, you have reason to question whether something has gone seriously awry. One has to wonder if leadership is aware or even cares that wedges are being driven between Gen-Z’s and their elders who gave/give so much to lay the foundation that others seem intent on fracturing. If it’s the latter, only one thing remains to be answered: will they continue to drive out the seasoned citizen or simply wait to bury us as, one-by-one, we succumb to the adverse effects of theatrical fog and mist? Does leadership even give a wit about our health and welfare, much less our concerns about the spiritual state of the Body?

Rise of the Ezekiel 38 alliance of nations

Anyone who has followed my blog or FaceBook posts for any period of time know of my great interest in Biblical prophesy. To understand any ancient literary work, it takes a lot of hard work, time and research. For each author wrote of peoples they lived among or learned about from others more-traveled than themselves. But kingdoms of the earth were in constant flux. Nations fell and nations rose. Over the centuries and millennia borders were realigned times innumerable as the once-dominated became the dominant force of a later time, and vice-versa.

So when the average reader happens upon futuristic predictions such as provided in the 38th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, there’s a tendency to skip over them, ignore them or give them little credence, simply because it’s difficult to associate the prophetic utterance with the world as they know it. So in order to help you better understand these and other writings of Ezekiel in the light of current events in the region, here’s a geography translation.

6th Century BC                                    Year AD 2017

  • The lands of Gog, Magog,             *Russia
  • Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal           *Russia
  • Persia                                                       *Iran
  • Cush                                                           Ethiopia
  • Put                                                             *Libya
  • Gomer                                                       Parts of *Turkey
  • Beth-Togarmah                                    Parts of *Turkey,  Armenia & Asia Minor.
  • Syria                                                          *Syria
Is it mere coincidence that the five asterisked nations have formed a military alliance within the borders of Syria? Ostensibly this coalition is to battle radical Islamic terrorism and prop up the Assad regime. I personally find it curious that this is the first time in human history that there has been a cooperative economic and military alliance between these nations.  In fact, just a few years ago this alliance would have been considered unthinkable, because America and NATO had a strong foothold in the region. But the vacuum created by prior American administrations changed all that. Regardless of their reason for being there today, according to the prophet Ezekiel, this alliance of nations will one day mobilize with the intent to destroy the state of Israel.

One of the reasons I study prophesy is because I hate to be surprised. Perhaps it’s time for you too to read “the rest of the story.”

A 21st Century Tower of Babel

The city of Strasbourg (France) is the official seat of the European Parliament. Ever since its completion in December 1999, the main tower structure, called the “Louise Weiss” building has raised eyebrows and questions. Its promoters describe its peculiar appearance as reflective of the “unfinished nature of Europe.” It was intentionally designed to look like the Pieter Brueghel 1563 painting entitled “The Tower of Babel.” The ancient tower which theologians recognize as the unfinished work of Nimrod, who was building a tower to defy God, is an interesting source of inspiration for a modern democratic institution. 

The professed intention of Strasbourg building’s lead designer was that the EU Parliament would complete the original goals of these ancient peoples. I challenge those history buffs among you to research the proposed official poster promoting the Parliament Building. The poster was eventually banned due to protests by numerous groups, but it clearly reveals the mindset of the builders. The poster showed the people of Europe rebuilding a replica of the tower in Pieter Brueghel’s painting. At the very top of the poster were reversed pentagrams (upside down stars.) And the poster’s slogan was: “Europe: Many Tongues One Voice,” inferring that the activity of Parliament would reverse God’s punishment for the idolatry and arrogance of the people of the world. 

Even those of you who see this as a silly religious conspiracy theory must admit that the inspiration behind the Louise Weiss building oddly seems to align with the esoteric beliefs of the world elite and their fractured understanding of ancient scriptures. Just one more thing to think about in the light of recent world events.

The Focus of all human existence is Jesus Christ

Within mere moments of mankind’s fall from grace and our exile from the Garden, we received the promise of redemption and restoration. The third chapter of the Book of Beginnings guarantees that the heel of Adam’s seed would indeed crush the head of the serpent that led them astray.

And for the next four millennia, godly judges, patriarchs, prophets and kings were sent to direct the focus of every seeker of truth to the coming Messiah. Yet not every man and woman on earth elected to seek to understand and establish a relationship with their Creator. Many preferred the camp of the deceiver, and his promise to fulfill every lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

Even when Jesus Christ appeared at the apex of human history, putting a face on our God, many, influenced by the theologians of the time, closed their eyes and ears to His acts, words and works that proved Him to be the expected Savior. Now as time winds down, the deniars and the rejecters vastly out-number those who align themselves with the triune God of the Bible.

All this demonstrates is that for all of history, the focus of human existence has been Jesus Christ. No other Name has drawn and continues to draw such pervasive love and such vicious hate from every corner of the earth. Those who deny His and His Father’s authority, teachings, doctrine and existence go to extremes to try to destroy and denigrate those who honor and serve Him. Yet one day ALL will bend their knees to that Name which is above every name, and all on earth, under the earth and in the heavens will proclaim Jesus is Lord.

A most unusual man – the President

It’s interesting that both President Trump’s adversaries and his supporters focus on his imperfections, of which, undeniably, there are many. The former group self-righteously attacks his imperfections, launching a never-ending barrage of criticism and complaints intent on tearing him down in the public eye. In contrast, it’s the President’s imperfections that actually ingratiate his supporters toward him.

We are attracted by his often colorful and unapologetic use/misuse of the English language – something one media person refers to as our “expectation of hyperbole.” We are drawn to a stubborn-streak that leads the President to meet every detractor head-on. We admire his unquenchable pride in defending his family, his employees, his supporters, his past successes and his ongoing policies and decisions. And we align with the impatience he shows toward those who abuse or disavow the blessings they’ve been afforded as citizens/residents of the greatest nation on earth.

But what most attracts us are his personal uncompromising patriotism and his love for the people, traditions, constitution, military and capitalistic environment that define American exceptionalism. The man is fearless in taking on any and everyone who would try to tear down these institutions and beliefs. The President recognizes that it’s these specifically that have made America the envy of the world and moved her to the forefront of freedom, generosity, technological advancement, and religious tolerance.

Millennials and the Church

We’ve come a long way since President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural Address, and its most-oft-quoted phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” This was not merely a clever quip for the day – it reflected the mindset of most Americans of that era, and remains so for most of us over age 65. Unfortunately that’s no longer the case for many of our post-baby-boomer generation citizens, whose attitudes tend toward the center of self. So we find even a majority of so-called Christians negotiating with pastors and priests, “If you want me to become or remain a part of your congregation, show me what’s in it for me?” And the response is more often than not a scrambling around of elder boards to present the most feel-good messages and feel-good programs presented in feel-good ways so as to fill the pews and coffers.

A literary preoccupation with each of the younger generations’ supposed unique needs, desires and expectations is just a symptom of the bigger problem – which extends well beyond any specific generation. Still, each of these blogs, magazine and newspaper articles analyzing millennials, iGens, Gen Z’s and Centennials help to focus the real issue. While many of these authors have an excellent insight into the mindset of each of these young people groups; their understanding of “the Church” is grossly lacking.

Most of these well-meaning writers see “the Church” as nothing more than a social, charitable or service organization created to meet individual and societal needs (be they spiritual or otherwise), much like the Fraternal Order of Elks, the Knights of Columbus, or the Red Cross. They miss the point entirely that “the Church” is a living organism with divinely appointed missions. Its founder (and present Head), Jesus described her as “the Body of Christ.” The Head and the Body are intended to have a love relationship akin to that between a husband (Christ) and a wife (the Church). And “the Church” is delegated to perform all the same things and more that Jesus performed when He walked the earth. Every member of the Body, be they leaders, millennials, or members of any other generation has a significant part in this – with no one of more or less value.

Since Christ’s love and faithfulness to the Church (and each of its individual body parts) will never end, there is no excuse for members of the Body to abandon “the Church.” Now if we’re talking about a member of the Body relocating to a more appropriate “local church family” – well, that’s a different story. For every church family has a unique personality and mission and the Holy Spirit will guide a listening and responsive individual (and his or her family) to the one that will best prepare them to serve and that will make the best use of their gifts. But any abandonment of the Body of Christ by a member, or even a relocation to another local church that is not God-directed is likely made out of an attitude of self-centeredness and rebellion.

Although it’s valuable for local churches and church denominations to periodically evaluate if they are meeting the needs of those in the communities in which they reside, and that they are using the talents of all the members of their congregations as God intended; I think it’s just as important for persons of every generation to perform some personal introspection to make sure they are putting Christ and His Body above their own selfish desires. Politicians and social engineers have a bad habit of trying to segregate people into groups, be they racially, ethnically, financially or generationally oriented – and pitting one group’s needs and interests against another; but “the Church” should do everything it can to avoid being drawn into such conflicts. We are called to be united in our service to God and to each other and in our spiritual destiny.

It’s time that members of every generation begin to recognize that they are “the Church,” the Body of Christ and stop undervaluing themselves, their destiny and their purpose to serve God and His people. Even those individuals and people groups (defined by race, generation, social status or education level) who may sometimes feel marginalized and not served by the ecclesia, need to “gut it out” if necessary – because the mission of reaching an unsaved and broken world is too important, and the time is too short.