FIRST-TRUMP#top..........Sound the alarm in Zion..... ...........................

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. A Priest sounds the alarm on a shofar

 

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THOUGHTS & COMMENTS

page 13

2but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. 3He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. (Isa 66:)


A QUESTION TO MINISTERS


What if you are wrong? I don't meant by this that I am right; I just mean: what if you are wrong?

There are perhaps thousands of doctrines out there, and there has to be a huge number of them that are wrong. What do you think God is going to say to those Ministers of His Gospel who have led His people astray?

How would you feel if you were one of those who, in your own judgment, is teaching the wrong doctrine?


How much of the doctrine you teach is based on information that has been handed to you, either by your church, or by your education? Remember the Pharisees and the Scribes? Very knowledgeable and in their own mind, very sincere.


Just a consideration I thought I would pass on to you. As for myself, I am thankful I wasn't "called" to be a minister - just a guy who is searching for the Truth.


BLESSINGS AND CURSES


I don't know if you pay much attention to the lead-in verses at the top of the page. I try to pick those that apply to at least one of the subjects written about on that page. I believe this one warrants special consideration.

I have used this Scripture often, and have read it often - but I have never seen it before. I was reading it completely wrong. I was reading into it what I thought it was going to say rather than what it says. That's a danger I have, and I suspect most everyone else has as well.

I thought the verse was saying we should avoid doing that which is described; but this time I saw: "but to this man will I look," indicating that God wants people to be this way.

Reading this gave me a twinge of self-satisfaction. I thought of how I feel guilty if I swat a fly, or a spider, or a mosquito that is coming for my blood. To me life is very precious regardless of what form it is in.

Then I thought of those who are hunters, or butchers, or others who make it a practice to kill innocent creatures. This is not a condemnation of hunters or farmers or anything of the sort. God gave us animals as food and has had perhaps millions of them killed in sacrifice to Him; even His own Son. My purpose is not to look at the act itself, but rather, as pointed out above, the sensitivity to the act, which will be made clear a bit later.

Moses told the Israelites all the things they were to do and not to do in order to stay in the land that God had given them. Much of what they were to do was far different from what the Scripture above says God wants from His people. For instance, God told the Israelites to go into a country and wipe out every living creature, then burn the cities these natives lived in and had built.

Then God said He wanted these 'Special People" who He was teaching how to be what He wanted them to be to kill their own children if the child was disobedient; to stone someone who appeared to be a false prophet or worshiped differently than they were instructed; and to stone anyone who even picked up sticks on the Sabbath; and a multitude of other "crimes." Then I thought of this day and age. If we were to follow God's rules today there would be no one left alive and this world would be an empty wasteland inhabited by Mother Nature and the wild animals.

Kind of like the Garden of Eden before Man was placed in it with his ego and pollution.

Sensitivity.

A very large part of the Sacrificial System God instituted for the Hebrews was the sensitivity to Sin, and to the consequences of sin.

Sin is to be looked upon as a terrible insult to God that causes Him much pain. When we wrong one another or fail to do that which we know to do, it is not a sin against ourself or against someone else - it is against God. For example, the prodigal Son, when he returned home did not confess having sinned against his father, but against Heaven (Luke 15:21). And when David had one of his loyal soldiers murdered in cold blood in order to conceal having had sex with that soldier's wife, he did not admit to sinning against Bathsheba, or Uriah who he had killed - but against God (2Sam 12:13).


Sacrifice has to mean something to us. It has to hurt, and hurt badly, like our sin hurts God, or it means nothing at all. David lost his son that Bathsheba was to bear, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son of promise which accounted faith to him; Noah sacrificed his life and social respect in order to follow God's command to build a boat; Jesus suffered the cross for our sins; and the Apostles sacrificed their lives and their social standing in order to follow Jesus.

Sacrifice has to hurt. Sacrifice is not just giving up your morning cup of coffee, or cigarettes, or even trying to live a sinless life of good works. Sacrifice has to hurt.

When the Jews (you) sacrificed your lamb at Passover (the day Jesus was Sacrificed) it was to be a young lamb, perfect and lovely. It was to have lived with you and to have been your favorite family pet. It was to be as much a part of your family as any of your most precious loved ones.

When that lamb was sacrificed you were to look it in the eyes, and then slit its throat. You were to feel the pain and the suffering of that lamb as if it were your own self you were sacrificing - because that lamb was taking the place of you. You were the one who has to die for your sin.

And each time you sinned , even if it was the sin of becoming angry, or telling a little lie, or picking up sticks on the Sabbath - you were to die.


And this is still true today. But we are no longer taught that this is so. The Bible teaches this, but not the churches. Paul expresses it in this manner:


4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Heb 6:) (also Heb 10:26-29)

21What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:)


Jesus adds this:


14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:)


22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works (Rev 2:)


18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Rev 3:)


We no longer have to sacrifice a lamb or any other such animal when we sin. We have it much easier than the Jews did, but we are not off the hook. Under the New Covenant we are instructed (actually commanded) to repent of that sin, and to confess it to one another (James 5:16). Confession shows that we are actually acknowledging our sin and recognizing it for what it is. And in so doing we are also saying we recognize that our sin, no matter how small (disobedience is disobedience - ask any soldier) hurts God and causes Him to turn His face from us (Micah 3:4; Deut 31:17).

And according to Hebrew 6 we are also causing, in effect, our Lamb to be killed once again - which for the Christian is Jesus. Our sin indicates that we are despising (belittling, considering as nothing) the Sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. Could a truly "Born-Again" Christian do such a thing without deep regrets and heart-felt remorse and self-reproach?

We are taught that all sin is forgiven; past, present and future. And this may be true. But if we can dismiss sin, no matter how small, as something of little consequence - we have no concept of what forgiveness is, and so therefore are not forgiven ourselves by the Father or by Jesus (Mark 11:26; Mat 18:21-35).


TWO BAPTISMS


The Bible speaks of two baptisms. The first is the baptism of John which is the water baptism that demonstrates the burial of this sinful, carnal flesh into Jesus' Sacrificial death.

The second baptism is of fire which is the baptism into life through the planting of the Holy Spirit into Jesus' Resurrection and newness of life.

Millions of people throughout the ages have followed Jesus half way to Paradise, becoming drowned in the water of John's baptism. They believe, and are taught, that when they come out of the water that they have fulfilled all that is required in order to be accepted into Heaven. Many of these have not only been led astray by their church's teaching, but were baptized when infants and had no way of even realizing there was more that needed to be done.

And along with the fact that infant baptism is a highly questionable act in itself, there are two important functions that cannot possibly be performed by that infant (or even a small child who is under the age of "accountability" for that matter). Here's what the Bible has to say about baptism:


1In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (John 3:)


But that was John. What did Jesus have to say about baptism?


17From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mat 4:)


These were the first words (that we know of) that Jesus spoke after His own baptism and His temptation in the wilderness.


1When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. (John 4:)


So it seems Jesus also agreed with baptism, the same as John. And what was it John said?


2And saying, Repent ye: (And) 6And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (John 3:)


Here we see that part of the baptismal process is to repent - how much repenting can a baby do? Another aspect of baptism is confession, something that many Protestant churches shy away from (Mat 3:6; James 5:16; 1John 1:9). Again, how much confessing can a newborn do?

But even if all these requirements have been fulfilled, there is yet a baptism by fire that is not taught. This baptism has been portrayed many times in the New Testament, but because we never see flames of fire leaping from anyone's head, we assume the practice is no longer valid.

This is a big mistake.

The flames of fire represented the Holy Spirit falling on new converts (many who had not been baptized in water as far as we know). This baptism by fire is the baptism Jesus taught that raises a person into new life, and is the instrument by which new converts are birthed into the Family of God, and by which God leads us and instructs us. The Holy Spirit is also the One who changes our heart and thereby forms us into the image of Christ, without which we are unsuitable to be in the presence of God. (Acts 8:14-16; 11:14-16; 19:1-5; Mat 3:11-12)

I assume you have been baptized into death - have you been baptized into Life?


For more on this subject, see "Baptismal Wars" in Thoughts and Comments 12.


REASONS TO NOT BELIEVE


I see many reasons given by many people over many years why the Bible can't be true. Reasons range from the miraculous, like the miracles of Moses and of Jesus, to the absurdly tiny reasons such as one writer saying there were two people present at a particular performance and another saying there was only one.

Foolishness.

The little things don't add up to a hill of beans, nor do they change the meaning of Scripture one iota. And the big things like Creation and miracles are self-evident. The fact that we are here - you reading and me writing, is evidence of creation - unless you believe in the Big Bang theory which takes a great deal more faith in Creation and miracles than does the Biblical concept. And for evidence that there is a God controlling events in the world, the mere fact that we have not blown ourselves to smitherines or destroyed the environment long ago is evidence enough. We certainly have been trying to do just that.

No, there are a lot better reasons to explain away the Bible than verses not lining up, and miracles; But I have yet to see or hear anyone even mention them.

For instance: How does anyone know what God, the devil and Adam and Eve said in the garden? When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted, how does the writer of the Gospels know that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit? How does he know what the devil and Jesus said? Of course it could be reckoned that Jesus told the writer, but I can't imagine Him doing that.

There are numerous times the Bible speaks of a person's (even God's) unspoken intentions and reasonings. How does the writer know these things? The Old Testament tells us that Abraham was called when he was in Haran, Paul tells us he was called out of Ur first. Where did he get such information?

Motives, intentions, thoughts, and feelings written as if they were fact. John, Paul, Ezekiel, Isaiah, David and many others having the presumption to tell us what God has or will say far in the future. These things to me cause the Bible to be unbelievable.


I hear and read preachers and commentators try to explain how Mark could have known certain facts since he wasn't on the scene. I hear them try to explain some of these things by saying that it was probably Mark who was the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested.

Fantasy. Pure fantasy!

There isn't a shred of evidence that it was Mark, or anyone else. But the fact that this was a very difficult and supposedly secretive last moment Jesus was having with His Father and His eleven disciples, it is highly unlikely that some obscure, previously unhinted at person was there in any capacity. And even if he was, that wouldn't explain all the other things he wrote about that he couldn't have known.

Many preachers like to explain this away by saying he is the same Mark who was with Peter, thereby learning it all from him. But maybe it was the John Mark who was with Paul - but how would even Paul have known?

Or maybe this Mark was one of a thousand other Marks.

How many Marks do you know?

And besides, what does it matter?

This is the kind of reasoning that disturbs me. The kind of senseless and useless information tossed into sermons to try and explain things that need no explaining.


Who wrote the Bible? Some say it was man under the inspiration of God. Some say it was man writing from his own personal experience. And yet these same critics will take a word and twist a sense of tense out of it (perfect tense, past present participle tense, etc) in order to try and prove the Bible didn't mean to say what it says.

Foolishness,

God wrote the Bible. He wrote it through man's hands, but every verse, every word, every "Jot and Tittle" was not just inspired, but dictated by God. If this were not so, then Jesus wouldn't have said every jot and tittle was not to be changed (Ex 25:9; Heb 8:5; Mat 13:14; Dan 12:9).

I get so tired of highly acclaimed preachers and commentators trying to explain the Bible with made-up stories that nullify what the Bible says.

God either wrote the Bible - every little facet of it with reckoning far beyond our or the writer's understanding; or God didn't write it. And if God didn't write the Bible, then it's every man for himself as to what anyone wants the Bible to say. And along with this, every Worldly view, every cult view and every non-Christian religion view carries just as much weight as any Preacher or Theologian's.


How about you? Is the Bible just an inspired book that can be altered and manipulated, sometimes written by people who didn't know what they are talking about and has to be corrected by your Pastor? Or, is the Bible you read written by God, our Creator, Who knows just what He is doing, and says just what He intended us to hear?

I have just this to say. If God didn't write the Bible jot by tittle, then there is no way any of us here on earth can decide just what parts have been left out or needs to be corrected - like so many of the "cults" have done. And if the Bible is up for altering, then we may just as well write out of it any reference to the crucifixion, the Resurrection, or our Salvation.


And if we are not willing to endanger our salvation by tampering with the Word of God, then for crying out loud - stick to the Word, believe the Word; and ask the Holy Spirit to instruct you as you study the Word as Jesus told you to do!!!


MISSING THE MARK


Have you ever shot an arrow at a target, or tried to make a hole in golf? If you have, then you will understand just what I am going to say.

You make a punt, you are sure the ball is heading straight for the hole. There is no reason why you can't be positive that the hole is yours.

But the ball slightly touches a blade of grass, and is deflected just enough to cause the ball to miss the hole.

You shoot an arrow, and you know you're going to have a bull's-eye. But there is a little puff of wind, and your arrow misses the target all together.

Just the slightest deflection, especially at the beginning of a journey, causes an even greater miss at the end of a journey.

You are confronted with two roads in the sierra desert. At the point they come together they are side by side, almost undistinguishable and appearing to go the same direction. But one road leads to an oasis nearby, and the other takes you a thousand miles into bleak desert with no resources nor end in sight.

A slight miss can lead to a loss of a game, or in the last scenario, loss of life.

Our choices are important. Even the small choices we make as a child will influence, not only our life, but perhaps our eternity as well.

In golf and archery things like a blade of grass and puffs of air are hard to avoid. But avoid them you will if at all possible in the future.

However roads in the desert have other dangers that make decisions difficult to make. Besides there being thrust at you a multitude of road maps, all promising success yet pointing in different directions; there are many "Guides" willing and anxious to point the way for you. These guides and maps (books, videos and such) may be willing to provide their services for free; or they may try to weasel a fee for their services. And very often they will present themselves attractively and speak with sugar coated words - much like the harlots in the back streets of the big city or the "coyotes" who lead trusting Mexicans into the desert and abandon them.

But the chances are these self-appointed guides will be no more use to you than the confusing road maps you hold in your hand, as they have either never been on the correct road themselves, or if they have, they have not followed the road to completion.

It does no good to start on a road and not follow it to completion. Even the wrong road followed to the end is more likely to afford success than the right road uncompleted. Like a target hit, but off center compared to an arrow that falls short of the target altogether.

When we attempt to shoot an arrow at a target and miss, or putt for a hole and miss, we call this: "Missing the Mark."

There's another word that the Bible uses for this very same failure;


Sin.


REC ROOM RELIGION


Judaism is forced. You are either all the way a Jew, or you are not a Jew at all. This is the way God established the Jews, and though there is no longer any means by which the Jews may perform their duties, they still retain that concept.

Islam is a forced religion. Although some in the West try, there really is no way to be a Muslim and not fulfill all that the Koran requires of you.


Christianity is a forced religion. In any church to which a Christian belongs there are rules and doctrines that must be followed in order to become and remain a member of that church. Of course those rules and doctrines are as numerous and as varied as the sands of the sea, but they are none the less applied to whoever chooses to enter that church door.


Humanism (Worldliness) is a forced religion. The rules are few, and in fact they boil down to just one. To be of the World you may be Muslim, or Hindu, and often even a Jew. In fact you can do and believe anything you like - except Christ Jesus.


God does not force Himself on us (except His Elect, His Chosen), but rather like a coarse rope He dangles His Salvation before each of us. It is not an attractive rope, nor one that is easily grasped; but still it is the only path whereby Salvation may be acquired.

The churches, on the other hand, present the Gospel on a silver platter filled with all kinds of goodies and promises that attract many, but leave one empty and lost at the end of the meal.


Those who seek the Broad Way filled with promises and pleasure and self-fulfilment will find many doors open to them with enticing gestures much like harlots in a red light district.


Those seeking God with a heart of Love will have to turn away from the bright lights of the broad way into an overgrown, thistle covered path called Calvary, where they will find the One who exemplified Love for God, as God has shown His Love for those who diligently seek Him.


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. (John 3:)


9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, that ye love one another. (John 15:)

13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:)


4Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (Heb 12:)


ONE CHURCH


In a nearby town there stands two churches side-by-side. These two churches are very attractive and picturesque, with bell towers, white slat walls and covered porch decks. Either one of these churches would have been an ideal subject for Norman Rockwell, who, I have no doubt, if he saw them he would have included them in one of his paintings.

Beside being throwbacks to bygone days, these two churches were so close together that children can toss a ball back and forth from their windows - and probably have done just that at one time or another.


At the beginning of this story I said these two churches were in a small town. That is not quite so. In fact the two churches stand along side a two-lane highway with nothing around them but farmland and maybe a house or two. My guess is that it would have been difficult to fill one single room in either one of the churches if all the residents within ten miles were to attend all at one time.


Yet there they stand, bright and clean - and so identical that anyone passing by must take a second or a third look to make sure they aren't seeing double.


Now, you might ask, why would anyone want to build a large church alongside a stretch of country highway in the first place? And to build two identical churches? Is there a reason for such an odd occurrence?

There is always a "reason." Just like there are reasons for wars and massacres and "Holy Wars." Whether or not they are good reasons depends on if you are talking to the winning or the losing side.


As for our two churches, I only have bits and pieces of information, but from these I will speculate.


A long time ago, perhaps farther back than any of the members of either church can remember, there was only one church. And like most churches, the congregation was in fellowship and harmony with one another.

Then came along someone with an idea how the church could be "improved." That improvement may have been a change of songbooks, or perhaps it had to do with rearranging the pews, or maybe it was, as is so often the case, a slight variation in the doctrine that was being set forth. Perhaps that new doctrine came from the lips of a new Pastor, or an influential (perhaps wealthy) Elder.

Whatever may have been the seed, the result was controversy. Controversy leads to conflict. And conflict leads to hurt egos.

So, like a worm that has been cut into two parts, each becoming a worm identical to the original, the church split. But, unlike the worm who is satisfied with being a live worm, each of the churches are now at odds with one another, and each think they are absolutely right, and the other is destined for hell.


Cloning occurring in human nature long before science had even conceived of the idea.


Do you know of any churches like the ones described above? Have you ever met someone from a church that has split who says that the faction they decided to stay with was in error? Or that the other faction was not in deep, dark doctrinal error?

How about divorced couples? Have you met very many people from split homes that wasn't in the right, and their ex "lover" wasn't a villain?


When we separate ourselves from someone or something that we have been attached to, we build walls of defense around ourselves in order to retain our self-esteem. And the weaker our ego, the higher and the thicker the walls. And the extremely weak ego even goes so far as to place razor wire and gun turrets on the top of their walls in order to keep everyone off their weak points.


In the past, when killing one's opponent was "allowed," (which is still the case in many other countries) if someone disagreed with the establishment, they were burned at the stake as a heretic, or beheaded as an infidel. Of course, those who agreed with the one who was beheaded or burned did not regard that person as a heretic. No, they called him a "Martyr."


Will there ever be one church as there was in the beginning?

Yes, when Jesus comes.

Why not before then? Because if you look closely at the Bible and history, the only time there was one church with all members in full agreement was when Jesus was the only member.


DAILY NEWS


It's been at least a year since I bought and read a newspaper. I see little sense in spending my 50¢ on something that tells me little of what I want to hear or that edifies me not in the least. But lately, as I pass by a recycle bin, I have been feeling guilty that I am not contributing my part to the ecology movements.

In this case, however, the reason for my spending my hard earned nickel (pardon me while I laugh) was a headline that caught my eye. It was about Americans not being the tallest in the world any more. The article says that in the past Americans were up to two and a half inches taller than their European counterparts. This, so the article says (quoting scientists on the subject) was an indication that we were richer, healthier and happier and more educated than the rest of the world.

Well, you already know how I feel about scientists and their "expert" findings. This article just adds fuel to my ever-burning fire. To me scientists and politicians are just the "Avant-Garde" of the World system.

According to this article our losing Height Status in the world is an indication that we are also losing economical and social standing in the world as well. Interesting. Height indicates happiness, intelligence, status and mental health. I wonder what the White house thinks about that?


As I continue through the newspaper I see articles interspersed with one another about huge arson-set forest fires; earthquakes in diverse places; pestilences (mostly toxic mosquitoes, birds and cows at this point) and tremendous floods and hailstones the size of golf balls.

On the political side I see school bus bombings; more soldiers killed overseas; terrorist attacks; wars and rumors of wars; a call for tax increases; another park closing for lack of funds; overcrowded and understaffed and underfinanced prisons; reduction of police and rescue personnel and facilities for the same reason; political tempers flare over Iraq; the National Debt ever inflating; a call for more Billions to finance the wars we have started and are trying to start; prices going up; productivity going down; national confidence decreasing; and the list goes on.

And here's an interesting note. It appears there was an earthquake in Japan. That isn't so unusual. But this one, a very large one, hit near a nuclear plant and not only killed and injured many people, but polluted the ocean as well. Haven't I heard about other such events with nuclear plants? Love Canal or something like that? And the ones I recall were called "accidents" rather than a natural catastrophe. Ah Progress.


All exciting and interesting stuff I'm sure, but nothing new. In fact I had to check the date on the newspaper to make sure it wasn't the one I read a year ago - or even one I read five years ago.


There were a couple articles that I found a little different, or at least expressed a little differently than I had heard before.

One is about the Catholic church. No, it's not more priests being sued, or more churches filing for bankruptcy. At least not this time. It was about a statement the new Pope made stating that the only way to avoid hell is to be a Catholic.

It appears the Protestant churches are upset about this statement.

I can see why.

We all know that it's not the Catholic church that's going to Heaven and all the other churches are going to hell. No, indeed. It's the Protestant churches that are going to Heaven and all the others are going to hell.

At least that's the way I always heard it. Of course I must include a stipulation along with such a statement. We all know that not all Protestant churches are going to Heaven. Of course not. Only the Protestant church you attend is going to Heaven and all the others are going to hell.


Another article I find missing on the religious side of the news is about all the hundreds of Christians that are being assaulted and killed throughout the world. If a non Christian is killed it is broadcast to its fullest, but it appears as if our government and the media have taken on the viewpoint of the slave owners in the Old South and the Indian hunters of early America - Christians are a non entity, therefore not worth the trouble to protect or even acknowledge.

But that is to be expected. After all, Christians are not to live for this world, but for the next. And in the next world, don't you know, those politicians and news reporters will find their niche of existence a little tight, if I read the Bible correctly.


Here's a bit more on the political scene. It appears that public support for the war is fading, while political support for escalating the war is increasing.

Hmmm. I think that is what I read in the paper six years ago right after we were told that we were going to waltz into Iraq with thunderous applause and free the natives. Of course that was thousands of lives ago, and billions of dollars past; And at a time when this nation had a fairly good standing and some respect in the world.

But, I forgot, we're shrinking as a people. I wonder if our shrinking has anything to do with stunted growth caused by cigarettes? Or maybe our shrinking economy has something to do with the huge tax that was placed on cigarettes with the intent of stopping people from smoking, thereby stunting their growth and causing the decline of moral and public health.


Speaking of cigarettes and drinking and drugs (I know that wasn't the subject, but I had to get this in somehow), I see how there are over 9 million illegal drug users and 10 million heavy drinkers in the American work force (that means their problem is severe enough to require intervention). That's interesting. I remember how drug education was begun years ago in order to prevent just such an occurrence. And that brings to mind sex education that had the intended intent to stop teen pregnancy. At the time these programs were initiated drug use was relatively rare (at least in the grade schools) and so was sex out of wedlock (at least in the grade schools). Now we have abortion on demand, and sex is flaunted on the screen in our living rooms, and marriage is becoming a thing of the past, except with same-sex couples. It's to the grade schools drug users and pushers go to find the cheapest drugs and the best porn shows (sex education). And the grade schools are more dangerous places to be than dark alleys what with guns in school and school shootings.


Back on the political scene, I see that welfare is on its way out, and the government can no longer afford to support both the war and the many elderly who paid into their Medicare and Social Security Benefits, so the poor and the elderly, along with the Christians, are becoming a nonentity in the eyes of the government and must fend for themselves.


And speaking of war (I did hint at it), I see that we are again at odds with not only with all the Middle East, China and Korea - but again with Russia. It appears that in order to protect that which does not need to be protected, we are again placing ourselves in harm's way.

"Grab your weapons and your boots, men, the Cold War is back on!"

But, wait a minute! Isn't all our radios, boots, uniforms and the like now made overseas? We don't make anything any more. In fact, almost all our fuel to propel our missiles and trucks and armament comes from the very nations we have aligned against us. And, incidently, our huge national debt - who is it we owe all that money?

Do you see something wrong with this picture?


I feel like I am in a time capsule, the front end zooming into the future, and the hind end zooming to the past. And in the middle of it all, I see the pilot frantically putting on two parachutes - his, and mine.


I don't think I will read the newspaper again for another year - if there is another year!


"ARE WE THERE YET?"


"No, Hon, but just about."





References



9Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. 10So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:)


3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Mat 5:)


16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 19Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:)


1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this will we do, if God permit. 4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Heb 6:)


4Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. (Micah 3:)


16And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? 18And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. (Deut 31:)


25And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:)


21Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Mat 18:)


26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb 10:)


4And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mat 3:)


16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:)


8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1John 1:)


14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.(Acts 8:)


14Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. 15And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 11:)


1And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 4Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7And all the men were about twelve. (Acts 19:)


11I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Mat 3:)


4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1Pet 2:)


 

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