Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving List for President Obama

This is Thanksgiving Season, and now is the time to give thanks, and find things to be thankful for, even in the most unlikely, or thankless of places.

Yes, I know this list may offend, if not shock other people, as I have contributed to the Patch Network as a long-time detractor of the Obama Administration.

Frankly, there are some things, if not many, to be thankful for which have occurred during President Obama's fraught and frightful tenure.

1. President Obama issued waivers for No Child Left Behind, a bureaucratic nightmare which is leaving more children behind despite the federal program's intent to expand accountable public education for all Americans. One of President Bush's worst legacies as NCLB, and whether out of partisanship or principle, Obama has compromised the program.

2. In connection with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Obama offered "Race to the Top" for state governments to compete for federal aid, provided that the several states integrated comprehensive education reforms.

3. He has faithfully and forcefully enforced our nation's immigration laws, to the extent that he has deported more illegal immigrants than every President from Dwight David Eisenhower to George W. Bush

4. Against his own liberal convictions, he was forced to compromise and enforce the first comprehensive cuts to the federal budget in modern American History. His cuts began with the 2011 debt ceiling deal, which gave way to the Super Committee, and then the sequester cuts. Despite his pleading against the comprehensive reductions, which were supposed to be painful, their effect on the economy was actually negligible.

5. As part of the last-minute fiscal cliff debacle-deal in 2012, President Obama preserved the Bush II tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 for 99% of all Americans, permanently. Not only did President Obama maintain one of the strongest legacies of President Bush, he has further undermined the long-standing progressive agenda of progressive tax rates to fund an expansive welfare state.

6. President Obama's insistence on a health insurance mandates and Medicare subsidies of statewide and national healthcare exchanges have exposed the failed core of socialized programs which attempt to manage one-sixth of a nation's economy. Inadvertently, President Obama's progressive posture may spell the death of liberalism as a serious political philosophy for decades to come.

7. According to MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan, President Obama reintroduced deficit reduction as a compelling concern: a Republican talking point. He also appointed fourteen fiscal conservatives, including fiscal-leaning Democrats, on his Presidential debt commission.

8. Before the British Petroleum crisis (which he helped to some degree to clean up), President Obama did acquiesce on off-shore oil drilling. California Governor Jerry Brown should take up this talking point, too.

9. President Obama backed off from closing down Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His attempt to close down the detention center for international terrorists demonstrate that political pragmatism will force the most ideological of politicians to make logical decisions in the better interests of the country.

10. And to round off this Thanksgiving list: President Obama pushed away Cap-and-Trade, ended job-killing regulations from the EPA which would have harmed this nation's recovery. During his administration, drone interventions have increased to neutralized terrorist cells. Under his watch, United States special forces took down Osama bin Laden and his Yemeni surrogate Anwar al-Awlaki. The terrorists can run, but they cannot hide!

Thank you, President Obama. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

We Have To Trust Him Before We Take From Him

"And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14: 31)

Even when we doubt, we should never fear to call out for Christ's help in our lives.

Too often, when we start to doubt in any way, we start looking at ourselves to figure out what to do about our doubt.

Yet even in the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus' disciples saw Jesus as a teacher instead of Savior, He reached out and helped them, rather than merely wake up and upbraid them for disturbing His sleep.

Consider also this time when Jesus asked the disciples why they doubted:

"Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." (John 20: 27)

Notice that Jesus came to Thomas personally, and responded personally to his doubt.

There is no record that Thomas ever touched Jesus, but he exclaimed:

"And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." (John 20: 28)

Still, we will have a hard time receiving from God our Father unless we receive that spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15).

Take a look at what happened to Adam and Eve when they ate from the forbidden fruit:

"7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves " (Genesis 3: 7)

They became self-conscious instead of God-conscious. Even when they had sewn for themselves fig leaves to cover their nakedness, they hid in shame when God appeared:

"8And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden."


"And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." (Genesis 3: 10)

As long as we have this sin-consciousness of wrongdoing, we will forever hide from God, and we will not trust Him, let alone receive from Him.

How do we escape from this terrible bondage?

John provides the answer:

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

We receive boldness when we understand the perfection of God's love, not ours, which has taken us from dead in our trespasses to alive and in Christ.

What then does this love do for us?

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.' (1 John 4: 18)

The love of God was demonstrated for us, in that Christ died for us, was risen for us, and now serves as our propitiation, or our mercy seat before God the Father (1 John 4:10)

We can then trust that God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31), and thus we can receive all things from Him (Romans 8: 32)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

In Christ, We are No Longer Strangers

"33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6: 33)

Jesus exhorted the Israelites of His day not to take confidence in their ethnic status as Jews, nor seek to overthrow the Roman Empire, but seek to entry into God's eternal kingdom.

This Kingdom comes to us through His Holy Spirit, which has been poured out to us now that Jesus Christ has died on the Cross and now sits at the right hand of God the Father ministering on our behalf (Romans 8: 31-32):

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14: 17)

As further proof that the Kingdom comes to us because of all that Christ Jesus did, consider this wonderful declaration:

"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" (Colossians 1: 13)

Where were we before we believe on Jesus? Paul relates the following to the Colossians:

"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled" (Colossians 1: 21)

and also to the Ephesians:

"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:" (Ephesians 2: 12)

Here, Paul explicitly refers to state, kingdom like citizenship.

Because of Jesus Christ, we are blessed as adopted children of God the Father:

"13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;" (Ephesians 2: 13-14)

We are now no longer strangers, or foreigners from God's Kingdom, but because we are in Christ, we now walk in His Kingdom as sons of God:

"For our conversation [lit. citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:" (Philippians 3: 20)


"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8: 17)


"That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:" (Ephesians 3:6)

Because we have received a new citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven through Christ, we are no longer strangers, alienated from God the Father's blessed, eternal Kingdom which He gives in His good pleasure to those who believe (Luke 12: 32)

In Christ, We are No Longer Widowed

When Jesus died on the Cross, God granted to us a husband-bride fulfillment in His Son.

God prophesied beforehand to Israel:

"And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [My Husband]; and shalt call me no more Baali [My Lord/Master]." (Hosea 2: 16)

In Christ, we have received a new status as married to Christ:

"4Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. 5For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." (Romans7: 4-6)


"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11: 2)

In Revelation, Jesus marries the Church, His Bride, which includes you and me:

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." (Revelation 19: 7)

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17)

In Christ, you are made one with Him fully, consummate and prosperous.

For this wonderful promise, Isaiah prophesied:

"4Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
5For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called." (Isaiah 54: 4-5)
You see Jesus as your Husband, and not only is the same of widowhood removed from you, but in Him you receive the inheritance of the entire world:
"21Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

In Christ, We are No Longer Orphans

When Adam sinned against God, He died and so did the rest of the human race:

"Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." (Romans 5: 14)

So that Adam and Eve would not eat the Tree of Life and live forever doomed to eternal separation, God sent His creation out of the Garden of Eden.

When Jesus died on the Cross, He removed from us the Orphan Spirit.

Before He died on the Cross, Jesus comforted His disciples:

"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." (John 14: 18)

When He died on the Cross, Jesus released His Holy Spirit:

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8: 15)


"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Galatians 4: 6)

With Jesus' Spirit living in us, we have this Comforter with us at all times, the Spirit of God who convicts us of our righteousness in Christ (John 16: 8-11), who transforms us from glory to glory to be more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3: 17-18)

We have a sure Spirit of Sonship, and we receive God as our Father, our Daddy!

We never have to suffer as orphans ever again, and it's all because of Jesus!

Orphans, Widows, and Strangers in the Bible

"21Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; 24And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." (Exodus 22: 21-24)

In the Old Testament, the Lord had a special heart for three marginal groups: orphans, strangers, and widows.

Orphans are a weakened group because they have no parents, no protectors. They have no clear identity or pedigree, since they have no family, and they have no training to fall back on when they grow older.

Strangers are susceptible to fraud and deceit because they live in a country to which they do not belong. They do not speak the official language of the country where they live. They do not understand the customs. Everything that they say and do gives away that they are out of place.

Widows have lost their husbands, their source of sustenance, and also their source of power and authority in the ancient world. Without her man, a widow was as good as dead, and dependent on the help of others, easily deceived or taken advantage of.

So, orphans, strangers, and widows are special people to God. He cares about them to such a degree that He set in place a curse under the Old Covenant against anyone who would ill-treat anyone of these people.

What did God have in mind focusing on these individuals in the Old Testament?

He had everyone of us in mind, and more importantly He was placing types and shadows which would magnify His grace through His Son Jesus!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Walker and Christian Science Monitor

In a press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stood out as a possible dark horse Presidential candidate for 2016, who could easily turn front-runner based on the style and substance of his gubernatorial record.

Affirming the essential integrity of staying true to the Republican Party’s stance on social issues, Walker concluded that conservatives should not shy away from their core views on abortion and gay marriage. A growing majority of Americans favor reasonable restrictions to abortion, including a mandatory ultrasound like Walker’s recent proposal. In more liberal states like Hawaii, Americans believe that the voters, not the politicians, should be deciding whether to sanction gay marriage. Walker could advance the policy of removing the government from marriage altogether and restore the institution as private association.

Walker may indeed join the profile of Presidential contenders who know what they believe and believe what they know. Walker stood up to the well-funded and widespread public sector unions, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie supports collective bargaining, even for public employees. Walker rejected the Medicare funding offered through Obamacare, while other Republican Governors like Rick Scott of Florida accepted the subsidies. He has reasserted his opposition to amnesty while highlighting the necessary reforms of the current, broken immigration system. As a Republican governor in a liberal-leaning state, Walker’s example as a reformer who fires up the base without alienating independents should resonate with party leaders. His policy arguments are sound, and should be sounded throughout the country.

Don't Worry About Doubt

The real issue with doubt in the Life of a believer has nothing to do with what we know or do not know, but rather with the sense of shame or reproach which comes with doubting.

If we doubt God's goodness, does that mean He is going to stop loving us?

If we doubt whether He exists or not at any time, or we therefore forfeiting our standing and our blessings in Christ?

Not at all.

Remember, we are saved by grace, which we receive by faith:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2: 4-9)

The New Covenant is not based on anything that we do, or have done, but everything that Jesus did for us at the Cross:

"And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many." (Mark 14: 24)

Jesus' blood enacted the New Covenant, as explained in the Letter to the Hebrews:

"22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Hebrews 12: 22-24)

Here is the New Covenant:

"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8: 10-12)
We look forward to His blessings in our lives, we can trust in His leading in our days, and we can rest assured in His promise because He has paid for our sins, and will never recall them again.
This New Covenant is not enacted because we believe,  but rather because Jesus died on the Cross, putting away all our trespasses (Colossians 2: 13) and fulfilled the entire law (Matthew 5: 17; Colossians 2: 14) so that we do not worry about keeping the law, but allow the lawgiver-turned-Savior to keep us.
If we do not believe that our sins are forgiven, however, inevitably we will get caught up in trying to make up for the sense of unrighteousness in our lives; we will try to pay off the sense of condemnation which we sense in our dead flesh.
Jesus has put away all our sins, including doubt, at the Cross.
We know that doubt is a sin:
"14Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen." (Mark 16: 14)
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21: 8)
"Unbelieving" can also mean doubtful.
Yet consider also what Jesus did for Thomas, who had refused to believe:
"Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." (John 20: 27)
Jesus ministers to us, even when we are doubting. Faith is not something which we conjure up through our efforts, but rather something that we receive as we see Jesus.
Consider also the example of John the Baptist, who had witnessed Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit:
"2Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." (Matthew 11: 2-6)
Jesus offered John the Baptist verses of Scripture (specifically, Isaiah 35: 5-6). In Luke's Gospel, not only doe Jesus reference Scripture speaking of Himself, but He performs miracles in the same hour following the inquiry from John the Baptist's disciples:
"When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? 21And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. 22Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." (Luke 7: 20-23)
When we doubt, we should never worry, nor should we feel ashamed, but instead we can rest in the sure testimony of God's Word, all of which testifies of Christ and Him Crucified:
"44And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: " (Luke 24: 44-46)
Don't Worry about Doubt, because you are not saved because of your works, but by Christ's death at the Cross. Even if you do doubt, the answer is found in receiving a greater revelation of Christ Jesus and Him Crucified, and so you can rest assured that even your doubts do not push God away, but rather invite Jesus to reveal Himself to you in a greater way!

Another Teaching About Forgiveness

Some preachers suggest that we must forgive other people, especially our parents, because if we retain or hold onto the sins of other people, we will end up manifesting those same perversions in our own lives.

While this teaching is understandable and well-intentioned, this line of thinking brings people into bondage once again, neglecting a few key elements about our New Creation standing in Christ Jesus.

First of all, when we believe on Jesus, we are adopted into a new, better, and eternal family:

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;" (Ephesians 1: 5-7)

We are sons and daughter of God Most High, a standing which we receive in Christ:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2: 4-8)

We are in Christ, seated above everything in the universe, and under Jesus' feet everything in the universe has been placed.

We have a new standing, blessed with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), and so Paul prays that we receive a growing revelation of all that we have in Christ (Ephesians 1: 17-20) and that we receive a growing understanding in our entire intellect to understand Christ within us and God's love for us in Christ (Ephesians 3: 16-19)

When we understand how greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved we are in Christ, then forgiving others, or more precisely being gracious to others, is as easy as water rolling down a hill:

"31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32)

We do not forgive so that we will not repeat the same evil perversions in our own lives. We forgive because we have been so graciously forgiven ourselves, and we can do this because we have received a new life, a new identity, and we have become new creations putting on a new man:

"22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4: 22-24)

This new man is Christ, and we have all been placed in Him. So, if we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5: 17), we should no longer think of ourselves living out the sins of our parents, since we have received an eternal Father, a new life, and thus we are invited to renew our minds to the truth of who we are in Christ.

And forgiveness becomes so easy to forgive!

Know What You've Been Given, then Forgive! -- Part I

One problem I find all too often in churches, and with Christians in general, is the focus on what we must do, or what we should be doing.

If we do not know who we are, or what we have, then we will find ourselves unwilling or unable to do anything else.

Consider the Epistle to the Ephesians.

Paul writes in the fourth chapter:

"31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4: 31-32)

"Forgive" should read "be gracious".

We need to understand how gracious God is to us before we can be gracious to others.

In other words, we need to know what we have been given in order to forgive others!

How do we find out what God has given us through Christ? Read the first three chapters of Ephesians.

Start with the first chapter:

"3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:"

We have blessed with everything because we are in Christ. "Spiritual" does not mean that the blessings are only non-material, but that their origins are spiritual.

Keep in mind that God is a Spirit, and He spoke the entire material universe into existence.

"4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love"

God wanted us before we were even born, and before He had formed the world. He also determined that we would be holy, special, and set apart before Him, with nothing to fear in terms of shame or reproach.

"5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,"

When we are set before God as blameless and holy, we are predestined to be His adopted children. The word "predestined" has been misconstrued to suggest that God has already determined who will be saved and who will not be saved. Such thinking treats time as a matter larger than God, when God created time as much as everything else in the world.

When He receives you, you can be sure that you are going to be adopted and be His child.

"6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."

We are accepted, or made gracious, in the Beloved. Here, Paul does not write "Jesus", but writes specifically "Beloved", so that we can know that in Christ we are precious and loved children of God, and that God the Father sees us in Jesus and as Jesus.

John, who would write "God is Love" (1 John 4: 8), also writes:

"Herein is our love made perfect (lit. Love made perfect among us), that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

I have only read through four verses in the first chapter of Ephesians, and yet many Christians remain woefully ignorant of their identity and inheritance in Christ Jesus.

The more that we see who we are and what we have in Christ, the more that we can do for Him, for He is able to work in us and through us, since He is our life (Colossians 3: 4)

When we see that God's grace has made us children of the Living God, inheritors of all spiritual blessings in Christ, has provided us holy and blameless before God, we find that we can forgive others without great trouble.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jesus: More Than a Prophet

"Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner." (Luke 7: 39)

Jesus was a prophet during His earthly ministry. He told His disciples to prepare for the destruction of the Temple. He also informed His disciples about the end of the Age, when He would come again in full glory.

Yet Jesus is more than a prophet. He is also more than a healer. He is Savior, and through Him we receive salvation.

He is more than a teacher. He did not come to serve as an example, nor did He come to testify of the sin in people's lives.

He came to save:

"14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:14-17)
Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus as a teacher, and he even viewed Jesus possibly as a prophet.
For that reason, Simon received so little from Jesus, and had even less to give Him.
In contrast, the woman from the city, a sinner (mostly likely a harlot) anointed Jesus' feet and continued to kiss them (Luke 7: 37-41)
Why? Because her sins were forgiven.
When we see Jesus as Savior, we will love Him and serve Him.
If we see Him as only a prophet, we will condemn other people and spend more time looking for signs and wonders.
If we see Him as only a teacher, we will find His teaching impossible to keep, or we will spend more time judging others all while we never measure up ourselves.

Why is the New Covenant Not Preached?

Here is the New Covenant written in the New Testament:

"10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

"11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
"12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8: 10-12)
Why is the New Covenant not being preached?
When we believe that Jesus Christ has put aside all our sins forever, we need never fear that God will not take care of us. We allow the Holy Spirit to live within us and direct us by peace rather than looking for a set of rules which will allow us to pat ourselves on the back at the end of the day because of our efforts.
Everything that we need, whether wisdom, or direction, or anything else, we find in the Finished Work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.
Why, then, are the full elements of the New Covenant not being preached?
Why is it that so many people are not learning about this wonderful covenant?
I submit that many church leaders fear that by teaching people that all their sins are forgiven -- past, present, future -- that men and women will go crazy and live in sin.
Yet if we understand that all our sins are forgiven, we receive a new spirit, a new heart, one with God's laws of life, love, liberty, and faith written on them.
I also submit that many preachers are not talking about this New Covenant also because they did  not understand the fullness and the finality of all that Jesus did at the Cross. Jesus did not just die for us, He did not just die for all our sins, but He died to give us His standing in Himself, where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
The more that we understand the fullness of all that Jesus has done at the Cross, then we can walk in the gracefully simplicity of the New Covenant.

He Alone Gives Us Rest

One of the most powerful sermons from Joseph Prince Ministries, "Have a Throne Attitude", would throw me for a loop.

The message does seem too good to be true.

We rest first, and we allow God the Father to make all our enemies our footstool.

The spiritual truth from this, however, is gaining more ground for me.

Human nature wants every problem to be solved in our lives, then we rest.

In Christ, we learn to rest in all that He has done, and then we grow in grace and knowledge, allowing His life to flow through us.

These sermons about the supremacy and goodness of Jesus were too much for me to appreciate for a long time.

My understanding of Christ and Him Crucified was too small for me, and we can rest assured that Satan has assured that people remain blind to the goodness of God through His Son.

Yet the argument that we do not have to have every problem in our lives solved first is a novel lesson which everyone of us must appreciate.

We cannot find the rest that we are looking for in solving all the problems and finishing off every need.

Yet, for a long time I simply refused to believe this. Human nature is such that we still toy with the notion that when all of our problems are solved, then we can be happy.

Two passages in the Gospel of Mark dispelled this notion.

When Jesus rebuked the raging sea in Mark 4, the disciple actually went from fearful to exceeding afraid (Mark 4: 41).

Imagine that! The disciples were tossed about in a raging storm, and their boat was even filling up with water, yet when Jesus arose and dismissed the storm with one word, the disciples got more afraid.

God does not want us to be afraid of Him at all.

In fact, His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4: 18), and this love is based on the Cross, not our circumstances, and certainly not our feelings, either!

So, the righteousness, the peace, the joy which we seek cannot be based on solving our problems. We can never judge our peace and God's love for us based on our circumstances.

Once again, consider the disciples in the boat in Mark 4 -- Jesus rebuked the storm, but the disciples ended up being more fearful. Even when Jesus rose from the dead, some of His disciples still doubted what they were seeing (Matthew 28: 17).

We need His life within us in order to have the peace and rest which lasts.

We need to trust Him not based on our circumstances.

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26: 3)

In this verse, the word "stay" refers to our hands resting, lying on the sacrificial animal. We do not try to stop our minds, but rather we can rest assured that God is for us because of all that Jesus Christ has done for us at the Cross. Our minds our stayed in the sense that the work is finished, that there is nothing more which we must do in order to be justified before God and accepted in Christ.

Jesus also presents Himself as our rest:

"28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30)

He does not just give us rest, but the full rendering of verse 28 would read "I will rest you."

Instead of working harder through our own frustrations to assure a sense of rest in our lives, let us rest in the truth that all rest starts and ends with Jesus, and grow in grace and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3: 18)

You Do Not Create What You Fear -- What Does?

"35And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (Mark 4: 35-41)

In the account of the ship nearly sinking in Mark 4, the disciples called for Jesus their Teacher to help them.

He manifested that He was much more than some teacher.

First, He was peacefully asleep in the back of the boat, even while the storm was raging and the ship was taking on water.

When the disciples questioned Him, shouting with frustration, fear, and indignation that He seemed indifferent to them and their plight, Jesus rose and spoke to the sea.

Notice that Jesus did not shout. He rebuked the sea.

"HELPS" Word studies offers the following on "rebuke":

2008 epitimáō (from 1909 /epí, "suitably on," which intensifies 5091 /timáō, "esteem, place value") – properly, assign value as is fitting the situation, building on (Gk epi) the situation to correct (re-direct).
2008 /epitimáō ("to warn by instructing") can mean "rebuke" but its fundamental sense is "warning to prevent something from going wrong" (see CBL, BAGD).
[2008 /epitimáō (literally, "place due weight/honor upon") does not always mean "rebuke" per se.]
In a sense, Jesus did not necessarily threaten the sea, but merely warned the roaring waves that He was very much in charge.
A mega-calm followed, and then Jesus gently chided His disciples: "Why are you so afraid?"
The account then records that following the massive storm, they were even more afraid! The Greek literally conveys "Really feared with mega fear", an intense phrase explicitly revealing their terror.
Imagine: Jesus has quelled a massive storm into a mega calm, yet the disciples went from scared to mega-afraid! Shouldn't they have calmed down with the storm, too?
When I looked at verse 41, I realized that when it comes to fears in our lives, we need more than the circumstances to change. We need to be set at peace from within.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26: 3)
A peace which depends on our circumstances will never last, and a peace which does not properly recognize that Jesus Christ is more than a mere Teacher, but a Savior always willing to save, will often wonder with worry and fear whether He will help us or not.
In the next chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus cast out the demon from a naked man roaming in a graveyard. How did the local townspeople respond?:
"15And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid." (Mark 5: 15)
They were afraid. They had no idea what Jesus would do, since He had the power to cast out demons and tame the wild man who was running around in that graveyard. Instead of welcoming Jesus' ministry, the people in the city told Him to go away.
The lasting peace which we need cannot be based on our circumstances. We need to have a sure sense of trust that Jesus Christ is for us, not against us.
Paul would write:
"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 31-34)
Our peace must be based on the righteous standing which we receive in Christ. It's not enough that God removs storms in our lives. It's not enough for our flesh and our minds that we see sometime troubles removed from our situations. We need a certainty that no matter what is happening around us, God is on our side.
His allegiance to our needs is based on the New Covenant:
10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8: 10-12)
When we believe that every sin, every shame, every sense and sort of reproach has been paid for, then we can rest easy knowing that no matter what is happening in our lives, especially when we sin, fall, and fail, that God is on our side.
Before He died on the Cross, Jesus delivered to His disciples:
"1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." (John 14: 1)
Part of the New Covenant includes a new heart of flesh, and a new spirit, one which rests in His gift of righteousness.
His peace overcomes all problems, all needs, all tumults in our lives.
When the disciples were crying out for Jesus' help on the boat, they did not have His peace living within them. Because Jesus had not yet died on the Cross, they inescapable, unsettling realites of this fallen earth could not but unsettle them.
Even though Jesus removed the difficult circumstance in their lives, without the bloodshed and the New Covenant, they and we have no assurance of His protection.
For this reason, Jesus would instruct His disciples to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness: the status of new creation which will never fall into condemnation ever again.
This revelation has brought me great peace. For a long time, I have learned that we have to rest before God solves the problems in our lives.
I had chafed at this supposed requirement. There is something in all of us which still believes that when we solve this or that problem in our lives, then we can rest and be at ease.
The accounts in Mark 4 and Mark 5 upend that empty assumption. When Jesus ministered to the temporal problems in the lives of His disciples, they ended up being more afraid, since they did not know Him, and did not trust that He would do things for their good, o at least they could not be sure of who He was.
Because Jesus died on the Cross, we can trust Him that no matter what problems we ace, that He is our on our side. No matter what we feel or think, He is for us and not against us.
Why? Because He has died for all our ins and granted us His righteousness.
John writes in his First Epistle:
"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)
God's love is not made perfect for us until we recognize that we have receive a new identity through His Son, that God sees us in Jesus, and not in ourselves.
When we rest in the wonderful truth that Jesus' death on the Cross not only removes all our sins, establishes Him as our High Priest Forever, but also grants to us a spirit of adoption (Romans 8: 15) and we become sons of God (1 Peter 3: 1-3)
When we understand the fullness of God's love for us, then every fear is banished from our lives:
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4: 18)
A new life, a standing freed from sin, established in righteousness, resting in the New Covenant grants to us the perfect peace of Christ, and frees us from all fear.

You Do Not Create What You Fear -- Jesus and the Disciples

We do not create what we fear at all, and our fear is not a barrier to God's working in our lives, or even our faith!

Consider this account in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 4:

"35And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? 41And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (Mark 4: 35-41)

First of all, Jesus told His disciples that they were all going to pass over to the other side.

Now, I have heard that sermon preached many times, yet my fear was never removed. In fact, at one point in my life I still had fear in my life, so that I wondered whether God was angry with me for being afraid. I became so upset, that I was convinced He was not going to help because of my feelings.

What a terrible bondage I had ended up in!

This passage should grant us so much more comfort than we realize.

We are not saved by our believing, but by grace which we receive by faith (Ephesians 2: 4-8), and so we simply just accept the Word of God as true, regardless of how we may feel.

Take a look at this passage. You will notice that there is no specific number of disciples mentioned, and Jesus had not called the twelve yet. We can imagine, therefore, that there were many more than merely twelve disciples in the boat, plus the fact that other boats are mentioned.

The great storm arose, and the ship began to fill with water! Wow, the disciples were understandably fearful!

Still, Jesus was asleep in the boat, in the back, and he was peaceful.

Now, consider how the disciples behaved:


They did not see Jesus as Savior, but as Master, or literally "Teacher".

Many Christians see Jesus as merely a "teacher", and thus they do not see Him as someone who can help them in their situation. A teacher tells you want to do, but what can a teacher do if you cannot do anything to begin with!

"Carest thou not!"

They assumed that Jesus did not care! Many of us go through hard times in our lives, and we start to doubt whether God is on our side or not. Jacob felt that way as he saw one son after another (seemingly) taken from him "All these thing are against me!" (Genesis 42: 36) he once yelled. Yet at the same time, his son Joseph was preparing everything for him in Egypt. Consider also beloved King David, who before he took the throne once despaired of ever surviving, and thus fled to live in humble meanderings with the Philistines (1 Samuel 27)

Most of us may start feelings that Jesus does not care what we are going through, since we see so much trouble around us, and He does not seem to be doing anything. Do you fear because you see him in such a manner that Jesus will not help you?

"That we perish!"

The disciples witnesses the water all around them, and they were convinced they were going to die. To the point, they declared that they were dying already! In the same fashion, when things are going bad for us, we tend to magnify our problems rather than glorify our Savior, He who walked on the storms, who overcame every hardship, and defeated Satan, sin, and death at the Cross.

Now, for all of these statements and attitudes of unbelief, what was Jesus' response?

He arose, and rebuked the sea and instilled a massive calm! He did not blow them off, He did not let them suffer, and most importantly, they did not die drowning in the sea.

In fact, He did for them beyond what they asked or thought (Ephesians 3: 16-19), for remember that the disciples questioned rather Jesus cared or not, and He not only cared about them, but took care of the storm, too!

Then Jesus chided them:

"Why are ye so fearful?"

They were afraid the whole time, of course, and they called out to Jesus, and He answered them, even though they feared. What do you know? They did not create at all what they feared!

Jesus then shared:

"How is it that ye have no faith?"

The Bible actually reads:

"How is that you have do not yet have faith?"

Faith is not about feeling, and certainly not about fear, since Jesus still heeded them.

Faith is all about how we see Jesus!

The opposite of faith is not fear, Beloved, but works:

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4: 5)

While many people have read this passage and concluded: "The disciples' fear neutralized their faith!" That's not it at all. Because they saw Jesus as only a teacher, not a Savior in all circumstances, for that reason their faith was weak.

Yet they had enough faith to call on Him, did they not?

In the same way, we should not let our feelings prevent us from receiving from Jesus, even our feelings of fear and insecurity, as if they block His grace in our lives.

So, do not worry about your fear, but keep seeing Jesus, and grow in grace and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3: 18)

By the way, the disciples reached the other side, didn't they?! You do not create what you fear, Beloved!

You Do Not Create What You Fear -- Mephibosheth

One pop psychologist commented:

"You create what you fear."

That statement brought me into a great deal of bondage in my life.

When I heard that statement, I committed to myself that I would never feel afraid ever again.

Yet the more that I tried not to be afraid, the more afraid that I became.

 I was afraid of being fearful!

Crazy stuff!

For this reason, we seek wisdom from the Word of God, not the experience or opinions of men:

"1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." (Psalm 1: 1)

Counsel of the ungodly is any advice that is not from God, which includes human psychology, pop psych, self-help, and includes the Twelve Steps, or any other system based on our earning, our doing something.

We are blessed because  of what Jesus did for us at the Cross, for the righteous live by faith, not works (Habakkuk 2: 4)

Now, let us consider Biblical accounts which demonstrate that we do not create what we fear, and more importantly our fear does not block our faith in Him!

Consider Mephiboseth, the son of Jonathan, the friend of David. Jonathan was supposed to be next in line for the throne of Israel, since Jonathan's father was Saul. Yet Saul was rejected, and David was called to take his place.

Jonathan cut a covenant with David, and exchanged with David his standing, so that everything that was Jonathan's now came to the Shepherd-King. As part of this covenant, David pledged to show kindness, or grace, to Jonathan's family even after he became king.

Now, when Jonathan and Saul died, the nursemaid of Mephiboseth took the boy and dropped him while she ran with him, and the boy became lame in both feet.

He remained in hiding for years, fearing that David would one day find him and slay him, for every time a new king took the throne, all the potential heirs would be killed off to prevent a possible future usurpation to the throne.

Yet David was not such a king, since he had cut a covenant with Jonathan to protect all his descendants.

So, even though Mephibosheth was lame in both his feet, even though he had a terrible self-image (He called himself a dead dog and bowed himself to the ground when David finally found him), and even though he had lived in fear of David and what he would do -- none of those things annulled the covenant which David had cut with Jonathan:

"7And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually" (2 Samuel 9: 7)

Even though Mephiboseth feared for his life, his fear did not undo the covenant which David had cut with Jonathan.

In a greater sense, we should never believe that because we feel fear, we have offended God the Father and we have forced him to forfeit his protection over our lives.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Walker on Immigration Reform

Earlier this year, the Associated Press loosely interpreted Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s statements about the US Senate’s thousand-plus page immigration reform bill, for the mainstream media indicated that he endorses a pathway to citizenship for the eleven million illegal immigrants in the United States. In reality, his remarks were more complex, speaking first of all that this country should welcome immigrants from all over the world, and that the federal government should streamline the immigration to facilitate more people.

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, (not or the Cap Times, incidentally enough) Governor Walker clearly stated “I do not support amnesty.” In the same interview, Walker then shared that the federal government should “fix the front door”, setting up a border fence and enforcement.

Walker is correct to indict the federal government’s constant refusal to reform the entire immigration system. Today, legal immigrants must wait at least eight years to finish filing all necessary paperwork, along with learning English and passing all required citizenship exams. In some countries, like India and China, the waiting period can extend for decades. Regarding a border fence, Walker is wrong. When the federal government eliminates the massive welfare state, inviting free immigration to work but not to welfare, a complex immigration system will become irrelevant.

Whether Walker is clarifying his prior remarks about making immigration easier for all newcomers, or shoring up his campaign for the 2016 Presidential nomination, Walker( and his supporters) must recognize the fundamental problems associated with immigration reform.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rest in Christ -- From Fixing our Sins

What does it mean to rest?

We rest from trying to atone for our sins.

We are not resting from doing work.

God gave Adam a job.

"And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." (Genesis 2: 15)

There is nothing more restless than not working, in fact.

"As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed." (Proverbs 26: 14)

Rest has nothing to do with not doing anything, as much as we no longer do something to make ourselves OK with God.

We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3), and we are called to rest from our dead works to make us right with God:

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9: 14)

We are called to receive, and keep receiving God's grace and righteousness through Christ:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5: 17)

The rest which Jesus gives to us (Matthew 11: 28-30) is a rest from frustrations in our self-efforts.

We are called to see Him as taking care of all things, and as we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord, we receive more from Him!

Can Equal and Quality Coexist?

We want an equal and quality education for our children, school board candidates love to chant, whether representing or running for office.

Can the two values coexist? Can our leaders press ahead for equality while promoting quality?

Let's define equality.

Equality of opportunity means that some students will succeed, and other students will fail. Sometimes, though, failure is the best lesson, one which drives students away from poor choices, closed doors, and fruitless opportunities toward better options in the future.

Equality of opportunity rests on the premise that no matter what the students' background, young people can succeed with the right encouragement, with inspiration which lifts a man to look beyond himself and his circumstances.

Equality of opportunity leaves the possibilities wide for everyone, and releases the responsibilities to people with more insight and capacity than school officials.

Equality of results turns into a race into the bottom, in which communities with more wealth see their resources taken to poorer communities, just because the students come from low-income families.

School superintendents with any sense or respect will assert that good students come from families where the parents expect their children to go to school. Not the amount of money, but cultural mores drive students to succeed.

Equality of results cannot fix this problem. Individual leaders and local control make all the difference.

Quality can emerge out of equality, granted that this drive for fairness establishes opportunities for our students, not results.

James: Written to the Jew, Yet Received for Our Edification

Pastors, Seminary students, and theologians struggle with the Book of James in the New Testament.

Martin Luther went as far as suggesting that James was a straw which should be removed from the Bible.

One pastor told me that James has a circular  pattern, while Paul's Epistle have a direct connection.

Could we cut through all the comedy and just take the written Word of God, and let the Holy Spirit minister to us?

For the Spirit of God to lead us, we rest in the truth that Christ Jesus did it all when He died on the Cross.

From there, we can take the Word of God as we read it, and trust that the Spirit of God is not tricking or deceiving us, nor should we fear that His revelation of Jesus will distract us in any way.

Let us look at the General Epistle of James, then, without fear or trepidation.

Consider the first verse of the letter:

"1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting." (James 1: 1)
James, along with Peter and John, preached the Gospel to the Jews, or the circumcision, while Paul ministered to the Gentiles. Paul explains these missionary callings here:
"And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." (Galatians 2: 9)
So, from the outset, let us respect the fact that James is writing directly to the Jewish community, men and women who had been operating under the Old  Covenant of the Law of Moses, including the ceremonial offerings of animal sacrifices.
James is writing to believing and non-believing Jews.
For this reason, we find passages like:
"14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2: 14-17)
Keep in mind that one of the heresies springing up among Jewish Christians was the argument that since of the Old Covenant was completed, men and women could live sinful lives without fear of punishment or death.
Paul never preached "let us sin, that grace may abound", but pointed out that through Jesus' death, where sin increases, grace indeed superabounds to the believer (Romans 5: 20)
So, James is clarifying for Jewish believers, and indirectly for all of us, that anyone who claims to have saving faith, will also have works, the same way that we prove a tree by its fruit.
Moreover, the examples provided by James, all from the Old Testament, witness as examples of faith which justified Abraham and Rahab before man!
James later writes:
"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." (James 4: 8)
James is not writing to believers in this passage, for everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus is translated from dead in trespasses to alive and seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2: 4-8). No longer sinners, we are saints, and sons of Light (1 Thessalonians 5: 5)
When we learn to rightly divide the Word of God (2 Timothy 2: 15), recognizing that there are two covenants, a change from the Old to the New, and that there are individuals who were living under the Old yet invited to receive the New, then we find that many passages which conflict with the message of God's grace through Christ come clear.

Christ and Him Crucified -- Nothing Less!

One preacher this evening was preaching about red moons and blackened suns, which usher in upcoming prophecies about the End of the Age.

For those of us who are in Christ, we have nothing to fear about Jesus' Second Coming.

In the Song of Solomon, Solomon as a type of Christ sees the Church, represented by the Shunamite Bride:

"8If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents." (Songs 1: 8)

Despite the woman's frequent pleas for the Lover not to see her, He sees nothing but beauty.

Everyone of us in Christ has been perfected (Hebrews 10: 14), and we are called to grow in grace and knowledge of Him who was sent for us (2 Peter 3: 18; John 6: 29)

Paul writes:

"That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5: 27)

The writer of Hebrews also writes:

"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9: 28)

So, we can expect nothing but good things when Jesus comes again, whether we are dead and He raises us from the dead, or we are alive and caught up in the air.

Preachers should spend less time talking about the End Times, and reveal more of Him who has been from the Beginning --  Jesus!:

"1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1: 1)

The Word is God, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh:

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1: 14)

We need to understand that Jesus lives in us today, by the power of the Holy Spirit:

"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:" (Colossians 1: 27)


"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2: 20)

We have received a new identity in Christ, as well:

"1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 3: 1-3)

The Holy Spirit transforms us to be more like Jesus in our actions and thoughts:

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3: 18)

As we see Jesus, the Glory of the Father, we are transformed, brought out of death, the curse, the poverty which afflicts the sons of men, because in Christ we are the sons of God!

In these difficult times, we do not need to know about the End Times, because Jesus is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 1: 8)

All our needs are met in Christ (Philippians 4: 19) and we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us (Philippians 4: 13)

Pastors must stop preaching lessons and tips, but reveal Jesus Christ, who is our life (Colossians 3: 4), for we are seated in Christ (Ephesians 2: 4-8), and we have all things through Him (Colossians 1; 13-18)

And who better to take cues on Preaching than Paul?

"but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles," (1 Corinthians 1: 23)

Then he writes:

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2: 2)

To the Galatians, Paul could not have been more clear:

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6: 14)

Beyond Paul, we have the example of Christ Himself, and what He taught His disciples following His resurrection:

"25Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24: 25-27)

The Scriptures testify chiefly of one Person: Jesus! Not the End Times, not the discord of Jews and Gentiles, not human history, but Christ and Him Crucified:

"And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24: 44-47)

Could it not be clearer, people? Don't tell me about the Anti-Christ. Do not tell me about wars and rumors of wars. Tell me about Jesus and what He did for me at the Cross!

Christ and Him Crucified -- Nothing Less!

Monday, November 18, 2013

How to Stop "Punishing the Poor"

"Let's stop punishing the poor", declares the latest edition of Random Lengths New.

Who would resist this call? Poverty is a curse, yet the causes remain all too elusive.

To blame Republicans and corporations alone will not end poverty. Liberals, for example, argue for a higher minimum wage because many fast-food and entry-level employees live off food stamps just to survive from month to month. This argument justifies ending the supplemental nutrition assistance program. Besides, well-bodies men and women are taking food stamps even as the economy improves (however slightly).

The better question remains: How best to end poverty?

Progressives argue that more government spending, greater redistribution of wealth, and a concentrated power structure of the few intelligent elites looking out for the best interests of everyone else will transform the growing masses of poor and struggling into health and wealth.

Here are the reforms which will impoverish poverty in our country:

1.Expand school choice for all Americans. The greatest asset for upward mobility in a free society is a free education which our youth can freely choose: free from the recriminations of employee unions, unshackled form the demands of educational bureaucracies

2. Enact Wisconsin's reforms of public sector unions' collective bargaining privileges. Every employee has a right to representation, but the power and influence of public sector unions in the state of California have bankrupted the state, forcing today's legislators to borrow from tomorrow's children to pay yesterday's workers.

3. Remove restrictions on fracking and oil-drilling. Energy prices are outrageously high in this country, and specifically in the state of California. Why should working-class Americans have to pay so heavy a price to drive to and from work? The Board of Equalization just raised the gas tax. How is this equity for all Californians?

4. Promote a flat sales tax in place of the state income tax. No one should be punished for making money. Small businesses create most of the jobs in our country, yet rising income tax rates, along with regulations which enrich government workers at the expense of the companies, are hurting profits and preventing meaningful job creation.

The standard for ending poverty must be more than getting people off of welfare, but making sure that they can pursue happiness, with respect to their life and liberty. Equality of opportunity, not results, must be the standard for ending poverty in our country, and in our state.

Cole's Take on Science from the Argonaut

Professor K. C. Cole professes that science provides solace in this chaotic, seemingly uncaring world.

I could not agree more.

The argument of change as the only constant loses its fearful edge within the grand scheme of biological phenomena. Cole captured that insight very well. We are constantly changing, even in our moods and our memories. Rather than fearing what may be, we can fearlessly embrace what we may become.

Cole proffered very little regarding the origins of life. Science remains mute on this matter. While I do not believe that the universe decided to create us, nor do I believe that a chance meeting of particles exploded into a Big Bang, the natural sciences speak of a supernatural creator, one who could not have outlined this orderly universe without witnesses for an orderly concern for all of us. This statement may offend some people, yet the clear signs of the natural world cannot be so easily disputed, either.

Our desire to understand this world testifies to our willingness to look past the change, chance, and chaos of all things, with a wonder which takes us from merely wandering to wondering why, and believing furthermore that we will witness the answer.

The USC Professor's take on memory and attention respond to the factors in our environments, yet I find that they do not factor in powers within the person, the values which they adopt or adapt to, and the verities outside of our initial sense defined by our eternal sensibilities. Time itself resists definition and limitation, too.

I also appreciated Prof Cole's take on Game Theory. A true understanding of economics (as well as science) respects that a free market permits everyone to win, regardless of how much one actor or many factors have created or diminished in our circumstances.

Obama, Declining Media, and the end of "Gimme!" Government

It’s official: President Barack Obama is as unpopular as George W. Bush was during his fifth year in office. While polling is a fickle means for assessing the efficacy of the commander-in-chief, the argument that President Obama would get a pass from the passing media is no longer the case. Besides, the same media conglomerates which heralded, even buoyed this US Senator-turned-President into the White House have faced the technological revolution of information with a stoic resistance to reform. His decline coincides with the growing failure of “Gimme!” Government throughout the country, which has delivered nothing but bankruptcy and loss, along with the demise of the current liberal media-ocracy.

While liberal mouth-pieces like The Boston Globe and The Los Angeles Times lose readers and revenue, the relevant, conservative spokesmen have not run away from the narrative nailing Obama and his flailing legacy

Fox News Contributor George Will compared the Obama administration’s fifth year to Richard Nixon’s: the worst in modern history. In fact, alleged the Washington Post columnist, one would argue that Obama’s is worse. The revelations of scandals have taken to the front page in the The New York Times as well as The Wall Street Journal, too.

Despite the struggling attempts to justify, or at least cover up for the President, more liberal organs are opening their eyes to the unpleasant realities of President Obama’s

No longer feeling a tingle up his leg, Obama cheerleader MSNBC Hardball Chris Matthew’s has lined up the failures of the Obama administration behind the Obamacare fallout-rollout. Should the disastrous initiative fail to comply and provided, Obama’s approval numbers will hit the twenties, Matthews has conceded. Of course, MSNBC fellow-journalist had blasted the Obama Administration for seizing phone records for AP reporters.

Countering the surface information offered by Matthews, Breitbart’s Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro admitted that Obama’s approval ratings would have hit the twenties by now, but for the profligacy of the federal government, from food stamps to tax credits, to health insurance subsidies.  “We give you free stuff!” should be the Democratic Party’s mantra, Shapiro laughed.

 Now, most of us would have  never believed to hear the media crow about President Obama’s descending unpopularity, but the media has relentlessly pressed against the failures of the Obamacare website,

Other factors should rise to the media forefront, as well. The underreported statistics of the underemployed cannot remain latent forever. Professionals who have profiled their skills online, on billboards, and with any passerby will attest that long-term job loss has hurt more than their pocketbooks. Unemployment insurance is running out, and Washington has nothing to offer but empty promises and hyperpartisanship.

Moreover, the “free stuff” which Ben Shapiro complained about is not so free, at all.

For those who lined up for better health care plans are finding that Obamacare is a careless price increase, one which has forever disrupted the insurance industry markets while pushing out doctors and pushing down hospitals. Liberal champions of Obamacare are shocked to find that their premiums have risen, or their insurance plans have been cancelled. Republicans have offered reforms to protect current plans for frustrated clients, yet the laws of supply and demand upended by government intervention will not permit the President and his colleagues to stave off the inevitable, unintended (?) consequences of the Affordable Care Act.

Welfare, food stamps, and get-by subsidies are eating away at men and women’s capacity to live and thrive. How much longer will the workforce of the decade past settle for bits and pieces from a federal government which cannot pay its own bills? The US Congress took steps to cut the supplemental nutrition subsidies, and for good reason: food stamp takings have increased, even though the national economy has improved. Obama’s executive orders have gutted welfare-to-work, yet more unemployed will find that welfare simply does not work for getting them through from month to month.

From the welfare culture flourishes generational poverty,  a curse eating up ghettoes and impoverished neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles and urban regions throughout the country. Poor mothers will not sit and succumb to unending failure for their children. Already, South LA mothers have pulled the parent-trigger lever to take over failing, impoverished local schools, with more to follow.

The unsustainable spending of years prior has cut off the golden years of expectant seniors, too. Pensioners are finding that they cannot depend on their local, and even state governments, to fulfill their contractual obligations to their retired employees. Detroit’s creditors, all thousands plus more, lined up for three minutes each before an overworked federal judge to contest the bankruptcy proceedings to save Motor City. Central Falls, Rhode Island filed for bankruptcy protection, with every public safety retiree taking a haircut (or scalping) to their pension. The entire state restructured pensions, to every public worker’s hurt. Four California cities have also gone bankrupt, further decimating the declining revenue in Sacramento, too.

President Obama’s approval ratings will dip as more Americans find their opportunities diminished by the dimmed promises and dysfunctional policies of a President who epitomizes the hollow follies of “Gimme!” governing, which has taken rather than delivered.