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

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1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,
giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (1Tim 4:)


ABOUT BLANK

If you've done any browsing of the web the chances are you've come across a blank page that is entitled "About blank." It says nothing about blank, but the page is indeed as blank as a new sheet of paper. What is there about blank? I surely don't know, but it does cause me to be curious.

About blank is not what this short piece is about. But blank is.

As sure as I am that all you browsers have come across About Blank, I'm sure the rest of us have come across the blank stares of those people who just don't get what you're saying to them. What's behind those blank stares I wonder? What are they thinking of? Are they thinking about fixing supper, or mowing the lawn while I (or you) lay my heart open to them? Are they wondering what kind of kook they're talking to? Or is it possible that they're grinding gears of their mind in an effort to understand what I'm saying?

The latter option is the one I hope for, and that keeps me going as I tell my listening audience (of one or two captive people) what I've discovered in the Word. The discovery I'm relating is no less than thrilling to me, and my enthusiasm is clearly shown in the tone of my voice and my wild, often erratic gestures. Finally someone is making a connection, I think to myself, someone is interested in more than just doctrine, the pablum, the placebo the churches dish out every Sunday.

Then somewhere during my oratory the blank stares melt, and the attention of the listeners is directed toward something more interesting to them, like the lint they found on the cuff of their jacket.

Then is when I'm made quite aware what the meaning is of About Blank.


CARNAL NATURE

Have you ever had the experience of wanting something, but the consequences of indulging was much too great to take the risk of being caught disobeying? If you've ever been a child, which I assume most of you have, then I'm quite sure you've had this experience. And I am also quite sure that, if you are human, you still do have many such temptations presented to you. I for one confess that I have these temptations daily, ranging from very small temptations like eating that extra chicken leg, to those temptations more befitting the category of lustful thinking.

Normally I find my ability to resist temptation is all I need to avoid the trap placed before me. Then, of course, there are those times my resolve de- solves, and I find myself frolicking in the forbidden.

Then there's the "in between" times when I stand betwixt the "shouldn't" and the "should I?" These are the hard times of life, when our conscience battles with itself. I think of the picture of the man with a demon standing at his one ear, and an angel whispering in his other ear.

At these moments our determination and resolve melts like butter on a hot biscuit. We are in need of council, someone to steer us in the direction we ought to go. Of course we could walk away from the situation, and clutter our mind and our time with other things, thereby minimizing the impact of the temptation. But that's not really the direction we want to take. What we really need is someone to come and convince us that it's ok to indulge in the forbidden fruit, that we can escape the consequences that we know will be our destiny if we indulge. We need someone to bump us a little closer to the taboo, someone who will take the blame for our failure. Where is that serpent when we need him?

There are no reptiles we can appeal to that will direct us toward what we want to do but we know we shouldn't. We're denied the privilege of an obvious villain that we can share the blame for our disobedience with. But all is not lost for those of us living in the sterile times of the end, of the Apostate church. There are individuals and institutions available to us who can, and do so cheerfully, provide us with the words that are designed to "cover" our indiscretions, our excursions into the pit. Satan, that old serpent, has not left us totally without council:


13For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2Cor 11:)

8Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: 9That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: 10Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: (Isaiah 30:)

30Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. (Ezek 33:


Have you by any chance noticed that the churches (for the most part, at least the Protestant churches) do all they can, using the world's methods, to appeal to the carnal nature of people to bring them in, then expect the people to be Spiritual and abandon their carnality? Does this make sense to you? Somehow I just can't see such a thing happening. With such an attitude, when those in authority act like the ones they have authority over, trying to appeal to them on their level; the ones in need of authority no longer have the authority they require, and the office of authority becomes lost and abandoned. We see this in the history of the Jews. Read the Book of Judges and watch the decline of a nation.


FEEDING OUR DEVILS

This is New Years day 2009. The first day of a New Beginning.

Last night I received a call from my neighbor wishing me a Happy New Year. His call was brief, and he was in a very cheerful mood, and more clear than I've seen him to be for some time. He, in his brief statement, made it clear that he counted me as a very good friend.

Two hours later I received a call from this same neighbor. His call was brief, saying I was not his friend and to stay away from him. I asked him what I had done this time. He said he didn't want to talk about it, then added: "You're evil. You don't have a human heart. You're not my friend, and I want you to stay away from me."

I obliged.


We all have our demons. I don't mean the demons that Jesus cast out, although I am sure those are still around as well. The demons I am referring to are our obsessions and our weaknesses.

Jesus gave us a parable of a man who swept and garnished (to snuff out a candle, to adorn) his house, but put nothing of value in it to take the place of the demons (Mat 12:44) that were cast out. Afterwards the demon returned and found it all nice and pretty, so invited seven more demons to return to the house with him.

The implication of this story, as I see it, is that Jesus cleanses us at our conversion, our "born again" experience. But if we don't change our lifestyle, our directions (toward Him), then we will return to where we were, and what we were. Of course you may very likely belong to a church that doesn't believe this is possible. If so, you are all the more in danger of falling into what Jesus was warning us to beware of.


We know that an ex alcoholic has to stay away from alcohol. It's been 48 years that I've been dry, and I know I still have to stay away from the demon rum. Not all alcoholics see the need to stay away from alcohol. Those most likely to fall into this category are the severe alcoholics that have let the demon of liquor rule their life and blind their eyes. They believe they can handle just a little of the spirits and not be effected. One glass of spirits invites seven more to follow. Then when the alcoholic who, believes he is not an alcoholic, is to the point of being his worst, be has entered a state where he believes he is not effected at all.


This is the case of my neighbor. He believes he can just drink a little, and never believes he is drunk, even when he can't keep from falling asleep, and he is slurring his words so badly I can hardly understand his denial of being intoxicated.

The last time my neighbor called me in this state and told me to stay away from him, I did. And that for five years, even though he tried to rectify the situation.

How long do you suppose it will take for me to reconcile this time?


When I was in the Army there was a fellow who liked to consider me his friend. When he got drunk (which was frequently), he would sit around staring at the tatoo on his flexed muscle and want to fight me.


I have found that being friends with people who have periods of being out of control is not a comfortable place to be. These "possessed" people, for some reason, are not nearly so likely to be belligerent toward their enemy as they are toward their best friends.

This is even more the case with those unable to escape the tirades of these possessed ones such as the spouse and the children of the one possessed.


In this situation, I am referencing to alcohol. But there are many more demons than just alcohol, and many of them are just as destructive. Items that could be placed on this list are such things as sex, drugs (even legitimate medications), and anger. But also we can add to this such things as food, smoking, sports, TV, music, church and family. Whatever we obsess over and that causes us to be dysfunctional with ourself, our family, our proper society, and our Lord (if we are a Christian) is a demon to us.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not castigating obsessiveness. There are many forms of obsessiveness that lend themselves to a wholesome lifestyle. We have such people as Mother Teresa and Audrey Hepburn as examples of good obsessions. We also have Jesus and the Apostles to show us the way to obsess in a positive manner.

But good obsessions can become bad when they take over our lives or stand in the way of those other things that are important to us. As a fictitious example, let's say that Edison, as he obsessed over the development of the light bulb did so at the exclusion of his family, and because of such neglect, his children became wayward criminals. Would you consider his obsessiveness good, or bad?

It is reported that he had 10,000 failures before he finally got it right. His obsessiveness has changed the world, and this in some positive ways (although we have taken his invention and turned it into a monster as we do every good thing that comes our way).


It is our nature to obsess. Those who do not have an obsessive nature rarely accomplish anything. They are ready to admit defeat at the door of every opportunity. However, if we watch those "failures," we are very likely to see a person spending all their time in front of a TV, or playing games on a computer, or some other such activity that requires an obsessive nature.


Obsessiveness is a tool. It is a drive that God has placed in us by which to accomplish, to advance, both ourselves and our society.

Atomic energy is a tool. It was given to us as a means with which to generate power whereby we may accomplish great things.

TV is a tool. The inventors of the TV had intended it to be used as an instrument of education.

All the tools we have been given we have twisted into implements of destruction. It is our nature, which is to obsessively drive downward.


Life is an energy. We can quench that life force and make it nonproductive, or we can utilize that force and accomplish great things. Some people who have taken that gift of life and made the most of it have made this world a better place to live. Those effected by this drive may be only those in the family of that person, but those affected will consider themselves highly blessed by their association with that obsessive person.

Others who have taken their life force, combined with their drive, their obsessiveness, have gone the opposite direction and have caused havoc to those around them. This might be an abusive father, or it might be a person with higher ambitions such as Jim Jones, or it might be a person with an even higher degree of aspiration such as Attila the Hun or Adolph Hitler.


Our life force and our obsessiveness are tools. But like any tool, they can be used to great advantage, or great destruction. A hammer in the hands of an expert sculpture or a carpenter produces beauty and usefulness. That same hammer in the hands of a small child or a violent person produces death and destruction.


36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:)

26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:)

60Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:)

20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:)


We were created to be obsessive, to do those things we undertake to the extreme. And as we see, that is precisely what Jesus demands of us (Eccl 9:10; Heb 6:1). Our obsession is not to be toward ourselves, as is our nature, but toward God, and toward others which is not our nature. In other words, we are to surrender our natural desires and inclinations and follow the Lord's bidding in spite of the fact that it does not serve our purpose.


6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. (1Cor 5:)

17These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2Pet 2:)


One of the big problems Israel had was that they never followed through with their conquering of the Promised Land. God said He would do the work, that He would "send hornets ahead of them" to drive the inhabitants (the Canaanites, Philistines, the Ammonites, etc) out of the land. But the Hebrews stopped short of their part (yes, we have a part to play in our salvation and the obtaining of the promises). And those they allowed to remain in the land were forever a thorn in their side. Those nations and cities remaining in the land were leaven that leavened the whole lump. Time after time God would send oppressors upon the Israelites to bring them back to Him, then He would send Judges to drive out the oppressors once the children repented. Eventually He gave them up to "a reprobate mind" (Rom 1:28).


It's natural for us to move in the direction of least resistance. Resistance can came from our society and its expectations, or from family and their expectations, or even from our church and their expectations. We can move away from our family. We can change our society and our church. But there is one form of expectation placed upon us that is not so easily avoided.

Habit.

Whatever we do, we do more of. "No one can eat just one potato chip."

Smoke one cigarette, and the chances are strong you will become a smoker, and that you will hang around other smokers. Drink one beer, and the chances are you will become a beer drinker and hang around with other beer drinkers. Avoid that first cigarette and that first beer, and the chances are strong that you will hang around with others who do not smoke or drink.


Whatever we allow to become a habit in our life becomes a demon. Eventually we no longer have control over what we do, but it controls us. Again, this may be TV, food, our job, our car, anything we obsess over.

If our habits and our desires direct us away from the person we knew at one time we should be, they will drive us ever farther away from that person, and from other people like that person we know we should be. And the farther we are from that person we used to know we should be, the more we will have convinced ourself that we either are that person (like the Pharisees), or we will convince ourself that it is unimportant to become that person.


A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

That demon you leave within you, that you feed by your thoughts, your actions, and your desires, will grow into a monster, and will invite other demons to come live in the comfortable home you have made for him.


PATH

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. (Mat 3:)

13And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. (Heb 12:)

8I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:)

33Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. 34Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. 35Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. 36Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. (Psalm 119:)

105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. 106I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. (Psalm 119:)

12Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: 13We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: 14Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: 15My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: 16For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. 17Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. 18And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. 19So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof. (Prov 1:)

14Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. 15Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. 16For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. 17For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence. 18But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 19The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. (Prov 4:)

7The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just. (Isaiah 26:)

12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 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:)


Which path are you walking?

Of course you say you're walking the straight and narrow path, fully lit by the Word of God. But are you? You may not be walking where the drunks and the perverts walk, but is there a chance that their path leads into your home?


2Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:)

9Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. (John 11:)

35Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. (John 12:)

21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:)


DIFFERENT, THEREFORE WRONG

4Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1Peter 4:)


People by nature consider anyone who thinks different then themselves to be odd, and to be wrong. In the churches people of differing doctrine are believed to be ungodly, and therefore condemned to hell. Jesus walked differently than did those of the established view of religion, so was therefore counted as wrong. But was He?

Being wrong in the eye of the common view might be a good indication that you are on the right path. This is not necessarily so, of course, but to me it's quite obvious that being in agreement with the common view is a sure sign that you have fallen off the true path, if in fact you have ever been on it.


FERTILE GROUND

3And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow,......8But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mat 13:)


If we're to be counted part of the fertile soil, then shouldn't we be producing much good fruit?


LEGENDS

From the time a child is born we do everything we can to convince him or her that Santa Clause is a real person, and that he brings presents once a year riding on a flying sled pulled by reindeer. We spend money we don't have, time we can't spare, and tell stories we don't believe in that great effort to prove the untrue. We take the child and let him sit on Santa's lap. We let the child talk to the overgrown elf that's assisting Santa. And we let the child nibble the cookies Mrs Santa baked in her own North Pole oven. No stone is left unturned in an all out effort to make sure that child knows beyond doubt that Santa is just as real as you and I.

This is all accomplished during what we call the "formative years," where the child will learn most about life, about themselves, and about what is real and what is not real.

Nothing is pressed upon a child as being real more than is Santa Clause. Next to this reality comes the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. And though these creatures are shown to be real, nothing is more real than that magical character, the Man In The Red Suit.

At the same time the child is being taught about Santa Clause, or shortly thereafter, he is instructed in the ways of the Bible, about Jesus, about Moses, and about God. Very little is said about any of these, except that they make cute stories, such as David and Goliath and Noah and his ark. We read to them (or they hear in Sunday School or see on TV), the fanciful and unbelievable things they did. And they hear about the miracles Jesus and Moses performed. And although these are interesting and entertaining stories we tell the child, minus the moral of the story of course (Do you even know what the moral of the story of David and Goliath, or Noah and the flood is? I never recall being told), they could never compare to flying reindeer and presents under the tree.

We think of this yearly yuletide effort, that is waited all through the year ("Be good all year or Santa won't...." as harmless fun, that no one can be hurt by a little fairy tale that brings the child much fun and delight.

In India people won't eat a cow even though they're starving. They feed the rats even though they may have no food for themselves. We read where the Israelites, while under the watchful eye of God Himself do as their neighbors did, and that is they burned their children alive. We read of the Norse, the Greek, and the Roman gods and other legends. We see that the world, and history, is filled with legends that are not only believed, but they are followed to the death. Where do you suppose these beliefs that are followed so strongly came from? Did they come from God? Or were they stories someone came up with and others took them to be true and acted out on them? Then more people followed suit, until what began as a simple story became a reality that must be believed and followed if death is to be avoided.

Look at our own religion, that of Christianity. How did there develop thousands of different denominations, all believing something different to one degree or another, and can not be swayed from? Wouldn't you say they came from one person, and that one person ignited a flame that became a forest fire? Look as Wesley and the Methodist church, Luther, Joseph Smith, Ellen G. White, Heaven's Gate, David Keresh, Jim Jones, Araneus, Calvin, and many more people who developed a theory, as a thought, and ignited a blazing fire.

Jesus is less believable than is Santa Clause. Jesus (as is God Himself) is to us something from the past, something that has no substance, no logic to their being or to their story. Yet we are expected to believe wholeheartedly that they are who they claim to be in a book that is considered hard to believe at best. And those who claim to believe the book, don't bother to read it except superficially if at all.

The Easter Bunny can be seen, he can be felt, and the eggs he brings can be eaten. The tooth fairy is not seen, but the tooth is gone, and a coin left in its place.

Is it any wonder that, if a child (even though a very old child) accepts Jesus he sees Him as no more than another legend, merely waiting to be shown for the legend that He is? We believe in Jesus, in God, in Angels, for the same reason we believed in Santa Clause - it's expected of us. As a child we reached a stage that we began to doubt the existence of Santa Clause, but in our heart we hoped our suspicion was wrong, and that the Man In Red was as real as our parents told us he is.

When we're in trouble, when we're ill, when someone we love is dying, when we lose our job and we're in need, we believe in Jesus, in God, the same way we believed in Santa. We have our doubts, but we hope God is real, and that He's watching over us.

Is it any wonder the churches have become nothing more that a child's game, with the goals and the subjects seen as imaginary legends that must be accepted as real if a player is going to be allowed to continue to play?

Some people overcome their legendary belief in Santa Clause in spite of the extreme difficulty to do so. Some people really believe in God and in Jesus. What makes this difference, and how can one really tell if they are merely believing in a legendary Jesus or the Jesus that lives and governs the world? Do you know the answer? Is it the answer that pastor gave you? If it is, then it's the wrong answer. If you know the answer, and you find no one believes you, then the chances are (in my opinion) that you are likely to be right.


JUST ENOUGH TO BE DANGEROUS

I suspect that most of you reading this has heard the expression: "He knows just enough to be dangerous." The implication here is that a person knows how to turn the key and start the car, so therefore they know how to drive. Junior reaches a stage in his young life that he has become suspicious about this jolly old man upon who's lap he sits. To test the validity of the existence of Santa Clause, Junior pulls on the beard of the Man In Red. The beard stays, and ooops! The beard is real!

The beard is real, the man is dressed in red and white, and everyone calls him Santa. Conclusion: Everything about Santa Clause, including the flying reindeer must be true as well.

This is the way our logic works. If one thing is true, then everything else about that thing, or spoken by that person must be real and true as well. When a flaw is found in the person, for instance a president or a pastor, then everything that person has stood for crumbles as well. It's not human nature to investigate each part of what is presented to us to see if it will hold up to the test of fire. Either everything is true, or everything is false. We find this with our schools as well. Whatever is taught to us in school is true, regardless of how different what we've been told is from what everyone else has been taught.

We see how denominations are established on just this principle. And because of this principle everyone in a particular denomination thinks and believes the same way, whether they think or not. People just agree, even when they have no idea what has been said or why.

Not everyone who has doubts about the jolly old man is convinced when the beard remains glued to the face of the Man In Red. They want more evidence. The beard my indeed be real, but they want to see the reindeer. And when they've seen the reindeer, they want to see the one who's nose is like a lighthouse beacon. When a red nose beast is brought forth, they want to see him fly.

For over a thousand years God conditioned, trained, and prepared a nation of people to watch and be ready for His appearance to them wherein He would established the Kingdom He had promised, and that they had been waiting for. They had all the Words of God, they had their own history, they had their prophesies, and on top of all this they had their own doctrines and traditions that camouflaged the Words God had given them. Because they were so prepared, they knew so much, they couldn't be told anything outside what they "knew" to be the bare-bone facts. Anyone who said anything against these facts, or worked contrary to those facts, must be eliminated before they contaminate the nation.

Again we see this in the history of the Church. When the Catholic church had come to power, as did the Jews and the Pharisees (the leaders of the Jews), they believed they knew everything there is to know about God and what He expects of His people. They would hear of nothing outside their belief, and they would destroy anyone who conflicted with their traditions and their doctrine, even if just a little.

Today there is no such killing by the churches, of the church members - yet. But the attitudes are still the same. Those who have the knowledge, regardless how much that knowledge conflicts with the knowledge of other denominations, insist that those who follow them accept their word as law. There is no beard pulling allowed, even though the string holding up the beard is drooping down to the belly button.

Just under these super-educated people who are the gurus of the churches are the lay congregation. These people know very little about the Word of God other than what their guru has taught them. And they are perfectly content to lean on every word they have been told. They have no desire to pull on the beard of their guru, or question any of the many passages of Scripture they find that totally conflicts with what they've been told. These are the know-nothing, know-it-alls. This group is just as unreachable as are the educated gurus because they are comfortable in their beliefs.

Jesus was able to speak only to those who were outside the mainstream of the Church of the day. Those who were prepared to meet Him, were trying to kill Him. Although these people had been taught since birth about His appearing, they were not content with their position, because they had no position in the Church. They were on the outskirts with no hope of ever being in the skirts of the Church, the respectable folk of the day. These outcasts would listen, to a point. And when they heard what didn't register to them, instead of trying to find out what Jesus meant, they turned their back on Him.

In Acts 13:46-48 and Mark 13:37 we see that the people who were not conditioned, not prepared for the Lord received Him gladly. The Gentiles who had never even heard of Jesus, nor did they know a thing about the God of the Jews, sacrificed everything when they heard the Glad Tidings. It was those who knew they knew nothing at all that learned all that was needed to know in order to find eternal life. Those who thought they already had it, lost it because they refused to accept it when it came to them (Mat 25:28-30).

I am finding that talking to people about what I've learned is like the experience Jesus had. Those who already know, who already feel they are in possession of all they need because their church has told them so, will not listen to anything I have to say, not even to judge the validity of it. Those who know the denominational view is wrong, and avoid church for this reason I find all too often have settled for some other doctrine not accepted by the Mainstream, or even the cults. But they have nonetheless settled. They will hear a little of what I have to say, until it conflicts with their already established beliefs, then their stare become cold and blank. These people are especially frustrating to me because I think they're hearing, and when I discover I've lost them, my heart sinks.

Finally there are those who know little or nothing about the Bible, or about denominational views. They only know they have experienced something within them that causes them to seek God. Usually these have turned away from organized religion because of the hard-nose attitudes of the churches, or/and because they've seen the fallen beard of the gurus.

I've been having a lot of hits now on my website for a lot of years. Why? I suspect that anyone who sees my writings will either find what they don't want to hear, and will click to some other site that agrees with their beliefs; or they will find something that is filling a void in them. I suspect that those who come back to this web site are looking for something beyond what they can find in the churches. In the churches anyone can find all the answers they want and feel content. But those who look in my writings will more than likely find more questions than they will answers. I imagine that you, those of you who continue to read what I write, have pulled Santa's beard, and found it to be a rubber mask.


IRON SHARPENS

Yesterday I had in interesting experience. I was talking to a beggar who was asking people for 50 cents. I stopped (on my bike) to talk to her in the parking lot of a big store, and I discovered it was a woman I had spoken to a few days earlier, who lambasted me because I said I used to live on the street, and I enjoyed the experience. As I placed a 20 dollar bill in her cup, I mentioned that earlier encounter, and how she said I should go away and enjoy the streets then, to which I obliged, taking the money I had in my hand to give her. (This was earlier.)

The girl (a woman who is ageless, meaning her face was much covered, and I couldn't guess within 20 years her age) became irate at me. She said over and over that I lie, that she would never say such a thing. She said I have no balance, otherwise I wouldn't be riding the bicycle I was still straddling at the time (I really wanted to know what she meant by that), and that if I wasn't a liar, I would be young, and beautiful, and I would have all my teeth (I have a gapping smile). I couldn't much argue with her that I lacked these qualities, but I had never attributed my lack of youth and beauty to lying (I also wondered if she had ever looked in a mirror). She eyed the 20 dollar bill sticking out of her cup as she continued to rail on me. I had a momentary impulse to retrieve that 20 feeling I had added to her problems the woes of wealth. After a few minutes of having my ears pinned back, the girl walked away still railing on me, my having had no opportunity to say anything during this discussion, other than my introductory words.

As she shouted her parting words at me from across the parking lot, I added my departing comment, which was "Have a nice day."

Several thoughts came to me because of this conversation, which is usually occurs since I try to make every experience a learning one. I learn about others by the way they respond to me, and I learn about me by the way I respond to them, or to their responses to me. In times past I would have been upset and offended by this encounter, and I would have internalized it and assumed that I had caused conflict by something I had said or done. I had this reaction the first time I spoke to her, thinking it must have been something I said. This time I could see no way I could have been the instigator, especially considering the fact I had paid to be abased.

In several places on this website I've described some of my experiences that were either designed, or at least had the effect of beating me down. The person severely attacked my ego and my self esteem. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had (or is having) such experiences. Why do these things happen? Are they a part of life we must endure? And if they are, then why so?

I think we've all heard the phrase "Iron sharpens iron," and I'm equally sure everyone knows (or at least has a pretty good idea) what this phrase means. When we rub two pieces of metal together, they knock the rough edges off, and will eventually sharpen each other.

God uses this method to sharpen us, to fine-tune us in order that we will be suitable for His presence. Ego has no place in the plan of God, which He has made clear to us in so many ways.

When a fine sculpture is created, the marble, wood, or whatever the substance, is first attacked with big tools such as a saw or an ax. When a very rough outline is formed of the material (I'll use wood for this example), then smaller tools are utilized. The closer the form is to the desired shape, the smaller the tools that are used. Finally various grades of sand paper and polishes are used until the sculpture is perfect and displaying the beauty the creator has visualized in the piece of raw wood he began with.

In time past the incident described above would have felt like a chain saw had been taken to my emotions. But over time, without my noticing it, such occurrences have brought me to the point that I only feel as if I have had a polishing with a very fine pumice. I wasn't affected at all, and I wouldn't have been even had their been a very large audience observing at the time.

I've been finding many such situations lately, most having a great deal more impact because they are brought about by those I have befriended, and I had come to trust. When for no reason those close to us behave in a manner that is unexplainable, and there is no way of reconciling the situation or the relationship, we really learn just how ego-free we are. Amazing to me, I find I respond to those situation the same way I did in this study case; I accepted the lambasting, then said they should call me if they need anything, and I'll do what I can to help.

Isn't that a nice response to have? Wouldn't you think I should get a gold star for my lack of retaliation? I normally would expect such a reward, especially if I had struggled to attain to a point where I could respond appropriately. But I find there's no reward that will be, nor that should be given for a proper response. It's what God expects and demands from those who follow Him, and who bear the name of Christian. My reward is that I was not angry or overly upset by the incidences, and I really meant it when I said I would be there if they needed anything, even though I know they would not appreciate what I do, nor would they reciprocate in kind. I feel like I've finally cleared a hurdle that has long been a stumbling block for me (so far, tomorrow's another day).

Note: This is another day, just weeks since I wrote the above. Today I had another such incident, not an attack on my character as above, but a polite disregard for my writing, something I should be well accustomed to by now. I handled the situation well externally, but within me I did indeed feel slighted and abused. So much for my having grown in this area. Maybe tomorrow I'll do better. Maybe.)

We, that is we Christians, represent Jesus here on this earth. We are His hands, feet, and His mouth to the world, and to each of our brothers and sisters in the Church. We are also His heart. We are to be free of our own lusts, our own desires, and our own motives and concerns, and exhibit His desires for the world He gave His life for. When our ego shows itself, even ever so slightly, it interferes with, and pollutes God's purpose. We see a clear view of the proper way to react to the world around us in Jesus and the Apostles. They are our examples. Anything less than their demonstration is falling far short of where we should be.

The people (for the most part) I've been having the experiences with are people who count themselves, and I believe they are, frontrunners in the area of Spiritual growth. They are not the average church goer, but are those who have had encounters with the Lord as I have. Yet it seems to me there is something lacking in their efforts to grow, or even to recognize that they are stunted in their growth. Perhaps they are growing in other area I don't recognize, and that I am stunted in and blind to in myself.

We are ambassadors for Christ. When we behave or react poorly, we present a poor picture of Jesus and His Church to the world. I'm sure my responses could well be taken as signs of personal weakness rather than meekness, but that's ok. It's not important how things appear to be when in fact they are as they should be. We try to make things appear acceptable, even when we are in fact deficient in a given area. That's human nature, and it's human nature we are to overcome.

This girl I was talking to was spewing words that sound very much like she was preaching the Word of God. She said the words "Jesus, God, Heaven," and other such Christian sounding words in a way reminiscent of a sailor on shore leave, but she was doing so appropriately. If I didn't know better, I would have thought she was preaching at me rather than cursing me. In fact, an Atheist I met said he had spoken to this girl in the library shortly after I had my first encounter with her (and he too gave her money) and he sincerely thought she was preaching to him, not knowing the difference. He had heard the nice words, but he didn't hear how those nice words were applied.

Does this sound strange? That is, does it sound odd that a person can't tell when a person is saying nice things about life, and about the Lord, and when they're condemning the world, and God, for not making this life a Paradise? If it does seem strange, then I suspect you haven't read much of what I have written, because much of my website is dedicated to showing how we, the Christian, are only hearing what we expect to hear from the pulpit, and from our reading of the Bible, instead of what God is trying to tell us.


17Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (Prov 27:)

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Mat 5:)

If we're a friend, we'll point out where we think a person is going astray, or if they're doing something that will be harmful to them or to someone else in the future. And I should hope we would expect, and desire our friends to do so for us as well.

Solomon has looked at our education from one perspective, which is from that of our friends. Jesus on the other hand has taken this a step farther and says we should treat our enemy, the one who is wanting to do us harm, with the same respect that we will give our friend. In many places the Bible tells us to submit to others, even to our worldly enemy. This does not mean we are to participate in worldliness but that we are to allow the wicked to be the hammer and chisel that helps mold us, as we see so clearly happening to Jesus and the Apostles. They submitted to the world, until what the world wanted them to do went against God's will (not their own will), And then they submitted, not to what was commanded of them, but to the punishment that was the result of their passive-resistance.

David is another example of both submission to the enemy, and to a person being molded by the efforts of the enemy to do him harm. David began as a brave warrior, having killed a lion, a bear and a giant. Yet in spite of this, he was sent through the valley of the shadow by way of King Saul who sought to kill him, and even the Philistines with whom he had to fain insanity to keep from being killed by them. David endured a lot a humbling at the hands of both his friends and his enemies.

Job of course is another such example. God, who was certainly on Job's side, gave Satan permission to do the worst to Job in effort to prove him. Meanwhile, his loyal friends, instead of being sympathetic to Job's situation, added to his woes and miseries. He, as was David, was molded into what God wants of all of us by both the world and the devil.

Solomon confirms his agreement with the above words of Jesus, as well as the examples given:


5Open rebuke is better than secret love. 6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Prov 27:)


When two friends, or brothers and sisters in Christ, rub together it should be to the side of blade, not the cutting edge with the intent to dull a person or to cause them harm. Two knives honed properly sharpen each other. But if edge of one knife is held against the other knife, it dulls itself as it sharpens the other. Our enemies dull themselves as they sharpen us, and unfortunately, as I see it, those friends I referred to above have dulled themselves in their unintended effort to sharpen me.

Rather than feel hurt and angry toward those who are not fair to us, we should instead be thankful for them. They are God's tools to sharpen us into instruments He can use for His purposes. As long as we have an once of ego in us, all glory does not go to God, but to us. And God said all glory must go to God.


THE GREAT UNWELCOME

5And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 7For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2John 1:)


A great many Christians are using this passage to justify condemning those they consider to be ungodly cults who are obeying Jesus' commandment to spread His Word, and to do good to others. These unwelcoming Christian folk justify their bad behavior by quoting John, while ignoring passages in the Bible that says we are to love our neighbor. In fact in this very same passage we read that we are to walk in the commandments Jesus gave us. Does it make sense then that John is telling us to do the opposite of what Jesus tells us to do, and that John himself has written pages on, that is, the concept of loving one another, even one's enemy?

Maybe there's something we've been missing here.

When I read up on the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses, I find that they, for the most part, believe just as do the Mainline churches, with only slight variations. There are elements of the Jehovah's Witness that I take issue with, but as you can tell, I take issue with everyone, and I think everyone is wrong. So my opinion means little in that regard. However, when it comes to their belief that "Jesus came in the flesh," they obviously believe this, that is, that Jesus came in the flesh. And they believe in the resurrection, and they believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world. They not only believe that Jesus came in the flesh, but they believe it to the point that they will do as He says we are to do, which is something far too many of those who use the Bible to condemn them are not doing. In judging, they judge themselves.

What I want you to notice here is how iron is being sharpened by iron. When the Mainline church attender angrily tells the cult member to depart their premises because they are devils doomed for hell, they are using their sharp edge to hone the edge of the cult member's sword. If the missionary was to thrust back, then both would be in the wrong, and it would be edge against edge, dulling and chipping away at both of their swords.

The missionary is trained to allow the insults of the "acceptable Christian" to roll off their back, and to return kindness for rebuke. They offer to be available if the person thrusting at them ever needs them, to mow their lawn or whatever, and wishes the evil-mouthed Christian good tidings. We see that the one who is condemned is in actuality being conditioned to stand before God, while the supposed "King's Kid" is displaying all signs that they are children of the devil.

An interesting turn of events it seems to me.


12So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:)


We find a plethora of verses (that's a fancy way of saying there's a whole bunch) telling us what the above verses are saying. God is working on us, using each of us to sharpen the edges of each other. But we are to sharpen one another in love, not in anger or out of spite. When we suggest a failing we see in a brother or sister, we should bring it to the surface in the same way we would wish to have our own shortcomings exposed. And we should be at the ready to help that person in their efforts to overcome their problem, and not condemn them for not having reached a level we think they should have attained to.


FRUSTRATION

I'm wondering if it will never end, if there might be an exception somewhere.

I talk to people, anyone who will stand still for a moment, about some tidbit of meat I've found in the Word. The more Spiritual of them listen with some interest, until I say something, even ever so minor, that disagrees slightly with their church doctrine - then the doors close, sometimes violently.

Is it just me? Do any of you experience this syndrome? I know there has to be others because Jesus said it would be this way, and it happened many times to Him and the Apostles. I can think of only two reasons why a person wouldn't get this reaction, and those reasons are that a person only says what others agree with, or if they say nothing at all. For myself, I can't see either of these reasons being accepted at the Judgement. How about you?


 

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